MUBB takeaways: Valley City State

Ellenson, Cohen shine while defense struggles

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story
Back to Article
Back to Article

MUBB takeaways: Valley City State

Sandy Cohen tied for the team lead with 16 points against Valley City State. (Photo by Doug Peters/

Sandy Cohen tied for the team lead with 16 points against Valley City State. (Photo by Doug Peters/

Sandy Cohen tied for the team lead with 16 points against Valley City State. (Photo by Doug Peters/

Sandy Cohen tied for the team lead with 16 points against Valley City State. (Photo by Doug Peters/

Marquette 98, Valley City State 57

Team leaders:
Points: Henry Ellenson and Sandy Cohen (Tied with 16)
Rebounds: Henry Ellenson (17)
Henry Ellenson (5)

The final box appears the way most would expect a game between a DI and NAIA basketball team would, with Marquette defeating Valley City State 98-57. Despite the 41-point cushion, head coach Steve Wojciechowski admitted the team has plenty to work on.

“We weren’t exactly who we’ve been behind closed doors, or even in Italy or the secret scrimmage,” Wojciechowski said. “I didn’t think we were clicking on the cylinders that we normally click on.”

There were promising moments, some freshman jitters and plenty of fouls. Here are some takeaways from Marquette’s final tuneup before Friday’s season opener against Belmont.

The Henry Ellenson Show

While the top storyline heading into the game was Marquette’s Henry Ellenson and his brother Wally taking on their brother, Ellwood, and Valley City State, Henry quickly stole the spotlight in his debut at the Bradley Center. The 6-foot-10 freshman was slow to start, making four of his ten first half shots. His shot, however, looked smooth and refined. He finished the half with 12 points and 12 rebounds in 17 minutes.

Henry showed his ability to grab defensive rebounds and run the fast break on numerous occasions, though he only went to the basket aggressively a few times. Many of his shots came either from the perimeter. He had some trouble with defensive rotations early on, especially with fellow big man Luke Fischer, but looked strong and disciplined in defending his post. He was the only Marquette player (besides late sub Michael Mache) to not commit a foul.

Ellenson was removed from the game with 8:16 left to play in the second half. He finished with 16 points, 17 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and zero fouls.

Cohen shows his skill

Sandy Cohen tied Henry Ellenson for the team lead in points and displayed more versatility than last season. Last season he was used almost exclusively as a stand-up outside shooter. Against Valley City State he drove to the lane with the ball and made interior cuts without it.

“Last year I think I was kind of limited to the three-point range because I was skinny and kind of weak,” Cohen said. “The BIG EAST is such a physical league. It was kind of hard for me to get to the paint. Over the summer I worked hard in the weight room. I gained a lot of weight.”

The sophomore guard extended the 12-point halftime lead with a seven point run to open the second, hitting three baskets in a row in the first two minutes.

“I think I got a couple loose balls and laid them in,” Cohen said. A guy laid off me, and I just hit a three. I was going with the flow of the game.”

Jump Shooting: A tale of two halves

The Golden Eagles struggled mightily in the first half when it came to shooting, hitting only 43 percent from the field and a dismal two for 11 from three point range. The team improved as the game went along, shooting 78.6 percent in the second half.

“Our guys were pressing offensively,” Wojciechowski said. “A lot of times when you’re in front of a crowd for the first time, especially with guys who maybe aren’t established, there’s a tendency to press on offense… We showed the patience offensively that we normally do (in the second half).”

“The first half I thought we were getting really good shots,” Cohen said. “They just weren’t falling… In the course of a game it’s going to be like that sometimes.”

Henry Ellenson, who finished with 16 points, missed six of his ten shots in the first half.

“There were some shots that felt good but just went a little long,” Ellenson said. “That’s just a little excitement. As the game went on shots started dropping and stuff was going my way.”

Interior defense struggles early

Despite Marquette’s big men having a few inches on Valley City State’s tallest players, the Golden Eagles struggled rebounding early in the game. The Vikings had more boards than Marquette for a majority of the first half.

“They were driving the baseline and we were getting there late,” Ellenson said. “Guys were off their man. My brother (Ellwood) and their other big, they like to crash the boards hard.”

Some of the struggles may have derived from Luke Fischer exiting the game early after getting into foul trouble. Wojciechowski kept Ellenson on the floor for a majority of the half, using Matt Heldt and Sacar Anim as the other frontcourt players.

Point guard rotation

Wojciechowski has made it clear that he prefers a term like “lead guard” for his floor generals instead of “point guard” because he usually has multiple ball handlers on the floor at one time. Duane Wilson got the start at the lead guard spot while Jajuan Johnson started at shooting guard. Wilson, who is a sure bet to start in Friday’s opener, was just 1-for-4 with five points, one assist and four fouls in 18 minutes.

Freshmen Traci Carter and Haanif Cheatham also split time at lead guard. Cheatham was impressive in his 25 minutes of play and gave Wojciechowski some points to consider when choosing the starters for Friday. Cheatham was aggressive both on and off the ball, showing confidence in his drives to the hoop and good court vision when controlling the top of the key. He finished 6-of-10 for 15 points, along with two assists and two rebounds. Carter failed to stand out in his Marquette debut, going 2-for-4 with six points, three assists and three turnovers in 19 minutes.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email