Marquette Wire

Rebounding key to Golden Eagles Alumni’s fate in The Basketball Tournament

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

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Head coach Joe Chapman has made it clear that his team will not be caught off-guard by a post-heavy team for a third year in a row.

“They all have pretty good bigs, so we have to be ready for that,” Chapman said. “We have to have (bigger players) on our roster just in case we have those games where we need them.”

But avoiding another loss in the second weekend will be more complicated than adding a few big players.

Golden Eagles Alumni had a 174-143 scoring advantage in the first two games, but opponents out-rebounded Marquette’s alumni team 72-64.

“One thing I want to get better at is rebounding,” Chapman said. “We are a smaller team, but we have to team rebound.”

It’s a battle many players are accustomed to. All-time leading scorer Jerel McNeal had four NCAA Tournament appearances with Marquette despite having only one starter taller than 6-foot-6 in three of the four years.

“Our Achilles’ heel is going to be our rebounding,” McNeal said. “It’s kind of what we’re used to here, at least when I was here.”

The guard-heavy roster composition fits well with Chapman’s coaching philosophy, which emphasizes having players that can shoot and switching defensive schemes.

“I love to play with two point guards and two shooters and one post player who can shoot,” Chapman said. “That’s my philosophy.”

This involves relying on 6-foot-7 forward Jamil Wilson, a small forward in the NBA, to play the center position. Wilson particularly thrived in the pseudo-post player role. He averaged 24 points per game in the first weekend on 53 percent shooting from the field and 54 percent shooting from the perimeter.

“That’s an awesome weapon to have because a lot of traditional fives are going to have to match up with him, and it’s going to create a lot of different openings for him,” Chapman said. “We’re able to do a lot of different things when you have a five-man that can shoot it.”

Chapman and general manager Dan Fitzgerald also added several big men outside of Marquette alumni to this year’s roster to close the gap in rebounding.

Cinmeon Bowers, Brett Prahl and Willie Atwood all joined, despite not being Marquette alumni, but have made minimal contributions so far. None of the outside additions have recorded more than four rebounds in a game or played 20-plus minutes.

Those roster additions might not come into play until Sunday with Marquette taking on a guard-heavy Talladega Knights team Saturday at 10 a.m. Central time. No player is taller than 6-foot-8.

“They’re an up-tempo team. They don’t have a lot of bigs. They play really fast up the court,” Chapman said. “We have to prepare for their speed.”

The TBT team scrimmaged against Marquette’s current roster Thursday afternoon to prepare for the quick tempo.

“That helps us get used to the speed of the game,” Chapman said.

Even with the smaller opponent on Saturday, the theme for both games will be rebounding.

“It’s going to be the team that actually rebounds the most and yuck it up a little bit (that wins),” Chapman said. “So we have to be ready for all types of defenses.”

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About the Writer
John Steppe, Executive Sports Editor

John Steppe is the executive sports editor for the Marquette Wire. He is a junior majoring in journalism and double-minoring in digital media and Spanish....

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