Yesterday's loss to Washington was Marquette's 16th game this season that was decided by four points or less, the most in all of college basketball. The loss brought Marquette's record in those games to ... 8-8, which is where it should be when you play so many games that could go either way.
Always thinking you can win close game is a curse, because so much can happen to tip the scales. That's why SB Nation's Marquette blog Anonymous Eagle pointed the finger at coach Buzz Williams last night. All season long, Williams has said his team needs to play perfectly because they don't have the talent level to blow teams out. In this case, that attitude may have come back to hurt his team.
When you're constantly telling your players, telling the public, telling your fans that -- in a nutshell -- your team has to be damn near perfect to have any chance to win, what do you expect to happen when your team runs out to a sizable lead? Will they stay aggressive and continue to do the things that built the lead, or will they start playing tentative, doing whatever they can not to lose instead of whatever they can to win? Instead of breaking the other team's neck, our guys took a few steps back and said: "Well, maybe they'll suffocate on their own." Instead of making adjustments -- like, say, switching back to the zone when it became clear in the second half that Washington could take any one of our guys off the dribble whenever they wanted -- we do the same things and hope that the clock runs out with a sliver of the lead intact.
Tonight, that "we've gotta be perfect" mentality came back to bite us in a big way.