Date: Saturday, Dec. 13, 2003
Time: 2 p.m. MST
Location: Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls)
TV: FSN (Steve Physioc/Marques Johnson)
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Marquette at a glance
Coach: Tom Crean
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Starters Returning: 3
2002-03 Record: 27-6 (14-2)
Conference: Conference USA
Post Season: Final Four
Last Meeting: Arizona bear Marquette 94-80 in 1994. The series is tied 1-1.
LAST TIME OUT:
Arizona stunned Texas 91-83. Marquette beat Grambling State 71-55.
OVERVIEW: Hard to believe a team can lose players like Dwayne Wade and Robert Jackson and still be a force. Although the level of competition hasn't been great, Marquette is 6-0 with wins over St. John's, Valpariso and Notre Dame. Travis Diener has stepped up his game and Lute Olson's comparisons of Diener to Luke Ridnour should have Wildcat fans at least a little concerned.
The Golden Eagles play solid, fundamental basketball. Expect them to try and dictate the pace. They won't slow things to a crawl like Saint Louis, but they do not want a track meet either. They want a game in the low 70's.
Crean, a Tom Izzo disciple, does a lot of the same things that Michigan State does. They are terrific on the offensive boards because they like to send four players to the offensive glass. Olson thinks they may only send three in an effort to slow down the fast break. Marquette can still be effective with just three players hitting the glass. So far this season they have a +8.6 rebound advantage over the opposition.
The Eagles have a lot of size. Seven players stand at least 6-8, with three of them standing 6-10. Merritt is beginning to live up to the hype, while 6-10 Steve Novak loves to step out and shoot the three. They will likely try to throw the Wildcats off by going with a big line-up. They can easily go 6-10 across the front line by using Novak at small forward.
They are a great three-point shooting team. This season they are hitting just a hair under 40% from behind the arc. They'd love to get open looks by having Wildcat perimeter players helping down low.
MARQUETTE'S STRENGTHS:This is a good defensive team with a lot of size. They have good shooters and don't make many mistakes. Merritt and Diener are marquee players. They are also very deep.
MARQUETTE'S WEAKNESSES: The Golden Eagles lack the overall talent that the Wildcats have. By sending four men to the offensive glass, they give up a lot of fast break points. A very quick Kansas club exploited that in last year's Final Four and this Wildcat team is very similar in terms of speed. If Marquette holds two players back to prevent the break, they may suffer rebounding.
BEST PLAYERS: Travis Diener is a very good guard. Olson compares him to Ridnour and we all know how Ridnour did against the Cats. Merritt is a nice post player who is always a threat for a double-double
Frye & Merritt are a close match-up, Frye vs. anyone else is not.
If Merritt can log most of his time at PF, Marquette has the advantage. If he's at center this is a push.
Iguodala is coming off his first triple-double and eyeing another.
Salim's slump appears to be a thing of the past.
Shakur has more talent...
...but Diener has a load of experience and savy.
If Arizona had beaten KU they would have met Marquette in the Final Four. First game at McKale since the opener.