The Current State of Marquette Basketball
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?