"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, June 25, 2009

Adios, Maurice Acker

In a decision that (unsurprisingly) confirmed a long-running rumor, MU today announced that Maurice Acker would not return for his senior season. In a statement released by the university this afternoon Buzz Williams said, "He is one semester shy of completing his degree and we all believed it was in Maurice's best interest for that to be his priority."

What? I wonder who "we" is in this equation. It's difficult to imagine a player willingly forgoing his final season of eligibility because he is on track to graduate a semester early. It is also difficult to imagine a coach telling a player to stop playing because he might graduate early. Frankly, finishing classes ahead of schedule is a great reason to stay in school because a student-athlete can play ball and enjoy campus life without a taxing academic workload.

The explanation is nonsense.

Explanation aside, on IM today Rob and I had a debate on what Acker's departure would mean to the team this season. As you'll see we have differing points of view on Acker's value to the program:


Tim: OK after months of rumors, Maurice Acker is gone....only two-Crean era players remain

Rob: I wonder who (if anyone) fills that spot

Tim: hopefully just Darius Johnson-Odom. I mean -- Acker was a spare part anyway, like Cubillan

Rob: leaves us short at point

Tim: I don't think so.......Acker played so many empty minutes last year where his greatest contribution was that he didn't turn the ball over. That's a very low bar. All Buzz needs is DJO, Buycks and Cadougan to be eligible

Rob: you and I have a different appreciation for not turning the ball over. I regard that skill quite highly

Tim: We agree there. Still, other than one game Acker was a lousy defender, he could not score a lick (no midrange game), and the offense was ineffective with him as a starter. Johnson-Odom averaged nearly 5 apg last year -- I figure he has a pretty good handle.

Rob: /really/? you're falling for the "grass is greener" argument?

Tim: falling on the "Acker was a MAC player who never became a high-major good role player" argument.

Rob: with experience, lots of experience

Tim: the new kids are better than him anyway and MU will play an advantageous slate early -- so by the time Big East play starts, experience will not be as much of a factor

Rob: I think you are undervaluing Acker

Tim: Acker shot 29% from the floor -- offensively bankrupt. We learned last year that as a role player he was particularly bad -- ie, 1 made 3pointer in BE play through the first 12 conference games (which included 2 DNPs!). He only got better when he had the gift of starter minutes from James' injury. He would not get 24-40 minutes per game next season....he'd be back to the spot duty role that he was so unproductive in last year.

Rob: let's be clear. I'm not saying he is a great player or even starter-worthy. I'm saying he was years ahead of the incoming players

Tim: He was awful in spot duty last year, that's what he'd get this year. You are basing your assessment of Acker by his performance in the last month of the season, I'd guess

Rob: you don't know that his contributions were bad just because of the new system/coach/transition etc

Tim: doesn't matter........they were bad, so bad that in 2 conference games he didn't command any minutes and in two others he played 3 minutes.

Rob: that's Buzz and his short bench... which you have yourself lamented

Tim: with Williams, Cadougan, DJO, and Buycks ....... Acker/Cubillan were likely 3-5 mins per game players anyway. I mean look at his game by game. He was an ineffective role player

Rob: so you think net positive he's gone?

Tim: net neutral, he'd go from DNP to 5 mins per game on a good day if he stayed.

Rob: see... I could see him getting more time than that. I think experience is huge in college basketball

Tim: his experience as a role player shows that he was particularly awful in that capacity

Rob: experience in practice

Tim: As Iverson said, "Practice!?"

Rob: you miss my point. A senior knows the effort that is required in practice, which earns PT on the court. is that not a big part of the transition for all the new players? understanding what it takes every day to perform in D1?

Tim: well, it's a good thing Cuby will be there

Rob: and then what if, say Cadougan and Buycks hurt their feet in boot camp

Tim: if any team loses their starting backcourt, they'll lose games. if the reason to worry about Acker leaving the program is a catastrophic series of injuries -- I can live with that.

Rob: I just see a lot of value in the senior experience and don't attribute his lack of success just to his capabilities

Tim: he'd fallen completely out of favor presumably because he failed to adjust to the role

Rob: or because Buzz was finding his way as a coach

Tim: that and Ackers' ineffectiveness

Rob: probably both

Tim: and with the coach getting his own kids here this year that he needs to develop, Acker would have been marginalized again

Rob: I'm not convinced that he would have been but I guess it doesn't matter. It's unlikely that in mid-January I'll ever say "if only we had Acker on the team"

Tim: if u say THAT, the team is kaput anyway

Tim: Buzz has to develop the newbies if the team is gonna win games. Let's just hope they are all on campus for second summer session starting on July 6

Rob: I'm excited about the team, but have a number of concerns, lots of new players....will they all make it?

Tim: right. Buzz needs'em all on campus

Rob: My guess is Mbao ain't gonna play at all this year with those eligibility questions

Tim: I am happy to know that Buycks is already there, that is huge IMHO. same with Maymon and grades -- he could allow Lazar some more flexibility

Rob: Maybe I'm jaded from Lazar and Mbakwe, but I'll be astonished if he qualifies before November

Tim: on Mbao. I wonder if this will be a clearinghouse drama

Rob: right... and then he's behind.

Tim: if all the other kids are on campus, my worries go way down. Mbao would not play much this year under the best of circumstances anyway.

Rob: because of all the frontline talent ahead of him?

Tim: it'll be a rough year down low even with Mbao

Rob: oh sure

Tim: that is why, despite his shorter stature, Maymon can help. Otule, Maymon, Lazar, 5 mins from Roseboro might have to be enough for MU in the winter

Rob: could be another long year with more excuses

Tim: I dont know that last year was one of those years....DJ's injury was not an excuse so much as an explanation. Anytime a team loses 4 starters the next season could be a long one

Rob: not a surprise, but there are different kinds of rebuilding years. I want to see the team improve as the year goes on, have a few players show promise and potential

Tim: right. this will be a complete reconstruction. but we knew that was coming....moving away from "TC and the Quest for the Best 6-5 and Under Team"

Rob: my big concern is injuries.

Tim: which is no different from any recent Marquette season

Rob: didn't you feel like there were a lot of injuries last year?

Tim: of course. MU had McNeal as a sophomore, Wesley as a freshman... MU has had its share of soul-crushing injuries in the last few years

Rob: true. I was thinking of it in terms of injuries that hamper development

Tim: it's a risk for any program

Rob: even more so for MU this year. Still, it should be an interesting year

Tim: definitely


Zuch said...

I think DJ-O and Buycks will be the two biggest contributors among the newcomers and would have bypassed Acker on the depth chart in very short order after practices begin (hell, Buycks probably did as soon as he hit campus). They are a different breed of JuCo player then we signed under Crean and both should allow for Cadougan to gradually develop without the pressure of starter (25-30)

I wish Acker had a choice on how to end his career but bad decisions on his part earned him a dismissal from the team.

Also, the offhand remark about Buzz's boot camp rings untrue considering Fulce's knee condition was pre-existing and Otule got hurt on a fluke play right before the start of the season. It still seems like Rob is unconvinced by Buzz's stature for whatever reason despite winning 25 games with a team that played 7 guys (6 after DJ got hurt), none of which will probably end up being drafted.

This season may have a few lumps early as the team goes to a slightly unheralded but tough field in Orlando (veteran teams like Xavier, Creighton and solid looking Florida State, Alabama and Baylor squads) then the People's Republic in mid-December. If we scratch out a couple of solid non-conference wins I think this team is right in the thick of the NCAA hunt come Big East play.

Mike said...

I had heard about this on Sunday. Apparently he failed a drug test and Buzz has a no tolerance on that.

Oliver said...

Drug test rumors aside, this still hurts the team. Rob is right in that Acker was experienced and experience is almost always valuable before the end of the season. At some point there is a need for someone to keep the boat afloat by playing some minutes, providing an example, or calling a players meeting.

The difference in maturity of an 18 year old and a 22 or 23 year old is usually significant.