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

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Some early MU predictions and ruminations

With nine days left until Midnight Madness, the most anticipated season in recent Marquette basketball history is nearly upon us. The Golden Eagles return every viable contributor from last season and welcome an influx of exciting talent to the roster. Coming off of back-to-back NCAA appearances that rightly established the program as a viable Big East contender - - the 2007-2008 squad should once again be among the conference's elite, if not the nation's.

So while we wait for real games, reports from practice, and maybe a verbal commitment or two . . . . . here are a few concerns and predictions for the upcoming season.

Run, Run Away: If MU's performances in Vancouver are any indication, this team will run like hell. Dwight Burke barely broke a sweat in the games up north, and Barro was Barro.....which is to mean he's the only player taller than 6'8 who is allowed to touch, much less shoot the ball. So it appears that MU will run four-guard sets routinely this year......and will pressure the ball with increasing frequency as the season wears on. Goodness.

Key to the season: Dan Fitzgerald. Fitz was underutilized last season despite hitting on 43% of his three-pointers. The kid needs more shots, but to do that he has to be on the floor. If Fitz can improve his defense and stay out of early foul trouble, look for him to have a surprising senior season and stretch defenses. Crean has a habit of enabling seniors to have breakthrough final seasons on campus. Fitz will be next.

Most likely to struggle: David Cubillan. With Maurice Acker in the mix, look for Cubillan to struggle with his role in a more crowded backcourt. Crean needs PGs who can run a north-south offense, even in the halfcourt. David is an east-west player when he's at the helm, unable to beat defenders off the dribble. How will he adjust?

Biggest concern: Three point shooting. If MU rolls out a four-guard lineup with any regularity, those fellas better hit some shots from deep. Of course, we know that the Three Amigos have not exactly proven to be great shooters.......so it comes back to Fitz, Cubillan, Hayward (I am presuming that he'll find his stroke this season) and maybe Christopherson. Now, if Cubillan struggles to adapt to his new role as predicted - - well, Dan Fitzgerald must lead the pack.

Most pleasant surprise: Dan Fitzgerald. see above.

Breath of fresh air: Maurice Acker. MU will now have three guards on the roster who can break down a defense. With only James and McNeal capable of putting pressure on a defense last season, Crean's rotation was somewhat limited despite the obvious backcourt depth. With Acker, MU will be able to move McNeal and James off the ball more than ever -- making the Golden Eagles' attack all the more potent.

Most frustrating player: Dwight Burke. He's a big body that'll have a moment or two this season but his poor footwork and lack of an offensive game betray his big body. Burke is what he is and will be as a collegian -- a below average post player on an ill-conceived baseline rotation.

Please Redshirt: Scott Christopherson. The kid is a gamer so let's not waste a year of his talent on mop-up duty in this loaded MU backcourt. Wasting a year on the active roster -- that's exactly what MU did when Barro was a freshman. Can you imagine Barro as a redshirt junior this year? Let's give Christopherson the gift of time.

Please Don't Redshirt: Patrick Hazel. MU could use the extra minutes on the baseline once in a while and he doesn't project to be a starter, much less a star. Can Hazel give MU some high-energy minutes and spot production on the baseline? Let's find out.

Player I Can't Wait to see: Lazar Hayward. Hayward's dramatic and consistent progression last season was a pleasure to witness. With one full year in Crean's program, expect to see an even more diversified, assertive forward this season. Still, it is troubling to realize that Hayward will line up at the PF slot this year.....how is that for proof that this roster's frontcourt is questionable?

Finally, he'll help: Trend Blackledge. Look, MU doesn't need this kid to score - - but a few minutes of high energy on defense and perhaps some garbage baskets will work wonders for this veteran team. Plus, in the last few seasons MU has been routinely torched by SFs (Tucker, Nichols, Green, on and on and on), and Blackledge should help there (much to Wesley Matthews' benefit).

Best Player on the Court: Wesley Matthews. Give me the solid, consistent contributor who improves every year. Matthews is that guy for MU. He'll be a breakthrough performer nationally in 2007-2008, and make a living playing this game soon enough.

Role Player MU needs most: Trevor Mbakwe. If you need any proof of how much Crean needs Mbakwe to play this season, please review Dwight Burke's career numbers. If Mbakwe is cleared by the NCAA, the program will strengthened immediately and for years to come.

T-minus 9 days.

I. Can't. Wait.


Anonymous said...

David I believe will be a major contributor. He has a year of Big East play under his belt and international playing this summer. David is taller than Acker. He is an in your face defender and a clutch 3 point shooter. I don't think we would of beat West Virginia last year without David. Also if DJ gets in foul trouble or Acker can't match up with some point guards, David is the man.

Anonymous said...


I had not heard DJs NBA tryout described as "Brittany at the VMA Awards Bad"

Otherwise a realistic article about what he needs to do and it appears he understands this.

It will be a great year and DJ can lead the way

Anonymous said...

"was Barro.....which is to mean he's the only player taller than 6'8 who is allowed to touch, much less shoot the ball"

Dan Fitzgerald............6'9"

TB said...

fair point.

how about this: "only POST player taller than 6'8" who is allowed......"

MUWarrior71 said...

Very nice post. I think your 'concern' about DC is correct, but I suspect he will turn out just fine, given the excellent shooter he is.