Marquette Starters Getting Too Tired Down the Stretch
After watching part 4 of “the gauntlet” crumble before my eyes after Marquette went up 9 only to be outscored bby 24 points, I really began to realize how tired our starters are getting at the end of games. No, I am not an idiot that is going to say that you need to play the bench players more, although that might do the trick. I realize that we have a weak bench that contributes just 11 points per game and that our starting five might be the most talented all-around, with no real weak spots minus Burke. While, unfortunately, the loss of Dominic James will make the bench one man deeper (David Cubillan), it clearly comes at a costly price. I also realize that Buzz, ever since the Rutgers game when the backups nearly blew the game, has not been one to take the starters out unless they are in foul trouble or absolutely winded. While this is great and definitely keeps the pressure on teams to keep THEIR starting five on the court, it’s starting to take a toll on the Golden Eagles. I picked up numbers on Marquette’s starters’ minutes per game compared to the other top tier teams in the Big East as well as the other top teams in the AP rankings. The stats were pretty amazing, have a look:
Now, take into consideration a couple of things. First is that I used the average number of minutes that Dominic James played despite him being out for the year. Acker as a starter is averaging 31.7 minutes per game while James averaged 34.5. However, it makes sense to include James’ numbers in the discussion because even though Marquette’s stats would go down if I include Acker, it’s not because the bench is stepping up, but rather the injury is forcing us to use the bench and production is dropping significantly. The other is to note that Marquette’s numbers, despite almost being the highest in both categories (Oklahoma’s overall minutes were the only bigger), it says even more that Marquette probably played the easiest non-conference schedule of anyone on this list. What this says is that Marquette’s overall minutes are even lower than they should be because of the “give-me” games that Marquette played, notably Presbyterian (starters averaged 23.8 minutes), Houston Baptist (25.2) and IPFW (25.4). It’s really a testament to the starters, especially Matthews, McNeal, and Hayward. They are going out every night, knowing that they need to play 35+ minutes to give their team a chance, and they do it. Going back to the point, however, it really shows against great teams that can rest their guys with about 9 minutes to go and have them come in fresh with 4 to play and steamroll a team like Marquette who has had their starters in the whole second half. I am not Buzz Williams and I would never question anything he does, because he knows more about basketball than I probably ever will, but it would be nice to see him go somewhat deeper into his bench. With the loss of James this has happened, but even so I would like to see Joe Fulce or Pat Hazel come in and give Wes or Jerel a breather in the last two minutes or so of a half. We see this a lot in the NBA and while time is more precious in college, seeing Wesley and Jerel beat tired at the end of the game gives us little to no chance at beating teams with depth. Those teams tend to be the better ones, and in the tournament, the other teams listed in the graphic above are the ones you need to beat if you want to end up in Detroit.
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