"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lots of big news from #mubb as summer turns to fall

Football is in full swing now, but there's been some news on the Marquette basketball front so we need to break in with some Scrambled Eggs podcast. We start the show with the most exciting news since the last pod, two new commitments in the form of Theo John and Jamal Cain. Welcome to the program gentlemen! Joining previous commit, Ike Eke, the three represent a significant bolstering of Marquette's frontline options. We discuss what their commitments mean and with theoretically only one roster spot left, who the remaining targets are Hint: they seem to be all big men. Based on the targets in 2017 we can speculate about what the roster looks like in 2017 and 2018 as well as some thoughts around 2018 targets. This all leads to a discussion around what Wojo's team strategy will be based on what we think the rosters will look like from a skill set standpoint. We then get to the Big East conference schedule which was released last week. While we don't go step by step through it, we do review key games or general impressions on what the schedule means including what MU has to do to make a tournament this season. We wrap up with an overview of the half century team that Big East Coast Bias put together based on voting. Oh and a new logo!

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Schedule is finally out and Marquette(alumni) are going deep in The Tournament(not the tournament)

The off season has been long and drawn out, much like the non-conference schedule...hey OH! All teasing aside we roll through the non-conference schedule and discuss want an improvement it is over the previous year and how it may impact the team this year. The discussion even includes a sad Pitt bear reference. We transition to a brief discussion around the MU BBQ and some recruiting news. Talk then turns to red hot incoming freshman Marcus Howard and what his impact may or may not be on the season this season based on his USA team performance. Then we get to the exciting topic, THE TOURNAMENT (capitalization is a marketing ploy I guess) which features a very compelling Marquette Alumni team. We discuss all sorts of thing regarding this fun off season glorified pick up game tournament including a mic'd Wesley Matthews, Joe Chapman sightings and the rarest of unicorns, a Derrick Wilson 3 pointer.Very exciting stuff for off season entertainment and all games going forward should be on an ESPN platform so if you haven't watched yet, you should start. We wrap up the latest off-season pod with a quick discussion of Fred Hoiberg's Marquette NBA roster down in Chicago and possible MU players to earn NBA contracts this summer. Enjoy and stay cool. Download this episode (right click and save)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Team of Marquette NBA Alums 6th Best in Country - Projected 52-30 Record

I realize this will be viewed as a "homer" post, particularly as I head to Milwaukee Thursday for an 11:30 presentation (yes, those of you in Milwaukee please RSVP here and come!).

However, I ran the estimated wins created by all NBA players as calculated by ESPN's Estimated Wins Added formula and Value Add Basketball Rankings of incoming players (see details in post here). Then I broke down all 728 players who are on NBA rosters, D-League Rosters or Free Agents by their college. In a stroke of luck, the 36 colleges here are the only teams with at least five players each.

Those 36 teams breakdown nicely into six divisions similar to the NBA's actual divisional footprint. (Keep in mind, Davidson doesn't have five NBA players, to Seth Curry would not be on a team, and James went straight from high school to the NBA, so Russell Westbrook of UCLA and Kevin Durant of Texas would be the top two players from these 36 schools). Eastern Conference (NBA Alums).

While I will post a Breitbart Sports story later on all six divisions here, and you can look at standings and players in each division here, let me just focus on the six Midwestern Schools who could field a starting five:

East - Central W-L GB
Marquette 52-30 0
Michigan State 49-33 -3
Ohio State 41-41 -11
Indiana 34-48 -18
Michigan 28-54 -24
Wisconsin 26-56 -26

Based on ESPN's Estimated Wins Added, Jimmy Butler (worth 13.3 extra wins) and Dwyane Wade (11.1) both edge out Michigan State's Draymond Green (10.9) as top players in this hypothetical Division of schools whose NBA alums would make up the "Eastern Conference, Central Division."

Even though Wesley Matthews was not at the same level post-injury, Value Add doesn't rank Henry Ellenson as a huge producer yet, and we don't know if the Bucks will bring Steve Novak back, the addition of Jae Crowder (6.1) gives MU a trio that ranks overall slightly ahead of Michigan State's balanced alumns (Denzel Valentine, Zach Randolph).  Ohio State's Mike Conley and Indiana's Victor Olidipo rank in a distant tie for fourth behind the big three.

While they do not calculate as adding wins, Marquette is one of the few teams that could fill an entire roster with Vander Blue, Dwight Buycks, Matt Carlino and Lazar Hayward available in the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th spots.

If the entire projection played out in a hypothetical season, MU would go into the tourament as the No. 3 seed in the East to draw No. 6 Florida, then No. 2 UConn and No. 1 Duke. At that point a prohibitive overall No. 1 Kentucky from the West would be the prohibitive favorite - actually projects and an unrealistic 80-2 on the season - but we all know what happens when a Dwyane Wade MU team plays a Kentucky team ranked No. 1.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Bulls' hit jackpot with Wade, Crowder's Celtics score even better offseason

Outside of Golden State's signing of Kevin Durant, Marquette's returning NBA players are  on the teams that could improve the most based on offseason moves to date. I rank the 30 team's offseasons in a Thursday Breitbart piece.

Click here for a more detailed analysis of the 148 best players by team. Here are the Bulls and Celtics players worth at least four extra wins based on last year's NBA Estimated Wins and the college Value Add basketball rankings

Player20162017Extra Wins
Robin LopezNYCHI7.8
Jimmy ButlerCHICHI13.3
Dwyane WadeMIACHI11.1
Rajon RondoSACCHI7.5
Denzel ValentineMichigan St.CHI7.2
Taj GibsonCHICHI4.0
Isaiah ThomasBOSBOS13.9
Al HorfordATLBOS11.6
Jae CrowderBOSBOS6.1
Jared SullingerBOSBOS5.9
Ben BentilProvidenceBOS5.7
Amir JohnsonBOSBOS4.1
Ante ZizicCroatiaBOS4.0
Guerschon YabuseleFranceBOS4.0
Jaylen BrownCaliforniaBOS4.0
Kelly OlynykBOSBOS4.0

To walk through the math, Wade was worth an additional 11.1 wins last season, while the acquisition of Robin Lopez (+7.8) and Rajon Rondo (+7.5) and the draft of Denzel Valentine (+7.2) improve the team. Next we subtract -12.7 for the loss of Pau Gasol and the normal -6.0 atrophy for each team – the Bulls project a 15-game improvement.

Whether or not Wade can repeat his level of play at 35 years old, and whether adding a whole bunch of good players to a Celtics team that really just needs one great one is also in question, but the pick up of Al Horford seems to give the Celtics a shot to go to the next level in the East.

As for Detroit, we have Michael Gbinije having a bigger first year impact, with Henry Ellenson the bigger star over his career once he stops twisting his body and hand on his shot.

It has been a great offseason for the former MU players - let's see if it plays out next year.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The night before the NBA Draft - where does Ellenson go?

UPDATE;   Ellenson was picked 18th by the Detroit Pistons. DraftExpress had picked him 18th yesterday afternoon.  DraftExpress also predicted the Milwaukee Bucks would take Thon Maker at 10.

The NBA will conduct its annual draft tomorrow as 60 players from around the world will be selected for an opportunity to play in the NBA.  Marquette's Henry Ellenson is a sure fire first round pick, but whether he is a sure fire lottery pick now has some experts uncertain.  Last month we interviewed Jonathan Givony, founder of DraftExpress, for his predictions.  Since that meeting, DraftExpress has had Ellenson move up a bit, but recently slipping all the way to number 18.  They caution that the prediction ultimately could change based on a number of unknown variables, a trade, a team misses out on a "must have" player, a last minute piece of information that causes a player's stock to drop as we saw in the NFL draft this year.  Ellenson could go as high as 9 per the site.

Other publications have Ellenson also in the 7 to 21 range.  Several believe he will land locally with the Milwaukee Bucks and continue his presence in Cream City.  Regardless of where he is drafted, tomorrow night will be one of the most important days in his life and mark another draft choice from the Marquette basketball program.

Henry Ellenson NBA Draft Mock predictions

Sports Cheat Sheet pick 7 - Denver Nuggets
Forbes pick 8 - Sacramento Kings
CBS pick 9 - Toronto Raptors
WalterFootball  pick 9 - Toronto Raptors
Dick Vitale pick 9 - Toronto Raptors
NBA.com pick 10 - Milwaukee Bucks
Fox Sports pick 10 - Milwaukee Bucks
Draftsite pick 11 - Orlando Magic
Bleacher Report pick 12 - Utah Jazz
MyNBADraft  pick 12 - Utah Jazz
Chad Ford pick 13 - Phoenix Suns
SB Nation  pick 13 - Phoenix Suns
NBADraft.net pick 16 - Boston Celtics
Hoops Hype  pick 16 - Boston Celtics
Draft Express pick 18 - Detroit Pistons
Washington Post pick 21 - Atlanta Hawks

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Podcast is in off season form

Well, it's the off season which means we are more unprepared and disorganized then ever but we have a good amount of topics to cover, so hopefully that makes up for it. We talk about non-basketball related Marquette topics before we remember we are a basketball podcast and then jump into the latest news first. We discuss Khalif Young and LG Gill deciding not to don the blue and gold next season. We debate whether it's a big deal, does it matter, is it a sign of weakness, and why people seem so anxious about some mid-tier recruits. We then talk about everybody's least favorite topic: was Wally cut and why. Basically it boils down to Phil is cold hearted and Joe has some sympathy but basically we should all move on. Since we do have a scholarship open, its worth talking about what the team should do with it. Then we transition to some schedule news that's been coming out in dribs and drabs and what that means for the non-conference season. Lastly we spend time talking about "The Tournament" which is something that Marquette basketball alum led by Dan Fitzgerald are trying to qualify for so they can go win $2 million. The potential team looks pretty good with a lot of fan favorites signed up. Hopefully it'll show up on tv somewhere so we can spend time analyzing it to no end. Link to vote for MU in The Tournament: https://www.thetournament.com/teams/golden-eagles-alumni-marquette-alumni?type=fan&f=570594e91a926927767547 Download this episode (right click and save)

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Henry Ellenson's draft stock - An interview with DraftExpress founder Jonathan Givony

I was fortunate to spend a few minutes yesterday with Jonathan Givony, the founder of DraftExpress to discuss Henry Ellenson and the 2016 NBA draft.  Givony has been kind enough over the last four or five years to give his time to us as he has weighed in on MU draft hopefuls like Vander Blue, Jimmy Butler, Dominic James, Steve Novak and Wes Matthews.

Jonathan and his wife Rebecca just had a baby last week, so we kept the questions short and sweet.

Cracked Sidewalks:  Why do you have Henry at #9?  Earlier in the year you had him as high as 5 or 6.  Other mock draft sites and draft experts have Henry anywhere from 5 to 18.   That seems a pretty big range for someone that is considered a top ten pick.  What have you seen that puts him in that 9 or 10 spot at this point?

Jonathan Givony:  If you are top 10 pick, that's pretty good.  That shows how good we think he is, nothing negative.  We are always evaluating not just against yourself, but others in the draft class.  Other guys are stepping up, improving their draft stock, so some guys will move down when others move up.  There is a give and take.   

I would say some of it, if he were in the draft 5 years ago, there might be a little more excitement about him.  That 6'10" power forward who struggles on defense and doesn't really give you a lot of rim protection to be a full-time small ball center, there isn't as big of an appetite now for those guys now as there was 5 years ago for guys like that.  There is more of a trend moving toward guys that block shots, or more agile and mobile in terms of moving their feet and guarding on the perimeter. That isn't to say he can't get there.  I think he already made and improved substantially just off this year in college, the kid is 19 years old, so hard to say he can't continue to improve moving forward.

CS:  Does he have the athleticism at the NBA level to guard the type of guys he has to guard.  Secondly, does he have the shooting skills today to play on the outside, if needed?  Can he make the improvements there to be an outside threat

JG:  I think a lot of guys...there's not many 6'10 or 6"11" guys that start off where he is as a shooter, especially those that can do other things, too.  I think he will continue to improve there over time. He's not consistent right now, shoot's it a little flat, has a little extra motion going on. He's probably better in the mid-range spots than at the three.  He will get there, but you're not going to throw him into a NBA playoff game tomorrow and say go to make shots for me.  He's more like an all around scorer, but not necessarily a great shooter.

CS:  A general question about the draft and the NBDL.  Seems like the last few years a rather large number of draft picks have been sent down to the D-League to work on their game as opposed to say 5 years ago.  Do you see this as a potential option for Ellenson...I know that is difficult to answer without knowing who is going to draft him.

JG:   The NBA has become a lot more closely with the D-League, adding their own franchises.  Teams understand they need to invest in it, more money into scouting, coaching staffs, facilities and such.  It's really no longer a negative to send a guy down to the D-League at all.  You're giving them extra reps with an extension of your coaching staff, put them in real games, real situations, and help them work on the things you want them to improve on.  A lot of the best teams in the NBA utilize the D-League really well.  The Spurs, Oklahoma City, Cleveland, Toronto, and others are very invested.  That's the difference between now and 5 years ago.  They may not have seen the value, but the D-League has become so much more serious, more professional and a good place to develop young players.

CS:   Final question.  Final prognostication.  If you were to think 10 to 12 years down the road, is Henry a future all-star or more of a 12 and 6 type guy.  One of the criticisms that we have heard some Marquette fans or basketball fans in general state that he is already closer to his ceiling than others.  Perhaps not as much upside is the argument.  Would you agree or disagree with that assertion?

JG:  Maybe he is closer to his ceiling because he is already a really really polished player at age 19, and I don't think that's not something you want to hold against him.  While other guys are only now getting into shape for the pre-draft process, he transformed his body 2 years ago.  He took this seriously for a longer time isn't something you hold against him.  At the same time, he's only 19 years old.  If you look at the NBA playoffs now, there are so many guys who are big time impact players and if you look back and say what were these guys like at age 19 and they were really nothing.  I think he has a chance to be really really good, especially if he becomes a better shooter and as he becomes more serious about playing defense.  I wouldn't project him as an all-star.  There's only a couple of those in every draft class, but I do think he has a chance to be a starter in the NBA.  

That was the end of our questions, short and sweet this time.  Perhaps we'll do a post draft recap with Jonathan as a follow-up.