Marquette's game on Monday night against Norfolk State will be their last tune-up for the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands over the next weekend.
If Friday's win against Mount St. Mary's was any indicator, Coach Buzz Williams will use this game against the visiting Spartans as another opportunity to get all ten active players significant minutes, as he did in the opener.
Last season, the Norfolk State Spartans finished the year 12-20 (8-8), so it's unlikely the Golden Eagles will feel too threatened in the game itself.
Head Coach Anthony Evans is in his fifth year, and has had mixed results as the head-man. His best finish came in his first year, when the team went 11-5 in MEAC play, and 16-15 overall.
The Spartans' largest threat will no doubt come in senior center Kyle O'Quinn.
The 6'10", 240-pound senior was far and away Norfolk State's best player last year, averaging a double-double, at 16.4 points per game and 11.1 rebounds.
Last season's MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, and this season's Preseason Conference Player of the Year, O'Quinn put up numbers the Spartans haven't seen from a big man in their program's history. Prior to last year, they were known primarily as a perimeter-oriented team, but O'Quinn has changed that.
O'Quinn broke out last season in his junior campaign, after an impressive sophomore season, during which he averaged 11.5 ppg and 8.8 rpg.
The Spartans do lose their second leading scorer, in guard Rob Hampton, who averaged 14.0 ppg. Their other double-digit scorer, Chris McEachin, returns, after averaging 10.3 ppg last season.
At this point in the season though, Marquette fans' focus will still be on their own team.
The main focus may be on players like redshirt sophomore Jamil Wilson and sophomore Jamail Jones, who should continue to see more minutes with Juan Anderson's absence. Anderson was suspended for the first three games of the season for accepting free Milwaukee Brewers playoff tickets.
With Anderson already having presumed to be in battle with Jones and Wilson for minutes, he finds himself behind them both after one game.
Redshirt junior Chris Otule went out of his way to note Jones' performance after the season opener, in which the sophomore showed glimpses of the talent and athleticism those around the team know he possesses.
The Golden Eagles allowed only 37 points in the season's first game, and also forced an unprecedented 29 turnovers, mainly due to constant and relentless full court pressure throughout the whole game.
Coach Williams of Marquette got that pressure from all 10 players at his disposal, and surely will look to do more of the same against the visiting Spartans on Monday.
With the Paradise Jam right around the corner, the fourth year coach will no doubt give all his players an equal opportunity to show what they can bring to the table, especially on the defensive end.
The result may not be in question Monday night against Norfolk State for the Marquette Golden Eagles, but there will be plenty to watch for, including who can take advantage of their playing time in these early games to have a chance to make an impact in later ones.
Preview: Norfolk State
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