After road upset, young Marquette looks to improve at home

Coach Steve Wojciechowski dabbled with a trendy dance move to celebrate in the locker room after a big Marquette victory.

He's holding off from taking a stab at another ''dab'' until the Golden Eagles can accumulate a few more victories.

Marquette can start building off its 65-64 upset win over No. 8 Providence this week when St. John's visits the Bradley Center on Saturday.

''They want to do it more,'' Wojciechowski said Friday about his impromptu dance move. ''We have to win some games.''

The overall record looks good for the Golden Eagles (11-4, 1-2 Big East) in their second week of league play, though Wojciechowski's young team has overall had a roller coaster of a season.

Marquette's resume includes wins over ranked teams Providence and LSU, along with victories over power conference programs Arizona State and Wisconsin. The 57-55 victory over the Badgers on the road on Dec. 12 was a huge confidence boost for team that starts three freshmen.

''This is bragging rights. I wanted to show who the best team is in the state,'' 6-foot-11 forward Henry Ellenson said then.

But the biggest wins have come away from home, including the nonconference tournament victories in New York against the Tigers and Sun Devils.

Marquette has had troubling losses on its home floor to Iowa and Seton Hall, both by at least 20 points.

''Being in a road environment galvanizes our guys,'' Wojciechowski said in a phone interview. ''We've got to figure out a way to play (better) at home.''

Defense has been a common thread for the road success. Opponents shot no better than 37 percent in the wins over LSU, Arizona State, Wisconsin and Providence.

Rebounding is an area in which Wojciechowski would like improvement, with Marquette having been outrebounded in each of its three Big East games.

''Hopefully, we've learned some tough lessons,'' he said.

But considering the inexperience and reliance on freshmen, the season has gone pretty much as expected. It has been a year-round learning experience.

Ellenson, a potential one-and-done prospect, is averaging 16.0 points and 9.9 rebounds a game, with nine double-doubles in 15 games. He has impressed Wojciechowski with how he's handled the spotlight as a freshman.

''You hope for it, but you don't completely know what to expect, especially big guys with size,'' Wojciechowski said. ''He's done a great job.''

Ellenson's season has also overshadowed the emergence of fellow freshman Haanif Cheatham (10.8 points), who scored a team-high 16 points in the upset of Providence. It was Ellenson who blocked Kris Dunn's potential game-winner at the buzzer.

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Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP

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