Marquette had a much harder time than expected dispatching visiting Southeastern Louisiana, 64-53, Tuesday night.
A lot of that had to do with the Golden Eagles’ poor shooting in the first half and more careful offensive approach in the second half. After going 11-for-33 (33.3 percent) from the field in the first 20 minutes, the Golden Eagles shot much better (57.9 percent) but attempted only 19 field goals in the second half.
Coach Buzz Williams said the team got off track from the type of penetrating basketball it normally plays at points in the game.
“We were inept at times,” Williams said. “The thing that’s staggering to me is we made 22 baskets, and 18 of them were assisted. Of the 30 shots that we didn’t make, I think 10 or 12 of those were turnovers. So 33 percent of the time we turned it over, and the other 67 percent, we didn’t make a shot. We have to have more discipline with what we do and what we practice.”
Along with picking up two quick fouls, senior guard Trent Lockett hit the floor hard early and played only three minutes of the first half. Williams said Lockett’s absence in the first part of the contest disrupted the team’s rhythm, but he decided to err on the side of caution in sitting Lockett most of the half.
“Concussions kind of scare me,” Williams said. “So when he fell down, and I went to put him back in I (asked him if he was all right), and he was just kind of glassy-eyed. He’s fine, and he obviously was a lot better in the second half.
“I didn’t not play him because he got hit; I didn’t play him because he got hit and had two fouls, and I wanted to see how everybody else would respond.”
Lockett returned to play 16 minutes in the second half and scored eight points.
Marquette had a lot of success scoring on the inside, as junior forward Davante Gardner led the team with 18 points, and redshirt senior center Chris Otule chipped in 10. Playing a smaller team, Williams relied on both of his centers to carry the load when the outside shots weren’t falling.
Otule spent most of the offseason getting back to playing form, but even he didn’t foresee the impact he’d have early in the season.
“I didn’t think it would come back this fast, but with my size and being so big, I can use that to create angles for myself and help the team defensively,” Otule said. “I think I need to work on my conditioning a little more. I didn’t get to do as much as everyone else did during preseason and boot camp, so I need to play catch-up to get to where they are.”
Williams said he hadn’t witnessed a scoring performance from his centers like Tuesday night’s in his career at Marquette, and as the season goes on, he thinks the duo can help the Golden Eagles play its front court-based game and “make a living” in the paint.
“I think they can pay the rent,” Williams said. “We can probably rent a good house. We wouldn’t be able to buy (a good house), but we could probably pay the rent every month.
“We had 29 paint touches. That’s really high. When we shoot shots that we’ve practiced, and we shoot shots within the flow of what we do and when we shoot shots after a paint touch, our percentages speak for themselves. When we don’t, or didn’t tonight, we’re really bad.”
Looking ahead to the Maui Invitational next week, Williams said the Golden Eagles will keep learning and working on the issues they’ve had in the first two games.
“I think Maui, as difficult as it will be, will teach us a lot,” Williams said. “Three games in three days, everybody will have to be on point to have a chance. I think we have done some good things, but the things that we have to work on are pretty evident.”