Marquette Basketball head coach Buzz Williams announced Monday evening that freshman forward Jeronne Maymon had quit the team, effective immediately. Maymon appeared in nine games for the Golden Eagles, averaging 4.0 points and 4.2 rebounds. The loss comes as a shock to the majority of Marquette fans as Maymon, after a slow start, had seemed to be coming around and feeling more comfortable in the offense.
Now that the logistical stuff is out of the way, it’s time for an opinion piece because to be completely honest, for the first time since becoming a Marquette Golden Eagles basketball fan, I am worried about the current state of the program. Through thick and thin, I have looked the other way and not made a big deal about the mishaps that have occurred, but enough is enough and it needs to be addressed.
For starters, let’s take a look at how the loss of Maymon is going to affect the 2009-2010 Golden Eagles. If anyone had any hope of making the NCAA Tournament, you may kindly stop talking and realize that this team would have to pull off a miracle to make the NIT.
Marquette currently has nine healthy scholarship players. Yes, you read that correctly. NINE. That means junior walk-on Rob Frozena will need to participate if Marquette wants to run 5-on-5 scrimmages in practice. Remember when we were joking before the season started because we couldn’t field a scrimmage with Joe Fulce, Darius Johnson-Odom, and Junior Cadougan all out ? Yeah, not so funny anymore.
Maymon averaged just over 16 minutes per game and those numbers are going to have to be made up for somewhere. While many are dubbing the move by Maymon as the coming out party for freshman Erik Williams, the more likely event is a boost in minutes for Joe Fulce and Lazar Hayward. Even Jimmy Butler and Hayward will now be asked to play Three Amigos-like minutes (in the 33-34 minute range instead of 28-30 minute range). That means Hayward MUST stay out of foul trouble. Oh boy…
It appeared that Maymon was destined to take over the starting forward role for Joe Fulce soon enough, but now that clearly will not happen. This means Fulce will stay in the starting lineup for the remainder of the season and the bench loses yet another player. With complaints about Buzz Williams only going with an 8-man rotation, now that’s about all he can do.
It only seems fitting that Marquette would lose a big man in this whole process. With more guards than we know what to do with, they now go from five true big men to four with the loss of Maymon. Already undersized, losing a 6’6″ body in the paint only has Big East opponents salivating even more.
As bad as it hurts to lose Maymon for the 2009 season, which all but sealed the fate for Hayward, David Cubillan, and Mo Acker’s senior year, the real story is an ugly trend that is occurring within the walls of Marquette basketball.
Since Buzz Williams has taken over for Tom Crean as head coach of the Golden Eagles, he has seen Pat Hazel, Scott Christopherson, Brett Rosebro, Aaron Bowen, and now Jeronne Maymon all head elsewhere after deciding on Marquette. One could even throw Trevor Mbakwe into the mix of players that have left Marquette on less than stellar terms.
One has to wonder if Buzz’s theory of recruiting as many good players as you can isn’t the best idea in the world. Is it really the best option to have your current recruits looking over their shoulder at any moment, knowing one day they could be logging over 15 minutes per game, while the next day you are on the bench being ridden off the team because you were recruited over? Competition is one thing and making players earn minutes by beating out teammates is one thing, but to openly admit that you will recruit as many good players that will fit the system is interesting to say the least.
I will not mention my personal opinion of what I believe led to Maymon leaving Marquette’s basketball team. There would be no point to it. Rumors are being thrown all over the place, all the way from Maymon’s father getting into an shouting match with Buzz to Maymon’s father not even knowing about his son leaving the team. The truth is no one knows what happened but that facts will surface soon enough.
Brett Rosebro, now playing for St. Bonaventure, had a well documented falling out from Marquette in which he claimed Buzz promised him things that he did not keep to. Some even speculate that Buzz promised Maymon a starting spot on the team this season and that is one of the main reasons he was unhappy.
The point is that, as far as we know, Maymon has quit the team and while it might not say something negative about MU basketball, it surely does not say anything positive. Throw in speculations (and mostly facts) about the reasons Hazel transferred to Boston University and why Acker left the team to “focus on studies” before joining the team, combined with 2010 recruit Monterale Clark’s sexual assault charge in Texas, and the whole Jesuit lifestyle is kind of looking like an afterthought lately.
Another issue is that of the injuries that have hit Marquette in the last year and a half. Injuries this season to Darius Johnson-Odom, Chris Otule, and Junior Cadougan have all occurred in practice and were all foot/ankle injuries to some extent. Last season, Joe Fulce, Otule, and Dominic James all went down with injuries as well. While bad luck undoubtedly played a role, one has to wonder if some of the injuries were caused by overworking the players early in the season.
Realize that I am not standing at the edge of the “Marquette basketball bridge” just because one player decided to transfer from the school. Marquette plays a different kind of basketball that clearly is not for everyone. I’m more worried about what the program is doing as a whole and where it’s headed.
The positives are there and they easily outweigh the negatives, no matter how bad the situation is. Marquette plays in the Big East, has the full support of the students at the school, has a great leader and will be around for a long time. But if Buzz Williams wants to take this program from good to great, or from great to elite, little things like the situations you have just read about can not happen.
Recruits will come and go and Buzz will continue to bring in the best players, but at what point is that not enough?
Dwight Burke, PF, 2.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 0.2 assists
Burke started out the year with the tag no one wanted on the market team: the big man. In what seemed like an oxymoron in Marquette’s three-guard, two forward offense, the “big man” was going to have to do all the dirty work and take none of the credit.
True to Dwight Burke’s label, that’s exactly what he did and, in the end, Marquette was a much better team all around because of it.
Burke started in all 35 games for the Golden Eagles, and while his minutes dropped as the season went on and Jimmy Butler became more meshed with the offense, Burke never complained or showed frustration for being taken out.
He posted career highs in points and rebounds while also tying his career highs for field goal percentage and assists. While Burke was hardly ever the go-to guy in the Marquette offense, he played within the offense very well and was a crisp passer, both down on the low block and up at the top of the key.
Having the experience played a key role in this as the chemistry of the seniors that was talked about so much was made possible in part to Burke’s play.
On defense, Burke had the daunting task of taking the other team’s big man night in and night out. In the Big East, this included Hasheem Thabeet, DeJuan Blair, Luke Harangody, and Greg Monroe. On the year, Burke also faced up against Tennessee’s Wayne Chism, Missouri’s Demarre Carroll, Utah State’s Gary Wilkinson, and Samardo Samuels among others.
While Burke was usually outmatched on a nightly basis from a height standpoint, he did a fine job holding his own and fared better than anyone else would have in the Marquette lineup.
Regardless of the over-aggressive play that Burke sometimes got himself into trouble with, he was still put into crucial roles for this small Marquette team and was a stopgap for teams inside. Without Burke, the Golden Eagles would have seen their points in the paint and field goal percentage both go up on defense.
He finished his Marquette career with ten rebounds in the loss to Missouri, a seemingly fitting way for Burke to go out with his quiet performance but solid performance all around. GRADE: C
Pat Hazel, 2.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.0 assists
For whatever reason, Pat Hazel simply has not worked out at Marquette. In his sophomore year, he was looking to get more minutes with the departure of Ousmane Barro and the lack of depth in the Marquette frontcourt.
He started the year the year off nicely with games of seven and ten points and played 22 minutes in both contests. He even recorded a block in Marquette’s first four games of a year and was very stout on defense, but never really got into the rhythm of Marquette’s rotation.
He found himself getting extended minutes in the Big East opener against Villanova, but after his poor performance saw double digit minutes just four more times the rest of the season and did not play in 13 of the team’s last 15 games. I personally thought that Hazel should have been seeing more minutes before Jimmy Butler got rolling, but it was not meant to be and it seems as though Hazel is on his way out.
Marquette is currently one scholarship over the limit, and if Liam McMorrow is deemed healthy by the staff for next year, it is generally assumed that Pat Hazel will transfer. It is a sad ending for the last of Tom Crean’s 2007 recruiting class, but hopefully Hazel will succeed in the future where he is able to log more minutes and really show off his defensive ability. GRADE: D-
Chris Otule, 1.3 points, 1.1 rebounds, 0.0 assists
Otule was a project from the beginning of the season to the end, and whatever progress that might have been made throughout the season was not seen in any game action, not that it was Otule’s fault.
He may be asked to do more next season and hopefully he can improve his hands and fundamentals. He seemed very raw in the gametime he did see and, although just a freshman, looked a little lost on the court at times. Still, it never hurts to have a seven-footer in the program and if Otule can get a fire lit underneath him, he could do well next year.
His best game was a four point, five rebound performance against Presbyterian, but the turnovers will need to stop and his hands will need to improve. GRADE: INC
I promise I will talk about more than just the Golden Eagles on this blog, but one debate I know most Marquette fans have had from day one is that Pat Hazel needs to be in the starting lineup. Without looking at stats, my impulse says I agree. Yes, I do have more reasons other than being frustrated by the four or so times a game when every Marquette fan yells, “Dwight! What are you doing?!” I like Dwight Burke and think he plays a significant role as the “big guy” in Marquette’s lineup that takes on the team’s center every night. It’s a tough thing to ask for a 6’8” power forward that seemingly likes to foul every trip down the court. Offensively, he gets the job done playing with the Big 4 and is not really asked much, but that’s about it. So why fix something that’s not broken? I agree that Marquette’s last two losses stemmed from A) no rhythm on offense in the USF game and B) lights out shooting from the guards on Villanova. Neither of those have much to do with Burke and he didn’t mess up in either of the losses, going 3-3 from the field and pulling in 4 rebounds in the two games combined. But I think the debate starts when you bring up a guy like Pat Hazel. The 6’7” power forward from Queens averages 12.3 minutes per game, but has only seen 27 TOTAL minutes the last seven games, 3 of which he didn’t even play in. When he has received the nod and contributed minutes, he has stepped up and almost outplayed Burke. Whether this is just being fresh coming off the bench or if it actually says something about Hazel’s talent, the defensive production is there. To break down the Hazel/Burke debate, I tried to analyze a few elements of the game and see who came out on top.
I don’t think the statistic of FG% will help us here, since Burke is shooting 20-31 (64%) on the year and Hazel is 19-27 (70%). Anybody who watches Marquette knows that outside of the Rutgers game, any shot that Dwight Burke takes is either off an offensive rebound or an uncontested layup. The same could be said for Hazel, but I consider Hazel to be smoother down low in the post. That being said, he is 30 pounds lighter than Burke, but that can also play to Marquette’s strength at times going with the quickest lineup possible. Realistically the scoring element of both these guys is more of a push because of the little amount of shots they are asked to take in any offensive possession. Most of their buckets come off dribble drives where their defender has to help, leaving them open for an easy deuce.
ADVANTAGE: Slighty to Hazel
Despite what the statistics would suggest, Hazel’s ability to rebound is a lot closer to Burke’s then one would think. On the year, Burke is pulling down 3.6 boards per game with a 7.4 per-40-minute average. Compare that to Hazel’s 2.3 average with a 5.1 per-40-minute average and you would think Burke easily takes the cake. Not so fast. Hazel seems to have more energy and tenacity (which we will get to later) when fighting for boards, and his ability to pull down the offensive rebound seems to give him the edge. In the hands department it isn’t even close. Remember the aforementioned 4 times a game you yell those words at the TV screen that Father Wild really wouldn’t accept as living the Jesuit life? At least two of those come when Dwight attempts to haul in a board and I really believe if he had better hands that he could average closer to 5 rebounds a game. Still, the stats don’t lie and Dwight is clearly the better rebounder.
One of the easier categories to break down in my opinion. I would be lying to you if I said I could tell you how Pat Hazel’s passing is, and while I agree assist to turnover ratio is more for guards, Hazel’s 1 assist to 11 turnovers this year doesn’t help his cause. Burke actually gets the job done and I can recall two of his five assists off the top of my head. A nice no-look pass to Wesley against DePaul and a wrap around pass in the lane that was kicked out to Dominic for a 3 against Nova leads me to believe Dwight has it here. With only 14 turnovers on the year, he takes care of the ball better than Hazel does offensively. As we all know, big men passing in Marquette’s system is more running the offense than actually looking for a shooter for a shot. With three guys in James, McNeal and Matthews that can all run the point to some extent, guys like Burke and Hazel are more just an extra pass or an outlet when a guard is trapped.
Anyone standing in Hazel’s corner for who should start will use this as their main argument. Hazel is clearly the better defensive player and takes on the role of manning up on a forward much better. He always seems to be in the right spot, whether it’s rebounding or shot blocking. His per-40-minute averages are outstanding at 1.3 blocks and 1.3 steals a game. Those 1.3 blocks per game lead the team (per 40 minutes) and rightfully so. He is a great on the ball defender that moves his feet more than Burke and is a step quicker, leading to better defensive efficiency. I also find him to be much more physical than Burke but at the same time doesn’t foul at the rate Burke does…then again nobody does. This one is a no-brainer.
Speaking from a percentage standpoint, Hazel (59%) takes this category over Burke (50%) but Burke is getting to the line much more than Hazel, even when the numbers are evened out to per-40-minute averages (4.4 to 2.7 a game, respectively). Simple math says that as you take more attempts your percentage is going to go down, so Burke’s 50% mark isn’t terrible. Because the argument is whether or not 59% is better than 50% even though the better percentage takes less free throws is the reason that I am going to toss this one out.
Everyone always talks about intangibles and how to really measure them. What should go into determining who does the little things better? The way I broke it down was in three ways including: energy, experience and smarts. Looking at energy, it really isn’t close in that Hazel always comes into the game at the right time to give the team a spark on defense with a big stop. Sometimes, it seems as though Burke doesn’t even want to be out there. You don’t see the passion of a Hasheem Thabeet or a Luke Harangody. (ok, relax everyone…I realize they aren’t in the same solar system when comparing Burke to them) But my point is that a big man that can get the team going with a nice play inside or a block can be vital and I think Burke has lacked that all year. Experience and smarts go to Burke, though. I realize both of those categories go somewhat hand in hand but I consider Burke to have a little more court savvy to him and the experience speaks for itself. It helps to have a senior on the court and is almost a respect issue why Burke is out there. He has been playing with Wes, Jerel and Dominic for four years and the way those four and Lazar mesh together is undeniable. They look good out there and there is a chance Hazel would mess that up.
Looking back on this, it’s still a tough call for me. I think the spots where Hazel is most important (defense, offensive rebounding and the occasional score) are more important to what a team like Marquette needs compared to Burke’s. It’s a tough call and I really have no problem with Burke starting because I think Hazel and Butler spot him very well and give a different look to teams off the bench. Hazel’s energy off the bench is also huge and regardless of whether or not he should be starting, he needs to get more minutes and most likely will with teams like UConn (Thabeet), Louisville (Samuels) and Pittsburgh (Blair) coming up. You make the call…