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

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Marquette Post-Season Roundtable - Part Two

In part one of our Postseason roundtable (or you could just scroll down), we took a look at our favorite memories from this season as well as how we think the seniors will be remembered. In part two, we look at Buzz Williams and our thoughts his first season at the helm.

We've gone through almost an entire season with Buzz. What are your thoughts?

bma725: I'm just happy that for the first time since the Kevin O'Neill era we actually scored a basket off an inbounds play, and I'm only half kidding.

I like what I've seen so far. I think there are some coaches out there who would have come in and tried to impose their system on this team because that's the only way they know how to coach, and he was smart enough not to do that. There were some minor on the court issues, but all in all I liked his philosophy. I like the player development we saw from Wes, DJ and Jimmy. That shows me this staff can actually develop talent. I like what I've seen and heard so far in recruiting. Buzz is a very well respected guy among the top AAU coaches in the country, which bodes well for the future.

For right now, he's exceeded my expectations. I didn't think the team would do this well, and I didn't think the players would develop like that. With the make up of the team changing so much next year, we'll have to wait and see if he can continue to prove the doubters wrong.

Rob: Color me pleased. Despite my vociferous initial objections, I think Buzz did a pretty good job this year. In every area that I'd want to grade Buzz (representative of the university, recruiting, regular season success, and NCAA success), I'd give him at least a "met expectations" or "exceeds expectations". The big key for me was seeing how well he coaches, and I thought he did a pretty good job. Plus, anyone that is as big of a numbers freak as he is can't be that bad.

muwarrior92: Overall, I'd give him an AB using the MU grading system (is that still used today?) He exceeded my expectations for wins and losses but finished the conference where I expected (5th). He's passionate as hell which I love. He's too honest which in a weird way is not good. He has to know sometimes that honesty should be kept with the inside voice and not told to the media. He seems to be a good motivator and he assembled a wonderful staff. I'm not wild about his lack of timeout usage or his rotations at times, but will evaluate more based on a fuller compliment of players in the coming years. The program is his now, he's off to a good start. He didn't bomb this season and a few things out of his control kept him from making a bigger mark. All in all, job well done.

John: I am very high on Buzz, and particular the fact that he has a national recruiting plan and can obviously bring in big men. I think he has all the scenarios down and can recruit. I thought he made some late game mistakes, but will fix those with a year of Big East coaching under his belt.

Kevin: It's hard to give Buzz anything but a high grade for what he did this year. You can kibbitz around the edges of his coaching decisions, but generally, I thought this team would come in at 12-6 when Crean was here, and Buzz hit that same mark, which means Buzz lived up to the expectations of how this team could perform. The future recruiting classes seem to be great, and Buzz will continue to grow into his position. He's got lots of upside, and we'll see how that plays out over the next 1-2-3 years. Next year, the expectations will be really low, which sets him up very well to exceed them.

Tim: Buzz Williams did a terrific job. When MU was hit in the mouth this season, they responded pretty well. Lose to Dayton? Beat Wisconsin. Lose to Tennessee? Beat NCSU. Lose James? MU still took UConn down the the last few possessions and only a few mental mistakes by veteran players kept the team from winning a few more games. Williams recruited exceptionally well and throughout the season made a number of in-game adjustments which put his team in position to win games in the second half. A fine maiden voyage by the coach.

What has you most excited about next year's team?

bma725: One word, length. For so long we've been the undersized team in nearly every game, that won't be the case anymore. Conceivably, MU could put out a lineup from PG-C at 6'3, 6'6, 6'6, 6'10, 7'0. We haven't had that in awhile. I'm really looking forward to having guys that are actually the appropriate size for their position. That, and I have a hunch that everyone who dropped Erik Williams' stock when he got hurt is going to regret it. The kid is special.

Rob: Growth. With the influx of talent and some of the returning players, I'm most excited about watching the players grow and develop. It's going to be fun watching the contributions from the new players like EWilliams, Cadougan, Buycks, Maymon, and Roseboro. I'm excited to see how Butler, Lazar, and Acker improve. I'm really curious to see what a full offseason does for the development of Fulce, Otule, and McMorrow. Next year's team should consider 0.500 and an NCAA berth as a widely successful season. With such modest expectations, it's going to be fun watching development.

muwarrior92: Seeing what other players can do. This team has been roughly the same for four years and goes through a major change next season. We will certainly be taller which is good as long as the guards can keep it going. I'm a firm believer in guards are the most important in college basketball due to the sheer lack of quality bigs. Can't wait to see Liam McMorrow as he is intriguing. The star studded recruits I suspect will be fantastic based on their hype. Lazar as a senior will be fun to watch, especially as he will be able to play the 'three' next year as well.

John: The only silver lining to DJs injury was the play of Butler and Acker. I was obviously already excited about the great incoming height, and finally being able to bring in the size we would have died for during these past four years – but seeing how well Butler and Acker played might be just what we need to make the transition as the new class gets used to stepping up to Big East play. But with all that aside, the thing I am most excited about is seeing what Lazar will do with legit big men underneath that can let him go out to the perimeter and bury shot after shot. His touch is so perfect, that I believe once he no longer has to take a physical beating inside every game, he will truly blossom into one of the great shooters behind only Novak and Wolf.

Kevin: That's a really tough question to ask just after a nut puncher game. Next year will be really challenging, and Warrior Nation could easily see their first sub-.500 conference season in 4 years, so to be excited about something, you need to think about player development, both new and old. We're all curious what Otule and Fulce will do next year, let alone what Williams, Maymon, Buycks, Cadougan, Rosoboro, and McMorrow will bring to the table. Could we slip into the NCAAs on that young talent? Hope springs eternal.

Tim: The high level of incoming talent. For the first time in ages, Marquette has a diverse skill set hitting campus at the same time. Buzz covered every position on the floor with the soon-to-be freshman. When you throw in seasoned veterans like Hayward, Butler and Acker there's reason for optimism even in the brutal BIG EAST. Surely the program will take a step back next season -- back-to-back 25 win seasons is a high bar -- but with a solid foundation going forward, a bit of patience should pay off handsomely for MU fans.


As always, thanks for reading Cracked Sidewalks and keep visiting! We are Marquette.


Anonymous said...

I'm keeping an eye on assistant-coach and player departures, of which there were plenty each off season during coach Crean's tenure -- specifically assistant coaches. I always suspected that this affected player development and comfort, despite the public stance of it "being a great credit to coach Crean and how he grooms his assistants."

HoopsMalone said...

Gotta be happy that the Big East is not going to be nearly as tough as it was this past season. It will make the transition easier.

Let's see if Buzz can follow up this solid recruiting class with some more good players in the two classes to follow. Looks like the class entering in Fall 2010 will have some role players which is very important, but we need some serious skill in here more than once in every 4 years.

Unknown said...

I agree in regards to every year having a first rate recruiting class. While it is harder to get a 1st rate recruit here without guaranteeing starting or a lot of playing time, it is essential we have a talented bench in case someone gets hurt, transfers, doesn't develop and when we play deeper teams. Can Buzz do it? It is easier to find a talented JUCO that fell through the cracks, but they are not equal to the talent we will face in the BEAST day in and day out.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Dear Cracked Sidewalks- I was introduced to your blog this year, and would just like to take a moment to thank you for your outstanding coverage of Marquette Men's Basketball. More often than not, you say what I have been thinking, and it's comforting to visit a site where the fans are as passionate about MU Hoops as I am. THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

Honestly, lets let up a little on the untamed praise of Buzz. I'll start by saying Buzz DID exceed my expectations. I was one of those people who felt we should have hired a flashy candidate, a big name, and Buzz overcame a lack of initial media hype and support from the MU faithful to put on a great season. That being said, when describing Buzz, the word I come to think of is inexperienced. For as much of a numbers guy as he is, he still lacks in other crucial areas. Knowledge of when to call timeouts-his strict one timeout per the 1st half was excruciating to watch vs. Missouri. The same held true for the Villanova game 1st half. Villanova and Missouri are not Depaul, and he can't get away with refusing to call a T.O. if needed. Also, the lack of bench use. Some people may wish to opt out of actual discussion by tagging this hindsight but did anyone really feel that a 7 man rotation was enough? The season of what-if extends to what if Buzz incorporated Acker, Butler, and Cubillian earlier? And while it was exciting and awesome to see D. James return to the floor after being told his MU career was over, although it became very apparent that Dom wasn't effective, Buzz kept him on the court way too long after his inability was exposed. While I'm not trying to be ridiculous in discussing the legacy of this team (unlike blogger James), we need to temper this unbriddled excitement of Buzz.