What I learned about MU from the CBE Classic

Although the Golden Eagles did not win a game in Kansas City, there were many things I was able to take away from the experience.

Marquette will struggle against zone defense
During the game with Gonzaga, Marquette struggled once they switched to a zone defense. MU looked tentative, often opting to pass the ball around the perimeter. That's okay if you are able to hit from the perimeter but thus far the Golden Eagles have really struggled from downtown, shooting just 28 percent as a team on the season. In particular, Darius Johnson-Odom has struggled hitting just 20 percent after shooting 47 percent from long range as a sophomore. Look for many teams to play a zone look against Marquette until they prove they can attack it effectively or consistently hit from the outside.

The Golden Eagles will not back down from anybody
While the team and fans may be disappointed with the pair of losses, you have to consider both whom MU played and how closely they played them. There is no shame in losing to the top ranked team in the country by five points and a top 20 team by 3 points. In each game, the Golden Eagles faced some adversity and battled back from a deficit. The experience of close games will pay dividends in the future, just like it did last year.

The point guard position is still a question mark
Senior guard Dwight Buycks had been getting the nod at point guard thus far but I'd be surprised if Junior Cadougan doesn't take over the reigns at the lead guard position. Buycks recorded seven turnovers over the last two games compared to just two for Cadougan. The offense seems to run smoother with Cadougan in because there is less east-to-west dribbling and Junior seems more decisive on his passes. The knock on Cadougan has been his defense and until coach Buzz Williams feels he has improved enough, I would expect Buycks to still get minutes at the ‘1'.

This team is still looking for an identity
It's clear this team still is not quite gelling on both ends of the ball, which is to be expected in November. The defense has had many breakdowns, which have lead to easy layups or open three pointers for the opponent. Too many players are unsure of how they want to play help defense and MU has definite kinks they need to work out on the defensive glass. Allowing 17 offensive rebounds to Gonzaga and 10 to Duke is simply not going to work if this team is going to be successful. Last year the team made their mark from beyond the arc. As I mentioned before, they are struggling from distance this year and as a result have been less confident in what they want to do on offense. I think Jimmy Butler cemented himself as the go-to player this year and perhaps we will see more things run through him.

Marquette's quickness will cause problems
The Golden Eagles forced Duke into 19 turnovers and Gonzaga into 16. Using their quickness on the perimeter and doubling down in the post, they were able to limit their height deficiencies. Once the team defense starts to come together, I could see MU really causing havoc with their speed. Offensively, Jimmy Butler has proven to be a matchup problem at the four. When MU goes small, similar to last year when they had Hayward in the middle, they can cause matchup issues for opponents. Guys like Jae Crowder and Erik Williams can spread the defense and allow others to take their man off the dribble.

MU will need to rebound a lot better in order to compete against BE teams
If anything was evident in the second half of the Gonzaga game, it was that MU has a lot of work to do on the defensive glass. It was a total lack of effort and execution from the team and there is not one single player to pinpoint. With MU's lack of size and experience in the paint, they are going to have to rely on their guards to rebound. Going forward, I would expect the entire team to have a ‘gang rebounding' mentality so they are not allowing the team to have multiple chances on each possession. The margin for error just isn't big enough for MU to allow that to happen.

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