Villanova . . .
“If you’re lucky,” he said to the crowd, “you’re seeing the worst game you’re going to see.”
Well, at least until three days later, when the Wildcats lost at home again to Furman. Villanova, two national championships in the past three seasons. Furman, last seen in the NCAA tournament in 1980. Villanova had gone more than five years without back-to-back losses. But that was yesterday.
“People have been saying how good a team we have,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “We’re not a very good team right now. That’s the reality of it, and that was just exposed tonight.”
Xavier . . .
Creighton . . .
Forget all that, after a 69-60 loss to Ohio State in Omaha.
Late run helps Ohio State past Creighton, 69-60.— Creighton Men’s Basketball (@BluejayMBB) November 16, 2018
CU Press Conference: https://t.co/IquxqX6kR4
OSU Press Conference: https://t.co/6LUZxI6DAU
Photos: https://t.co/Mnua3k6ync pic.twitter.com/qhf76unco2
Gave up 36 points the last 13 ½ minutes and was blown away at Nebraska 80-57. The Pirates were 2-for-16 in 3-pointers and had only three assists the entire game. This was part of Black Wednesday, when the Big East played three Gavitt Tipoff games against the Big Ten, and went 0-3 by a combined 73 points. The league was 3-5 overall in Gavitt games. Thank goodness for Georgetown, St. John’s and DePaul. By the way, they finished eighth, ninth and 10th in the conference last season.
“It’s a great litmus test. Obviously, it’s one we failed miserably,” Wojciechowski said. He meant his team. Could have meant a chunk of the entire league.
So what now? That’s the question as the Thanksgiving tournaments near.
Can Villanova regain its footing at the Advocare Invitational, possibly playing the likes of Memphis, Florida State or LSU? Against Michigan and Furman, the Wildcats indeed looked like a team that had lost its top four scorers to the NBA.
But things have changed, or at least faces have. Lots of people travel to Disney World to buy Mickey Mouse ears. Wright will be there to start developing his rotation. “That’s something you have to go through,” he said of the pains of reloading.
Can the storyline on Marquette be fixed? Been the same for years — laudable on offense, leaky on defense. The Golden Eagles won 21 games last season but were last in the Big East in points allowed and field goal percentage defense. They started this season better, but Indiana was a setback. The quest continues at the NIT in New York, and that won’t be easy. Not with Kansas to play, and then either Louisville or Tennessee.
“Obviously it’s the biggest area for our program to grow and improve in. Until we shut the narrative down, we’re going to keep talking about it,” Wojciechowski said. “That’s the way the sports world works. I’ve lived in this world my whole life essentially, where people are going to talk about things that maybe aren’t going as well. The only way you change that is by playing better defense. That’s our focus and that’s our hope.”
He thinks his team is bigger, longer, deeper, more committed to defense. Time will tell. He knows what it’s supposed to look like. Wojciechowski was national defensive player of the year for Duke in 1998.
“As somebody who was known for defense, when my team – and certainly I’m responsible for it – wasn’t playing good defense, that is an area of frustration,” he said. “Hopefully, we can change that and it’s something that will be old news.”
He has even been known to jump in on a drill or two. But not for long. “I don’t move too well anymore.”
As for the coach trying to make his team better, he’ll be in the room watching lots of film. He might as well be in Ohio.
Creighton is off to the Caymans, Butler to the Bahamas. Georgetown went to Jamaica — coach Patrick Ewing's native land — and was beaten by Loyola Marymount. It's been a tough week in the Big East. Really, really tough when Villanova can lose twice in under 70 hours. A blip or a bad sign? The league will know more after Thanksgiving.