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:
First, I wanna say a lot of people aren’t gonna be able to get this stuff out of other players. I’m gonna be straight-up with you and let you know how we live here at Marquette.
We had a great practice before we watched Selection Sunday, really competitive after having two days off before. We’re doing a lot of things that we haven’t been doing well in games, and I think guys are getting the hang of that.
We went to this building around here called the Annex to watch Selection Sunday, and I think we were just happy to be playing in the tournament. We didn’t really care what our seeding was, but we saw some really fun, interesting matchups in the first and second rounds, and I got to see that if we’re able to win this first game, then we’d play Syracuse, so that’s another team that we’re familiar with, and I think it’ll just be good for the young guys to see and experience the NCAA tournament. We have guys who have played in big games, big tournaments, but playing in the NCAA tournament is another stage.
I think last year before the season started, expectations were low for us, and we were just happy to be in the tournament. We didn’t realize what we really wanted to accomplish. I think this year, we’ve been through a lot of tough games and played a lot of tough opponents and have realized we can win a few games and do some bigger things. Basically, we’ve got to play hard every possession. Teams are gonna make runs, but the game is never over, particularly in the tournament.
We know (Xavier) jumps on the ball. They have tremendous guards. And Tu [Holloway] has two guards who complement him in Mark Lyons and Dante Jackson. And Kenny Frease is a strong player for Xavier, and I think their team is real good as far as getting paint touches and getting into the lane, but we just take it one game at a time. We’re gonna focus as much on Xavier as possible, and after that game, we’ll focus on someone else, but right now it’s Xavier.
Last thing, I wanna shout out all my people in Raleigh and all the people who are cheering for me.
Check in with you soon.
Follow DJO on Twitter at @KingMe_DJ1.
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