Marquette led the tournament in three-point percentage. The team shot .417 in three games, paced by a 5-6 effort from Dan Fitzgerald. It also allowed the lowest three-point percentage of any team.
Maurice Acker saw extended minutes for the first time all season and played well at the point guard position. He contributed three assists and two steals against Duke and flashed the quickness off the dribble that the coaching staff raves so much about.
Although Dominic James had some tough shooting nights from the floor, he shot exceptionally well from three-point range against the Cowboys (4-6) and played terrific defense (six steals).
Here are some of Marquette's main highs and lows from Maui…
An all-tournament team selection who recorded 22 and 20 point performances, respectively, in the first two games, McNeal continues to prove that he is the heart and soul of this Golden Eagles team. Many of the NBA scouts present at press row talked about him as Marquette's best player.
He led the tournament in field goals made and finished second in points and fourth in field goals percentage.
McNeal was hampered by foul trouble in the Duke game, but still managed 11 points, four assists and a steal. In the final four minutes of that game he seemed poised to go into superhero mode, forcing a steal that led to free throws and getting deflections on several other possessions down the stretch.
McNeal was also a the key contributor in holding off Chaminade in round one, converting three straight baskets and assisting another in the final five minutes of regulation.
In his first string of starts this season, the sophomore forward saw a combined 63 minutes in the first two games and would have seen more minutes in the final game if not for foul trouble. Hayward's most dominant performance came against Chaminade, where he tallied 15 points and eight rebounds, and he led Marquette in scoring against Duke, with 14 points. Hayward was consistently Marquette's strongest frontcourt player in the tournament, crashing the boards and bringing energy in transition. Late in the championship game, he registered the strongest yet of what has become a trademark tip-slam, carrying Blue Devils guard Gerald Henderson with as he
When Marquette was playing at its best, it played with a lineup of four guards and Hayward on the floor.
Marquette's 33 steals in the EA Sports Maui Invitational led all teams by a wide margin (Oklahoma State and Arizona State tied for the next highest total with 24) Two players among the top six in the tournament in steals…forced 19,19 and 14 turnovers, respectively in each of the three games and scored 30, 24 and 17 points respectively off those turnovers.
Their persistent ball pressure caused fits for Oklahoma State and helped them pull away from Chaminade. Defense could have turned the tide against Duke as well, if not for missed opportunities. The Golden Eagles forced three turnovers in the final four minutes against the Blue Devils but could only turn them into three points.
Marquette also used defense to set up their transition game. They led in fast break points in each of their three games, including a 30-2 edge against Chaminade.
Ousmane Barro and Co. cleaned up on the glass against a demoralized Oklahoma State team, winning the battle of the boards 43-28. But the Golden Eagles were out-rebounded by Chaminade (43-32) and Duke (37-29) by considerable margins.
Marquette's bigs will be having nightmares about Chaminade forward Marko Kolaric, who pulled in 14 rebounds against the Golden Eagles and generally dominated the paint on both ends of the floor.
But a poor rebounding effort against the 6-11 Kolaric is not nearly as frustrating as the lack of rebounding against smaller lineups. Six-foot-four DeMarcus Nelson of Duke pulled in more boards than anyone on Marquette's roster in the championship game. Nelson and other Blue Devils consistently got better position under the basket and were better at boxing out.
Marquette also recorded a total of 12 team rebounds between the Duke and Oklahoma State games. This means the ball was getting tipped around and players were not securing initial rebounds off the glass.
Dwight Burke The junior forward tallied only seven rebounds and attempted only four field goals in three games, a step backward from a solid effort against Utah Valley State last week. More athletic players on Chaminade and Duke caused match-up problems for Burke, and several times he suffered the quick hook in favor of Ousmane Barro.
Burke is the starter at center for now, and has played good defense most of the time this season (to his credit, he did record three steals against the Cowboys), but eventually he will have to contribute inside for Marquette to have continued success into the Big East season.
Lawrence Blackledge The senior forward saw only six minutes on the court the entire tournament and did not even enter the round-two blowout until the final four minutes. Coach Tom Crean commented that he would have liked to play Blackledge earlier in that game, but he did not sub because of the great success the team was having with the lineup on the floor at the time.
It's not that Blackledge played poorly while he was in the game, but it will be difficult to tell if he can contribute meaningful minutes during the Big East season unless he sees meaningful game time before then. Many hoped that, with Trevor Mbakwe gone for the season, Blackledge would be able to take on a larger role in the frontcourt this season, and only time will tell if he does.
Needless to say, this bit is only here because I needed three negatives to balance the article. That speaks to how well Marquette played overall, especially in their final two games, in Maui.