The Big East Basketball Report continues their rundown of the upcoming season, and ranks MU as the third best team in the league. If nothing else, the ranking is consistent with just about every other pre-season assessment. These guys do a good job in covering the league, but a few odd assertions and omissions stood out in their analysis of MU:
- The author suggests that the Three Amigos were "struggling on the perimeter" last season. Huh? This was the league's best backcourt last season. Sure, James did not shoot well but the author failed to note that McNeal was the top defender in the league last year, failed to note that Matthews emerged as one of the conference's steadiest players, and didn't realize that despite James' woes from the field he did have an enviable A/TO ratio.
- The author rightly criticizes this trio for turning the ball over nine times per game last season, but that's less than half the story. In many ways the notion that these guys turned it over nine times per game is overblown. Fact is, Marquette was second in the league in steals per game and fourth overall in turnover margin. The formula worked until McNeal went down with injuries. Further, the spike in turnovers peaked before conference play began -- consider that James' overall A:TO ratio was 1.9 to one, while his league total was an almost-unheard-of 2.4 to one.
- Lazar and Fitz: The author claims these players are competing for the same minutes and play the same position. That's simply not accurate. Lazar lined up at the PF slot and provided a nice boost to MU's inside presence last year, particularly on the offensive glass.
- Fitzgerald is a completely different player who plays a complementary position. Fitz is a marksman at 42% from the beyond the arc though apparently "he seems to be either on or off" (as opposed to players who are always on or always off, I guess).
- Their strangest assertion is the claim that for MU to succeed this year, Dan Fitzgerald's minutes and role need to decline. No, absolutely not. As we pointed out last month, the exact opposite is true: if MU is to be successful this year, Fitzgerald must have a breakout senior campaign. This team does not have enough shooters and Dan Fitzgerald is one of the best returning three-point percentage shooters in the Big East Conference.