Jonesing for some Marquette Ball?
Weren't one of the 500-600 people who went to the Open Practice on Tuesday?
MUScoop has 11 minutes of pure, vitamin enriched video.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Anybody up for some legit statistical analysis of Jerel McNeal's productivity and value to Marquette? The guys over at Villanova by the Numbers posted an exceptional evaluation of the talented Mr. McNeal earlier this week.
As any MU fan knows, McNeal is a box score stuffer extraordinaire - - which is generally good (steals, rebounds, points) and sometimes bad (turnovers, low shooting percentage, and propensity to take too many shots at the expense of more efficient teammates like Fitzgerald and Cubillan). Rather than the rote aggregation of numbers and a simple ranking, their analysis uses fairly standard metrics employed by Pomeroy and others. Their evaluation suggests that McNeal is a drag on offense and a boon on defense for the Golden Eagles. Turnovers and poor shot selection played roles in the offensive liability, but McNeal's sublime defense seems to makeup any shortcomings on offense. Still, the analysis indicates that if McNeal can improve his offensive efficiency, MU could see a spike in overall offensive production.
Their analysis is purely a statistical exercise however, and fails to account for McNeal's 'presence' on the court (the guys over at FireJoeMorgan just threw up in their mouths). By 'presence' I don't mean to imply that MU benefits just from McNeal showing up -- but his ability to break down a defense off the dribble does in fact allow MU to have a more dynamic, wide-open attack. While McNeal's absence plots out as a net gain in offensive efficiency for MU -- anybody who saw the Providence, St Johns, or Michigan State games knows that MU was crippled, unable to break down defenses or create easy shot opportunities as a result of defensive pressure. I'd argue that the modest spike in offensive efficiency in those final games had more to do with higher percentage shooters like Cubillan, Fitzgerald and Matthews taking more shots in McNeal's absence -- more than MU suddenly becoming a better offensive team. They were not a better offensive team ...... unless you are a fan of the Mike Deane weave, that is.
Beyond that, I'd posit (but don't have the numbers) that the offensive efficiency of the teams MU played without McNeal was higher than the Golden Eagles' season average (moreso than the small spike in offensive efficiency the Golden Eagles realized in his absence).
Read the Villanova Viewpoint analysis here.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Bullets from last night's Open Scrimmage:
- Around 500-600 showed up. The lower bleachers were rolled up, which was a good move, it made the crowd look much larger.
- First 45 minutes were drills. The music was pumping the entire time, and I can't get "Party Like a Rock Star" out of my head.
- MU played a series of scrimmages, Blue vs. Gold, DJ vs. Acker. Gold wins!
- Acker looks great. Quick, looks to pass, nice shot. Great addition.
- DJ was DJ. Looked sharp, leads the team.
- Mbakwe has a lot of talent. He'll contribute quickly defensively and on the boards.
- Hazel .. gosh. I don't remember him being in the middle of anything last night.
- Mr. Basketball Christopherson .. shot well in drills, our #2 3-point guy behind Fitz. Didn't do much in the scrimmage.
- Matthews played very well, as expected. Led all scorers with 16. McNeal was McNeal.
- Ooze .. not a lot of offensive progression from last year.
- Trend looks a shade heavier, decent defender with those long arms.
- Must-get recruit Frank Ben-Eze was in town for this one.
August 28th and watching MU basketball. Gotta love it.Here are some pictures from tonight's Open Scrimmage.
Nothing official just yet, but MU's new #33 is practicing with the team this week. Here's the link and photo.
Mbakwe is not yet cleared by the NCAA, but will participate in team activities for the next two weeks per Rosiak.
And just a reminder, tonight at the Al Center is an Open Practice at 8:30. Let's get a big crowd to watch our Warriors, and give a great show to the recruits who will be in attendance (Frank Ben Eze is expected to be in the house)!
"10 extra practices, +4 games, +1 open practice + recruits = HUGE!"
In case you missed it, MU will host Iman Shumpert on the weekend of October 13. As an MU fan, the timing is about as encouraging as it gets . . . . . not only do the Golden Eagles get Shumpert for his final official visit, Crean gets him on campus for midnight madness at The Al.
Shumpert will visit Georgia Tech on September 29 and UNC on September 15.
Meanwhile, UNC is already recruiting over Iman Shumpert - - Dexter Strickland, come on down.
Monday, August 27, 2007
The Northwest Indiana and Illinois Times ran a touching Sunday feature about Marquette's own Bo Ellis yesterday. Bo is one of MU's best -- both in terms of his ability on the court as well as the class, dignity and humility he exhibits as a private citizen.
Per this feature, Bo is now a part-time scout with the Milwaukee Bucks but maintains a substantial presence in the Windy City in sports administration for the Chicago Public Schools and is stadium director for Lane Stadium on the city's North Side.
Here's the link to the entire feature.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Time for another installment of Marquette Sports Wiki Top 10.
First, the most popular pages:
- 2007-08 Season Page - Includes schedule so far
- Alphabetical Basketball Player List (Year by Year List)
- Tom Crean
- Men's Football
- Marquette Bars
- Scott Merritt
- Anthony Pieper
- MU Internet Forum History
- Marquette Ticket Project (Ticket stubs from the ages.)
Below are my top undiscovered pages.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Todd Rosiak blogged yesterday about a few new items from the Marquette team.
- As rumored, Damian Saunders will not be wearing a Marquette uniform this year. Marquette has denied Saunders enrollment due to academic issues.
- Trevor Mbawke is still awaiting a final determination from the NCAA Clearinghouse regarding his eligibility.
- Lawrence "Trend" Blackledge has done enough over the summer to return to MU for his senior season.
- The team will have practice open to the public on Tuesday, August 28th at 8:30 at the Al McGuire Center. Recruit Frank Ben-Eze, a 6'10" senior, is expected to attend. Cracked Sidewalks will be there.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Nice pull from the guys over at the Big East Basketball Report, who note that MU has offered 6-7 junior forward Isaiah Philmore of Baltimore. The Baltimore Sun reported on the offer here - - and note that the junior has offers from MU, Miami, Delaware, VaTech and Loyola.
Jamil Wilson is clearly Tom Crean's priority recruit at the SF slot for the 2009 class - - but it is good to see MU associated with an increasing number of small forwards in the 08 and 09 classes. Talented small forwards have long been a weakness for the MU program; looks like that should change quickly.
Oh to have a some free time this weekend.......Friday night at New York City's famed Rucker Park, many of the nation's top seniors will participate in the Boost Mobile Elite 24 Classic.
Huge talent -- none of it is bound or interested in MU, but still - - this is about great hoops on the quintessential urban playground and is worth noting for any hoops junkie who's sick of SportsCenter's summer shenanigans or tired of Sports' Summer of Discontent (see PacMan, Bonds, Vick, Donaghy). Rucker, located in Harlem where the old Polo Grounds used to stand, has been home to many of basketball's all-time greats over the years.
Based on the buzz we're hearing about the 2009 class, my money is on Renardo Sidney lighting things up on Friday -- and claiming his spot as the nation's top prep player regardless of class. Former MU target Willie Warren is also scheduled to participate.
Here are the full details from Dick Weiss. Here's a look at the rosters.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
UNC on September 15
GaTech on September 29
MU, TBD.........but with many unofficial visits already under its belt, including one just a couple of weeks ago.
Need the UNC spin on Shumpert? Read the Fayetteville Observer on an empty stomach.
Patrick Hazel and Scott Christopherson, welcome to Marquette.
Trevor Mbakwe and Damian Saunders.....tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. At this point, Trend Blackledge must be feeling pretty good about life at Marquette.
Is is possible that MU only bats .500 on its freshman commits for the 2007 class? If so MU will have slipped below the recruiting equivalent of the Mendoza Line for the time being.
Written by TB at 8:19 AM
Monday, August 20, 2007
As reported by Adam Zagoria, 6-7 forward Lance Goulbourne will take his official visit to Marquette on the weekend of September 14. Goulbourne, ranked #90 in the class of 2008 by Rivals, will visit Virginia and Vanderbilt in the weekends following his trip to Milwaukee.
Zagoria updated his blog this afternoon, noting that Rutgers is pushing to get more involved in the race for Goulbourne (along with Louisville). For now, no official visit has been scheduled and it sounds like Lance hopes to decide before his senior season begins.
Hey, this is goodness....coaches want to be a kid's first or last visit - -and TC has that now with the fast-rising Goulbourne.
We're still waiting for news on a potential Iman Shumpert official visit to Milwaukee. Shumpert has already taken multiple unofficial visits to MU this year. It appears that he'll visit UNC on the weekend of September 14. An ACC football weekend, yipee! (sarcasm off)
We'll let you know when/if recruiting targets Frank Ben-Eze, Renaldo Woolridge, Josh Crittle, Maurice Sutton or Jared Swopshire schedule their trips to MU rah-rah. BTW, Wooldridge announced that MU is in his top 5 earlier in the week.
Crean has a stable of notable recruits that have demonstrated strong interest in MU - - one has to think that the murky eligibility questions for both Trevor Mbakwe and Damian Saunders is a big reason why. Should one or both of these kids fail to matriculate to Marquette this fall, look for Crean to take a four or even five-person class for 2008.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
A few weeks back, Marquette announced their new Golden Eagle logo, and we at Cracked Sidewalks have been remiss in mentioning it.
You may have received an email from Marquette's Connections alumni newsletter that displayed the new bird, suggesting a visit to the online Warrior Shoppe to purchase new logo items.
One MUScoop poster has a high quality rant about this subject, in that, this new logo roll-out has missed an opportunity.
The online store does have seven items for sale with the new bird, but all of them are children's wear. He said it well, so I'll quote him here:
In the last four years, Marquette has had three "events" that they could have used to connect with alums and market merchandise (which gets their name out there). First, the Final Four; second the introduction of the new MU logo and now this new Eagle. In the first two, I never received anything from Marquette in the mail offering merchandise. Now they seem completely unprepared to roll out the new Eagle stuff.
I still receive 2-3 full color catalogs (50-60 pages) from Notre Dame every year just because I bought my dad something from their store about 10 years ago. Marquette sends nothing, even when they have significant events that would warrant a mailing.
They're missing great opportunities to sell merchandise on a regular basis. I understand that a lot of people would never consider purchasing something with the new logo, but why not send a 12 page catalog with six pages of new stuff and six pages of non-Eagle merchandise?
I think people in other parts of the country who have a hard time finding MU gear would love it. I know I would.
I think that's well said. I realize mailings cost lots of cash, but at a minimum, a postcard announcement pointing alums to a well stocked website could do tremendous things.
Beyond the marketing issue, I'll say I like the new, meaner, logo better than the old one. -- If eBay ever runs out of Warrior shirts, I'd totally consider thinking about buying one of these!
It has been suggested that Southern Miss has a nice gift shop with plenty of items with our new logo!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
.....and MUScoop has a thread talking all about it right here. Sure seems like Shumpert is rightly concerned about being recruited over at UNC, eh? One of the class of 2009's top guards, Dexter Strickland, seems to love UNC you know.
MU rah-rah, Iman. MU rah-rah.
Meanwhile, combo guard Tyshawn Taylor of Jersey City will visit o Kansas, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech -- and it sure seems like he's enamored with KU. MU is still in the mix for Taylor though per this report at KU sports.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
We all know that Tom Crean is focused on landing Iman Shumpert for the class of 2008. The 6-4 combo guard from Oak Park/River Forest is expected to decide between MU, UNC and Georgia Tech in the coming months. Here's a Yahoo news bit on Shumpert's final three.
In addition to Shumpert, MU offered 6-4 SG Verdell Jones, Jr of Champaign. And now we learn that MU was one of the early majors to note the apparently under-appreciated talents of Dion Dixon from Chicago Crane. Per MidstateHoops (who predict that MU will land Shumpert), the 6-3 Dixon is sporting offers from MU, Colorado, Akron and Toledo.
Here's the full report.
MARQUETTE IN THE MIX FOR KENYI
Crean also continues to recruit Max Kenyi, a 6-5 WF/SG from Gonzaga prep in the Washington, DC area. Kenyi, who like fellow MU target Frank Ben-Eze is also considering MU along with Harvard of all places, should make unofficial visits to a handful of schools soon to accelerate the process.
Here is the full report from i95ballerz.
ADIOS QUINTRELL, HELLO PARIS
Meanwhile, the Quintrell Thomas ship has sailed (MU is not in his final four) but MU remains involved in 6-6 junior Paris Bennett of St. Patrick's in Elizabeth, NJ. Here's Zags Blog.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Todd Rosiak has a great blog entry today.
- Cubillan is starting for Venezuela .. but the team is 0-6 so far.
- Marquette will be playing 4 games over two days Sept 1-2 in Vancouver.
- MU gets 10 practices before leaving for Canada. (That's huge.)
- Trend Blackledge is doing fine in school.
- MU tried to get a Home & Home on the schedule with Alabama, fell through. Texas and Maryland wanted H&Hs, but MU turned them down as it appears the series would have started on the road, and with Maui and @UW, MU's road slate is "full."
- Gonzaga wanted a game in Chicago and return game in Seattle, no thanks.
- Jason Rabedeaux has returned from his absence and is now the Director of Basketball Ops.
Lots of other news bits. Read the whole blog entry here.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Several mentions of MU in Goodman's latest effort. Read it all here.
If you are an MU fan and are for some reason not excited about the 07-08 campaign, please note:
``It’s a perfect year,” Crean told FOXSports.com. “We originally set it up thinking Dominic wouldn’t be here, but it’s great all the way around now. It gives us a chance to play different ways with different combinations.”
Crean expects one of those combinations to be a four-guard lineup with James, Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews and David Cubillan.
Crean will also use plenty of sophomore forward Lazar Hayward, who the Golden Eagles head man feels could develop into one of the best forwards in the Big East.
``I’m excited with this team because they’ve had a good spring and summer,” Crean said. “And they have a real hunger. There’s also an opportunity to create more competition in practice because we’ll be deeper on paper.”
Written by TB at 8:09 PM
Thursday, August 09, 2007
This first was reported a few days ago by Todd Rosiak, and now there are a few follow-up articles about Marquette's participation in the 2007 Maui Classic. MU draws the host Chaminade Silver Swords in the tournament opener on November 19.
The bracket (should MU win the first game) could then include a matchup against either LSU or Oklahoma State before reaching the finals where Duke could be waiting. Gary Parrish likes MU's chances.
The Maui News report on the tournament.
Here's a broader perspective on pre-season tournaments from ESPN's Kyle Whelliston. Whelliston, founder of the Midmajority blog site, addresses the surge in interest for these tournaments, noting
Gone forever was the 6-year-old "two-in-four" rule that limited schools to two appearances per quadrennial in so-called "exempt" tournaments, which allowed up to four contests to count as a single regular-season game against a maximum of 28. In its place was the new concept of "multi-team events" (or MTE for short), which have much looser restrictions; schools can't play in the same multi-team event twice over a four-year period, but any school may now participate in a MTE every season if it so chooses.With the restrictions eased, more teams want in......and more MTEs have emerged
The impact of the new rules on scheduling were dramatic and led to a surge of new Classics, Challenges and Shootouts. When the curtain lifted on the 2006-07 season, the number of named, multi-team preseason events had increased from 36 in 2005-06 to a whopping 58. And with the addition of even more fledgling events for 2007-08 -- with names like Philly Classic, Glen Wilkes Classic and Blue Ribbon Challenge -- college basketball's preseason has become a promoter's paradise.Thankfully, Tom Crean is intent on Marquette remaining in the mix in these marquee events. As the message boards say, this should help recruiting.
BTW, we can't talk Hawaii without thinking about Don Ho.......so, um, here's a treat for you fans of the Polynesian Elvis
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
- New Assistant for MU: Buzz Williams
- Travis Diener - Indiana Pacer
- MU's Big East Opponants Released
- MU going to Vancouver
- Jerel McNeal named Top Stopper
- McNeal nor Matthews made Pan-AM team.
- Jarod Lovette update
2. July Off-Topic Scoop Threads
- Steve Novak is getting married
- MU-Pedistrian Mall between Cobeen & Tower
- Ok, which one of you is Coach Crean?
- Universal Health Care? MUScoop has all the answers.
3. What's coming up in August?
- In August, we'll know if our 4 incoming recruits are all on campus, and look for more information on the scholarship situation
- Marquette will have a few team practices in advance of their trip to Vancouver. First game of that trip is on September 1st at noon versus the Moult Athletic.
4. Marquette Sports Wiki
As you may know, one of the best places to look for Marquette information is the Wiki, at http://wiki.muscoop.com. If you haven't visited, here are a few examples of some great information you can find on the Wiki:
A wiki, of course, depends on volunteers. We need your help. Spend a few minutes and update your favorite player's page. Or, maybe you remember 1995 like it was yesterday, and can improve the season recap for that year.
Oh, what's the point. None of you are going to help, you ungrateful slobs!
If I've guilted you into it, help us here:
5. Sports Sites of the Month:
We at MUScoop.com look forward to seeing you in the boards as we all eagerly look forward to the next season. Please remember that this site is dedicated to being "by the fans, for the fans". If you have any suggestions at all to improve YOUR site please post it to the suggestions board. Until next month ..
Here's a nice article about MU target Iman Shumpert from the local Pioneer Press newspaper in the Oak Park area. The article is not up to date with Shumpert's recruiting, but it does offer insight into the process and his development.
The recruiting interest in Shumpert started to grow by leaps and bounds after he grew from 5-foot-7 as a freshman to 6-4 when the 2006-2007 season started.
It also didn't hurt for Shumpert to improve his perimeter shooting ability which was noticed by recruiters on the AAU summer circuit.
"I struggled my sophomore year (while) growing into my body," said Shumpert...."I felt my sophomore year was wasted. That summer I worked really hard on my skills and my junior year I became a major part of the team. I wasn't being recruited at all (after the sophomore season). I played that summer against the top players and seemed to do pretty well and my confidence started to build. Maybe I can play with the best."
Allen said the competitive drive to win is one reason Shumpert is so successful.
"His intensity is just as high (at practice) as it is out there against the big boys," Allen said. "He can go to the basket and dunk, as well as pull up for a 3-pointer. That is really a dangerous combination. If you help (on defense) he has three sets of eyes and will find an open teammate.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Citing an article from the Scout.com premium site, the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Hoops report that Iman Shumpert named Georgia Tech, Marquette University and UNC as his three finalists earlier today. The Bullseye Brothers report on the news here. Bradley, Illinois, Notre Dame and Clemson were removed from consideration.
Shumpert is on the Marquette campus today for another unofficial visit. The Golden Eagles are preparing for their trip to Vancouver next month with a short series of NCAA-sanctioned practices. Shumpert is expected to make his decision prior to the start of his senior season.
With 6-4 SG/SF Nick Williams already a solid verbal, Shumpert figures to be Tom Crean's top remaining backcourt priority for the 2008 freshman class. Shumpert burst onto the national scene this spring and summer with a series of breakout performances against some of the nation's best competition. Scout.com ranks Shumpert as the 15th best player in the 2008 class.
If Shumpert decides on MU, the 6-4 combo guard from Oak Park/River Forest would continue the well-regarded tradition of Chicago-area talent migrating to Milwaukee to showcase their talents. Tom Crean currently boasts a roster that includes Chicago-area products Maurice Acker and Jerel McNeal, both of whom followed in the recent footsteps of NBA Champion Dwyane Wade.
This is not the first time Tom Crean has gone head to head with Georgia Tech and North Carolina for talent. Current Golden Eagles star Wesley Matthews chose Marquette over the Ramblin' Wreck just a few years ago. In that same class, UNC's Bobby Frasor cast his lot with Roy Williams and the Tar Heels over MU and Stanford.
Coach Tom Crean currently has two more tenders to offer for the 2008 class.
Here's a video of Shumpert via Midstate Hoops
Monday, August 06, 2007
There's a post over on MUScoop asking for an updated list of the players that MU is recruiting for the 2008 freshman class. With helpful research from a few faithful readers, here's the Cracked Sidewalks list of recruiting targets for 2008.
Big men (C/PF):
Maurice Sutton*, 6-11 C
Frank Ben-Eze*, 6-10 C
Josh Crittle*, 6-8 PF
Orion Outerbridge, 6'9 C
Edgar Garibay, 6-10 C
Quintrell Thomas*, 6-8 PF
Dominique Rutledge* 6-8 PF
Lance Goulbourne* 6-7
Jared Swopshire* 6-7
Renaldo Woolridge, 6-8 Here's a video that features Woolridge.
Luke Fabrizius*, 6-9
Collin Chieverton, 6-5
Nick Williams (VERBAL), 6-4
Iman Shumpert*, 6-4
Tyshawn Taylor*, 6-2
Max Kenyi*, 6-4
Willie Warren*, 6-3
Verdell Jones Jr*, 6-4
Please not that an asterisk denotes that MU has offered (best we can tell) ....... and note that these are the kids who have active interest in Marquette (ie, players like Rotnei Clarke and Jonathan Baldwin -- who received offers but declined to consider MU futher -- are not on this list).
MU has three available tenders for the 2008 class, and Nick Williams claimed the first slot last summer. That leaves MU with two more, but I'd expect MU to sign three more to round out a four-person class. Attrition happens.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Thursday, August 02, 2007
.......and MU is still on the list, which is no surprise. The 6'8" PF from Chicago Hales Franciscan told Chicago Hoops that his final six are Indiana, Iowa, Kansas State, Marquette, Oregon and Southern Illinois.
No word on a timetable for Crittle's decision. Crittle did pay an unoffical visit to Marquette earlier this summer.
First, congratulations are in order to Dominic James. The Marquette junior was selected as the guest of honor at the upcoming Smart Futures Dinner in Richmond, Indiana. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs in the Richmond area.
"Our committee sees (the dinner) as a very timely opportunity for the community to show its appreciation for Dominic James and his tremendous accomplishments and to provide him encouragement in the pursuit of his dreams," said event chairperson Chris Hilkert.........Just wondering....but do any of you ever compare wiki entries? Here's the Tom Crean wiki from the fast-growing MUScoop wiki. Here's the Tom Crean wiki from Wikipedia (initially created by a member of the Cracked Sidewalks team). The MUScoop entry needs your mind!
......Ever wonder what happened to former MU star Tom Copa? Here's the latest on the pride of Coon Rapids.
........Oh Canada! The UVic Vikes are hosting NCAA Division One opponents for the first time in four years when Marquette and UCSB slip north of the border for a series of games from September 3-5 in Vancouver. Judging by the press clippings, folks in the Pacific Northwest think highly of Marquette hoops:
Marquette, based in Milwaukee, is a famed name in U.S. university hoops and no stranger to the NCAA tournament. Marquette competed in last season's tournament as an eighth-seed, losing in the opening round 61-49 to the Michigan State Spartans. The Golden Eagles have made four NCAA tournament appearances in the past six years, including a 2003 run to the Final Four that was captained by Dwyane Wade..........By the way, MU target Lance Goulbourne exploded this past week at the Nike Global Challenge. The 6-7 swing man from Princeton, NJ averaged 19 points and 9 boards per game against some of the nation's best competition. Vandy leads for the gifted Goulbourne - - also an oustanding tennis player, but MU is firmly in the mix.
Details available here from Don Walker at the MJS.
The New York State attorney general's office, which has been involved in a far-reaching probe of the student loan industry, has now turned its attention to college and university athletic departments. And that includes Marquette University's athletic department.
According to the attorney general's office, Marquette was subpoenaed on Wednesday. In its request, New York Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo asked Marquette and 38 other universities for information on deals made with a student loan provider. Cuomo is investigating whether athletic departments at the schools agreed to promote loans made by Student Financial Services Inc., to students in exchange for kickbacks.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Do you know who your 13 scholarship players are for the 2007-2008 Marquette Golden Eagles?
Freshman orientation starts three weeks from today on August 22. Will Trevor Mbakwe and/or Damian Saunders be there? It appears that both players' transcripts are going under the microscope, and Saunders still has the legal issue to resolve.
What is the fate of Trend Blackledge? MU's second summer session concludes on August 11 or 18 (depending on the program) - - but does it really take three academic semesters (spring 07, summer I and summer II) to make a final determination about his academic eligibility and progress towards a degree? Apparently so.
This is all beginning to feel like a twisted game of Three-card Monte.