After an efficient sophomore year in which he averaged 13.0 points on 45.5 percent shooting, including 47.4 percent from distance, Marquette guard Darius Johnson-Odom took his game a step further this season. By upping his scoring average by nearly three points and making big strides on the defensive end, he became an All-Big East Second Team selection and led Marquette to a 9-9 record in the toughest conference in America. DJO will now try to use his pure shooting stroke and defensive toughness to advance his 11th-seeded Golden Eagles deep into March. Darius has agreed to take Dime readers along with him on the journey, which begins Friday in Cleveland against 6th-seeded Xavier. Here are his words:
We had practice at 11 for an hour-and-a-half, and we just got a lot of shots up. After that, we walked around downtown and stopped at Subway for lunch. We got to talk to a lot of people at the parade, and they wanted to know our expectations and a lot of things about Marquette. You see a lot of fans and a lot of supporters, even people who were supporting Xavier, but it was still nice seeing a lot of people walking around. After that, some guys went to the movies, but I think most just got some rest.
I watched the Morehead State-Louisville game. I thought that game was a good game from both teams that came down to one possession. Like I said, most of these games come down to the final possession, and Morehead State hit a tough shot. You gotta have a lot of courage to take a shot like that to win the game, and I thought Morehead State did. Later, I watched the Michigan State-UCLA game. You know, for the first and second round games, it’s a lot of games that come down to that last possession.
We ate dinner at 8, and we watched more film on Xavier trying to get a better feel for what they do on the offensive end and where we can control them, so we’re getting a better hang of them. We watched film every day this week trying to see what they do best and see where we can hurt them.
They’re gonna attack every time on ball screens. They’re also a great offensive rebounding team. Thirty-seven percent of their baskets are off offensive rebounds. Last year, they had 21 offensive rebounds against us, so that’s a scary thought, and we got to find a way to keep their team off the glass.
Coach hasn’t talked about the matchups yet, but we’ll probably start with Dwight Buycks on [Tu] Holloway and throw a lot of defenses at them to throw them off on the offensive end. One thing Coach [Buzz] Williams really does is make them start their offense out as far as possible. If we do that, I think we’ve got a better chance of keeping them out the paint.
I think it’s gonna take a lot of poise and a lot of character to pull a game out like this against a team like Xavier that’s close to home and has been to the Sweet 16 the past three years, so it’s gonna be a game. But hopefully next time we talk, we’ll have a win under our belt and we’ll be moving on to the next round of games.
Follow DJO on Twitter at @KingMe_DJ1.
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