The end of 2013 hasn't been the best for Marquette. The prohibitive favorites in the Big East closed out the non-conference season 8-5 after defeating Samford Saturday.
In five games against the Ken Pom top 50, the Golden Eagles went 0-5. Two weeks ago, Marquette was the last team in in Joe Lunardi's bracket. Its best win came on a neutral site over George Washington, and its RPI sits at an atrocious 109, which bests only Seton Hall in the Big East.
Clearly, a lot has to go right in the new year for Marquette to achieve its lofty preseason goals. With that in mind, here are five New Year's resolutions for the Golden Eagles to get their season back on track.
1. Win at Creighton tonight in the Big East opener
This is a temporary quick fix that will help Marquette right away. The Bluejays rank No. 15 in Ken Pom and boast a decent 61 RPI. A win would boost Marquette (No. 42 in Ken Pom) in both rankings and pad a weak NCAA tournament profile. That win is also much easier said than done
Bluejays star Doug McDermott will be a brutal guard for Marquette. Jamil Wilson, who injured his knee against Samford and didn't return, will shoulder most of the McDermott load and could be stretched at times by the all-American's versatility. The Creighton coach's son takes 36.6 percent of Creighton's shots when he's on the floor, which ranks him sixth in the nation.
Creighton also does what Marquette doesn't, and shoots the ball with brutal effectiveness. The Bluejays rank second in the country in both adjusted offensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage and are third in three point shooting. Marquette will need to close down on shooters all night, especially the taller ones like McDermott and Ethan Wragge.
2. Develop a consistently decent outside shooting attack
This might be a pipe dream at this point, but realistically Marquette could at least move into the top 150 in this category nationally. The Golden Eagles are shooting 31.1 percent from long range. Marquette's best three-point shooter, Jake Thomas, has shot 40.4 percent from distance this season, but no other player shoots better than 37 percent. Jajuan Johnson and Todd Mayo need to push their percentage above 40 as well, and Derrick Wilson needs to stop shooting them entirely.
3. Derrick Wilson must become an adequate floor general
Of Marquette's 11 rotation players (not including Dylan Flood), Wilson's offensive rating only bests that of John Dawson and Steve Taylor. That has to change. Wilson's assist rate, 23.1, ranks just 323rd in the country. His turnover percentage of just over 20 percent is way too high for a player of his limited offensive abilities. Somehow, Wilson has to elevate his game for conference play and improve both off his options on the drive (dish or shoot). He also must continue to get to the free throw line and make a better percentage of those shots. Marquette won't win enough without Wilson becoming a top five point guard.
4. Go 9-0 at home in conference
The Golden Eagles have done this the past two years, and haven't lost a conference game at home since senior day 2011. In order to improve their RPI and tournament resume, they might have to pull off the same feat yet again. Marquette has a solid home field advantage at the Bradley Center, and are capable of stringing together a performance to beat any team in the conference on a given night. This could also keep it in contention for second straight regular season title.
All of these goals aside, Marquette has a lot to do in the next three months to make, let alone prepare for, the NCAA Tournament.