"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, 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.  








Monday, April 04, 2016

Seasons over and changes are coming....now what?

We put a couple of weeks between us and the end of the Marquette season, and now we're ready to talk about it. Be prepared, this is a far ranging and deep conversation on all things Marquette basketball (not to mention an hour long). First welcome Markus Howard to the Marquette family! We start with a brief recap of the end of the season and what we took away from the season overall. We then spend some time commiserating over the lack of a post season and the impact on the future that might have. The much maligned schedule is discussed and how it ultimately impacted Marquette's season and post season opportunities. This conversation leads to a very deep dive into the possibility of a Big East expansion that surfaced over the last couple of weeks. After getting the general topics out of the way we got to the main focus right now: Henry Ellenson leaving (we assumed but since confirmed), what the team needs, and Markus Howard. We also spent a little time talking about the future and where the team goes next year. Overall, drawing one season to a close and getting everything tucked away in the podcast so we can settle in to the summer hibernation that is Marquette basketball. Download this episode (right click and save)

Thursday, March 31, 2016

JJJ Surges; Remembering Beating Nasty Big East Turned ACC Team; New Big East to New Heights Without Stars

Reflections on Marquette's past March battles with the former nasty Big East opponent still alive this year and the fact that the current Big East team representing one of the top three conferences - but a conference with no stars.

JuJuan Johnson was one of the biggest breakthroughs, surging to join Henry Ellenson and Luke Fischer among the top 30 Big East players in the Value Add rankings listed below.

Daniel Ochefu overcame injury to make Villanova the only team in the country with four top 100 players - and that quartet is in the Final Four. The Big East, Big 12 and ACC are the top three conferences based on www.kenpom.com, and are the only three with teams in the Final Four as well as the only three with a winning record in the NCAA tournament, so how can the other two conferences have 10 players rated higher in Value Add than any Big East player?



Yes, Syracuse roughed MU up in the last NCAA match-up, but that memory is eclipsed by DJO and Crowder hitting the consecutive three-pointers in Cleveland to send them home.

This year while the Big East had two stars is you go by likely NBA potential. But our own Henry Ellenson was too inconsistent as most freshman are to be a superstar this year (275th final ranking of 4000+ players).

Which begs the question, "What about Kris Dunn?"

Kris is my favorite non-Marquette player - a great kid when I interviewed him at the Big East tournament  last year where he talked about his trust in God, and he will be a great NBA player. He was my preseason National Player of the Year, and I am thrilled the AP selected him as a 2nd Team All-American. However, he dropped to 74th in Value Add and I dropped him to 5th team All-American.

When you really crunch the numbers, Dunn just did not live up to his projected value for one reason - he couldn't stay on the court. Obviously missing some games with the flu is tough. But Dunn just couldn't resist reaching fouls that really hurt Providence by forcing him to sit.

The team barely survived Illinois, USC and Arizona despite Dunn missing more than 14 minutes a game due to foul trouble. He has at least four fouls and averaged missing 10 minutes in two losses to Seton Hall and Michigan State, and if he was on the court to keep them in those games and pull one out then Providence may have improved from an 8-seed and avoided UNC in the second round.

Once they played UNC, he was once again brilliant while on the court - 29 points in 26 minutes - but if Providence could have pulled ahead in the first half while Dunn was sitting on the bench with fouls they might have had a chance. So on the court, no one is better - but resisting those cheap fouls might have given the Big East an additional Sweet 16 team in what is nonetheless a great year.

Season RankPlayerTeamClassTotal Pts/Gm ValueNBA%
37Bentil, Ben 0Providence2 So7.6980%
74Dunn, Kris 3Providence3 Jr6.7894%
81Smith-Rivera, D'Vauntes 4Georgetown4 Sr6.7117%
87Rodriguez, Desi 20Seton Hall2 So6.61
99Arcidiacono, Ryan 15Villanova4 Sr6.4911%
102Hart, Josh 3Villanova3 Jr6.4736%
110Jenkins, Kris 2Villanova3 Jr6.32
114Whitehead, Isaiah 15Seton Hall2 So6.2632%
115Bluiett, Trevon 5Xavier2 So6.2636%
171Ochefu, Daniel 23Villanova4 Sr5.7220%
200Groselle, Geoffrey 41Creighton4 Sr5.54
225Farr, James 2Xavier4 Sr5.27
233Jones, Roosevelt 21Butler4 Sr5.21
265Dunham, Kellen 24Butler4 Sr4.9825%
272Carrington, Khadeen 0Seton Hall2 So4.93
275Ellenson, Henry 13Marquette1 Fr4.9191%
291Delgado, Angel 31Seton Hall2 So4.8126%
296Henry, Myke 4DePaul4 Sr4.79
298Martin, Kelan 30Butler2 So4.7816%
331Davis, Myles 15Xavier3 Jr4.59
360Fischer, Luke 40Marquette3 Jr4.4535%
370Chrabascz, Andrew 45Butler3 Jr4.42
374Macura, JP 55Xavier2 So4.42
400Peak, LJ 0Georgetown2 So4.2724%
430Wideman, Tyler 4Butler2 So4.17
468Watson, Maurice 10Creighton3 Jr3.9616%
470Huff, Cole 13Creighton3 Jr3.95
515Zierden, Isaiah 21Creighton3 Jr3.82
523Bridges, Mikal 25Villanova1 Fr3.7918%
524Johnson, JaJuan 23Marquette3 Jr3.7921%

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Nova Hopes to Add to Big East Breakthrough Tournament

Butler and Xavier could have made it an incredible tournament for the Big East, but this is still a strong one for the conference. As I just posted on Breitbart, the Big East is one of only three conferences with a winning record even if Nova loses tonight. When you look at the disappointments of the first two tournaments of the new Big East, this may be the breakthrough year.

If we have a few upsets, there could even be a reunion of the old Big East in the Final Four with Nova, Notre Dame and Syracuse winning. Pomeroy gives Nova a slightly better than 50-50 chance, but only a 2% chance of all three of those winning.





Sunday, March 20, 2016

Former MU asst coach, Trey Schwab, has passed away

I was saddened to learn that Trey Schwab passed away today.  He had been fighting for his life while waiting for another lung transplant, but had been in touch via social media with many of us over the years and last few months.  


A wonderful man, so genuine to the core.  Not a nicer person that you could ever meet.  He would call me in my early days at DIRECTV to get the MU basketball team hooked up with satellite on the road, so he could scout various games as a member of Tom Crean's staff.  It was always good to catch up with Trey, get his two cents on the team and the prospects for success on the court.

When it was learned he would need a transplant, the MU and UW communities responded.  He underwent double lung transplant surgery and suffered a heart attack while recovering.  That would be only the beginning as a major blood clot left him dead on an operating table for 40 minutes, with no pulse.  Somehow he survived....and thrived.  

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/saraceno/2004-03-25-marquette-schwab_x.htm

After coaching, he spent the last 11 years working for the Donate Life Wisconsin, where the state finally had an official organ registry program in 2010, thanks in large part to Trey's efforts.

Fox 6 News in Milwaukee had recently done an interview with Trey by MU's own Tim Van Vooren
http://fox6now.com/2016/03/20/trey-schwab-a-familiar-face-to-marquette-university-basketball-fans-has-passed-away/


A few articles we wrote about Trey over the years on Cracked Sidewalks.  


http://www.crackedsidewalks.com/2013/02/the-gift-of-lifetrey-schwab9-years-later.html

http://www.crackedsidewalks.com/2005/08/mu-news-and-notes.html

RIP Trey

Your friend, JD




Friday, March 18, 2016

Dunn Delivers Huge for Marquette and Big East after Failing to Beat MU

Thank you to my Breitbart Sports Preseason Player of the Year, Kris Dunn for delivering for my bracket but most importantly for the Big East. With Seton Hall looking for oxygen in Denver, it looked like the conference might take a double hit before the team that Marquette swept rallied late for a huge win.

I know we are down about Marquette not still playing, but really the long-term success if more dependent on the Big East's performance this year. Here was my recap of the opening day and what credentials helped, or did not seem to help, teams get over the top. (see also "Kris Dunn Leads Breitbart Sports All-American Team")