"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, August 30, 2005

Recruiting Updates

C/PF Bryce Webster chose Minnesota over MU earlier this week. Good luck, Bryce. While losing Webster is disappointing, MU will return five post players for the '06-'07 season (Burke, Kinsella, Amoroso, Lott, Barro). Nobody knows how effective this bunch will be, however.

Now its onto Lazar Hayward, Jonathan Mitchell, and perhaps Thinjin Moses or Paul Bayer among others for Tom Crean. While losing Webster stings, IMHO MU's biggest needs for this class might be:

- a pure three point shooter;
- a versatile forward who can play the 3/4 slots comfortably.

Losing Novak leaves MU without a great shooter on the roster going into the '06-'07 season. Perhaps Hayward can fill that role. As for the combo forward, MU does not have one on the roster right now, though Amoroso seems like he might be able to fill the role as needed (though he's more of a 4 than a 3).

Monday, August 29, 2005

What Should a Golden Eagle Look Like?

Let your voice be heard.

Take a Look at Marquette's New Mascot Designs.

Welcome to the Marquette University AthleticsGolden Eagle Mascot Preview.

The Big East: What to expect in 2005-2006

The guys over at the Big East Basketball Report started a new series today. They've invited bloggers from about individual Big East programs to offer perspectives on the upcoming season.

Please check out our entry -- we're the first in the series. The format was recommended by the BE blog, so you'll be able to compare the entries as they are filed.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

"The person who follows a dictator is always assassinated"

Coach Al accurately sums up the perils of following Bob Huggins as the head coach at UC.

- Per the Cincy Enquirer, a number of coaches already realize this.
- Dustin Dow at the Enquirer offers a list of possibilities.

Bring your body armor, gentlemen.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Jonathan Mitchell Update

Courtesy of the Journal-News in Westchester County:

Mount Vernon star forward Jonathan Mitchell is closing in on making his college decision. The 6-7 senior has narrowed his choices to Virginia, Marquette and Florida. "I'm going to be making a couple more visits," Mitchell said yesterday. "I should have my decision in a few months."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Save Camp Anokijig

OK, this is a bit off-topic but perhaps a few of our readers can help out. MU graduate Jim McIlvaine is leading an effort to preserve a long-running camp in southeastern Wisconsin.

Camp Anokijig sits just outside of Plymouth in Sheboygan County, and has been a successful Wisconsin institution for decades. In this recent Journal-Sentinel article, McIlvaine presents a strong case for a reasonable solution -- one that would preserve the facility as an independent YMCA camp, but at a cost that falls well short of the $8 million sought by the current owner. Currently, the camp is owned by the Racine Family YMCA, which is accepting bids through the end of September.

Anybody interested in supporting the community's bid to save the camp, please visit the Friends of Camp Anokijig site. Here is the official site for the camp.

Bob Huggins gone from UC?

Check out the UC blog for details........what a mess!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

MU News and Notes

A few MU related updates for Thursday - -

- Travis Diener signs a contract with the Orlando Magic. The NBA minimum salary is somewhere in the neighborhood of $390,000. Good work if you can get it....good luck Travis.
- Speaking of money, Marquette announced the results of the most successful capital campaign in the institution's history. During the Magis Campaign, MU raised $357 million -- far exceeding its goal of $250 million. The donations came from some 50,000 donors -- an impressive measure of participation. Well done, MU Community.
- Jonathan Mitchell, one of Tom Crean's top recruiting targets, takes the court tonight at the New York Hoops Festival. Mitchell's Metro Hawks will square off against highly regarded Derrick Caracter and the N.Y. Panthers.

The remarkable Trey Schwab is leaving Marquette to become an outreach coordinator for organ procurement for the University of Wisconsin hospital system. Godspeed, Trey, and thanks for your great service to MU.

Trey's departure opens the door for Todd Townsend's return to the program. According to the Journal-Sentinel, "(Schwab's) duties will now be split between three people: former MU player Todd Townsend, whom Crean has hired as his director of basketball operations; Derek Deprey, who will now serve as video coordinator; and Barb Kelleher, who has been named as special assistant to the head coach."

Welcome back, Todd.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

FoxSports Big East Preview

Today Yoco Hoops' Yoni Cohen offers a preview of the expanded Big East. With regards to MU, Cohen remarks that "With the exception of Steve Novak and Joe Chapman, the cupboard is all but bare at Marquette". Later he wonders, "Is Marquette's incoming class, purported to be among the top 15 nationally, as good as advertised? Or will Tom Crean's 2003 Final Four seem a decade away at season's end?"

To sum it up, Cohen calls for a Down Year at MU:
"Marquette: The Golden Eagles struggled mightily after Travis Diener suffered a season ending injury. Without Diener and third leading scorer Dameon Mason, no amount of impact freshmen will enable Tom Crean to avoid another disappointing season."

Certainly it's low-hanging fruit to figure that a team which lost its three best players might struggle. Of course, MU does have a tremendous influx of new, high-ceiling talent into the program that is largely ignored in the FoxSports final analysis.

Let's see which teams were ignored when it came to selecting the 'down year' team nominee:

  • Seton Hall: Strangely, FoxSports refers to 'Justin' as a point guard for the Hall -- yet Justin Cerasoli transferred out of Seton Hall months ago. Hmmmm. The Hall lost four starters from a squad that finished 4-12 in the Big East last season.
  • DePaul, which lost its top two scorers and its best perimeter defender.
  • USF, which struggled mightily last season and lost its top three scorers.
  • Providence. The Friars lost their best player, Ryan Gomes, after a very disappointing season. They do return a solid (though not deep) backcourt in McGrath and Brewington. However, the Friars endured three transfers in the off-season and have no interior threats.

Will MU have a .500 record in the Big East this year? Probably not, but the trajectory of the program looks good when one realizes that the best talent in the program are all freshman and sophomores.

Down year? Nah.

Transition year -- definitely. Perhaps its just a matter of perspective.

Take a look here.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Maurice Lucas: Back in the NBA

Pittsburgh native and MU alum Maurice Lucas returns to the NBA sidelines this year as an assistant coach with the Portland TrailBlazers. Here's a feature on Lucas from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Steve Novak named to preseason Wooden List Top 50

MILWAUKEE, August 9 - Marquette senior forward Steve Novak is one of the top 50 preseason candidates for the John R. Wooden Award All-American Team, the national preseason selection committee announced Monday. Novak averaged 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and shot 46.1-percent from three for MU last season.

The list is composed of 50 student athletes who, based on last year’s individual performance and team records, are the early frontrunners for college basketball’s most coveted trophy. These top 50 candidates are comprised of returning players, although transfers, freshmen and other players who excel throughout the season will be evaluated and considered for both the Midseason top 30 list and the National Ballot.

“With so many players jumping to the next level and so many standout athletes from last year, the committee had a tough time nominating these candidates from such a wide selection of tremendous players,” said Duke Llewellyn, Wooden Award chairman. “These preseason selections represent the elite of college basketball, and our entire team at the Wooden Award is excited to see the best players in the nation prove their case as college basketball’s player of the year.”

Novak’s nomination marks the fourth consecutive season the Golden Eagles have been represented on the national award ballot. In 2003, Dwyane Wade was selected to the Wooden Award All-American first team, and in 2004 and 2005 Travis Diener was recognized on the award’s preseason, mid-season and final ballots.

Former MU great Butch Lee is the only other player in school history to earn Wooden Award honors. Lee was named to the award’s first team after finishing as the runner-up for national player of the year honors in 1978.

Eleven NCAA conferences are represented, including the Big East (nine players), ACC (eight players), Pac 10 (seven players), Big Ten (six players), Big 12 (six players), Atlantic 10 (four players), SEC (four players), Conference USA (two players), Western Athletic Conference (two players), West Coast Conference (one player), and the Missouri Valley Conference (one player).

In mid-January, the Wooden Award committee will release the midseason top 30 on CBS Sports, and on Tuesday, March 28, the 10-player Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced. The 2006 Award ceremony, which will include the presentation of the Men’s and Women’s Wooden Award, the Wooden Award All-American Teams and the Legends of Coaching Award, will be held at The Los Angeles Athletic Club on April 8, 2006, and will be broadcast live on a national CBS telecast

Recruiting heats up: Bryce Webster and Jonathan Mitchell Updates

It looks like Dan Monson finally has realized what Tom Crean has known for more than two years: Bryce Webster is a talented post player who can be a difference maker for any program.

From an MU perspective, one hopes that Webster realizes that Crean has long valued his abilities, rather than turning to him after other prospects shunned the coach's efforts -- as Isaiah Dahlman has done with the University of Minnesota. According to the Star-Tribune, "With Dahlman apparently out of the picture, St. Thomas Academy big man Bryce Webster has emerged as the Gophers' No. 1 recruiting priority."

Welcome to the party, Dan.

Being 'in early' on a kid is not a guarantee (see Bobby Frasor), but it appears that TC has done all the right things in recruiting Webster. Now its up to Bryce to decide between MU, Minnesota, and Betting Central (er, Boston College).


As for Jonathan Mitchell, the pride of Mount Vernon, NY, UVa is putting on the full court press. Today, it was revealed that Stephen Kendall will not sign with the Cavs this winter, freeing up a scholarship for Dave Leitao.

According to the Times-Dispatch, "U.Va., which has two scholarships for 2006-07, is in dire need of frontcourt help. Heading the Cavaliers' wish list are Duke Crews, a 6-7, 235-pound forward at Hampton's Bethel High, and Jonathan Mitchell, a 6-7, 235-pound forward at Mount Vernon High in New York. They're rising seniors ranked among the top 100 prospects in the nation's Class of 2006."

Again, it seems that TC has done everything right in recruiting Mitchell (his high school coach indicated this earlier in the summer). Like Monson with Webster, Leitao was late to this recruiting engagement.....but who knows if that will be a factor.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The road in the Big East--not so tough?.

Ken Pomeroy has an interesting analysis on what he calls "Rabid Crowd Theory" which suggests that the road in the Big East won't be as tough as many MU fans believe.

His thesis:
"Most of the home court advantage is the result of simply being able to maintain one's normal routine, play in familiar confines, etc. Sure, it's harder to win at Cameron Indoor, but that has much more to do with the team you have to play there than any intimidation by the fans. "

He then goes on to rank conferences based on home winning percentage in league games.

Here's the amazing conclusion. Of 31 conferences, the Big East is actually has one of the smallest home court advantages of any league!

Using 2004-05 data, the Big East is ranked 26th overall. By comparison, the CUSA is ranked 21st--the home team has a slightly better home court advantage in CUSA.

21. Conference USA 69-43 .616
26. Big East 56-40 .583

The best home court advantage? The Big Sky, where the home team won over 75% of all games. Of the big six major conferences, the Big Ten ranked 8th overall and sports a 66% home winning percentage. See all rankings at Ken's site.

And lest someone think that this is a one year phenomenon, Pomeroy also ranked conferences using the last five years worth of data.

The Big East did show a slight iprovement, coming in at #20. C-USA was middle of the pack, ranking 15th.

His conclusion: the "rabid crowd factor" largely doesn't exist. Home court advantage is driven more by factors that affect basketball as a whole (travel, change in routine, etc.) have more impact than factors specific to any conference (size/intensity of crowds, or "dominant courts").

MU names Dan Panaggio as new assistant coach

Dan Panaggio, a veteran assistant with NBA, CBA and NCAA experience, was named assistant basketball coach at Marquette University. Panaggio joins Jean Prioleau as new full-time assistants with the program.

Panaggio brings a wealth of experience to the MU bench, having most recently completed a four-year stretch as an assistant with the Portland Trailblazers. Panaggio's most recent collegiate experience was as a member of Mike Davis' first staff at Indiana University.

Dan has deep roots in the midwest, having coached the CBA's Quad City Thunder to more than 300 victories. Dan was the league's coach of the year three times, and led the Thunder to league titles in both 1994 and 1998.

Interestingly, Dan's father Mauro Panaggio is the winningest coach in CBA history. Dan Panaggio is the second-winningest coach in CBA history. Dan is a native of Rochester, NY and was a two-time First Team All-Conference selection while starring at SUNY-Brockport in upstate New York.

Welcome to MU, Dan.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Stay in School

The new blogs over at the Sporting News are fast becoming must-reads........the editors there have committed to regular blogs from contributors readers know, recognize and appreciate (of course many of their blogs are teasers for articles about to appear in the print edition, but I'll cut them slack for now).

Yesterday, Mike DeCourcy 'penned' a blog on the need for top prospects to attend college -- and delivered this rather tongue-in-cheek line, "I hope you'll understand the reason for my recent fixation on the very top prospects in prep basketball. You see, it's been a long time since such players entered my world." Methinks Mike is a fan of thee NBA age limit and the reluctant talent that will matriculate to a university near you.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

"All love affairs end. Eventually the girl is gonna put curlers in her hair."

Could this be the beginning of the end for the NCAA Tournament as we know it? This week a court will consider whether or not the NCAA is an 'illegal monopoly', and whether or not institutions should have the option of playing in any tournament they so choose. The plaintiff in this skirmish is the once-proud NIT. Currently, the NCAA mandates that any institution invited to their championship tournament is required to accepth the bid.

The genesis of this long-running feud? Marquette's own Al McGuire. Here's an excerpt from today's article in the Winston-Salem Journal:

'In 1970, Marquette's men's basketball team withdrew from the NCAA Tournament and went to the NIT instead, to the embarrassment of the NCAA.

The NIT says that Marquette's decision prompted the start of illegal, anti-competitive behavior by the NCAA, which then passed a "commitment-to-participate" rule, making it mandatory for all schools that qualified for postseason play in all sports but Division I football to participate.'

The NCAA's record in anti-trust cases? 2-2.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Welcome to Cracked Sidewalks

In honor of the late, great Al McGuire, the blogging team here has decided to rename the site -- going forward, we'll welcome you back to 'Cracked Sidewalks'. You'll still find all of the information you've come to expect -- but a tip o'the cap to Al was very much in order.

So, in honor of everyone's favorite "Einstein of the streets and an Oxford scholar of common sense" we'll keep this blog moving.

For kicks, here are a couple of links to memorable Al McGuire quotes
- Al McGuire quotes on Working Humor
- Al McGuire quotes on ESPN

Thanks for making us a part of your virtual Maquette basketball experience.

Dan Gavitt joins the Big East

In an interesting move, commissioner Mike Tranghesee announced that Dan Gavitt will be the conference's first-ever Associate Commissioner for men’s basketball. Gavitt most recently served as the athletic director at Bryant College in Rhode Island.

According to the Woonsocket Call, -- 'Dan Gavitt will be the league’s primary basketball administrator and represent the Big East as the main point of contact. He’ll work strictly with the coaches and athletic directors and will also get the chance to rekindle some of the friendships he built during his days as an assistant at Providence.'

Gavitt's father, Dave, was the founder of the Big East and remains Mike Tranghese's mentor. Perhaps this move was made with an eye on the future......Dan Gavitt, future commissioner of the Big East Conference? I would not bet against it --several years down the line.