"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

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A View From The Woodshed

The Nebraska Cornhuskers took control of this game early and never looked back. The Huskers outhustled and outmuscled MU, jumping out to a 35-20 lead midway through the first half on the strength of sensational shooting and an 11-4 advantage on the boards early.

Nebraska piled on with 27 total rebounds and 15 offensive rebounds -- in the first half. MU responded in the first half with 11 turnovers and just 13 total rebounds. Ugh. This game was over at the half when the Huskers led 48-29. Or was it.......

...........After Nebraska went up by 22 early in the second half, MU staged a furious rally to cut the deficit to just six with 6:08 to play after two Jerel McNeal free throws -- but it was not meant to be as Nebraska responded with a mini-run to stretch lead back to 13 points before winning the game 84-74.

This was a break-out game for Wesley Matthews, who scored 18 points, snared seven boards and dished out four assists. Matthews, along with strong board work from Amoroso and offense from Dominic James, keyed the run in the second half as MU showed plenty of gumption down the stretch.

Dominic James led MU with 22 points, including a three-pointer that cut the lead to 10 with just 1:15 to play. Steve Novak endured a night for MU, mustering just 13 points while struggling from the field. As a team, MU was just 8-33 from behind the arc.

In the end, MU's poor effort in the first half sealed their fate. Despite the disappointing loss, a 4-2 record at this early juncture in the campaign is encouraging. The team returns to Milwaukee tomorrow and will take on South Dakota State on Saturday.

Here's the early recap from the AP.

Rosiak from the MJS.

Here's the GoMarquette.com recap.

The Marquette Tribune offers this recap.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Road Warriors Head To Lincoln

Thank goodness for overtime victories that secure tournament titles, otherwise MU's fourth game away from home in the last week would seem all the more daunting. Regardless, on Wednesday night Tom Crean's young MU squad faces an undefeated Nebraska team (4-0) -- and with it, a chance to pick up a quality road win out of conference.

Nebraska is looking to avenge last season's 81-62 loss at the Bradley Center. MU leads the alltime series 4-3.

Nebraska is coming off of a 69-54 win over Southeast Missouri State where 6'9" senior forward Wes Wilkinson poured in a career-high 25 points and hauled in 9 boards. Wilkinson has been a revelation to Coach Barry Collier - - he's nearly doubled his scoring and rebounding averages from last season.

Like MU, Nebraska is a suspect rebounding team, currently playing to a slightly negative rebounding margin. MU's improved board play of late might be the key in this matchup. Nebraska's Aleks Maric, a 6'11" 265 pound Australian, will factor heavily into the rebounding battle (11ppg, 8.5 rpg) and could be a tough matchup for MU.

Former Nebraska hoopster Beau Reid offers player-by-player insight into the Huskers' young season here. To learn more about Nebraska basketball, please visit Husker Hoops Central.

GoMarquette.com, which is offering much improved game previews this season, has a terrific breakdown of Wednesday's tilt here.

The Huskers' official athletics site previews the game as well. Here's the Daily Nebraskan.

ESPN haters, unite!

Its an off-day for MU hoops, and I was fortunate enough to stumble on a classic blog --the latest effort on Every Day Should Be Saturday is an instant classic. The guys over there listed the 52 REASONS ESPN/ABC/DISNEY SUCKS.

As the first commenter insinuated -- cutting the list off at roughly 50 must have been tough, particularly when Stuart Scott only appears once. Anyway, enjoy.

More Props to MU: Hartford Courant

Ah, the benefits of a fast start in college basketball's greatest conference. The UConn Husky's near-hometown paper highlights MU's early season success with a young roster today -- and compares MU's GAS win with UConn's tourney title in Maui:

"UConn's victory was impressive without suspended point guard Marcus Williams - but not totally surprising. Marquette's ability to capture the Great Alaska Shootout was shocking because of the team's youth and a loss to Winthrop before the trip to Anchorage."

Read it all here.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Another Week, Another MU player Frosh of the Week

MU's heralded class of freshmen continue to roll up the honors. This week, the Big East has named Jerel McNeal Freshman of the Week in the Big East conference.

The Nation's Best Basketball Conference noted McNeal's performance at the Great Alaska Shootout.

McNeal made the Great Alaska Shootout All-Tournament Team while helping the Golden Eagles win the title. For the three games, he averaged 10.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.3 steals. He shot 66.7 percent from the floor and connected on all nine of his free throw attempts.

Steve Novak made the Weekly Honor roll for winning the GAS MVP Award.

Ammo named College Insider Player of the Week

Congratulations to Ryan Amoroso.

Photo from Marquette University

College Insider Player of the Week

Media Roundup

Nice props for the team here from Todd Rosiak. Rosiak notes MU's rebounding improvement and taking better care of the ball as keys to taking home the GAS title -- a huge step for a young team.

Yesterday's Anchorage Daily News profiled the 2005 GAS MVP, Steve Novak. "It's a real honor," Novak said. "(Miami Heat star) Dwyane Wade got it the last time we won the Shootout, and to come here and keep the tradition alive feels great."

In a tip of the cap to MU's inside guys and overall conditioning, Dave Odom said "all of USC’s big men, including starting forwards Renaldo Balkman and Brandon Wallace, must improve their conditioning if the Gamecocks are to be a force against their schedule’s top teams." This may be true -- but unlike MU, USC did not have an off day at the GAS, playing three games in three days.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


If a team wins a well-regarded tournament on national television, does anybody pay attention?

Surely not ESPN.COM, which as of 9pm EST on Sunday evening had yet to cover the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout - - a game it broadcast live last night. Here's what you get if you search 'Great Alaska Shootout' on the ESPN men's basketball homepage.

Incredibly, Yoni Cohen at yocohoops took the time to let his readers know that the USC Trojans edged out UA-A for a win -- to clinch fourth place in the GAS.

Maybe this is merely avoidance, since last week he opined that "Oral Roberts, Southern Illinois, or South Carolina are my odds-on favorites" to win the GAS. Of course, MU promptly dispatched of two of those "odds-on favorites" on consecutive nights. Perhaps this snub should not come as much of a surprise given what Cohen has written about Crean in the past, where injury was completely ignored as a factor in meeting expectations in previous seasons.

I'm all for calling out deficiencies in the MU program -- but positive recognition was warranted in this case from college basketball's premier blogger.

Regardless, the lack of attention paid to MU's extraordinary week by these two outlets might suit the program just fine. In a 16-team league with historic rivalries and Hall of Fame coaches that command the limelight, a young team flying under the radar could do just fine in the long-run.

On to Lincoln.

Marquette - Champions of Alaska ....AGAIN

The Marquette Golden Eagles captured the title in 2001 and they repeated their performance tonight against South Carolina in a thriller, 92-89, in overtime. Marquette was led by Ryan Amoroso's sensational game of 30 points and 12 rebounds, by far the best collegiate game of his career. Senior Steve Novak added 28 points and was named the tournament MVP. Freshmen Dominic James and Jerel McNeal also made the all-tournament team.

Click here for a box score

The two finalists played one of the best college games of the young season and the first overtime championship game in the 28 year history of the tournament. 23 of the previous 27 winners have gone on to the NCAA tournament that year.

The two teams exchanged leads throughout the night with neither team having more than a 7-point edge. MU had an advantage at the free throw line while USC made difficult shot after difficult shot all night long. At halftime, USC led by one point. In the second half both teams continued to shoot the ball well and take care of the basketball. Each team committed only 12 turnovers for the contest, a sharp reduction from MU's previous games.

As the game came down to the final minutes, MU took a 80-76 lead on a Dominic James three pointer. The Gamecocks answered with a 4 point play of their own as the drilled a trey and Barro fouled the shooter in the process. With the game tied, MU went for the win by having James isolated with the ball. He dribbled into the lane, levitated and took a 12 foot jump shot that was short. Wes Matthews grabbed the rebound but was hammered on the elbow as he attempted the putback. The refs swallowed the whistle and there was no call....USC and MU went to overtime. In the OT session it was the Amo and Novak show as the two played like Warriors and carried MU to victory. Amo's two free throws with 4 seconds left put us up by 3 and USC's desperation 3 pointer would not fall.

Marquette, now 8-1 all-time in the Great Alaska Shootout with two championships and one runners-up.

Todd Rosiak's article can be found by clicking here.

The Anchorage Daily News recap can be found by clicking here.

The (SC) State's recap can be found by clicking here.

The GoMarquette recap can be found by clicking here.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Cull The Cocks

South Carolina is evil and must be destroyed!

Go MU!

Here's a look at how USC edged Monmouth last night.

Friday, November 25, 2005

MU Brings Oral to Its Knees

Phew.......MU forcibly downed Oral Roberts 73-70 in the semi-finals of the Great Alaska Shootout. The Airing of Grievances was successful. MU now advances to play South Carolina for the championship on Saturday in Anchorage at 9:30pm CST on ESPN2. MU will try to capture is second GAS title of the Millenium -- MU took the crown in 2001 with a win over Gonzaga in the title game.

Tonight's game was nip and tuck for much of the second half with MU nursing a 42-40 lead at the under-16 minute time out, and the game was tied at 45 soon after. MU delivered a terrific run midway through the second half to extend the lead to 66-55 with 2:53 remaining -- but a series of turnovers and missed free throws allowed Oral Roberts to close the gap late. With under 10 seconds to play, Dominic James (6-11 from the free throw line) made the second of two free throws to put MU up 73-70, and MU was able to hold off Oral's advances as the horn sounded. James led MU with 15 points.

Tonight's game was highlighted by the emergence of Ousmane Barro, who's career-high 12 points and five boards were punctuated by a flurry of offense in the second half before fouling out late. Dan Fitzgerald was also stellar in the second half, delivering nine of his eleven during that stanza. In addition, Steve Novak helped MU control the boards (who'da thunk it), as MU managed more offensive rebounds in this game than in their previous three combined. Novak, who had a series three baskets earlier in the second half, also drew a clutch charge late in the game as Oral was closing in.

Also worthy of note .... MU's bench strength was apparent tonight, outscoring ORU's bench 24-3.

Congratulations, MU.

Here's the Anchorage Daily News recap of the MU victory.

Here's Todd Rosiak's take.

Here's the MJS box score.

A Fesitivus for Golden Eagles

Now that Thanksgiving is over (we hope you all enjoyed the holiday), its time for the Marquette Golden Eagles to jump back into action at the Great Alaskan Shootout. And while the rest of the world observes the Seinfeldian holiday of Festivus on December 23, we here at the blog posit that the 'celebration' was moved up roughly a month -- and here's why . . . . . . MU will take on the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles today - - and only a true Airing of Grievances in the Festivus tradition will ensure victory for Marquette, therefore earning the rite to be seen as the top eagle species on the top of the world.

MU will have to demonstrate heretofore undemonstrated Feats of Strength to control the backboards in today's tilt. ORU dominated the backboards by 45-25 on their way to a convincing win over USC two nights ago. ORU is led inside by 6'8" power forward Caleb Green -- so it appears that Jamil Lott will have the first opportunity to demonstrate the intimidating Feats of Strength on the blocks for MU.

According to Wikipedia, "Those attending (Festivus) participate in the "Airing of Grievances" which is an opportunity for all to vent their hostilities toward each other, and after a Festivus dinner, The Feats of Strength are performed. Traditionally, Festivus is not over until the head of the household is wrestled to the floor and "pinned"."

A Festivus for the rest of us!! Go MU, pin down the Golden Eagles of the Great Plains!

Here is the MJS preview.

Here's a look at how MU spent Thanksgiving preparing for the traditional Festivus celebration today.

The Anchorage Daily News chronicles MU player visits to a local elementary school yesterday.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Golden Eagles survive "FOUL FEST" in first round of Great Alaska Shootout

Marquette defeated Eastern Washington tonight 83- 73 in the first round of the Great Alaska Shootout. MU will take on Oral Roberts University on Friday at 8:30pm CST. Oral Roberts routed USC earlier this evening and was one of top mid-majors in college basketball last year.

Tonight's game was a foul fest. Marquette was whistled for 34 fouls, just two short of the all-time MU record. EWU chipped in 26 of their own fouls. Homer and Mac (and the crowd reactions) indicated the calls were just attrocious both ways.

Fortunately for Marquette, EWU shot only 53% from the line or it could have been a loss for the Golden Eagles.

Senior Joe Chapman led Marquette with 17 points while four others contributed with double digits. MU will take it as this young team continues to learn on the job.

For a boxscore, click here

In the post game interview, Coach Crean mentioned that Matt Mortenson may be redshirted.

Here is the Anchorage Daily News recap of the game, which noted that "Marquette's last Shootout win came on Nov. 24, 2001, when current NBA megastar Dwyane Wade led the Golden Eagles to a 72-63 win over Gonzaga for the tournament title. They have won four consecutive Shootout games after beating Eastern Washington in the first meeting between the teams."

Here is the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recap from Rosiak.

The MJS box score.

Here is the official MU recap.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Anybody Ready For An All-Nighter This Early in the Season?

On late Wednesday night, MU opens play in the 2005 Great Alaska Shootout with a tilt against Eastern Washington at 9:45pm local Anchorage time. Hey, with the national holiday upon us anyway -- who needs sleep?

The Eastern Washington Eagles are making their first-ever trip to the GAS, and enter the tournament with a record of 1-0. EWU is led three newcomers (sound familiar?) -- Rodney Stuckey, Kellen Williams and Matt Penoncello. The triumverate combined for 43 points, 16 assists, 10 steals and 15 rebounds in a win last week over Pacific Lutheran. En route to the season-opening win, the Eagles poured in 31 fast-break points and collected 26 points off turnovers. Look for EWU to pressure MU heavily when Dominic James is out of the game, much like Winthrop did.

MU enters the game at 1-1, with mounting concerns over the lack of productivity from its big men. MU was grossly out-rebounded in the loss to Winthrop, and outside of Amoroso's 10-point effort against Rice -- no other big man registered double-digit points.

A lineup of McNeal, James, Matthews, Novak and Lott, while intriguing offensively, leaves MU exposed on the boards......perhaps a bigger lineup is in MU's immediate future as the bigs get healthier. Ryan Amoroso, presumably recovered from a concussion sustained earlier this month, seems best equipped to turn things around on the blocks for MU. Ousmane Barro, himself recovering from an illness as well, also figures to contribute.

Don't bother looking for a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel curtain-raiser -- Garry Howard's team didn't care to preview the MU/EWU tilt or the GAS in general. With that in mind - - -

GAS Previews Worth Noting:

Here's the EWU preview of the MU game.

Here's MU's preview of the GAS.

Here's the complete GAS tournament schedule.

Here's a CSTV preview of the GAS.

Here's the Anchorage Daily News.

Here's the Morning News in Florence, SC with a focus on the Gamecocks.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Hayward, Cubillan sign LOIs

Making their commitments to MU official, David Cubillan and Lazar Hayward inked their LOIs, MU reported today:

Head coach Tom Crean announced the signing of Lazar Hayward (Buffalo, N.Y.) and David Cubillan (DA-Veed Coob-E-Yan) (Mara Caibo, Venezuela) to national letters of intent today. Hayward and Cubillan will enroll at the university beginning in the fall of 2006.

Hayward is a shooter, expected to come in and take over some of slack that will be created when Steve Novak graduates after this season. Cubillan will provide much-needed support in the backcourt at the PG spot. Both players were featured in an earlier Cracked Sidewalks report.

MU has one more scholarship to give, after losing seven-footer Chas McFarland to Wake Forest.

Dominic James named Big East Rookie of the Week

Kudos to Dominic James, who was named the Big East Rookie of the Week today.

James averaged 15.5 points, 8.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds.

Georgetown's Roy Hibbert was player of the week.

While it's early, if James can maintain those numbers, he'll break the records for freshman scoring and assists at MU. Glenn "Doc" Rivers holds the freshman scoring record (434 points/14.0 ppg) and Tony Miller holds the freshman assist record (221 assists/7.6 game).

MU's frosh rebound record holder is Bo Ellis, with an average of 8.5 per game.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Wintrhop Eagles (2-0) soar over Marquette (1-1) 71-64

Just one day after an impressive rebounding performance over Rice, Marquette forgot how to do so against Winthrop. Marquette dropped a 71-64 decision largely on second chance points after the Golden Eagles gave up 22 offensive rebounds to their brethren from Rock Hill. Thats on top of 17 defensive boards, resulting in a 39-21 overall mismatch.

Winthrop took full advantage of those second chance opportunities at the 3 point line, going 11-27. While MU held Wintrhop shooting to 35% overall, 33 points off treys and another 20 from the free throw line was too much to overcome.

After taking an early 8-4 lead, Wintrhop raced ahead and led by six to eight points for most of the first half. MU closed it to 4 with a McNeal three at the halftime buzzer, but Winthrop quickly built the lead back to a 10 to 13 point range, where it stayed most of the second half. MU made an attempt to comeback, coming as close as 4 points with the ball in the final two minutes.

MU regroups for the trip to Anchorage for the Great Alaska Shootout for a late Wednesday/early Thursday game against Eastern Washington.

MU's official page had this report.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel filed this screed.

The coverage was positive in Rock Hill, SC.

The Richmond IN Palladian-Iten's report is here.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Media Roundup: Marquette (1-0) fries Rice (0-1)

Marquette began to answer a lot of questions with it's first win of the season.

1. What will the opening day starting lineup look like? Tom Crean shuffled the starters once again, getting Steve Novak back into the starting lineup (after missing the first exhibition against Michigan Tech and coming off the bench for the UW Whitewater game). Other than Novak, it's a new-look lineup for MU, with the three freshman guards in the backcourt and Jamil Lott pairing up with Novak up front.

2. Will Fitzgerald live up to his hype? Last season during his redshirt year Dan Fitzgerald was rumoured to be the 2nd best player on the roster. After two disappointing exhibition performances, questions were beginning to form. Fitz answered his critics with a near triple-triple (9 points, 8 boards, 8 assists) in 24 minutes.

3. Can the team rebound? After being outboarded by a couple of D2 and D3 teams, rebounding became a concern for MU. The team answered last night with a 42-31 advantage off the glass.

For their effort, MU earned the right to take on Winthrop for the championship of the Blue and Gold Classic.

The media roundup:

Marquette's offical website covered the game.

The Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel report here.

Houston Chronicle says this

And the Richmond, Indiana Palladian-Item filed this report.

Wondering why a paper in Richmond, IN would make a Marquette game it's lead news story? That's where Dominic James went to HS. There's also a Richmond station on the Marquette Basketball Radio Network.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Chas McFarland Commits To Wake Forest

Earlier today, Worcester Academy's Chas McFarland commited to Wake Forest. McFarland selected Wake over MU and BC. To be sure, losing McFarland is disappointing, but Crean has time to address post play on the roster. Going into next season, MU returns Kinsella, Burke, Amoroso, Barro and Lott on the interior. TC will quickly turn the page and focus on top post prospects for next season, most notably Mac Koshwal and Keaton Nankivil.

Regardless, MU is expected to announce the signing of both David Cubillan and Lazar Hayward. With commitments from a combo guard and lights-out shooter, Crean filled noticable gaps in next season's roster. Even more interesting, both players -- Cubillan and Hayward -- are essentially 5th year high school seniors, each of whom might acutally be older than each of MU's current freshman.

The maturity of the these two will be a welcome addition to the young core of the 2006-2007 roster. In terms of next year's roster, Cubillan jumps into a role that MU will cover by committee this year -- combo guard/backup point guard. Hayward becomes the best shooter on the team the moment he steps on campus next fall. Mapped against the current freshmen, this group is both promising and complementary. And btw -- how sweet is it that Crean's last three commits are from the East Coast. Shades of Al?

MU tops UWW in Exhibition Finale

MU beat up UW-Whitewater last night, 80-58. Steve Novak (21 points) and Jamil Lott (14 points) led the way for MU.


Box Score

Emmett Prosser's courtside blog

gomarquette.com recap

Monday, November 14, 2005

McFarland to Announce on Tuesday; New Big East Power Rankings

Chas McFarland, the seven-footer out of Worcester Academy, completed his final official this weekend with a trip to Wake Forest. McFarland, an AAU teammate of MU's Dominic James, is expected to decide between MU, Wake Forest and BC. With Chris Grimm departing after this season, and with only Kinsella and Lott as upperclassmen -- McFarland would figure to break into MU's rotation early if he were to select the Golden Eagles.

Also, please check out the Big East Power Poll over at the Big East Basketball Report. We were delinquent in submitting our weekly entry to the poll, but count on it going forward.

Per McFarland's AAU coach, Chas will announce his college choice on Tuesday morning

Saturday, November 12, 2005

New Look MU in New Big East: AP

An upbeat article by the Associated Press' Colin Fly looks at the role MU's 'big three' incoming freshman have for Tom Crean. Fly describes how Steve Novak should benefit from MU's new-found athleticism in the backcourt -- but the most revealing comments are from senior Joe Chapman, reflecting on the 2003 Final Four run:

"That season really, really you don't know how good it is until you've been to the NIT two straight years," said Joe Chapman, one of the remaining members from that squad. "Going into your freshman year, you expect big things and going to the Final Four, you're like 'Wow, we're going to expect this every year.' But you really get a grasp of it now."

This kind of urgency is exactly what the program needs every year. Bravo, Joe (although, one hopes it was present in each of the last two seasons as well). With all the talk of MU's bright future because of the core of young talent in the program, passionate senior leadership is more important than ever.

In the article, Fly mentions that MU's 'modest goal' is to 'is to qualify for a slot in the 12-team conference tournament'. Novak, Grimm, and Chapman will surely aspire for more in their final season - - and with the new talent in the program, optimism is warranted.

Friday, November 11, 2005

New York Newsday: Big East is Ready to Roll

Another curtain-raiser on the newly expanded Big East. The article predictably covers the scheduling headaches, but also addresses each of the new members of the Big East with some level of detail.

One passage regarding MU:
At Marquette, a Final Four program in 2003, coach Tom Crean noted that increased interest has driven up ticket sales and opened new areas for recruitment. "There's such a fresh perspective," he said. "The rules have changed, being in the Big East."

Youth Is Served Early at Marquette

MU opened its exhibition schedule last night with a 71-66 win over Michigan Tech. MU was led by its three freshman starters -- Dominic James, Wesley Matthews and Jerel McNeal. Oh my goodness, three freshman starters who all performed well.

Seniors Joe Chapman (benched) and Steve Novak (injured) joined likely starter Ousmane Barro (flu) on the sidelines for this one - - which may have contributed to Michigan Tech's advantage on the boards (40-37), and their stunning productivity from behind the arc -- 13 of 32 three-pointers, good for 40.6%.

Matthews led the team with 19 points, while James bucketed 15, and McNeal stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, seven boards, three assists, three steals and a couple of blocked shots. Redshirt sophomore Dan Fitzgerald delivered 10 points, including a clutch 4-4 from the stripe in the closing seconds.

Look for Ryan Amoroso to turn things around in MU's next tilt against UW-Whitewater. In 26 minutes of action last night, Amo was a mere 1-6 from the field with two rebounds.

Here is the MJS recap.

Here is the box score.

Here is the gomarquette recap.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

David Cubillan Commits to Marquette

On the first day of the national signing period, David Cubillan, a SG/PG from highly regarded St. Benedict's in Newark, NJ, committed to Marquette University. Cubillan will provide much needed support in the MU backcourt -- even with the talented freshmen this season, MU does not have another PG or combo guard on the roster. After last season's struggles, Crean vowed never to be caught without enough capable guards in the program - - and now Cubillan is part of the solution to that problem.

Cubillan was a high school teammate of current MU freshman Dwight Burke last season, and plays for coach Danny Hurley.

MU is still actively recruiting seven-foot center Chas McFarland, who will decide between BC, Marquette and Wake Forest after visiting Tobacco Road this weekend. Lazar Hayward, a fast-rising senior from Buffalo, NY via Notre Dame prep in Massachusetts verbally committed to MU earlier this year and is expected to sign his LOI this week.

Welcome to MU, David!

Again, here is a look at some video on Cubillan, who looks to be a combo guard based on Internet reports and this video.

Marquette Season Preview

Welcome to the biggest time, the BIG EAST Conference. Tom Crean goes to battle this year with a young, talented roster that will take time to sort out. Crean welcomes seven newcomers, many of whom will contribute immediately on a team with much to replace --- realize that MU must replace its best scorer/passer (Diener), its most athletic wing player (Mason), its leading rebounder (Jackson), and the consummate team player, Todd Townsend.

It's clear that incoming freshmen James, Matthews, and McNeal will play significant minutes in the backcourt. Transfers Fitzgerald and Lott will man the forward positions, with Fitzgerald likely to see action at any of the guard and forward slots. Crean also welcomes PF Burke and swingman Mortensen to campus.

Tom Crean will enjoy remarkable flexibility with his roster, and will rely on senior sharpshooter Steve Novak to deliver consistently from the perimeter. Youth in the backcourt aside, MU might just sink or swim based on the performance of the frontline: Chris Grimm, Ryan Amoroso, Mike Kinsella, Ousmane Barro, and Jamil Lott.

With that, here's a game by game breakdown of how we see the season unfolding in 2005-2006.

RICE ^: Mike Kinsella’s former team comes to the Bradley Center sans one of their all-time greats, Michael Harris, who was lost to graduation. The Owls also lost starters McKreith and Gillespie and do not return a starter who averaged double figures last year. Marquette will win this one against one of Conference USA's newest additions. 1-0

WINTHROP/IUPUI ^: Winthrop is perhaps the scariest team on Marquette’s non-conference schedule this year. Seriously. Winthrop returns 12 of their top 13 players from a team that gave Gonzaga a serious first-round scare in last year’s Tournament. Unfortunately, Winthrop is primed to pounce on an upset here, as the Eagles will be licking their chops to face an inexperienced Marquette squad. 1-1

Eastern Washington #: Marquette opens the Great Alaska Shootout against yet another set of Eagles. Despite the high-flying dunks of the amazing Henry Bekkering, Marquette will coast into the second round of this tournament unscathed. 2-1

Oral Roberts/USC #: This will be an interesting second round matchup, no matter the opponent. Oral Roberts is another small conference tournament team, similar to Winthrop, and they could give both USC and Marquette fits with their experience. They return the Mid-Continent POY in Caleb Green and deadly weapon, Ken Tutt, (a combined 37 ppg), as well as dynamic guard, Jonathan Bluitt. This high flying attack might just well get past a USC team that is young and has a new coach in Tim Floyd. Athletic guard, Gabe Pruitt, is the go-to guy for USC, but the Trojans should be no match for Oral Roberts. Marquette will learn its lessons from the Winthrop loss and will match athlete for athlete with a tough Oral Roberts squad. 3-1

Southern Illinois/Monmouth/South Carolina/UAA #: Obviously, it is hard to project who MU would play in the final round, but if Marquette gets to the championship, it’s likely that it will either be Southern Illinois or South Carolina. South Carolina is coming off an NIT championship season and despite losing its leading scorer, Carlos Powell, returns seven key players. Southern Illinois is coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance and also loses its best player in Darren Brooks. Both teams are pretty solid and have a lot of experienced players returning. There will be no joy in MU-ville for Marquette in this one. 3-2

@ Nebraska: Marquette plays its first true road game in Lincoln, Nebraska this year, and will take on a team they trounced in the Bradley Center last year. The Huskers return some solid young pieces in scoring guard Joe McCray and Aussie center Aleks Maric and are probably a team on the rise in the Big 12. Having five games under the belt already, Marquette wins this one in a nail-biter. 4-2

SOUTH DAKOTA STATE: For the second year in a row, the Jackrabbits will have to deal with a former player’s night at the Bradley Center. Last year, it was Dwyane Wade night (with Shaq sitting courtside). This year, it is Travis Diener night, and the Jackrabbits will leave with their heads bobbling, just like the Diener bobbleheads that fans in attendance will receive. 5-2

VALPARAISO: Dan Oppland, Kenny Harris and the rest of the Crusaders will be gunning for a road win against Marquette and very well could get it here. Valpo will challenge Oral Roberts for conference supremacy this year. We still see Marquette pulling this one out, however, in another close contest against a very formidable foe. Homer Drew might scream about this outcome. 6-2

@ Wisconsin: This will be an interesting one. The Badgers lost a lot of firepower from last year, but also brings back the very talented Alando Tucker, as well as some other key components like Brian Butch and Kammron Taylor. Wisconsin, like Marquette, also had a terrific recruiting class and will count on Marcus Landry and Joe Krabbenhoft for instant contributions. As much as it pains us to say it, Wisconsin will pull out a close one this year at the Kohl Hole. 6-3

SAN FRANCISCO: A fellow Jesuit school comes to the Bradley Center for a mid-December chill. The Dons have the best recruiting class in the WCC, but will go back to San Francisco with no flowers in their hair. Marquette wins. 7-3

OAKLAND: No, not the Oakland across the bay from San Francisco… the one in Michigan. The Grizzlies shocked everyone by winning their conference tournament last year and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. Rawle Marshall and Courtney Scott and their combined 38 ppg are gone now, though, and Marquette will maul the Grizzlies into submission. 8-3

DELAWARE STATE: The Hornets almost pestered Marquette into a loss last year with their stingy D and ball control offense. They very well might do the same this year. Jahsha Bluntt and Co. will put a scare into MU, but will fall in the end at the Bradley Center. 9-3

LEWIS: DII opponent Lewis comes to Milwaukee behind former MU assistant, Kyle Green. This one won’t count towards Marquette’s record and it’s a shame, as the Golden Eagles will down the Flyers. Still 9-3

CONNECTICUT: Marquette opens BIG EAST play against perhaps the best team in the conference. Point guard Marcus Williams will rejoin the team for this game, and Rudy Gay, Josh Boone, Rashad Anderson, Denham Brown and a host of talented others will visit the Bradley Center on this cold January night. It will certainly be exciting to play such a terrific team, but Marquette will be humbled by the extreme athleticism of UConn in this one. 9-4, 0-1 (conference)

CINCINNATI: If any year can be considered a down year for the Bearcats, it probably is this one. Bobby Huggins is out the door, along with a couple of his recruits. Cincy does return terrific big men, Eric Hicks and Armein Kirkland, as well as key contributors like Jihad Muhammed and James White. This will be a year of ups and downs for Marquette, but on this night, Marquette will upset the Bearcats in a tough defensive battle, and will provide their fans with their biggest victory of the year. 10-4, 1-1

@ Seton Hall: There are no easy road games in the Big East, but this is as close as it gets. Seton Hall is in disarray right now and will have a very tough time making the Big East Tournament. Despite a valiant effort by their talented center, Kelly Whitney, the Pirates will walk the plank in this one. 11-4, 2-1

@ West Virginia: West Virginia is coming off one of their program's most exciting postseason runs. The Mountaineers came within a hair's breath of making it to the Final Four after losing a big lead to Louisville in the Elite Eight last year. Many key returners are present for West Virginia, including Kevin Pittsnogle and Mike Gansey. Marquette gets Pittsnogled in this one and the 'Neers will win by double digits. 11-5, 2-2

@ DePaul: Marquette plays its third consecutive road game and does so on the Tuesday after a tough Saturday loss at West Virginia. DePaul should struggle this year, but do have the very talented Sammy Mejia and a couple great newcomers in Karron Clarke and Wilson Chandler. Despite the near home court advantage, Marquette falls here to the Demons. 11-6, 2-3

NOTRE DAME: Chris Quinn and Torin Francis come into the Bradley Center hoping for a win here. Are you kidding me? The place will be packed with anti-Domers and the crowd will "cheer cheer" the Marquette squad "onward to victory." 12-6, 3-3

DEPAUL: Marquette will use its actual home court advantage to get its revenge against Jerry Wainwright and DePaul after falling in Chicago to the Demons. 13-6, 4-3

@ Pittsburgh: Although Pittsburgh should be a little down this year (middle of the pack in the Big East), they’re still a very tough team, particularly defensively. Terrific point Carl Krauser, and a talented group of freshmen will lead the Panthers to a low scoring but decisive win over Marquette. Look for Marquette to get killed on the boards. 13-7, 4-4

ST. JOHN'S: An underrated St. John’s team visits Milwaukee and should test Marquette to the limit. Terrific scorer Daryll 'Showtime' Hill and strong forward Lamont Hamilton will give Marquette all it can handle. However, Marquette will again use the home crowd to quell this Red Storm. 14-7, 5-4

@ Villanova: Three years ago, Marquette played and defeated a group of talented freshmen from Villanova in Madison Square Garden. It’s payback time. Those freshmen are now talented seniors, and despite the loss of Curtis Sumpter, Villanova will use its depth and athleticism to blow by Marquette in this matchup. 14-8, 5-5

@ Rutgers: Rutgers is one of those teams that gives visiting opponents fits on the road, eventhough they don’t end up with a great record overall or in conference. Led by scorer Quincy Douby and Chicago product Ollie Bailey, Rutgers will take Marquette down to the wire, but MU will end up victorious (barely) against the Scarlet Knights. 15-8, 6-5

GEORGETOWN: After turning the corner last season, the Hoyas are probably the biggest sleeper team in the Big East this year, and could end up near the top of the conference standings. Led by athletic forwards Brandon Bowman and Jeff Green, this talented, athletic and deep team will do very well in the Big East this season. Marquette will fall at home to the Hoyas on National Marquette Day. 15-9, 6-6

PITTSBURGH: The rematch against Pittsburgh will be a tough one, especially two days after a difficult defeat to Georgetown. Unfortunately, the Panthers will be able to strong-arm Marquette, once again dominating on the boards and on defense. Pitt will ruin Maurice Lucas night for the Golden Eagles. 15-10, 6-7

@ Notre Dame: Notre Dame seeks its revenge against Marquette in this one, and the long range shooting of Colin Falls and Chris Quinn will be too much for Marquette to handle. Irish eyes will be smiling at the conclusion of this matchup. 15-11, 6-8

@ Louisville: Marquette has had some definite success in Freedom Hall, but this Cardinals team is a buzz saw this time around. A healthy Juan Diego Palacios and David Padgett along with hot shooting Taquan Dean will take it to Marquette and ensure that Marquette finishes with a losing record in conference. This game will also mark four straight losses for Marquette… very bad timing for this sort of streak. 15-12, 6-9

PROVIDENCE: Still reeling from the loss of do everything forward, Ryan Gomes, the Friars come to Milwaukee on Senior Day and get all they can handle from a squad determined to win one for Steve Novak, Joe Chapman and Chris Grimm. The efforts of guard Dwight Brewington and talented freshman, Geoff McDermott, will be for naught as Marquette will end its regular season on a high note, and with plenty to look forward to in the future. 16-12, 7-9

We predict Marquette will fall short of the NCAA Tournament, but will finish 10th in the BIG EAST and will be a solid NIT selection this year.

^ denotes Pepsi Blue and Gold Shootout
# denotes Great Alaska Shootout

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Tom Izzo's Coaching Tree

An interesting article on ESPN.com with plenty of Tom Crean mentions.

Excerpt: "Tom Izzo, a former assistant under Jud Heathcote, is entering his 11th season as the Spartans' head coach. In that span, Izzo has helped six of his assistants become head coaches. Marquette coach Tom Crean is the highest-profile one of the group, having led the Golden Eagles to the 2003 Final Four. The other five include Mike Garland at Cleveland State, Brian Gregory at Dayton, Stan Heath (hired by Kent State and then plucked away by Arkansas), Stan Joplin at Toledo and Doug Wojcik, who is beginning his first season at Tulsa."

For the complete article, click here.

Marquette Player Previews

As Marquette prepares to open its season with an exhibition game on Thursday night, our blog takes a look at the current roster and breaks down potential contributions and expectations for each player. In a year when MU welcomes seven newcomers to the roster, we'd expect this initial analysis to look quite different by the start of conference play.

Likely starting lineup to open the season:
PG: Dominic James
SG: Joe Chapman
SF: Steve Novak
PF: Ryan Amoroso
C: Ousmane Barro

Steve Novak: 6’10, forward, Brown Deer, WI, starter… It is sometimes unbelievable how fast time flies. It seems like only yesterday that Novak was a skinny freshman, having his breakout game against DePaul at the AllState Arena in Chicago. Now Novak is a not-quite-as-skinny senior, and is expected to be the leading scorer and perhaps more importantly, the leader on a very inexperienced Golden Eagles’ squad. Novak should certainly benefit from the influx in athleticism at Marquette, as last year, after Diener went down, he was forced to do things outside his comfort zone. This year, Novak will the beneficiary of outlet passes from driving athletes like Dominic James, Jerel McNeal, Wes Matthews and Dan Fizgerald, and should put up big scoring numbers. Coach Crean has also mentioned that it is imperative that Steve gets to the free throw stripe a number of times each game—Novak is a 90%+ FT shooter—so expect to see Novak post up or dribble drive into the lane more this year as well. Novak should go down as the all-time leading 3-point shooter at Marquette, and should have a very productive season in his second year as a full-time starter.

Joe Chapman: 6’4, guard, Chicago Heights, IL, likely starter… One of the most frustrating sights for Marquette fans last year was watching Chapman, who is clearly not a point guard, have to handle point guard duties for Marquette last year after Travis Diener's injury. Chapman will be allowed to return to his natural SG/SF duties this year with the addition of point guard James and backup Fitzgerald, and should thrive doing so. Without a doubt, Chapman will be pushed for minutes by Matthews, McNeal and Fitzgerald, but his three years in Crean’s system should gain him the immediate starter’s role. We would not be surprised to see McNeal or Matthews end up as a starter this season, but Chapman is certainly a capable, if unspectacular, player there.

Chris Grimm: 6’10” center, Brighton, MI, reserve… Grimm has never really lived up to expectations at Marquette, but he has always worked very hard. This year, Grimm is trying to return from elbow surgery, and appears to be ready to play a role in the lineup. Chris’ role this year should involve mentoring the younger players and playing as a reserve at center, picking up charges and rebounds and setting screens (having no “moving screen violations” should be a goal, Chris!), and making his putbacks. We do not anticipate Grimm starting, but he certainly will play somewhere between 5-15 minutes at the center position this season.

Mike Kinsella: 7’0” center, Rochester, MN, reserve… Kinsella’s experience at Marquette has been a very disappointing one so far due to no fault of his own. First it was feet problems. Then it was knee problems. After missing a good portion of last year to injury, Mike was ready to go and excited about the season, and had even added 15 pounds in the offseason before the knee problems started. To Mike’s credit, his timetable for return went from questionable for the year to mid to late December to early December. If healthy, Mike can provide Marquette with a unique option at the 5 spot. Kinsella is easily the best shooter among the big men, and has a sweet looking long range jumper. Mike’s defense is suspect, but with the added weight, the hope is that he will be able to add to the center by committee rotation when he returns.

Jamil Lott: 6’7”, forward, St. Paul, MN, main reserve/potential starter… Jamil Lott was a big late junior college addition to the Marquette squad this past spring. He was highly recruited by a number of DI programs, and Marquette's hope was to have him come in and fill the void left by the graduated Marcus Jackson. Early opinions of Lott have been mixed. Lott appears to have a nice offensive game (an improvement over Jackson’s lack of offensive ability), but he also appears lost at times on the court. Lott definitely has a great deal of athleticism and will be used as a low post presence, but time will tell whether he will be a legitimate offensive option in the post while at Marquette. At this point, we project Lott to start the season on the bench, but he may push for the starting power forward position, depending on how quickly he adjusts to Crean’s system.

Ryan Amoroso: 6’8” forward, Burnsville, MN, possible starter/main reserve… Amo comes off a season that certainly showed the typical ups and downs of a freshman. In some games, Amo was terrific, showing Mike Wilkinson-like potential on the boards and offensively. In others, Amo would miss dunks, draw a costly technical foul at the free throw line, or make other freshman mistakes. Amo has bulked up even more over the summer, and it will be interesting to watch him with a year's experience. We expect marked improvement this year. His potential is tremendous, as he can hit the long range shot and score from the post. If he can stay consistent, we expect Amo to start at the power forward position… at least as long as he plays better than Lott in practice.

Ousmane Barro: 6’10 center, Dakar, Senegal, possible starter/main reserve… Perhaps a better nickname has never been had by a player at Marquette. A native of Senegal and a recent convert to the game of basketball, Ooze literally “oozes” with potential. With his extremely long frame and natural athleticism, Ousmane could be a force to be reckoned with down the road. This year, look for Ooze to improve in many aspects of his game, but still be a raw talent who can’t be trusted with more than 15-20 minutes per game. The good news: at the Marquette Madness event, Ooze scored 10 points in 15 minutes when paired with the terrific driving and passing of Dominic James. He also appeared to have substantially bulked up over the summer. The bad news: at the same event, Ooze also made some of the same silly fouls and did not appear to yet have the instincts of a great player. The likely scenario this year is to pencil Ooze into the starting position, and realize that he, Grimm, Kinsella and Dwight Burke will likely split minutes in the pivot.

Dan Fitzgerald: 6’9” guard/forward, St. Paul, MN, supersub… We finally get the chance to watch in games what everyone has been quietly talking about for the past year... the terrific versatility and overall solid play of Dan Fitzgerald. Fitz came to Marquette as an underhyped transfer from Tulane, and from all accounts, is a true jack-of-all-trades type of player. He has already solidified the duty of backing up Dominic James at the point. He also will undoubtedly see minutes at both the off guard and small forward position. At times, we may even see Dan playing a few minutes at power forward. Fitz can shoot the long ball, has a great handle for a man his size, is a good passer and has already been noted as an excellent defender. So, the bottom line is that even though Fitzgerald might not start this season, he will play starter’s minutes, and will fill a number of important roles for the team.

Dominic James: 5’10, guard, Richmond, IN, starter… Get ready for the incredible Mr. James. Perhaps never in the history of Marquette basketball has a point guard come in as highly heralded. James is a physical freak (his nickname is even Freak Nique), as witnessed by his trampoline-like dunks at Marquette Madness. Dominic is excellent on both ends of the floor, but as he says himself, the strongest part of his game is probably his passing. Repeatedly at Madness, James was seen breaking down defenders on the perimeter, driving to the lane and making incredible passes to wide open teammates (Steve Novak has to be salivating) or finishing around the rim like a pro. One area Dominic must work at is his long-range shooting. Nique certainly isn’t bad in this capacity, but he is no Diener… yet. Watch out for the little man with the big heart and game for many years to come.

Jerel McNeal: 6’3” guard, Country Club Hills, IL, main reserve… If any player can properly be labeled as “underrated” on this team, it is probably Jerel McNeal. McNeal is (yes, we'll say it) a Dwyane Wade-like defender, even though he is a couple inches shorter than Wade. At a recent scrimmage, Jerel had 27 deflections, which obviously, is an incredible number. Jerel is no Wade on the offensive side of the ball, but who is? McNeal is going to immediately push for minutes, and may very well replace Chapman in the starting lineup just by virtue of his extreme athleticism and work ethic. McNeal still has kind of a corkscrew-looking jumper, but that is something that he is already working diligently on. Jerel is, however, superb at driving to and scoring at the hoop. Look for Jerel to be a major part of this team’s success this year and in the future.

Wesley Matthews: 6’5” guard, Madison, WI, main reserve… Mr. Wisconsin Basketball will be a great player at Marquette, the only question is when it will happen. The safe money is on “sooner” rather than later. Matthews was impressive at Madness and other scrimmages with his scoring ability, defensive prowess, and maybe most importantly, his ability to “let the game come to him.” Maybe the best aspect of Wes is the extreme natural athleticism that allowed him to not only be tabbed as Wisconsin's best basketball player, but also first team all-state in soccer. Some people have speculated that because Wes split his time between two sports in high school, he may be a little behind when it comes to some fundamentals. While Wes does need to firm up some skills over time, he has showed a veteran’s poise on the court to this point, and figures to battle for solid minutes right away, along with his backcourt mate, McNeal.

Dwight Burke, 6’8” forward, Brooklyn, NY, reserve… This Brooklyn native who prepped in New Jersey was an extremely underrated pickup by Marquette late in the spring recruiting season. Originally slated for East Carolina, Burke was let out of his letter of intent when ECU fired Bill Herrion. Marquette snatched him up, and already, Burke has tremendously impressed those who have watched him scrimmage. Dwight’s surprising physical acumen has reminded some of Terry Sanders’ natural athleticm. Unlike Sanders, though, Burke has a nose for the rim, and the bulk and wherewithal to really battle down low.... the "bull in a china shop" type of player that can be so valuable. Burke is without a doubt raw in some aspects of his game. His perimeter shot looks bad and he still has to get a feel for the system. However, his performances in recent scrimmages have really made people think that long-term, Burke will be a starter at the power forward position. This year, expect Burke to find minutes here and there and improve through his apparently tremendous work ethic.

Matt Mortensen: 6’6” guard/forward, Provo, UT, reserve… It is difficult to get a true read on Matt at this point in time. In the early scrimmages open to the public, Mortensen looked overmatched athletically and did not appear to have a chance to contribute immediately to the program on the court. However, in the latest public scrimmage, Mort canned a number of three pointers and looked very solid on both ends of the court. With all the athleticism at the guard positions, it is hard to imagine Matt getting more than a few minutes per game this year, but he may be very valuable in certain games as a zone busting, David Diggs-like assassin from three-point range. Look for Mort to contribute more as time goes by.

Tomorrow, we'll preview the 2005-2006 campaign......

Washington Post Big East Preview

A thorough Big East preview offered by the Washington Post. Coach Crean notes the heightened fan interest in the new league:

Marquette Coach Tom Crean said last month that the Golden Eagles have had more ticket requests for their Jan. 11 game at Seton Hall, which finished 10th in the conference last year and has no nationally recognized star, than any other road game. The reason? Fans can combine a visit to New York City with a trip to the Meadowlands for the game.

"It's phenomenal for our fans to be able to do that," Crean said. "In our time [in Conference USA], we never lost at Southern Miss, so that was a good trip for us. But we'll have a thousand fans at Seton Hall, while we might've had 10 at Southern Miss."

Will anybody miss Hattiesburg?

The Post also picks MU to finish 12th in the league. Here is the rundown.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A Big Week Is Upon Us

After weeks of near-news and simulated game action, a week of legitimate milestones is finally upon us. On Thursday, the new-look Marquette Golden Eagles will take on the Michigan Tech Huskies at the Bradley Center in the exhibition opener. Steve Novak's younger brother Chris is a freshman forward for the Huskies. While MU fans have been treated to a few open scrimmages, it's about time to see real hoops on Al McGuire Court.

Also note that high school seniors can sign letters of intent starting on November 9. Earlier this fall, sharpshooter Lazar Hayward verbally committed to MU. MU also is pursuing combo guard David Cubillan and center Chas McFarland -- are there other possibilities as well? We might know more by the end of the week. The national signing period runs from November 9-16.

Friday, November 04, 2005

David Cubillan Visits MU

David Cubillan, a SG/PG from highly regarded St. Benedict's in Newark, NJ, will arrive at MU this weekend for his official visit. Cubillan was a high school teammate of current MU freshman Dwight Burke last season. According to Rivals.com, he is also considering Rutgers, St. John's, Villanova, Utah and Florida International.

A native of Venezuela, Cubillan would fit in nicely with MU's philosophy of relying on a deep, versatile backcourt. MU has only one point guard on the roster, Dominic James. Cubillan, who looks to be a combo guard based on Internet reports and this video, could fill a slot similar to the one Mike Nardi assumed when he joined Villanova one year after their flagship recruiting class.

For those of you who would like to learn more about David, click here. :-)

Enjoy your visit to MU, David.

Just in Time for Hoops: Bradley Center Improvements

Read all about it at the Bucks Web site. Read all about it in the Milwaukee Business Journal.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

New Student Newspaper at Marquette: The Warrior

Check it out. It certainly will not appeal to everyone, then again that can be said about most things.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Welcome to the NBA, Travis Diener

Ask and you shall receive, Mr. Anonymous. Many people were suprised to learn that Travis Diener made the final cut, and will suit up for his first NBA game tonight as the Orlando Magic take on the Indiana Pacers, led by that thug Ron Artest. Perhaps nobody was more surprised by Travis' performance in training camp than the Magic themselves --- Diener's bio didn't appear on their Web site until midday EST. Finally, here's a look at the roster and the Diener profile.

While Diener might have been somewhat forgettable to the Magic's Webmaster, Marquette fans will never forget the leadership, gumption and ability that made Travis Diener one of the greatest to ever lace'em up for Marquette University.

Diener, who signed a two-year contract with the Magic after being selected in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft, will backup Jameer Nelson at the point. With Grant Hill currently on the injured list, chances are Diener will spend his first year shuffling between the active and inactive roster. But we at the blog predict a long, fruitful NBA career for Travis Diener.

Congratulations and good luck, Travis!

Big East Preview: Gregg Doyel of Sportsline

Gregg Doyel steps up to the line to offer a thorough preview of the 2005-2006 Big East season. Doyel predicts a 10th place finish for Marquette, along with an NIT bid. He picks UConn to win the league, followed by Louisville, Syracuse and West Virginia. Villanova is slotted for a 5th place finish --- the loss of Sumpter could be a season-killer for the Wildcats.

Back to Marquette. Unlike assessments from other prognosticators, Doyel expects MU to improve in the paint this year with the addition of Jamil Lott, and the development of Ousmane Barro and Ryan Amoroso.

Its refreshing to see Doyel look beyond MU's much ballyhooed freshmen guards when evaluating the possibilities for TC's squad. To date, much of the pre-season analysis has focused on the deep, talented and young backcourt - - - yet in this blogger's opinion, the emergence of Lott, Barro, and Amoroso will be the key to a productive season. Can this troika defend and force opponents to respect their potential on offense?

Here's Doyel's write-up on MU:

Top three: SF Steve Novak, PG Dominic James, PF Jamil Lott.
NIT or bust:
As if the transition from Conference USA to the Big East wasn't daunting enough, the Golden Eagles must do it at the same time they transition from a senior point guard to a freshman. Dominic James won't be Travis Diener -- nobody could be Travis Diener -- but James will be pretty good. He's a scoring point guard who doesn't shoot like Diener (again, who does?) but who can get into the lane better than his predecessor. That could mean more open looks for Novak beyond the 3-point arc, where he's a 45-percent shooter. The Golden Eagles ought to be better in the post this season, with the arrival of junior college transfer Jamil Lott and the freshman-to-sophomore maturation of Ousmane Barro and Ryan Amoroso. Lott leads a promising group of newcomers that include versatile 6-9 Tulane transfer Dan Fitzgerald and freshman guards Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews IV. "

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Freshman To Watch: Duke and Marquette

CSTV takes a look at freshman to watch from around the country, and settles on both Duke and Marquette as programs with the newbies of note (at least if you belive the headline writers): Per reporter Phil Kasiecki:

  • Dominic James, G, Marquette: He'll be handed the keys to the offense right away. He can score the ball and distribute well.
  • Jerel McNeal, G, Marquette: Along with James, he's a prime reason the future is very bright for the Golden Eagles. He knows how to win and does several things well.