Did a Q&A with our sister SBNation site: AnonymousEagle. I'll fanshot to the questions I answered when they get them posted, but for now, enjoy:
1) How has this season been for Marquette, and what were the expectations coming into this year?
This season has aged most of us in dog years. It started off with surprising victories over Xavier and Michigan in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando ... followed up by Marquette gacking away a home game against ACC bottom feeder NC State. The Big East season got off to a rough start, as Marquette lost on a buzzer beater at West Virginia, then lost twice to Villanova (in a week span) by a total of four points, and, last and certainly least, a loss on another buzzer beater to an absolutely wretched DePaul squad that would've struggled to win a game in Conference USA. Since then, things have picked up, but it hasn't been easy: three straight road games that went to OT (all Marquette wins), followed up by two down-to-the-wire games in the BEast tourney. The boys have kept us on our toes, that's for sure.
Expectations were very low coming into the season; there was little, if any, talk of going to the Dance. We lost three Seniors from last year's squad, each of whom was a 1500-point (career) scorer. We had one returning starter and about eight new faces, and then, in September, our freshman point guard blew his Achilles. Soon after, our only big guy broke his foot, and then, in December, our freshman power forward quit the team because his dad got pissy about the way the kid was being used in the offense. After all that, I think I can safely say: nobody (least of all me) saw this one comin'.
2) What is Marquette's defense like, and who are its best defenders?
Typically, Marquette will go straight up man-to-man on defense. Occasionally, we'll throw out a token 1-3-1 full court press, but I can't remember a single time we've forced a turnover with it. Coach Buzz likes to double down on paint touches and rotate help if there's a kick-out from the post. And you'll notice, on a high screen at the top of the key, we'll sometimes send both defenders at the guy with the ball. Coach Buzz calls that "monster," probably because he's kind of crazy and likes yelling "MONSTER! MONSTER!" on the sideline.
Our best defender is probably Lazar Hayward, if only because he's usually guarding a guy who's three to six inches taller than him and doing it competently. Senior guard David Cubillan has his moments, too; in the Big East tournament, he was on 'Nova's Scottie Reynolds like a Milwaukee housewife on a beer brat, and Reynolds only went 4-10 from the field. But, despite their lack of height, Cubillan and Maurice Acker aren't exceptionally quick and can struggle keeping their men in front of them.
3) Marquette is an excellent three point shooting team. What do they do when the deep ball isn't falling?
We lose. Kidding aside: our offense is predicated on getting a touch in the paint, then working the ball around to the open man. If the open looks aren't falling, we're in trouble, because, outside of Darius Johnson-Odom and Jimmy Butler, we don't have many guys who can create on their own.
4) That Dwyane Wade dunk on Anderson Verajao was awesome, wasn't it?
5) If you were gameplanning against the Golden Eagles, what would you do?
1) Work the paint. (2) Make us run as much as you can, because we only play 7 guys with regularity. (On a related note: if you can get Acker or Cubillan in foul trouble, that'd certainly help your cause, since they're our primary ball handlers.) (3) Work the paint.
6) What were the biggest surprises/disappointments for Marquetter this year?
The biggest surprise was finishing fifth in the meat grinder that is the Big East. As far as players go, it's probably a tie between Johnson-Odom and the senior guards, Acker and Cubillan. DJO is a JUCO transfer, and Coach Buzz told anyone who would listen that the guy was a dynamic offensive threat. And he was right. Acker and Cubillan were bit players for the last couple of seasons, and we didn't expect either to get big minutes this year. But they've blossomed this season, and the offense goes stagnant when they're not in the game.
The biggest disappointment, as far as games go, had to be the loss to DePaul. I can't overstate how bad that team is. Think of the worst team in the Pac-10, multiply it by 20, and you'll be in the neighborhood of how epically awful DePaul was. I'm getting pissed just thinking about that game, so I'll move on.
Individually, the biggest disappointment was Jeronne Maymon, the aforementioned power forward who quit the team in December. During his recruitment, the kid had red flags all over him, not the least of which was his maniac father, who thought Junior was a one-and-done, surefire lottery pick. Predictably, Papa got pissed when the offense was being run through our best player instead of his undersized, athletically-limited son. So they packed their bags for Tennessee, with Papa Maymon firing a: "They didn't want to play the game right, so now we're going to watch them lose every game" barb on his way out of town. It wasn't a good scene for anybody.
7) Score prediction?
If Marquette's season has taught me anything, it's that the game will be close and I'll be working on my fifth brandy Old Fashioned by the 5 minute mark of the second half. I hate score predictions, so I'll cop out: if we're hitting our threes and slowing the game down, Marquette by 5. If the Huskies get out in transition, we won't be able to keep up, and you'll win by 5.