We continue the player recaps with a look at our favorite UofL player ever from Smithfield, Rhode Island, Mike Marra.
Mike saw his playing time more than double as a sophomore. After playing only 9.9 minutes per game as a freshman, including very little time in critical situations, Mike was on the floor for 20.5 minutes per game last season. He also raised his scoring average from 3.1 to 6.4, rebounds from 1.1 per game to 2.1, and he averaged 2.0 assists per game, up from 0.6 in 2009-10. Mike continued to frustrate with his low shooting percentages, but they actually increased across the board last season. His field goal percentage increased from 28.7% to 31.7%, three point percentage improved from 24.4% to 28%, and he shot free throws at a 79% clip, up from 73% as a freshman.
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During the 2010-11 season, Mike Marra started off playing very well, but then struggled to end the season. He did sustain an ankle injury and had some back issues throughout the season which caused him to miss 4 games, so perhaps the physical limitations hindered him as the season progressed. Even though his most consistent play occurred during the early part of the season, his high point came late in the year against Marquette in the Big East tournament. Mike lit up the Golden Eagles for 22 points on 7-11 shooting, including 6-10 from three point range. He also grabbed 2 rebounds, had 3 assists, and 2 blocks in only 24 minutes of playing time. His play propelled the Cards to an unexpected 81-56 public beatdown of Marquette
As great as his game was against Marquette, his low point would come just two nights later in the Big East tournament final against UConn. Mike scored only 2 points, all on free throws, missed all 3 of his attempts from the floor, grabbed only 1 rebounds, had no assists, and 1 turnover. But perhaps the most memorable aspect of this game, besides Kemba Walker getting ridiculous calls in his favor, was Marra’s missed free throw late. Mike got fouled on a three point attempt during the final seconds and the Cards down three. After calmly draining the first free throw, he missed the second. Louisville could only cut the UConn lead to a single point, then after two UConn free throws, and a failed Preston Knowles heave, the Cards fell short of securing their second Big East tournament title.
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Mike Marra’s 2010-11 season was up and down. As I said earlier, he started off well, but dropped off as the season ended. I still think he can be a regular contributor at this level, but he must have a well rounded game to do so. If I were his coach, and for a variety of reasons its a good thing I’m not, I would have him work on his ball handling this off-season. With what looks to be a lack of reliable ball handlers on Louisville’s team next year, there will need to be guys who can bring the ball up the floor in the event Peyton Siva is in foul trouble or blanketed by the defense. Preston Knowles handled it well last year, hopefully, other guys will step up next year. I think Marra is capable of that if needed, but he will need to work at it.
Another thing I think Mike should focus on is his lateral quickness. He is more athletic than given credit for and I believe he can be a decent defender. He is an extremely intelligent player and I think his smarts, coupled with added lateral quickness will only help him on the defensive end, particularly in man-to-man situations. Much like his season as a whole, Mike showed flashes on the defensive end and I think with some extra lateral movement, he will be better. Rick Pitino has probably said this 6,703 times since he’s been at Louisville, but when players focus on defense, their offensive games pick up. I think that applies to Mike Marra as much as anyone.