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Monday, January 07, 2008


January 8, 2008

Tom Crean was not a hapy basketball coach following his team's 79-64 loss on Sunday at West Virginia. The Marquette coach was upset with his player's effort, when a coach calls out his team's effort, you expect to see a big improvement in that area in their next game.

Seton Hall lost thier conference opener a week ago, 98-86, at home to Connecticut. Over the weekend, the Pirates picked up a non-conference victory over Morgan State, 89-81, ridig the hot hand of senior Jamar Nutter, who scored 29 points.

Both teams like to play fast and are very perimeter oriented. Marquette, of course, is led by the dynamic guard trio of Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Mathews. The trio plays both ends of the court, excelling offensively and defensively. They will put pressure on the defense all game long by attacking off the dribble. In two conference games, James has not committed a turnover while dishing out 11 assists to go with the 31 points he has scored.

The Marquette interior game is not one that is feared by too many teams. Ousmane Barro and Dwight Burke split time at center. They combined for 16 pts and 11 rebounds against Providence and nine points and 10 rebounds against WVU.

The forward position is manned by Lazar Hayward with veteran Dan Fitzgerald providing depth behind him. Hayward is one of the most improved players in the league and his 15 PPG in two conference games has shown how much more of a part of the offense he is this season. He was limited by foul trouble in Sunday's loss, playing just 17 minutes (scoring 13 points), and that was a key factor in their loss.

Sometimes Marquette even goes with a 4-guard look with David Cubillan or Maurice Acker on the floor as well. Their backcourt is strong and deep, but they are vulnerable in the paint and on the boards (they had just 5 rebounds in the 2nd half as a team against WVU).

Seton Hall is not likely a team to take advantage of the Marquette shortcomings. Seton Hall will have no interest in slowing the game down to play halfcourt because the Pirates want to be playing fast and furious. The pace could bother some teams, but I do not expect it to unnerve the Golden Eagles in any way.

Seton Hall will try to press often, but without their top defensive guard, Paul Gause, their press will lose a big part of its effectiveness. Once the press is broken, Seton Hall generally lacks a defensive stopper waiting at the basket. Augustine Okosun, Mike Davis and John Garcia form a three-headed monster at the center position with Garcia seeing most of the time. Garcia is a solid big man that knows his limitations, but the uptempo game might not be the best fit for him and he is definitely not the intimidating factor waiting for opponents at the rim. Okosun and Davis add more in the way of shot-blocking, but less in terms of defense, rebounding and offense.

Brian Laing and Eugene Harvey continue to lead the Pirates and they will be face a team that can match their quickness equally. They have help on the perimter with Jamar Nutter and Jeremy Hazell, both capable of scoring in a hurry from the arc, but Seton Hall is far from a strong team on the defensive end of the court.

Seton Hall is going to have their hands full at the Bradley Center facing a Marquette squad that will be playing with quite a chip on their shoulder after Sunday's effort, or lack thereof. Seton Hall plays a style that works really well for Marquette and should let the Golden Eagles score a lot of points.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Marquette 93 Seton Hall 73



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