For those waiting to hear why Marquette freshman Jeronne Maymon quit the basketball team Monday, some of their questions were answered Wednesday when his father, Tim Maymon, was reached via telephone. He spoke of reasons that included his son “not being used the way he needs to be used” as well as Marquette failing to “run the offense for him”.
The words spoken by the Madison native’s father are, to put it lightly, ridiculous. Known to speak his mind whenever he is given the opportunity, it seems as though Maymon’s father is telling the truth and that most of the reason his son is not at Marquette is because of their own personal choice.
While the words are disappointing to hear for Marquette fans, that one of their players would feel so out of place just 10 games into their career, the news is in a way good because it appears as though head coach Buzz Williams was not at fault and that nothing ended on specifically bad terms.
The wonder of the internet allowed for tens of rumors to circulate about why Maymon had decided to quit the team, ranging from a verbal altercation between Williams and Maymon’s father to Maymon freaking out during finals week (which Marquette students are currently in). If there can ever be a “good” reason for why a player leaves a team, it would be this.
While Maymon leaving on his own terms is good for Marquette basketball’s image, the ultimate decision and reasons behind it are head scratching and disheartening to say the least. From what I got out of the comments from Maymon’s father, Jeronne felt like he should have been a bigger part of the offense while playing a different position, at one point saying “they’ve got him playing center and that ain’t what he does.”
Apparently being a team player “ain’t what he does” either. Losing Dwight Burke, Pat Hazel, Chris Otule to graduation, transfer, and injury in the span of less than a year made Marquette’s front court a carousel this season. With Lazar Hayward holding down the same power forward position he excelled at last season and Jimmy Butler coming out of the gates firing, the two forward spots seemed all but locked down as the season began.
With Hayward and Butler expected to average close to 30 minutes per game, the only position left on the court was at center where Maymon was expected to use his big 6’6″, 250-pound frame to battle against the Big East’s best inside every night.
Forget the fact that next year a healthy Chris Otule and a more experienced Youssoupha Mbao would be back to take over center duties while Maymon moved back to his traditional power forward role. Remember, that “ain’t what he does”.
It’s true that Maymon was playing out of position by playing center and that his 16.3 minutes a game didn’t have him as a projected lottery pick, hurting his chances at being a one-and-done college player like his father expected him to be. But as mad as Maymon was, he would have done himself some good by looking around the locker room and finding Lazar Hayward to ask him about playing out of position at Marquette, and seeing where it got him.
Much like Maymon, Hayward was a four-star prospect out of high school and was ranked in the same 60-80 range by most college recruiting experts. At 6’5″ and weighing just over 200 pounds (think a shorter Joe Fulce), Hayward was considered a typical tweener between shooting guard and small forward. His inside skills outweighed his ball handling and outside shooting, so many expected him to stay at small forward during his time at Marquette.
In his freshman season, Hayward averaged 16.3 minutes per game (sound familiar?), while posting 6.6 points and 3.3 rebounds. Because some sophomore named Wes Matthews had supplanted himself as the starting small forward, Hayward saw most of his time at power forward despite being greatly undersized for the position.
The next season, junior Wes Matthews (who was also playing out of position as a 6’4″ small forward) improved even more and so did Hayward, again at the power forward spot. By Matthews’ senior season, Hayward was dubbed the “big man” inside for Marquette, who ran a four-guard offense for the majority of the game. The 6’5″, now-225 pound Hayward had played out of position for three years while standing in the shadows of the Three Amigos’ spotlight and never made a peep, instead choosing to accept his role and make the most out of it.
Make the most out of it he did as Hayward was awarded a First Team All-Big East selection before the start of his senior season. Not only has Hayward become a great player on the court, but he is an even better one off it. His passion for the game and unselfish attitude are main reasons he is loved by all his teammates, who admittedly are playing for him this season as the power forward in a small forward’s body goes for his fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
And to think that Hayward would not have accomplished any of this had he told Marquette “that ain’t what he does”. No Jeronne, what Hayward does is go out and fight for his team on the front of the jersey, not the back, regardless of where or how much he is playing.
It’s easy to say that Marquette and its fans wish Maymon the best, but if his attitude is the same wherever he winds up, our wishes will mean very little. Did the Maymon family really believe that their freshman son would come in and have the offense run through him? If Maymon was really the next coming of Michael Beasley like his father thinks he is, wouldn’t Buzz Williams, a great talent evaluator, have seen it by now?
What exactly is Maymon’s father teaching his 19-year-old son if every time things get hard and he isn’t satisfied with a certain situation, that he should “just kind of move on and regroup”? It’s a shame that his father has been (seemingly) the one calling the shots throughout this whole process and that Jeronne has suffered because of it.
It’s not even as if Maymon was sitting on the bench this season. Instead, injuries and a lack of size gave Maymon more playing time than he deserved based on his previous performances. The true story may never come out about what Buzz Williams promised Maymon or if Maymon’s father and Buzz got into an altercation, but one thing is clear: on the list of traits that defined Jeronne Maymon, “team player” was not one of them.
Clearly, “that ain’t what he does”.
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?
A few years back, John Hollinger of ESPN invented a formula to determine a player’s efficiency on the court. It takes all of a player’s positive stats, subtracted by his negative stats, multiplied by his minutes played. He calls it the Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and it’s defined as such:
“PER takes into account positive accomplishments, such as field goals, free throws, 3-pointers, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals, and negative ones, such as missed shots, turnovers and personal fouls. The formula adds positive stats and subtracts negative ones through a statistical point value system. The rating for each player is then adjusted to a per-minute basis so that, for example, substitutes can be compared with starters in playing time debates. It is also adjusted for the team’s pace. In the end, one number sums up the players’ statistical accomplishments for that season.”
However, Hollinger’s formula is complicated, so I used another formula that I found discovered that was much simpler and in the end, when compared to Hollinger’s numbers, were all within 1.00 of the actual formula used. The formula is as follows:
[(FGM x 85.910) + (Steals x 53.897) + (3PTM x 51.757) + (FTM x 46.845) + (Blocks x 39.190) + (Offensive_Reb x 39.190) + (Assists x 34.677) + (Defensive_Reb x 14.707) – (Foul x 17.174) – (FT_Miss x 20.091) – (FG_Miss x 39.190) – (TO x 53.897) ] x (1 / Minutes).
1. Jimmy Butler, 27.32
Just like it was last year, Butler has been Marquette’s most efficient player on the court this season. Making it more impressive is the fact that Butler has played the most minutes of any Golden Eagle at 251. He leads Marquette in rebounds, free throws made, free throws attempted, and has turned the ball over just eight times. His development of an outside shot extending past the three point line has made Butler a threat from anywhere on the court. His ability to get to the paint and get to the free throw line has made Butler Marquette’s best player so far.
2. Lazar Hayward, 21.23
Expected to be Marquette’s go-to guy this season, foul trouble and inconsistency from the outside has limited Hayward. Still, his numbers speak for themselves and he has done a fantastic job in the minutes he has been on the court. He leads the Golden Eagles in points and as Hayward goes, so do the Golden Eagles. Constantly guarding the opponent’s biggest player, he works his tail off on every offensive possession and is the most important player on the team.
3. Maurice Acker, 18.83
It may be a surprise to see Acker so high on this list, but the senior from Chicago has canceled out his early season turnovers with 32 assists and 17 steals, which lead the team. When freshman Junior Cadougan went down for the year with a torn Achilles heel, Acker’s role drastically increased and he has picked up the slack. A career 36 percent shooter, Acker is shooting a ridiculous 51 percent from the field (26-for-51) and has been Marquette’s floor leader. He presses at times but also runs the break better than anyone.
4. Erik Williams, 18.28
The freshman from Texas’s numbers are a little tainted as he has played just 22 minutes all season and appeared in just three games, but he has produced when in. Questions have arisen as to why the athletic forward has yet to play much this season, but work ethic and failing to pick up the offense might have something to do with it. He should see more minutes as the season goes along.
5. Darius Johnson-Odom, 14.69
Marquette’s biggest early season surprise has been “DJO”, the sophomore junior college recruit from North Carolina. His most important characteristic is his outside shooting, something the Golden Eagles lacked for the most part last season. Johnson-Odom has connected on 18 of 34 three-point attempts and has a long ball in each of Marquette’s first seven games. He has also shown flashes of getting to the basket with either hand, and his huge upper body allows him to draw fouls and finish at the rim. His defense is still coming along, but all signs point to DJO being Marquette’s third go-to guy this season.
6. Joe Fulce, 12.12
Fulce’s numbers are also somewhat inflated as he has played just 95 minutes this season but he has started a couple of games for the Golden Eagles and, like Hayward, is matched up on a bigger man on most nights. As Marquette’s “center”, Fulce plays with high energy and has shown an ability to hit the outside shot. He isn’t going to win Marquette any games but he isn’t going to lose them any either.
7. Dwight Buycks, 10.50
It might be surprising to see Buycks so low on the list, but his offense has come to a screeching halt and he seems to have lost some of the aggressiveness he showed earlier in the season. Coming into the season, Buycks was expected to start at shooting guard and replace some of the offense lost by the graduations of the Big Three. However, he has failed to light it up offensively, averaging just 8.6 points per game and leads the team with 22 turnovers. As one of Marquette’s quickest players, his defense has been superb on the outside and is one of the main reasons Marquette’s perimeter defense has been one of the best in the conference.
8. David Cubillan, 10.45
9. Jeronne Maymon, 7.14
10. Youssoupha Mbao, 0.32
The Marquette Golden Eagles came to Orlando for the Old Spice Classic in hopes of preparing themselves for the Big East schedule by playing against some of the better teams in the country. What the Golden Eagles got was a boatload of confidence and two wins that are sure to look good on their tournament resume come March.
They ended the tournament Sunday night with a heart-breaking loss to Florida State 57-56 in the Championship game. Senior Lazar Hayward, who finished the game with 19 points and 10 rebounds, hit a jump shot from the free throw line with 32 seconds left to give Marquette the lead before Solomon Alibi returned the favor with a baseline floater of his own. Hayward averaged 22.6 points and 7.3 rebounds over the course of the tournament and was named to the All-Tournament team.
Jimmy Butler continued his excellent play and has joined Hayward as the forwards who will battle against bigger forwards night in and night out and grab boards with hustle and fundamentals rather than size. Big men like Jason Love (21 points, 19 rebounds) and Chris Singelton (18 points, 10 rebounds) were able to get their stats in the paint, but never took over the game.
The tournament also saw a coming out party of sorts for combo guard Darius Johnson-Odom, who finished the tournament averaging 13 points and two three-pointers per game. He hit big shot after big shot and showed a nice combination of outside shots as well as the ability to drive to the hoop with both hand. His big frame and high hops allow him to hang in the air and complete shots, even with contact.
Marquette’s biggest improvement came from the overall defense and, as a team, the Golden Eagles held their opponents to under 44 percent shooting from the field and forced 48 turnovers. Constant ball pressure and quickness on the outside made it tough for opponents to get the ball in the paint and forced bad shots. Attribute a lot of that pressure to David Cubillan and Maurice Acker, the two senior point guards who really made the ship sail on the defensive end. While he struggled offensively, Acker had eight steals in the tournament and did a great job turning those steals into transition offense.
A big part of that transition offense was Dwight Buycks, who seemed to be in the right spot at the right time for Marquette on the break and finished very strong at the basket when he got the ball. Buycks is turning into the “duct tape” role for the Golden Eagles, giving them a little bit everything in the scoring, passing, and rebounding department as well as solid help defense.
Overall, the tournament has to be looked at as a major success for head coach Buzz Williams and the Golden Eagles. Basically left for dead two games in a row, first against a taller Xavier team and then a more fundamentally sound Michigan team, Marquette proved they can hang with the big dogs and use their aggressive nature into forcing teams to make bad decisions. Late in the championship game, Florida State switched to a four-guard offense and took their best player, Alibi, out of the game for a large chunk of the second half. Marquette’s match-up problems on offense let them dictate what the other team did, and the results showed.
As much as Marquette gained from this experience as a team, they also have an early headliner for their tournament resume with wins over Xavier and 15th ranked Michigan. Both of Marquette’s victories came against teams that will be in the NCAA Tournament come March and Florida State should fight towards the top of the ACC standings, meaning Marquette’s RPI will benefit greatly from playing three potential tournament teams.
The future looks a whole lot brighter for Marquette than it did a week ago. Not to say that anyone was doubting that Marquette had talent, but the early returns are showing that not only do they have talent, but coach Buzz Williams is using it perfectly and the result is wins over some of the best teams in the country. For a team that has not even peaked, early confidence can only help the ceiling grow even more as to how good the team can be.
That confidence is coming around at a perfect time as Marquette will take on North Carolina State and in-state rival Wisconsin over the course of the next two weeks in what will also be huge games that could boost Marquette’s standing even more. A win over Florida State might have pushed Marquette into the top 25, and while they should receive some votes on Monday, that’s not what the Golden Eagles are focused on.
Rather, the bigger picture of racking up wins before the brutal Big East schedule begins will be the focus of the Golden Eagles and they picked up two big ones in Orlando over the weekend.
After two upset victories over Xavier and Michigan, the Marquette Golden Eagles find themselves in position to take the Old Spice Classic tomorrow in Orlando. It would be quite the turn of events for a team that lost just about everything that won them 25 games last season and an eight-man rotation that features one player that scored more than six points last season as well as three newcomers.
Standing between them and the Old Spice Classic champion title are the Florida State Seminoles, who defeated Iona and Alabama on their path to the title game. The Seminoles are as close to a different team from Marquette as one will find, featuring a whopping ten players over 6’4″ and getting their best looks from down on the block from big men Solomon Alabi and Chris Singelton. For a full preview of Florida State, check out MUHoops.com’s take.
If Marquette wants to hoist the trophy tomorrow, here are five things they must do to take down the Seminoles.
1. Continue to pressure outside shots well
One of Marquette’s best stats in the Old Spice Classic has been holding their two opponents to 32 percent shooting from three point range and pressuring guards as soon as they receive the ball. Against Florida State, this will be even more important because the Seminoles lack a true point guard and are prone to turning the ball over, committing 40 turnovers in their first two games of the tournament.
Florida State will look inside to their two big men to start the offense, but pressuring the ball from the outside as soon as the possession starts will mess things up as well. Their backcourt tandem of Derwin Kitchen and Deividas Dulkys are much bigger than anything Marquette will throw on the court, so if they do not receive pressure they will shoot all day. Dulkys loves the trey ball as 15 of his 18 field goals this season have come from behind the arc, so look for major pressure on him. Jimmy Butler has been as lockdown of a defender as possible and will need to use his height to guard the much bigger Seminoles.
2. Rotate big men early and often
As freshman Jeronne Maymon continues to get his feet under him and pick up the pace of the game, the quality of opponents that he faces every night will continue to increase as well. Tomorrow night, Maymon will play a key role off the bench in battling with Florida State’s bigs. If Marquette chooses to stay with a 4-guard lineup including Acker/Cubillan, Johnson-Odom, Buycks, and Butler, then Maymon will have to rotate in when they start getting beat up inside.
Joe Fulce has seen his minutes decrease lately as he tries to battle back from a bruised knee and might get his name called against a taller, more physical Seminole team. Fulce played 10 minutes against Xavier but just three minutes against the smaller Michigan team, so look for those numbers to go back up tomorrow. Keeping big men fresh will be key to Marquette’s success in keeping out, or limiting, Florida State in the paint.
3. Allow Darius Johnson-Odom to drive at will
This might seem like a narrow goal to set but Florida State lives and dies with their defense. With such a tall, athletic team that is still trying to figure out its identity on offense, they must be solid on defense. The Seminoles are giving up just under 53 points per game and are very long on defense, meaning those open shots Marquette saw against Xavier and especially Michigan are likely not going to be there. The answer? Darius Johnson-Odom.
In the Old Spice Classic, Johnson-Odom showed his ability to get to the hole against Xavier despite not finishing on a few of the drives. Against Michigan, he went wild in the paint and showed glimpses of the agility Dominic James had and the toughness of Jerel McNeal. While those comparisons might be pre-mature, getting Johnson-Odom the ball in the paint will be key. If Marquette goes small, FSU might switch to a zone that will create lanes for Johnson-Odom and he is a fantastic passer off the dribble.
4. Start small and stay small
The story of the Golden Eagles last season was that they were going to be small on defense but they were almost impossible to match up with when on offense. Against Florida State, Marquette is clearly out-sized but is also in a position to out-hustle and run past them. They will need to rotate their big men as seen in point number two, but going with four guards will force Florida State’s hand on defense and they will need to decide if sacrificing size is worth slowing the Golden Eagles down. Players like Maurice Acker and Dwight Buycks will be key in transition, so look for Marquette to push the ball off missed shots to free up open jumpers on the run.
5. Keep doing what you’re doing
With the exception of Youssoupha Mbao potentially seeing extra minutes when Alabi is in the game, keeping the gameplan the same is key for Marquette. He never has so don’t expect him to, but Buzz Williams shouldn’t switch the plan up and go with something different just because the Seminoles are much taller. Last season, teams like Georgetown and Notre Dame had size advantages, but Marquette played within their game and came out on top. Hustling to the boards on defense will make up for the lack of size and quickness on offense will cancel out Marquette’s inability to get open jumpers against a tall back court.
Lazar Hayward needs to stay out of foul trouble and continue to dominate when he is in. Jimmy Butler needs to be the second man to Hayward and clean up messes inside as well as box out. Johnson-Odom and Buycks need to continue to be cogs in the offensive gameplan, using their athleticism and smarts to take care of the ball and find open buckets. Maurice Acker and David Cubillan need to keep doing what they are doing in taking care of the ball and hitting clutch shots. Like Michigan coach John Beilein said, “Marquette is short. They’re not small.”
Marquette received some bad news on the eve of their game against South Dakota when they learned that sophomore center Chris Otule will likely miss the remainder of the season with a broken foot he suffered in practice Monday. In three games where Otule had been used sparingly against smaller competition, he was averaging 3.7 points and 2.2 rebounds to go along with 1.7 blocks per game. He had played just 25 total minutes in the first three games due to the lack of height of the opponents Marquette faced, but was expected to get a heavy dose of minutes in the Old Spice Classic Tournament coming up later this week in Orlando.
This is not Otule’s first time suffering from a foot injury, as last season the 6’10” center from Texas was lost for six weeks after injuring his foot early in November. As a freshman on a senior-laced team, the injury set him back and he saw minimal minutes the rest of the year.
Despite the lack of production, Otule was expected to fill in for the graduating Dwight Burke as Marquette’s “big man”, and he had been preparing accordingly. Daily workouts with trainer Todd Smith and a trip to Germany over the summer that helped him gain confidence and skill as well had Otule pegged as a breakout candidate for Marquette’s young team.
The Golden Eagles will be able to redshirt Otule if they choose to, but that is about the only positive that comes out of the injury. This newest injury to Otule will surely set him back but the hope is that he can come back with a positive attitude and is chomping at the bit to get back on the court.
For the here and now, Marquette will need to continue on with their season down a man, and a big man at that. While the loss of Otule will not hurt the Golden Eagles much in the box score or on the offensive end, Otule’s presence on defense and the fact that he was another body coming off the bench will. Without Otule, Marquette has just one player over 6’7″, Youssoupha Mbao, who is more of a project than anything.
Because of this, Marquette will more than likely go back to the small lineup that they implemented last year and try to out-run teams on offense while playing aggressive defense to make up for the lack of size. This will mean an instant increase in the minutes of freshman Jeronne Maymon and junior Joe Fulce, who is also battling a knee injury of his own.
In particular, the young Golden Eagles will have to grow up even faster than they once thought, now done one more man on the bench. Just as it was last season, the guards will need to step up big and carry the team on both ends of the court while the front court will need to play out of position and compete while being undersized the majority of the time.
The injury to Otule probably shifts Maymon over to the 5 spot, while Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler could see some time there as well. The guard rotation of Maurice Acker, David Cubillan, Dwight Buycks, and Darius Johnson-Odom helps, but expect to see some more of Buycks playing the three spot if Marquette finds themselves in foul trouble.
Even freshman Erik Williams will need to pick up the slack for a Marquette team that currently has ten healthy players on their roster, including the less-than 100 percent Fulce.
The Golden Eagles have suffered a slough of injuries over the past year and a half that have really cut into the depth of the team, including Otule, Fulce, and Dominic James last season and Junior Cadougan, Darius Johnson-Odom, Fulce, and Otule this season. Then-freshman Liam McMorrow also left the team for medical reasons after last season.
As little silver lining as their could be to having your best big man go down for the season, at the same time it will help the young guns progress even quicker. While throwing them into the fire right away wasn’t the game plan, things change over the course of the year and coach Buzz Williams will have to make those adjustments.
Williams recruits players who are going to fight for their team because they want to win and they want to be here, and with Marquette’s back against the wall right now after Otule’s injury, it’s time to fight.
MILWAUKEE- The Marquette Golden Eagles (3-0) used a great defensive effort and balanced attack on offense to defeat the Grambling State Tigers (1-2), 87-41 Saturday night.
Defensively, the Golden Eagles forced 22 turnovers that led to 28 points and held the Tigers to 29.1 percent shooting from the field (14-of-48). They also won the battle of the boards, out-rebounding the Tigers 43-28 and limiting them to just four offensive rebounds and six second chance points.
To read the rest of this article, click here for a link to MarquetteHoops.com.
Buzz Williams and received some great news at the end of Wednesday night’s early signing period, as Illinois point guard Reggie Smith signed his Letter of Intent to play for the Golden Eagles. The signing came unexpectedly to most despite Marquette’s involvement with Smith in the recruiting process.
The 6’1″ point guard seems to fit the mold exactly for what Williams is looking in a point guard. Smith’s speed sets him apart and his ability to play in transition will get him on the court sooner than later. In terms of offensive sets, Smith lives off driving to the basket to get his shots. He is still raw and has to work better at getting his teammates the ball off the dribble, but the talent is there for him to do that.
If you were on the fence on whether or not to go to Marquette Madness in 2010, Smith’s signing alone should push you over the edge. Why? Smith is one of the best dunkers in the 2010 class and has a knack to flush it home when he gets to the rim. He takes his fair share of layups, but any chance he gets to throw one down, he does.
Defensively, Smith has good size for a point guard “6’1”, 175 lbs.) and uses it very well against defenders. A high-end motor keeps him on his man and he has room to grow with the speed that he has. That energy will get him on the court and if he continues to work hard, he could be a steal.
Overall, Smith’s game is very raw and he needs to hone in his athleticism. Sometimes Smith’s athleticism gets him in trouble by playing out of control and trying to force things. As he slows down his game and becomes more of a true point guard, his natural position, his value will become even greater. If it’s not too bold to say, Smith looks a lot like Dominic James with his athleticism and ability to drive. Like James, Smith can struggle with his outside shot at times but the talent and potential is there for him to improve on that part of his game.
Smith will play his senior year for Thornton High School in Harvey, IL. His AAU team, Mac Irvin Fire, was considered one of the best in Illinois last year with Smith and University of Illinois recruits Crandall Head and Jerome Richmond.
Looking to the 2010 back court, Smith is a great compliment to redshirted freshman Junior Cadougan. More of a pass first point guard, Cadougan will rotate with Smith at the point guard spot and create a great mismatch with the two different styles of play. The signing of Smith most likely moves 2010 recruit Vander Blue to shooting guard, although his versatility will also allow him to handle the ball.
Ranked 105th according to Rivals.com and the 35th best point guard according to Scout.com, Smith isn’t a top-tier recruit that pushes Marquette’s recruiting class into the top five for 2010. However, another top 100 recruit that has the potential to blossom as he molds into a point guard is exactly what Williams was looking for to fill one of the two roster spots for next year. As usual, Williams and the Marquette staff semi-flew under the radar with the recruiting of Smith as many expected he was leaning towards USC.
After losing out on power forward Tarik Black, who ended up at Memphis, it was good to see Buzz and the staff pull out a third recruit before the early signing period was over.
With one scholarship remaining, expect Williams the Marquette staff to go hard after a big man to solidify their 2010 class. Rumors of a junior college forward have circulated to balance out the class and avoid having four freshman on the roster.
Buzz Williams has shown again that he is a great recruiter that can bring in top-100 talent and has done it again for 2010. Last season it was easier for Buzz to bring in the talent that he did because he had so much playing time to offer, but now the recruits are coming in packs and giving great depth to a Marquette team that should compete for a Big East title in the next couple of years.
Trying to stay unbiased, it”s still easy for me to say that the Marquette Golden Eagles should have no problem handling the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore tonight at the Bradley Center. Here are ten things to watch for as the Golden Eagles look to improve on their 85-62 win over Centenary last Friday.
1. Lazar Hayward staying out of foul trouble
Buzz Williams was not all too happy about Lazar Hayward’s foul trouble on Friday, as the senior picked up four fouls in 18 minutes of play and finished the game with just nine points and five rebounds. Foul trouble against Centenary is fine as Hayward’s teammate were able to pick him up, but once the Big East season rolls around, the Golden Eagles will go as far as Hayward goes. He can’t try to do too much and pick early fouls because it throws the whole rhythm off on offense.
2. Jimmy Butler’s response to his 27-point, 13-rebound performance
Butler was the unheralded MVP against Centenary and it will be interesting to see how he comes back against UM-ES. Last year it seemed as though Butler was his best in spurts when his confidence would pick up, and one has to think his confidence is soaring right now. His tenacity on the boards makes up for his size when he plays down low and he gets after it on offense every position.
3. Dwight Buycks’ defense problems on the perimeter
Overall, the junior newcomer played quite well, but Dwight Buycks’ defense on the outside was shaky at times and Centenary got too many open looks. Now is the time to make up for those mistakes and Buycks will get every opportunity to do so tonight against UM-ES’s bigger backcourt. It’s clear that Buycks can’t wait to get on offense where he was very efficient, but he has to do it on the defensive end as well.
4. Darius Johnson-Odom’s health and ability to drive the lane
DJO was questionable for the Centenary game but was able to play and logged 23 good minutes but stayed beyond the arc for most of the game. All summer we heard about DJO’s ability to drive to the hoop and bring a Dominic James-like role to the offense, but 5 of his 6 shots were from beyond the arc. Hopefully he will be more aggressive tonight and show off that speed and strength.
5. Jeronne Maymon getting acclimated sooner
Freshman Jeronne Maymon put in nine points and hauled in five rebounds but looked lost and slow at times. While he is really the raw one of the group, his play will be vital to Marquette’s already small front court. On defense, he was not tough enough in the paint and gave up easy layups as well as failing to rotate on passes from the post. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed but his play on defense is something to watch for.
6. Erik Williams’ playing time
Williams, a top 100 recruit entering Marquette, played as many minutes as walk-on Rob Frozena and had just one more point than the jump-around guy. Williams was slowed down by the flu a couple weeks ago but seemed healthy when he took the court, so one has to wonder why he only logged two minutes. With a lack of depth this season, Marquette’s front court will have to use every body they have and that includes the raw Williams. Check his minutes tonight.
7. Marquette’s three point shooting
Against a smaller team like Centenary, many expected Marquette to shoot from outside at will. However, the Golden Eagles ended the night shooting just 3-16 from behind the arc and exposed themselves as a team that can not hit the long ball. They have the players to do it (Hayward, Buycks, DJO, Cubillan) but must get the job done. For a small team, not being able to shoot from outside will be the Achilles’ Heel for Marquette.
8. Keep the fast break points coming
If the Golden Eagles aren’t going to shoot well, the least they can is keep the ball moving in transition. Maurice Acker and Dwight Buycks did an excellent job running the fast break, leading to 28 fast break points that really put the game away in the second half. Fast break points are sure to come in bunches against weaker teams so expect more of the same tonight against MU-ES.
9. How Chris Otule will respond to his forgettable opener
For whatever reason, Chris Otule did not look like he had made any improvements over the summer. Passes will be given because we are just one game in and Otule was bound to have one hiccup, so maybe it just came in the opener. His hands were still all over the place and he just doesn’t look comfortable. With Youssoupha Mbao out one more game, this is Otule’s last chance to be THE big guy for Marquette. In my opinion this is a big one tonight for Otule.
10. Overall Improvement
For as average as a 23-point win can look, Marquette did it against Centenary. The team is young and just two actual games into their careers with each other, but the chemistry needs to improve as a whole. These cupcake games are scheduled so that players can get comfortable in their surroundings, yet some players still looked a little star-struck. Tonight is another game so hopefully the perimeter defense and outside shooting will improve and the fouls will be down.
Wednesday marked the first day of the one-week period for recruits from the 2010 class to sign national letters of intent to their respective schools. Marquette wasted no time in locking up their two prizes for the early signing period, receiving letters from small forward Jamail Jones and point guard Vander Blue.
Jones averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists per game playing for Green Forest Christian Academy in Decatur, Georgia. He will play his senior year for Montaverde Academy in Florida, touted as one of the best high school teams in the nation, and Jones is a big reason why. Coach Buzz Williams has already seen improvement from Jones from the first time he saw him play.
“He plays for arguably the best high school coach in the country. He’s definitely, in my opinion, the best high school coach as it relates to the development of kids as players,” he said. “[Jones] has gotten better during his time at Montaverde already. We’ve been down there a few times and he has gotten a lot better.”
Jones, or “Mellow” as he prefers to be called, fit the “Buzz Williams mold” to a tee. At 6’6”, his physical 180-pound body will make him difficult to defend as he has improved his outside jump shot and is able to handle the ball. Because of this, Jones will be able to play shooting guard or both forward positions. Those traits are exactly what Williams looks for.
“We want to sign as many guys as we can that are hard to guard. We want to sign as many guys as we can that can pass, dribble, and shoot. We want to sign as many guys as we can that can guard multiple positions,” he said.
As big of a signing as Jones was for the Golden Eagles, receiving a commitment from a consensus top-100 player for next season, much of the hype surrounding Marquette’s recruiting class circulated around Madison, WI native Vander Blue.
After backing out of a verbal commitment from Wisconsin in May, Blue re-opened his recruitment and ultimately chose Marquette over Wisconsin, Florida, and UCLA. Ranked as high as 22 on Rivals.com, Blue is Marquette’s third highest ranked commitment in the last thirty years and will be able to step in right away, something that Buzz Williams is grateful for.
“That’s the thing that’s probably not talked about enough is how hard it is to sign players that can have an immediate impact at this level,” Williams said. “Where their bodies are ready, where their minds are ready, where their skills are ready to have an impact right away and I think Vander can do that.”
Blue’s decision to come to Marquette after de-committing from Wisconsin should add more fuel to the already lit in-state rivalry, but Buzz Williams said his recruitment of Blue was never anything negative towards the University of Wisconsin.
“I want people that want to be a part of who we are, and I don’t want it to be because we knocked down every other program and we were the only one left standing. I want them to come here because, in their heart, they feel like this is where they are supposed to be.”
One thing Buzz Williams looks for in every recruiting class is having a true point guard, something he believes Blue will be able to do. At the same time, that all-important versatility is something that attracted him to recruit Blue.
“I’ll put him wherever is best for our team for him to do what he does best. I think he’s a guy that can play all three positions. I think he’ll be a hard guy to get off the floor and I think he’s a guy that can guard all three positions, which makes his value really, really high.”
“Mellow” and Blue have vaulted Marquette’s recruiting class into the top 15 by most, including 13th by Rivals.com’s latest rankings. However, Buzz Williams and the Marquette staff are not done recruiting and hope to sign another player or two before the Wednesday deadline, saying Marquette will “sign as many players as we can sign that are great players and fit what it is we want to be about on and off the court.”
The main prize for Marquette would be Tarik Black, a 6’8” power forward from Memphis. Memphis, Tennessee, and Florida are competing with Marquette for his services and he is expected to sign during the early period. Rumors floating around the internet have pegged Marquette as the favorite but Memphis is the hometown team and Black took his official visit to Florida this weekend.
With a point guard and small forward already in his pocket, Williams understands that size should be next on the checklist for the 2010 class, but he will not pass up the opportunity to add another guard.
“We need size for sure. I think I would always say that and I think that if you only have three dribble guys on your team, it should be because you couldn’t sign a fourth dribble guy. And so if we can add another guard that can dribble, we’ll do that too,” he said.
Other names worth keeping an eye on include point guards Reggie Smith (IL) and Stargell Love (NC), power forward Jayvaughn Pinkston (NY) during the early signing period, and small forward Justin Coleman (VA) in the spring.
While there are still questions concerning the status of Monterale Clark, Marquette will has two remaining scholarships but Williams has shown a tendency to over-recruit, so as many as three signings could occur before the 2010 signing period is over.
A New Era
One era of Marquette Golden Eagles’ basketball ended in Boise last March, while another will take flight Friday at the Bradley Center. Six newcomers will take the court Friday night along with the rest of Buzz Williams’ roster as they get ready for a season full of mystery that will be solved as the season progresses.
Any talk of Marquette playing basketball past the first week of March is due to senior Lazar Hayward. Playing outside the spotlight for his first three years, the senior from Buffalo will finally get his chance to show off his talents as Marquette’s go-to player. At 6’6″, Hayward will see playing time at both forward positions and get touches on offense everywhere on the court. With an unmeasurable heart, one can expect to see Hayward guarding the opponent’s best big man night in and night out.
Two other key pieces to Marquette’s puzzle this season are the oft-forgotten about seniors, Maurice Acker and David Cubillan. With Marquette sporting one of the youngest teams in the Big East, the two-experienced filled guards will surely carry the load early on while the youngsters get their feet wet. At the very least, the two senior guards give Buzz Williams some depth on an injury-plagued team.
One of last year’s biggest surprises was then-sophomore Jimmy Butler and the energy he provided off the bench. A summer full of jump shot practice with Hayward and maturing has Butler geared up for a leadership role on and off the court. As one of the most efficient players in the country last season, Butler will need to be even more aggressive on the offensive end and continue his stellar defense. Buzz Williams has praised Butler, calling him the team’s best defender, but he will have to improve even more if Marquette is going to shut opponent’s big men down.
While it’s true that the injury bug strikes just about every team at some point in the season, it could not have happened at a worse time for then-freshman Chris Otule and then-sophomore Joe Fulce. The pair of 2008 newcomers missed significant action last season with injuries and, now fully healthy, are primed for comeback seasons.
Otule took a trip to Germany this summer where he improved his confidence and postgame while Fulce rehabbed his knee and showed off his health with a stunning dunk contest performance in front of Vander Blue, Tarik Black, and the Marquette faithful at Marquette Madness. Depth is the key to Marquette’s success this season and both Otule and Fulce have the potential to start and, at the very least, be contributors off the bench.
Marquette has a core of returning players that will keep Marquette in games early in the season, but the buzz on the Golden Eagles has been the arrival of six newcomers, five of whom will get their feet wet in Divison One Basketball for the first time on Friday.
Leading the way is junior Dwight Buycks who is expected to take on a major scoring role and log major minutes. The 6’2″ combo guard has impressed just about everyone who has seen him play and should start out of the gates for Marquette. With a pretty jump shot and a knack for getting to the basket, it would not come as a surprise to see Buycks rank second in scoring this season behind Hayward. In Marquette’s exhibition blowout over MSOE Saturday, Buycks poured in 15 points and played solid defense.
Right behind Buycks in terms of importance this season is true freshman Jeronne Maymon, a local product from Madison Memorial High School. The 6’7″ power forward is sure to see big minutes as part of a frontcourt rotation, and the DeJuan Blair look-a-like is hoping to crash the boards at all costs. His range extends out to the three point line, but look for Maymon to do his damage inside, bullying the opposition to get rebounds.
Darius Johnson-Odom, DJO, has struggled with a nagging foot injury that kept him out about six weeks early in the fall. After being deemed ready for action, he re-aggravated the injury against MSOE, leaving a big question mark next to his name as to when he will be caught up. As Marquette’s best athlete available, the combo guard will be sorely missed if he is not healthy to start the year.
Erik Williams and Youssoupha Mbao are two projects that will see the court this season but not make a huge impact. Mbao, the 7’2″ center from Senegal will have to put on weight (215 pounds) and is still raw in talent. Williams, a Buzz Williams dream at 6’6″ and able to handle the ball, will struggle to see minutes with a frontcourt rotation including Butler, Maymon, Fulce, and Hayward. However, he was arguably Marquette’s best recruit from last season and has the potential to bust out in the next couple of years.
Marquette has dropped off from last season, and as talented and as full of potential as the new recruits can be, it will be a struggle this year. Growing pains will happen and players will hit mental and physical walls at some point during the season. However, the unknown can be a good thing when gauging the ceiling that some of the newcomers have.
Combined with the senior leadership and talent of Hayward, and it’s anyone’s guess as to how Marquette could finish this season. Early predictions have them ranked 12th in the Big East, but it’s hard to tell when no one has seen almost half the roster play a D-1 game.
One thing is for sure: Marquette basketball has turned over a new leaf and the future looks bright for Buzz Williams and the Golden Eagles.
November 26th, vs. Xavier (Old Spice Classic in Orlando)
Marquette’ s first true test of the season will come over Thanksgiving weekend when the team travels to Orlando to play in the Old Spice Classic. They meet up with Xavier in the first round, who received some votes close to the top 25 in preseason polls. By the time this game comes around, they could very well be in the top 25. Xavier returns just one starter, Jason Love, and lost Sean Miller to Arizona last off-season, but their talent will probably be too much for Marquette early in the season.
December 12th, @ Wisconsin
The annual in-state rivalry game will be that much bigger now that Vander Blue has committed to Marquette. As for the game itself, Wisconsin seems to be the exact same every year. They put together a solid roster full of players perfect for their offense and make the NCAA Tournament. However, their style of play also allows for potential upsets. Last year’s 1-3-1 zone look from Marquette really messed the Badgers up. Trevon Hughes leads a talented group of players up against the Golden Eagles, and the Kohl Center is one of the toughest places to get a win.
January 6th, vs. Georgetown
Georgetown, currently ranked 21st, will be better than they were last year…or at least one would think. Ranked in the top ten at one point last season, the Hoyas failed to make the NCAA Tournament with freshman phenom Greg Monroe. One year later, Monroe is back with a stacked class and looking for revenge on the Golden Eagles. However, the Hoyas will have to travel to the Bradley Center and with a showdown on national television just three days later against UConn, don’t be surprised to see Marquette catch the Hoyas looking ahead. This could be a huge win for Marquette in the eyes of the selection committee come March.
February 18th, vs. Pittsburgh
Outside of Providence and Marquette, no team in the Big East lost more talent than the Panthers of Pitt. Levance Fields, Sam Young, and DeJuan Blair are all gone and Pittsburgh is in re-building mode. They compare to Marquette in a lot of ways, with a fantastic recruiting class coming in and a few veteran pieces still in tact. Marquette and Pitt should end the Big East season in roughly the same area, so the winner of this game could leapfrog the other in the standings by year’s end.
March 6th, vs. Notre Dame
Not only will this game be senior night for Hayward, Cubillan, and Acker, but it will also mark a rivalry game against a potential Player of the Year candidate in Luke Harangody. You can bet the whole team will pour out their heart and soul for the seniors, just like they did against Syracuse last season. Just like the Georgetown game, Notre Dame should be ranked at this point and this game could go a long way to determining Marquette’s fate in potential post-season play.
*Note* Starters indicate who I believe will start for the majority of the season
PG: Dwight Buycks– 25 minutes per game, 12.3 points per game, 4 rebounds per game, 3 assists per game
Buycks will be asked to do a lot this season and, while it may not always be pretty, he should get the job done.
SG: Darius Johnson-Odom– 18 mpg, 8.3 ppg, 2 rpg, 4 apg
DJO will start the year off slow as he becomes acclamated to the speed of the game, but once he’s there he will be special.
F: Jeronne Maymon– 25 mpg, 12.2 ppg, 7 rpg, 1 apg
Maymon will be a vacuum on the boards and play a lot like Jimmy Butler did last season, expect with more looks at the basket.
F: Lazar Hayward– 35 mpg, 22 ppg, 8 rpg, 2 apg
He will have to be Mr. Everything this season and if you know him, there isn’t a better guy equipped for that job.
C: Chris Otule– 17 mpg, 4.5 ppg, 4 rpg, 0.5 apg
He will start the majority of the games, but look for him to rotate just like Dwight Burke did last season.
Jimmy Butler: 30 mpg, 12 ppg, 8 rpg, 2 apg
Butler will be the glue that keeps the team together and be Marquette’s defensive MVP by year’s end.
Maurice Acker: 15 mpg, 4.5 ppg, 1 rpg, 1 apg
Acker will begin the year in the starting lineup but be taken over by the more talented newcomers soon enough.
Joe Fulce: 15 mpg, 3.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2 apg
Fulce is the biggest mystery this season as he could play well enough to start, but could struggle enough to never see the court.
David Cubillan: 10 mpg, 3 ppg, 1 rpg, 1 apg
A strong outing against MSOE has some people excited, but this team has too much talent for Cubi to get big minutes.
Erik Williams: 5 mpg, 2.5 ppg, 2 rpg, 0.5 apg
He just doesn’t seem up to speed quite yet and is more of a project for next year once Hayward is gone.
Youssoupha Mbao: 5 mpg, 1.0 ppg, 2 rpg, 0.5 apg
He is too raw and not strong enough at this point, and will probably only be used when the frontcourt is in foul trouble.
Junior Cadougan: Medically redshirted, will be healthy next season and have four years of eligibility remaining
Marquette’s team will have five new faces take the court Friday night against Centenary, and it’s anyone’s guess as to how they will fare. On one hand, Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler could take hold of the reigns and guide this young team to an NCAA Tournament bid. On the other hand, inexperience could overwhelm the Golden Eagles and the NCAA Tournament could be an afterthought. Here’s how I see it playing out.
Marquette should wind up in the 17-19 win total this season, but the big question is who those wins will come against. If Marquette fails to pull any upsets and just beats who they are supposed to beat, then the NIT would be a gift. If Marquette can have their hiccups early in the season and beat a team like Georgetown, Lousiville, or Notre Dame, it will go a long way. Throw in more than one win the Big East Tournament and they would be sitting pretty.
Lazar Hayward will be a first-team All Big East Team selection at the power forward position and garner All America votes as well. He’s going to be that good. Jeronne Maymon is going to give us a sneak peak of what to expect for the next four years as he bangs inside with the best of the best. Dwight Buycks and Darius Johnson-Odom will need to learn to play well with each other because they will be on the court together a lot. Jimmy Butler seems like a different person this season and knows his role is to be a scorer and a leader on the court. I have faith he will succeed on both fronts. Chris Otule will show flashes of greatness at times and also struggle at times, and when he does people will need to remember he is just a sophomore. At season’s end, the Marquette Golden Eagles will be 17-13 and headed for the NIT due to a lack of big wins.
We are Marquette!
Marquette has six newcomers this season and is looking to turn over a new era as they move on with life after the Big Three. One of those newcomers that will have to come in and step up right away is junior Dwight Buycks.
As if the rivalry between the Marquette Golden Eagles and Wisconsin Badgers wasn’t big enough, it added a new chapter Sunday afternoon when Madison Memorial point guard Vander Blue gave a verbal commitment to play for Marquette next fall. The 6’3″ Blue was choosing between Marquette and Wisconsin with Florida, Arizona, UCLA, and Connecticut listed as well.
Visiting Marquette on his official visit this past weekend, Blue attended Marquette Madness at the Al McGuire Center and sat next to now-fellow teammate and 2010 commit Jamail Jones, a 6’6″ guard/forward from Georgia. He was able to spend time with the current team, including former high school teammate and best friend Jeronne Maymon.
Blue admitted there were many reasons why he chose Marquette over Wisconsin, including the up-tempo style of play that suits his skill set, his relationship with coach Buzz Williams, and the overall culture of Marquette.
His decision did not come without criticism as many of the Wisconsin faithful feel betrayed and as if there is more to the story than what has been printed. Blue gave an oral commitment to Wisconsin after his sophomore year of high school but wanted to look over his options again after a breakout junior year.
When the majority of 15-year-olds are deciding on whether or not to laminate their driving permits, Blue was deciding where to play division one basketball. It’s easy to see that he was young and excited, yet premature on his college decision. He never took Wisconsin out of his potential teams and it seemed as though his decision was 50-50 most of the way.
Despite those upset at Blue for opening up his recruitment and then deciding to go to a rival in-state school, Blue says he could not be happier with his decision and is excited to be playing for the Golden Eagles in the Big East.
Just as happier, if not happier, is Coach Buzz Williams who, in Blue, secured his second recruit for the 2010 season. Both recruits, Blue and Jones, rank in the top 70 on most recruiting websites and will play a major role when they join the team next season.
In an interview with JS Online Marquette blogger Todd Rosiak, Blue said that Williams was crying and screaming when he heard the news of Blue joining the Marquette squad. It seemed like a fitting end for the emotional Williams, who spoke to Blue about life and becoming a man over the weekend. He knows that being a Marquette Golden Eagle is about much more than wins, losses, and tournament bids.
After Tom Crean ditched his seniors for Indiana prior to the start of last season, Williams was left to pick up the pieces that included two de-commits and not a lot of time to make up for it. His first recruiting class consisted of junior college sophomores Joe Fulce and Jimmy Butler and freshman Chris Otule. Williams’ Texas ties surely helped him out as all three players played in the Lone Star State. Butler came in right away and was an excellent role player for the Golden Eagles while Fulce and Otule fought injuries for the majority of the season.
While Williams was given a free pass on his 2008 recruiting class given the circumstances, his 2009 class was going to define him as the class who came in after the Big Three of Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews, and Dominic James graduated.
Williams did not miss a beat, recruiting three four-star players in Junior Cadougan, Jeronne Maymon, and Erik Williams to go along with three-star recruits Dwight Buycks, Darius Johnson-Odom and Youssoupha Mbao. Not only did the class balance out the roster with four freshman, a sophomore, and a junior, but it also ranked in the top fifteen on most websites.
The class is yet to play a game, but the talent and chemistry seems to be there for the Golden Eagles to succeed in the future. Inexperience will play a factor and the newcomers are sure to have low points in the season and may hit a wall during the tough Big East season, but the learning process will be key for the future.
Add last year’s class to the commitments of Blue and Jones for next season and you have a roster made up completely of Buzz Williams recruits, a five-star, blue chip prospect, seniors Jimmy Butler, Joe Fulce, and Dwight Buycks, four four-star recruits and a boatload of potential.
The best part is that Buzz Williams is not done recruiting for 2010 with two more potential scholarships to hand out for next season. Look for Williams to solidify the frontcourt for next season as the backcourt is all but set up with Cadougan, Blue, Johnson-Odom, Buycks, Jones, Butler, and Fulce.
Names for the 2010 class to keep an eye on include power forwards Tarik Black, Gary Mitchell, Jayvaughn Pinkson, and Freddy Aspirilla. If the Golden Eagles are to compete for a Big East title in the next two or three years, a big man who can consistently get looks at the basket in the low post will be key. Otule and Mbao are both centers who seem to have their game focused defensively right now so an offensive presence will be key.
Whichever way you slice it, the Vander Blue commitment officially put Marquette back in the conference title talks for next season. After all, he is the best recruit Marquette has landed since Kerry Trotter in 1981 and Doc Rivers in 1979. It’s big enough that the Golden Eagles have swiped up the state of Wisconsin’s best recruit the last two seasons,but if Williams can hit on another recruit or two for next season, Marquette can become a consistent top ten recruiting destination.
Blue’s decision to Marquette was that big. Now if only Tennessee-bound shooting guard Trae Golden had committed as well. Talk about a Marquette backcourt…
Sorry I have been out of the loop on posting as of late. Midterms at school have had my head in the books and not as much on the blog. I have been following everything as usual and will have a lot to post on this week including the Packers’ shutout of the Lions, Vander Blue verbally committing to Marquette, and potentially some MLB playoffs as we prepare for the World Series.
Here’s an article I did last week on sophomore big Chris Otule. To read it, click on the link below that will bring you to MarquetteHoops.com, where most of my Marquette Basketball content will go from now on.
After the 2009 NBA Draft had been completed, 60 players from across the world had NBA teams to call homes after hearing their name called. None of those 60 were Marquette Golden Eagles.
Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews, and Dominic James all had their names planted in the Marquette basketball history book as McNeal led all players in scoring and games played, James finished second all time in assists, and Matthews had made more free throws than anyone else.
However, measurements were not on the “Big Three’s” list of attributes, and subsequently none of them were drafted. McNeal was dubbed as more of a point guard because of his size (6’2″) and inability to consistently knock down outside shots, Matthews had played more of a small forward position in college and needed to shoot better to become a shooting guard, and point guard Dominic James’ foot injury slowed him down considerably in pre-draft workouts.
As much of a shock as it was to see the Big Three be shut out on draft day, all three have been presented the opportunity to make an NBA roster this fall.
Matthews played for the Kings in the Summer League but was picked up by the Jazz and was invited to their veteran’s camp. Prior to the draft, Matthews saw his stock rise a fair amount with good workouts and a solid showing at the Portsmouth Invitational.
The 6’4″ guard has the best chance of the Big Three to make a squad this fall. The Jazz have major question marks at the shooting guard and small forward position, and Matthews might be able to sneak on the roster.
Kyle Korver, Andrei Kirilenko, Ronnie Brewer, and C.J. Miles are the only listed twos and threes as the Jazz have three point guards (Deron Williams, Ronnie Price, rookie Eric Maynor) and three centers (Mehmet Okur, Kosta Koufos and Kyrylo Fesenko) on their current roster.
One roster move that could substantially help Matthews’ chance is whether or not veteran Matt Harpring decides to come back and play a 12th season for the Jazz as constant ankle and knee problems have slowed him down. Indications right now are that Harpring will not play which opens up another forward spot for Matthews.
Matthews claims the Jazz have liked him from the start, and if a spot is open they might just take a chance with him and put him on the roster.
As much room as there is for Matthews on the Jazz roster, Jerel McNeal finds himself bunched together with a group of young guards in Los Angeles with the Clippers. He has been asked to attend camp as well and finds himself in a position to make the team, but will have his work cut out for him.
The Clippers have stocked up on point guards in the last couple of years, adding veteran Baron Davis and Sebastian Telfair to join Mardy Collins. At shooting guard, the Clippers have one of the game’s better young shooters in Eric Gordon to go along with recently traded-for Rasual Butler, and Ricky Davis who is listed at small forward, but plays a fair amount of shooting guard.
If McNeal is able to establish himself as a shooter that can also handle the point, he may garner a look. Odds are that McNeal will make his way overseas for the next couple of years before trying to make his case in the Association.
Reports say that Dominic James’ foot injury is nearing 100 percent and that should help him as he makes his case to join the Milwaukee Bucks this season. James looked to be in good position entering the Summer League with the Bucks, but he sprained his knee the day before the team was to leave for Las Vegas.
Now, he will go up against Brandon Jennings, veteran Luke Ridnour, and recently acquired Roko Ukic to try to make the roster. Fellow point guard Salim Stoudamire was cut from the team after an average showing in the Summer League, so James has already one upped his chances.
The Bucks lack depth in the front court and are looking to add size at all costs, so they will probably not keep four point guards on the roster, but if outplays Ukic in preseason he may get a look.