Editor’s Note: This scouting report is courtesy of Mike Nelson, sports editor at the Marquette Tribune. Mike was kind enough to analyze the Golden Eagles for us, and we sent him our scouting report in exchange. You can also check out the “Five Point Play” we filled out for the Tribune in anticipation of Saturday’s game.Players to watch: senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom and senior forward Jae CrowderWhen talking about the Marquette Golden Eagles, the conversation has to begin with their seniors: guard Darius Johnson-Odom and forward Jae Crowder.Johnson-Odom was a first-team preseason All-Big East selection, while Crowder was an All-Big East honorable mention recipient in the preseason.Johnson-Odom came into the year with the role as Batman and Crowder was to be his Robin. The duo hasn’t disappointed thus far, as Johnson-Odom leads Marquette with 19.8 points per game and Crowder is right behind him with 19.3 of his own.The man they call DJO set out to average 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game this season – something he has yet to achieve this year in any one game, let alone average – in addition to whatever contributions he’d make on the scoreboard. But it goes to show the unique skill set Johnson-Odom possesses that he sets the bar that high for himself.He can take defenders off of the dribble or step back beyond the arc and knock down the 3-pointer. He’s draining treys at a 46.7 percent clip (14-of-30) and hitting 57.1 percent of his shots from the field. His 46.7 percent mirrors his 47.4 percent clip from his sophomore year, up from 36.4 percent last season.At 6-foot-6, Crowder can battle inside with the best post players in the Big East – he averages 7.3 rebounds per game – or step back and knock down an open 3-pointer (43.8 percent from three this year).Head coach Buzz Williams said Crowder is just one of “those guys,” someone who can make plays with the basketball from the top of the key – much like former Golden Eagles Jimmy Butler, Wes Matthews and Lazar Hayward, who all now play in the NBA.He creates a matchup problem for prototypical big men who cannot guard on the perimeter because he wants to play outside – a goal of his this season was to become a more perimeter oriented player after a year as Marquette’s power forward.Where Marquette excels:Marquette scores and it scores in bunches. The Golden Eagles haven’t lost a contest this year and have won all but one by 20-plus points. They have only scored less than 87 points once this season.Marquette’s offense averages 88 points per game and has a season-low of 59 points against Norfolk State in the Paradise Jam championship. That game, Marquette was slowed by Norfolk State’s zone defense.In order to score that much that often, the Golden Eagles must be a fast-paced team. They want to let their point guard, Junior Cadougan, get into the open floor and find his playmakers out on the wing.There are seven Golden Eagles averaging at least 6.5 points per game, and eight of Marquette’s 11 active players have scored in double-digits in any one game this season.Johnson-Odom and Crowder are the go-to scorers, but this team is more than those two – it is the deepest offensive team Buzz Williams has had in his four years as Marquette’s head coach.Where Marquette struggles:As its undefeated record suggests, a lot has gone right for Marquette this season. But there have been two glaring weaknesses that have trended throughout the season: offensive rebounds allowed and three-point defense.In its season-opener, Marquette allowed a Mount St. Mary’s team with only six scholarship players and three of its regular starters to grab 16 offensive rebounds. The Mountaineers had no player taller than 6-foot-8.Redshirt junior center Chris Otule said after that game that Marquette aims to create a triangle around the rim, one to the right and left of the rim and one in front of it, so as to put itself in the best position to claim the rebound.But Marquette hasn’t done that well at all. Typically, only two of the positions are filled. Too often, that third man isn’t where he needs to be, allowing an opponent to create another possession.On 3-pointers, Marquette’s defensive three-point field goal percentage isn’t alarming (30.4 percent). But too many of those three-point shooters are far too wide open.Marquette’s defense is too slow in its rotations. If an opponent creates good ball movement, then it can create open three-point field goal opportunities. Against a team like Wisconsin, that could be devastating.
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