The last time we saw Marquette play, they were busy beating Syracuse thanks to 26 points — on 7-7 shooting — and eight boards from nimble big man Davante Gardner.
On Saturday, Gardner struggled, but his counterpart in the paint — Chris Otule — finished with 16 points, hitting all eight of his field goal attempts while Jamil Wilson, who was 3-12 from the floor and 1-8 from three against the Orange, finished with 19 points as No. 22 Marquette jumped out to a 15 point lead 12 minutes into the game, hanging on to beat No. 21 Notre Dame 72-64.
And that, in a nutshell, is what this Marquette team is all about.
They don’t have an all-american on their roster. They probably don’t have an all-Big East player. There are no NBA Draft Picks; Buzz Williams doesn’t have a Jae Crowder or a Darius Johnson-Odom or a Jimmy Butler.
What he does have is a versatile, 10-man rotation consisting of versatile veterans with some talented youngsters sprinkled in. There isn’t much glitz-and-glamour with this team, instead playing a blue-collar style perfectly suited to their head coach’s roots.
When talking about Marquette, the first thing that inevitably comes up is how hard they play, and as Williams told CBSSports.com last weekend, he’s tired of the stereotype. But here’s the thing: it’s not like this is a negative statement. It’s not an insult, and it certainly isn’t a knock on the amount of talent in the program. It’s a compliment. It’s rare to see a coach get a team to consistently give the kind of effort that Marquette does.
It’s also why the Golden Eagles have a chance to win a share of the Big East regular season title this year. They’re deep, they’re versatile and they have weapons up and down their lineup. They also have a team full of guys that are talented enough to be a go-to guy at another program but play as if they are the glue-guy on the floor solely for their effort-level.
That’s a dangerous combination.
Because it makes game-planning for the Golden Eagles a nightmare. Take away Gardner and Otule can beat you. Slow down Vander Blue, Junior Cadougan and Trent Lockett and Wilson will go for 19. Feel like you’re making a run, and Todd Mayo will come off the bench and hit a pair of momentum-killing shots.
It’s really tough to stop a team that has five different guys on the floor that can beat you.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.