"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, October 31, 2006

A Ring for Wade

To cap it off, here's a fabulous article by Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo! sports about Wade and his relationship with Tom Crean. This one is a gem.

Updates on the KSU/MU Scrimmage

Finally, bits of info on the KSU/MU scrimmage from this past weekend are emerging. Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel offers a lengthy, insightful recap --Here is the link to the Wednesday edition's article.

A few key excerpts highlight the value of the event:

"It's by far one of the most valuable things I've ever done in my eight years of being at Marquette for us to help prepare our basketball team to be better," he said. "No question about it."........

........."It was a late January, early February environment; there just weren't any people there," said Crean. "But as far as the competitiveness on the floor, the quickness, the speed, it's just really hard to duplicate that in your practices."
Also, check out the Wichita Eagle's recap of the scrimmage. Looks like the scrimmage was equally positive for both programs:

"I thought it was great being able to work against a team of that caliber," Huggins said of Marquette, which is ranked 17th in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll.

"From a pure basketball standpoint, it doesn't get any better than scrimmaging Marquette," Huggins said.

In addition, Andy Katz offers a recap to premium subscribers on his blog at ESPN.com. Insiders can click here for the details.

Dominic James: first team All-American at CHN

Congrats Dominic.

CHN also names James as the pre-season POY for the Big East. The buzz is officially deafening. Here's the link to the All-American teams.

DWade: NBA's best?

DWade v LeBron James. Who is the better player? USAToday takes this on this weighty quandry today. Here's the case for DWade as the best player on the planet.

While this debate won't be settled for years, DWade is clearly cashing-in on his newfound celebrity and underappreciated charisma. Tim Reynolds of the AP explored Wade, Inc. in this feature which initially ran on the wire last week.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Rivals names Dominic James First Team All-American

Congratulations to Dominic James, who was named a pre-season first team All-American by Rivals.com. Rivals smartly selected James and Ronald Steele for their first team -- fence sitting to avoid choosing one over the other (he says cynically). Here's how Rivals breaks it down:

First Team
Ronald Steele, Jr., Alabama
Dominic James, So., Marquette
Joakim Noah, Jr., Florida
Glen Davis, Jr., LSU
Tyler Hansbrough, So., North Carolina

Second Team
Acie Law, Sr., Texas A&M
Arron Afflalo, Jr., UCLA
Alando Tucker, Sr., Wisconsin
Al Horford, Jr., Florida
Nick Fazekas, Sr., Nevada

Third Team
Sean Singletary, Jr., Virginia
Charis Lofton, Jr., Tennessee
Corey Brewer, Jr., Florida
Josh McRoberts, So., Duke
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, So., UCLA

Here is the GoMarquette.com article on the news.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Steve Freaking Novak

heheh......check out this fab YouTube video --- a spectacular compilation that highlights the prowess of the best new shooter in the NBA. Good luck with the Rockets, Steve!

Many thanks to one of our regular readers for calling this gem to our attention!

By the way -- looks like 'Money' has done so well in the pre-season that he might land up starting for the Rockets. Check it out here.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Haunted Hoops Recaps

Marquette hosted its annual Haunted Hoops scrimmage last night at the Al McGuire Center. There are several recaps to check out, so here's the rundown:

SilverWarrior over at Marquette Hoops (you might know him as CSTV's Eric Silver) posted two assesments of the scrimmage. The first is a full recap, including unofficial stats. The second post addresses areas of concern -- including the unexpectedly poor three-point shooting. If this team can't shoot well from beyond the arc, it will be much easier for opposing defenses to contain them.

Over on MUScoop, AZ_Marquette provided perspectives on last night's scrimmage as well. He also delivered the most encouraging reaction by saying, "I cannot believe how fast/athletic we are overall as a team." In addition mu_hilltopper has a bunch of great pictures of the scrimmage in this thread.

And thanks to the comment below, we'll link to Murff's recap of the Haunted Hoops scrimmage as well. Well done, JG.

Many thanks for the happy recaps, fellas.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Finally. Welcome, Lazar! Great news all around.

Here is FoxSports' report on Hayward. In this brief, TC pays tribute to Hayward's prep school coach......good timing when you realize that 6'7" PF Damien Saunders is visiting MU this weekend. Saunders is prepping at the same program, Notre Dame Prep, this season. Here's an entry we had several weeks ago that provided some detail on Saunders.

Talk about it on MUScoop -- seems like those guys are off to a fast start with the new community.

Busy Weekend for Marquette

With the start of the regular season just a few weeks away, the Marquette Golden Eagles continue their preparation this weekend with two exhibitions. Tonight, MU welcomes fans to The Al McGuire Center for a night of Haunted Hoops. Doors open at 7pm, and MU will have special programs for kids under 14, including trick or treating at The Al.

After the game, fans should head over to the last great bar on campus -- Hegarty's. Hegarty's wins this title by default after the demise of famed establishments like the Avalanche Superbar, the original Murphy's, The Gym, The Ardmore and the less established but more notorious Greentree on State Street. I still long for those three-dollar-all-you-can-drink fiestas at Fat Pat's place, even if the beer was warmish Busch Light. The Greentree, a smash performance in a limited run.

Wow, I must be thirsty. Back to basketball.

After the evening of Haunted Hoops, TC's crew will board a plane later in the weekend and head to Manhattan, Kansas to play a closed scrimmage with the Kansas State University Wildcats on Sunday. Assuming Huggins proteges like Art Long, Dontonio Wingfield, and Donald Little will not be allowed into the building, this is a great idea. After a couple of weeks of practice, scrimmaging against another quality D-1 oppooent should help TC's bunch immensely. This was a very smart move by TC.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

MU Signs New Lease At The Bradley Center

Late Thursday the Bradley Center announced that MU signed a new lease, keeping the Golden Eagles on 4th and State through the 2011 season. The higlihghts:

  • For the first time, when base thresholds are met, MU will get a cut of merchandise sales at the Bradley Center;
  • MU will also continue to receive luxury box revenue;
  • Most importantly, MU is now the arena's second most powerful tenant. Once the Bucks finalize their schedule, MU is next in line.
This last point is huge - - MU will now have greater scheduling flexibililty than ever before, a tremendous benefit for the program. In the past, MU was slotted behind the Bucks and the Admirals (if not more).

Dick Weiss: Watch Out For Marquette

The New York Daily News' Dick 'Hoops' Weiss blogs about MU rah-rah. Methinks he's excited about MU's prospects this season.

Read it here.

Pomp and Circumstance: Media Update

This morning I expected to share a variety of clips from yesterday's Big East Media Day when something else jumped to the top of the heap, something much more important and a great source of pride for any MU alum or fan.

Graduation is a proud badge of honor for Tom Crean and the Golden Eagles. The team media guide devotes several pages to the learning environment available for players at Marquette, and boasts graduating 50 of 52 players over the past 16 years.
That's 96% folks.

Bob Brainerd of OnMilwaukee.com evaluates MU's success in the classroom in an article that appears online today. The article is chock-full of player testimonials and examples of how MU's support infrastructure and the culture of the program pushes kids to succeed academically. The players in the MU program work hard, no doubt......and based on their own words today, they recognize and value the opportunity they've been presented.

Cura Personalis.


A New MU Community: MUScoop

Welcome to the world, MUScoop. The inevitable churn and expansion of the Web benefits us all once more -- today a new Marquette basketball community was formally launched, MUScoop.

The publisher/moderator team managing this site are first rate, which is what we've come to expect at the Scout.com and Rivals.com MU communities. I registered for MUScoop earlier this week (thanks for the heads up, Rocky!) and the site offers a clever blend of community building options.

Anyway, head over and register. Good luck to the team there!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dominic James a Wooden Award Pre-Season Candidate

Another great honor bestowed on a Marquette basketball player

Dominic James was announced today as a pre-season top 50 John R. Wooden Award candidate.

The Wooden Award is given to the nation's outstanding college basketball player and it is a great honor for James to be selected on this list.

The complete list of 50 student athletes covers 15 conferences. Joining James as selections from the Big East Cofnerence were Aaron Grey, Jeff Green, Lamont Hamilton, Roy Hibbert, Sammy Mejia, and David Padgett.

Big East Predictions

In the annual pre-season Big East coaches' poll, the Pittsburgh Panters were tabbed as the team to beat while Aaron Gray was selected as the POY. Marquette's Dominic James, as well as the Georgetown duo of Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert were also unanimous pre-season All-Big East selections.

The coaches predict that the Panthers will win the title, followed by Georgetown, Syracuse and Marquette. MU received one first place vote. Here's a link to the AP story.

Meanwhile the Big East writers put James and Gray in a dead heat for Big East POY. MU was picked for a fouth-place league finish, behind Pittsburgh, Georgetown and UConn. Here's a link to the article about the writers' choices.

GoMarquette has a full breakdown of the votes here.

2006-07 BIG EAST Preseason Poll
1. Pittsburgh (10), 219
2. Georgetown (4), 212
3. Syracuse (1), 182
4. Marquette (1), 181
5. Connecticut, 173
6. Louisville, 149
7. Villanova, 146
8. DePaul, 134
9. St. John's, 105
10. Providence, 102
11. Notre Dame, 80
12. West Virginia, 72
13. Cincinnati, 52
14. Rutgers, 49
15. Seton Hall, 42
16. USF, 22

2006-07 Preseason All-BIG EAST Team
*Aaron Gray, Pittsburgh (Player of the Year), C, Sr., 7-0, 270, Emmaus, Pa.
Jeff Adrien, Connecticut, F, So., 6-7, 245, Brookline, Mass.
Wilson Chandler, DePaul, F, So., 6-8, 210, Benton Harbor, Mich.
Sammy Mejia, DePaul, G, Sr., 6-6, 195, Bronx, N.Y.
*Jeff Green, Georgetown, F, Jr., 6-9, 235, Hyattsville, Md.
*Roy Hibbert, Georgetown, C, Jr., 7-2, 283, Adelphi, Md.
Juan Palacios, Louisville, F, Jr., 6-8, 245, Medelin, Columbia
*Dominic James, Marquette, G, So., 5-11, 175, Richmond, Ind.
Lamont Hamilton, St. John's, F, Sr., 6-10, 253, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Terrence Roberts, Syracuse, F, Sr., 6-9, 235, Jersey City, N.J.
Curtis Sumpter, Villanova, F, Sr., 6-7, 220, Brooklyn, N.Y.
*unanimous selection

2006-07 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year
Aaron Gray, Pittsburgh

2006-07 BIG EAST Preseason Rookie of the Year
Paul Harris, Syracuse

2006-07 Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention
David Padgett, Louisville, F/C, Jr., 6-11, 250, Reno, Nev.
Colin Falls, Notre Dame, G, Sr., 6-5, 200, Park Ridge, Ill.
Eric Devendorf, Syracuse, G, So., 6-4, 175, Bay City, Mi

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My years with Bill Cords. A personal reflection

I had heard the rumors last year that Bill Cords was close to retiring so today's announcement was no shocker by any means. With the recent extension of Tom Crean's contract, we speculated here that unfinished business was done and perhaps pointed to Bill riding into the sunset. Good for Bill. He deserves to go out on his terms at the top of his game. I had the pleasure of working with Bill Cords for five years and prior to that as a student during the early years of his tenure. Here are my thoughts on one of the good guys.

I first met Bill Cords as a freshman at Marquette in 1987 as a member of the student basketball ticket committee. Nice man, not overly gregarious by any stretch, but took the time to talk to a California kid and showed he cared. He was in his first year at MU and the athletic department was in sorry shape to be kind. He had just come over from UTEP where he was the AD there. He was an old school athletic director, a former coach by trade. Today's AD's typically have MBAs or Sports Marketing / Management degrees, but the old school AD's were coaches and he fit the bill.

At this time college basketball was changing significantly. The Big East had been formed less than a decade earlier, television was becoming a major player, and the role of Independent in the college basketball world was now an albatross. All of these changes had a major impact on MU along with the retirements of Al McGuire and Hank Raymonds. Marquette was in a state of flux and in danger of falling off the map entirely. Some professors at MU were even throwing around the idea of dropping to Division II. Bill Cords would have none of that and convinced the leadership that great things could happen again. It would require money, commitment, great people who were dedicated, a bit of luck and a ton of hard work.

Bill had to perform a bit of triage and that meant address men's basketball first. Bob Dukiet was the head basketball coach and coming off a NIT season with the prospects for a similar season again. Unfortunately nothing of the sort happened. Dukiet's squad finished 10-18, the first losing MU season in two decades. The season included three streaks of four or more straight losses. A miserable season for Bill's first at the helm of MU athletics. It was also our last season at the MECCA and MU basketball would move into the shiny new Bradley Center the following year. At least there was one thing to be excited about.

The next year Dukiet delivered another losing season as we finished with a 13-15 season, including a loss to Notre Dame where we trailed 36-12 at halftime in our own building. It was the end. Dukiet was re-assigned by Cords at the conclusion of the season. Since McGuire had departed, the three coaches to follow came either internally from MU or from a small school in the east (Dukiet came from St. Peter's). Cords would push to go after someone with some outside pedigree from a major school. Someone that would work night and day to restore MU basketball. The hire was critical as Marquette was now a decade since the championship and mired in mediocrity.

Bill went back to his Pac Ten roots (he was a former coach at Washington State) and hired Kevin O'Neill, an assistant coach from the University of Arizona. Speculation from the media was Tony Barone of Creighton or O'Neill from Arizona. Cords picked the right one. O'Neill, love him or hate him, was the right man at the right time for Marquette. He irritated many a fan and player, but he righted the ship and in his first year we were back in the NIT. A few years later back in the NCAA tournament.

Equally as important in 1988 was our admission into the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (MCC)...MU's first all sports affiliation after 80+ years as an independent (note: the women's teams did participate in the Northstar conference for some sports). This move did not sit well with many of the old timers at MU, but they did not understand the landscape of college athletics. Conference affiliation was a must now in basketball and if MU had any hope of surviving long term, it had to be done.

By 1993, MU had moved up in neighborhoods again. Cords and the university helped to engineer Marquette as a charter member of the Great Midwest Conference. This move told me that MU was serious about college basketball again. The MCC was a nice little conference with urban schools, but it screamed mid-major. The Great Midwest was anything but. Cincinnati, Memphis, UAB, DePaul, Saint Louis, Dayton. By no means was it a powerhouse, but clearly a destination of basketball pedigree schools that wanted to go somewhere again. Indeed they did. In 1993, MU went back to the NCAA tournament. A year later, they were in the Sweet 16. Other teams in the conference excelled as Cincinnati went to the Final Four, Memphis to the Elite 8, Saint Louis and UAB were nationally ranked.

Playing a hot hand, Cords and the university administration supported and joined the Great Midwest transformation into another charter conference...Conference USA. Arguably the largest conference in the country at the time geographically and with the number of institutions. It was a conference that spread into two time zones and over 10 states with public and private institutions. Certainly not a perfect fit for Marquette by any stretch, but a necessary one if MU was to continue a pursuit for national attention. CUSA certainly was national both literally and figuratively.

During this same time period Kevin O'Neill decided to leave MU for Tennessee and greener pastures. Kevin always marched to a different drum and the decision was not surprising. Cords and the university were at a crossroads again....what to do about a basketball coach that just left the university high and dry. In 1989 he hired an assistant from a big name school to revive the program. Now he was looking for something different. The program had momentum and stability, someone was needed to be the caretaker. Several candidates emerged but when Mike Deane of Siena was said to be Dayton's final choice, Bill got on an airplane and flew to interview Deane quickly before he could sign with the Flyers. A decision was made promptly and the offer extended to Deane. A day later the Flyers would learn they lost their expected head coach to rival Marquette.

The course of the next five years saw continued success in MU basketball. A championship appearance in the NIT in Deane's first year, two NCAA berths including a CUSA tournament title followed by another NIT year in Deane's fourth year. It was during Deane's second season that I was hired at MU as an intern in the marketing department. Bill treated us all as equals. One of my duties was to start a Marquette athletics website. Soon we became just the 6th school in the NCAA to broadcast our games on the internet...something that Bill found wildly amazing as we all did back in 1996. We were reaching MU alums throughout the world listening to our broadcasts. I enjoyed sharing with Bill the list of far away countries that tuned in. We started the Golden Eagles Kids Club, began to market women's basketball and soccer, youth programs were created and student participation increased. Attendance and success climbed in other sports under his leadership. Women's hoops was viable now and went to the NCAAs. Women's soccer was born from scratch and fielded very competitive teams and the men's soccer team tasted the NCAA tournament. Women's tennis also went NCAA dancing, something virtually unheard of for a Midwestern school. Track and Field / Cross Country remained strong placing individual athletes in the NCAAs. The Valley Fields opened up as well with state of the art soccer field, football turf and track and field facilities. They were the first intercollegiate facilities built in more than 50 years for MU. What a difference in just 10 years from when he took over.

In 1998 after four years in the department, he named me Assistant Athletic Director of Marketing and Technology. He gave me my chance and I am forever grateful. He knew we didn't have a ton of money to work with but encouraged us to turn over every rock we could to maximize MU athletics and market each team to the Milwaukee public. We set records in attendance for women's hoops, women's and men's soccer, volleyball and increased men's basketball attendance from the year prior despite having a losing season. It was a rewarding year to be sure. Personal tragedy hit my family in May of 2000 with the sudden death of my father. The first person I called was Bill Cords and his comforting words were tremendous. The man had gone through much tougher personal tragedies then I could ever imagine....his experienced words were much needed. Months later when I indicated to him that family needs required me to leave MU and return to Southern California, again he was terrific.

Not always roses

Of course not everything was roses either. In 1994 the university decided to change the nickname from Warriors to Golden Eagles. Bill was the athletic face for this change even though it came from Father DiUlio. Bill was a professional about it, not throwing DiUlio under the bus even though much of the anger was directed at Bill and the Athletics Department. Those wounds reopened again just last year with the nickname balloting. I don't know where Bill Cords personally stands on the issue and even if I asked he wouldn't be dumb enough to tell me anyway. He was a company man and he played it by the book. If I had to speculate, I would guess he wasn't too thrilled about the name change back in the mid 1990's but had accepted the realization in part deux...pure speculation on my part.

If the name change didn't irk you, the points system probably did the trick. The Blue and Gold Fun was created during Cords tenure, as well. All athletic departments today must find as many revenue sources as they can to fund their departments and MU was in worse shape than most when he came on board. Only a couple of scholarships were endowed and the cost of running the athletic department was climbing each year. Other universities had started funds to support their athletic departments. Donations from alumni and season ticket holders would earn them points and determine seating priority at Marquette games...a RADICAL change from the past and one met with much anger by some season ticket holders. Some fans had been buying tickets for decades but now they could lose their prime locations to others that had made considerable donations. It was a tough pill to swallow and an unpopular program for many fans, but the nature of the beast for the athletic department to survive. Again Bill often took the brunt of it from a few irate fans during the re-seating process at the Bradley Center. He stood tall, explained why it was necessary and most MU fans got it. The heat he took from the others was emotion getting in the way, but unnecessary for one person to endure. Yet he did.

The program also saw the loss of two sports during Bill's tenure. First to go was the rifle team. A co-ed sport that earned Marquette a top 20 national ranking several years running. The sport was phased out in the late 1990's. Wrestling was the other sport that fell victim of Title IX and budgetary restraints. Despite private funding for a proud wrestling program, it was done away with several years ago despite many efforts to keep it going. Neither program departure made Bill happy, but as the CEO of the Athletic Department a decision that had to be made. Marquette joined the list of many schools across the country to drop men's sports to reach the required standards set by Title IX legislation passed in the 1970's.

I also recall vividly the day after Jack O'Hara died on the TWA plane crash from New York to Paris. Jack was with ABC Sports and a big friend to the department. He was a good person to know and had become a friend of Bill's. All of us had seen the devestation on the news the day before but no one knew O'Hara was on the flight. When we learned that O'Hara, his wife and daughter were on that plane it was devestating for Bill. He had lost a great sports contact with MU connections but more importantly had lost a friend.

The Big East, Tom Crean, Al McGuire Center

For years Cords had the midas touch when it came to hiring coaches. Soccer, tennis, basketball, rifle....it didn't matter, he always seemed to land someone qualified and right for the job at that time. Things change, of course, and sometimes the right guy at the time doesn't remain the right guy years later. In 1999, Bill and the university had come to another crossroads. Mike Deane's squad has just finished with a 14-15 record, his first losing season. Deane had compiled 100 wins (20 per season) and 4 post-season berths in the previous five years, hardly a candidate one would think could be fired but that is exactly what happened. In a bold move that many questioned at the time, Cords replaced Deane and hired Tom Crean from Michigan State.

I still remember the day in the office when they told us that Mike was fired. There was a lot of anger amongst the staff, confusion, uncertainty and a general sense of why is this happening. Deane had his faults, we all do, but he was liked by many in the department. He worked with us in every request we had and was not a prima donna coach like others around the country. Bill obviously saw something else. I believe he respected Deane's coaching abilities to the hilt, but was looking for someone that had the recruiting magic as well as the PR ability to raise the level of the program nationally and financially. Crean was the guy.

Seven years later Marquette is now in the Big East conference, a few years off of going back to the FINAL FOUR, we have perhaps the best practice facility in the country in the Al McGuire Center, and Bill has secured Tom Crean for at least the next ten years. A magical mystery tour that no one could have predicted in their wildest dreams in 1987. NO ONE.

There are many other stories I could tell. The day he walked over to the hospital north of campus and found out he needed his gall bladder taken out immediately...at least I recollect it being his gall bladder. He had a habit of losing his keys every once in awhile which was an inside joke in the department. Hooking him up to his own personal computer in 1996 and on the internet....a big step for someone that was 55 or so and not used to dealing with computers. Mia Hamm's visit to Marquette and subsequent partnership with her and MU soccer for a few years. Or the conversations with the MECCA where I saw for the first time Bill raise his voice and tell Wisconsin Center District exactly who would be making the decisions of what was in the best interest of Marquette...I can tell you one thing, it wasn't the WCD but rather Bill Cords was going to make those decisions...plainly, loudly and with clarity. That was a fun meeting.

To this day whenever I bump into Bill he's the same quietly enthusiastic and kind person he always has been. In San Diego before the NCAA game with Alabama he made a special effort to talk to my 7 year old son and give me the low down on how proud he was to be in the Big East. And boy was he proud. What a legacy. Enjoy your retirement Bill and may you and Gwen be as successful in your next endeavor in life.


Midwestern Collegiate Conference
Great Midwest Conference charter member
Conference USA charter member
Big East Conference member
Full time tenant of the Bradley Center
Marquette hosted three NCAA tournaments at the Bradley Center
Valley Fields built
Al McGuire Center built
Final Four in men's basketball
NCAA berths in men's & women's basketball, men's & women's soccer, tennis, wrestling, track and field, cross country
Blue and Gold Created
Rifle and Wrestling dropped as programs
Terri Mitchell, Tom Crean and Louis Bennett hired
Golf & tennis ultra competitive despite Midwestern location

Sycophants Unite: DWade is The Face of the NBA

.....so says Newsweek, which delivers a blowout Q/A with the greatest basketball player to grace the Marquette campus. Drumroll please..........

An NBA buzz has returned. The face of the league's restored luster: Dwyane Wade. An overshadowed, unheralded, and somewhat shy shooting guard coming out of Marquette University three years ago, Wade almost single-handedly led the Miami Heat to the NBA championship last season after they were down 0-2 in the best of seven series, and six minutes away from losing game three. Wade was unstoppable, quietly delivering shot after shot before a national television audience, as more hyped players from his draft class were at home watching him on TV. As his star on the court has risen, so too has the NBA Finals MVP's business and endorsement opportunities—and the increasing chants that a player has finally arrived to take the baton from the league's premier icon and corporate pitchman, Michael Jordan.
Love it. By the way, good afternoon LeBron James! How was your recent off-day in Rochester, buddy? Being an ambassador for your sport is a full-time job, King James.

Sporting News ranks MU #18 in pre-season poll

In TSN's pre-season top 25, MU settles for #18 overall. To nobody's surprse, DeCourcy notes that MU has perhaps the nation's best backcourt:

There are teams that are deeper on the perimeter than Marquette. There are teams that have this point guard or that wing who is considered to be better than any of the Golden Eagles. There does not appear to be any team, though, that has the kind of quality at point guard, shooting guard and small forward that Marquette fields with the James-McNeal-Matthews trio.
......This is the core of what figures to make Marquette special. And these players all have a year in Tom Crean's structured system, which means they'll better understand the nuances of the plays they run. Such players as Travis Diener and Dwyane Wade became much better as they grew to understand how to play Crean's way. All three players are excellent athletes who should make penetrating the first line of defense especially challenging.
Here's the link to DeCourcy's straightforward review of the Golden Eagles.

Tickets for MU/DPU at Bradley Center South Are Available

Attention MU fans -- especially Chicagoans and those who live in the 'burbs yet claim to live in Chicago (a pet peeve of mine from undergrad) -- click on this link to buy your tickets to see MU take on DePaul at the Golden Eagles' home away from home, Allstate Arena.

The game will be played on Valentine's Day, 2007 at 7:30pm. Yes, your spouse and/or significant other will understand -- and will expect you to make the MU/DPU game part of a night to remember.

Buy 'em up folks and create a sea of gold!

Bill Cords Retires: UPDATED

Bill Cords announced his retirement as MU's athletic director, effective December 31. During his 19-year tenure, Cords engineered one of the most dramatic growth and repositioning efforts in NCAA history. Realize that in 1986 he was saddled with the weakened status of an independent, Bob Dukiet, the 1212 Building, and the Old Gym -- yet turned all of that into the Big East, Tom Crean, and the Al McGuire Center (among many other accomplishments).

We'll report more completely on this soon. THANKS, BILL. YOU WILL BE MISSED.

The official announcement can be found here.

Marquette University Director of Athletics Bill Cords announced today his decision to retire effective December 31, 2006. Cords has run the department of athletics since July 1987.

"My family and I deeply appreciate the opportunity given to us by Marquette University," said Cords. "We're grateful to have been a part of a very special place, an outstanding community and wonderful state."

Cords has presided over Marquette's athletic department during a period of significant growth and success. During his 20 years, Cords expanded sports offerings at the Division I level, added and improved athletic facilities, oversaw outstanding athletic and academic achievement, and, most notably, engineered Marquette's move from independent status to the Big East Conference.

Cottingham to serve as interim AD
"Marquette University Associate Senior Vice President Steve Cottingham will fill the position on an interim basis through at least this summer. Cottingham has worked closely with athletics during the last three years, particularly in the areas of facility development, sponsorship and contract negotiations."

The Dawn of the Dead

Our peaceful trip to the 2006-2007 season has been interrupted by the waking dead.

A day after providing syrup for the megalomaniacal waffle who called the MU/UW-M deal "dead" just a week ago, we're rolling out zombies this morning. In case you missed it, the inimitable Bud Haidet held a 'stunning' press conference yesterday to announce that his mid-major program would indeed sign MU's offer of a 4 for 1 series. The deal is now un-dead, I guess.

Today the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel offers two articles on the pending Marquette-UW-M basketball contract. In the first, Todd Rosiak was forced to collaborate with Bobbo Roquemore, intrepid scibe. Michael Hunt also offers a fun read today, slapping both sides in the face for dragging this one out.

Haidet's antics monumentally embarrassed UW-M. Here's an AD who, based on his own actions yesterday, proved that he should have signed the MU contract weeks ago and moved on. Instead, he postured through the media, overplayed his hand with Marquette and was turned into the laughingstock of Milwaukee sports. Incredibly he made Marquette, never the people's choice in town, into the sympathetic protagonist on this issue. That my friends was no small feat.

After adding some luster to MU's image, Haidet stumbled back a week later to sign the deal in an effort to save face. Haidet's explanation? He wanted to announce that UW-M benefactors, whom he could not name, came forward with $20K to offset any perceived financial shortfall for the Panthers.

Funny thing is, common sense says that Haidet could have secured this same financial backing quietly while signing MU's initial contract. That Bud Haidet had to wait until his university was tried and convicted in the court of public opinion before making the right move speaks volumes.

Folks, its the Dawn of the Dead in Milwaukee.

Monday, October 23, 2006

I was against it before I was for it. UWM game back on?

I was against it before I was for it

John Kerry

Bud Haidet

Reports are that UWM is now for a deal that it was against just a few days ago? Or was UWM tired of getting abused in the press and looking the fools that they were last week for turning down a very reasonable offer by MU for five games with the Panthers. In an EMERGENCY PRESS CONFERENCE (strange, take that development for what it is worth), UWM announced it had signed the contract and faxed it back to MU. Bud Haidet, UWM's athletic director explained at the press conference that he agreed to all of the terms now that two donors had come up with some additional money to close the financial gap of the offer terms.

Personally, I call poppycock on that. I'm glad Mr. Haidet was able to wring another $20,000 from a few donors for his program but that is not the reason why he suddenly felt the need to sign this deal. Every poll in the city showed UWM looking foolish on this matter. The radio talk shows, the mainstream press and others have all shown UWM to look foolish. In my opinion Mr. Haidet totally overplayed his hand and got burned by Crean and Marquette. This sudden reversal in decision by Haidet and the Panthers is an attempt to save face. It appears Carlos Santiago, the UWM Chancellor, had a little chat with Mr. Haidet and said to get the deal done.

"I have instructed our athletic director, Bud Haidet, to negotiate the best contract possible for the institution and I'm perfectly satisfied that he did so," UWN chancellor Carlos E. Santiago said. "I know that there is a difference in the financial terms between what we had expected and what Marquette has offered. However I believe that financial difference can be overcome. I've talked to both Rob Jeter and Bud and indicated to them that we have donors that I can't identify that are more than happy to provide the difference."

Their hope now is that it puts the pressure back on Marquette to sign the deal, a not all that surprising move by Haidet. Will Marquette sign? We have no idea. Nothing would surprise us at this point. Crean could tell UWM to go fly a kite. After all they (UWM) had opportunity after opportunity to play a Big East opponent five straight years for some big money and kept thumbing their nose at Marquette's offers only to add another gimmick in this entire process with an acceptance after the fact. MU may have moved on at this point. Or, Crean may just sign the deal and we begin defending the 34-0 record next year.

That will all be determined in the next few days. Nevertheless, Haidet's actions the last two weeks have been quite strange for a program that apparently desires to move to the next level. Maybe Mr. Haidet has been the anchor to that advancement.

My advice to Crean and company, take the offer. Be the heroes to the city and show them how much we bent over backward. Then go out and beat the snot out of them 5 straight times!

Today's complete story here on the Journal Sentinel site.

Journal-Sentinel Improves MU coverage

Today, the Journal-Sentinel launched a terrific new feature called Jump Shots with Todd Rosiak. The format is clever -- basically a video podcast. Hopefully Todd has the freedom to use this regularly.

Friday, October 20, 2006

“Who gets to be famous by being themselves?”

When it comes to the acclaimed documentary Hoop Dreams, a more appropriate phrase could not be uttered by the classy and humble William Gates. The Marquette graduate will appear tonight in Columbia, Missouri with the film's director Steve James where the pair will discuss the film with an audience at the Missouri Theater.

For my money, this film is a classic. While potentially cliche (think urban kids who want to play in the NBA) the film evolved into the moving portrait of two kids just trying to make their way over life's hurdles.

Sure looks like Will's gumption and wisdom, piercingly apparent in the film when his injured knee dramatically alters his perspective on life and basketball, are paying off. Per today's article, "Gates now devotes himself to the Living Faith Community Center in Chicago, where he preaches the gospel as a senior pastor. The center also runs an after-school program for 350 youth from Chicago’s Cabrini-Green neighborhood. Its doors are open from 2:30 to 9 p.m. every day as Gates and his colleagues try to get the youth ready to compete in the world. It’s a tall task,” he said, “but we’re excited about it."

Cura Personalis.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

CNNSI's Luke Winn: Postcard from Marquette

Here's a good read on MU from Luke Winn, currently the lead story on CNNSI's college hoops page. Winn took the time to study the MU program for this article and it shows. While there's terrific analysis of what makes the team click and how TC motivates the troops, the part that immediately caught my eye had to do with the style of play we're likely to see this season --

"We really want to get into the mid-80s [in points per game]," he (Crean) said. "If you look back to a couple of years ago, all the Final Four teams were 83 and above. Last year we were 75. The teams that play deep into the season can play different styles, but they've all scored a lot of points, and a lot of points off of their defense."
Good news folks, very good news. MU's final half of basketball last season was indeed a harbinger of things to come -- good things if you ask me. Considering MU's insanely athletic and deep roster, a pressing, uptempo style of play should translate into a bushel of victories and countless more "wow" moments during the season. Giddyup!

BTW, check out Winn's snapshots from MU.

Marquette Schedule Desktop Wallpaper

I neglected to post links to the 2006-2007 Marquette schedule wallpaper.....many thanks to Alum91 at Rivals.com for creating these.

Link to 1280x1024 Wallpaper

Link to 1024x768 Wallpaper

Majerus on the MU/UWM situation

Kudos to Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Wolfley took the MU/UWM 'deal then no deal' issue to Rick Majerus, a coach who had success at both high majors and at a mid-major, Ball State.

Pardon the mixed metaphor, but the basketball coach knocked it outta the park:

"If I was UWM, I've got nothing to lose because if I lose, (the Golden Eagles) are in the Big East, they are the major power," Majerus said. "It enhances my schedule at UWM. It helps my recruiting. If I'm Dominic James of Richmond, Indiana - Marquette's star guard - what do I care about UWM? But if I'm UWM, and I recruit primarily the state and Milwaukee, then it's a big deal.

"For UWM it's a 100% win-win and for Marquette it's a 100% lose-lose. For basketball in the state, is it the best? Absolutely. For fan interest? Yes."

Wait there's more......
"When I was at Ball State, I played Indiana, Northwestern, Minnesota and Purdue. If you get those wins, you are living life large. And if you lose those games, it's going to be better for us because we're playing in the MAC (Mid-American Conference), which is a better league than UWM plays in, or at least at the time it was better.

"I can't see getting hung up over $6,000. I can see getting hung up on 3-0. It's a 4-for-1 and that would kind of bother me, but then again they haven't had success, really, until the last two years, the kind of success that would demand they have more leverage in that kind of situation.

"If I'm UWM, I'm going to do everything I can to work that out."

and more.....

"If UWM ever beats Marquette, trust me, they will storm the court. It will be unbelievable. If Marquette wins, it will be a nice handshake and Marquette is off to the Big East and UWM is on its way to play in the league where UW-Green Bay is a big game."

Check out the full column at the link above. Sure, Majerus is an MU alum and former coach -- but he left the MU payroll two decades ago and found success at two other coaching stops, each with different challenges.

Imagine coughing up the chance to have a series with a Big East team over $6,000. The megalomaniacal Bud Haidet did just that. And the 25 fans who showed up for UW-M's Midnight Madness last week realize this.

That is not a misprint folks. 25 fans at UW-M's Midnight Madness. 25.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A breakdown from the MU Madness scrimmage

Here are my thoughts on Marquette Madness. Keep in mind that I am trying to be as unbiased as possible. That said, in general, as a fan of Marquette hoops, I was extremely encouraged and pleased by what I saw. As with any first practice of the year, there was significant rust and unevenness of play. However, the off-to-the-races style and the terrific talent and athleticism I saw on this team were extremely encouraging. Also of note, the roughness and intensity of play was something I haven't seen to this extent ever at MU, and we've had some intense players here. Guys were going at it full steam and things got chippy quite a few times. For instance, Jerel McNeal once threw a forearm at Jamil Lott's head after a quick skirmish. Marquette is going to punish some teams this year, if the team can stay healthy through its own practices!

Here are some thoughts on the individual players on the team...

Projected starters

Dominic James: DJ looked terrific. Somehow, over the layoff, I had forgotten was a freak of nature he is. His blow by speed and fake-back/roll to the hoop moves make him darn near unstoppable. McNeal, who is a terrific defender, was having a pretty difficult time with him. Perhaps the scariest part (for BIG EAST opponents, that is) is that Dominic hit somewhere in the range of five 3-pointers, some of them from way deep. He has quite obviously been working on his shot. If he can hit that with consistency this year, I think there is little chance he is in a Marquette uniform next year, because the NBA lottery teams will be calling. As it is, Dominic has got to be the conference favorite for Player of the Year (apologies to Lurch... I mean Aaron Gray). The downside and the scariest part for MU fans was that there were a couple times where Dominic got hurt with injuries. Once, he grabbed at his arm (which had a protective sleeve on it), and at the end of the scrimmage, he seemed to have another of his infamous terrible leg cramps, where he had to limp off the court. Gatorade and bananas, Dominic. Fluids and potassium. The good news, though, is that after the game, Dominic was his usual engaging self with the fans, and didn't seem to feel any after effects of the injuries.

Jerel McNeal: Jerel is one of my favorite players ever at Marquette, and the reason is that he gets after it more than 99% of players you will see in college ball. Last night was no different. Defensively, Jerel struggled a bit with Dominic, but was all over the place, with his patented lock-down D. He also took on the scoring load on his team, scoring both while driving to the hole, and surprisingly, showing a terrific long range touch that we haven't seen often in the past. One of Jerel's threes was from WAY downtown, presumably well beyond the NBA line. As I mentioned earlier, he got chippy and gave a forearm to Lott at one point, and generally plays with a snarl and toughness that belies his relatively short and unbulky stature. In terms of errant passes, Jerel's nemesis last year, I don't remember any turnovers but I believe there were a few questionable passes. Jerel looks to have really improved his game overall, most noticeably in his shooting range and ability to go with either hand to the hole.

Wesley Matthews: The first thing that is noticeable with Wesley this year is that he is unmistakenly more muscular this year. You can tell he's been hitting it hard in the weight room. Offensively, Wes' shots did not seem to be falling, but he was able to get to the charity stripe a few times and knocked down his FT's. Was really getting after it on D as well. Wes is a world class athlete, and appears to be due for a breakout year after a freshman year that was interrupted by his foot injury.

(About those 3 Amigos... without a doubt, they have to be one of the very best backcourts in the country, and I'd go so far as to say THE best. All three have very obviously improved from last year, and all three have stepped into definite leadership roles. It is scary how good those three will be together. And they are sophomores... wow!)

Ousmane Barro: Ooze was one of the most pleasant surprises at Madness, I felt. First of all, I found it interesting that during intros, he was the last one introduced, not Dominic. You can feel it in the crowd-- Ooze is incredibly popular and the better he gets, the more people love him. On the court, Ooze looked like a different player. He scored in a variety of ways, the most eye-opening of which was on a turnaround J from about 12 feet, which it is nearly impossible to imagine him hitting before now. He is playing with confidence and aggressiveness on offense, which is a complete turnaround from most of the past two years. He was very good on the boards and just seemed to be more in the flow of the action than he ever was last year. It's clear that he's starting to really LEARN the game, which is something MU fans have waited patiently for with Ooze. Now this is not to say that Ooze was without mistakes and that he has reached his potential already. However, without a doubt, Barro has to be the starting pivot at this point.

Dan Fitzgerald: Fitz played very well in the scrimmage. He hit quite a few 3's with little or no trouble. One of my complaints last year was that he often seemed to be thinking too much about situations and did not have the confidence to just fire away when he had an open 3. Not at Madness. He looked and played confidently, I thought, and seems to have gained some muscle. At this point, he seems like the obvious choice to replace Novak at the starting 4. It will be great to see Fitz be able to concentrate on the forward positions for the most part, and not have to back up the point, as he did last year.

So in sum, my initial starting five would be James, McNeal, Matthews, Fitzgerald and Barro. In contrast to some previous years where the starting rotation has seemed undefined, I think with circumstances as they are (3 very defined starting guards, Barro being clearly the best big man on the team, and Hayward not having the past month to work with the team), this is quite clearly our starting five at this moment. I could see Crean going with a different lineup with time, depending on Lazar's development and matchups (perhaps having Kinsella or Lott in the starting 5 against bigger teams), but at the outset, this will be our starting five.

Now, a little about the players I think will come off the bench this year for Marquette...

Projected Bench Returners:

Mike Kinsella: Besides Barro, Kinsella was probably the biggest surprise of the evening for me in terms of returners. I always suspected Mike could be a solid player, if he was ever able to stay healthy for an appreciable amount of time. For the first time since I've seen him at MU, Kinsella looked and played healthy, and looked like a legitimate option for solid bench minutes. First of all, let's start with the 3-point contest. Kinsella made it to the finals against Cubillan and Acker, and was knocking down 3's with aplumb and with a terrific looking shot. (Cubillan ultimately took the contest.) In the game, Mike seemed to get into Crean's doghouse in the opening minutes, but really redeemed himself after that. He got a number of feeds under the hoop and finished pretty much everything that was given him underneath. He also seemed very solid on the boards, and has definitely added some muscle over the summer. Kinsella could be a nice weapon for Marquette this year. A 7-footer who has some athleticism, can hit the outside shot, and can run the floor... can't complain about that. My comment after seeing him was, "Wow! They are going to LOVE him in Europe next year." And that was not a rip on Kinsella. Who would have thought with all his injuries that Mike would be able to be a viable option to play pro ball after Marquette? If I were to project minutes, I'd say that as long as he stays healthy, Kinsella could be playing 10-15 mpg, depending on matchups. I could see some scenarios (ie: against Pitt) where Crean would start Kinsella over Barro or even play the two together, as Kinsella could better defend a player like Aaron Gray. He will obviously also have to fend off Lott for minutes.

Jamil Lott: I was expecting a lot of Lott coming in, and was slightly disappointed. I had heard that he had really worked on his game over the summer and it is evident that Lott has been hitting the weights hard. He has gained a ton of muscle. Overall, Lott looked OK, playing some pretty good post D and finishing a couple times around the hoop. He also had a couple turnovers, though. Lott will definitely play a role this year, probably at both the 4 and the 5, as he is quick enough to get some PF minutes for us alongside Barro/Kinsella. He does appear to be playing with more confidence this year, and more knowledge as to where he is supposed to be when (one of my complaints year). I'm not really down on Lott so much as I was expecting a lot of him and not much from Kinsella. Both played relatively well in the scrimmage, with Kinsella impressing a bit more because of more offensive touches. The battle for minutes with these seniors will be interesting this year, but the good news is that the three-headed monster of Barro, Lott and Kinsella have all apparently improved since last year, and that bodes well for Marquette's chances this year.

Dwight Burke: If anyone has changed his physical appearance over the summer, it has to be Dwight Burke. Burke has shed his baby fat from last year, and looks big and powerful. He is still somewhat raw on offense, but really got after it in the scrimmage, and I'm hopeful for his future on this team. He sort of seemed nonexistent in this scrimmage, as can happen with role players. I think Dwight is a year away from regular contributions, since it will be unlikely that he will beat out a more athletic Lott or a taller Kinsella for many minutes, assuming both stay healthy. However, if Burke keeps his good attitude and keeps after it, look for him to fill in minutes here and there this year, and really come into his own as a junior.

Projected Bench Newcomers:

Lazar Hayward: Lazar was battling a lot coming into this scrimmage. He has been unable to practice in The Al with his team for the past month due to an ongoing NCAA investigation. Not having the on court chemistry with teammates or the intensive conditioning, I was not expecting him to do a whole lot in this scimmage. That said, Lazar definitely impressed. First of all, his body is that of a senior, not a freshman. Physically, Lazar looks much more ready to man the undersized 4 position in the BIG EAST than Novak ever did. He rebounded well, and hit a nice three and got after it on D. What I like about Lazar is that he seems like a nice complement to the talented guards we have on our squad. He is a step ahead of most players with his athleticism, but isn't the same type of player Matthews and McNeal are, for example. It was hard to get much of a read on Lazar at Madness, since Crean kept giving him breathers, but I'm very encouraged. Fitzgerald seems more ready to start at this point, but it would not surprise me to see Lazar in the starting lineup by conference play.

David Cubillan: I was MUCH more impressed with Cubillan than I thought I would be. This kid clearly flew under the national radar. He has the game and the body of a top 100 player. I believe what probably hindered him was the incredible wealth of talent at St. Benedict's, his prep school, which likely tempered national recognition. Like Hayward, Cubillan is physically ready to get out there. He's a very muscular little guard and looks incredibly ready to take some minutes immediately. Billed as more of an undersized two out of high school, Cubillan showed me that he could play the point. He has handles and a lot of lateral quickness. On top of all that, Cubillan can play rock solid defense on the perimeter and can hit the three with consistency. In fact, Da-VEED not only hit a trey in the scrimmage but defeated Acker in the 3-point contest. I'm very encouraged by Cubillan and think that he is going to be a terrific role player off the bench this year behind James, McNeal and Matthews, a luxury we really didn't have last year. Although he's not as explosive as James, I don't feel as if our offense will stagnate with him at the helm for minutes at a time, and it is very possible we could put James at the 2G for some minutes alongside Cubillan. A terrific and underrated recruiting pickup by Crean. Some compared him to Karon Bradley when we got him to commit. From what I've seen, Cubillan is a better player in every respect than Bradley was.

Trend Blackledge: I frankly expected little or nothing from Blackledge when I heard that he had lost weight and was at around 170 pounds. However, Blackledge's play was actually fairly encouraging, I thought. First of all, he is a very athletic and LONG forward. He adds a dimension to this team that we did not have last year... the combo forward athlete. He is very active under the hoop, and actually had a great tip dunk and another alley oop from Acker that was called off because of a foul. That said, Trend definitely has his raw points. He showed some butter fingers at a couple points in the scrimmage, fumbling the ball and turning it over. I couldn't decide if this is an issue or if it is just a matter of rust or nervousness. At any rate, Trend has a lot of potential, and if you were to add 20-30 pounds onto him, he could be a really solid rotational player at most any school in the country. As things stand, if Lazar gets entirely qualified, I would think Crean will look long and hard at redshirting Blackledge, with the hope that he can add weight and experience, and then have two years to impact the BIG EAST.

Maurice Acker: In my opinion, Maurice Acker was the most surprising player on the court at Madness. This kid is tiny, but the bottom line is that he is a big time player. I went through the scrimmage watching Acker and trying to compare him to a sophomore version of Cordell Henry. Acker is significantly better than Henry at the same stage in his career. Maurice is lightning quick, much quicker than Henry was. He can handle the ball with either hand, again, much better than Cordell could. He is a smart player, always seeming to be at the right place at the right time. He can shoot the 3, as witnessed by his runner-up performance in the 3-point contest. The only drawback I can see with Acker is his slight, smallish size. This may be an issue defensively in the future. However, I believe that any downfalls are certainly made up for with his talent and skill. I came into Madness thinking we would need to land a top flight point guard in 2008, especially if Dominic James leaves early for the pros. Now, I am not so sure about that. Cubillan and Acker are both very, very solid players. They are not freaks of nature like James, and will not be as dangerous as he is on offense. But both are very capable of leading this team into the future, and I feel confident that with the addition of Scott Christopherson, we will be fine at point guard, no matter when Dominic leaves. Honestly, after watching Acker, it will be tough for me to wait a year and see what he can do on the court for Marquette.

One final note with both Acker and Cubillan, and this was brought up on the Marquette message boards already. It seemed like both players were absolutely money when they got enough lift on their threes. When they didn't jump high enough, they both seemed to hit front iron. If Crean can get both of them to get up on their threes, both will be deadly, consistent long range shooters for us in the future.

Prognostications are always difficult, but I think this Marquette team will surpass some people's already fairly high expectations this year, particularly if Lazar becomes eligible. This has to be one of the country's most athletic teams, and Crean is going to run, run, run teams off the court this year. If healthy, this team has the potential to be a team like Villanova had last year, which had Final Four potential. At present, I would guess a Sweet 16 appearance is very doable this year. No matter what, it's clear Marquette fans are in for a treat with this year's squad.

Monday, October 16, 2006

UWM game is off. UWM's greed gets in the way

In a somewhat startling turnaround, it appears the UWM-MU game is now off despite a generous offer from Marquette to play the Panthers five times beginning next year. It was only a few weeks ago that Bud Haidet, athletic director at UW-Milwaukee, suggested things were very close to having a deal done.

On September 20, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported good progress was being made. Haidet said, "We'll have more talks. Certainly nothing is finalized at this point...there are some minor things that we're going to talk about, some minor changes in the area of finances that we'll continue to talk about. I think we're making good progress." He then went on to say "We are still talking, but I think it's important that we're having good conversations, good pleasant conversations, and I feel we'll be able to put something together here eventually."

So what happened for UWM to now back out? Apparently greed. That's the only thing I can come up with or perhaps they never wanted a deal to begin with. Marquette offered $60,000 per game for the three "guarantee" games for a total of $180,000. Last year Marquette's highest payment was $55,000 to a visiting team which included covering costs for travel and hotel accommodations. UW-Milwaukee was offered $60,000 to cross the street (no travel, no hotel expenses to be incurred) and the ability to play Marquette five straight years. Suddenly $60,000 per year isn't enough for the Panthers?

Wasn't this the same school that said they would play Marquette anytime, anywhere, any place just a few seasons ago? The same school that bashed Marquette on the radio every chance they got by intimating MU was ducking their cross town "rival" (usually a rival has to win a game...Marquette is 34-0 against UW-Milwaukee all time). Marquette, apparently tired of the one sided media smear, decided to give the Panthers a bit of their own medicine. Tom Crean publicly offered UW-Milwaukee a contract...five games...$180,000 dollars, and a home game for UW-Milwaukee. A generous offer and one that fulfilled all of their crying demands the last few seasons. Apparently not enough. Now, the bravado of the Panthers sounds more like the quiet whimpering of a pussy cat....a small pussy cat wearing a yellow thong. What happened to anytime, any place? What happened to Marquette is ducking us? Meow. Meow.

This was Marquette's final offer, a 16% increase from their initial offer. It lies squarely in the norms of what college basketball programs offer in guarantee games as this recent ESPN.com article clearly shows ($40,000 to $60,000 is the going rate).

"Maybe at the end of the day they never really wanted the game or wanted the series," Crean said. "Maybe it was always about the money. And I haven't seen anything that would lead me to believe differently, based on the fact that they've turned down what I think was a substantial amount of money to literally come across the street to play a game."

Well UWM, it is fair to say that Marquette fans are through with you. We gave you a generous offer and you turned it down. We went out of our way to offer you not one game, but five games. We didn't have to give you any of these opportunities. You don't see UCLA offering this type of package to cross town school Loyola Marymount. You don't see Georgetown offering this to George Washington or George Mason. You don't see Cal offering this kind of deal to San Francisco or Indiana offering this to IUPUI. Anything out of your mouths moving forward about Marquette not playing UWM is pure hypocrisy at this point. We are done with you.

34-0 looks like it will stay stagnant for years to come. Fine by us. Let the season begin, we have much bigger fish to fry then an athletic department's meowing.

For the complete article...UWM Unable to Accept Generous Offer to Play Marquette

Journal Sentinel Poll on who is to blame for not having this game

Friday, October 13, 2006

Midnight Madness Is Here -- And Tom Crean is Here To Stay

Midnight Madness, in "Our House", "In The Middle of the Night".

I never thought I'd use a lame 80s band like Madness as an intro to the 2006-2007 season. Oh my. But who cares because MU's hoops prospects are rightly "The Land of Hope And Glory"anyway.

OK, I'll stop.

Thankfully, it's time to roll out the ball rack and unveil the 2006-2007 vintage of Marquette basketball. Tonight MU will host its annual Marquette Madness soire, a feast for the famished basketball masses that'll include a first-class, high-energy program capped by the ever-popular slam dunk contest.

If you want to watch tonight's event, check out Marquette All-Access at CSTV
. Channeling FEMA, CSTV unforutunately requires folks to use the Convicted Monopoly's browser to make the feed work.

And the good news for MU is that Tom Crean has been around for eight of these kickoffs, and stands to be around for many, many more. The Journal-Sentinel's Michael Hunt offers a curtain-raiser for the season in today's paper, pointing out the extraordinary commitment that MU has made to Crean -- one which coach gladly reciprocates. FWIW, TC is a master at using this to his advantage. Check out the focus on recruiting in this key passage from today's column:

As well as Crean has recruited since the Dwyane Wade era, an urban, Jesuit school in the upper Midwest still has the kind of challenges that Duke, Kentucky or North Carolina rarely encounter. The commitment given Crean is another way to ensure that Marquette will remain competitive for the bluest of chips on the high-stakes recruiting table.

"If certain people still want to negative recruit, they can do it," Crean said. "But in the sense of having any validity to (me) leaving or entertaining other jobs, there's really no validity to that.

"The counterpoints we go against consistently are still going to find negative ways to recruit, but what it does is it breaks down their trust level. Go show (recruits) the article where I went to interview somewhere. It's not possible to do that."

Bingo. Even a serial rumor-monger like Andy Katz (begrudgingly?) admitted in a blog several weeks ago that Crean was not likely to leave MU because of the fantastic environment he's helped create on West Wisconsin Avenue.

Let's play ball.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

NCAA Partially Clears Hayward

Todd Rosiak landed the scoop last night....here's a link to the article in Friday's paper.

Marquette University freshman forward Lazar Hayward was given the OK by the NCAA on Thursday afternoon to practice with the Golden Eagles, but has not yet been cleared for competition....Hayward will also be able to take part in MU's "Marquette Madness" event tomorrow night to celebrate the open of practice. It's unclear as to when the NCAA will rule on Hayward's eligibility for games.
Good news for MU, I guess. 'Partial' clearance is a step in the right direction but its not necessarily that Hayward's eligibility is due to be fully restored. Still, its great to see the kid have an opportunity to integrate back into the program more fully.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Work Ethic, Style of Play and an Attitude of Enthusiasm

I guess Tom Crean cares about the items listed above. Read the GoMarquette.com recap of media day.

I'm sure there's much more to come from Ahoya, Marquette Hoops, and Todd Rosiak of the Journal-Sentinel.

Rosiak has a nice recap of media day in today's paper......he also updates the Lazar Hayward situation -- sounds like some sort of decision, or at least an update on his status, will emerge later this week.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Items of interest: Top Freshmen and a New Recruit

The prolific Eric Silver (where would CHN's Big East coverage be without him) churned out a thoughtful analysis of the top freshmen in the Big East. Eric nearly boils the ocean here, analyzing incoming players in two installments. It takes time to cover 56 players. Part one ran on Monday and focused on "Role Players, Almost Certainly Won't Start, Possible Starters". The most interesting bunch here is the Louisvile trio of Caracter, Smith and Clark -- projected as those who 'Almost Certainly Won't Start'. Maybe I'm nuts, but I dont see enough talent on the Cardinals' roster to keep all three of these guys out of the starting lineup for long.

In part two, Silver evaluates freshmen who are "
Almost Certain Starters, Probable Starters, All-Rookie Team". Lazar Hayward is smartly listed as an almost certain starter. "Hayward is an excellent outside shooter who is being counted on to play the same role Steve Novak did last year. Unlike Novak, however, Hayward is capable of putting the ball on the floor and driving or pulling up for a mid-range jumper." Read the entire article here.

On to recruiting
.......for the last several weeks there's been chatter about Marquette recruiting another player for the freshman class of 2007. Despite appearing 'full' in terms of available tenders, MU is actively recruiting 6'7" PF Damian Saunders from Waterbury, CT. Saunders, a cousin of former UConn standout Edmund Saunders, will prep at Notre Dame Prep (MA) this year. As a senior last season, Saunders led Crosby High School to a state title while averaging 25 ppg. Interestingly, Saunders' AAU coach for at least one summer was Gino Auriemma, the head coach of the UConn Lady Huskies.

According to Notre Dame Prep head coach Bill Barton,
"Marquette, Cincinnati and Tennessee have shown the greatest interest........It's not just Providence and (Rhode Island)." Per this thread on Rivals, Saunders favors Marquette at the moment. No word on whether an official visit is forthcoming.

Scout.com has a detailed look at Saunders' recruitment in this premium article.

The Saunders interest is intriguing given MU's apparent scholarship limitations and the program's last two verbals -- both coming from power forwards. Still, history shows that MU undergoes unexpected attrition on an annual basis -- much of it good. Just to play along, here are a few possibilities that might result in an extra scholarship for 2007:

1) Dominic James goes pro. Lets not kid ourselves -- there's a strong possibility that DJ is two and done;
2) Mbakwe fails to qualify and goes to a prep school;
3) MU endures another transfer;
4) Lazar Hayward is ruled ineligible;
5) One of MU's current verbals renegs.

In any event, its good to see that TC is still out there recruiting talented kids for next season, particularly another one from the East Coast. Edmunds sounds like a player.

Which current MU players will play in the NBA?

I don't have the answer but we've found an author who has given this plenty of thought.

Check out Real Chili's take on the pro prospects of MU's current roster

Monday, October 09, 2006

Tom Keegan Freelancing!

Gotta love it.......A friend of this blog, MU grad and current sports editor of the Lawrence Journal-World, Tom Keegan is a guest columnist today over on MarquetteHoops.com.

In today's offering, Keegan evaluates MU hoops and the Patrick Hazel verbal.

BTW, Tom also moonlights on drive time radio in the Lawrence area -- visit him at TheDriveShow.com and vote for Tom on a weekly basis.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hoop Addicts.....Your Fix is One Week Away

In one week, Marquette University will unveil the 2006-2007 basketball team at Midnight Madness. The evening will be full of bling and hype -- as we've come to expect over the years.

Here's the link to the official MU announcement.

The announcement also points out that this season marks the 90th anniversary of MU hoops. One of the highlights of the season will be the 'all class reunion' of Marquette basketball, where MU will welcome back all former players, coaches and managers for the weekend of the West Virginia game. That'll be one great weekend. Kudos to MU (and to those who prodded MU) for expanding the pool this year to invite former coaches and managers.

Oh, and by the way, MU now has a new online gift store -- its really quite impressive, with a huge catalog of items to choose from. If you want to play the MU version of 'Where's Waldo' we dare you to fine any non-youth tems bearing the Golden Eagle. C'mon, play along!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Lazar Hayward Update?

GE1974 at MarquetteHoops uncovered the latest info on Lazar Hayward's eligibility issue -- or at least the latest speculation.

It seems that a blogger at Fox Sports claims to have inside info on Hayward's eligibility hiccup:

"According to a source, the problem with Hayward stems from the fact that his old high school, Buffalo Traditional, closed down and some records haven't been able to be found."
Amazingly, we have confirmed that the Buffalo Public School district survived the closing of Traditional High School and successfully managed the transfer of its student population to other locations. We're guessing the records of current and previous students were also taken care of as part of their standard operating procedures (especially since the transcript would have been required for admission at Notre Dame Prep).

Oy. Here we have a claim drop in from out of nowhere -- with no viable source willing to go on the record, appearing on a blog that has never covered MU before. Consider me unconvinced.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Patrick Hazel commits to Marquette

Tom Crean received a verbal commitment from Blair Academy's Patrick Hazel today. The commitment from the 6'7" 220lb power forward completes the 2007 recruiting class for Marquette. IWB of MarquetteHoops.com along with FOXSports.com and Scout are all reporting the verbal was given today.

Joe Mantegna, head coach at Blair Academy, is no stranger to talent as he has coached Charlie Villanueva and Loul Deng at Blair Academy in the past.

Last year's Blair squad had Shamari Spears and Wellington Smith who are attending Boston College and West Virginia respectively. Per Scout.com last year, "the one guy that really has coach Joe Mantegna excited is 6-foot-7, 220-pound junior power forward Patrick Hazel out of Bayside High in Queens, N.Y."

"He’s a sleeper, a poor man’s Ben Wallace," Mantegna said. "He’s active, plays hard, rebounds and blocks shots. He’s a throwback. He’s a gem."
Hazel is the fourth player MU has added to its roster in the last two years from the East Coast, a sure sign that the Big East conference affiliation is paying huge dividends for Crean and his staff.

Hazel will join combo guard Scott Christopherson (LaCrosse, WI) and power forward Trevor Mbakwe (Mendota Heights, MN) as part of the incoming 2007 recruiting class.

Hazel was recruited by Virginia, St. John's, St. Joe's, Seton Hall, Hofstra, Rhode Island, UMass, Holy Cross and Lehigh.

Here is Todd Rosiak's revealing article on Hazel's verbal. The article is laden with terrific detail about Hazel's recruitment and background -- as well as this testimonial from his high school coach.
"He's going to help Marquette win because he does all the garbage that most kids don't want to do that makes you win. He's unselfish to a T, he's a team guy and he's a real uniting personality in the locker room and school. He's just a tremendous kid."
Here is the Rivals article on Hazel's verbal.

Here is the Scout.com article on Hazel's verbal