Golden Eagles are Victorious Thanks to Their Defensive Prowess

By: TBT Staff | @thetournament

And it was over. Gone in a flash, the Golden Eagles victory on Travis Diener’s game-winner was a perfect ending to The Basketball Tournament. Though Diener’s shot was certainly the highlight of the game that will be remembered, the Golden Eagles owe much of their success to their defensive efforts.

Before tonight’s game, Marcus Keene of Sideline Cancer was absolutely lighting it up. He led his team to an upset over Overseas Elite and was arguably the best player in the tournament. But tonight, the Golden Eagles figured out how to shut him down. With only 6 points, their combination of zone and man-to-man along with their full court press threw Sideline Cancer for a loop.

Derrick Wilson did the heavy lifting for the Golden Eagles on the defensive end. Largely known for his defense in college, this has always been a trademark of Wilson’s game. At Marquette, he was continually called upon to shut down scorers. From taking charges to not letting Keene get the ball, Wilson’s defensive efforts were one of the major contributors to this $1 million victory.

From Anchorage, Alaska, Wilson became a role player his junior year. Though he was rarely at the top of the points column, he always did the little things that make a difference. From the assists to the hustle plays to locking down on defense, Wilson was an underrated component of Marquette’s squad from 2011-2015. He now plays professionally in Sweden, where he is starting to become a threat on the offensive end.

Wilson received no shortage of help from his teammates, however. In the 2nd half especially, they barely let Keene breathe. Switching off men made it difficult for Keene to find a way to get to the basket. On top of this, he could barely even get the ball in his hands because he was being guarded so closely. Though Keene was the main focus, the Golden Eagles all-around defensive performance was stellar.

After the game, Darius Johnson-Odom, tonight’s player of the game, spoke to their strategy guarding Keene.

He noted, “we wanted to just try to make him work for it. Pick him up full court and deny. It was a team effort, not just one guy. Derrick (Wilson) did a great job on him.”