Junior Cadougan hip bumped Davante Gardner and proceeded to throw up his rendition of the three-goggles with a big smile on his face after knocking down his fifth 3-pointer of the season in Tuesday’s 67-47 victory over South Florida.
The junior has had much to smile about in this his first full season as Marquette’s starting point guard. He is fifth in the Big East and 33rd in the nation in assists per game (5.6) and fifth in the Big East in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4).
Over the previous six contests, Cadougan has posted a 2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio, with 42 assists and only 15 turnovers, including a 5:1 ratio against South Florida.
Cadougan said nothing has changed for him during the stretch.
“I’m trying to get into the paint. I’m trying to find my teammates, and my teammates are knocking down shots and just trying to take care of the ball,” Cadougan said. “If I take care of the ball then I give my team a better chance to win.”
On a team with Big East Player of the Year candidates senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder, Cadougan’s contributions may go unappreciated by some.
“He’s the motor that makes us go on the offensive and defensive end, picking up the point guard full court,” Johnson-Odom said. “He just does a lot of things for us that go unnoticed.”
Unnoticed acts include serving as an extension of the coaching staff on the floor.
“On the court he puts guys in the right position. Guys may not know what to do sometimes, but he’s putting them in the right position at different times in the game,” Crowder said. “That’s what you need on every team.”
Crowder said Cadougan’s performance this year should earn him recognition as a top-two point guard in the Big East for his versatility.
“He can score, and he brings other things as well. He plays defense very well, and he’s a big body. He’s a floor general,” the senior forward said.
But against Georgetown on Jan. 4, coach Buzz Williams opted to give sophomore Vander Blue more minutes in the second half than Cadougan (17-7).
Cadougan didn’t describe the situation as a “benching” nor did he and Williams discuss it after the game. It came down to simple facts.
“I was in foul trouble, and Van (Blue) was doing a good job at the point, so (Williams) kept him in the game,” Cadougan said.
But Crowder said the decision served as a wake-up call to Cadougan.
“After that game he really took pride in doing the thing that he brings to the table which is getting guys in the right position,” Crowder said. “He’s really turned things up mentally and physically.”
And before Marquette’s biggest non-conference game of the season, Cadougan was suspended for violating team rules, forcing freshman Derrick Wilson into the starting point guard position in a brutal road-game environment.
It’s an experience Crowder believes made Cadougan a better basketball player and human being.
“That was a mistake,” Crowder said of the incident. “We all make them. That’s just something he learned from. I don’t want to say he needed it, but it helped him. I think it was beneficial to him as a basketball player and as a person. I think he got the best out of that situation.”
Cadougan’s 6.4 points per game are sixth on the team, but he said scoring isn’t his biggest priority, nor should it be this year. That’s something he’ll do more next season.
“I can score, but I would rather get my teammates going, because if I get my teammates going then we’re all going to play harder on defense,” Cadougan said. “My scoring will come. I’m not worried about scoring. I got one more year to score. I’m good right now. Everything’s flowing, and we’re winning.”