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

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Television Galore

The Big East Conference announced today a major television deal with ESPN that will thrust the conference into the television sets of sports fans across the country.

What does this mean for Marquette? Plenty. The six year extension to the television contract means television and the dollars associated with the contract are set until 2013-14 season. It also means MU basketball will be on television on a NATIONAL platform with great regularity. For example, EVERY MU Big East men's basketball game will be on television. For that matter, every BIG EAST intra-conference game will be televised.

This is great news for MU in terms of exposure, recruiting and dollars.

Here is an excerpt from today's press conference:

Every single intra-conference men's basketball contest will be televised. As a result, the BIG EAST Conference and its 16 members will reach more households than any other conference in the country. Specifically, ESPN will produce 139 of the 144 available regular season BIG EAST intra-conference men's basketball games - all except those five games belonging to CBS -- and will televise those contests on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPN Regional (ERT), ESPNU or ESPN360.

ESPN or ESPN2 will broadcast a minimum of 64 BIG EAST games each year: 49 regular season games (41 conference and eight home non-conference) and all 11 BIG EAST Championship games. Consequently, the BIG EAST will have four to five games broadcast on ESPN or ESPN2 each week during the conference season.

The BIG EAST will continue to be the only conference in the country to have each and every one of its men's basketball tournament games televised by ESPN. There were record audiences for the 2006 BIG EAST Championship, including the final game, which was the highest-rated cable tournament final of the year (2.58).

In addition, ESPN Regional will carry a minimum of 80 games (66 conference and 14 home non-conference) and continue its weekend Game of the Week package, which reaches approximately 30 percent of the nation's homes and has a total household reach of more than 30 million. Most games offered by ERT are also available nationally as part of ESPN Full Court, the pay subscription college basketball outer-market service.

Many of the games will be on ESPNU so if your cable company doesn't have it...call them and complain. Otherwise DIRECTV has it at an affordable rate.

To read the complete press release at BigEast.org please click.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Who deserves a bobblehead?

Hey, I have no idea but a commenter - - the mysterious Anonymous once again - - wonders:

Will MU follow recent history and offer a Steve Novak Bobblehead? If so, who else on the above list (the post on the 2008 roster) will be bobblehead worthy in the future? What earns a bobble head?
This is the latest in a series of major issues we take head-on here at the blog. What say you all?

Scholarship Assessment

These really are the dog days of summer......not much to report. BTW, if you haven't checked out the Q/A that MU had with new assistant coach Jerry Sichting, take a look here.

While we wait on news about the final schedule for the 2006-2007 season as well as recruiting news (Jerai Grant and others will visit MU in a few weeks), here's a quick recap of what the team might look like in 2008-2009, with Mbakwe now in the mix:

Dominic James
Jerel McNeal
Dwight Burke
Wesley Matthews

Maurice Acker
Lazar Hayward
David Cubillan

Scott Christopherson
Trevor Mbakwe
2007 recruit TBD

Nick Williams
2008 recruit TBD
2008 recruit TBD

Even with Mbakwe, out of the ten players listed above, only two of them (Mbakwe, Burke) play inside. Lets hope TC fills out the 2007 class with another talented big man.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Marquette Basketball: The Benchmark for Program Marketing

Here's an article I never thought I'd see . . . Marquette being recognized as the benchmark for how to market a college basketball program. This article validates what many of us have noticed in the last decade -- MU is not only committed to big-time basketball, they are equally committed to providing a sense of excitement, pride, and owndership in the program to its key constituencies. Bravo, MU.

Here's the article by Lauren Reynolds at ESPN.COM, and a key excerpt.

Without a population in the millions to draw from (like other multi-sport cities), there are often more sporting options than fans. Attracting a consistent crowd for Marquette basketball games at the Bradley Center has been a lesson in creativity for the athletic department.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Nankivil Commits to University of Wisconsin-Madison

Keaton Nankivil, the highly sought-after PF from Madison Memorial High School, verbally committed to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Nankivil chose UW-Madison over MU and BC. Good luck Keaton.

Marquette, having already secured a verbal from talented PF Trevor Mbakwe, still is actively recruiting a number of power forwards for the 2007 freshman class. Jerai Grant is expected to visit MU next month, as is George Goode.

MU ranked #20 in Katz' Summer Preview

MU continues to get off-season love from the gang in Bristol.

Here's the link to Katz' preview of the 2006-2007 Marquette Golden Eagles - - nothing groundbreaking, though Katz calls this group of teams his Final Four darkhorses. Expectations are justifiably high for MU rah rah.

And hey - maybe this year's squad can punctuate the 30th anniversary of MU's national championship with a trip of their own to the Final Four in Atlanta, MU's favorite home away from home (unless the Final Four is ever hosted at the Bradley Center South, aka Allstate Arena).

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Crean hires Jerry Sichting to replace Panaggio

Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is reporting that Marquette coach Tom Crean has hired Jerry Sichting to replace the departing Dan Panaggio as assistant coach. Here is the MarquetteHoops article on the hiring.

Sichting is a 10-year NBA veteran and has 10 years experience as an assistant coach in the NBA as well. Sichting played on one of the great NBA teams of all-time, the 1986 Boston Celtics. Earlier Sichting starred at Purdue, and now is a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. Interestingly, Sichting followed in the footsteps of John Wooden, who also prepped at Martinsville High School before moving on to Purdue.

Most recently, Sichting worked with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Jerry's son, Jared, was a walk-on at Marquette during the magical MU run to the Final Four in 2003. Jerry's primary role on the staff will be with player development and in-game strategy.

According to Rosiak, Panaggio is leaving Marquette to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers' NBDL team, the D-Fenders.

Congrats to Coach Dan and thanks for your invaluable year of service at Marquette!

Welcome to Marquette, Jerry!

Way to go, Coach Crean, on yet another homerun hire....an assistant coach with an NBA pedigree!

OT: McIlvaine saves Camp Anokijig

Last year we posted here about Jim McIlvaine's efforts to save Camp Anokijig from a developer's clutches. Looks like its Mission Accomplished for the Friends of Camp Anokijig - - the camp is thriving this summer with a record 2,100 kids participating in the 80th year of this Wisconsin tradition.

Well done, Jim.

Monday, August 14, 2006

One Scholarship Left: Will Nankivil Decide Soon?

After last week's verbal commitment from 6'8" power forward Trevor Mbakwe, Tom Crean is left with one more tender for the 2007 freshman class. So, who will join Mbake and the talented Scott Christopherson as freshmen in 2007?

There's plenty of Internet chatter about Keaton Nankivil's upcoming decision. Nankivil indicated earlier this summer that he would decide before his senior year began. He'll choose between Marquette, Boston College and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Without a doubt, a Mbakwe/Nankivil frontline would be the envy of any coach in the country. Given the loads of talent that MU has in the pipeline, particularly in the backcourt, high-ceiling post players like Nankivil and Mbakwe could potentially become impossible matchups at the next level.

Waiting in the wings are Idris Hilliard, Jerai Grant, DeJuan Blair, and George Goode though its unclear if MU has offered a scholarship to any of these players (Scout.com indicates that MU has not extended an offers any of these players -- yet).

A new name to appear on MU's radar is 6'5", 230 pound PF Tim Flowers from Chicago Simeon. Per this Bullseye blurb, Flowers has apparently attracted plenty of attention from MU after his strong performances last month.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

MU lands Big Man from Minnesota

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is reporting that Tom Crean has landed prize recruit Trevor Mbakwe, a 6-8 power forward out of Mendota Heights, MN. In the RCSI pre-season ranking for the class of 2007 Mbakwe ranks 67th.

MU landed the big man over the likes of Georgetown, Illinois, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Florida, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Michigan and Kentucky (although early word out of Madison is that Bo Ryan had cooled on Mbakwe).

Crean has been under pressure from some for not brining in a blue-chip big man with one of his 2007 scholarships. Landing Mbakwe should quiet some of the critics.

Mbakwe cited Tom Crean's proven track record of developing talent as a key factor in his decision:

"He's put Dwyane Wade, Travis Diener and Steve Novak in (the NBA), and Dominic James is most likely going to be there in a couple years," said Mbakwe. "A lot of guys wouldn't have pictured Travis Diener or Steve Novak in the NBA coming out of high school. They came a long way."
MU is looking for another frontcourt player with it's final scholarship for 2007, and has been recruiting Keaton Nankivil out of Madison Memorial, Idris Hilliard from The Hun School in Princeton, NJ, and Jerai Grant out of Hyattsville, MD. The Journal-Sentinel reports that MU is also pursuing PF George Goode out of Raytown, MO while some internet reports have MU after PF DeJuan Blair of Schenley high school in Pittsburgh as well.

Mbakwe's profile on Scout.com, and on Rivals.com

Rivals.com has two videos of Trevor Mbakwe here (subscription required).

- Here's the Pioneer Press (MN) on the verbal.

- Here is the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on the latest high school basketball star to leave the Land of 10,000 Lakes for the desirable hoops zip code of 53233.

- Here is Ring Out Ahoya! on the Mbakwe decision.

- Here is Scout.com's interview with Mbakwe (subscribers only)

Finally, a photo of Trevor (#42) battling for a rebound during a game last season.

Welcome to Marquette, Trevor!

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Bradley Center Rocks

I admit it, I'm going through basketball withdrawl. With no MU basketball since April, I've been lookin' for a fix . . . . and found a gem on Youtube, courtesy of world-renowed Alum91.

Check out this fantastic clip from Senior Day back in March -- the opening of the MU/PC game.

Wow, the Bradley Center is electric --- MU fans are loud, passionate and completely into the game for the duration here. Its no wonder that MU averaged 14,000 per game last season (can you say 16K in 06-07?!) and wins at the BC with impressive regularlity - - - even against the nation's best.

This is one great college basketball environment. This is Marquette.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Looking Ahead: MU's Scholarship Situation

With inspiration from the bright mind of Marq2000, lets have some fun with scholarship projections for the MU program. With the talented Nick Williams now in the mix -- two years from now -- here's a quick assessment of what the team might look like in 2008-2009 when he arrives on campus:

Dominic James
Jerel McNeal
Dwight Burke
Wesley Matthews

Maurice Acker
Lazar Hayward
David Cubillan

Scott Christopherson
2007 recruit TBD
2007 recruit TBD

Nick Williams
2008 recruit TBD
2008 recruit TBD

Now, there's no way MU's roster will look like this in 2008 (but a guy can dream right?). There's already plenty of Internet buzz about Dominic James leaving MU after just one or two more seasons, and we've yet to see the best that McNeal or Matthews have to offer. Let's face it, these three guys will make a living playing the game and James, at least James, will be gone before the 2008 season rolls around.

But I digress. Tom Crean's strategy of early commitments in the backcourt is a reason for great optimism. This program is built on superior guard play, with guards who can not only score -- but can rebound and defend as well. Based on reports, Nick Williams fits that mold perfectly.

The biggest gap in the rundown above are post players. Out of the nine players listed above, only one of them (Burke) plays inside. Conventional wisdom holds that Crean will push to sign one or two post players for the 2007 freshman class. If things break MU's way with the 2007 class, these bigs will be the anchor for the program down the road. Clearly there's a huge opportunity for talented bigs at MU not only because of available playing time, but also the opportunity to play on a roster that will keep the floor spread and provide skilled post players with room to operate down low.

However, Crean has also shown a willingness to adapt - - if he does not get the post player he wants, he'll go JUCO for a serviceable big man which provides him with two advantages: 1) a big man who can likely contribute something immediately; and 2) these scholarships are only tied up for two years, rather than four -- leaving the coaching staff with greater roster flexibility to address early NBA entries or transfers.

Still, lets get some high school bigs for 2007 -- and balance things out.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Recruit Commits for 2008: Nick Williams

While speculation swirls around who Tom Crean will sign from the high school class of 2007, he's got a head start on 2008.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nick Williams, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound guard from Le Flore High School in Mobile, Ala. has verbally committed to the Golden Eagles. According to his high school coach, "he just decided he wanted to go to a pure basketball school where he has the best chance of development."

Thursday's Mobile Press-Register covers the surprising verbal commitment here.

Williams reportedly picked MU over a slew of elite programs, including Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Cincinnati, Florida State, Mississippi, Mississippi State and Miami, with Florida, Kansas and Connecticut reportedly showing interest as well.

Williams' profile on Rivals and the Ring Out Ahoya article on the commitment. Here's the Journal Sentinel's article from the Thursday paper. And Williams' profile on Scout.

MarquetteHoops notes that Williams is rated as a four-star prospect by recruiting analyst Dave Telep.

Finally, Google's cache of an article from local columnist Mike Herndon in Everything Alabama. In the article, Herndon refers to Williams as one of best players ever out of Mobile.

Congratulations to Tom Crean and his staff on landing this highly regarded recruit.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Catching Up with Travis Diener

In case you missed it, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ran a terrific Q/A with Travis Diener last night. We've linked to it here, and added a link to Travis' official website on our blogroll as well.