Brendon Desrochers of SNY in New York continues his in-depth preview of the 2007-2008 Big East season with a look at Marquette. Brendon slots MU in as the 4th best team in the league and zeroes in on the familiar themes -- MU has terrific guards who can't shoot, and bigs who can't play.
Methinks he's selling MU short for the most part -- you'd think Desrochers expects little or no year to year improvement from Crean's bunch despite the heavy dose of returning starters and role players, plus an influx of Big East-ready talent. His notion that MU was 'fringe NCAA team last season' is laughable, plain and simple. And the loss to MSU -- however ugly -- should not the ultimate barometer in evaluating MU last year considering the game was played without the Golden Eagles' best player.
A couple of bones to pick:
- Desrochers ignores Maurice Acker. Acker is the one backcourt player that should allow MU to run new, different looks this season on offense which should result in higher shooting percentages for the Three Amigos, not to mention adding a valuable defender to a team that should turn the opposition over even more regularly than last year. Considering how Desrochers considers McNeal's injury bug to be such an issue, he should have detailed the Acker possibilities. Heck, he also ignored Christopherson -- by all accounts a fine shooter, though there's doubt about how much he will be able to contribute as a freshman.
- Yes, Fitz needs more shots! I am glad somebody else agrees.
- Desrochers does not have a feel for Hayward's game, nor does he account for the Lazar's slow start based on the Clearinghouse concerns. In fact, Desrochers misrepresents Hayward's game by pointing out that the forward made just 20% of his three points shots -- as if to equate his game with that of the the Three Amigos. Of course, Hayward attempted the fewest three pointers of any key player on the roster last year and was a surprisingly effective inside presence for MU in conference play (where he started 13 games).
What should we expect of a team that started the season so swimmingly — reaching the top ten in December — and ending the winter as a fringe NCAA Tournament team, easily dispatched by the superior Spartans? With most of the key players on Marquette juniors and seniors, I'd expect a more even level of play across the season. The Eagles' defense will continue to turn over opponents and try to create easy baskets off those forced errors, but the combination of a backcourt that is not a threat from the outside and a frontcourt without an offensive weapon probably means Marquette's ceiling is lower than it might be otherwise.