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Game #25: St. John's basketball vs Marquette Golden Eagles

Tomorrow, St. John's welcomes the Marquette Golden Eagles to Madison Square Garden for a Big East Basketball game at 7 PM ET.

Old Marquette Warriors logoThis week, the St. John’s Red Storm 10-14, 4-9 will receive their ass-kicking take on the Marquette GOLD/ Warriors/ Golden Eagles, 18-6 on the season, 8-5 in the Big East. I was thinking just yesterday, as I saw yet another sign for a road named Marquette in a suburb south of Chicago, who was this Marquette guy and why does his name get around so much?

Well, Père Jacques Marquette was a Jesuit priest and explorer who is credited with seeing and mapping the northern part of what became the Mississippi River, the Wisconsin River, and the Illinois River. Then he spent the winter in what would one day become Chicago.

And he sent people back? Didn't the winds tell you to go away? And up the highway in Milwaukee, WI is even worse! Père Marquette, I blame you for having to suffer through this miserable single-digit temperature crap, and these 25 below windchills.

While I understand that I had a choice in the matter, I can't help but think about the Euro explorers who were so in search of arable property that they decided Syracuse and Albany were good ideas. Who took a boat to these places and thought, we’ve just GOT to live in Chicago?

Ousmane Barro battling for the ballAs for the basketball program that former St. John’s player Al McGuire made famous, they’re pretty good this year. They returned to the national rankings, and their efficiency numbers are improving. Plus, Ousmane Barro is feeling it. In fact, Ken Pomeroy’s offensive rating stats make me think that Wednesday at the Garden is going to be a long, long night.

From what I’ve seen, the Golden Gold Eagles are rounding into shape. They’re still guard oriented, with Jerel McNeal and Dominic James hoisting the majority of shots and handing out most of the teams assists. Neither is particularly stroking it from beyond the arc:

Jerel McNeal: 27% on the season in 67 attempts

Dominic James: 32% on the season in 101 attempts

But they’re getting the job done. Lazar Hayward shoots less but is much more effective at scoring, and he pulls down rebounds, to boot. Ousmane Barro is a guy I love to watch, especially now that he’s back to swatting shots and throwing down dunks. Wesley Matthews does a bit of everything, rebounding, shooting credibly from the three-point arc (35%), and getting to the free throw line at a good clip.

And this team is quick. They play fast. And St. John’s is feeling low, making mistakes… and they just can't score these days. Being a fa watching this team is like being an irrational actor, as they say in behavioral economics; why would I watch something that I know won't bring me joy?

And pretending that this team is going to pull out a win is even more irrational. It's like Clemens asking people to believe that his friends and his wife were injecting HGH and he was just above the fray. It's like Lindsey Lohan having the hubris to recreate Marilyn Monroe's nude photos - she can only be compared unfavorably, to be labeled as desperate, for people to ask what on earth is this rehab recidivist famous for? It's like a Minister of Defense inspecting the troops with the lens caps on while the cameras are flashing. In each case it deserves a shot of Biz Markie telling me to stop frontin'.

Keys to the Game:

Garden Magic and Traveling Blues. No team is immune to the let down game. If St. John's comes out hard and makes this game a dogfight-- bodying the guards up, making them take tough shots, not letting them get into the lane, St. John's could slow Marquette down.

Let Them All Hang Out. St. John's has nothing to lose, and Anthony Mason is back. Though the team tends to stand around and watch him - probably because he's effectively missed a third of the season - if players start making moves to follow his drives, or get to the open spots when he goes into the paint, Mason might find them with a pass. Good screens, and some run outs off of missed baskets might improve the Red Storm's offensive efficiency.

Hit 'Em Hard Inside. St. John's has to attack in transition at the rim - get the offensive rebounds, get Justin Burrell moving toward the basket, get Sean Evans back in the box score.

Oh, just enjoy the Biz:

edit: rumor has it that St. Francis Prep (and Forest Hills born) freshman Mike Cavataio has earned a start at shooting guard.