"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, September 24, 2009

This off-season can't end soon enough

The injury-marred close to Marquette's 2008-2009 season was sure to give way to an off-season of discontent for Warrior Nation but the past several weeks can rightly be referred to as cruel and unusual punishment.

Other than receiving positive news about the eligibility of incoming freshmen Junior Cadougan and Youssoupha Mbao, Marquette has become Floyd Patterson to reality's Muhammad Ali, held up in the turnbuckle absorbing a barrage of hits and humiliation.

How bad are things for the Golden Eagles? The best news for the program in the last month and a half was the departure of 6'9" freshman Brett Roseboro and the oh-so-convenient reinstatement of the diminutive and unproductive Maurice Acker. While the news of Roseboro's departure validated months of rumors about the possibility some media reports left the impression that the 6'9" Pennsylvanian was run out of the program, at best a 'mistake' by both parties.

Acker clearly isn't a talent upgrade but he has the added benefit of freeing up an extra scholarship for a higher ceiling player in the incoming 2010 freshman class. At the very least this 'swap' reinforces negative stereotypes about what is really valued in college basketball.

More recently the Golden Eagles likely bid adieu to one of its top recruits for the incoming 2010 class when 6'10" Monterale Clark was charged in connection with a sexual assault on the campus of Hill College where he is a student. The details of the alleged sexual assault are gruesome, and while justice has yet to be meted out in the case it would be difficult to envision Clark ever suiting up for Marquette at this point.

Perhaps it's too bad Roseboro already completed his transfer to St. Bonaventure -- he can't take the convenient Acker U-Turn back onto the now depleted 2010 roster.

While Roseboro and Clark figured more heavily into Marquette's future plans, the upcoming campaign is already shaping up to be a long season. Capping off Marquette's 45 days of discontent, highly-touted point guard Junior Cadougan suffered a potential season-ending Achilles injury which is sure to sideline him for four to six months. Adding insult to injury sophomore transfer Darius Johnson-Odom injured his foot and will miss at least a month of action. Good thing Acker is back!?

There are few fates worse than early season injuries for unestablished talent in Buzz Williams' program. Last year early season injuries to freshman Chris Otule and junior college transfer Joseph Fulce stunted the development of these players, marginalizing their contributions for the entire season as the coach shortened the bench during conference play.

At this point one must presume that Cadougan will be fitted for a medical redshirt soon after the national signing period concludes. There's still hope for Johnson-Odom, who figures to be the most talented newcomer to the roster this year and, presuming an on-schedule recovery, would still have time to work his way into the backcourt rotation and take the lion's share of playing time along side Dwight Buycks.

Still, MU is not out of the woods with the current roster. While Mbao was cleared academically by the NCAA, his amateur status is still under review due to his participation on an overseas team that included a few professional players some years ago. Expect Mbao to miss a pair of games this season for each game he was on the roster of that team, compromising his development which, experience shows us, could make him a non-factor this year.

On the recruiting front, 2010 target Aaron Bowen de-committed but MU gained a better prospect when Jamail Jones cast his lot with the program. Bowen's summer performances were less than stellar and with lingering concerns over the health of his shoulder Buzz Williams was right to continue to pursue more talented options.

While Jones is in the fold, Williams has recently missed out on a host of talented kids from the 2010 class including Carson Desrosiers (verbal to Wake Forsest), J.J. Moore (eliminated MU from consideration), and Cameron Clark (verbal to OU). Additional reports indicate that top target Jay Pinkston is a Villanova lean while Doron Lamb is a pipedream.

With three scholarships presumably available who will Williams target next? The tide has to turn at some point for a program that is in desperate need of back-to-back strong recruiting classes. Wisconsin de-commit Vander Blue remains a possibility.


Oliver said...

One thing I have learned is to avoid lamenting lost recruits or injuries until they establish themselves as players. Players often look irreplaceable in forsight, but in hindsight have ho-hum college careers.

The only big error Buzz could make this year is not getting enough playing time for the younger players. This should be a year to determine which of the new guys can play. I don't want to see Acker playing 35 minutes at the end of February so we can improve our NIT seeding.

jce said...

Wow. I have read some good stuff on CS before...unfortunately this isn't one of them. I think your comments regarding Acker are unnecessarily mean-spirited, not to mention inaccurate.

Your statement: "Acker clearly isn't a talent upgrade but he has the added benefit of freeing up an extra scholarship for a higher ceiling player in the incoming 2010 freshman class."

Not necessarily true. *If* Buzz would have filled Acker's spot for this year with a freshman, then yes. However, it was likely that Buzz wasn't going to fill it with a 2009 player. Therefore it had absolutely no impact on the number of 2010 scholarships.

Tim Blair said...

Oliver and JCE, thanks for reading. Ollie -- agreed on the recruiting misses....it was only notable here as part of the cluster of lousy news of late.

JCE -perhaps I miscounted on scholarships for 2010, but obviously Buzz and Brett agreed he'd be better served to play elsewhere. For Buzz that means he has a chance to upgrade on what he had.