"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, March 27, 2009

Last night proved just how good Marquette was this year

Duke … welcome to the Big East.

I was almost still too sick from the Missouri loss to watch the games last night, but thank goodness I did.

After watching the four games last, is there any doubt Marquette would have had a shot to win ANY other conference in the US this year except the Big East?

Reflect on last night's games. Marquette was eliminated from the Big East tournament by Villanova on a last second shot. Last night, that same Villanova team beat the ACC TOURNAMENT CHAMPION DUKE by 23 points. You're telling me Marquette couldn’t have won the ACC tournament?

Marquette was eliminated from the NCAA tournament in the final seconds by Missouri. That same Missouri team beat the Conference USA champion Memphis, ranked No. 1 by Pomeroy, by 11 points to advance to the Elite Eight. In their six tournament games so far (Big 12 and NCAA), Marquette has been by far their closest challenge – Missouri’s margins in those games have been +21 Texas Tech, +19 Cornell, +13 Baylor, +11 Memphis, +8 Oklahoma State, and only +4 Marquette.

True, Marquette didn’t win the close games against great/hot teams – but the measure of how great this squad was is that they played at an incredible level to make them close games. Just reflect on how much BETTER Marquette was in their two narrow tournament losses than two No. 2 seeds – Duke and Memphis – were in losing by 11 and 23 points.

Good and bad criticisms

There have been some fair criticisms of MUs team by Chicosbailbonds, Championshipsmatter and others this year that proved accurate – despite the incredible trio at guard, the team couldn’t go deep without a center and with no depth. Fair enough, those proved to be accurate.

But there are also silly criticisms by others; 1) blaming the Three Amigos instead of a lack of depth/big men for not being able to pull out close games, 2) arguing that if we bloggers stay angry and not content with “mediocre” results it will somehow make the team better as if the team won’t try their hardest unless irate posts are blogged, and finally; 3) no one will remember the Three Amigos because fans only remember deep NCAA runs and Conference and Tournament titles.

Based on that last criteria, how many of Marquette’s seasons are memorable for blog commenter James? Assuming a deep run means at least three NCAA wins, so it takes 3 NCAA wins or a conference title to be "memorable," there have been five memorable seasons for James; 1974, 1977, 1994, 1997 and 2003. So less than one of every 18 seasons is memorable. Let’s say James considers TWO NCAA wins a deep run – at that point you can add 1955, 1969 and 1976, meaning Marquette has had 8 memorable seasons – less than one in every 11 seasons!

And what of the idea that MU would have had to finish in 1st place of 16 teams in the best conference ever this year for it to be a "memorable," season? How about the memories from just competing for the title until James' injury in the first conference to ever put FIVE teams in the Sweet 16, three of which already have advanced to the Elite 8.

The bottom line is, anyone who complains about the past four years is spoiled.

Why the last 4 years will be remembered

To understand just how well we’ve had it the past four years, consider this:

Marquette is one of only EIGHT teams in the country (out of 343) to finish the last three seasons ranked. The others are Kansas, Memphis, UNC, Pitt, UCLA, Louisville and Butler. No other fans in the country get to root for a team that has finished ranked three years in a row.

As you may recall, MU also got enough votes the Three Amigos freshman year to finish 33rd in the country. How many teams have received votes in the final AP poll for four years in a row? Only nine: Duke, Kansas, Memphis, Michigan State, UNC, Pitt, Texas A&M and UCLA.

And I'll say it again - this is the only group that has ever beat 14 ranked teams in a four-year stretch.

Either way, this team will be remembered

Let’s get serious, this team will long be remembered. If the subsequent team drops in the rankings in the brutal Big East, it could be remembered as the ONLY team besides Pittsburgh to win at least 10 games EVERY year from 2006 to 2009. No other Big East team has done that all four years, so no other class can compete with Marquette’s graduating class.

If Marquette does go to new heights, the Three Amigos will be remembered as the guys who got Marquette over the Big East hump and made Marquette a place that new recruits would want to go. Do you really think any of the blue chippers who will be on campus next year would have considered Marquette if the Three Amigos had not shown up and MU had been flattened the first couple of years in the Big East?

Thanks Three Amigos! Thanks Dwight for giving us our only muscle these past few years. I really don’t know what we would have done this year without your defensive minutes and ability to muscle up with the likes of Cunningham.

At full strength, you were the No. 8 team in the country, and even with Dominic out/playing hurt, you were on the verge of the Sweet 16 and left it all on the floor in giving us two memorable efforts against a couple of 7-footers, and a Missouri team that has flattened everyone else including Memphis. Every year 342 of 343 teams end on a down note, but you left it all on the floor the last two years.

For the rest of the year - GO BIG EAST!


Unknown said...

First off, I stand by my comments, but its not as dire as the way you chose to portray it in your little rant. I feel that those 3 factors: Conference Reg. Season Titles, Conference Tourny Titles, and deep NCAA runs do leave the longest and most memorable impressions on fans minds. Most fans will probably remember and think foundly upon those 8 "memorable" runs because of the teams visible record of achievement. We are a society that covets tangible things, and trophys and banners are tangible. Plus, the general public and fans of other schools give credit to teams that demonstrate this type of achievement. For Marquette to continue on its path to greatness we need strong public opinion,especially for recruiting and it never hurts to have a powerhouse perception come seeding time for the NCAA's.

I just think in the long run few people will remember these three players (minus good NBA careers). McNeal has the best chance because he holds a record that interests most fans.

MUJourn said...

Bamamarquettefan1 -- I am not certain when you graduated from MU, but at least in the Fall of 1976, all MU freshman were required to take a course in "logic" -- you might want to consider going back and auditing that course next semester if you were not required to take it when you were at MU.

Because we lost to Missouri by fewer points than other teams may have, we are better than those other teams, and any teams that finished below them in their conference? Likewise, because teams in our conference that beat us beat teams from other conferences by even more, we would have apparently won those conferences? You can't be serious. How exactly does that logic play out in regards to the lossess to Dayton, Tennesee and South Florida? Please, we're begging you, think before you type.

Are you really arguing that MU's No. 8 ranking was anything more than fortuitous timing (other ranked teams' losses that particular week) and scheduling (back-loaded Big East schedule)? And the subsequent loss to South Florida had no bearing on your unfounded belief?

Cracked Sidewalks used to be a forum for responsible discussion of MU basketball. Recently, it has devolved into a "Gosh, gee, golly, is this great or what?" forum, a veritable "Up With People" type lovefest requiring an insulin shot with every visit.

"But the guys played hard" is a perfectly legitimate position to take with 6th, 7th and 8th grade players, but don't push that on the visitors to Cracked Sidewalks, unless, of course, non-relevance is Cracked Sidewalks intended goal.

In past seasons, Cracked Sidewalks has offered much, much better. Perhaps you can take the steps necessary to return to that next season. For now, though, check out auditing that logic class.

Kevin Buckley said...

Easy on the broad brush strokes, MUJourn. Pudner, by far, is our most positive/upbeat writer.

The rest of us are further left on the curmudgeon-ometer.

Enjoy what you like, pass over what you don't on CS. Something for everyone.

Devil's Threesome said...

MUJourn – I have no issue with the first 3 paragraphs of your diatribe. After that, I have to turn on the sarcasm meter because, after all, you are right, you deserve better from the guys at Cracked Sidewalks. What's more justifiable than being outraged at a bunch of 22 year-olds' performance? How about being outraged at how a blogger views said performance? Bama is simply pointing out everything that has been accomplished in the last 4 years. Are you Todd Welter?

MUJourn said...

Devil's Threesome -- Outrage is saved for the state of our economy and other issues of significance, not MU basketball or those who comment on it. This is amusing, at best.

You publish a comment on a public forum, it, in turn, gets commented on, positive/upbeat writer or not. But outrage? Please, you're proving the point. (By the way, who is Todd Welter and should I know him -- I can't quite figure out that comment.)

The headline to the post read, "Last night proved just how good Marquetee was this year," followed by the comment, " . . . is there any doubt Marquette would have had a shot to win ANY other conference in the US this year except the Big East?"

Sorry, Hilltopper, I enjoy your posts for the most part, but talk about "broad brush strokes."

Enjoy the Spring and Summer all, and we can pick this up again in the Fall, and wouldn't that be outragious? (Sorry, could not resist.)

rugbydrummer said...


Seriously... I loved this post! I was commenting to my boyfriend yesterday that losing to Missouri & Villanova by < 5 points (and splitting home & home) just sent our stock skyhigh with their wins last night over the now-perennially overinflated memphis squad & DUKE, and I stand by our boys with my head high now, 100%. I mean, push comes to shove, the BEAST could have 3 teams in the FF, i mean why don't we call it the Big East vs. everyone else challenge?!

Sorry to be all "kum-by-yah" on y'all, but can't we just agree to disagree on our opinions and agree on our love for the game & our MU team (and to continue rooting for those in our league)?

JohnPudner said...

Yes MUJourn, logic was still mandatory while I was at MU! One thing they always taught us was that you had to correctly restate an argument to refute it though - changing the wording is considered putting up a "straw man" to knock down.

So when I say, "any doubt Marquette would have had a shot to win ANY other conference in the US this year except the Big East?" and you ignore the "had a shot" and restate it to say that I am arguing that, in your words, "we would have apparently won those conferences?" you are changing what I said. I stand by what I said - MU would have had a shot to win any other conference in the country this year, just no way we were going to get through the Big East in tourney or regular season.

Same for James. His post I was responding to indicated people were not going to remember this team because you have to win a conference title or make a deep NCAA run to be remembered. When I point out logically that by his criteria only five seasons have been memorable, he changes the statement in this response to say that these teams, "leave the longest and most memorable impressions." I stand by that statement too. Certainly those five teams are MORE memorable than the last few years. So you see, logic has made even James and I find common ground!

With a wife who went onto get her PhD in philosophy, I couldn't let an attack on my logic go unanswered :-)

greyCat said...

I think being in the Big East (and lacking a big) diluted the impact of the Three Amigos. As a Villanova fan I can tell you I loved to see those three play...anyone but my team. The switch in staff, coupled with Mbakwe's untimely exit, diminished (imo, considerably -- quantitfied, about 3-4 wins in conference) Marquette's prospects this past season.

JohnPudner said...

Hey, ever since your coach sung the Three Amigos praises New Year's day, I think we all felt the same way about Nova. Couldn't really root for you during the year because we knew we were trying to hold you off for a double bye, but it's been fun to root for you ever since we lost the heartbreaker in the Big East. Good luck against Pitt!

MUJourn said...

Bamamarquettefan1 -- Not a bad effort at rehabilitation, but I would still think about auditing that course if I were you. Not there yet.

Have a great summer,but try taking off the rose-colored glasses every once in a while . . . you might surprise yourself!

JohnPudner said...

MUJour thanks for taking the time to comment, even if we disagree on some things! I still stand by the original post, but enjoy the different perspectives. The real depressing thing is when noone cares enough to comment on Marquette basketball - and when I was going through in the late 1980s, people were just starting to not care anymore. Perhaps if I'd actually lived through the 1970s glory years on campus I'd be more down on the team, but having gone through NITs and then losing records, the last four years have looked awfully like a glass "half full" to me! This was a heartbreak team, no question, but I'd rather have a team that was super exciting and always just missing greatness than a team that isn't even good enough to get your hopes up.

I will just always feel like this year was a team that was amazingly close when you realize we had late leads against everyone down the stretch, and everyone we played ended up being a Sweet 16 team. I knew all year we were one injury away from not having a chance, but I will always believe that if we had avoided the injury completely we would have made the Elite 8. Have a great offseason!