A Downward Dog before the Regular Season~Dan Pfeifer

A Downward Dog before the Regular SeasonMarquette starts “it counts” play after an exhibition scare

This week’s blog begins with some yoga. Let’s start by focusing on our breathing. Deep breath in … deep breath out …

Marquette starts its 2017-18 regular season tomorrow night against Mount St. Mary’s. It enters the season following a 2-0 exhibition campaign featuring a nice win over a rebuilding Milwaukee team and … deep breath in, deep breath out … a near-loss to Division II Lindenwood last Saturday, 81-79 … deep breath in, deep breath out … in which it allowed Lindenwood to hit 14 three-pointers, shoot 55.6 percent on the afternoon and … deep breath in, deep breath out … was a late three-pointer miss away from what would have been a rather notable failure.

Deep breath in … deep breath out …

I’m fine. I’m breathing. I was in Washington, D.C. while this game was going on Saturday. I was honoring my father and his time spent in the Vietnam War by joining him on the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight. When I saw the final score on the bus back to Dulles International Airport, I reminded myself that it’s been too long since I’ve done some yoga. After all, breathing is important.

Deep breath in, deep breath out …

After some breathing, there’s a few things to take into account with a game like this. Andrew Rowsey was serving a suspension. Haanif Cheatham came back from a shoulder injury and looked good, going 3-for-4 from three and supplementing Sam Hauser’s 20 points with 17 of his own. And let’s remember, these are exhibition games. With the knowledge the game doesn’t matter, it’s always plausible Steve Wojciechowski and his staff tried some different things on defense that simply didn’t work. Maybe this was the game Wojo channeled his inner Harry Hogge (played by Robert Duvall) from Days of Thunder and told his players, collectively filling the role of Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise), “In the first half, you do it your way. In the second half, we do it mine.” And maybe that’s why Lindenwood connected on over 60 percent of their shots, from both two and three, in the first half, furthering a long-lingering issue for Marquette when it comes to perimeter defense. I mean, after all, why should a day where Marquette leaves a bunch of Division II kids wide open for three consistently be …

… deep breath in, deep breath out …

… concerning. No, we’re going to let that go. Namaste.

As it was, if it wasn’t for the Milwaukee game, we probably wouldn’t have even had Marquette Courtside the last couple weeks. Lindenwood was an exhibition, Marquette was short-handed and it’s over. Marquette starts fresh tomorrow night and … deep breath in, deep breath out … optimism should still be running high.

Keep in mind, there will be a test next week, when Marquette goes up against Purdue as part of the Gavitt Games on Tuesday. The Boilermakers start the season ranked 20th in the AP poll, were the top-scoring team in the Big Ten last year and are expected to light it up again this year. While Marquette will not be expected to win the game, there will be a want on the part of its faithful to at least see them be competitive. With Mount St. Mary’s being the kind of game most fans won’t bother to change their Friday night plans for, a contest against a ranked Big Ten foe will require Marquette to be on its game, particularly given Purdue’s ability to score and Marquette’s occasional defensive lapses. There will be a lot of attention and, if Marquette plays like they did against Lindenwood, the potential for …

… deep breath in, deep breath out …

… a nice win. It’ll be fine. We’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. This season will not feature the maddening inconsistency last year’s did. #BloodPressureCheck will not require supplementary medication. It’ll be fine. Namaste. I hope.

COURTSIDE SPLINTERS

A SECOND HAUSER, FOR WHEN COMPANY WANTS TO STAY: It had been known for some time that Joey Hauser had plans to join his brother, Sam, at Marquette, but with Hauser’s letter of intent signing yesterday, it feels more official. Of course, the Hausers are the second brother duo to come through under Wojciechowski, and as was the case with Wally and Henry Ellenson, it’s the second brother to come through that has more hype, though Sam Hauser is clearly a bigger part of what Marquette is doing than Wally (though let’s not forget that Wally was a better glue guy than expected). There’s not much to say here other than to acknowledge that this represents a step forward in the relationship between Marquette and Joey as we look forward to seeing how the Hausers will work together in 2018.

I’M TWICE THE TWIT I USED TO BE: Twitter began allowing everyone to tweet 280 characters earlier this week. I was quick to get excited, then disappointed to find out even that length can’t rein me in.

A BLOG FINALLY BEFITTING A 5-FOOT-6 WRITER: With two games to write about next week, we’ll have a lot better feel for this team then. For now, however, enjoy this shorter-than-usual version of Courtside. We’ll try again next week.   


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