When Steve Wojciechowski’s Marquette Golden Eagles win games this year, it certainly isn’t going to be because of pretty offense. They are going to need to grind it out on the defensive end, or ride the hot hand of a particular player to pull out “ugly” wins.
Tonight the sharpshooting of senior Matt Carlino carried the Golden Eagles to a solid win in the first round of the Orlando Classic against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 71 to 70. The Yellow Jackets were unbeaten in their first three contests of the year including a win over in state rival Georgia Bulldogs to start the year.
This is a really nice win for Wojciechowski as he tries to reestablish the program in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Clearly he has already crushed the recruiting trail by locking in a top five 2015 class, but the sailing hasn’t been so smooth on the court. An 11 point loss on the road to the Ohio State Buckeyes was expected, but they gave up an outrageous 97 points in a loss to the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks. Combine that with only squeaking out a five point win against the NJIT Highlanders and Marquette’s fans sure felt like 2015 was light-years away.
However Carlino’s explosive outing from three point land gave Wojo and company a nice win against a quality ACC opponent. This will ease the worry that Marquette will just get kicked around this year. Carlino had 38 points on eight three pointers. In the first three games of the season, he had seven three pointers total. The BYU-transfer was also 14 for 16 from the foulline. Juan Anderson also had a nice game with 12 points and six rebounds.
One of the key adjustments Wojciechowski made was putting his Golden Eagles in zone for majority of the game on defense. Although he is generally prefers his team be in man-to-man, packing it in and allowing the Yellow Jackets to shoot from outside worked extremely well. The Ramblin’ Wreck shot a mere seven for 24 from three.
We’ll see if Marquette can carry the momentum of this win into the Orlando Classic semifinal against the number 20 ranked Michigan State Spartans. Even just playing the Spartans tough would be another positive step for the Golden Eagles. Indiana-transfer Luke Fischer becomes eligible after the first semester and his height will be a huge reinforcement on the interior.
There is no doubt that Marquette has a bright future, but no one should be completely writing them off in the present either. Surely Carlino won’t always have this kind of explosive output on offense, but Wojciechowski clearly has his boys playing hard and will keep them competitive.