"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

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Money!! One last time for Novak

Steve Novak won the 3 point shooting contest tonight on ESPN by nailing an incredible 15 straight three pointers as he defeated Chris Quinn from Notre Dame 24-18.

What a great young man and the best shooter in Marquette history. Congratulations to Steve Novak. Hate to see him go. What a shooter!

Recruiting Update: Tyrone Nash; Acker Transfer Confirmed

In today's article, Todd Rosiak confirms the Maurice Acker transfer and also drops the name Tyrone Nash as a potential recuit.

Tyrone Nash is a kid who was considering prep schools and mid-majors before the season started. As his senior season moved along, interest in Nash picked up - - he's now being recruited more heavily by Marquette, Providence, Notre Dame, Georgetown and St. John's according to Scout.com and NYHoops.com. He apparently is still considering the prep school route as well.

The 6'7", 205 pound Nash is an honors student out on Long Island at Lawrence Woodmere Academy. As a junior, he led his team to the NY State Federation Semifinal game, averaging 12 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and four blocks. Nash missed his sophomore season with a knee injury.

Nash had a terrific senior season. He was selected as the 2005-2006 Long Island POY by Long Island Basketball which says, "Unless you've seen him play, its hard to believe all the things the 6'8 Nash can do. He dominates in the low post. He knocks down jump shots with ease, and he brings the ball down court against the press."

NYHoops.com also named Nash as their Long Island POY, noting that he "was the most consistent threat on Long Island all season long. Nash led the Woodmere Tigers to a final record of 23-4 and a berth in the class “A” federation state championship game. Despite an 81-75 loss to Peekskill, Nash was still strong in defeat, scoring 16 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and blocking 5 shots."

In this recap of LWA's loss in the Federation Title game, this report from the local Peekskill paper called Nash "the best player on the court".

Nash was recently named to regional roster for the upcoming the Jordan Classic All-Star Game, which will be played April 22 at Madison Square Garden.

Here is a quick profile of Nash from New NYHoops, which rates Nash as the 15th best senior in the NYC area this year. Here's a recap of one of Nash's strong performances from earlier this season, which includes a shot of him in action on the court.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Confirmed: Maurice Acker transfers to Marquette

Ok, its a done deal for Maurice Acker -- according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Here's the Todd Rosiak story. The Chicago Sun-Times reported on Acker in their morning edition. Still nothing from MU, however.

Acker will be eligible for the 2007-2008 season, and will join a loaded Marquette backcourt. James, McNeal, Matthews, Hayward, Cubillan, Christopherson, and Mortensen - -wow. Yet other than Dominic James, Acker stands to be the only other pure point guard on the roster. In addition, Acker provides a security blanket if James leaves early for the NBA.

Welcome to MU, Maurice!

By our count, Tom Crean now has one available scholarship to offer for the upcoming 2006-2007 season.

According to a number of reports, Crean is actively recruiting both Lance Stemler and Josh Love, a pair of JUCO forwards.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Report: Maurice Acker to Transfer to MU? UPDATED

According to an unverified report in ChicagoHoops.com, former Hillcrest star PG (and high school teammate of Jerel McNeal) Maurice Acker will transfer from Ball State to Marquette. After sitting out the 2006-07 season, he'd be eligible to participate in the fall of 2007, and would have three seasons of eligiblity remaining.

In addition to the MU connection via Jerel McNeal, Acker played his college ball for former MU assistant Tim Buckley. Buckley was fired at the conclusion of the 2006 season.

Acker started 25 games for the Cardinals, and all 18 of their conference matchups. He averaged 9.2 ppg and 4.6 assists, and maintained a 1.66 Assist to Turnover ratio.

If the report is accurate, Acker would be another blue-chip transfer for Crean, following in the footsteps of Mississippi State's Robert Jackson and Tulane's Dan Fitzgerald.

At the very least, Acker could be a solid backup to Dominic James, and serve as insurance should James declare early for the NBA draft after his sophomore year. In addition, as a genuine, true point guard Acker would allow Crean to play James, David Cubillan, and later Scott Christopherson at the '2' guard slot- - something MU did effectively with Cordell Henry and Travis Diener.

Here is Ball State's bio on Acker. Acker was the 2005-2006 MAC Freshman of the Year. Here's a link with a nifty video of Acker from this past season.

Looking back, here's a profile of Maurice from Highschoolelite.com -- one where he expresses disappointment that he would not play on the same college team as Jerel McNeal.

UPDATE: Remember, this is an unverified report at this point. Ball State fans on their message boards are saying the transfer is simply a rumor at this point and Acker has not decided yet.

UPDATE: The Chicago Sun-Times reports in its Wednesday edition that Acker is transferring to MU.......still no confirmation from Marquette University.

UPDATE: The Bullseye Brothers on Maurice Acker and Marquette. "Simply put, Illinois Prep Bulls-eye has seen few players over the years in the state of Illinois with a bigger heart and a fiercer competitive spirit than Acker. Combine that with the skill level that he possesses and it is easy to see why Marquette fans have to be excited. Acker is a pure point guard with tremendous quickness and playmaking capability."

Recruiting Update: Lance Stemler and Josh Love

Since the loss to Alabama two weeks ago, Tom Crean has been on the road looking for new talent to inject into the MU program for the 2006-2007 season. Over the last couple of days, some of the murkiness of recruiting has cleared and we now have a better sense of where TC is looking -- and how many kids he'll try to sign.

We now know that Ryan Amoroso is leaving Marquette after this semester. Amoroso's departure frees up an additional scholarship for MU, which now has two available tenders.

Until yesterday, we thought MU had a shot to land 6'6" JUCO strongman John Williamson of Cincinnati State. However, Williamson instead became Mick Cronin's first recruit at UC.

With Williamson off the boards, Crean appears to be zeroing in on two other JUCO players:

- - Lance Stemler, a 6'8" forward from Southwestern Illinois College;
- - Josh Love, a 6'8" 230 pound forward from Hill Junior College in Texas;

Stemler is something of a late bloomer who bounced between Bradley and SWIC. As a sophomore he emerged as an All-American, earning the GRAC and Region XXIV "Player of the Year" awards. For the season, Stemler averaged 22 ppg on 58% shooting from the field, including 40% from 3-point range. Stemler led SWIC to the national JUCO tourney this year, including a sixth-place finish nationally. He's expected to choose between SLU (his girlfriend apparently lives in St. Louis), Marquette, Kent State, Nebraska, Georgia and USF. Here's a profile of Stemler from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Also, here's an interesting thread on Stemler from the Billiken Board.

The athletic Josh Love verbally committed to Arizona State last December but re-opened recruiting after coach Rob Evans was fired. Love, a Seattle native, is being recruited by a number of schools with Marquette, Purdue, and South Florida the most heavily involved (others are sure to jump in). Love looks to be a 3/4 combo forward, and averaged roughly 20ppg and 12rpg this season at Hill. He was first-team all conference. Like Stemler, Love is an efficient offensive force who shoots roughly 48% from the field and 44% from behind the arc. Out of high school, Love signed with Eastern Washington before heading to Hill.

The logical assessment here is that Crean views Stemler as a possible replacement for Novak, while Love could command playing time at the '4' or even the '3' - - something Amoroso failed to do as last season progressed. Filling both slots this spring would leave MU with only one additional tender for the 2007 freshman class. MU already has a verbal commitment from combo guard Scott Christopherson.

Coach Crean has pulled a few surprises in the past with spring signees/transfers (as Dwight Burke, Marcus Jackson, Robert Jackson and Karon Bradley all demonstrated), but for now it appears that Stemler and Love are priorities for the MU coaching staff.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Crean: no contact from IU

and per Rosiak, he's not waiting around for it. He has a program to build.

"I never worry about it," he said. "I said this about a month and a half ago -- the track record says that every year we continue to try to build the program more and more. We had a season that many didn't see coming but that our guys cannot be satisfied with, and one that we've got to continue to build on. That's a big focus."

Friday, March 24, 2006

Coaching Searches: Lies, Damn Lies and Smokescreens

With the IU coaching search squarely in his site, Jerry Brewer slays a few sacred cows in his column from this morning's Louisville Courier-Journal. His lead is spot-on:

I hate coaching searches.

They are the bane of sports journalism. They turn honest people into liars and open ones into shady characters. They inspire embarrassing misreporting, constant speculation and absolutely no public confidence.

And then they end with a hire, but finality leaves you with more questions than you had at the start.

Brewer goes on to tar his own profession, chastising "journalists for lowering our standards to compete in this new world of instant news." Too bad he didn't go for the throat and single out Andy Katz as the leader of this infamous fraternity.

Still -- bravo, Jerry!

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Phew.......what a season. The Cracked Sidewalks team is regrouping and recharging after the successful 2005-2006 campaign by the Marquette Golden Eagles. We'll continue to report, pontificate and hopefully entertain throughout the off-season.

But, we're into college basketball's silly season right now and folks are beginning to speculate on TC's address next season. Fear not, MU faithful. More later in the week - thanks again for making us part of your online MU hoops experience.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

New Big East Television Deal

Wanna play ball on national television? Play in the Big East.

While the Big Ten is considering eschewing ESPN to sign a more lucrative contract with Fox that would actually decrease exposure for its basketball programs, the Big East keeps getting bigger.

Per the Matt Eagan at the Hartford Courant, it looks like the Big East is about to finalize a boffo television deal with ESPN. The new agreement would include both football and basketball - - check out a few of the expected enhancements (read: extra hoops broadcasts):

....Under the terms, ESPN would agree to show every intraconference basketball game (except for those on CBS) on one of its outlets. Games would be shown on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNU, ESPN 360 - a broadband service that allows fans to watch games on their home computers - or the ESPN regional network.

The Big East is already part of the network's prime time Big Monday package, but under the new deal the network would add a nationally televised Thursday game to be shown in prime time on either ESPN or ESPN2.

Basketball games would also be part of the ESPN Full Court package, a pay-per-view plan that allows fans to see games not broadcast in their area.

In addition, every game of the Big East tournament would be televised by ESPN or ESPN2.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Bradley Center: Remodel or Replace?

Build a new arena or dramatically renovate the current facility?

This is the question that the City of Milwaukee and the heads of the Bradley Center must now address.......here's an update from the Milwaukee Business Journal -- one focused on the notion of renovation rather than replacement.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Remembering Coach Ray Meyer

If you have not heard, Coach Ray Meyer of DePaul University died at the age of 92. Meyer's Blue Demons battled Marquette for more than 40 years while he was at the helm. He and Marquette coach Al McGuire had some fantastic games over the years between the two schools.

We thought we would share some video of Coach Meyer from 1997 when he was interviewed on his thoughts about Al McGuire. The video is part of a montage of tributes from various head coaches that knew Al as the university retired #77 in his honor on November 21, 1997.

The interview with Meyer shows what a gentle man he was. Though the interview is primarily about Al McGuire, you can not help but really admire coach Meyer. Our sincerest regards to the Meyer family and to the DePaul faithful.

Part One - Ray Meyer interview on Al McGuire

Part Two - Ray Meyer interview on Al McGuire

Friday, March 17, 2006

A view from the 13th row in San Diego

I was 0-2 in NCAA games for Marquette in the past when personally attending them, but I thought I would bring my son this time around for some good luck. A 7 vs 10 seed against an SEC team that beat NCAA teams Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky, and Arkansas was going to be tough. Nevertheless, we were favored by a whopping 1.5 points.

My son and I left at 5:45am to make the trip from Orange County to San Diego. He was decked out in his MU shirt and I in my Warriors garb that had us undefeated this year when watching the boys on the tube with that shirt...superstitions are key for fans....especially this one.

Arrived at the Red Lion hotel at 7:15am, almost two hours ahead of the pep rally. Immediately ran into Athletic Director Bill Cords who I had not seen since New Orleans. He was gracious as always as he remarked at how big my son had become. We spoke for about 10 minutes. Bill was in his element to be sure. We are in the Big East and this is where we belong. He believes it, he lives it and he is very proud of this accomplishment. He should be. He arrived in 1988, a year after I started at MU as a student. Our program was mediocre at that point in just about every sport. Not enough money, no facilities, no belief by the administration in terms of long term vision and athletics. Cords in almost 20 years has seen us go from arguably a low Division I / high Division II calibre endeavor to a fine athletic program in the Big East in many sports.

After parting with Bill we had some breakfast at the cafe and bumped into some of my very favorites from the athletic department when I worked there....Ingrid and Jim in particular. Both working hard as usual, both doing well. Special thoughts for Jim as his son-in-law heads over to an Iraqi deployment in April. God's speed and safety to him and the family. I was able to pick up my tickets from Ingrid...row 13...not a good sign from a superstition standpoint, but great seats...we were lucky and thankful.

The pep rally began at 9:00am as we congregated with Dr. Childs and his three sons. Jack Harbaugh gave a rah rah speech which was great. You can tell this guy has done a few of these at halftime of a few football games he coached. For those that don't know, he was the coach of the Division I-AA national champions Western Kentucky just a few years ago. Interestingly, coach Harbaugh probably had more than a few chances over the years to jump to bigger schools...sometimes coaches and institutions are a good fit for one another. Jack expressed that specifically about Coach Crean later that morning. His son Jim Harbaugh, yes that Jim Harbaugh (QB of Michigan, Chicago Bears and San Diego Chargers) was there as well. Real good guy, very nice, very "every day" kind of guy. He later sat in the front row at the game and was going crazy for his brother-in-law Tom Crean and Marquette.

At about 9:30am we headed outside to huddle under the overhang of the hotel for the team and staff to board the busses. The band was playing, the fans were geared up. Father Wild was there, the mascot, the cheerleaders. Everything going well and fans are feeling good.

As the players came through our human guantlet that we had created they appeared calm, but who knows what truly was going on inside. The younger players were quiet, not showing much emotion. Senior Steve Novak had a huge smile on his face as he acknowledged the fans with high fives and best wishes. Coach Crean came out last. He stopped along the way to acknowledge a few fans specifically. As he came to the bus, he saw Father Wild and gave him a hug before boarding. This was it, we were ready to go to Cox Arena and get this baby started....or so we thought. 10:20am or so at this point.

About 5 minutes after the bus had been boarded it was clear that they weren't leaving immediately... if at all. Five more minutes passed, then ten. Word came through to the fans that a bomb threat of some kind was the reason for the delay. Apparently a police dog had smelled something and it wasn't San Diego's famous fish tacos. The arena was evacuated while the authorities could search the facility. This can't be good. Row 13, I'm 0-2 at NCAA games and now we have a bomb threat at a sports facility just days after Al Qaeda had threatened to go after sports stadiums.

After 45 minutes or so, the players got off the bus which I was thankful for. They began to walk around and stretch their legs. We definitely weren't going to tip off at 11:40am. In fact, there was talk the morning session could be cancelled all together and moved to Friday. No one knew for sure.

Finally, the all clear and the bus was on it's way at around 11:45am if I remember correctly. Quite a start for the freshmen players, you wonder what they are thinking. We boarded our buses as well and made the 10 minute trip to San Diego State. Upon arrival...chaos. Thousands of people standing outside the arena that were evacuated earlier trying to get back in. What a zoo.

Upon entering the arena I remembered all of the red seats...superstitions again. I hate red seats, makes me think of the BADgers. I had visited the 2001 (I think that was the year) NCAA tournament at Cox Arena when St. Joseph's played there. Jamir Nelson was a freshman and everyone was amazed at how good he was.
Had not been back since, however. It seats about 12,000 or so. Great site lines everywhere. I immediately noticed the NCAA banners and appropriately Marquette and UCLA were next to each other. The two greatest programs of the 1970's. I was very excited about a possible matchup with the Bruins, one that had not taken place since 1964 between the two schools. First things first... a very tough Alabama squad which was going to give us fits inside. My son and I found our way down to the 13th row on the end of the aisle. Great seats. Thank you Sarah and Ingrid or the ticket fairy that randomly pulled these out.

As far as the game goes, we were either flat or
neverous or flat-out nervous for the first half. Alabama was more aggressive, killed us on the boards and dominated us the entire 20 minutes. Crean called a timeout and really seemed to chew on his guys for the easy rebounds we were giving up inside for second chance points. We trailed 44-30 at halftime. I turned to Bill Robers who went to the Final Four with me in New Orleans and we had that deja vu feeling all over again. Of course, MU had been a second half team most of the year so we still had a chance.

The final 20 minutes was probably the best basketball MU played offensively all year long. Unfortunately Alabama played well too. MU scored a whopping 55 points and took the lead three different times late in the game but could not put the game away. Bama just kept hitting three pointer after three pointer. It came down to two possessions in the final 30 seconds where we put the ball into Steve Novak's hands. Once on a turnaround shot that he had hit many times this year on the block...it hit the back iron this time. With Bama now up three, MU needed a trey to tie. A perfect play was drawn up for Novak in the corner. He was so wide open. Too wide open. It was directly in front of me, I watched the shot as straight as an arrow and thought for sure it was in...but not to be. Novak was human after all. We are going to miss this guy incredibly. Great person, great player. I wanted it to go in so much for him and selfishly for myself and son, too. Just not to be. I'm 0-3 now at NCAA games involved MU. I guess I should take the hint.

We will be back in years to come, I am convinced of that. After the game I watched the courtside closely. Chapman and James were distraught. I couldn't find Novak but I felt so badly for him. After the players shook hands and walked off the court I noticed the three freshmen standing together by the bench by themselves. Crean walked by and stopped. He grabbed the three and you could only guess he was saying "guys, this is what it's all about...now you're veterans and we are going to come back and advance next time."

I cannot wait until next season. I will miss Grimm for his class, his perseverance and his character. Joe Chapman...the same. Always came to play whether he was forced to play point guard while puking his guts out on the sideline or whether he was hitting big shots and playing scrappy defense. Novak. Maybe the best pure shooter I will ever see. Incredible. What a career. May he make millions in the NBA!


Pep Rally 1 (Ooze, Kinsella, Matthews, Lott, Burke)

Pep Rally 2 (Fitzgerald and Novak)

Pep Rally 3 (James and Matthews)

Pep Rally 4 (Coach Crean and Father Wild)

Crimson Tide Rolls MU, 90-85

This one hurts.

The Alabama Crimson Tide rode Jean Felix' career day to a first-round upset of the Marquette Golden Eagles, 90-85. Felix led all scorers with a career-high 31 points, including a ridiculous 8-11 from beyond the arc.

Alabama raced out to a 44-30 halftime lead on the strength of Felix' hot hand, and dominance on the offensive glass. MU refused to quit, and mounted an incredible comeback after the break keyed by Dominic James' 18 second half points, and a dramatic increase in defensive pressure.

MU actually took the lead mid-way through the second half, only to see the Crimson Tide stretch their advantage to 10 points with just under five minutes remaining. Down the stretch, MU closed the gap to just a single point, but failed to overcome the Tide late.

MU was led by Dominic James 20 points. Steve Novak closed out his college career with 17 points and five rebounds. Ousmane Barro had 13 points and 3 rebounds.

Congrats to the Alabama Crimson Tide.

And many, many thanks to the 2005-2006 Marquette Golden Eagles for delivering such an unexpectedly successful season. Well done, gentlemen.

And, as Michael Hunt points out, the future is bright.

Here are a few recaps:

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
CBS Sportsline
The Huntsville Times
ESPN Box Score

Just back from the game

I'm tired...actually exhausted. Emotional day, bomb scares, my 7 year old's first MU game since he was a baby and we lived in Milwaukee. I'll post more on Friday as I have some pictures and video clips to share along with impressions prior, during, and post the Alabama game.

More to come......

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Tipoff rescheduled for 3:50pm EST after bomb threat at Cox Arena

Check it out here, courtesy of the Associated Press.

New tipoff time confirmed by the NCAA at roughly 3pm EST.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Game Preview: Marquette Takes on Alabama

Led by seniors Steve Novak, Joe Chapman and Chris Grimm, Marquette returns to the NCAA tournament on Thursday after a two-year absence to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in San Diego. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:40pm EST. For those with the Directv March Madness package, the game will be broadcast on channel 708.

The Crimson Tide are making their fifth consecutive trip to the tournament thanks to what might be Mark Gottfried’s best coaching job. The Tide only suits up seven scholarship athletes and lost their best player, Chuck Davis, to a knee injury early in conference play. Yet the Tide cobbled together a 17-12 record on the shoulders of one of the SEC’s most dominant inside-outside combinations, point guard Ronald Steele and post man Jermareo Davidson. Steele is a true ironman, averaging 38mpg through the tough SEC conference season. The 6’3” guard runs the show for the Tide, while Davidson patrols the paint to the tune of 14 points and 9 rebounds per game. Diaper dandy Richard Hendrix turned in a stellar season averaging nearly 10 points and 8 rebounds per game.

Alabama is proficient in halfcourt sets, something that Georgetown used to its advantage last week to defeat MU in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament. With their lack of depth, Gottfried’s squad relies on Steele to run an efficient offense that takes advantage of the Tide’s advantage in the frontcourt, as well as their athletic wing players, Jean Felix and the surging Alonzo Gee. Steele, with an assist to turnover ratio of nearly 2.5/1, did wear down late in the season when the Tide lost two of their last three games, but six days of rest are sure to rejuvenate this First Team All-SEC performer.

MU will continue to rely on its talented backcourt and stellar outside shooting on Thursday. The Golden Eagles are one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the NCAA tournament, averaging nearly 40% from beyond the arc this year. The Tide’s longer, athletic wing players, particularly Felix and Gee, could be one of the more formidable defensive matchups MU has faced on the perimeter this season. Novak, who has scored at least 18 points in nine straight games, will be the focal point of the Tide’s defense all night.

For MU fans, all eyes will be on Dominic James who is coming off of his worst performance as a collegian. Like Steele, James’ productivity declined in MU’s final three games, and the week-long rest was overdue. While James will look to rebound from a tough stretch, Wesley Matthews has re-emerged as a force for the Golden Eagles, scoring in double figures in four of the last five games, including a 14 point, 6 rebound effort last week against Georgetown.

Now that Matthews is fully recovered from his foot injury, MU’s backcourt mix is as deep as its been all season. With a full complement of guards, MU will push the ball up the floor quickly, even after made baskets against the Tide. While Bama is not deep, a week of rest can negate a perceived advantage from a deeper roster. However, MU is a more difficult squad to matchup against in an up-tempo game because of the abundance of shooters the Golden Eagles put on the floor at any given time. Can a quicker pace lead to open looks? That's the hope.

Inside, MU will once again turn to the Grimm Reaper to marginalize the Tide’s productive post players. Grimm, who playing time increased dramatically late in the season, and teammate Ousmane Barro draw the tough challenge of slowing down Davidson and Hendrix.

Welcome back to the Dance. Lets hope MU sticks around for a while.

**If you need a refresher on the Crimson Tide, please see our 'Know Your Opponent' feature here.


Al.com boils it down to "Tide's size vs. Eagles' Novak today".

The San Diego Union-Tribune picks MU to win by 7.

Birmingham News quotes the Tide as saying, "we're supposed to win".

The Montgomery Advertiser focuses on rising Tide freshman, Alonzo Gee.

Todd Rosiak looks at today's game through the eyes of MU's three seniors.

Ryan Amoroso: Done for the Season, Likely More

Good luck to Ryan.

Here's the blurb from Rosiak.......sounds like Ryan's playing days at MU are behind him.

James' trophy flies in the cockpit - thank you US AIR

A cute story on how Dominic James' Big East Freshman of the Year trophy flew first class...literally...in the cockpit thanks to a US Airways pilot.

Here is the entire story

Media Roundup: MU in the NCAA Tournament

Lets hope MU sticks around for a while because its always fun to read the coverage for the winning team.

Today, Avani Patel of the Chicago Tribune profiles Steve Novak noting that Coach Crean and his own teammates urged him to become more selfish (how often do you hear that from teammates):

That Novak would be willing to be so prolific, though, was a bit of a revelation. Unselfish to a fault, Novak had spent his first three college seasons passing up open shots in order to get his teammates more involved. But this year, at the urging of coach Tom Crean and those very teammates, he has begun to seek his own shot more often. As much as anything, that helps explain why the Golden Eagles (20-10) are back in the NCAA tournament after a two-year absence, a No. 7 seed whose first-round game is Thursday in San Diego against 10th-seeded Alabam (17-12)."In the past, I was really concerned about shooting too much and being considered selfish," Novak said. "That has been probably my biggest flaw."

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune delivers a puff piece on the program, calling MU "the Big East surprise". Here's the article. Let's hope that MU recruit Trevor Mbakwe is reading the paper this morning.

Meanwhile, Todd Rosiak coughs up an article based on the premise that his colleague Michael Hunt delivered in a much more timely fashion after last week's loss to Georgetown in the Big East Tournament -- namely that the early exit last week "might just prove to be the most important game the Golden Eagles have played to this point". Rosiak recovers to analyze the MU/Bama matchup a bit.

Also, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes that Crean is one of the highest paid coaches in the country. What. A. Revelation.

These two articles are part of a five article package prepared by the staff at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Click here to go to the uber-landing page.

On to Alabama. The Birmingham News previews tomorrow's game. Coach Tom Crean notes some of the challenges in facing the tough, athletic Crimson Tide.

"Alabama is taller and a little longer than our wings," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "So that's a concern. They can play both inside and outside. (Jean) Felix, probably 60 percent of his shots are 3s, but he can rebound and slash to the rim. Alabama doesn't have situational players. They've got very versatile players. "
The Hunstsvile Times looks at tomorrow's matchup and finds the Crimson Tide concerned about their own offensive efficiency -- perhaps more concerned about that than slowing down MU:

"We're having to work too hard to score," point guard Ron Steele said, "and you can't win like that." So amid all the concern over stopping Marquette's 6-foot-10 3-pointer shooter Steve Novak, maybe the Tide's greatest concern going into Thursday's first-round game against the Golden Eagles in the NCAA Tournament should be the Tide itself. "We've got to find ways to take better shots and get easy shots," Steele said, "maybe in transition or maybe on offensive rebounds - whatever it takes."

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ken Pomeroy Breaks Down the Brackets

.......on his blog using the "log5-based tourney odds"

I can't explain what it all means, but the numbers say that MU has a 62.35% chance of advancing on Thursday and a 19.94% chance of making it to the Sweet Sixteen.

My advice: turn off the television and study a bit at Ken's site - - fun stuff, especially this time of year.

Check out the post here.

Fans going to San Diego - MU Events

A complete calendar of events for Wednesday and Thursday (including Pep Rally) are listed on the MU website.

Take a look and we will see you in San Diego.

Calendar of events

Remember, no beer is sold during NCAA tournament games. Just a friendly reminder.

Ronald Steele: First-team All-SEC Point Guard

Ronald Steele is the engine that makes the Tide roll, and he might be the best point guard MU has faced this season. Consider what Arkansas coach Stan Heath said about Steele last month:

"If his team is in first place or on national TV all the time, or if he's playing with a Duke uniform on, they're talking about this guy being a lottery pick"

Steele, who has started each of the Tide's 58 games since arriving in Tuscaloosa, demonstrated dramatic improvement from his freshman to sophomore season - - something not lost on UF coach Billy Donovan:

"Steele's game has totally evolved......This year he's getting a chance to showcase everything he can do. He can really score on the dribble, drive it, pull it up. One-on-one, he's as good as anybody in our league in terms of getting his own shot. And he understands how to run a team."

Here's a worthwhile profile of Steele from the Birmingham News.

Meanwhile, SI.com lists Alabama as the most underrated team in the Oakland bracket largely because of Steele and his fellow first team All-SEC teammate, Jermareo Davidson.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama -- home of a dynamite inside/outside combination.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Right In His Backyard - Novak

A Steve Novak story in the Los Angeles Times written by Diane Pucin, a Marquette journalism graduate.

Nice job Diane.

Here is the link- "Right In His Backyard"

Marquette Video Highlights on Yahoo Sports

You will need the Windows Media Player to view this....takes about a minute to download depending on how fast your connection is so be patient.

A hat tip to CaliMU06 on the Ahoya Board.

Click here to view

Dominic James could use your vote

Vote early, vote often (actually you can...vote, click your back button and vote again).

James is in second place right now on ESPN's All American Team for the Point Guard spot.

Click here to vote

In other news, Dominic James was named to the Sporting News All Freshman Team. Congratulations to Mr. James.

Know Your Opponent: Alabama Crimson Tide

Marquette University is dancing again and will travel to San Diego to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday.

Today, we're continuing our 'Know Your Opponent' series thanks to the help of Crimson Tide superfan and regular Rivals poster, matt_bamahoops. Here's the 411 on the Crimson Tide:

This game could become a battle between young point guards - - Dominic James and Ronald Steele. Steele had a breakout season for the Tide, can you break down his game for us?
Steele has always been a pass first guy but when the Tide's leading scorer Chuck Davis went down in the first half of conference opener Steele has been forced into more of a scoring role. Steele averaged playing over 40 minutes a game in conference due to the lack of depth when Chuck Davis went down and Justin Jonus decided mid-season to transfer.

Ron is the Tide's anchor that can hurt you from the outside or off the dribble. He was a unanimous first team All-SEC selection this year. In a nutshell, Ronald Steele is the total package that carries this Alabama team.

Chuck Davis has been out for several months. How did Mark Gottfried overcome the loss of such a key inside player? Who stepped up?
Ronald Steele and Richard Hendrix are the two guys that really stepped up to replace Chuck's presence in the lineup. Steele started looking for his shot more while Richard was forced to log more minutes in the post. Hendrix is a true freshman who was a McDonald's All-American coming out of high school. Hendrix was voted to the All-Freshman SEC team this season averaging 10.7 ppg and 9.3 rebounds per game in conference play.

What best characterizes Alabama's style of play?
Characterizing Bama's style of play is very hard to do because Alabama is a team that has struggled to find its identity all season. It is a team that went to Ole Miss and won in a very slow down game, then turned around a few weeks later and beat the very up tempo Florida Gators and Tennessee Vols. Both games, being forced to play the opposing teams style. So trying to describe Alabama as an up tempo team or a half court team is very hard to say. It seems that unless forced to play up tempo Bama is best when it is in a half court set and Ronald Steele has the ball in his hands trying to break down the defense. Bama's offense is run through Ronald Steele.

Which types of teams/styles of play give Alabama the most trouble? Which teams do they tend to have the most success against?
The style a team plays hasn't really affected Bama this year but teams that have a guy that can really get in Ronald Steele's grill and make him work for his touches are teams that give Bama a difficult time.

Kentucky did a good job of this using Rajon Rondo as the guy to stay on Steele the entire game. This forced Steele (who plays nearly 40 minutes a game for Bama) to get tired and have auncharacteristicstics turnovers late in the game. If a team lets Steele dictate the flow of the game they are in a lot of trouble. Bama is a team that all season has played to the level of its competition. But if a team doesn't have a guy that can slow down Ronald Steele, everyone on Bama's team gets a lot better. Are you guys seeing the key to stopping Bama yet? Haha!

The Tide closed the regular season winning three of your last five, including wins over Tennessee and Florida. Is Bama playing its best ball right now?
You could answer this with a yes but a disappointing loss at Mississippi St. to end the regular season and another loss in SEC tournament to Kentucky are the last two games Alabama has played. Definitely though the games against Tennessee and Florida are the best games Alabama has played this season. This team has been a big mystery all season as to which team shows up.

Jermareo Davidson is a tough, productive big man. Tell us a little about his game.
Jermareo Davidson is a guy that can dominate on the inside when he wants too but at the same time he can be on the floor and you know it know he is out there. He definitely gets pushed around a lot on the inside against guy shouldn't be able to push him around. Davidson tends to fall in love with playing from the outside too much and ends up taking to many 15 foot jumpers and tries to drive from the high post too much.

He is most productive when he gets the ball on the block and goes with a strong drop step or with the jump hook. Jermareo is also a guy that is very good at drawing fouls and hitting the offensive glass. Defensively he can be a force by snagging rebounds and altering shots but if he gets flustered early, especially on the offensive end, he can get into foul trouble, which is something a depleted Alabama lineup cannot afford.

Davidson and Steele are Bama's most notable players. Who else might surprise us on Thursday in San Diego?
Alonzo Gee and Jean Felix make Alabama a different when they both are scoring. Gee kept Bama in the Kentucky game by hitting 3-of-4 from beyond the arc in the 2nd half, scoring 15 2nd half points. Gee is a high energy that if you let him get hot he can really hurt you but like most freshman he can be taken out of a game fairly easily.

Jean Felix is Bama's defensive stopper. He is a 6'7" guy that is athletic enough to stay with just about any guard you put him on to cover. We haven't faced a guy like Novak yet so I am not sure if he will get that assignment considering Novak is 6'10". Felix is also a guy that will shoot you in or out of a ball game. Earlier in conference play he was a whopping 0-7 against Vandy but then drained a one handed shot with 20 seconds remaining to tie the game. If these two guys can combine for 20 points then Alabama becomes a completely different team.

Thanks for your time today Matt!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Marquette is dancing again

Marquette just earned it's 24th NCAA bid in our history and the 39th post season bid overall (that's 9th best in NCAA history).

Marquette received a 7 seed and will play 10th seeded Alabama in the first round. If Marquette wins, we might play UCLA in the second round. The game is in San Diego and yours truly will be there hard to cheer on the Golden Eagles.

The Alabama Crimson Tide enter the tournament with a record of 17-12. The Tide fell to the Kentucky Wildcats in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournmament last week.

We'll go inside the matchups later this week, but in the interim here's a few useful links:

- The official Bama men's basketball site.
- A personal profile of Ronald Steele, the Tide's talented sophomore PG.
- Alabama's Scout.com site covers the NCAA first round matchup here.

Common Opponents (Winthrop, Notre Dame, South Carolina):
-- Here is a recap of Bama's loss at home to Notre Dame back in December. The Irish topped the Tide 78-71.

-- Here is a recap of Bama's win over Winthrop back in December. The Tide rolled 60-57.

-- Here is a recap of the Tide's road loss at South Carolina. The Gamecocks won that battle 67-56 behind Renaldo Balkman's 28 points and 16 boards.

**Marquette went 3-1 against these same common opponents (two wins against the Irish, a loss to Winthrop in Milwaukee, and a victory over the Gamecocks at the GAS).

Analysis: RPI vs. Seed from 2005

As they say in the financial advertisments, past performance is no guarntee of future success.

But if the committee follows the pattern of last season, Big East teams should receive higher seeds than their RPI position would indicate, and lesser conferences will be moved down in the ranks.

From the 2005 data, using teams ranked between 17th and 35th (the 5 through 9 seeds), 10 teams were from the big 6 conferences, 2 from CUSA, and 8 from the mid-major conferneces.

Of the 10 teams from the Big Six, 1 was seeded below expectations, 2 were even, and 7 receved at least one seed improvment over their RPI.

Of the two CUSA teams, Charlotte moved up one spot, Cincy moved down.

Of the 8 remaining teams, 7 moved down. One was even. Not one received a seed above where their RPI would dictate.

Will the committee follow this same pattern? Nobody knows. But the history suggests a good chance that MU will be seeded higher than their current RPI would predict.

RPI Seed Team Variation from RPI

"5" Seeds
17 7 Southern Illinois -2
18 5 Alabama 0
19 4 (Florida) +1
20 4 (Syracuse) +1
Big East and SEC teams treated well. SIU (MVC) was pushed down to a 7 seed.

"6" Seeds
21 5 Michigan St +1
22 8 Pacific -2
23 7 Cincinnati -1
24 6 Utah 0
MSU from the Big Ten improves over where they'd be expected. Pacific--from the Big West--was seeded two places below expectations. Cincy from CUSA was one place below.

"7" Seeds
25 6 Louisiana St. +1
26 13 (Vermont) -6
27 5 Georgia Tech +2
28 6 Texas Tech +1
The pattern is beginning to emerge. Big conference teams move up, while Vermont (from the America East) was displaced an incredible six seeds below where the RPI would dictate.

"8" Seeds
29 10 St. Mary's -2
30 7 Charlotte +1
31 9 Missisippi State -1
32 9 Nevada -1
St. Mary's from the WCC is two places below expectations. Nevada from the WAC one place below--despite a sweet 16 run the year before. Charlotte from CUSA up one. Mississippi State from the SEC was down one.

"9" Seeds
33 11 UTEP -2
34 7 West Virginia +2
35 12 ODU -3
36 9 Pittsburgh 0

Impressions of the Big East Tournament

I had the pleasure of attending the entire BET over the weekend -- what a blast. A few thoughts:

  • -MU fans need to mark their calendars and get out here next year.
  • -MU fans need to wear their colors even after the good guys lose. It was frustrating to see MU fans lose their colors after the loss. Frankly, I received countless compliments about MU's season from fans of opposing Big East programs - - did not get one negative or sarcastic remark (and I was decked out in gold all week).
  • -The buzz from the tournament extends beyond MSG .... folks all around Manhattan were acknowledging fans decked out in their colors.
  • -Fellow Big East fans were nothing but positive towards MU.Big East fans are great.
  • -The karma inside MSG and in Manhattan in general was nothing short of sweet. Its one big party with a bunch of fun folks.
  • -MU is as good as any team in the Big East. The difference between MU and the other teams is marginal -- its all about playing well on game day. The teams are incredibly evenly matched.
  • -Gerry McNamara is god.
  • -Pitt will win the Big East next season. They consistently played better with Krauser on the bench throughout the week.
  • -Syracuse fans represent. Nobody in the Big East compares.
  • -MU's office of alumni relations did a super job of accomodating the MU fan base in NYC -- well done.
  • -MSG is a marvelous venue for this tournament -- great site lines from anywhere in the arena.
  • -MSG absolutely rocks when traditional Big East teams play (particularly UConn and the Cuse).
I already can't wait for next year's BET.

Crean named MJS Coach of the Year

Congratulations to Tom Crean for earning the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Coach of the Year award honors today. Crean's MU squad finished 4th in the Big East despite being picked for 12th by the media and coaches prior to the season. He did it largely with trio of freshmen players and a standout season by senior Steve Novak.

For the complete article click here

Steve Novak - Wisconsin College POY

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel named Steve Novak the Wisconsin college Player of the Year today.

The MJS starting five were:

Steve Novak - Marquette
Joah Tucker - UW-Milwaukee
Alondo Tucker - UW-Madison
Kammron Tayloer - UW-Madison
Dominic James - Marquette

Player of the Year - Novak, Marquette

Newcomer of the Year - James, Marquette

For the complete article click here

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Big East Pool Results - FINAL

Thank you to all 304 participants that participated in our free Big East Tournament Pool sponsored by Cracked Sidewalks.

Amazingly not one person picked Syracuse to win out of the 304 participants.

The winner was BLee who finished with 14 points. Sorry, no prizes but you can tell all your friends!

For the final standings report click here

For Settling your Seeding Arguments:

In order to help settle any debates, bar bets, seeding debates or other general disputes, here's some data on the teams MU is fighting against for seed in the NCAA tournament.

We've identifed the best wins and worst losses for both conference and non conference games.

#19 Missouri State:
Best Win: #23 Northern Iowa
Best non-conf win: #52 UWM
Worst Loss: #45 Arkansas
Last 10: 8-2

#20 Wisconsin:
Best Win #5 Ohio State
Best non-conference win: #28 Marquette
Worst Conference Loss: #172 Purdue
Worst Loss #223 ND State
Last 10: 4-6

#21 NevadaBest Win: #32 Kansas
Best Conference win: #49 Utah State
Worst Loss: #123 St. Marys
Worst Conf. Loss: #122 Fresno State.
Last 10: 10-0

#22 Arizona:
Best Win: #32 Kansas
Best Conference Win: #56 Cal
Worst Loss: #175 Oregon State
Worst N/C Loss: #51 Houston
Last 10: 6-4

#23 Northern Iowa

Best Win: #10 LSU
Best Conference Win: #24 Wichita State
Worst Loss: #163 Indiana State
Norst Non-Conference Loss: #91 Iowa State
Last 10: 4-6

#24 Wichita State
Best Win: #19 Missouri State
Best Non Conference Win: #65 Northwestern State
Worst Loss: #40 Creighton
Norst Non-Conference Loss: #15 Michigan State
Last 10: 7-3

#25: NC Wilmington:
Best N/C Win: #81 Butler
Best Conference Win: #26 George Mason
Worst Conference Loss: #69 ODU
Norst Loss: #189 College of Charleston
Last 10: 9-1

#26 George Mason
Best Win: #24 Wichita State
Best Conference Win: #25 NC Wilmington
Worst Loss: #112 MIssissippi State
Norst Conference Loss:#25 NC Wilmington
Last 10: 8-2

#27 Southern Illinois
Best Win: #19 Missouri State
Best non-Conference Win: #54 Kent
Worst Loss: Non-D1 Alaska Anchorage
Worst Conference Loss: #191 Evansville
Last 10: 6-4

#28 Marquette:
Best Win: #3 UConn
Best Non-Conference Win: #67 South Carolina
Worst Loss: #93 Nebraska
Worst Conference Loss: #75 Rutgers
Last 10: 5-5

#29 Hofstra
Best Win: #26 George Mason
Best Non Conference Win: #105 LaSalle
Worst Loss: #222 Towson
Worst Non Conference Loss:#82 VCU
Last 10: 8-2

#30 Boston College
Best Win: #9 North Carolina
Best Non-Conference Win: #87 Oklahoma State
Worst Loss: #156 Georgia Tech
Worst Conference Loss: #47 Maryland
Last 10: 9-1

#31 Indiana
Best Win: #5 OhioState
Best Non-Conference WIn: #33 Kentucky
Worst Loss: #163 Indiana State
Worst Conf. Loss: #103 Penn State
Last 10: 5-5

#32 Kansas:
Best Win: #15 Oklahoma
Best Non-Conference Win #33 Kentucky
Worst Loss: #138 Missouri
Worst non-conference loss #45 Arkansas
Last 10: 9-1

#33 Kentucky:
Best Win: #34 West Virginia
Best Conference Win: #6 Tennessee
Worst Loss: #72 Vandy
Worst N/C loss: #32 Kansas

#34 West Virginia
Best win: #2 Villanova
Best Non-COnference win: #16 Oklahoma
Worst Loss: #230 Marshall
Worst Conf Loss: #58 Seton Hall
Last 10: 4-6

Friday, March 10, 2006

Big East Pool Results - Semis Completed

Congratulations to Pitt and Syracuse.

The latest results are here

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Marquette falls in second round of Big East Tourney

The Golden Eagles fell tonight to the Georgetown Hoyas 62-59 in the second round of the Big East tournament. Three of the four teams that earned a bye in the BET -- MU, West Virginia, and UConn -- failed to advance on Thursday.

Rosiak's take

AP take


Michael Hunt offers this column on MU's early exit.

Big East Pool Results Round 2 Complete

The results for round 2 are now up.

Click here for round 2 results

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Big East Pool Results Round 1

An amazing 304 of you joined our free tournament pool. Thank you to all of you. We actually received about 325 entries but the software we use kicked out a few as duplicates and I didn't catch them in time. So if you feel you got in legitimately and somehow your nickname isn't showing up, email me at warriornation@earthlink.net with your email receipt of your picks and we will take a look.

The link below has all of the various reports. The Champions Summary tells you how the 304 participants picked the various champions (for example 146 picked UCONN, 2 picked Louisville, etc).

The Tournament Summary report breaks down how each of the 304 selected all the teams to do in various rounds. The Current Standings report is obvious. Only 8 of you got all four winners right today.

Finally the Player Scenarios page has all 304 players and their best possible finish, worst posible finish and who you have to cheer for the rest of the way to get that best possible finish. It also tells you if you have been mathematically eliminated from a top 10 finish.

Best of luck. More results to come tomorrow....late, however as I have to work late here in California.

Click on the link below for the Report Package main page and then on the individual reports to see the actual reports for each one.

2006 Big East Tournament Pool Round One Results

Incidentally, with Louisville's loss tonight they become the new owner of the trivia question "Who is the last team to make the Final Four one year and not make the NCAAs the next year". Marquette was the owner of the dubious title until Louisville with their loss tonight. I believe it is the 9th time in history of the NCAAs that this has happened. UL almost pulled off an amazing comeback and they will be tough next year when those kids mature.

Go Marquette!!

Preview: MU/Georgetown.

The Marquette Golden Eagles will participate in their first Big East tournament game against Georgetown tomorrow, at 2:00 PM.

5th seeded Georgetown earned their place in this game by beating Notre Dame 67-64 in first round action earlier this afternoon. Brandon Bowman scored a season high 25 points to lead the Hoyas.

MU took it easy today, earning the first round bye on the basis of beating Georgetown in their only head-to-head matchup back on February 16th. The Golden Eagles won that game 57-51. In that game Tom Crean's switching defenses confused the Hoyas, taking away what was thought to be a huge Georgetown inside advantage. After star big man Roy Hibbert started the game with six points in three minutes, MU shut him down, taking him largely out of the offense. When the game turned into a contest between MU vs. Georgetown guards, MU prevailed.

Since that February contest, Tom Crean has regained the services of inside players Jamil Lott and Mike Kinesella. Neither played against Georgetown--Lott because of an appendix and Kinsella due to Mono. Both players are back as part of the active roster for Tom Crean, although the team has been playing well without them.

Chris Grimm, who was averaging about 7 mpg prior to playing the Hoyas, had a coming out party against Georgetown and has been averaging nearly 15 mpg since then. Look to him and Ousmane Barro to anchor the inside. Wesley Matthews, who scored just 2 points in the earlier matchup (his fourth game back after a stress fracture), appears to have regained his shooting stroke, pouring in 18 in the season finale against Providence, and tallying double figures in three of the four games since last facing the Hoyas.

Expect to see the primary offensive attack led by Big East Rookie of the Year Dominic James and First Teamer Steve Novak. But don't be surprised if an additional scoring punch comes from someone like Jerel McNeal, Dan Fitzgerald, or Joe Chapman. In any given game, any of these players can go off for a big night.

The game will be test of how well MU can shake off the rust and take advantage of the fatigue factor. Georgetown is playing on one day's rest, while MU hasn't played since Saturday. MU has had mixed results when coming back off a long rest--a disaster against Rutgers, but a masterful performance on the road against Notre Dame.

Finally, Tom Crean is a master at scouting the other team and his game preparation. In the three previous repeat games this season, MU's performance has improved in each of them.
--DePaul: Improved from a 3 point win to a 15 point blowout.
--Notre Dame: From a last second win to a comfortable 8 point victory.
--Pitt: Went from a 7 point loss to a 6 point win.
This season, through good preparation or sheer will and determination. Crean has the Eagles playing better the second time they face a team.

Oh, Yeah. Rutgers won. 61-48

Tonight, during their Atlantic 10 Conference Showcase Game of the Week Big East Tournament (!!!!) game, Seton Hall planned to show the NCAA selection committee that their win over Pitt last week was no fluke.

Instead, the lackluster play of both teams (Seton Hall shot a record low 25.4% for the game) in prime time left basketball fans across the country scratching their heads wondering why anybody called this conference the best in college basketball.

Donald Copeland outscored the rest of the Pirates 28 - 20.

Rutgers outscored Copeland 61-28.

For both teams, the NIT's not that bad. Really. Just don't lose to Western Michigan, or you'll never hear the end of it.

It's Georgetown 67-63

Georgetown recovered from a cold start to take their first round matchup with Notre Dame, and therefore earned the chance to become MU's first victim opponent in the 2006 Big East Tournament.

Georgetown survived a Notre Dame comeback in the last moment of play, following the script that has guided the Irish most of this season. Down by 5 with under two minutes to go, ND took advantage of a Russell Carter three point shot and a Torin Francis three point play to come within a point of Georgetown 64-63 with 44 seconds to play. Georgetown's Brandon Bowman scored on the ensuing possession, and Notre Dame was unable to get points from the floor or the free throw line. Russell Carter went to the line with 9 seconds to go, and missed the front end of a one-and-one, Georgetown got the board and made one more free throw for the final margin.

Notre Dame got of to a hot start, scoring the first 11 points--led by a pair of treys from former MU recruiting target Colin Falls. GTown was ice cold, held scoreless until nearly 6 1/2 minutes into the game. At one point, they missed five straight shots on a single possession (don't know if the Hoyas will be proud or embarrassed by that performance).

Georgetown came roaring back, taking the lead 27-26 on a Brandon Bowman three point play with 1:09 left in the half. Notre Dame settled down, and scored on back-to-back possessions to take a 30 to 27 lead at the half.

Georgetown started the 2nd half strong, running off 7 straight points to build a 35-30 lead.

Orange Draw First Juice--74-73 over Cincy.

Syracuse looked to have the game well in hand with about 12:30 to go in the 2nd half--leading 57-44. An 11-3 run by the Bearcats put them right back in the game, and they went on to take the lead with under 4:00 to go.

UC still held a lead when Jerry McNamara hit a 3 point shot just before time expired gave the game to the Orange.

The win helps the Orange in the hunt for an NCAA bid. Considered a bubble team, Syracuse needs to make a run in the Big East tournament to secure a bid. That run may be tough--next up is UConn.

The Bearcats were considered a pretty safe NCAA team coming in.

Big East Tournament Begins: Media Roundup

Post-Season Awards
Todd Rosiak profiles Dominic James, the reigning Big East Rookie of the Year. UConn's Jim Calhoun notes in the article that James "was as good as, in my opinion, almost any player in the league."

Frank Burlison of FoxSports named Dominic James to his Freshman All-American team. According to Burlison, DJ "was easily the most influential newcomer in the Big East Conference." Tom Crean earned honorable mention for coach of the year. Read about it here.

Big East Tournament Previews
The guys over at Back Seat Drivers project the winners in the BET (and have MU losing to ND tomorrow). Check it out here.

The New York Sun offers one of the best tourney previews on the Web. John Hollinger notes that "The Golden Eagles fared the best of the league's five new entrants (Louisville, DePaul, Cincinnati, and South Florida were the others), and look to be a team on the rise. Marquette's prize recruiting class of guards Dominic James, Jerel McNeal, and Wes Matthews averages 35 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists combined." Read it here.

MSNBC says that the Big East Tournament "promises to be a doozy". MU gets mad props as well, "Marquette was the only one of the five new members from Conference USA (Louisville, South Florida, Cincinnati and DePaul were the others) to earn a first-round bye. The Golden Eagles prevailed in a three-team tiebreaker with Pittsburgh and Georgetown for the fourth seed."

The SportsNetwork previews the BET and picks UConn to take home the title.

MarquetteHoops previews the Garden Party here.

Georgetown Takes on ND: Previews
MU will be watching today's ND/Georgetown game with great interest. MU faces the winner on Thursday at 2pm EST.

Georgetown is coming off of a disappointing loss at USF to close out the regular season. The player to watch today for Georgetown is sophomore Jeff Green. According to the Washington Times, "For close followers of the program, perhaps the most disturbing part of team's failure in Tampa was that it continued a trend that has been evident during the last two seasons: When Green struggles, for whatever reason, the Hoyas struggle, no matter the caliber of competition. In several of Green's other sub-par games this season, sophomore center Roy Hibbert has stepped in to accept the team's go-to mantle. But rarely has the void been filled by one of the team's logical leaders -- seniors Owens, Brandon Bowman and Ashanti Cook."

Brandon Bowman shows off stateman-like qualities in today's Washington Post, noting "Throughout the whole season, you're talking about all of these teams that can beat anyone.....I think that's pretty much been shown throughout the whole season so far. Now it's a new season, every team in it has new life. It's like everyone is 0-0. Every team is going to be gunning for that championship, and everyone is capable of winning it."

Meanwhile, Notre Dame closed the regular season with back to back victories that warmed the cockles of Digger Phelps' heart --- and sent him scurrying to Office Depot to get a truckload of lime green highlighters to match his ties. Could there be a let down by the Irish today? The Irish struggled all season to punch a ticket to MSG and are "happy just to be playing." Despite the disappointing season in South Bend, Mike Brey and the Irish have high expectations for the games at MSG. Just ask Rick Cornett how far ND can go this week, "Sky's the limit" he said.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Dominic James Wins Big East Rookie of the Year. Crean, Novak fall short for COY and POY.

Congratulations to Dominic!

2005-06 BIG EAST Awards
Player of the Year: Randy Foye, Villanova
Coach of the Year: Jay Wright, Villanova
Rookie of the Year: Dominic James, Marquette
Defensive Player of the Year: Hilton Armstrong, Connecticut
Most Improved Player: Aaron Gray, Pittsburgh
Sportsmanship Award: Chris Quinn, Notre Dame

James is unanimous ROY, Crean is COY

According to the Big East bloggers, as tabulated by the Big East Basketball Report.

Click here to read more.

Click here to read the Cracked Sidewalks ballot.

Dominic James was a unanimous selection for Rookie of the Year -- deservedly so. Steve Novak was named to the Big East first team. James earned a second team all-conference nod.

Jerel McNeal was second team all-freshman and Wesley Matthews was third team all-freshman.

Marquette in NYC: Big East Tournament Events Begin Today

MU fans in NYC, welcome! For info on MU's programming for the BET, pls review our post from late last month -- it has a complete rundown of all events.

The festivities begin this evening at the Doubletree Suites in Times Square. MU will host the 'Marquette in New York Reception' from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. in the Off-Broadway Room on the 5th floor of the hotel.

Enjoy, and welcome to New York!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Our 2005-2006 All-Big East Ballot

On Tuesday over at the Big East Basketball Report the collection of Big East bloggers will hand out virtual hardware to the conference's outsanding performers. Each blogger was asked to submit a POY and ROY, along with a first, second and third team for all-Big East, and two teams for all-rookie.

Please note that POY and ROY selections were submitted in addition to the five player teams. For instance, we selected Novak as the POY so he did not appear on our first-team listing. Trust me, it will make sense on Tuesday.

Here's ballot that Cracked Sidewalks submitted:

Conference POY: Steve Novak (20.4ppg, 7.1 rpg in conference play. Led league in FT%. Set new Big East 3-point record while leading league's surprise team. Scored 20 or more points 9 times in conference play -- and delivered the greatest individual performance in Big East history)

Rookie of the Year: Dominic James (easiest selection on the entire ballot)

Coach of the Year: Tom Crean (4th place finish despite seven newcomers and several key injuries, including losing one starter for half of conference play. Pre-season pick to finish 12th)

Defensive POY: Eric Hicks (premier shotblocker and enforcer in nation's toughest league)

Most Improved Player: Aaron Gray (went from Erin Gray to Aaron Gray in just one season)

First Team:
Eric Hicks (toughest player in the Big East)
Quincy Douby (insane scorer could have used more help)
Randy Foye (best guard in the nation's best backcourt)
Aaron Gray (led league in double-doubles)
Rudy Gay (up and down player with incredible versatility)

Second Team:
Dominic James (could be Big East's top returning scorer if Douby goes pro)
Allen Ray (solid senior.....clutch performer)
Mike Gansey (the Steve Novak of Morgantown)
Chris Quinn (gutty guard who scored and dished)
Kevin Pittsnogle (if he had a few more tattoos, he'd be on the first team)

Third Team:
Marcus Williams (played better week by week upon his return)
Donald Copeland (McNamara wishes he was as good as Cope)
Jeff Green (JTIII's most productive player)
Josh Boone (thought he was a shoe-in for the first team back in November)
Kelly Whitney (talented forward was $$ for the Pirates all season)

Big East All-Rookie First Team
Wilson Chandler (played great after his suspension)
Jerel McNeal (fearless player)
Wesley Matthews (closed strong despite early injury)
Geoff McDermott (tough as nails strongman)
Eric Devendorf (played with the savvy and moxie of an upper classman)

Big East All-Rookie Second Team
Sharaud Curry (biggest rookie surprise?)
Anthony Farmer (underrated backcourt leader)
JR Inman (injury robbed him of a complete season)
Jeff Adrien (under-recruited -- but a force as a freshman)
Devan Downey (played his best before conference play began)

Steve Novak: Unanimous All-Big East Selection

Congratulations to Steve Novak, a unanimous selection to the 2005-2006 all-Big East team. Novak joins Villanova guards Allen Ray and Randy Foye, as well as UConn forward Rudy Gay as unanimous selections to the squad. Those guys are in great company with Steve!

The other players selected to the Big East first team were: Mike Gansey and Kevin Pittsnogle of WVU, Eric Hicks of Cincinnati, Chris Quinn of Notre Dame, Aaron Gray of Pitt, Quincy Douby of Rutgers and Gerry McNamara of Syracuse (which I can't figure out .... he didn't deserve this slot).

The Big East POY will be announced on Tuesday .

Congratulations to Dominic James, a unanimous selection to the 2005-2006 Big East all-freshmen team. Jerel McNeal was also selected to the squad. Earlier today, James was selected as the conference's Rookie of the Week for the sixth time this season.

Devan Downey of Cincy and Wilson Chandler of DePaul were also unanimous selections. Joining James, Downey and Chandler on the 11-man all-freshman team are: Jeff Adrien of UConn, Sam Young of Pitt, McNeal, Sharaud Curry and Geoff McDermott of Providence, JR Inman and Anthony Farmer of Rutgers and Eric Devendorf of Syracuse.

The Big East ROY will be announced on Tuesday.

Read about it here.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Enter our Big East Tournament Pool

We're hosting a Big East Tournament pool for free. No money involved, just for fun although if we can find a cool prize (t-shirt) or something we will see what we can do. Click on the link below to enter your picks. Only your nickname will be used to post the standings.

Every first round game is worth 1 point

Every second round game is worth 2 points

Every third round game is worth 4 points

Championship game is worth 8 points

First tiebreaker is closest to the final score of the championship game.

All picks must be done by 11:00am EST on Wednesday, March 8th. Limit of one entry per person.

Best of luck


The accolades begin to roll in for Marquette

The Danbury News-Times begins the litany of post-season accolades for the Big East and Marquette is well represented.

Coach of the Year: Tom Crean

Of all the post-season awards, this was the toughest to handicap down the stretch.....it’s Crean, the former Pittsburgh and Michigan State assistant, who deserves this award. With six freshmen and just one returning player who started more than 10 games last year, Crean dealt UConn its worst loss of the season, 94-79, in the Big East opener Jan. 3. Crean also took a team that was picked 12th in the Big East’s preseason poll and positioned it nicely for an NCAA tournament berth at 19-9, 9-6 entering this weekend.

Rookie of the Year: Dominic James

Unlike the race for coach of the year, Marquette point guard Dominic James lapped the field for this award. James, a 5-foot-10 freshman from Indiana, is averaging 15.6 points and 5.3 assists this year. Both figures lead all Big East freshmen. What’s more, James ranks among the top 15 scorers in the Big East and ranks third in assists behind Notre Dame’s Chris Quinn (6.0 apg) and McNamara (5.6 apg). With five Big East Rookie of the Week awards, James has proven he can play at a high level consistently.
Dominic James is the easy choice as the Big East Rookie of the Year. Tom Noie of the South Bend Tribune also agrees.....and he places Steve Novak on the all-conference team as well. Jerel McNeal was selected as second team all-rookie by Noie-- which is pure insanity when you compare Jerel's numbers to those of Devan Downey and Sharaud Curry -- and realize which player helped his team dramatically overachieve this season.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Want a few chills? - Very, Very Cool

If you weren't able to make it, Alum91 over on the Ahoya board captured today's senior introductions.

Starting line-up introductions videos here

Video salute to the seniors after the game

Tom Crean addresses the crowd / Chris Grimm

Chapman and Novak address the crowd

Nicely done Alum91 and the RingOutAhoya board

MU earns first round bye to Big East Tournament!

MU's win today, coupled with USF's upset of Georgetown this evening, puts MU in a 3-way tie for 4th place in the Big East conference.

Marquette, Georgetown and Pittsburgh all finish with 10-6 records. But with it's victory over Georgetown and split over the Panthers, MU holds the tiebreaker.

Much more to follow this week leading up to the Big East Tournament. . . .


AP Photo

Twenty wins for MU, led by #20's (Steve Novak) twenty points. Marquette knocks off Providence on Senior Day to finish 10-6 in the Big East and 20-9 for the regular season. A tremendous accomplishment for Marquette, it's players and coaching staff in their first year in the Big East. Congratulations to all of them.

MU will be either the 5th or 4th seed in the Big East tournament starting on Wednesday. If South Florida can beat Georgetown tonight, the Golden Eagles will earn a bye and play on Thursday as the 4th seed. If the Bulls cannot muster their first win of the year, then MU will be the 5th seed and play probably Louisville or Notre Dame on Wednesday.

MU was led by Steve Novak's 20 points and 6 three pointers. Wes Matthews finished with 18 while Barro and McNeal each chipped in 13 for the winning team.

Novak score 17 of his 20 points in the second half including 11 points in a five minute span to put MU in the driver's seat. Coach Crean pulled Novak out of the game with 19 seconds left as the Bradley Center crowd roared with approval. Novak shattered the Big East record this year for most three pointers made in a season and could very well have played his way into a NBA career. But first he and Marquette have some other business to take care of. The Big East Tournament next week and what appears to be a sure bid to the NCAA tournament next Sunday.

Seniors Joe Chapman, Chris Grimm, and Steve Novak were all honored after the game. These are the final three players remaining from MU's Final Four run from 2003. Todd Rosiak has a nice article on the three freshman below and Cracked Sidewalks also honored all three this week with various postings. Check them out below. A crowd of 18,712 were there to honor the three of these young men. We are all very proud!

Journal Sentinel recap

GoMarquette.com recap

One Last Dance - Salute to Seniors from MJS

AP game recap


Friday, March 03, 2006

Steve Novak selected by SI as #1 individual performance

Great accolade for Marquette and Steve Novak.

Sports Illustrated selects Novak's 41 point performance against UCONN as the best individual performance this year.

Click here for the SI site reference

Cracked Sidewalks Salute to the Seniors: Steve Novak

As we approach Senior Day, Cracked Sidewalks will honor this year’s senior class with our thoughts and memories of their finest MU moments. As we lead up to their last Bradley Center appearance on Saturday against the Providence Friars, let's take time to reflect on Chris Grimm, Joe Chapman and Steve Novak. Here's the schedule:

Thursday: Chris Grimm
Friday: Joe Chapman
Saturday: Steve Novak

Today's Honoree: Steve Novak


That is the short staccato delivery of Steve "the Homer" True, MU's play-by-play annoucement, as he announces another Steve Novak three point basket. Why "money"? Because with a .446 3 point shooting percentage, a Steve Novak three that goes in is as close to a sure thing as you can ge.

Much to the delight of MU fans, Homer has had to deliver that line 104 times so far this season.

Consider this: A small percentage of Steve Novak's shots actually draw iron. Usually that's a sign of a bricklayer--with Novak, it's a reflection of the accuracy of his shooting. His shots rarely hit the rim as they swish through the net.

Early on, MU fans knew Steve was going to be a special player. He was heavily recruited, and a final flurry of recruiting visits to the likes of Florida, North Carolina and Illinois kept fans on pins and needles. But the news came in on July 18th that Novak picked MU.

Steve's shooting touch was evident early on in his MU career. His very first came came against the highly touted Villanova freshman class. Showing no fear, Novak calmly went out in his first game as a collegiate and shot 2 for 3 beyond the arc. Three games later (against Eastern Illinois), he showed the Free Throw form that would later show up as best-ever shooting percentage in the NCAA, making the first pair of shots from the charity stripe.

If there's any criticism that was leveled against Steve it was that he was one dimensional. And for three years, one might have begun to belive that was the case. But his senior year, he's stepped up big time, with significant improvments in defense, rebounding, and ball handling. He's demonstrated the signs of becoming a complete player his senior year, becomming only the sixth player in MU history to tally 1000 points AND 500 rebounds. He's among MU's top 10 scorers of all time. Holds the record for 3 point shots made and attempted. And, of course, FT shooting.

There's not much more that can be said about Steve. Just this week, we've covered him here. And here, and here.

Selecting just three career highlighs is tough. But several performances stand out amongh others.
 His perfection against Missouri in the classic overtime game during the 2003 Final Four run helped MU against a scrappy opponent. Even though most credited that season to Dwyane Wade, our march to the final four never would have occured without Steve's clutch shooting against the Tigers.
 His league record 41 points against UConn in MU's first-ever Big East matchup, which has been recoginzed by the Big East as their top moment of the season. Of all the great players who have played in the Big East, holding this scoring record is truly a great accomplishment.
 His last second game winner against Notre Dame during the 05-06 season. There's nothing so exciting in college basketball as a game winning shot made as time expires. And a game winner against Notre Dame is even more special. Novak's shot is eaily the most memorable Notre Dame moment since Doc Rivers' half court game-winner in 1980-81.

Thanks for the memories, Steve.

Cracked Sidewalks Salute to the Seniors: Joe Chapman

As we approach Senior Day, Cracked Sidewalks will honor this year’s senior class with our thoughts and memories of their finest MU moments. As we lead up to their last Bradley Center appearance on Saturday against the Providence Friars, let's take time to reflect on Chris Grimm, Joe Chapman and Steve Novak. Here's the schedule:

Thursday: Chris Grimm
Friday: Joe Chapman
Saturday: Steve Novak

Today's Honoree: Joe Chapman

Joe Chapman's mark on the 2002-06 Golden Eagle squads is that he's the guy who stepped up when least expected and most needed to help reverse a rough stretch for his team. His typical demeanor is quiet leadership on the court, and more than once has left MU fans scratching their heads wondering when he scored? You don't always see him on the court, but he always makes his presence known--often when it's most desparitly needed.

A good example is the recent game against Georgetown. The Hoyas had a 2 point lead late in the game, and MU was inbounding off a Georgetown turnover. Everyone in the Bradley Center knew that the next shot would be from Novak. Nope--the ball finds its way into Joe Champman's hands, where he sinks a trey to put MU up for good. That's the type of play Joe Champan will be remembered for.

Joe, an inside player in his HS days at Bloom Township High School near Chicago, annouced he would attend MU on August 13th, 2001. Back then, fans were still buzzing over the recent commitments from Chris Grimm and Steve Novak, and loved the fact that he was from the same south suburban Chicago basketball hotbed that produced other current MU players--including Dwyane Wade, Odartey Blankson, Ron Howard and Kevin Menard.

MU was the first school to send him a letter, and Tom Crean liked what he saw as early as Joe's sophomore year. Joe picked MU over Bradley, Illinois, Illinois State, Indiana, Michigan State and Xavier.

Knowing that his future was in the Guard in collge, his coach made the switch after his sophomore year. Quoted in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal: His AAU coach Ron Newquist said "After his sophomore year, I put him on the wing in the 2 (shooting guard) and 3 (small forward) positions. That's when he started to get noticed. People got to see him do some different things and he opened some eyes."

Joe has been a two-time winner of MU's "Hit the Deck" award--given the the player who takes the most charges in practice. Many of his career highs came against tough opponents. 21 points came against the 40 minutes of hell UAB defense. He set his career high for steals against Louisville. His career high of 7 boards was against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Okak, his FTs made and attempted came in a 7-8 night against Savannah State, but he went 6-6 against UConn on his #2 performance. More often than not, you could count on Joe stepping it up against the better teams.

Cracked Sidewalks' 3 favorite Joe Champan Moments:

 Playing his guts out (literally) to lead MU to a road win at St. Louis his junior year. In the waning minutes, and while suffering from a bad case of the flu that left him vomiting on the sidelines, Joe calmy sank a 3 pointer with 13.3 seconds to go to give MU the win.
 His tremendous effort in the first game of the 2005 Great Alaska Shootout that saved MU's season. Coming off a somewhat expected (yet still embarassing) loss to Winthrop in the Blue and Gold Classic, Joe poured in 17 points to lead MU to the win over Eastern Washington. No the competition wasn't great, but that win propelled MU to a GAS championship, and laid the foundation for a team that didn't give up after that early rough stretch.
 His six points, five rebounds, and two assists coming off the bench in the first round of the 2003 NCAA tournament against Holy Cross. Everyone gives Travis Diener credit for pulling the team up when Dwyane Wade had a tough game--but without Joe's clutch play, MU would have been just another early round upset victim.

Thanks for the memories, Joe!