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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

‘Ragtag crew’ toughens up for Tar Heels

Marquette is moving onto the Sweet Sixteen after defeating the Syracuse Orange. Photo courtesy MU Images.

After all the celebrating, coach Buzz Williams’ tear-filled post game and everyone sporting their “three goggles,” Marquette finally can get back to basketball as it prepares for North Carolina (28-7) in its first Sweet 16 game since the 2002-’03 season.

Marquette will enter the game as the clear underdog, which is just fine with senior forward Joe Fulce.

“Like coach said, we’re just kind of the ragtag crew,” Fulce said. “We’re ready to go out there and just keep showing up.”

Despite this being Marquette’s biggest game during Williams’ tenure as Marquette’s coach, nothing will change when it comes to his preparation or the way the team prepares for this game.

“I don’t think there’s any reason to change what has brought us to this point,” Williams said. “I’m not saying that all of our preparation has brought us to this point but I think it has a factor in it.”

Since postseason play began, Marquette has won four of its last five games, but it ended the regular season as loser of four of its last seven games.  Getting back to being a tough team has helped extend the season.

“There have been times this year when we’ve lacked toughness and we know it, but we’ve got it back,” senior guard Rob Frozena said. “We got our edge back and the only way we’re going to advance is if we’re the toughest team.”

Toughness is always a factor when March rolls around. But with North Carolina, Marquette will also have to be on edge defensively as soon as the Tar Heels take possession.

Williams said they’re a fast-paced team that likes to score quickly. To combat that, Marquette’s offense will have to make smart decisions with the basketball to help its defense like it did in its 66-62 victory over Syracuse.

“Sometimes you have to turn down a good one to get a great one,”Williams said. “By turning down the good one to get a great one it helps ensure that they don’t get a real quick one.”

Not only are the Tar Heels quick, but they were the best rebounding team in the country during the regular season at 42.5 per game.  They’re led by sophomore forwards Tyler Zeller and John Henson who average 7.1 and 10.7 rebounds per game, respectively. Both players stand over 6-feet-10-inches.

For Fulce and the undersized Golden Eagles, it’ll just be another day at the office.

“We’re a small team. Everybody we play against, they’ve always been the big guy,” Fulce said. “With that, just go and get the ball. There’s no magic trick to it or anything like that.”

Marquette is 1-3 all-time against North Carolina with that one victory earning Marquette a national championship in 1977.  For Fulce and company though, this will be their first taste of the Tar Heels.

“Most of us, growing up when we were younger … you’ve always wanted to say, ‘you know, I wonder what it’s like to play North Carolina,’” Fulce said. “And here we are about to play them and we can’t be any more prepared than we are.”

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