"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

Friday, May 16, 2008

Above Expectations

The most recent Cracked Sidewalks post about the Buzz hiring seems to have re-opened a nerve in the comments section here at Cracked Sidewalks and on MUScoop. Personally, I was also fairly critical about the decision to hire Buzz, but I said my piece and then waited to see what happened. My position was not one where I wanted him to be the wrong choice, so that every setback (like the Tyshawn Taylor situtation) was judged harshly. However, it was also not one where Buzz received automatic acceptance that he was the right person for the job. My position?

Prove it.

I've seen some suggestions that Buzz deserves 2-3 years to grow into the job. I totally disagree. In my opinion, Buzz gets exactly one year to prove that he's the right choice for a program coming off of three straight NCAA appearances / Top 25 finishes. One. Year. Buzz managed to convince Cracked Sidewalks punching bag Steve Cottingham he was the right choice, but I want to see him prove he's a Big East coach this year.

Buzz gets graded this year based on six areas:

  • Roster Continuity (5%)
  • Coaching Staff Selection (5%)
  • Representative of Marquette (10%)
  • 2009 (or 2010) Recruiting (25%)
  • Regular Season Success (25%)
  • NCAA Success (30%)
I think that the percentages are fair, but certainly the opinions of CS readers are welcome. Thus far, only two of those areas are even complete, and a third (Representative of Marquette) has only limited information. However, I have to say that Buzz has been Above Expectations in all three areas.

Roster Continuity - (4 out of 5)
When we look at what the worst case scenario could have been (losing all four recruits for this year, Erik Williams, Scott Christopherson, Trevor Mbakwe, and Dominic James), I've got to say that Buzz did a pretty good job here. Once Crean left, Nick Williams was never going to set foot on Marquette's campus. Plus, Jimmy Butler was an upgrade over Scott Christopherson. The only area that could have been better would have been if Tyshawn Taylor stuck with MU. There was some definite ugliness, but in reading the outstanding Blog from Rosiak, I believe that Buzz handled the situation pretty well and kept the high road.

Coaching Staff Selection - (4 out of 5)
Unlike his employer, Buzz took his time filling out his coaching staff (gratuitous dig!). With a realistic view of things, I think he did pretty well. Tony Benford is experienced, well regarded, and has worked with big men in the past. "Aki" Collins is unproven, but appears to be the hungry young coach with East Coast connections. It's a bit odd that Dale Layer is now working for his former employee, but that's their relationship. Layer also brings experience to the bench and the recruiting trail. Add to that the positions for Autry and (almost certainly) Monarch, and the staff has real promise. I think the only thing really keeping this from being a five is if Buzz had hired someone like Josh Pastner.

Representative of Marquette - (4 out of 5)
I keep thinking about a quote from Billy Gillespie about Buzz (which you can find on his Marquette home page).

Everyone likes him. If they don't start out liking him, he forces them to like him.

I've heard several interviews with Buzz, and I've got to say that I like the guy. If you haven't listened, check them out yourself on his home page. There's a refreshing honesty and candor about him. Certainly, there's considerably less coach-speak than the previous coach, and I don't think I've heard him say phenomenal once. Heck it even seems like Murff is warming up to Buzz.

In summary, the proof will be when we start getting to 2009 recruits and when the season kicks off. Until then, Buzz has been Above Expectations. Keep on proving it, Buzz!


Gene Frenkle said...

I agree wholeheartedly with you NY. You are dead on.

I'm pleased with his assistants and in Jimmy Butler. I'm also pleased he hasn't signed some player just because he can (see scholarship they are currently banking).

And like you, I say he has one year to prove that he can do it. If he can't win with the seasoned team he has coming back, and he can't get recruits off the bounce-back because of that, he should be gone. If C-ham tries to save face and keep him around any further seasons beyond that, it would do irreparable harm to the program, especially in the big east.

I leave you with my normal sign off regarding Buzz - hope I've been wrong and I hope he kicks arse. If not, C-ham should be run out of town on a rail.

TB said...

Gene -- glad u agree.....but this is Henry's fine work!

Gene Frenkle said...

Sorry. Henry. You are dead on. Didn't mean to diss ya.