"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

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Marquette Road Woes Continue

Marquette was easily beaten by the UConn Huskies today, 89-73. Don't let the 16 point gap fool you. This game wasn't close. When down by 29, Marquette scored 35 points, nearly half their total, in the final 9 minutes to narrow the gap.

Marquette's shooting woes continued for the first 30 minutes of the game, shooting around 28%. As UConn had a 20+ point lead, MU hit a number of late 3 pointers to make their final numbers a respectable 40% from the field and 47% from long range.

Road wins are tough to come by in the Big East. 43 games have been played, only 9 visitors have left the court with a victory. And 5 of those wins were against the 4 worst teams in the BE. We were 3 point underdogs, on the road, half of us predicted this as a loss, and surprise, we lost.

HOWEVER. Marquette's performance during the last two games, road games indeed, has been dismal. UL shot 49% and UConn 54%. MU has been out-rebounded 5 straight games now, with a whopping -11 today. Our game of slash to the basket hasn't worked with enough efficiency to actually win games. Ooze and Burke have a grand total of zero points, 7 rebounds, and 11 fouls between them in the last two games.

In short, while our last two games have been on the road and were expected losses, it's the way we've lost that's most troubling.

Marquette has 6 days off, then plays DePaul on Saturday night at the Bradley Center.

AP Recap / Box / Play by Play


Anonymous said...

Hey Gene!

How that "Tom Crean is ALL THAT" working for you now?!

Wait: lets not judge him: give him another $1 million, and another year. I think some big from Jersey has us on his radar. TC will land him.

Enjoy the koolaid!

Jack 82

Anonymous said...

uhhhh.....another team with a halfway decent front line takes Marquette....shocker? I think not, better get used to it.


Anonymous said...

Barro and Burke may not have improved, but what big man has under TC? We need a coach who can coach the 5 position. This is not just a question of recruiting big men. I still wonder about the cohesiveness and make up of the coaching staff.

Anonymous said...

We can't target big men early because we have different assistant coaches every freaking year! There's no cohesion!

Anonymous said...

I read TC's comments in the AP story: his players are mentally tough. Not physical enough. Yada, yada, yada. Look in the mirror, Million Dollar man!

DePaul is coming on, with a load of good freshman, and after some embarrasing losses, have beat some good teams. MU is in for a struggle.

Lucky all 5 of our starters are rated in the top 20 of all time. Ha! Dom James is not fit to pick up Lloyd Walton's socks!

Anonymous said...

Well, that last post qualifies as the most idiotic post of the year. "All five of Marquette's current players in the Top 20 of all time." So you make up a ridiculous make-believe statement, and then refute it! Nice job Einstein.

The only two current players ranked in the Top 60 of all time are James and McNeil. The rankings agree with you that Walton is better than James, but as far as not holding his jock strap, James stats are better even though he doesn't get to pass to the likes of Maurice Lucas, Bo Ellis and Earl Tatum, like Walton did.

If you want to look at the reasons great programs decline, look in mirror. It's alums like you who have driven football programs like Alabama and Notre Dame from their perch to losing records - and you are doing the same to a great basketball tradition. The current players are never any good in your eyes and therefore over time they gravitate to other programs where they are appreciated.

News Flash - Walton and the 1970s are never coming back. Let's make sure we don't lapse back into the mid-80s where we don't ever get ranked or get invited to the tourney.

Anonymous said...

I think you have to look at the play of McNeal and James the last 2 games even more than anything. With James hurting, his FG% is down, and his ability to penetrate to create is down. At the same time, McNeal's gone into a bit of a funk. Maybe its the pressure of trying to do too much, but shot selection hasn't been as good the last 2 games and FG% of the two stars has been abysmal. My guess is that James should not be in the lineup and Cubillan + Acker should be running the point until James is 100%

brewcity said...

The '70's are never coming back? I better get rid of those bell-bottom jeans!

Seriously, that last post is right on...some disappointments, but we are still on the right track.

brewcity said...

I meant the previous to the last post--the "look in the mirror" thing is right on...not necessarily the bench James thing

MQ said...

The word "tough" seems to be used in college basketball like the word "scrappy" is in baseball (see FireJoeMorgan.com for more on that). It's the default word used by commentators and fans to cover up glaring shortcomings for a team.

No matter how much Tae Kwan Do or boxing training a 6'4" kid gets, he's still 6'4" and he doesn't have much hope going up for a rebound against someone who's 6'8". _2002

I go back to my comment after the Louisville game and what someone pointed out again on this line of comments: Has the assistant-coach turnover affected development and recruitment of big men?

There's no question we're not here — rejuvenated fan base, increased revenue, The Al, better depth — today without Crean. I'm not questioning that. But it is fair to point out certain trends that have emerged under his tenure and hold him responsible for those recurring shortcomings (pun intended).

It looks like we're getting some size in next year's class (plus a healthy Mbakwe), so until then, we may have to rely on being "tough."

Bring on DePaul, and let's hope the offensive flurry at the end of the U-Conn game is a sign of things to come.

Anonymous said...

Father Wild needs to hire an AD and get rid of TC's father-in-law.

Anonymous said...

Whoever said we were going to win all 30+ games? When did we promise you a national championship? If it’s so easy to get the perfect coach, why didn't Majerus, Dukiet, Deane and O'Neil pan out? Jack 82, you should know a program that was falling apart and decaying versus one that’s moving in the right direction since from your grad date you would have been right at the beginning of a long, steep descent. We have Otule, Fulce and Trevor next year and Eric Williams the following. I will take Crean and a little cool-aid any day.

Anonymous said...

O'Neill and Deane did "pan out." Crean has been given more than either of them ever dreamed of and has year-after-year of average recruits to show for it.

Anonymous said...

We're all MU fans here and we all want what's best for this program. As MQ said we wouldn't be where we are revenue, fan base, and facility wise without Crean but IF this trend of going nowhere in the NCAA's continues then we should look at what's he's built as a great foundation for someone else to come in and build upon. Letting go of Crean does not mean immediate descension into the dark ages as some people here have suggested. Maybe the program has gone as far as it can with Crean, if that's the case we should all have the confidence that our first rate institution and top notch facilities will have no trouble attracting a top quality coach.
That being said I hope he proves all of us doubters (and I am a strong one) wrong. But he needs to do it soon.

Anonymous said...

All you Statistics Guru's. This is quite an undertaking and don' know if it would show or prove anything, but is it possible to somehow show Crean, Al McGuire, O'Neill and Deane progress. I mean, Al was great, but was he that much better than the others for the same point in their career and versus the same level of competition? I mean we were an independent under Al and hence could pretty much pick and choose who we played.

Henry Sugar said...

Long before I joined CrackedSidewalks, I did a post comparing O'Neill, Deane, and Crean. You can find the info here. Basically, O'Neill was a stud, Deane had the program in decline, and Crean has the program overall improving.


McGuire is so much better than anyone else in MU history, there's really no comparison. Avg Win% of 0.781, Avg YoY Return of 13.9%, Avg of 1.6 NCAA wins / year.

There's a better way of analyzing coaches that I'll get around to at some point. It's based on the theory that teams are inclined to return to 0.500, and how well a team resists that trend indicates quality (or lack thereof) of coaching.

Anonymous said...

Why is there a complaceny about the absence of a true AD and what at least looks like impropriety with TC's father-in-law being kept around as an administrator. Who does TC answer to?? How does this impact the other athletic programs at MU?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Henry Sugar. I was just trying to get an apples to apples. When the UL fans kept coming on our message boards we kept telling them that Crean was as good as Pitino at equal points in their coaching careers. Hence, where was Al at Crean's equivalent time period?

Anonymous said...

Al McGuire is/was often underrated as a coach because of his TV career and undeniable personality. The same was true for Valvano. The truth is McGuire outcoached Dean Smith in 77' and no so called expert would have Al as a better coach than Dean. What Al had and Crean clearly does not have is a feel for the game. In fact, I would argue that no one has ever had a better feel for the game than McGuire. All that said we do want what's best for the program and Crean has built a foundation. Now to the cold hard facts: 1) Total MU tourney wins w/out Wade zero, and let's not forget they could have easily lost to Holy Cross, Mizzou, or Pitt in the first three rounds that year. Total competent post players in the Crean era one Robert Jackson and maybe Scott Merritt as well. Total times you've watched a game and said to yourself "that was a great move/adjustment by Crean" uh hmm ZERO. There entire offfense is predicated on guard penetration and transition points, and 3 pt shooting. First of all, they can't rebound so it's hard to break, and secondly when they do force steals they are erratic in transition and only score maybe 30%of the time. Deiner and especially Novak were great 3 pt shooters, but the truth is they really don't have a spot shooter this year. Lastly, let's talk about the "big three". D. James is an incredible talent but injuries or not has regressed in his 3rd year. He's got the talent of an all-american but has Crean honed that talent? McNeal is quick, has great hands and can do a little bit of everything. The problem is his not extrodinary at anything and can't shoot to save his life. Matthews either doesn't get enough touches or is overrated. Can score in transition but can't really shoot or create his own shot. He also doesn't rebound. Next year is the watershed moment for Crean. The "Big 3" should be back with Hayward and a top 25 recruiting class including Mbakwe. If this kid can give us anything inside and rebound, Crean better have them in the top 10-15 all year and make a run. Otherwise we should look for someone who can coach now that we have a foundation. By most accounts next year will be MU's best class in a long time particularly w/ Mbakwe.

Anonymous said...

You cannot compare different coaches without looking at the schedules. All this talk about cupcake scheduling ignores the fact that Crean is doing this scheduling not for financial reasons, but to pad his record. Sister Maria could win 20 games with this schedule.

Anonymous said...

No one expected 30 wins, but all of us have watched the team implode in the 1st round of the NCAA's and the last 2 games look alot like Alabama and Mich State.

And no one is expects Al to come back and bring us to the title game.

But we need to ask ourselves how far back we've come.

Over the last 10-15 years, how many times have we ended up in the Top 25 at the END of the year? Twice? The ranking in December/Jan/Feb is meaningless: Only March counts.

No one wants Bob Dukiet back, or Mike Deane, but we need to stop acting like TC is Mike Krzyzewski.

Finally, I agree 100% regarding the turnover with the assistant coaches: we have not been the same since Dwayne Stephens left for MSU

Jack 82

MQ said...

Stats question: I'd love to know how players have developed/improved statistically under Crean. I have a hunch that TC players haven't improved much from their freshmen years. The Big Three is the most prevalent example.

Three years ago, who wasn't ecstatic about the future of the program and getting to watch these three develop and improve together? Statistically, have they improved? This might be the best way to judge Crean's success as a teacher — analyzing the statistical progression of his players.

As one example: His first year, McNeal was a raw talent who could drive, get deflections, and had flashes of brilliance, but had a penchant for turning the ball over and poor shot selection. Since then, has he improved on his attributes and cut down on his faults?

Other examples include: Barro, Burke, Matthews, Joe Chapman, Chris Grimm, Todd Townsend, Fitzgerald.

For my money, Wade, Novak, and Diener are talents that could've reached the NBA from most college systems.

If a stats breakdown reveals that TC players don't grow/improve measurably in the program, then doesn't that mean the program's success hinges on the talent TC can bring in, not what he does with them when they're here? Fortunately, he's proven quite gifted at improving the breadth of talent in his time here. And that trend appears to continue upward.

There are plenty of intangibles that make TC a solid catch and keep: doesn't recruit one-hit wonders or bad characters, graduates players, and preaches the importance of family, builds the value of the program and the department — all values important to the MU community.

Basically, I'd like to see a statistical breakdown of players' careers while under TC. We know the program has headed upward under his leadership (perhaps the most important thing you want from a coach), but do players improve under his leadership?

Anonymous said...

Yes, we'll have big men next year, but what makes anyone confident they will significantly improve as sophmores? Who is responsible for coaching the 4/5 position?

The fact that Crean has not been able to recruit in Michigan is an ominous sign to me.

Henry Sugar said...

To mq,

The detailed breakdown you are requesting is available, but it's probably better suited for an offseason conversation. I have the information for each player starting with the 05 06 season.

The numbers I have show that player improvement is actually very positive over the last three years. As of now, almost every single on the team has improved on last year's Offensive AND Defensive Ratings. The sole exception is Wesley Matthews, who is slightly worse offensively than last year, but still better defensively.

Taking an example of McNeal. In his first year, he was not a winning player (ORtg 87.5 ; DRtg 95.9). Last year, he improved his
performance (ORtg 93.4 ; DRtg 89.9), including cutting down on TOs. This year, he presently has an ORtg of 102.6 and a DRtg of 86.8, and his TOs are down from last year.

The numbers say that the coaching staff does well at player development.

MQ said...

Henry: Thanks! Exactly what I was looking for. Always interested in basing perspective on facts, not hunches.

Anonymous said...

Stats are great but it never hurts to use what your eyes tell you either. McNeal has improved considerably but I think you'd be real hard pressed to say James has. While his stats may go up his NBA stock is going down which doesn't bode well for Crean's record player development. If we always went on facts and not hunches Bonds would not be a juice head, facts show he never failed a drug test but your eyes tell you differently.

Anonymous said...

Lets face it, we raised the bar real high for this team. It's kind of a shame, though we sit at 3-3 in the Big East we want to crucify the Coach because the team isn't meeting our expectations. Think about it, what does Marquette really have to offer to a top recruit other than a top coach versus say another school?

Henry Sugar said...

Stats are great but it never hurts to use what your eyes tell you either. McNeal has improved considerably but I think you'd be real hard pressed to say James has. While his stats may go up his NBA stock is going down which doesn't bode well for Crean's record player development.
My eyes tell me that James is playing a much better game this year. He doesn't dominate the ball as much and he plays more within the system. My eyes tell me that his defense is a lot better, to the extent that I'd almost rather he be the on-ball defender than McNeal.

The stats back that all up. The numbers say that the players are improving. You, Mr. Anonymous person, can continue to use your hunches, intuition, and tarot card readings to determine if a player is improving or not. I'm sure that the frame of two recent losses is tainting your viewpoint and is far less objective than a numerical analysis.

Finally, the NBA draft status of a player as of January is a terrible way of determining if a player has improved.

Anonymous said...

We all would love to see MU consistenly in the top 10. However, Obviously, MU has not been able to land a top recruit in years. Until we land a legit recruiting class that includes all positions, these frustrations will continue. You can only hope for MU to get hot as they did in 2003. I was at each tourney game in 2003, do you all remember how close we came to losing to holy cross? Diener rescued us, after that it was Wade. If we lose to Holy Cross, I truely believe Crean would not be at MU now. He has only won 1 year in the NCAA tourney. That doesnt fare very well, but We all begged Cords not to lose him, so he is now one of the highest paid coaches. I dont know how many of you have jobs that type of performance would give you this type of return? I think we all need to evaluate how we want this program to be viewed. I hate to say this, we are paying for a top 5 coach and receiving a top 75 team.

Anonymous said...

Henry Sugar: you mean "playing within the system" that is having them get their doors blown off by UCONN, Louisville, and West Virginia? Expecations are high because of the coache's profile and salary. If he was being paid 500K a year expectations would be adjusted accordingly. When he gets extenstions and raised every year coupled with rising ticket prices there is of course going to be a raised expectation level from the fan base. The bottom line is we can get these results with another coach for half the money. As for what does MU offer over another school? That comes down to the Coach, I mean what can Memphis offer? Locale, climate etc, are just excuses. The guys who get paid on Crean's level get it done. Except Crean.

Anonymous said...

And the answer to: "who coaches the 4/5 position" IS...??? Doesn't anyone know? It seems like an important question based on our present situation and the verbal commitments for next year.

I've been told statistics will tell you whatever you want them to.

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of Kentucky fans...

Mike said...

Crean deserves to be scrutinized, that comes with the territory of being a high paid high-major coach. I can even understand the comments saying Crean has peaked, but some of these threads are ridiculous. The fact is Marquette beat Holy Cross in 2003, and what is wrong with Diener "rescue[ing] us?" Isn't a starting point guard supposed to win games?

Crean has turned Marquette into a top-tier team in the toughest and deepest league in the country. Again, he deserves the scrutiny that comes with that status, but be fair. It is only two bad games. And yes, recruits will want to play for a team that competes consistently in the Big East, and for a coach that regularly puts players in the NBA.

Anonymous said...

Pardner, you haven't watched any of the games since the BE started if you think there have only been "TWO bad games."

The answer to "who coaches the 4/5 position" is TC!

Anonymous said...

Disagree with me if you want, and I am making no judgement on Crean, but I will take a coach who is a good recruiter, good player developer and average game coach over a good game coach with littler recruiting skilss and average player developement.

Anonymous said...

Crean is a good player developer, but is not and has never been a good recruiter. I don't know who does these ratings, but when he's so desperate to fill a class that he's got to sign a guy after watching him work out for 10 minutes...that's not recruiting. And he's got some guy from Texas who has followed Buzz Williams every where he goes. What if Williams leaves after a single year like every other assistant? Do we lose that recruit?

I agree with the previous poster, we could get these results for half the price. I don't mind losing, but we've been absolutely embarrassed more under Crean than under anybody else.

As for the person who compared posters to Kentucky fans...what exactly is your point? Are MU fans supposed to accept increased ticket prices, crappy home schedules, (a lame politically correct nickname) and not expect any kind of performance improvement?

I still think we'll be OK, but don't tell me we're not entitled to question some of the things that are going on!

Anonymous said...

You can't have it both ways. Either Crean can't recognize talent in big men or he can't develop the talent. I don't buy that our big men improve to any significant extent and lack of playing time is not the issue.

Anonymous said...


"Regularly puts players in the NBA?" I count 3, and Novak is just hanging on. I don't think they have any NBA players on the roster. James is headed for the development league and Europe.

That's why we lost the kid from Oak Park: he told the Suntimes that Georgia Tech would get him to the NBA, not Marquette.

brewcity said...

You mean Georgia Tech will get Shumpert to the NBA after ONE YEAR. Do we even want guys for one year?

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding? Hell yes we want kids for one year.

That Kevin Durant was sure a program-wrecker at Texas. Or Greg Oden. Derrick Rose would have been devastating to Marquette's program and he's only going to stay at Memphis for a year.

Why wouldn't we want the most talented players? Is that a joke?

Wade played for 2...how did that turn out?

Anonymous said...

Wade was on campus for 3 years and will be earning his degree.

Be carful what you wish for...or who you are willing to sell your soul to... (see Cincinatti with 1 graduate in Huggins tenure and no control over their program)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps in the case of a school like Cincinnati, the reason these kids weren't succeeding in school is that it was the school that had "control of the program" and not the other way around?

By the way, since their dictatorial coach left, they seem to have rebounded nicely.

Anonymous said...

In the event that MU fails to win a tourney game this year (God forbid)that will mean that in my time at MU (fall 95- spring 99) Mike Dean will have amassed more tourney wins than a kid who graduates in 08(assuming they were enrolled fall 04 to spring 08).
We all agree Deane was no good but this tells you how potentially bad Crean could be.

Anonymous said...

We don't "all agree" that Deane was "no good."

brewcity said...

What was no good about Deane is that he didn't believe that Marquette could ever recruit with the top programs in the nation, so he didn't even try for the blue chippers.

Anonymous said...

Is Crean bringing in blue chippers?

smalls said...

The quality of Crean's recruits are way above the level of Deane's. It's not even close.

Anonymous said...

Something tells me Deane could have landed Christopherson and Hazel, although I'm not sure MU would have allowed Mike to bring in guys with questionable transcripts like Trevor M., Hayward or Blackledge. The biggest recruit Crean has landed has arguably been Matthews. For Deane it was probable Wardle. I'd take Wardle over Wes every day of the week.

Let's not forget that Deane was on Wade.

Anonymous said...

hey guys we will be lucky to make the tournament the way we are playing .I'm sitting here watching Cincy play even up with Connecticut and they blew us out of the water. We are not tough enough, pure and simple. A major college program and we have no one in the 5 position who can make a turnaround 5 footer!!! Ridiculous.Until we recruit a complete team this will be the story. Not anti-Crean, he needs to get better than projects down low

Anonymous said...

We share an arena with an NBA team, and play in the Big East Conference with media outlets in NY and Washington plus a Conference tourney at Madison Square Garden (MSG). So blue chip recruits need to reconsider Marquette. As a NY/NJ alum, I like watching more MU games on local networks like SNY, MSG, along with ESPN and an occassional CBS game.

Crean is a great young coach along with Nova's Jay Wright and the Hall's Bobby Gonzalez. Nova was a Sweet 16 team with a 4 guard and a forward scheme 2 years ago. The Hall is a commuting school. MU is not worse off. I think the future is bright. BUT WE NEED A BIG MAN! (like all teams do).

Anonymous said...

Perhaps in the mean time we could put Acker on Jerel's shoulders?

Gene Frenkle said...

"Crean deserves to be scrutinized, that comes with the territory of being a high paid high-major coach. I can even understand the comments saying Crean has peaked, but some of these threads are ridiculous. Crean has turned Marquette into a top-tier team in the toughest and deepest league in the country. Again, he deserves the scrutiny that comes with that status, but be fair."

Wow! People need a reality check. From reading some of these posts, I'd like to know who's better than Crean that would take this job? Also, how about people being realistic on where the program is, where it's been, and where it's going?

Totally agree with this post. Yeah, Crean deserves scrutiny. But two bad games and we resort to wanting to run him out of town and resorting to the "he hasn't won in the post season" stuff while we are in mid-season, after two bad losses.

Wonder if Calhoun was gonna get run out of UConn last year after their terrible year. Or Pitino. Hell, some of his teams haven't even made the tourney. And don't get me started about Kentucky. How can you not win at Kentucky??

The facts are, they are weak downlow this year minus Mbakwe, Ous and Burke haven't played well, and the bench has been non-existent the last two games practically. Crean deserves criticism for lack of downlow guys, but it's a mix of a lot of factors and not all him.

Bottom line is, there's no way this program is where it is w/out him. And, two-losses regardless, it's headed in the right direction and looking upward.

Let's see how they respond to DePaul. And if not, I'm sure that Jack 82 has a list of candidates better qualified than Crean to jump at the chance to coach this program that's in decline under a horrible coach.

Gene Frenkle said...

...and great post by the quotes I highlighted in bold/italics previously. I totally agree with you.