Strotty's Blog

All your Wisconsin sports news and more!

Marquette’s Individual PER’s

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.

Jimmy Butler has been Marquette's best player this season, scoring in double digits in all of Marquette's games. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

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

December 5, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, College Basketball, Marquette Golden Eagles | , , , | 1 Comment

Old Spice Classic Roundup: Marquette Surprises Doubters, Wins Two

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.

Darius Johnson-Odom has solidified his spot as Marquette's third go-to option on offense. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

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.

November 29, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, College Basketball, Marquette Golden Eagles | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five Things Marquette Must Do To Defeat Florida State

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.

Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler will be the reason Marquette hoists the trophy tomorrow in Orlando. (AP Photo)

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.”

November 28, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, College Basketball, Marquette Golden Eagles | , , , , | 1 Comment

Marquette Gets Defensive In Win Over Grambling State

Dwight Buycks had his best game as a Golden Eagle, almost recording a triple-double.

 

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.

November 22, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, College Basketball, Marquette Golden Eagles | , , , | 1 Comment

Ten Things to Look For When Marquette Takes on UM-ES

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.

Keeping Lazar Hayward on the court is key for the Golden Eagles this year.

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.

November 17, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, College Basketball, Marquette Golden Eagles | , , , | Leave a comment

The Official Marquette Basketball Season Preview

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.

DJOO

If Darius Johnson-Odom can stay healthy, it would do wonders for the Marquette backcourt.

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.

Key Games

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.

trevon

Trevon Hughes will surely want revenge on the Golden Eagles after last year's defeat at the Bradley Center.

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.

Player Predictions

*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

Predictions

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.

zario

Lazar Hayward holds the key to success for Marquette this season. If he fails, so will the team.

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!

November 9, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, College Basketball, Marquette Golden Eagles | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Marquette’s Big East Opponents Revealed With Predictions

The Marquette Golden Eagles’ 2009-2010 Big East opponents were announced yesterday and from the looks of it, they fared well in the schedule.

While the timing of these games will make a huge difference as well as factors that occur throughout the course of the year, it’s never too early to make predictions about how the Warriors will do in the Big East next year.

Home Games

Depaul

Just as it was last year, the Golden Eagles will play DePaul twice this year in a home-and-home series. The Blue Demons enter the year without last year’s two leading scorers in Will Walker and Dar Tucker but will return will-be seniojunior Mac Koshwal.

The Golden Eagles won both of these matchups last year, including a 79-70 victory at the Bradley Center. Look for them to come out on top at home again this year.

PREDICTION: WIN

Pittsburgh

Much like Marquette (and a lot of teams in the Big East next season), the Pitt Panthers will have a completely different look to them. Losing sophomore DeJuan Blair and seniors Sam Young and LeVance Fields will have a major impact on them, but McDonald’s All-American Dante Taylor (ranked 16th overall) heads a top-20 recruiting class that should ease the pain.

This one will be close in a battle of young teams, but I like Marquette at home.

PREDICTION: WIN

Georgetown

This game became much more difficult when freshman Greg Monroe declared he would not enter the NBA Draft and would come back and play another year for the Hoyas.

They lose their leading scorer in DaJuan Summers as well as guard Jessie Sapp, but a second consecutive solid recruiting class has the Hoyas looking in good shape next year.

Led by Monroe, Chris Wright, and Austin Freeman, the Hoyas should earn a tournament bid this March.

PREDICTION: LOSS

If Marquette is to finish 9-9 in the Big East, Lazar Hayward will be a big reason why.

If Marquette is to finish 9-9 in the Big East, Lazar Hayward will be a big reason why.

Notre Dame

Just like Georgetown, the Fighting Irish’s squad got a huge boost when Luke Harangody announced he would come back for another year. He has a chance to become ND’s all-time points leader, and with transfers Ben Hansbrough and Scott Martin, the Fighting Irish have a good shot at getting to the NCAA Tournament as well.

Losing Kyle McAlarney and Ryan Ayers will hurt the Irish, but not enough for the Golden Eagles to take them down.

PREDICTION: LOSS

Louisville

Rick Pitino loses Terrence Williams and Earl Clark next year but also brings in a top-25 recruiting class as well. Led by seniors Jerry Smith and Edgar Sosa, Louisville has a chance to be a top 25 team to start the year.

Marquette has had a tough time with Lousiville in the past and this season should yield the same results. It will be closer than most expect, but Louisville should pull it out in the end.

PREDICTION: LOSS

Providence

Other than Marquette, no team will have as big a makeover next season than the Friars. With five impact seniors leaving, the Friars will have a tough time against a Marquette team with better incoming players.

With a comeback victory at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center last year, this year should should provide less fireworks as the Warriors roll.

PREDICTION: WIN

Rutgers

On paper, this game looks like an easy win for the Golden Eagles, but sophomore guard Mike Rosario should make things quite interesting. Just 17.1 points per game leave the team and Rosario will have another year of experience under his belt.

Still, the Scarlet Knights were 3-10 (0-9) on the road last year, with wins over lowly Princeton, Rider, and Deleware. Rutgers will be better next year, but not good enough.

PREDICTION: WIN

Villanova

Coming off a Final Four appearance, Jay Wright’s squad loses a few players but brings in one of the nation’s best recruiting classes that includes power forward Mouphtaou Yarou and All-Americans Dominic Cheek and Maalik Wayns.

The Golden Eagles got unlucky drawing a home-and-home against the Big East’s pre-season favorite as this looks to be a huge test for the young Golden Eagles team.

PREDICTION: LOSS

South Florida

The Bulls will bring in four new faces next year to replace the loss of Jesus Verdejo among others, but one player who will return is guard Dominique Jones. South Florida upset Marquette last year and he was a big reason why, scoring 15 points and adding five rebounds and four assists.

If this game was in Florida this year they might have had the upper hand, but the Bradley Center will be rocking and Marquette will look for revenge in this one.

PREDICTION: WIN

Away Games

Cincinnati

Should the Bearcats’ decision to roll the dice on troubled but talented Lance Stephenson work out, they might just be a bubble team this year. With returning veteran Deonta Vaughn and youngster Yancy Gates, the three will form a very solid trio for a team that historically has been tough to beat at home.

PREDICTION: LOSS

Providence

As was stated earlier, the Friars put up an excellent battle last year before falling to the Golden Eagles 91-82 at home last year. This year, the Friars will look to rebuild just like the Golden Eagles but will be swept in their home-and-home games.

PREDICTION: WIN

St. John’s

The Red Storm will have four new players in uniform next year when the Golden Eagles travel to Madison Square Garden. Anthony Mason Jr. is a big loss for the Red Storm, as he averaged 14 points per game last year as St. John’s most complete player.

Always tough to beat in NYC, I expect Marquette to step up in what will probably be a very important game in the Big East standings.

PREDICTION: WIN

Syracuse

Losing Johnny Flynn, Paul Harris, Eric Devendorf, and Kristof Ongeneat will hurt the Orange considerably next year and I believe this is a game the Golden Eagles can steal.

It will be tough with senior Andy Rautins leading the way, but the Orange can lose focus in games and Marquette’s quick unit should be able to slice through Cuse’s zone in an upset and big win for the Warriors.

PREDICTION: WIN

West Virginia

One of my favorite teams to watch the second half of the year was the West Virginia Mountaineers and they could be looking at a very special season this year.

Devin Ebanks, Kevin Jones, Darryl Bryant, and John Flowers will all have another year of experience with them and Da’Sean Butler will be leading the way in a big Mountaineers win.

PREDICTION: LOSS

Villanova

Marquette’s toughest game of the year right now stands at Villanova on the road. Regardless of where the two teams play (The Pavilion or not), a repeat of last year might be in the cards for the young Golden Eagles team.

The Wildcats play their best ball at home and this game will be no different.

PREDICTION: LOSS

Incoming freshman Jeronne Maymon looks to follow in the steps of Wesley Matthews for the next four years.

Incoming freshman Jeronne Maymon looks to follow in the steps of Wesley Matthews for the next four years.

DePaul

Last year’s game in Chicago resulted in a 76-61 win for the Golden Eagles and this year’s should be no different as the Golden Eagles pick up another road win. The All State Arena should be more than half gold as it was last year and the Marquette chants will silence the Blue Demons fans as well.

PREDICTION: WIN

Seton Hall

The Pirates will have one of the most experienced teams in the Big East next year, making it very hard for the Golden Eagles to pull out a victory. While the frontcourt play should improve for Marquette next year, Seton Hall will be too tough on the post in what looks to be a loss.

PREDICTION: LOSS

Connecticut

The Huskies also lose their Big Three in Hasheem Thabeet, Jeff Adrien, and A.J. Price, but have a whole lot more coming back than the Golden Eagles do. Stanley Robinson will finally get his time to shine and sophomore Kemba Walker is only getting better as the days pass.

PREDICTION: LOSS

Final Record In Conference: 9-9

July 8, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, College Basketball, Connecticut Huskies, Marquette Golden Eagles | , , , | 1 Comment

Grading Out the 2008 Marquette Golden Eagles: Wings

Jerel McNeal, 19.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists

It was going to be almost impossible for Jerel McNeal to live up to expectations when the season started, but like has done for the last four years, he surprised us once again. In a year with many ups and downs, the constant remained McNeal with his scoring presence, tenacity on defense, and overall team leadership.

He started the year very slow during non-conference play, and it almost seemed like he played to his competition. Wesley Matthews rushed out of the gate in Buzz Williams’ new system, but even though Jerel averaged just 17 points per game, no one panicked. While his game was not really struggling in the early portion of the season, it just wasn’t the take over mentality that the Golden Eagles had expected from the senior. All that changed once he took the court in conference play. He had 24 points in a huge win over Villanova on New Year’s Day and had that magical performance from long distance in the Cincinnati win, connecting on all seven three-pointers he took. After a 16 point performance against Rutgers (that Matthews really dominated), he would go on to score 20+ points in nine straight contests on his way to breaking George Thompson’s scoring record at Marquette University. McNeal also had a career high in assists with 4.5 and really improved his all around game, using his driving ability to open up perimeter jump shots.

As it was for every player on the Marquette team, the injury to Dominic James drastically changed McNeal’s play. When the senior point guard went down, McNeal knew it was going to be on him to keep the team focused off the court, as well as keeping them in games on the court. McNeal’s play really struggled to end the year after James went down, albeit against very good defenses in Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse. Still, his shot towards the end of regulation against the Orange on senior day was the McNeal that Golden Eagles fans remembered and will definitely go down as one of his many memorable clutch shots.

Jerel McNeal was awarded Second Team All-American honors for his outstanding senior season.

Jerel McNeal was awarded Second Team All-American honors for his outstanding senior season.

In the NCAA Tournament, McNeal struggled against Utah State for much of the game, looking sluggish and tired. However, when Marquette went down six late in the game, a light must have went off in his head that this was do-or-die and it was on his shoulders to make sure his team would survive. He ended the game with just 14 points, but down six he connected on his next two shots and, along with Wesley Matthews’ bucket, put Marquette up for good in the game. In the second round, he was unstoppable and was the reason the game was close all the way up until the final buzzer. He went off for a career-high 30 points while making clutch free throws and deep three pointers all game. As he did all year, his three pointer at the end of the half was huge for Marquette, bringing them within 11 and giving them some momentum that they clearly used to open the second half.

There were times where McNeal looked very average in the year, mostly after the injury to James. Whether it was trying to do too much or try to compensate for what the team had lost, he looked out of sync to end the year, rightfully so. He was asked to basically take over the point guard role (in the sense of running the offense) while still being asked to put up 20 points every night and play lockdown defense. He will go down as Marquette’s leading scorer and one of the best to ever don the Marquette uniform, and this whole year was the MVP’s One Shining Moment. GRADE: A

Wesley Matthews, 18.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists

If there was ever an unsung hero of a team, Wesley Matthews described it perfectly. So much of what he did over the course of the year went semi-unnoticed because of the play of McNeal, James, and even Hayward. Still, it always seemed like the last thing Matthews wanted was praise and that flying under the radar suited him perfectly.

Matthews came out of the gates firing to start the year, averaging 26 points in the first three games and gave a preview of what was to come from the 6’4” senior in Buzz’s new offense. He was no longer just a bystander in the offense, going through the motions and taking set jump shots. Rather, he had the freedom to run the fast break and draw fouls, something he did better than anyone on the team.

He definitely played second fiddle to McNeal, but that did not mean that he underperformed in any sense of the word. If it weren’t for Dante Cunningham from Villanova, you can bet that Matthews would have taken home Most Improved Player in the Big East. While he did struggle after the James injury, he still continued to carry on and do his best to make sure the Golden Eagles didn’t break. He was the ultimate competitor, and at the same time was just another kid having fun playing basketball. He never tried to be bigger than the game and always let the flow of the game come to him. To show this, look no further than the Georgetown game in the Bradley Center. McNeal had been constant the whole game and Hayward had 14 points in the first half. With the game knotted up at 42 coming out of halftime, Matthews found his rythym and exploded for 23 points in the second half in a huge win for the Golden Eagles. He didn’t force shots or try to find attempts that weren’t there, but instead he waited for good shots and made them when he had them.

Matthews will be such a memorable face to Marquette’s legacy and his breakout season this year proved why. He was a force on the glass and played great defense against competition usually bigger than him. What he did with his opponent was take him off the dribble and draw fouls, which ended up giving him the all-time lead for free throws made in a Marquette jersey. It was a fitting end for him against Missouri, scoring 24 points and throwing down dunks that showed that he wasn’t going to give up until the final buzzer had gone off. GRADE: A-

Jimmy Butler, 5.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 0.9 assists

Butler was a junior college transfer from the same school Joe Fulce was from and not many people knew what to expect from the 6’6” sophomore. Early on, they thought they were getting a player not ready for the Big East and one that surely would not crack the rotation when the Golden Eagles got into the dog days of the season. Butler struggled mightily to start the year, looking lost on offense and slow on defense. The peak of his struggles came in the Villanova game late in the season when he fouled out playing very lazy defense, as well as missing his only shot from the field.

His performance against the now-Final Four bound Wildcats also prompted me to write “The Case for Jimmy Butler”, where I compared his performance this year against other players on the bench, as well as his month-by-month progression. Well he sure made me look good by exploding over the next two months to become one of Marquette’s key rotation players and first man off the bench.

He played extremely scrappy basketball, cleaning up the boards and being on the receiving end McNeal and Matthews drives to the hoop. His defense improved and he seemed to get faster as he got more comfortable while in the game. Every game, he would do something to show his improvement and got better as time went on. A 19 point performance against Villanova in the Big East Tournament capped off a great season in which he went 13-16 from the free throw line. On the year, he shot 76% from the stripe and 51% from the field.

Next year, he will be a key ingredient to a very young Marquette team. While he might not start, expect him to log 25 minutes a game and come in during key stretches in the game. If he can improve his jump shot he will be able to contribute at three positions (2, 3, and the 4). GRADE: B-

Joe Fulce, 1.4 points, 1.1 rebounds, 0.3 assists

Fulce showed a lot of promise early in the year before an injury sidelined in for quite some time. Despite big minutes in the Providence win, he did not get enough experience early in the year to crack the rotation. Next year, he will get more of a chance if he is able to stay healthy and should be in the rotation as Buzz Williams goes deep into his lineup.  GRADE: D-

March 30, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, College Basketball, Marquette Golden Eagles | , , | Leave a comment

Marquette Starters Getting Too Tired Down the Stretch

After watching part 4 of “the gauntlet” crumble before my eyes after Marquette went up 9 only to be outscored bby 24 points, I really began to realize how tired our starters are getting at the end of games. No, I am not an idiot that is going to say that you need to play the bench players more, although that might do the trick. I realize that we have a weak bench that contributes just 11 points per game and that our starting five might be the most talented all-around, with no real weak spots minus Burke. While, unfortunately, the loss of Dominic James will make the bench one man deeper (David Cubillan), it clearly comes at a costly price. I also realize that Buzz, ever since the Rutgers game when the backups nearly blew the game, has not been one to take the starters out unless they are in foul trouble or absolutely winded. While this is great and definitely keeps the pressure on teams to keep THEIR starting five on the court, it’s starting to take a toll on the Golden Eagles. I picked up numbers on Marquette’s starters’ minutes per game compared to the other top tier teams in the Big East as well as the other top teams in the AP rankings. The stats were pretty amazing, have a look:

minutes

Now, take into consideration a couple of things. First is that I used the average number of minutes that Dominic James played despite him being out for the year. Acker as a starter is averaging 31.7 minutes per game while James averaged 34.5. However, it makes sense to include James’ numbers in the discussion because even though Marquette’s stats would go down if I include Acker, it’s not because the bench is stepping up, but rather the injury is forcing us to use the bench and production is dropping significantly. The other is to note that Marquette’s numbers, despite almost being the highest in both categories (Oklahoma’s overall minutes were the only bigger), it says even more that Marquette probably played the easiest non-conference schedule of anyone on this list. What this says is that Marquette’s overall minutes are even lower than they should be because of the “give-me” games that Marquette played, notably Presbyterian (starters averaged 23.8 minutes), Houston Baptist (25.2) and IPFW (25.4). It’s really a testament to the starters, especially Matthews, McNeal, and Hayward. They are going out every night, knowing that they need to play 35+ minutes to give their team a chance, and they do it. Going back to the point, however, it really shows against great teams that can rest their guys with about 9 minutes to go and have them come in fresh with 4 to play and steamroll a team like Marquette who has had their starters in the whole second half. I am not Buzz Williams and I would never question anything he does, because he knows more about basketball than I probably ever will, but it would be nice to see him go somewhat deeper into his bench. With the loss of James this has happened, but even so I would like to see Joe Fulce or Pat Hazel come in and give Wes or Jerel a breather in the last two minutes or so of a half. We see this a lot in the NBA and while time is more precious in college, seeing Wesley and Jerel beat tired at the end of the game gives us little to no chance at beating teams with depth. Those teams tend to be the better ones, and in the tournament, the other teams listed in the graphic above are the ones you need to beat if you want to end up in Detroit.

March 5, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, College Basketball, Marquette Golden Eagles | , , , | Leave a comment

The Case for Jimmy Butler

Let me start this off by saying I personally think Jimmy Butler has played outstanding for the role that he has been thrust into as the sixth man on a Marquette Golden Eagles team and has not taken a step back since Midnight Madness tipped off. I tend to think some people agree with this statement, but some people have not jumped on the bandwagon of the 6’5” forward from Texas. As for some who believe guys like Pat Hazel and Joseph Fulce should be logging more minutes, it’s a matter of efficiency to me. For role players off the bench, I want to know who can make the most out of the minutes they get. +/- is making its way back into the NBA just as it is in the NHL (which we don’t talk about here) but I didn’t find anything in regards to college. So I decided to look at how efficient Marquette players are based on a formula John Hollinger of ESPN invented to find this out. 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 takes forever and well I just don’t have that time. So I used another formula that I found online 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)

Marquette PER as of 2/11

Above is Marquette’s “rotational players'” PER and after calculating it for everyone, a few things jumped out at me. First and foremost, Wesley Matthews is severely underrated in how good he really is. A lot of Marquette fans know his skill and his ability to take over stretches of games but to the rest of the nation he is seen as Jerel McNeal’s underscore rather than his sidekick. Getting back on topic, looking at the PER of Butler made me realize just how important he is to the team and the sixth man ability that he brings. Most of the time Butler comes in for Dwight Burke and vice versa (as seen by their minutes per game adding up to 36, basically the whole game), meaning that Butler is playing either the 4 or the 5 depending on who Lazar guards. Marquette considers themselves a 3 guard, 2 forward team but most opponents that they go up against have a predominant big man as well as a power forward that more likely than not is going to be bigger than the 6’5” Butler or the 6’6” Hayward. The role that Butler has taken on defensively is to use his height and long arms to deny the low post. While he still gets beat off the dribble more than he should, he has improved from the beginning of the year and now does a better job getting in front of his ball when beaten. He also closes out very well like most defenders on Marquette do, using his long arms and decent jumping ability to contest shots as seen by his 10 blocks on the year, with 4 coming in the last 3 games. Overall, Butler is being asked to play out of position on defense, just like any “big man” for the Golden Eagles does, on any given night and has done a fine job at it. He has become more physical on defense and has improved his speed, but he’s also on the court because of the bonus he brings on offense.

I will admit, at the beginning of the year as I watched Jimmy Butler, I wondered if he even knew that the goal of an offensive possession was to score. He would give the ball up as soon as he caught it and wouldn’t allow for the play to be created whether it was letting a screen form or waiting for a guy to be in position. As the year has progressed, Butler has become so much more aggressive at attacking the basket as seen by his free throws attempted which have increased by month (1.5 in Nov., 2.8 in Dec., 3.0 in Jan., 5.3 in Feb.) His assist to turnover ratio is a manageable 1.07 which ranks 4th among the eight rotational players and remember, he is playing as a forward in a guard-oriented offense so the assists will fluctuate from game to game. His 4.3 points per game may not look like much on paper, but remember who he is on the court with. We already said he comes in for Burke, meaning he is usually playing with the Big 4 of Wes, Jerel, Nic’ and Lazar. He is clearly the 5th option among those players and arguably still the 5th when Maurice Acker enters the game. Per 40 minutes, Butler averages 10.4 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game, both which rank better than Hazel and Burke. Once again going back to efficiency, Butler has plenty of it as seen by that statistic. Another way number 33 is contributing on the offensive end is the matchup problem that he creates offensively. Marquette’s curse of size is also their gift in that offensively with Butler in, they essentially have 4 guards in the game with Lazar Hayward who is a threat from downtown as well. When you have a team that can put five men on the perimeter, with slashers like James, Matthews, and McNeal, as well as having jump shooters in Hayward and Butler, it’s almost unstoppable.

Hopefully Buzz has seen the light on Jimmy Butler as seen by his increase in minutes, which has risen from 15.8 the first three months to 21 minutes in February. He has got a long way to go in terms of the raw talent he shows. I’d still like to see him be more confident in his jump shot at times and he has room to get quicker on defense and add a little muscle to his frame, but overall he has stepped into a role at Marquette that fits him perfectly. The haters need to remember that he isn’t Jerel McNeal and he isn’t Wesley Matthews. He is a first year player (look at how Fulce and Otule have played to see just how good he is) that was thrown into playing time right away and, in my eyes, has succeeded.

February 11, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, College Basketball, Marquette Golden Eagles | , , | 3 Comments