Marquette’s postseason hopes were teetering as the new year arrived. The Golden Eagles had dropped four straight games, including their first three Big East matchups. The skid culminated with a crushing, double-overtime Jan.
1 home loss to Creighton in which they allowed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the first extra session. “Just the pain and kind of sadness we felt after that game, we didn’t really want to feel it again,” Marquette guard Darryl Morsell said.
This is the kind of impression Marquette was hoping to make when it hired coach Shaka Smart to replace Steve Wojciechowski, who was fired after going 128-95 overall but 59-68 in Big East competition. Not many people expected the impact to arrive this soon.
In a preseason poll of the league’s coaches, Marquette was picked to finish ninth out of 11 Big East teams. “It’s still motivating us to this day,” Morsell said. “I knew that was something that we didn’t want to happen. I knew we had the pieces to be right at the top of the conference.”