Cadougan’s play not as influential, breaking a long-running pattern

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Photo by Danny Alfonzo/ daniel.alfonzo@mu.edu

Photo by Danny Alfonzo/ daniel.alfonzo@mu.edu

There’s a lot that doesn’t make sense about Marquette’s success this season, but a lot of that has been dismissed as the season has progressed.

Whether they could shoot from the perimeter, were good enough to win away from the friendly confines of the BMO Harris Bradley Center, and many other concerns have almost disappeared.

With their recent run into the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, something still is bugging me, though.

Junior Cadougan isn’t playing his best offensively right now, but Marquette keeps winning.

I get that Vander Blue, Davante Gardner, Chris Otule, and Jamil Wilson are all excelling offensively and they are taking some of the responsibility away from Cadougan. Because those four, among others, are playing well offensively, the senior point guard doesn’t have to be as influential necessarily.

But this is really breaking a trend that has not only been very prevalent this season, but since the start of Marquette’s 2011-’12 campaign.

Here are Cadougan’s numbers in wins and losses this season and last season.

2011-‘12

Wins (27): 6.3 points, 5.7 assists, 2.3 turnovers, 41.2 percent from the field

Losses (8): 5.5 points, 3.5 assists, 3.4 turnovers, 31.5 percent from the field

2012-‘13

Wins (26): 8.8 points, 4.1 assists, 2.2 turnovers, 45.9 percent from the field

Losses: (8): 7.9 points, 3.1 assists, 3.5 turnovers, 39.1 percent from the field

Maybe it was a bit more prevalent last season, but it is almost a fact that since the start of the 2011-’12 season: when Cadougan plays well Marquette’s chances of winning increase greatly.

In the Golden Eagles’ three games in the “Big Dance,” Cadougan is scoring seven points per game, shooting 34.7 percent from the field – 8 of 23 – and has just three assists to six turnovers.

He hasn’t played well, and they won.

I’m really confused.

I understand that the four aforementioned players are currently playing at the highest level they have this season. That’s a fine explanation, and I should accept that as the reason.

Last season, though, Marquette had two All-Big East players, one of them being the conference’s player of the year. All of those players I mentioned earlier were on that team, as well.

Blue is a completely different player than last season, so I’ll let him slide. Otule also has also shown great signs of improvement offensively, especially since the start of this calendar year. He also missed the majority of last season.

Gardner and Wilson, though, were prominent in Marquette’s offense. They were playing well throughout the season, really.

So how is this season so different? There’s less talent and fewer NBA players on this team, but somehow they have managed to win the biggest games of their season without their floor general being at his best offensively.

While Cadougan has not been his normal self on that end of the court, he has been very good defensively through Marquette’s first three games in the NCAA Tournament. He guarded three very good point guards in Nik Cochran, Rotnei Clarke, and Shane Larkin, and his defense has come through when it was needed.

But that’s not the end of the court that Cadougan is supposed to make a big impact.

The only reason this could be the case is the depth of Marquette’s scoring attack. It’s very possible that Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom needed Cadougan to set them up more, too.

Opponents knew that Cadougan would try to get the ball to one of those two, so if they frustrated him then the team would be out of whack as well.

This season, while Blue has become Marquette’s best scorer, the Golden Eagles have more capable offensive players. Gardner and Otule have excelled in the paint, and Wilson has gained more confidence on the perimeter. Senior Trent Lockett is also playing his best, and is a different offensive player in 2013 than he was in non-conference play – his scoring average may not show a difference, but his shot selection has greatly improved.

With more scoring options, that may mean that Cadougan’s set-up play is not as necessary for offensive success and a victory.

Two All-Big East players couldn’t figure out how to win without Cadougan playing well, but somehow this season’s team has. Go figure.

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