"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

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tyshawn Taylor commits to Marquette University

Todd Rosiak breaks the news tonight -- very welcome news. 6'3" PG Tyshawn Taylor from Jersey City St. Anthony's looks to be a terrific get for Tom Crean.

After losing out on Iman Shumpert, perhaps Crean landed the player who is ultimately the best fit for the program. Only time will tell, but that's what MU fans realized after Bobby Frasor's trip to Tobacco Road yielded Dominic James. Regardless, this is an important verbal for MU on several fronts:

  • As we saw in this video and in this video interview,Taylor brings height and strength to a backcourt laden with undersized point guards;
  • Taylor represents the most highly-regarded East Coast recruit to commit to MU under Tom Crean;
  • Taylor appears to be a true point guard - an excellent complement to fellow 2008 commit Nick Williams and current freshman Scott Christopherson.
Taylor chose Marquette over VaTech, Georgia Tech, KU and UNC.

Adam Zagoria spoke with Taylor tonight as well -- and Tyshawn had plenty to say about the campus, coaches and his role as a 'recruiter' of other high-ceiling East Coast talent. Very nice (though I'm not holding my breath for a verbal from Dominic Cheek).

Welcome to Marquette, Tyshawn!

Wiki Top 10 - October 2007

Here's another installment of Wiki Top 10 - October.

  • Men's Basketball Start
  • 2007-08 Season Page
  • 2008-09 Recruits
  • Marquette Jersey Project
  • Freeway
  • Alphabetical Player List
  • Marquette Bars
  • Real Chili
  • Marquette Football
  • Buzz Williams

    Pages that could be in the top 10, by themselves, or with some love:

  • Ulice Payne
  • Marquette Coaches thru the ages
  • Brian Barone
  • 1996 Season
  • Kerry Trotter
  • David Diggs
  • 2007-08 Women's Volleyball
  • MU Players who played in the Pros
  • MU @ UL 1/15/2007 (All 2006 games have their own page. Very nice.)
  • MU @ Pitt 2007 (Another example)
  • Men's Soccer

    Futile plug: Please help edit the wiki and share your knowledge. Sure, ~250 people pour over the wiki each day for its knowledge of Marquette athletics. Do any of you help out? No! Where's the Marquette charity? Where's the love?

    I'm throwing down. This should be a layup for one of you out there.

    Steve Cottingham is blank slate. He's our current AD for the love of pete, and has no wiki page.

    Steve Cottingham could bite you on the leg, and you wouldn't know who he is without an official wiki page. If you've been bitten by Steve, or if you ARE Steve, click on this link and click "edit this page" and add something.

    If no one edits his page, I swear, I give up .. until next month.

  • Haunted Hoops Drill Video

    Here's a little something from Haunted Hoops on Friday.

    This drill groups the players .. it's roughly one on one, if the offensive man either scores or gets his rebound, he continues to play. As a defender, if your guy doesn't score, you rotate in on offense.

    It was a very cool drill .. I didn't start taping until after Trend's spectacular run of multiple baskets. Round about minute 4 the big boys battle down low. Fun to watch.

    Sunday, October 28, 2007

    Rosiak catches up with Tyshawn Taylor

    Rosiak blogs his interview with PG Tyshawn Taylor. Check it out here.

    Big East Blogger: MU #3 in Big East

    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.
    The BEBR pegs MU for a 13-5 conference record this season. I'd sign for that right now.

    Saturday, October 27, 2007

    Haunted Hoops 2007

    Last night Marquette hosted their annual Basketball Fish Fry / Haunted Hoops event.


    • The publicity for this event was low, and so was attendance. Easily the smallest crowd to watch a Haunted Hoops since the event began. With a recruit in the house, I don't know why MU doesn't hype this event a bit more. Heck, send out a message to their email list.
    • Scheduling continues to be off kilter. The scrimmage was listed to start at 8pm .. instead, drills continued through around 9pm. Some drills are indeed interesting, though. However, there were three false starts, spanning 45 minutes, for the "children's costume parade" that had kids standing in one spot waiting, moving to another spot, waiting, moving to the floor, waiting. Guys -- these kids have bedtimes, of which, they are far past.
    • Wes really looks great. Shot the ball well, smooth defense. Most improved of the Big 3.
    • DJ played under control .. perhaps too much. Seemed aloof at times. He's still a prime time player.
    • The more I see Acker, the more I like. Quik as in Nestle's Chocolate. Passes and shoots well, a defensive pest. Huge huge addition.
    • Christopherson looked great in drills, Novakian .. but a step slow during scrimmage. If we can pop him free on some plays, he'll be our sharpshooter.
    • I saw Trend hit 11 of 20 from behind the arc in a drill. I do not know what this means. Trend had a great stretch during this 1-on-1 drill, hitting buckets and getting rebounds like crazy. I think he had the longest stretch of keeping the ball than anyone on the team.
    • Cooby had his shoulder wrapped up. Played tough, every minute, though.
    • I hope Tommy Brice picks up chicks at Murphs, because he gets no love (minutes) during public scrimmages.

    Here's a great thread with player evaluations.

    Pictures here.

    Quick media update

    With the Kansas State scrimmages on tap this weekend -- not open to the public mind you, which stinks since it'd be outstanding to see how MU tries to match up with the ridiculously talented Michael Beasley -- here are a few articles to check out:

    Friday, October 26, 2007

    Tyshawn Taylor to visit Marquette: UPDATED

    With just a few weeks remaining until recruits can sign national letters of intent, Marquette will host PG Tyshawn Taylor this weekend per HighSchoolHoop. According to Jeff Goodman at Fox Sports, Crean visited the St. Anthony's product earlier this week following Big East Media Day.

    Taylor, a 6'2" PG from one of the nation's elite high school programs, is also considering Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Kansas. Taylor emerged as a high-major prospect after a terrific summer, particularly after his all-star performance at RBK U.

    Check out these video clips of Taylor....he's one tough point guard, wow.

    Perhaps Taylor will be in town tonight for MU's annual Fish Fry, followed by the practice and scrimmage at the Al McGuire Center.

    Ray Floriani, a long-time basketball reporter currently writing for Hoopville.net and Basketball Times, also officiates high school games on the East Coast. Ray was good enough to read today's blog and to provide his expert opinion on Tyshawn Taylor:

    I've officiated Tyshwan Taylor's games for two years now. Over that time I've had his St.Anthony team in some scrimmages, the And1 Classic and several contests at the Hamilton Park Summer League.

    About a year ago many thought he would be an Atlantic Ten guard. The thing holding him back was lack of a consistent perimeter shot. This Spring and Summer, though, he really stepped it up and is the target of ACC and Big East schools.

    Taylor has worked on his shot but the thing about him is a great basketball sense. He's an outstanding defender (no surprise there because you play D or don't play for Bob Hurley). In several games I worked Taylor would trigger the break and hit a cutting wing player with a gorgeous pass. Taylor could thread the needle with his passing and he can break down a defense and get inside. One game I had, Taylor (at 6'2") dunked, yes dunked, four times in transition.

    Overall, Taylor would be a great addition to any high level program. He would be a nice fit at Marquette and I think coach Crean would love having a player of his ability, competitive desire and demeanor on board.

    When you play for coach Hurley two things are evident : you are superbly drilled in the fundamentals and, of course, you can accept coaching criticism. Simply, Tyshawn Taylor would be a great catch.

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    Smell the Tickets

    Your season tickets should arrive today. Take a deep whiff.

    Big East basketball podcast

    We've got a new bookmark for you, BigEastCast.com - home of what promises to be a terrific podcast on the nation's best basketball conference.

    The guys at Big East Cast, Brendon Desrochers from SNY and podcast partner Dante Carnevale, kick things off with a preview of the 2007-2008 Big East. In the first installment, Brendon and Dante look into Big East coaching changes along with loads of other interesting topics --essentially a run through key off-season news from around the league.

    Well done, fellas.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Meet Tyshawn Taylor

    With thanks to a commenter below, check out this link to view a terrific video on highly regarded PG Tyshawn Taylor. Taylor, who hails from the legendary St. Anthony's program in New Jersey, is expected to visit Marquette soon.

    Big East coaches pick MU third; McNeal/James earn pre-season honors

    The pre-season Big East coaches' poll is out. Georgetown and Louisville were picked as co-champs, while MU was picked to finish third overall. I am shocked that the coaches think so little of Notre Dame and Providence. Those are NCAA tourney-caliber teams this year.

    In terms of individual honors, Georgetown's Roy Hibbert was selected as the Big East pre-season Player of the Year. Dominic James and Jerel McNeal were selected to the 10-man pre-season All-Big East squad. Once again, Wesley Matthews was ignored. Fuel for the fire, I say.

    2007-08 Preseason Coaches’ Poll

    1. Georgetown (8) 217
    Louisville (8) 217
    3. Marquette 191
    4. Pittsburgh 170
    5. Syracuse 153
    6. Connecticut 149
    7. Villanova 143
    8. Providence 141
    9. Notre Dame 122
    10. West Virginia 112
    11. DePaul 79
    12. Cincinnati 62
    13. Seton Hall 56
    14. St. John’s 52
    15. Rutgers 32
    16. USF 23

    2007-08 Preseason All-BIG EAST Team
    *Roy Hibbert, Georgetown (Player of the Year), C, Sr., 7-2, 278, Adelphi, Md.
    Jeff Adrien, Connecticut, F, Jr., 6-7, 238, Brookline, Mass.
    Jonathan Wallace, Georgetown, G, Sr. 6-1, 188, Harvest, Ala.
    David Padgett, Louisville, C, Sr., 6-11, 245, Reno, Nev.
    Terrence Williams, Louisville, F, Jr., 6-6, 210, Seattle, Wash.
    Dominic James, Marquette, G, Jr., 5-11, 185, Richmond, Ind.
    Jerel McNeal, Marquette, G, Jr., 6-3, 200, Chicago, Ill.
    Geoff McDermott, Providence, F, Jr., 6-7, 230, New Rochelle, N.Y.
    Kentrell Gransberry, USF, C, Sr., 6-9, 270, Baton Rouge, La.
    Eric Devendorf, Syracuse, G, Jr., 6-4, 180, Bay City, Mich.
    *Scottie Reynolds, Villanova, G, So., 6-2, 195, Herndon, Va.

    * denotes unanimous selections.

    CHN Rankings & Big East Media Day

    Rankings are fun......especially when your team looks good. CHN ranked the top 30 players in the Big East and Dominic James is at the top of the heap. Jerel McNeal checks in at #10, making MU the only program with two of the league's top 10. Strangely, Wesley Matthews gets no respect -- he's listed in the 'next in line' category. I look forward to the recount in March.

    Here are the CHN rankings of the Big East's best players. Talk about it here on MUScoop.

    **Big East Media Day**
    BTW, Big East Media day will begin this morning at 9am CDT in New York City, the greatest city in the world. Tom Crean and the Three Amigos will represent Marquette at the event today.

    FWIW at last week's Marquette CIRCLES in New York event, Tom Crean indicated that for his preseason coaches' poll he pegged Louisville, Georgetown and Providence as the Big East's top three teams - -in that order. He cited overall experience as the primary reason for selecting these teams to lead the league. Crean did not indicate where he slotted MU.

    Fans can check out the Big Easts' media day homepage for updates throughout today's event, including video content. That page includes a link to the official Big East preview of Marquette -- find that right here.

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    MUScoop.com turns 1

    Happy Birthday to MUScoop.com!

    A year ago today, two Marquette alums, rocky_warrior and spiral filled a void in the community by creating a new forum for MU chatter.

    The Scoop is going strong, with over 34,000 posts, 823 members, and 2,100 daily visitors, monthly newsletters, hundreds of game-photos, many videos and huge wiki. All in 365 short days.

    Not all websites make it through a year, especially with strong internet brethren like Scout. I think we've been surprised by its success.

    On a personal note, I was fortunate to be invited to help moderate Scoop and write for Cracked Sidewalks, and the partnership between the two sites has been outstanding, with a tremendous amount of shared traffic.

    Thank you MUScoop, and thank you CrackedSidewalkers!

    Media Updates

    With practice in full swing and Big East media day coming up tomorrow, here are a few notable updates on MU basketball from around the Web:

    More updates as they pop on the Web.

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    Marquette Media Guides: now available

    The Marquette basketball media guide.......an annual rite of passage is upon us.

    To order your media guide,visit GoMarquette.com -- $20 for the shiny new one, or download it piecemeal. What else are you going to read this winter (other than this blog, of course)?.

    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    We are what we are?

    Recruiting for the freshman class of 2008 could not be more disappointing of late. After the fast start more than a year ago -- an early commitment from the talented Nick Williams -- MU has gone o-fer its top targets. The promise of landing a breakthrough, national recruiting class has quickly given way to doubt, frustration, and resignation about the appeal and status of the program.

    The status quo remains. MU will continue to be a successful program built on the backs of the unheralded, the under-recruited, the ignored, the occasional recruiting coup, and the overachiever.

    Not long ago a class of Frank Ben-Eze, Iman Shumpert, Jared Swopshire (or similar) and Nick Williams seemed plausible. After all, Crean was selling a starting center opportunity (but lost Ben-Eze), a likely starting PG slot (but lost Shumpert), and perhaps a starting SF slot (but lost Swopshire, among others).

    As if on cue, when this class' bellwether target committed to Georgia Tech last week MU accepted a verbal from a player who previously pledged to a mediocre program in the Sun Belt Conference. Keep in mind, this is a player who has yet to visit MU, which is exceptionally odd since Crean has cooled on some players during official visits (as a commenter below pointed out). Obviously, Joseph Fulce fits the profile of this program.

    There is clearly a recruiting ceiling at Marquette; it has been some two decades since the program lured a legitimate national top-25 player to campus. Sadly, Marquette is not a destination program for the nation's elite prospects. Meanwhile, MU fans watch as Georgetown, Syracuse, and Louisville reload with A-list talent as Crean scrambles for options C, D, E and F.

    Some fans will take solace in noting that MU is getting closer on some of these big-time players, but college basketball is not darts. Close means nothing, recruiting is pass/fail. And while MU seems to offer more than a dozen kids in any given class and chases elite prospects all over the place, the payoff remains negligible.

    The good news for MU fans is that Tom Crean has figured out how to build and sustain a strong program with these types of players. Crean is a master at finding diamonds in the rough, and has proven himself to be an outstanding evaluator and developer of backcourt talent. These traits will continue to serve MU well as the program matures under his stewardship. And frankly, despite these tough recruiting losses of late the program is still loaded with talent -- although its highest-ceiling talent are now upper classmen.

    No offense, but you don't build a top 25 program by playing guys like Hazel, Burke or Cubillan for 30 minutes a night. It is time for a recruiting breakthrough or five. For the 2008 class, let's circle the wagons and hope for the best. Inking Tyshawn Taylor and Chris Otule would be a terrific recovery for MU -- and that is still possible.

    Still, the 2009 group just became the most important incoming freshman class since the impressive haul headed by the Three Amigos. Erik Williams seems like a good start, though you have to wonder what the recent overloading at the SF slot means for the uber-talented Jamil Wilson of Racine.

    Time for a rebound on the recruiting trail. Maybe a breakthrough?

    Well, hope springs eternal.

    Friday, October 19, 2007

    Marquette: Heavy Breathing?

    In an interesting article in this morning's Boston Globe, it's reported that Marquette is fidgeting with the team's lungs.

    Inside an altitude chamber that simulates conditions at 9,000 feet above sea level, Marquette University guards Wesley Matthews and Jerel McNeal start pedaling stationary bikes. Realizing the challenge ahead, they look less than thrilled. Within minutes, Matthews and McNeal experience shortness of breath. Heart rates rise quickly. In five minutes, Matthews and McNeal have stressed their bodies far beyond what they could do on a bike outside the chamber.

    After purchasing a customized altitude unit this summer for $41,700, Marquette became the first college basketball team in the country to integrate the hypoxic chamber into its training regimen, following the lead of professional sports franchises such as the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, and Phoenix Suns.

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    The "Buzz" on Fulce

    There have already been rumblings on the message board about "surprise" recruit Joseph Fulce.

    Here's his odyssey:

    - Recruited to Texas A&M by then Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Buzz Williams

    - Signed to an LOI by UNO Head Coach Buzz Williams

    - In July, Buzz Williams was named assistant coach at Marquette.

    Coincidence? Probably not.

    I don't know a lot about Fulce yet. But for Buzz Williams to stake his coaching and recruting reputation on him not once, not twice, but three times says a lot about the faith that Williams must have in his abilities.

    And the newest Warrior is .... Joe Fulce?

    In case you missed the internet forum frenzy, Iman Shumpert did not give the nod to Coach Crean, and is instead going to Georgia Tech. My wife suggested, "Well, there's direct flight from Chicago to Atlanta." Guess that's how his family will watch him play. Maybe they didn't want to pay tolls on I-94.

    So in a surprise, the Plano Courier Star is reporting:

    Joseph Fulce, a 2006 Plano Senior graduate and starter on the Class 5A State Championship Wildcats squad, has verbally committed to play basketball at Marquette.

    He's a 3 star small forward from Plano Texas.

    We'll update this as we figure out more. Welcome aboard, Joseph.

    A weighty decision for MU

    We're just hours away from learning Iman Shumpert's college choice. The MU message boards are rather tense, with good reason -- it has been years since a player of this acclaim and caliber actually committed to Marquette.

    Iman Shumpert is a bellwether recruit for the program. Can MU break through and ink a nationally-ranked player of this magnitude? Simply put, Shumpert is the the kind of player who would signal to other big time prospects that it is OK to sign with MU. This one matters nationally.

    If MU swings and misses here, it won't be for lack of effort. Crean poured it on in the pursuit of Shumpert, consider: the clever midnight visit as the open recruiting period began, securing Shumpert's final visit, Marquette Madness, and Dwyane Wade. Well done, TC.

    Of course, if MU can't land a kid at a need position after that kind of royal treatment, well........it is likely more of the same for the program on the recruiting trail, and a kick in the 'nads for Crean.

    Look, MU will be just fine either way; Crean has proven that for the last decade. He has an eye for talent, particularly in the backcourt and he's proven that 'recruiting rankings' are not the only measure of future success. However, Shumpert presents a undeniable opportunity to ratchet this program up several notches in the eyes of big time recruits for years to come.

    In a sense, Shumpert's decision is all about credibility. Does MU have it or not with players of this caliber?

    We'll know soon enough.

    Decision day for Shumpert

    The Bullseye Brothers and Chicago Hoops both report that River Forest/Oak Park guard Iman Shumpert will announce his college choice this afternoon on "Chicago Tribune Live". The show runs from 5:30-6:30 PM CDT on Comcast SportsNet.

    Shumpert will choose between North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Marquette University.

    Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    Cool new MU jerseys revealed

    Oh baby (blue).

    The new MU jerseys are now up on the Spirit Shop website - - retro rules, back to the future.

    It'll be great to see MU take the court in these classics.

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Analysis of Recent MU History and a Coaching Comparison

    Follow this link to an exceptionally well-written and researched post by Henry Sugar on MUScoop. Things are trending ever-upward at MU.

    Great job, HS.

    Recruiting update: Shumpert, Mookie Jones and more

    A few nuggets:

    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    Erik Williams - Newest Warrior

    According to Todd Rosiak, Erik Williams has committed to Marquette for 2009.

    It didn't take long for 'Marquette Madness' to make an impression on at least one recruit.

    Erik Williams, a 6-foot-7, 190-pound junior forward from Cypress Springs (Tex.) High School gave MU an oral commitment on Sunday afternoon, becoming the first player from the 2009 class to do so for the Golden Eagles.

    Williams said he'd also received scholarship offers from Alabama, Texas A&M and Baylor, all of whom he'd also visited unofficially, but that he was sold on MU and convinced that was where he'd fare best.

    Williams averaged 11.1 points and around 8.5 rebounds last season en route to earning second team all-district honors. Also notable were his 102 blocked shots, which shattered the previous school record.

    Williams, who projected himself as a wing for the Golden Eagles, is the second player in as many years to commit to MU either prior to or shortly into his junior year. Nick Williams, a guard from Mobile, Ala., committed to MU last summer as he headed into his junior year.

    Erik Williams' Rivals.com profile

    Scout.com Profile

    Madness Recap


    Notes from Marquette Madness:

    1. Great crowd. Packed house, standing room only. Although somehow it didn't feel jammed like the Bradley Center. I suppose that's the difference between 18,000 and 4,000 fans.

    2. Crean and company must have gotten finished watching the Karate Kid series, as they were introduced decked out in karate outfits. Crean arrived on court via a 4-wheel ATV that, god help us, nearly tipped over on several of his sharp turns. Players took turns karate-chopping boards with Big East opponent's logos.

    3. DWade was in the house. After a one-act skit where Crean directed us to a "malfunctioning" jumbotron with a taped Wade message .. suddenly Wade appears and brings the house down. Fantastic!

    4. Dunk Contest - Many missed dunks, says this white boy who can't jump. The famed Wes Matthews-jumping-over-something (ATV) was missed twice, and they didn't let him risk a third attempt. Jerel McNeal won the contest.

    5. The scrimmage started a bit after 9pm. Comments:

    • Team looked way better than previous "first" practices. Why? Two words: Oh, Canada! The 10 extra practices and 4 Vancouver games had a clear effect on how close the team is to "mid-season" form. That trip gets Marquette a month ahead of everyone.
    • Mo Acker is a huge, huge addition. Runs the team well, shot 4-8 on 3-pointers. 6 assists, Zero turnovers? Nice. Will get a lot of minutes this year, and be the difference maker in many games.
    • Blackledge was a surprising scorer for his team. Visable improvement since last year.
    • Lazar led all scorers with 18 .. but he took 16 shots to get there.
    • Ooze grabbed 9 rebounds .. Trevor with 8. Nice.
    • Tommy Brice, DNP. Come on. Give a dog a bone!
    • Box Score Here

    Photos of the scrimmage.

    Here are a couple of videos I shot from my seat:

    Team Introductions:


    Dunk Contest:

    Saturday, October 13, 2007

    Got Wade?

    MU does.

    The All-Star and NBA Champion made a surprise appearance at Marquette Madness tonight, much to the delight of the fan base ....... and perhaps to the amazement of key recruiting targets Iman Shumpert, Jared Swopshire and Nick Willlams. Nice work, TC and DWade.

    Details here from Todd Rosiak.

    Photos from Marquette Madness here at MUScoop.com

    Inside recruiting: Tom Crean looks to seal the deal with Iman Shumpert

    With Marquette Madness just hours away and the recruiting campaign reaching a crescendo, Cracked Sidewalks was given unprecedented access to Tom Crean's persuasion playbook earlier this week. Chapter one focused on the sublime Iman Shumpert.

    Here's what we know. In his initial on-campus meeting with Shumpert yesterday, TC mimicked the remarkable Morpheus by challenging the young prodigy to consider where his ultimate potential as a person and player would be realized.

    "Iman, this is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes."

    Next stop. Marquette Madness.

    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Marquette Madness: catch it online this weekend


    On Saturday at 7pm CDT, Marquette will host its annual Marquette Madness at the incomparable Al McGuire Center. Thousands of fans will jam the arena -- and if you can't be one of them be sure to catch all the action on-line, live. Click here for details on how to access the MUTV feed as well as that of ESPN Radio in Milwaukee.

    With MU's smart, aggressive promotion of the event, expect a packed house. And in the dunk contest and a bushel of key recruits scheduled to attend -- including Nick Williams, Jared Swopshire, Iman Shumpert, Erik Williams and certainly others -- the place will be jumping. FWIW, this will be Iman Shumpert's final official visit before making his decision.

    Todd Rosiak updates the entire list of recruits on campus this weekend.....loads of talent, highlighted by the names above. Check it out on Todd's blog here. (and note that Todd's latest updates always appear on the right side of our blog - take a look)

    Cracked Sidewalks will be there to cover the event ..... so keep it here for first-person impressions of the festivities.

    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    MU sports schedules now available for Outlook download

    Here's an MU related PSA........The athletic department set up a new site where all of the MU schedules are available for download into Outlook. Heck, they even have step by step instructions to support the effort.

    Click here to download the MU schedule into Outlook

    Wednesday, October 10, 2007

    Ben-Eze to Harvard

    In a major blow to Marquette's recruiting efforts, highly-coveted 6'10" center Frank Ben-Eze today committed to Harvard over MU and Virginia Tech. IWB had the news first over at Marquette Hoops. Congratulations and good luck to Frank. Harvard, wow.

    Now back to MU.

    Anyway you cut it this is a huge hit to the 2008 recruiting class. Amazingly, Crean has a starting center spot available for the taking -- yet still can't land the type of immediate impact, high-ceiling center you'd expect from a top 25 program. Sadly, the last center to sign with MU was Ousmane Barro -- a kid who did not play high school basketball in the U.S.

    There is some reason for optimism. Crean is recruiting a host of other centers (O'Tule, Stutz and Sutton) but at least two of these appear to be projects. Also, it is worth noting that in the past, recruiting misses at the center position have not dealt the kind of blow to the program you might have expected (think Bryce Webster).

    As long as the backcourt remains strong, Crean's system can overcome the absence of a consistently productive center - - but it should not have to be that way. Imagine what this program could be with a formidable front line anchored by a true center.

    Imagine is all we can do for now.

    What do you think? Talk about it here at MUScoop.

    Texas two-step

    With Buzz Williams on staff at MU you'd have to expect that the Golden Eagles would express interest in kids from the Lone Star State -- dramatically expanding the program's recruiting footprint. Buzz and TC are wasting no time; two Texas bigs have appeared on the radar for the class of 2008:

    For the class of 2009, MU will host 6'6" SF Erik Williams from Cypress Springs High School in suburban Houston for an unofficial visit this weekend. Coincidentally, Williams plays at the same high school as former MU guard Karon Bradley.

    SNY previews MU

    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).
    Ultimately this is nitpicking......MU does struggle from the field and has a questionable inside presence. Still, with a veteran team returning every viable contributor from a group that won 10 Big East games last season, I'd expect MU to finish better than 4th overall.

    Key excerpt:
    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.

    Tuesday, October 09, 2007

    Mbakwe Cleared!

    According to Todd Rosiak, Trevor Mbakwe has been cleared to play.

    Freshman forward Trevor Mbakwe was given the all-clear by the NCAA Clearinghouse this afternoon, just three days before the official open of practice.

    "Thrilled for the program, but really excited for him because it's been wearing on him," said coach Tom Crean. "He's done, in my opinion and I think in everyone else's, an incredible job of staying focused, going through the daily process of being a college student and not knowing what was next when it comes to something that he loves."

    The 6-foot-7, 240-pound Mbakwe is expected to step in and play a large role for MU immediately. His academic record had been undergoing scrutiny and he had been barred from any organized team activities while the process was underway, much like Lazar Hayward a season ago.


    Updates from around the Web

    While we wait for Marquette Madness (highlighted by official visits from Iman Shumpert, Nick Williams, Jared Swopshire and perhaps others), here are a few links from around the Web:

    YouTube Update: Marquette wants a packed house on Saturday. Here's a commercial that was on Channel 4 during prime time, no less:

    Monday, October 08, 2007

    MU previews Marquette Madness

    OK, t-minus five days until Marquette Madness.......check out the way cool video from the GoMarquette site, which is embedded below. Muy bien. How does Dominic James not cut his head on the rim? Insane.

    Saturday, October 06, 2007

    MUScoop October Newsletter

    MUScoop.com's October newsletter:

    October is upon us, and that means midnight madness is just days away.  Let that swirl around in your head for a minute.  The long dry summer is over.  We can put away our shorts and bring out our MU sweatshirts.  Marquette Basketball season is within sniffing distance.

    And, oh, yeah.  Marquette's gonna be good this year.  Depending on the pre-season ranking you look at, we're anywhere between the #10th and #15th best team going into 2007-08.  With all of our starters back this year, Marquette will be running for the Big East Title.

    Marquette's schedule was released last month, and it's a doozy, with 18 Big East games, and no less than 7 "must-see" games at the Bradley Center.  I'll go out on a limb and say next season will break attendance records.  (For records,  check the wiki!)

    We'd love to get your feedback - send it to muscoop@muscoop.com or post it to the suggestions board


    1. September Highlights

    2. September Off-Topic Scoop Threads

    3. What's coming up in October?
    • Oct.13th Midnight Madness - 7-9pm - Al McGuire Center - Recruits Shumpert & Swopshire in the house.
    • Oct.26th MU Fish Fry / Haunted Hoops - 7PM - Al McGuire Center
    • Oct.27th Single Game tickets on sale to public

    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.

    If you're up for contributing an hour, 5 minutes, or even 30 seconds, head on in and add to your hearts content!

    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 ..

    Friday, October 05, 2007

    Happy Birthday, D. James

    Happy Birthday, Dominic!

    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.

    Wednesday, October 03, 2007

    Luke Winn Q&A With Jerel McNeal

    Wisconsin native Luke Winn of CNNSI catches up with Jerel McNeal......it is currently the lead story on CNNSI's college hoops homepage -- here is the link to the article itself.

    Good to see Luke diving back into the MU program.

    Erik Murphy Madness

    With a tip o'the cap to the commenter below, check out this article from today's Boston Globe about stud 2009 prospect Erik Murphy and his teammate, Nate Lubick. The buzz on Murphy is deafening in New England (heck, he's profiled in the Globe on the morning the Red Sox open the 2007 ALDS), and TC seems blown away:

    Rarely have so many coaching greats flocked to a New England high school gym for such a small private showcase.

    "I've never been at anything like this," said Crean, one of eight coaches who already have offered scholarships to Murphy, a 6-foot-9-inch, 220-pound junior.
    How good can Murphy be?
    "In my view, Patrick Ewing is the most accomplished player ever to come out of New England, but at the end of the day, Erik Murphy will be in the top five," said T.J. Gassnola, who operates the New England Playaz.

    Murphy is an interesting target for MU in the class of 2009. MU clearly needs a talent upgrade on the front line, and TC is aiming high with this kid -- considering UF, UNC and most college basketball royalty are after him.

    Can MU hang with this competition? I'd like to think, 'yes'. However, perhaps Murphy is the kind of kid more likely to consider MU seriously if Crean can deliver a breakthrough 2008 class.

    Know what? It could happen. For the first time in several recruiting cycles, MU could be on the verge of a major breakthrough nationally, ratcheting the program up a notch in the eyes of high school coaches and emerging talent all around the country. A 2008 freshman class that includes Shumpert, Ben-Eze and Williams (or similarly rated talent) would make MU a much more viable option for more of the nation's elite down the line-- kids like Murphy.

    All the more reason why the next 45 days of the off-season will be among the most interesting and significant in recent memory.

    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    Quick Shumpert Update

    .........from the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park/River Forest.

    Nothing new -- Shumpert is sticking to his schedule and will visit MU soon for Marquette Madness before making a decision.

    Meanwhile, Zagoria reports that Mookie Jones enjoyed his visit to MU and will take the rest of his official visits in the coming months.

    Monday, October 01, 2007

    Lance Goulbourne to Vanderbilt

    Per Zagoria's blog -- lots of details here. Congrats and good luck, Lance.

    Despite losing Goulbourne, MU seems bound and determined to sign a combo forward this year. Crean is still actively recruiting a slew of talent at the SF positions including Dominique Rutledge (visiting MU this week), Mookie Jones (on campus last week), Renaldo Woolridge (on campus last week) and Jared Swopshire (on campus later this month).

    Hoops for the Soul: Remembering Coach Al

    I am a sucker for Al McGuire retrospectives, and Chris Maynard at Hoops4theSoul filed a terrific post yesterday (which happened to be Jerome Whitehead's 51st birthday).

    “I want to keep the pulse of the parking-lot attendant—the country club or golf course is not where it’s at. The pulse is on the cracked sidewalks. If you lose that, life’s not worth living. As a person, I hope I never change.”
    Thanks for the nostalgic rush, Chris.