"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

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Georgetown learns: You can't hang with MU for 40 minutes

This just in: Jerel McNeal is pretty good.
This just in: Wes Matthews is pretty good.
This just in: Dominic James is pretty good.
This just in: Lazar Hayward is pretty good.

Marquette stayed perfect in the Big East with a 94-82 beat down of #25 Georgetown that just wasn't that close. While Georgetown had a 10 point lead after the first 7 minutes, MU stormed back to tie it with 6 to go in the first half. The remainder of the 1st half was a gutty battle between the two teams, hammering on each other with abandon, and few whistles.

The game continued like that until the 2nd half, when MU started pulling away, and with 10 minutes left, had built a 10 point cushion, then +16 with 5 to go. Georgetown was playing so slowly, the game was over at that point, as it was just impossible for them to win with how much time they took per possession.

It's hard to describe Jerel McNeal's game. The word "nuclear" might come close. A double-double the hard way. 26 points, 11 assists. Oh, and throw in 5 steals and 6 rebounds.

It was a good game for Jerel to "go nuclear" as scouts from the Clippers, Timberwolves, 76ers, Hawks, Bulls and Bucks were in attendance.

Wes and Lazar "only" chipped in 23 each. Lazar notched his 1,000 point as a Warrior.

That's what makes Marquette so hard to beat. They've got four guys on the court who can score 20, 25 points. You just can't stop that much talent over 40 minutes.

Marquette won despite letting Georgetown hit 56% of their shots .. to MU's 51%. How'd we win? Free throws. MU made 30 of 38, with GTown getting a paltry 8 points by FT.

Something should be said about the crowd at the Bradley Center. The house was "filled to the corners," raucous, and packed with 19,041 .. just some 40 shy of the record set last year (again, versus Georgetown.) The crowd "went to 11."

Marquette improves to 8-0 in the Big East, next up are games versus hapless DePaul, and nearly-as-hapless South Florida, who between them are 2-14 in conference play.

One item that will be talked about by watercoolers everywhere is an incident that occurred during the post-game radio interview between Coach Williams and Marquette color-man and former player, Jimmy McIlvaine. (Transcript here.)

Mac asked what the coach was doing to keep the team focused, with Marquette's top-10 ranking. In the next 90 seconds, which could only be termed "surreal," Coach Williams savaged Mac for asking the question, and questioned his loyalty to Marquette. -- Parenthetically, it's a shame this odd event will overshadow Marquette's great victory this afternoon, in many circles.

In Rosiak's report, Mac says: "I think it was just a misunderstanding .. I've already forgotten about it."

Friday, January 30, 2009

Marquette faces off against Georgetown

Yet again, Marquette takes on a desperate opponent that needs a win. Just like Notre Dame, Georgetown (12-7, 3-5) needs to win a game badly. The Hoyas have lost four in a row, and six of their last eight, including a 65-57 loss at Cincinnati. However, a team that managed to take on a desperate ND team and win on the road should have the mental toughness to deliver another knockout blow.

Compounding matters for the Hoyas is that leading scorer DaJuan Summers is day-to day. Buzz fully expects him to play. In addition, Georgetown will still have Greg Monroe, the superlative 6'11 frosh, as well as a host of other talented (but young) players.

With the string of losses, poor three point shooting, and bad defensive rebounding, this is clearly not the same team that delivered a crushing home loss last year. The Hoyas are young and dealing with growing pains. I hope that Marquette goes out and buries them, because I still haven't forgotten last year's loss. The home crowd tomorrow needs to be out for blood. Wear gold. Get yourself "extra ready" for the game however you usually do. Whatever else, cheer as loud as you can.

Game time is 1:00 Milwaukee time. Check here to see if you get local TV coverage.

Opponent Strengths and Weaknesses
As usual, most of this information comes from the Pomeroy scouting report and game plan

1. Winning the free throw battle – Georgetown is #6 in the country at getting to the FT line (FTA / FGA = 48.5%). They are #27 in the country at preventing their opponent from getting to the FT line (FTA / FGA = 27.8%)
2. Offensive Field Goal percentage – Georgetown is #47 in the country at effective FG% (52.8%). They make 55.3% of their two-point baskets (#11 in the country)
3. Defensive Field Goal percentage – Georgetown is #24 in the country at defensive eFG% (44.1%). This includes being #15 at preventing threes (30.3%) and #39 at preventing twos (43.5%)

1. Defensive Rebounding – Georgetown is #318 in the country at defensive rebounding. Opponents get an OR% of 38.1% against them
2. Making three-pointers – Georgetown only makes 32.3% of their threes (#231 in the country). This is notable because 36.4% of their FGA’s are threes (#84 in the country)

Specific Statistics Recommendations (In order of importance)
1. Make shots (eFG% of 52% or higher), which is slightly lower than average
2. Stop Georgetown from making shots (eFG% of 51% or less)
3. Force turnovers (TO Rate of 24% or higher). This translates to sixteen turnovers for GU, which is two more than their average
4. Don’t turn the ball over (TO Rate of 18% or lower), or right around the season average of 12 turnovers
5. Prevent offensive rebounds (OR% of 31% or lower), by keeping GU to about their average of 11 OR's

Bottom Line
Pomeroy predicts a 60% chance of victory. However, my analysis gives Marquette an 82% chance of victory in a slower game (66 possessions). The model predicts that the FG% will be about even, but MU will have an advantage on turnovers, offensive rebounds, and free throw attempts. Offense is predicted to be about average, but defense is predicted to be worse than average.

Media Updates

Stay tuned... I'm sure there will be more articles about this game from the GU blogosphere

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Erik Williams' high school coach tells all

Today we're pleased to welcome John Harmatuk to Cracked Sidewalks. Coach Tuk is the head basketball coach at Cy Springs High School in Houston, Texas where he coaches current MU commit Erik Williams. Erik is one of the top five players in the Houston area, one of the top 100 recruits in the country and was the first player to commit to MU from the class of 2009.

Here's a Q/A about Erik that Coach Tuk was kind enough to provide to us. When you are done reading the Q/A, check out the latest entry on his blog -- a terrific article which details Erik's performance this season. Enjoy.

How is Erik performing this season for Cy Springs?
Erik averages about 24 pts 12 rebounds and almost 6 blocks a game. His numbers have been there all season, all we need him to do now is bring intensity to every possession. If you check his stats, he will have a majority of his points in a half. For example 26 of his 33 against Langham Creek was in the second half. He struggles with maintaining energy every possession, as do most talented high school kids. He is really working on this because he knows in order to get minutes next season, he must stay focused every possession.

Last season Erik suffered a significant foot injury, has he fully recovered from that? Do you think his athleticism has been compromised due to the injury?
Erik actually broke his foot, it's called a Jones fracture and its pretty common with taller basketball players. His foot is fully healed. He has some lingering affects of over compensation (soreness in other areas, etc...) but he is fully healed from the injury. After strength coach Todd Smith gets him, you will see just how athletic Erik plays.

Erik is listed at 6'7", does he project to be a shooting guard or a wing at the college level?
Erik has to prove who he can guard before you can label him a position. I need him to protect the paint; block shots and rebound. So he doesn't get the opportunity to guard the ball on the perimeter very often. He will have to get better guarding the ball before he can be a 2or3 at the college level.

What parts of Erik's game have shown the most improvement this season?
I would say not allowing poor offense to affect the rest of his game. He is our only player with any experience, my next two best players are a freshman and sophomore, so Erik has had to shoulder a huge load. For example he had 32pts 15 rebs and 16 blocks against Cy-Fair and we lost in overtime. Teams are throwing a box and 1, double teams, etc... and Erik has let that affect the rest of his game. Last Friday vs a box and 1, however, he had 6pts, but 12 rebs and 11 blocks. He needs to make plays besides just scoring.

What parts of his game will need the most work as he enters college?
Guarding the ball, full attention to every possession on both ends of the court, and strength. He also needs to tighten up all other parts of his game. By that I mean, play more compact, more balanced and more efficient. He just uses his length to beat people at the high school level. Next season he will have to improve his footwork to be more efficient, tighten up his ball handling, be stronger with the ball going to the rim.

I believe you coached former Golden Eagle Karon Bradley. Did Karon's experience at Marquette concern you when Erik showed interest in the program?
Not at all, Karon was not ready from a maturity standpoint to handle the rigors of major college basketball. Erik is the most mature kid I have coached. He understands that to reach his potential as a basketball player he needs a demanding coach and a competitive atmosphere. If Erik buys into the level of intensity Buzz brings, he has a chance to be a special player. It is all up to Erik and he know this.

Erik committed early to Marquette. Were you surprised he ended his recruiting so early (and committed to a school away from home)?
Not at all, I was actually with him on his first trip to Marquette. Later that night he called his brother and said this is the place for me. It is a basketball institution, its a Jesuit education which appeases his parents, and the type of players Marquette attracts are kids like Erik. He was comfortable at Marquette the moment he stepped on campus.

What is the most surprising aspect of Williams' game that will impress Marquette hoops fans?
He is a great shot blocker. He has the best timing/coordination combination I have seen at the high school level. He blocks shots with his left hand in order to get his body out of the way. He has had several double digit block games this year, including a school record 16 against Cy-Fair.

Thanks, Coach!

Weekly Buzz Videos: Lazar .. and a Road Trip

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

MUTVSports.com Launches - 3 Videos

MUTVSports.com has launched .. with a bang. Three great videos, and a nice blog. Check them out here.

Buzz presser after ND:

Jay Bilas interview:

MUTV Wrap:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Irish no match for Road Warriors

Marquette made Al McGuire proud tonight.

On the eighth anniversary of his passing, Al's Marquette Warriors stormed the Joyce Center tonight and topped the Notre Dame Fightin' Irish 71-64. All of the Warriors' points were scored by the Fab Four, led by Jerel McNeal's season-high 27 points. Dominic James scored 15 points - - 11 in the second half -- to go with a season-high nine boards and five assists. Wesley Matthews finished with 16 points, while Lazar Hayward finished with 13.

Despite the unbalanced scoring, the story of the game was a series of in-game adjustments by coach Buzz Williams that provided the Warriors with a spark.

Immediately out of halftime, Dominic James' aggressive move to the basket set the tone. Rather than settling for jumpers, the Warriors continued to challenge the Irish in the paint for the duration. The Warriors' defense was exceptional all night, rendering Domer sharpshooter Kyle McAlarney ineffective. Much of the credit goes to the diminutive Maurice Acker who provided ferocious man-to-man defense in his season-high 22 minutes, most of which came in the second half at McAlarney's expense.

Another key adjustment was Williams' decision to go small, very small in the later stages of the game. Williams eschewed conventional wisdom by lining up 6'5" Wesley Matthews on the larger Luke Harangody, giving the Warriors a quicker, tenacious defensive posture that wore down the taller, less athletic Irish. While Harangody finished with 29 points, he only had one made field goal in the game's final 11 minutes.

With the win Marquette (18-2) extends its best-ever BIG EAST conference start to 7-0. Even the folks at Deadspin have taken notice of the Warriors' run to the top of the conference. MU won their 10th in a row overall. The loss extends the misery for the suddenly hapless Irish (12-7), losers of four in a row in BIG EAST action.

After building an eight-point lead midway through the first half, MU went into the break leading 33-30. The game was tight for most of the second half with the Irish riding the remarkable shooting of Luke Harangody to a 53-50 lead with 7:30 remaining.

Refusing to be rattled the Warriors ripped off seven straight points over the next two and a half minutes setting up the final push. From there, the Warriors' remarkable perimeter defense took hold. Notre Dame converted just two field goals in the game's final four minutes.

With the game tied at 59 with 3:18 remaining, the Warriors ran off four in a row to push the lead to 63-59 with less than three minutes to play. After a pair of Kyle McAlarney free throws, Dominic James found Jerel McNeal for a clutch three pointer to extend the lead to five with just two minutes left.

Harangody finished with 29 points and 17 rebounds. McAlarney finished with 9 points on 3-12 shooting. The Irish connected on just 36% from the floor overall and 30% from three-point range. Notre Dame entered the game as the league's top shooting team from deep, hitting 40% from long range.

Media Updates

For more on Al, here is his New York Times obit.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Marquette travels to ND for Big Monday


Fresh off of a pummeling tuneup that Marquette delivered to DePaul. Wait, that didn't happen. Okay, after beating DePaul by nine, the team gets two days rest before tipoff in South Bend. Last year, Marquette and ND faced off three times, with MU blitzkrieging ND in the first game and losing @ Notre Dame (in a game where the Irish shot 31 free throws to MU's eight). However, the rubber match went to Marquette in the BET. I know everyone remembers, but it feels nice to rehash it again.

Notre Dame is in the middle of their own brutal stretch of games that has them face MU as the fourth game in a gauntlet of @UL (loss), @Syracuse (loss), UConn (loss), MU, and @Pitt. The Irish just lost for the first time at home since Marquette beat them in 2006.

Frankly, ND needs this win a LOT more than Marquette does, especially coming off their last game against UConn. Losing to Marquette might not be a TKO of their season, but it would leave them ready in jeopardy before heading to Pitt. However, until the DePaul game this weekend, Marquette had consistently demonstrated a killer instinct. DJ took away will to compete from Vaughn, the entire WVU team gave up, and most recently, Marquette sucked the life out of Providence down the stretch.

There's a lot of pressure on Notre Dame, and pressure does funny things to people. Will Notre Dame come out like a wounded animal, or will Marquette be able to put in another tough effort? One thing is certain. Despite their most recent loss, ND will be Marquette's toughest challenge to date.

Maybe... just maybe, Al will be looking down on the team today. After all, it was eight years ago today that he left this earth (HT: MARQKC). Fire yourself up with this story and then visit his wiki page to remember some unique Al expressions.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 6 pm Milwaukee time.

Notre Dame Strengths and Weaknesses
(As always, this information comes from Pomeroy's scouting report and Game Plan)

1. Protect the ball – Notre Dame is #2 in the country at protecting the ball, turning it over on only 13.9% of all possessions.
a. They are #10 in the country at not letting the ball get stolen
2. Not allowing opponents to shoot free throws – Notre Dame is #5 in the country at not letting their opponent get to the line. A defensive FTR of 23.4% (FTA/FGA)
3. Making three pointers – Notre Dame is #15 in the country at shooting the ball from behind the arc, making 39.5% of shots from behind the arc.

1. Forcing turnovers – Notre Dame is #336 in the country at forcing turnovers, turning opponents over on only 16.7% of all possessions
2. Getting to the free throw line – Notre Dame is #341 in the country at offensive free throw rate (25.6% of FTA / FGA)
3. Blocking shots – ND is #276 in the country at blocking shots

Specific Statistics Recommendations (In order of importance)
1. Keep ND off the Offensive Glass (OR% below 26%). This translates to 11 offensive rebounds or less, which is three less than their season average
2. Don’t let ND make more shots than normal (eFG% of 52% or less)
3. Protect the ball extremely well (TO% at 12% or lower) - This is nine turnovers or less, which is four fewer turnovers than average
4. Make shots (eFG% of 52% or higher)
5. Turn Notre Dame over (turnover rate of 15% or higher), which is 11 turnovers (one more than their season average)

Bottom line
Pomeroy predicts a 51% chance of victory, but unfortunately, my model predicts we will lose (46%) in a slightly faster game (71 possessions). But let's be honest... that's basically a toss-up game. Because MU plays terrible defense on the road, and ND just doesn't play defense, the model predicts an offensively oriented game. ND’s advantage is expected to come from effective field goal percentage and free throw rate. The other areas of turnover rate and offensive rebounding are expected to be very close. Do not expect Marquette to get a high free throw rate or force a lot of turnovers in this game.

Media Updates

Pardon the interruption...we just turned four

Four years old with 1,641 posts and counting.

Our simple formula seems to work: No editorial structure, no ads, and no money -- just plenty of passion for Marquette basketball and this fad called the Internet. Thanks to kind folks like you our readership continues to grow steadily. Please know that we greatly appreciate your visits to the site. With our stable of passionate alumni contributors, we'll continue to cover the program and are always open to your suggestions and comments for improving things around here.

Speaking of improving, I am about to audit MUScoop's upcoming seminar on 'how to build an Internet community with no ads and no subscriptions.' If you hadn't noticed, traffic at MUScoop.com is up 210% year-to-year. Congrats fellas, that's impressive. We look forward to teaming with you guys in the years ahead.

Now, let's beat the freakin' Irish.

MU beats DePaul 79-70

On Saturday, as expected, Marquette stayed unbeaten-in-the-Big-East, victorious over a "victory-challenged" DePaul squad. While Marquette won 79-70, the 2nd half was irritating, as DePaul actually outscored MU, 36-31.

Marquette improved to 6-0, DePaul unimproved to 0-7.

McNeal scored 21, Matthews 20, Lazar had a double-double with 17 and 16 (sixteen) rebounds. Even Dwight Burke got into double-digits, with 10 and 7 rebounds. DJ almost had a double-double the hard way, 8 points, 9 assists, 2 turnovers and 3 steals. You take that line any day.

After beating DePaul Saturday, Marquette left for South Bend to play Notre Dame on Monday Night.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Marquette to Face DePaul at the Bradley Center

Cripes. Is it Saturday yet? After a scheduling quirk that resulted in Marquette having two consecutive bye weeks, the team finally returns to the hardwood tomorrow. It's not a moment too soon, because tomorrow's game returns to a brutal stretch that will see MU face three teams in eight days. While I'm sure that lots of folks are looking forward to the Big Monday matchup at Notre Dame, the team has to play DePaul.

DePaul (8-11, 0-6) is not a good team. They have two decent players in 6'5 sophomore Dar Tucker and 6'10 sophomore Mac Koshwal. Check out Rosiak's blog entry for more information on those players, as well as some quotes from Wainright. However, I'd like to point out two things about those guys. First, just like last year, Dar Tucker shoots on one out of every three possessions when he's on the floor. He may be scoring a lot, but that's because he takes a lot of shots. Second, neither Tucker nor Koshwal have an offensive efficiency greater than 104. When your two top contributors are only modestly efficient, that's not good.

Even more concerning, there is a question if the DePaul program will ever revive, inspiring a mostly thoughtful thread about the state of DePaul hoops and the comparison with Marquette. I hate to say DePaul is done, but things do not look hopeful for the rest of the season. Let's see what happens after they fire Wainright after this season.

Moving on to the Opponent Strengths and Weaknesses. As always, most of this information comes from Pomeroy's scouting report and game plan.

DePaul Strengths

  • Not putting opponents on the line – DePaul is #8 in the country at defensive free throw rate (FTR). They only allow opponents to shoot free throws at a rate of 24.1% (FTA / FGA). In contrast, Marquette has a FTR of 47.4%
  • Not getting their shot blocked – DePaul is #16 in the country at not getting an offensive shot blocked. Like that stat will do anything but get better against Marquette.
  • Protecting the ball – DePaul is #32 in the country at protecting the ball. They only turn the ball over on 17.9% of all possessions.
DePaul Weaknesses
  • Offensive eFG% - DePaul is #274 in the country at effective field goal percentage. They only have an eFG% of 45.7% (MU is at 53.2%). This includes them being #335 in the country at 3-point field goal percentage (27.0%), and #319 in the country at FT percentage (61.9%)
  • Giving up offensive rebounds – DePaul allows opponents to get an offensive rebounding percentage of 36.8% (#291 in the country)
  • Forcing turnovers – DePaul is #220 in the country at forcing turnovers (only 20% of all defensive possessions result in a turnover)

Specific Statistics Recommendations (In order of importance)
1. Limit DePaul to an eFG% of 41% or less (~22 made field goals - including 5 threes). That's three below their season average and gives a 98% chance of Marquette win (23 point win)
2. Achieve an eFG% of 56% or higher (~28 made field goals, including 7 threes)
3. Force DePaul to a turnover rate of 22% or higher (~15 turnovers), which is two more than their average
4. Hold DePaul to an offensive rebounding percentage of 31% or less (12 offensive rebounds), which is two less than their season average
5. Turn the ball over on 16% of possessions or less (~11 turnovers), which is two less than average

Bottom Line
Pomeroy predicts a 97% of Marquette victory, and I am actually pretty close (98% of victory). In a slightly slower game (67 possessions), Marquette should win easily due to a significant advantage on field goal percentage. Turnover rate and offensive rebounding should be a decent advantage for Marquette. Despite the season trends, expect the free throw rates to be close for both teams. Marquette should win this game easily.

Media Updates

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Greatest 4-year stretch of beating ranked teams in MU history

Greatest 4-year stretch of beating ranked teams in MU history - John Pudner

The Three Amigos will go to South Bend this Monday to try to set an unofficial MU record with their 13th regular season win against a ranked opponent during a 4-year tenure – and it will only be January 26! With three wins over ranked teams in the books (Wisconsin, Villanova and West Virginia), and eight currently ranked teams remaining on the schedule, MU could easily become the first team in school history to beat six teams during one regular season.

The three Amigos sophomore season was the first time an MU team had beaten five ranked teams in one season, going 5-2.

Put it all together, and the three Amigos will have by far the most big regular season wins in four regular seasons of any stretch in MU history:

Vs. ranked teams defeated during 4-year stretch

2006-2009 – 12-9 and counting
1994-1997 – 12-6
1975-1978 – 10-8
1971-1974 – 9-3
2002-2005 – 8-10
1955-1958 – 6-6

*MU has never beaten more than 4 ranked teams in a four-year stretch outside of these six spans, except for mixing and matching among these years.

On this front, the Three Amigos are without peers in MU history. Stepping into the Big East and going 85-33 to date is impressive enough, but the fact that they could end their careers having played 29 ranked teams during the regular season, 11 more than even Jerome Whitehead and Butch Lee from 1975-78, is astounding. This is where even the Win Credits system I slaved over to develop in the book short-changes the Three Amigos. Based purely on wins and losses, they could all end up ranked among the top 20 players in MU history, but if I had a way to give more credit for tougher regular season wins, they would certainly rank higher.

Each of these stretches are important. To state the obvious, three of them included a Final Four run. As for the other two; the 1955-1958 started with the first Elite 8 run and really put MU on the map. The 1994-1997 was the biggest turnaround, as MU had gone 1-18 against ranked teams the eight years leading up to 1994, so to go Sweet 16 and then continue on a 12-6 run may have saved the program.

Still, it’s hard to top the significance of the three Amigos stepping into the Big East after two post-Wade years of not topping .500 in Conference USA. Logically, the Big East should have blown MU out of the water by confronting the Three Amigos with a level of day-in-and-day-out competition MU had never faced, even in the glory days of the 1970s.

As ecompt aptly posted on MU Scoop recently, there are not going to be a lot of dry eyes on senior day against Syracuse this year with all these memorable wins.

John Pudner, Journalism ’88, was Editorial Editor and then News Editor for the Marquette Tribune. He was named top sports news writer in Virginia in 1991 while working for the Charlottesville Observer and wrote a weekly column on his rankings of baseball pitchers for the New York Post before leaving journalism for a career in politics and government affairs.

John's book Ultimate Hoops Guide: Marquette University can be ordered here: (www.collegeprowler.com/basketball)

Videos: Asst. Coach Monarch + Sports Medicine

Couple more videos from the Buzz Show .. First up, Assistant Coach Scott Monarch ..

Make sure you watch the second video about Sports Medicine .. it's interesting.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Frozena's 5 minutes of fame .. Plus game-day video

Here's a couple more videos from the Buzz Williams show on Time Warner Sports:

Game Day:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Xavier Mania! .. Plus a great video..

First up, a posting from FriarBlog .. absolutely hysterical.

"Top 10 Reasons Jonathan Xavier Walked on the Court"

Here's the first 3 .. click for more:

10. Jonathan was furious that Geoff McDermott was taking the foul shots for Jeff. He thought the NCAA rule was that if a player was physically unable to take the free throws, the duty would go to the next of kin.

9. Jonathan was angry with the ref for not calling traveling on Jeff. He always got away with that shit when they were growing up and playing in the backyard.

8. None of the other referees ever return his phone calls or emails about other blown calls after the games. This was just easier.

Need some context? The Providence Journal checks in with a lengthy story on the JXavier incident.

Jonathan Xavier was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct by the Providence police. He was released just before midnight and ordered to appear in court at a later date. Xavier owns an extensive criminal record, including being sentenced to serve eight months at the ACI in 2005 for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.


While the incident report filed with police stated that Xavier was not suspected of using alcohol or drugs, Lepore noted that the 9 p.m. start time could have led to additional drinking. He said there were more incidents of fighting than usual in a crowd announced at 10,221.
"More incidents of fighting than usual" ??? What the hell is going on up there in the Island of Rhode? The Bradley Center packs in 17,000, 18, 19,000 fans on a given night. I can't say I recall any reports of fighting in our near history. And that's not for the lack of delicious, delicious beer.

Next .. TallTitan has done a magnificent job putting together a 2 minute video on MU's comeback:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Providence: It's all about protecting the ball

Kind of a crazy game on Saturday. Very good win for the team, especially when it looked for a long stretch that it just wasn't Marquette's night.

First of all, it's that pesky problem of being bad defensively on the road that pops up again. This was a problem all last year, and we're continuing to track it. However, the goofy thing about this game was that Marquette lost on three of the four factors and yet still managed to win the game. The defensive eFG% was outright, throw-your-remote-through-the-TV bad. Despite the rash of early foul calls during the 1H, Marquette did not get to the line at a higher rate than Providence. And, Marquette allowed PC to get a higher offensive rebounding percentage.

Nope, it was all about the turnover rate. Not only was Marquette able to force Providence into a higher turnover rate than predicted, but they were able to take care of the ball remarkably well. In the second half, Marquette had only three turnovers to PC's 13. Just as commentator Bob Valvano said, that was the key to the game right there.

Despite all the giddyness (and deservedly so) from a big road comeback victory, is it time to start expecting to compete legitimately for the BE championship? Here are the current set of predictions for the rest of the season.

With five games under the belt for most of the teams in the league, the set of data is starting to get better. However, it's still a reflection of how well the team is playing right now. Since they're playing well, that helps.

Home wins (high confidence) - DePaul, St. Johns, Seton Hall, Syracuse
Home wins (tougher games) - Georgetown, UConn

Road wins (high confidence) - NONE
Road favorites (tougher games) - DePaul, USF
Road underdogs (but winnable) - Notre Dame, Villanova
Unlikely wins - Georgetown, Louisville, Pittsburgh

If anything, I think the predictions for the home games against Syracuse and Georgetown are a bit high, and the matchups on the road for GU, UL and Pitt are a bit too low. However, it all passes the sanity check. Really, the big difference from the last time is that Marquette won two games (WVU and PC) that were considered "tougher" games.

How do things look for the rest of the season?

Start trying to figure out where Marquette will end up playing in the NCAA tournament. There is less than 1% chance the team ends up worse than 9-9, and 96% chance the team ends up with 10 wins or more. The most likely view is still that Marquette finishes with twelve wins, with a 70% chance that MU does better than last year's eleven wins.

However, as the team is playing right now, there is basically a 50/50 chance the team has 13 wins or more at the end of the season. As a reminder, Georgetown won the league with 15 wins last year. UL and UConn were right behind at 14 and 13 wins, respectively. Everyone else bunched up at 11 wins after that, including Marquette. What are those odds?

  • 15 wins - 10%
  • 14 wins - 24%
  • 13 wins - 46%
Is it too early to think that Marquette can compete for the Big East championship? Maybe, but it's definitely not a crazy notion anymore. This year's team is not only fun to watch and fun to root for, but they could be special.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

MU down 13, storms back to beat Providence by 9.

After trailing for most of the first 26 minutes, Marquette was in the odd position of NOT being the fastest team on the court. Providence's players were beating MU off the dribble, blowing by our guards with frequency. PC was shooting in the high 60s, and Marquette was DOWN THIRTEEN POINTS.

And then Marquette snapped out of their funk, and put together two 14-3 runs over the next dozen minutes to shock the Friars. Acker was instrumental with his defense, and coming up with 3 steals down the stretch. Lazar was amazing, draining 4 of his 5 three-pointers in the final 10 minutes.

MU had THREE 20+ point players .. Lazar with 25, McNeal with 25, Wes with 22. Tough to beat a team with those kind of numbers.

Marquette's lineups were odd all night, with Burke and Hazel sitting down in favor of Butler, Fulce, and Acker. Buzz later explained that Burke and Hazel "weren't running down the court" and with Providence's quick offense, were allowing points.

While MU took control those last 14 minutes, Buzz concluded with Homer: "We were absolutely pitiful in many ways and brilliant in others."

Coming back from 13 down was a huge statement by the Warriors and will be looked back upon as evidence that with DJ, Wes, McNeal and Lazar on the court, Marquette has a very high ceiling.

Marquette is now 5-0 in Big East play, has another week off, then plays a hapless DePaul team at the Bradley Center making a 6-0 start very likely.


One scary moment, at the 17 minute mark, in what was clean defensive play, PC player Jeff Xavier ran into Joe Fulce. Xavier went down clutching his face on the contact. Replays showed Fulce's play was clean, and Xavier simply caught Fulce's elbow in a bad spot. Apparently, the refs did NOT call that foul, yet called a foul 2 seconds later on Fulce.

In an unbelievable lapse of security, a fan from the stands, Xavier's brother, sauntered onto the court to confront Fulce. Buzz quickly yanked his players off the court and after a good 15 seconds, someone coaxed Xavier's brother off the court and out of the building. -- Coincidentally (or not) the Refs called a grand total of 3 fouls on Providence over the next 12 minutes.

Even Providence fans are upset: "That guy should have been tackled to the floor with a tire knocker in his throat. Where was security? Off having a beer and pretzel?" "I thought security was ho-hum about the incident. Disgrace that it happened but how security failed to act was even a more of a disgrace.. could have been worse!"

Note to Providence, note to DDCenter, note to Big East HQ: That security team needs a lesson in how to quickly respond to threatening fans on the court. That response was a total joke, and should not be tolerated in Big East play.

AP Photos
AP Recap
Rosiak Recap

Friday, January 16, 2009

Marquette travels to Providence on Saturday

Tomorrow night, Marquette will travel to Rhode Island to face the Friars of Providence College. Last year, in the BE Season Opener, Marquette pounded PC 96-67 at the Bradley Center. However, that was at home, and the Friars were without Sharaud Curry. In Providence's last game, they hung tough on the road at Georgetown before finally falling 82-75.

Similar to Marquette, PC has an experienced lineup with a new head coach. Coach Keno Davis was the AP Coach of the Year last year from his time at Drake. Not only that, but as Buzz mentioned, he's only lost eight games in his entire coaching career. Providence has eight seniors on their roster, including leading scorer Weyinmi Efejuku and five of their top eight scorers. Not only that, but PC basically only goes eight deep, and two of the other top players are juniors. Providence won't be intimidated by Marquette or the #14 ranking. In addition, Providence also has only lost one game at home this season, and that was their first game this season.

Game time is 8:00 pm Saturday on ESPN2.

Pomeroy gives us a 69% chance of victory, but I'm slightly less optimistic at 61%. On the road, that's essentially a toss-up.

Opponent Strengths and Weaknesses
Taken from the Pomeroy Scouting Report and Game Plan.

1. Three Point Defense – Providence is #24 in the country at three point defense (29.7%)
2. Making two-point baskets – Providence is #28 in the country at making two-point baskets (53.1%)
3. Offensive Rebounding – Providence is #41 in the country at offensive rebounding, rebounding a missed field goal 38.0% of the time

1. Shooting three pointers – Providence is #246 in the country at shooting three pointers, averaging 31.8%
2. Preventing two-point baskets (#247) – Providence allows opponents to hit 50.2% from inside the arc
3. Giving up offensive rebounds – Providence is #231 in the country at allowing opponents to get offensive rebounds (34.6% of missed field goals)

Specific Statistics Recommendations (In order of importance)
1. Limit Providence to an eFG% of 50% or less, which is right at their season average and gives 61% chance of Marquette win (3 point win)
2. Achieve an eFG% of 51% or higher, which is slightly less than the season average
3. Force Providence to a turnover rate of 24% or higher (~17 turnovers), which is three more than their average
4. Hold PC to an offensive rebounding percentage of 31% or less (~12 offensive rebounds), which is two less than their season average
5. Get to the line with a Free Throw Rate of 38% or more (~22 free throw attempts), which is six less than season average

Bottom Line
In a slightly faster game (71 possessions), Marquette should win due to an advantage on turnover rate and from the free throw line. Field Goal percentage and offensive rebounding should be about equal. Marquette needs to force a lot of turnovers and get to the line a lot. Expect a fairly defensive oriented game.

Media Updates

Thursday, January 15, 2009

At this pace, where will four stars rank among the best MU players of all time?

PUDNER WEEK: Cracked Sidewalks has gone all-Pudner, all the time. Here's his third column of three.

At this pace, where will four stars rank among the best MU players of all time? - John Pudner

This is the final of three columns on where MUs current four stars will rank among the all-time greats in MU history.

While the four current MU stars will be all over the all-time lists of points scored, assists, steals and wins, we need to look at all of these factors and others to determine where they rank among the 32 pro players and 16 1st and 2nd team All-Americans to play at MU before them. For example, Bo Ellis and Butch Lee may look like they put up fewer numbers than the current team, but their 1976 and 1977 teams allowed only 60.1 and 59.4 points per game, almost 10 points a game less than is scored against MU today with the faster pace. If you go back even further in time, Dave Quabius 8.8 ppg during his All-American campaign in 1939 may look unimpressive, until you realize that MU was still giving up just 32.6 ppg then.

Each players stats must be understood in the context of how many points his MU squad arrived, and this all must be considered in the light of how far he was able to lead his teams in overall wins and the tournament, and what recognition he received from coaches and writers (e.g. Dominic being named AP All-American Honorable Mention, or Jerel getting Big East defensive player of the year).

With all of these points, wins, assists and steals, how valuable have the four greats been to date? Many other factors such as how many opponents’ points allowed are factored into the “Win Credits” formula on all 671 MU players between 1917 and now. Bo Ellis will still have created the most wins of any MU player in history with an estimate 25.7 Wins Created during his four years, however all four MU players are on pace to make the top 10, and McNeal is on pace to finish 2nd only to Ellis.

  1. Bo Ellis 25.7 Win Credits (estimate number of wins for which Ellis was responsible)
  2. Jerel McNeal 22.6
  3. Butch Lee 21.5
  4. Dominic James 21.0
  5. George Thompson 20.5
  6. Dean Meminger 19.7
  7. Lazar Hayward 19.7 (if senior year just as good as this year)
  8. Travis Diener 18.6
  9. Wes Matthews 17.7
  10. Don Kojis 16.4


Obviously seasons are now longer than they were in past decades, so today’s players have many more games in which to try to earn Win Credits. Where would today’s Fab 4 players rank among the 671 players to put on an MU uniform, including 32 players who would go onto play professionally and 16 players who went 1st or 2nd team All-American? My system for ranking the all-time players indicates it will be hard for any of the current four to break the Top 12 MU players of all time, which includes players from Dwyane Wade to Jerome Whitehead who were All-Americans and played professionally. However, the three Amigos are on pace to end up among the top two dozen players to ever play for MU on their current pace. The rating to the left of each of the following players is a combination of their Win Credits for each season per games played, as well as how far they took the team and the impact they had on the program, starting with the 13th greatest player in MU history, Tony Smith:


  1. Tony Smith 43.3
  2. Larry McNeil 43.2
  3. Travis Diener 42.7
  4. Jim McIlvaine 41.8
  5. Lloyd Walton 41.5
  6. Doc Rivers 40.9
  7. Jerel McNeal 40.8
  8. Bernard Toone 40.2
  9. Dominic James 38.8
  10. Ed Mullen 38.7
  11. Gary Brell 38.6
  12. Wesley Matthews 38.5
  13. Michael Wilson 38.5
  14. Bob Lackey 38.2
  15. Sam Worthen 37.4
  16. Joe Thomas 36.0

A 27-9 season (give or take a couple of wins) that included a win or two in the NCAA tournament would likely end up with McNeal rating as the 19th greatest player in MU history, with James and Matthews just a couple of spots behind. A trip to the Elite 8 would move each player up at least another point, and a Final Four trip would add at least two points to each player, moving each player further up the list above. On an individual bases, any player could get an additional point for being drafted or playing in the NBA, and/or being the 22nd MU player ever selected to at least the 4th team of an All-American team. One or more of the three players doing that could make a run that could challenge Tony Smith for the 13th spot or potentially go even higher.

Where ever they end up ranking on all of these fronts, it’s awfully hard to imagine the first four years of Big East play being a success without the Three Amigos and the addition of Lazar the next year. They’ve put MU at a level of Big East competition to attract the next round of MU stars.

John Pudner, Journalism ’88, was Editorial Editor and then News Editor for the Marquette Tribune. He was named top sports news writer in Virginia in 1991 while working for the Charlottesville Observer and wrote a weekly column on his rankings of baseball pitchers for the New York Post before leaving journalism for a career in politics and government affairs.

John's book Ultimate Hoops Guide: Marquette University can be ordered here: (www.collegeprowler.com/basketball)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The 3 Amigos – 5 steals a game for four years running

The 3 Amigos – 5 steals a game for four years running -by John Pudner

Having covered the fact that MUs four stars are on pace to all finish among the Top 6 scorers in MU history in the 1st of a three-part series, today we move onto the mark they’ve left in other areas. Dominic James is on pace to repeat a feat accomplished only by Bo Ellis before him – stepping on the court as a star for his first freshman game and never skipping a game until his senior finale. The ability of the three guards to steal the ball and dish out assists will also go down in history.


In terms of total wins, if Dominic doesn’t sit out any games, this would mean he had played (and I believe started) in all 136 games of his career, placing him 6th on the list. I do not have the totals for Wes and Jerel, because I am not sure how many of the games they’ve missed over the years were wins, but James would have started in 96 wins under the above projections.

  1. Earl Tatum 101
  2. Bo Ellis 101
  3. Butch Lee 99
  4. Gary Rosenberger 99
  5. Bernard Toone 98
  6. Dominic James 96
  7. Travis Diener 91
  8. Todd Townsend 91
  9. Faisal Abraham, Chris Crawford, Anthony Pieper 90
  10. Jerel McNeal and Wes Matthews - ?


While McNeal is on pace to easily move into first place on the all-time scoring list, it is a much closer call in his chase to catch Michael Wilson for the most steals since they started keeping the stat in the 1979-80 season. He is in pace to just catch Wilson even when adjusting his pace down for the tougher competition. James is on pace to finish not far behind in 4th place, and Matthews is on pace to knock Travis Diener and Kerry Trottier out of the all-time Top 10 in steals. In MUs first four years of Big East play, that means the Three Amigos would finish with 680 steals in 136 games, or exactly five steals a game for four years running. Based on the partial information we have prior to 1980 and some NCAA stats, I do estimate that Marcus Washington, Butch Lee and Dean Meminger probably each topped McNeal’s average steals per game.

  1. Jerel McNeal 275
  2. Michael Wilson 272
  3. Mandy Johnson 253
  4. Dominic James 242
  5. Doc Rivers 203
  6. Tony Smith 190
  7. Michael Sims 188
  8. Tony Miller 185
  9. Aaron Hutchins 165
  10. Wes Matthews 163


The unselfish 2009 James already has passed Aaron Hutchins by dealing out more than 5 assists a game so far, and he needs just 41 more to pass Diener for 2nd place all-time. McNeal needs another 20 assists to pass Wilson’s 394 and make the Top 10, and he could move as high as 7th. Assists only have been recorded since 1967, but the only player prior to that who might be in the top 10 is Jim Kollar from the great 1959 Sweet 16 team, who I estimate fed Kojis and company 375 times. He would have been on the all-time list if freshman had played varsity then and they had kept the stat, but even other great point guards like Richard Nixon (early 60s) and Don Bugalski (directed top offensive team in 1955) were probably a bit short of this list.

  1. Tony Miller 956
  2. Dominic James 668
  3. Travis Diener 617
  4. Aaron Hutchins 550
  5. Lloyd Walton 480
  6. Tony Smith 469
  7. Jerel McNeal 435
  8. Cordell Henry 430
  9. Doc Rivers 409
  10. Michael Sims 408

In the third and final column to follow, I will put all of these stats together to determine where each of the current stars rank among the all-time greats in MU history.

John Pudner, Journalism ’88, was Editorial Editor and then News Editor for the Marquette Tribune. He was named top sports news writer in Virginia in 1991 while working for the Charlottesville Observer and wrote a weekly column on his rankings of baseball pitchers for the New York Post before leaving journalism for a career in politics and government affairs.

John's book Ultimate Hoops Guide: Marquette University can be ordered here: (www.collegeprowler.com/basketball)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Enjoy watching history being made – where the 3 Amigos will finish

Enjoy watching history being made – where the 3 Amigos will finish - by John Pudner

It’s hard to enjoy history while it’s being made, but in the future Marquette fans may look back and remember that four of the top six scorers in Marquette history played together for three seasons ending this year. In this first of a 3-part series, I want to project where the 2008-09 team and the four stars in particular will rank on the all-time scoring lists in Marquette history.

The Fab Four’s ppg averages should all drop this year as Marquette’s 81.1 ppg to date will likely fall to about 78.3 points per game based on the predicted scores for the rest of the season at http://kenpom.com/sked.php?y=2009&team=Marquette&t=p and potential matchups in the Big East and NCAA tournaments. Looking at that link, MU is on pace to go 9-5 the rest of the way, with an average score of 77-72. Using these rankings as a basic guide for the post season, I ran a model of MU averaging a 73-73 score in five post season games (beat WVU and lose to Pitt in the Big East Tourney, then beat Miami-OH and Xavier in the NCAA before losing to Duke in the Sweet 16 based loosely on Pomeroy rankings for seeding and results).

I realize the task at hand for the players and coaches right now is going into Providence (whose only Big East loss is a close game AT Georgetown) and try to come out with a tough win there. However, I don’t want to wait until the season finale to really start to appreciate what the three Amigos are in the process of accomplishing.

Using these projections and some liberties to estimate the post season, the following is the potential outlook:


Currently, Marquette is averaging 81.1 ppg, good enough for the 3rd best total in history. However, the Pomeroy projections have MU averaging 77 ppg the rest of the season against tougher Big East defenses, and assuming that total drops to 73 ppg for the Big East and NCAA tournaments that would leave this year’s squad at 78.3 ppg, still the 5th highest scoring average in history.

  1. Terry Rand and 1955 Elite 8 team – 84.2 ppg
  2. Jim Chones and 1971 28-1 team – 81.7 ppg
  3. Bob Wolf and 1966 team – 80.2 ppg
  4. Dwyane Wade and 2003 Final Four team – 78.5 ppg
  5. Three Amigos, Lazar and 2009 team projected – 78.3 ppg

Assuming the players’ rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots fall off at the same pace as points during the tougher competition down the stretch, the final season stats would be as follows:



































































































(WC = Win Credits, the estimated number of wins each player is worth to the team based on his stats and how many points MU let’s opponents score.)

Obviously Otule and Fulce could register substantially more stats if they don’t miss any more injury time.


Even with the points per game falling off due to tougher competition to 18.3 ppg for Matthews, 17.9 for McNeal, 15.5 for Hayward and 11.4 for James, all four would end up in the top 6 MU scorers of all time (assuming Hayward put up the same number of points his senior year as well). Of course, while Thompson seems happy to congratulate the person who breaks his record, it should always be noted that Thompson will always be the greatest scorer in MU history. In 1966, he scored another 405 points in 17 games for MU’s freshman team because freshman were not allowed to play varsity then, and his career 20.4 ppg only has been challenged by Dwayne Wade (19.7) and Jim Chones (19.0):

  1. Jerel McNeal, 1,936
  2. Dominic James, 1,841
  3. Lazar Hayward 1,789 (assumes 558 points this year and next)
  4. George Thompson, 1,773
  5. Butch Lee, 1,735
  6. Wes Matthews, 1,692
  7. Travis Diener, 1,691
  8. Brian Wardle, 1,690
  9. Tony Smith, 1,688
  10. Bo Ellis, 1,663

The 2nd column will cover where the four stars will rank in all-time assists, steals, and wins list, and the 3rd and final column will evaluate where they rank among all the All-Americans and future pros to play for MU.

John Pudner, Journalism ’88, was Editorial Editor and then News Editor for the Marquette Tribune. He was named top sports news writer in Virginia in 1991 while working for the Charlottesville Observer and wrote a weekly column on his rankings of baseball pitchers for the New York Post before leaving journalism for a career in politics and government affairs.

John's book Ultimate Hoops Guide: Marquette University can be ordered here: (www.collegeprowler.com/basketball)