Marquette Wire

Inside BIG EAST Basketball: Fort Wayne upset brings up in-state questions

Jae+Crowder+boxes+out+a+Green+Bay+player+in+a+game+in+2010.
Jae Crowder boxes out a Green Bay player in a game in 2010.

Jae Crowder boxes out a Green Bay player in a game in 2010.

Photo by Gary Dineen

Photo by Gary Dineen

Jae Crowder boxes out a Green Bay player in a game in 2010.

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We’re early into the college basketball season, but it will be tough to top Fort Wayne’s upset over the big boys in their state, then-No. 3 Indiana, on the little guy’s home court. In his postgame TV interview, Fort Wayne head coach Jon Coffman thanked Indiana coach and former Marquette coach Tom Crean for being willing to travel to Fort Wayne and take on the challenge.

“It doesn’t happen in college basketball,” Coffman said. “They’ll be talking about Indiana coming to Fort Wayne for the next 50 years, and he was the reason they did it. No one else in the country will do that.”

Yesterday, Omaha World-Herald reporter Dirk Chatelain called out Creighton and Nebraska for not taking on the state’s smaller schools, but he does bring up the reason teams don’t do it: It’s a favor with an enormous risk for the established program. Sure, it’s great for the small school that gets their stadium filled up thanks to the visiting fans. You could even say it’s good for the sport in the area, but what is there to gain by scheduling these games? If you win, it’s expected. If you lose, you won’t hear the end of it.

Marquette hasn’t played a Wisconsin state school besides the state’s flagship, UW-Madison, since the 2012-’13 season, a year the Golden Eagles experienced their personal in-state torment. The Elite Eight-bound Golden Eagles faced the same fate as Indiana, falling at Green Bay by two points.

This question could be relevant for the Golden Eagles with talks of renewing the UW-Milwaukee series. Not surprisingly, UWM athletic director Amanda Braun is all on board, stating the match-up is likely to return. Marquette athletic director Bill School wasn’t as quick to confirm.

“We certainly have made no commitments to that in either direction whatsoever,” Scholl said late last month.

Georgetown seeing the blues

Like nearly every season, there were high expectations for the Georgetown Hoyas. Unfortunately, the Hoyas are looking more like the team that finished eighth last season and not the one expected to finish fourth in the preseason poll this season.

Georgetown crumbled against Maryland, blowing a five-point lead in the final 30 seconds of its Gavitt Tipoff Game. The Hoyas followed that up with a loss to Arkansas State, a team just barely in the top 200 in KenPom. Just when things looked to be turning around with a victory against No. 15 Oregon, the Hoyas ended the Maui Jim Maui Invitational with losses to Wisconsin and Oklahoma State. Despite winning their latest outing against Howard, the Hoyas were out-rebounded despite the Bison’s lack of size.

A chant calling for the firing of head coach George Thompson III erupted after the Arkansas State loss. With a losing season last season and a rough start to this year, he’s the coach most on the hot seat in the conference.

Taylor made

Steve Taylor, Jr. transferred from Marquette in 2015 knowing he’d likely get little playing time in his senior season if he stayed. Head coach Steve Wojciechowski brought in one of the highest ranked recruits in program history at his position, Henry Ellenson. Taylor would be stuck in the bench role he’d come to know in the second half of his junior season, once Luke Fischer was eligible to play.

Instead, the 6-foot-9 Chicago native opted to move to Toledo, a selection that is paying off after his NCAA-mandated year away from competitive basketball. Taylor has scored in double digits in each of Toledo’s seven games this season, most notably scoring a season-high 22 points in a 103-98 victory against Youngstown State.

Taylor is second on the team in points per game and was named the MAC West Player of the Week on Nov. 21.

News and Notes:

  • In a week mostly filled with buy games, one premier match-up stands out from the pack: No. 7 Xavier at No. 9 Baylor. The Musketeers are unscathed through six games, but it hasn’t always been easy. They needed to fight hard to down Missouri and Clemson at the Tire Pros Invitational. Guard J.P. Macura has taken a big step, moving from BIG EAST Sixth Man of the Year to the team leader in points, but Xavier still has plenty of questions with its bigs and is without suspended Myles Davis.
  • After Michigan followed up its demolition of Marquette with a 76-54 victory against SMU, a front runner to win the American Conference, it appeared the Golden Eagles had just run into a team stronger than its expectations. Unfortunately for Wojciechowski and company, their resume took a hit in the Wolverines’ first game after the 2k Classic, a 61-46 loss to South Carolina.
  • Maurice Watson Jr. obviously gets most of the attention for Creighton, but watch out for shooting guard Marcus Foster. The Kansas State transfer leads the team with 17.7 points per game and was dominant against Ole Miss, shooting 5 for 8 from 3-point range. The guard combo of Watson and Foster combined for 32 points in the Bluejays’ victory against then-No. 8 Wisconsin and is the main reason Creighton is ranked No. 10.

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