"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

Monday, November 29, 2010

Marquette Basketball Weekly

Brad Galli and Todd Warner take you inside Marquette's CBE Classic journey in the "Turkey Tourney Edition" of Marquette Basketball Weekly. Hey, leftovers are always good.

Dick Vitale joins Brad for a trip down Memory Lane, recalling stories of Al McGuire. Todd takes a look at the unique relationship between Vander Blue and Duke's Kyrie Irving, while Brad examines the recent history between Duke and Marquette in Thanksgiving tournaments. FoxSports.com's Jeff Goodman closes the show with Todd, sharing his insight on the Golden Eagles.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

DJO explosion saves 38-game win streak

Jimmy Butler and Darius Johnson-Odom netted 6 consecutive free throws in the final 30 seconds to survive 75-72 against UWM.

But make no mistake about it – if DJO had not simply played like the NBA player he is projected to be for the first time this year, UWM would have ended MUs 37-game win streak and there would have been no chance for the last second heroics.

Until Saturday night, DJO simply had not looked like the player projected to be the 38th player selected in the NBA draft after his senior season next year. (21 spots after Vander Blue, though we hope he is in the 2014 draft)

Warning to the Big East – he’s back! Just in time for bragging rights in Milwaukee.
Despite sitting several minutes dazed after an accidental hit to the nose, DJO hit 7 of 8 shots en route to 22 first half points, finishing with a career high 29 points on the night.

His hot hand from outside and ability to draw defenders and then kick out helped MU go 8 of 11 from beyond the arc in the first half to open a big lead.

However, MU continued to have trouble boxing out, including allowing consecutive offensive rebounds with 16 seconds left to cut the lead back to two points.

The only problem MU had experienced early in the season was leaving opponents open for 3-pointers. However, Gonzaga dominated for 15 offensive rebounds in the second half of the last game and UWM was able to pick up right where they left off.

MU has two creampuffs coming up, and will have to use those games to work on boxing out and guarding against the trey before Wisconsin comes to town December 11.

By the way, Rush the Court hosted a live blog on the game.

Media Links

Marquette nearly loses to UW-Milwaukee for the first time.....SINCE TIME BEGAN

For all the talent MU has, for all the coaching acumen Buzz Williams offers, you would be hard pressed to find much of it tonight after MU went up 18 points in the second half and then decided to lay an egg until the final seconds of the game. Marquette escaped with a 75-72 win thanks to making 7 of 8 clutch free throws by Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder and DJO in the final seconds. The win means Marquette is 38-0 all time against Milwaukee State Normal School \ Wisconsin State Teachers College \ Wisconsin State College of Milwaukee \ UWM \ UW-Milwaukee. The final margin was easily the closest of the 38 games....no other game was decided in single digits.

This was the first game ever between the two schools in which Marquette was the visitor. Television broadcasters expected about 8,000 in attendance and declared about a 50-50 split with MU and UW-M fans at US Cellular Arena (formerly known as the MECCA).

UW-M jumped to the early lead in the game at 4-0 before Marquette's defensive pressure and a stellar first half by DJO surged the Warriors into the lead for good. DJO scored 22 first half points on 5 for 5 behind the arc. He had been struggling all year to find his long range stroke, but consistently hit from outside in the first half. UW-M was able to hang around on the 3 point shooting of Tony Meir and the inside play of Anthony Hill. MU led at the break 47 to 35.

In the second half, MU continued to surge building a 18 point lead at 53-35 in the opening few minutes. It seemed at this point MU decided the game was in hand and went into cruise control. They got sloppy with the ball, made poor decision after poor decision and let the Panthers back into the game. UW-M went on two runs to combine for a 20-7 edge at 60-55 with 6:34 remaining in the game. MU answered with a a mini six point run to make it 66-55 in just over one minute of play before MU shut it down over the next 5 minutes.

UW-M cut the lead to 68-66 after an 11-2 run with 26.9 seconds remaining. Butler sunk two free throws to push the lead back to four, but MU allowed an easy UW-M put back basket at 70-68 with 12.2 seconds left. Butler was again fouled and calmly sunk two free throws again. With five seconds left, Williams was fouled going to the hoop but did not score. He made only one free throw. DJO was fouled on the other end and pushed MU's lead to 74-69 before McCallum drained a three pointer to cut the lead to two points with 1.5 seconds left. UW-M still had life. A dangerous inbound pass from Junior Cadougan was nearly stolen but Jae Crowder was able to corral it. Crowder was fouled...he missed the first free throw but nailed the second. UW-M had a wide open half court shot that was too high and too long. Marquette escaped in a game they played well for a half but terrible for the other....sound familiar....Bucknell, South Dakota, etc.

DJO led all scorers with 29 points. Jimmy Butler was the only other Warrior in double digits with 13. UW-M had four players in double digit scoring and were led by Ja'Rob McCallum's 19. MU was out rebounded 31 to 21. Buzz's squad again gave up over 40% shooting by an opponent from the three point area.

MU needs to shore up their defense and point guard play if it is to have a successful season this year. Tonight, Marquette escaped in a game they clearly had more talent but decided the game was over before it was.

Journal Sentinel article

Box Score

Friday, November 26, 2010

Giving thanks for being in the best conference - 15 potential quality wins

I’m thankful for MU being a part of the best basketball conference in the country because MU has 15 more chances at quality wins.

The Big 10-ACC challenge was to feature No. 1 Duke vs. No. 2 Michigan State, until unranked UConn beat Michigan State.

The fact is, while the challenge is supposed to pit No. 1 vs. No. 1 through No. 11 vs. No. 11 in the Big 10 and ACC, if you use the rankings at www.kenpom.com to run the same hypothetical matchup between all conferences on neutral courts, the Big East is clearly the winner against either conference or any other so far this year.

Through today, the Big East goes undefeated under this hypothetical format against 29 other conferences including the Pac 10 and SEC. The Big East goes 10-1 against the ACC (only Pitt rated lower than Duke), and 9-2 against the Big 12, leaving the Big 10 and the Big East as the top two conferences.

The Big East and Big 10 are very even through the top 6 teams, hypothetically splitting the six going by the ratings. However, the Big East would be huge favorites when pitting the No. 7 through No. 11 teams from both conferences against their counterpart: (26th Lville>47th PSU, 37th Marquette>65th NW, 45th ND>71st Indiana, 51st SH>86th Michigan and 56th St. John’s>103rd Iowa).

MU has 15 more shots at quality wins

While this could change, the reason the Big East’s spot as the top conference so far is important is that the stiff competition means MU has 15 more games against quality opponents.

Go 7-8 in those games and MU is easily in the tournament with a good seed, even if MU were upset someplace like at UWM or USF to finish 21-10. Go 5-10 in those games an MU could still make it – so the opportunity is there in the Big East.

MUs potential - strong in 7 of 8 categories

The inexperienced MU team has certainly shown the potential to get a lot of quality wins, even if the Big East does continue to be the top conference (not to mention opportunities against Wisconsin and at Vanderbilt).

MU is very good at 7 of the 8 things that determine the winner in 90%+ of games (the Four Factors on offense and defense).

On offense MU shoots well, gets to the foul line, protects the ball and grabs offensive rebounds much better than most teams. I am sure critics will point to poor 3-point shooting and inconsistent foul shooting, but these weaknesses are more than overcome by MUs ability to get to the line and hit 2-pointers:

• MU is shooting 66.1% from the line compared to the national average of 67.6%. While that may cost MU about 1 point every four games, the fact that they drive to the hoop gets MU as many free throws and field goal attempts - worth several extra points EVERY game.
• While MU is terrible at 3-point shooting (28.4%), they are the best they’ve ever been at 54.4% on two-point shots (only once since Wade left have they shot 50% on 2-pointers). Simple solution, MU takes a 2-point shot 77.1% of the time meaning overall they are a very good shooting team overall.

On defense, MU is strong on forcing turnovers, keeping opponents off the line, and defensive rebounding (despite the abysmal 2nd half against Gonzaga). That leaves only one weakness – opponents’ shooting.

MU is giving up a terrible 39.2% on three-pointers, and unlike on offense, they can’t choose how often opponents take the 3-pointer. Opponents choose to take a 3-pointer 33% of the time.

Unlike the senior-dominated 2008-09 team that was about as good as they were going to get at the beginning of the season, an inexperienced team like this one typically only gets better as the year goes on and players play together.

Davante Gardner will only get in better shape to improve his defense to go along with his offense, Dwight Buycks and Junior Cadougan will only get more comfortable running the point, Jae Crowder and Vander Blue will only get more dominant as they get used to playing with everyone else on the court.

Marquette needs to figure out how to make adjustments to lower opponents’ field goal percentage. However, a team this good at everything else already and with so much potential to get better will have a great chance for a lot of quality wins this year in the Big East.

In the preseason predictions I picked MU to lose to Duke and Gonzaga but finish 23-8. The bad news is 23 wins is going to be pretty tough due to the Big East being much better than expected, but the good news is it is not going to take nearly that many wins to make the tournament with a team that could well be peaking on their way to Georgetown, the University of Arizona, Denver, the University of South Florida, Cleveland State University, UNCC, Chicago or the University of Tulsa for the opening round in mid-March.

After watching this team courtside for two days in Kansas City, I believe we may get a tourney win or two even before the arrival of top 100 players Jamail Jones and Juan Anderson and freshman turning into sophomores next year.

Big East vs. Top 50

For the record, the seven Big East teams ahead of MU at www.kenpom.com are 8-1 against top 50 teams:
Pitt (4th) – beat 5th Texas 68-66
Nova (6th) – beat 42nd UCLA 82-70
Georgetown (9th) – beat 44th ODU 62-59 (away) and 38th NC State 82-67
Syracuse (13th) – no top 50 opponents
West Virginia (23rd) – beat 27th Vandy 74-71, lost to 31st Minn 74-70
UConn (26th) – beat 8th Mich St 70-67, beat 14th Kent 84-67
Louisville (29th) – beat 36th Butler 88-73 (home)
Marquette (37th) – lost 1st Duke 82-77, lost to 43rd Gonzaga 66-63

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gonzaga mauls Marquette

In what will be one of this season's most frustrating defeats the Marquette Warriors spit the bit tonight against the Gonzaga Bulldogs, losing 66-63 at the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic in Kansas City.

Marquette never displayed its 'A game' tonight, falling behind early and trailing 42-33 at the break. The Zags shot lights out in the first half nailing six three-pointers including five by Steven Gray who finished with a team-high 20 points. The Warriors made adjustments at the half and Gonzaga failed to connect on a three-pointer in the game's final 20 minutes, but that adjustment was not without consequence.

Mark Few's Bulldogs found another way to keep MU at bay by owning the backboards in the game's crucial stages. To say that Marquette was destroyed on the glass would be an understatement; Gonzaga ripped down 15 of its 17 offensive rebounds in the second half. That is not a misprint. The Warriors were no match for the Bulldogs' toughness.

All told Gonzaga earned a 42-26 rebounding advantage and a startling 17-6 advantage on the offensive glass including the 15 they claimed in the second half alone. Despite the beat down in the paint Marquette closed the gap to just two points late in the game but failed to launch a quality shot as time expired.

Jimmy Butler led MU with 22 points and 5 boards. The senior ignited MU's late run, scoring 13 of the team's final 17 points including a three-pointer with 45 seconds remaining to bring Marquette to within two. Darius Johnson-Odom finished with 13 points while Jae Crowder added 10. For the game MU shot just 39% from the floor including an ice-cold 29% from three-point range.

With the loss MU falls to 4-2 on the season. Next up for MU are the UW-Milwaukee Panthers in the final (we hope) Bud Haidet Classic on Saturday.

AP Recap
Box Score

Gardner not close to 100% healthy
ESPN rapid reaction from Brennan
The Anonymous Eagle vents

MUTV Sports

Marquette Faces Gonzaga in Jesuit Grudge Match


Still smarting from the loss last night? Still reveling in hanging tough with the #1 team in the nation? Scroll down for Tim's recap below, and then GET OVER IT, because we've got more hoops tonight!

In the third place game, Marquette faces off against #22 Gonzaga in a battle of Jesuit basketball programs. Last night, the Zags fell to #3 K-State 81-64. Gonzaga is arguably the most consistent Jesuit basketball program in recent history, having made the NCAA tournament every year since 1999. Game time is 6:45 Milwaukee Standard Time on ESPNU.

However, that ranking that Gonzaga has next to their name? Don't be impressed. They've lost two straight and will fall out of the rankings after this week. Sure, one of those was in a road game to the #3 team in the country. Still, we'll dig into the stats and see where opportunities lie.

What Gonzaga does well

Offensive Rebounding - Gonzaga are the #22 team in the country at crashing the offensive boards. They grab almost 43% of their missed shots. In a matchup of strength vs strength, Marquette is #31 in the country at defensive rebounding.

Offensive eFG% - Gonzaga are pretty solid at offensive eFG% (#49 in the country). Most of this comes from inside the arc, where the Zags make almost 55% of their baskets. Gonzaga are only average at shooting three pointers. This is another matchup of strength vs strength, because Marquette is much better at defending two-point baskets.

And... that's it. Both of the areas where Gonzaga are strong are also aspects that Marquette does well. MU will need to continue to do well in order to win tonight.

Here's where Gonzaga are weak

Defense! They are not good at defense. Consider this. Gonzaga are #236 in the country at defensive eFG%. They're not good inside the arc (#230) or at perimeter defense (#217). Considering Marquette is #38 in the country at scoring two-point baskets, Marquette needs to exploit this matchup. Maybe it's even a time for our anemic three point shooting to get healthy. Advantage: Marquette

Defensive Rebounding - In particular, Gonzaga are #206 in the country at defensive rebounding. Marquette are the #42 team in the country at crashing the offensive glass. Another advantage for MU to capitalize on.

Protecting the ball - Gonzaga are #133 in the country at protecting the ball. Of course, this hasn't exactly been an area of strength for Marquette this year. However, it is worth noting that last night Marquette won the turnover battle against Duke, and Duke has been one of the best teams in the country at turnover margin so far.


Reading the stats, it appears that Gonzaga favor a fast pace where they outlet the ball quickly for transition baskets and offensive rebounding. This results in somewhat loose protection of the ball. It's tough to get any read on their defense other than forcing some turnovers. However, only having watched about five minutes of the game last night, who knows how accurate this summary will be.

In conclusion, the areas that Gonzaga are strong are also areas where Marquette are strong. Our strengths of defensive rebounding and paint defense will need to stay solid, while Marquette exploits opportunities at scoring inside (and outside) and offensive rebounding. The stats say that Marquette are a slight favorite in tonight's game. We believe this Jesuit basketball matchup goes to the school from Milwaukee.


GoMarquette.com has their preview, as well as the Game Notes

Rosiak has a solid preview of the game.

The Slipper Still Fits (Gonzaga Blog) wonders If Toughness Can be Taught

Marquette Basketball: Revealed looks at the team for their gameday preparations before Duke. Really quick turnarounds on these episodes lately.

updated with Slipper Still Fits and MU Basketball Revealed links

Warriors fall to the Blue Devils in Kansas City

The Marquette Warriors sampled the bitter taste of defeat last night falling 82-77 to the top-ranked Duke Blue Devlis last night at the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic in Kansas City.

The Warriors (4-1) have no time to grouse about the defeat, tonight they lace up the hi-tops once more as they face the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the 2010 version of the Jumpin' Jesuit Jamboree. The Zags fell to Kansas State 81-64 last night. Tipoff tonight is scheduled for 6:45 Marquette Standard Time on ESPNU.

After a shaky first half that saw Marquette head into the locker room trailing 40-31, the Warriors packed wallop during the first ten minutes of the second half. Led by the impossibly hot Darius Johnson-Odom who scored all 13 of his points in the second half, Marquette tied the game at 57-57 on a Jae Crowder jumper with 10:32 remaining in regulation.

If not for the sequence which followed in the next two minutes, MU might have won the game.

The Warriors turned the ball over on their next three consecutive possessions, two by senior Dwight Buycks, and surrendered a Blue Devils' three-pointer on a second chance opportunity as Duke quickly extended its lead back to 66-57 and held off MU late to secure the victory.

Jimmy Butler led MU with 22 points and six rebounds while Crowder finished with 15 points. Sophomore point guard Junior Cadougan chipped in with five points and a team-high seven assists against just one turnover. Big man Davante Gardner delivered nine points and four boards despite an injured left shoulder.

Box Score.
J-S game recap.
Rosiak blogs on the loss.
The Anonymous Eagle recaps the loss as well.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Marquette vs Duke


For the third time in the past five seasons, Marquette faces off against Duke in an early season tournament. In 2007, the Three Amigos lost to Duke 77-73 in the finals of the Maui Invitational. The year before that, Marquette upset Duke 73-62 in the final game of this very same invitational down in Kansas City. Marquette fans can only hope history repeats itself. Unfortunately, part of our history is that Marquette is 1-6 in school history versus teams ranked No. 1 and 2-5 all-time against the Blue Devils (HT: MUAD).

Gametime is 6:30 Milwaukee Standard Time, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2. By the numbers, here's a look at Marquette vs Duke (2010-2011 version). We'll cover three reasons Marquette will lose and then three reasons Marquette will win.

Three Reasons Marquette Will Lose

1. Three point shooting - For lack of a better word, Marquette's perimeter defense has been atrocious. Maybe that isn't a strong enough word. Marquette has allowed opponents to make over 41% of their threes. That is #287 in the country. Now, maybe the team can get away with this against a team like South Dakota, but Duke is the #15 team in the country at making threes. In fact, it's arguably what Duke does best on offense. (of course, maybe the first four games are all just a crazy gambit by Buzz and the defensive game plan will be perimeter heavy. amiright? guys?) Seriously, though, this match-up cannot be news to the coaching staff, so pray they have a plan or it's going to be a long night.

2. Turnovers - In a manner very uncharacteristic for a Buzz-coached team, Marquette has been sloppy with the ball. Already this season, the team has had a turnover rate greater than 20% three times. Marquette was the #7 team in the country last year at protecting the ball. This year? #127. In fact, MU only had a turnover rate higher than 20% seven times all year last year. Guess what the best thing is that Duke does defensively? Yeah, they force turnovers, turning opponents over on 29% of all possessions so far. great.

3. Points in the Paint - Where Marquette has been solid this season is with points in the paint. They're the #40 team in the country at 2 point percentage and the #23 team in the country at free throw rate. In other words, MU has either been making easy shots inside the arc, or they've been getting fouled while taking those shots. By now you probably know what I'm going to say. Yes, Duke is better at preventing two point buckets (#41 overall) than they are stopping three pointers. And, they almost never let opponents get to the free throw line (#26 in the country).

Here's your nightmare scenario. Marquette fails to rotate defensively and Duke hits too many easy three pointers. When Duke isn't making threes, the Point Guard Experience (TM) keeps turning the ball over for easy transition baskets. Meanwhile, Marquette can't get anything going inside with the offense and we all complain that the ref isn't calling any fouls on the drives to basket. Guh.

Three Reasons Marquette Will Win

Enough of that crappy view. Let's look at where MU has some advantages and where the breaks may go in our favor.

1. Tournaments mean shorter benches - Buzz shortened up his bench more when the games started to become more competitive. With a shorter bench comes more experience and longer stretches for the more efficient players. With this will come hopefully fewer turnovers and better perimeter defense.

2. Rebounds - What is going on with this bizarro MU offense? After the past two years being no better than #85 in the country at any rebounding level (and as low as #238), MU comes into this game as a Top 30/31 offensive and defensive rebounding team. Duke's one weak spot defensively is their ability to control the boards (#97 in the country). This may be a game where we have co-studs of the game in JFB and the Predator (Jae) thanks to rebounding.

3. Interior Defense - Lost in the weak perimeter defense is that Marquette has been very good at interior defense. Beyond controlling the boards, MU is #22 in the country at defending two-point FGs. And while Duke may be very good at making threes, they are only #104 so far at scoring inside the arc.

Here's your dream scenario. A shorter bench means longer stretches for the better players that are able to contest the outside shot. When the early threes don't drop, Duke is unable to manufacture offense inside the arc. Meanwhile, MU controls the boards, limiting Duke to a single shot. JFB wins player of the game thanks to his patented offensive rebound AND ONE! Finally, DJO gets untracked and nobody can stop him going to the basket.


updated with ESPN links (HT: chren21) and MU Basketball revealed

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gardner-Fulce injured, Otule steps up 2 days before Duke

The injury bug hit right before the Duke game. Joe Fulce will miss two weeks and Davante Gardner, who is averaging more than a point a minute, entered the game early but hurt his shoulder hustling after a loose ball and later came back on the bench in sweats.

As bad as the timing is, the only silver lining is that the two injuries again showed how much deeper the MU team is than past years with the 10 healthy scholarship players who can all contribute.

Today, it was Chris Otule who took advantage of the extra minutes.

With 7:33 to go in the first half, South Dakota’s Jake Thomas put up a 3-pointer that could have cut Marquette’s lead to 26-24. However it missed, and Chris Otule grabbed the rebound en route to dominating much of the next 16 minutes of the game to push MU to a 61-38 lead.

Despite some breathers during those 16 minutes, Otule scored 15 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and drew four fouls.

At one point Otule scored 11 straight MU points in a 5-minute stretch that started with a great spin move dunk off a pass from Dwight Buycks to make it 41-27 MU. After a time out, MU set up a final play with Blue whipping the ball into Otule for a short jumper to make it 43-29 at the half.

Otule then opened MU scoring in the 2nd half off a feed from Jimmy Butler on which he was fouled at the 19:34 mark, missed a shot but then tipped it in with 18:23 to go, and then slammed home another dunk on a pass from Blue with 17:58 to go. His 11-0 run was completed by a free throw with 16:18 to make it 50-35.

MU certainly had some sloppy stretches – to be expected with an experienced team, before ultimately winning 82-69. The fact that they avoided a potential trap game two days before Duke, particularly with two of their three big men out, makes for a decent day.

I’m a stat guy, but you really have to watch to see how unbelievable Vander Blue is on the court and appreciate his defense, passing (6 more assists), and ability to play almost like a power forward at times (5 rebounds).

In a radical departure from recent years, MU continued to be a dominant rebounding team (won the boards 46-28), but to lose the three-point battle (MU gave up 9 more three pointers Saturday, while only hitting one of nine themselves).

Jimmy Butler’s 20 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals show the kind of assertiveness we hope to see against Duke Monday.

The rest of the wish list for Monday night against Duke is to see Gardner back on the court, not see the same sloppy play that resulted in 16 turnovers today, and have the MU defense find their rotation to better contest the 3-pointer.

MUTV Sports

Warriors host South Dakota

Trap game?

Maybe .... after beating up on UW-Green Bay earlier in the week the Warriors host the University of South Dakota Coyotes at 1pm Marquette Standard Time on Saturday.

Oh, the Warriors play Duke on Monday in Kansas City. Duke has a national reputation that few institutions can match. And they play basketball too.

But first here come the Coyotes. MU will stream the game live with the MUTV Sports team doing the play by play.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Stats can tell you everything (or nothing)...what do they tell us

After only three games played thus far, it's hard to say exactly how MU will define themselves this season, but a few early trends show a radical shift from last year.

In the 2009-10 season, MU 's offense relied heavily on the 3 point shot. The long bomb accounted for 35% of our field goal attempts, good for 103rd in the nation. This year, MU is only using the 3 point shot about 18% of the time per game which is 332nd in the nation (or put another way, only 13 schools in all of Division I attempt fewer 3 point shots as part of their total shots per game). The early emergence of an inside game from Davante Gardner and Jae Crowder are a big reason why. Those two, along with Erik Williams and Jimmy Butler, have combined to take 47% of all shots for MU this season. Presently, MU is only taking about 10 three pointers per game while giving up six of those attempts per game.

Defensively MU has some work to do on the three pointers. Last year MU was 86th in 3PT FG% defense. This year, a much different story. Marquette is allowing opponents to nail 42.6% from trey land, that's 292nd worst in the country.


Marquette Basketball Weekly returns

More outstanding work from the guys at MUTV Sports

Thursday, November 18, 2010

4 studs and plenty of other contributors as Duke game nears

After stomping UW-Green Bay 89-69 last night at the Bradley Center, four days from now MU will have a chance to beat a No. 1 ranked team for the second time in history (think Wade dunking on Kentucky over and over for the first). Let’s get the one negative out of the way – MU has got to use the South Dakota game Saturday to figure out how to contest three pointers after getting burnt for 8 of 17 from behind the arc – even worse than the 40%+ allowed the first two games.

The defense has been great at pressuring, but if we leave Duke players open for three (48% as a team so far), it will be a very long Monday night. With that out of the way, Dick Vitale was right when he said while Butler was being beaten by Louisville (the team picked to tie for 8th with Marquette in the Big East), that MU was going to be a lot better than people thought.

4 studs plus many surprises and centers

The fact is that through three games, MU has four studs returning stars Jimmy Butler and Darius Johnson-Odom, MUs first 5-star Vander Blue and JUCO player of the year Jae Crowder. But we’ve had 4 studs before (3 Amigos and Lazar etc). The big deal this year is that MU has shown the depth is ahead of where we thought, and we have guys who can play inside.

According to the ratings (www.kenpom.com) Marquette’s competition has gotten a little tougher each game during a 3-0 start that included an 89-69 win over Green Bay last night.

One thing that has been consistent is Davante Gardner, who has played between 11 and 13 minutes in each game for a total of 36 minutes. Try these stats out for Davante in basically one full game of action at the collegiate level:

39 points on 74% shooting from the floor and 73% from the line, 15 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, 2 assists

When it was reported that Marquette had recruited the 6-foot-9, 285 pound 3 star out of Virginia last year, it was assumed it would take a couple of years to get him in Division I shape. However, he went on to be named 1st team All-State in Virginia and he certainly is the biggest surprise, albeit through just three games against lesser opponents.

At very least, it doesn’t look like Big East foes will be pushing around another tiny Marquette team this year.

The surprises like Gardner are key because coming into the year there were four players who could dominate on any given night – returning stars Jimmy Butler and Darius Johnson-Odom, MUs first 5-star Vander Blue and JUCO player of the year Jae Crowder. The question was how many of the very talented new players could contribute right away to give MU the kind of depth needed to turn up the pressure.

Pressure defense

Three days after forcing 18 turnovers against one of the best teams at protecting the ball (Bucknell), MU forced six more turnovers in the first 10 minutes against Green Bay. That run was capped by a steal and layup by Vander Blue to make it 27-13. By the time DJO fed Blue on a break it was 51-28 with 2:09 to go in the half.

Brian Wardle’s team played tough throughout and did actually keep the margin within 20 for most of the second half, but the game was never in doubt.

Jae Crowder continues to impersonate Lazar Hayward, doing everything tonight with 17 points, 9 rebounds, an assist, 2 steals and a spike blocked shot – one of 7 rejections for MU after an incredible 11 on Sunday.

With Vander Blue continuing to be the smoothest player on the court with 14 points, it is clear Marquette does have the four anticipated studs, and with Chris Otule rejecting 4 more shots in just 11 minutes MU does at least have options with two big men.

That leaves the big preseason question of whether or not any of MUs three point guards were really ready to run the point. The key assist/turnover ratio looked good last night with Dwight Buycks (6/1 and 10 of the first 22 MU points) and Junior Cadougan (4-1) taking care of the ball. After this game and his stellar performance to key the comeback against Bucknell, it looks like Cadougan is the sure handed point to run the offense, and Reggie Smith is the lightning fast pressure to pick the opposing point guard on defense.

But Buzz’s preference still may be to have senior Milwaukee native Buycks at the point. After battling through injuries last year and infuriating me by constantly shooting from just inside the 3-point line, Buycks is also showing the long range ability he was supposed to have coming out of JUCO. Buycks 3-point shooting has really been incredible, as he has made 7 of 10 three-pointers, most from a couple of feet past the arc, and all three of his misses have been shots he had to take because the shot clock was expiring.

A lot of good things happening with just four days to go before the ultimate test in Duke.

Oh, DJO can fly. Here's the top play from last night, regardless of sport.

Brad Galli of MUTV Sports recaps the grounding of the Phoenix

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Marquette (2-0) takes on UW-Green Bay (1-0)

After a dominating opener against Prairie View A&M and a comeback victory against Bucknell, Marquette heads back to the BC tomorrow night to open play in the CBE Classic against in-state foe UW-Green Bay.

Two former Marquette players will be pacing the sidelines for Green Bay. Brian Wardle is in his first year as the Phoenix head coach and Brian Barone is in his first season as an assistant under Wardle.

Wardle made his head coaching debut last week against Minnesota Duluth and his team allowed just 36 points on 23 percent shooting.

Here's one man's opinion on Wardle (for what it's worth): "I think Green Bay hit another home run with the hiring of Brian Wardle. Getting to coach Brian for two years, the first thing that I noticed was what kind of leader he was. He was nothing short of spectacular in that department – from the time he was a player to when he was a valuable member of our staff. He has an energy and a passion about him with an attitude that makes those around him better.” - Tom Crean

Here’s UW-Green Bay’s preview of tomorrow night’s game.

Lineup Questions

The most intriguing question through two regular season games for Marquette fans is how the starting lineup will look every night and which player will step up. Davante “I have too many nicknames” Gardner is getting a lot of attention for his stellar play through the team’s first two matches, but he could just be a constant spark plug off the bench.

Erik Williams and Chris Otule both got the starting nod in the team's first two games, but neither have made a huge impact, playing less minutes than several reserves.

In terms of success, it seems like Buycks, Blue, Crowder, Butler, and Gardner would be a good-looking starting lineup, but as we know it's all about what happens in practice so your guess is as good as mine in terms of the starting 5 come tomorrow night.

In addition, there have even been plenty of arguments about who should start in MU’s match against Duke next week.

Where are you guys?

DJO – who everyone predicted to start and star for the Golden Eagles – has been near invisible, coming off the bench in both games and scoring a total of 21 points. He’s also gotten off to a slow start from behind the arc, hitting just 1-of-6 from range. In the post-game press conference after the Bucknell game, Buzz didn't seem too worried about him saying, "I think DJ will be better than fine as time goes on, and our team needs him. But we need him just as much to be present defensively as we do offensively."

Joe Fulce has played an average of 7.5 minutes per game and attempted 2 shots in 2 games. Many had Fulce starting for MU and playing a big role on this year’s team, but so far it’s been Crowder and Garnder taking those minutes.

A few more things:

We Are Marquette.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Television blackouts in Wisconsin for some Marquette fans

Some Marquette fans were left in the dark Friday night for Marquette's first game of the season. Unfortunately, it won't be the last time. Time Warner Cable (TWC) has purchased the local television rights for a number of Marquette games this season. As part of the agreement, TWC has exclusive control of MU games in certain zip codes in Eastern Wisconsin and even part of Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The area in black is controlled by TWC (map insert below). So what does this mean for
Marquette fans living in those areas? It means you're out of luck unless you have Time Warner Cable.....well, likely out of luck. You may have a few options but none are guaranteed.

We should probably first state that what TWC has done is nothing new. In fact it's part of the general landscape of television content, especially sports, across the country. With cable providers losing substantial number of subscribers in the last 10 years to DIRECTV, DISH Network and more recently to FIOS and Uverse, they have chosen to purchase rights to local sports content to prevent customers from leaving their systems. It's a protective strategy. Cox Cable in San Diego does it with the San Diego Padres, Cox New Orleans has a similar deal with the Hornets are just two of a number of examples.

So what's a girl (or guy) to do to watch her Warriors this year on the tube? First, let's identify what games this current situation extends to. TWC has agreed to carry 14 games on their cable systems as part of TWC Sports 32. Two of these games have already been played, so 12 to go for the year. If you live in a TWC area and have TWC, then you're good to go. If you live in a Charter area and have no ability to get TWC even if you wanted to (cable territories are monopolies and agreed territories are contingent upon the cable provider and the community)....well you have no true television option if you stay with Charter. However, you do have an ESPN3 option...more on that later.

What about satellite or Telco customers (AT&T Uverse)? TWC 32 is not offered as a local channel on DIRECTV or DISH Network for obvious reasons. Customers of those two services may have some luck by purchasing the out of market RSN (Regional Sports Network) packages. For DISH, it is called the Multi Sport Package and includes 25 RSNs, including SNY and MASN from the East coast. On DIRECTV, the package is called Sports Pack and includes 28 RSNs, including SNY and MASN. The reason why SNY and MASN are key is that they are partners with the Big East in delivering the Big East Network. Some Marquette customers living in the blackout listed areas above may be able to see the games (the TWC 32 feeds) if they subscribe to those packages. On Friday evening, some fans reported the ability to watch the games from both satellite services if they had those packages while others did not have the same luck. This is no guarantee that will continue in the future.

What about the ESPN Full Court option? Sorry, not an option. ESPN Full Court is considered an Out Of Market sports package, much like many others that you read about (NBA League Pass, NHL Center Ice, etc). ESPN is taking the TWC32 feed and delivering it via Full Court to customers subscribing to that sports package but ONLY if they live outside of the designated TWC territories (i.e. not in the black areas on the map).

ESPN3.com? ESPN3 is also packaging ESPN Full Court as part of their service offering. However, in order to become a customer of ESPN3 one must be a customer of an ISP (Internet Service Provider) that has a deal with ESPN. In other words, a customer cannot just sign up for ESPN3. Instead, ESPN has struck deals with large ISPs much like they do for their linear content television distributors. If you happen to be an ESPN3.com customers in the areas listed in black above, you may be ok. The fact of the matter is that blackouts are rarely applied on internet delivery broadcasts...at least not yet in all areas. That won't last forever, but you will likely be ok in the short term until the technology catches up to geo block. Mileage may vary on that, depends where you live.

Of course there are also some additional creative and crude ways in which MU fans are watching games this year. We don't recommend or condone any of them, but industrious fans will often go the extra mile if they are cut off from their content.

It's easy to get angry at Marquette Athletics or TWC in this situation, but they're both doing what they feel is right for their business. In MU's case, they get distribution and some money. Unfortunately their partner doesn't provide their channel to other providers in the Milwaukee or surrounding areas, but that's the situation in a very competitive pay television industry today. For TWC, they're just doing what they can to prevent poachers of their service to other alternatives.

For those caught in the middle, we wish you the best and hope that one of the alternatives works for you.

GO Warriors!

On the Beat: Q/A with Todd Rosiak

The Marquette Warriors are off to a solid 2-0 start to the season after topping Bucknell at home yesterday. The meat of the non-conference schedule hits in the next eight days and to get us ready we're pleased to welcome Todd Rosiak, MU's beat reporter from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, for a Q/A. Todd has been covering Marquette hoops for nine seasons and knows more about the program than just about anybody. For those of you who are Twitter-inclined be sure to follow Todd there. Todd, thanks for your time and expertise .... here we go ---

Several national pundits have high expectations for MU despite a roster with little Division I experience, are those expectations justified?

Based on what Williams has been able to do in each of his first two seasons at MU, I don't see any reasons NOT to expect another strong season (and subsequent NCAA tournament berth). Buzz finally has a roster comprised strictly of players he's recruited (with Fulce and Otule players he recruited as an assistant to Crean), and although he still lacks the true big-bodied, low-post presence that everyone's been clamoring for (editors note - response from Todd came in before the Bucknell game), he's got talented depth at pretty much every other spot. Inexperience will be something of a concern, but some of that youth -- most notably Vander Blue -- has played in pressure situations before, which should help in making the transition to the Big East. Save for some major injury problems, and a manageable Big East schedule, I think this roster is more than talented enough from top to bottom to get MU into the NCAAs for the sixth straight season.

Coach Buzz Williams successfully adapted his system to account for the talent on-hand in his first two seasons at MU. Do you expect more of the same this year, or was last year's style of play what MU fans should expect going forward?
I think Williams' ability to adapt to the talent he has is one of his strongest suits as a coach. The job he did last year, getting that short and short-handed squad into the NCAAs, was nothing short of remarkable. Achieving that meant slowing the pace down as much as possible to limit possessions in order to keep opposing teams' bigs from having field days. The lack of depth also played a role in that. Since MU still doesn't have that impact big in the middle, and will often be playing undersized lineups, I would expect Williams to employ a similar style offensively -- although not to the degree he did last year. He'll pick and choose his spots to open things up a bit. Being longer and deeper will also help MU pressure the ball more defensively on the perimeter, which will help.

The depth on this year's team looks to be better than in previous seasons under Buzz Williams. Which players do you see in the primary rotation, and related, do you expect to see the freshmen contribute consistent minutes?
This team is the deepest in my nine years covering MU, and that includes the Final Four squad. Now, obviously I'm not suggesting it's as talented -- you had a once-in-a-generation-type player in Wade and two other eventual NBA players, as well as two very good bigs in Jackson and Merritt, back then. But that team also went just eight deep, for the most part. I'm just saying this year, from front to back, Buzz has a group of 12 scholarship players that should be able to impact a game in a particular way on a given night if the situation calls for it. To me, aside from the depth it's the versatility of this group that makes it good. Almost everyone on the roster can play more than one position and do different things, and that clearly has been what Buzz has targeting in recruiting since taking over. Assuming everyone stays healthy, it's probably going to be weird for Buzz to be able to look down the bench and see a whole contingent of guys he can throw out onto the court and be able to expect good things out of.

Which player do you expect to deliver an upside surprise this season & why ?
Among the returnees, I think DJO is primed for a huge season. He looks bigger and stronger, and ready to make an immediate impact. My biggest beef with him last year, which I wrote numerous times, was I thought he was far too hesitant offensively on certain nights. For a guy as talented as he is, that cannot happen this season. If I were coach I'd tell him, 'If you DON'T shoot the ball when you're in position to score, you're sitting.' Maybe Buzz does; I don't know. But he's got to limit that shot fake of his and just let it fly.

I know you asked for surprises, but I think DJO still fits in this category -- I don't believe we've really even seen him scratch the surface of how good he can be. As far as newcomers, I really like what Reggie Smith brings to the table. He'll have his ups and downs, like most freshmen, but if he can deliver the kind of energy he did in his 14 minutes against St. John's in the exhibition in 14 minutes against, say, Wisconsin or Villanova, he could wind up being the real dark-horse signing from last year's class.

Marquette will have players from California, Texas, Canada, Alaska, North Carolina and parts unknown on next year's roster. Do you think Buzz Williams' wide recruiting footprint is a strength for MU, or a representation of perceived shortcomings about the program relative to its Midwestern neighbors and Big East brethren?
Every coach has his recruiting comfort zone. Crean's, for the most part, was in the Midwest. Buzz's is obviously Texas. His assistants, meanwhile, do a good job on both coasts. I think the roster speaks to all of that. As long as you can land big-time players, people really don't care where they're from. In time you'd postulate Buzz would like to start mining the Chicago scene a little more, and assuming Reggie Smith makes a contribution and enjoys his time at MU, you would think that will certainly be possible down the road. With MU battling Wisconsin for the limited in-state talent each year, I think you'll continue to see Buzz win some and lose some. But overall, aside from those who continue to question his ability to recruit an impact big, I don't think anyone can really quibble with the amount of versatile talent Buzz has been able to put together in three years.

Published reports indicate that both TCU and UCF were contacted about joining the Big East as football members only, something both institutions are resisting. Is the Big East is setting up a scenario where it will attempt to justify adding schools like this in order to remain a viable BCS league at the cost of dropping a few basketball-only schools? Do you think MU is at-risk of being tossed from the Big East?
Football steers the ship everywhere, obviously, and even though the product the Big East has put out in recent years has not been strong, it's still the best and easiest way for the league and the schools to make money. I would expect the league to have to re-tool or re-align itself at some point if/when it adds more schools. Where MU fits into that picture remains to be seen. Obviously, the lack of a football team doesn't help it, but I don't think it necessarily dooms the school to being booted from the league, either. While MU hasn't made a deep run in the NCAA tournament since joining, you could argue it's been the strongest of the five schools added from C-USA based on its five straight 10-win seasons. There's something to be said for that. MU's decision makers also enjoy a STRONG relationship from what I can gather with the Big East brass. Believe me, that doesn't hurt.

Thanks again, Todd!

We hope you enjoyed the feature with Todd today. In the coming weeks he'll offer a Q/A over at the Anonymous Eagle -- so keep an eye out for that.

MUTV Sports recaps Bucknell win

...but first, in case you missed it, late last week MUTV Sports filed this excellent episode of Marquette Basketball Weekly from Los Angeles.

....and now onto the recap of Marquette's win over Bucknell on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Marquette Roars Back Late

Down by 8-10 points until the remaining ten minutes of the game, Marquette went on a 24-0 point run to defeat insurgent Bucknell 72-61. Marquette looked terrible for the first 75% of the game until going on their run. Bucknell had started out strong, but it appeared that fatigue set in during the late game stretch. Bucknell managed only twenty points in the second half. This is the second straight game that Bucknell played a BE team tough on their home floor (they lost to Nova 68-52 on Friday).

Freshman Davante Gardner was a load during the crucial run, and Marquette went to him on several straight possessions to take the lead. Vander Blue also had five straight points to help close the gap. For the game, Jae Crowder also had a double-double with ten points and ten rebounds. Dwight Buycks had a strong game with 17 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 turnovers.

More details later. Rosiak has his blog coverage of the game.

And, I only kind of think those things above happened. In other news, today's game was a comedy of errors for anyone outside the 414 area code. First, the game was not available on any other outlets (such as SNY and MASN, which both elected to show a Big EAST soccer game). Nevermind that this had originally been advertised as a TV game.

Since this the 21st century and internet radio feeds are available, many fans followed along with game tracker and ESPN Milwaukee's internet feed. Except repeatedly, ESPN Milwaukee's Internet radio feed kept switching away from the Marquette game to their national NFL feed. At multiple times this occurred, including during the final stretch run. For the last two minutes the feed just went dead. (Oh, and as I was writing this recap, it cut out again during Buzz's radio interview). What. The. Hell.

Hey, President/CEO Craig Karmazin (ckarmazin@espnmilwaukee.com). Your product failed the Marquette fanbase today.

To the Athletic Department, if you want Marquette to be considered an elite program, how about working to ensure our games are properly broadcast on the TV or over the Internet?


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Blue, Gardner & Williams show MU's depth with Bucknell up next

Since joining the Big East, MU has had to worry about quick turnarounds or a single twisted ankle due to a lack of depth and the physical abuse they took against teams that towered over them. Not anymore.

Friday night 11 of 13 players on the roster registered steals and/or blocked shots, and 11 of 13 players scored against Prairie A&M. Three questions jump out about the game Sunday against a Bucknell team that only trailed at sixth-ranked Villanova by 54-46 with 6:10 to play. An impressive win against Bucknell on Sunday might indicate that Marquette is once again closer to the top of the Big East than anyone thought in the preseason, but three things may determine if that will happen:

1. Can Marquette come anywhere close to their defensive pressure from Friday night against a team that protects the ball as well as Bucknell?

Vander Blue started and led the defensive barrage with incredibly quick hands that resulted in 7 rebounds, 3 blocked shots and 4 steals, all team highs to lead a suffocating defense. Bucknell was one of the best teams in the country at protecting the ball last year, and in the first 10 minutes of the second half only had one turnover against Villanova to pull within 44-38. MU forced 13 turnovers in the first 17 minutes against Prairie View, more than Bucknell had all game.

2. Can Virginia 1st Team All-State center Davante Gardner come anywhere close to his dominating second half performance having to face a much taller 6-foot-10 Mike Muscala Sunday?

Many thought Gardner was too heavy to contribute this year, but all he showed was incredible strength and soft hands. If a rebound or pass hit his hands, he had it. Gardner made all 7 field goals and all 3 free throws he attempted, and is now averaging 17.0 ppg as a Division I player. However, Prairie View was small, and if Gardner gets in Sunday it may be against 6-foot-10 Mike Muscala, who had a strong freshman year himself last year and put up 10 points and 8 rebounds at #6 Villanova Friday.

3. With all the great recruits, will 4-star, 6-foot-7 sophomore Erik Williams get another surprise start?

After seeming to be the odd man out in the exhibition, Williams made the most of a surprise start when he came out of the gates on fire with a jumper and a traditional 3-point play in the opening minutes en route to 12 points on 4-6 shooting and 4-4 free throws. The surprise performances of Williams and Gardner as well as having Blue playing so big as a guard helped MU to one of its most dominating inside games in memory. When was the last time MU blocked 11 shots and out rebounded a team 51 to 19, while scoring 62 points in the paint?

We know we can expect a lot from Jimmy Butler, DJO and Jae Crowder most nights, and Joe Fulce (7 rebounds in 12 minutes) and Dwight Buycks (7 assists) will contribute. However, with the potential contributions coming from the entire roster, whether it was Blue, Gardner and Williams Friday or Reggie Smith, Junior Cadougan, Jamail Jones and Chris Otule in the exhibition, MU has a lot of options.

Just 1-0, but a lot of potential already.

MUTV Sports recap the season opener

Friday, November 12, 2010

Warriors slay the Panthers

Marquette kicked off the season in style tonight pounding Prairie View A&M 97 - 58. Buzz Williams used his entire roster tonight, throwing waves of athletic talent at the over-matched Panthers.

Jimmy F. Bultler led Marquette with 18 points and six rebounds. The story of the game was freshman Davante Gardner who finished with 17 points (that is not a misprint) in his first collegiate outing. "Visions of Damon Key" said Dennis Krause on the broadcast tonight as the big fella was a perfect 7-7 from the field in 13 minutes of action. Damon Key? Sure, why not. Gardner looked good even though many of his points came in garbage time.

When was the game decided? As Tweeter mpsever noted, "For those who weren't keeping track, PVAMU had a 3-2 lead before #mubb went on a 37-10 run." There you have it.

Next up for MU are the Bucknell Bison who fell at Villanova 68-52. Marquette hosts the Bison at 1pm CT on Sunday afternoon. Bucknell is good folks.

Box Score.
Todd Rosiak recaps the season opener.
Rubie Q at the Anonymous Eagle recaps the win.

Happy Basketball Christmas

Finally the season opener, the best day of the year for fans of Warrior Nation when the gift of basketball is finally opened after months of anticipation.

The 2010-2011 vintage of Marquette basketball kicks off tonight against Prairie View A&M at the Bradley Center. As Pudner described earlier in the week the Panthers surprised a few folks last season and offer a different set of challenges for MU.

Todd Warner and the team at MUTV Sports preview tonight's action in this solid report.

Heading into the game MU could be short-handed. Senior guard Dwight Buycks is hobbled by injury and if he is unable to play perhaps Junior Cadougan will have a chance to prove his worth after his disappointing performance in last week's exhibition.

Also, Todd Rosiak cranked out a terrific profile of MU star Jimmy F. Butler earlier this week. Rosiak covers new ground with the MU senior including the revelation about how close he came to signing with Kentucky over MU.

Here's more from Butler on his role as a leader this season.

Tipoff for tonight's game is scheduled for 8pm Marquette Standard Time. The game will be broadcast locally on Sports32, ESPN3, and the Full Court Package, DirecTV channel 725.

Here are the Marquette Game Notes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cracked Sidewalks 2010-2011 Predictions

Welcome to the annual Cracked Sidewalks predictions!

(if you saw something pop up already, you weren't going crazy. We did post this yesterday and removed it because other MU things were going on with the signing period... and then life got in the way of blogging those other things. Anyways, Marquette announced the NLI signings of Juan Anderson and Derrick Wilson. Rosiak also had stories on the signings for Wilson and Anderson.

Also, for your must-read features, check out Rosiak's additional feature on Wilson's commitment, as well as today's article previewing MU that focuses on Jimmy F. Butler)

Where were we? The season opener is TOMORROW, so here is our set of blogger predictions for the year. Before doing that, let's look at the track record for the past few years.

  • 2007-2008 - Cracked Sidewalks consensus was 23.3 - 6.8 (12.5 - 5.5). Actual record was 22-8 (11-7), making us 1.3 games more optimistic than the actual results.
  • 2008-2009 - Average prediction was for a record of 23 - 8 (11.4 - 6.6). Actual record was 23-8 (12-6), which puts us right on target. (well, except for MU exceeding expectations until the DJ injury down the stretch)
  • And... last year's predictions were here. Blogger consensus was final record of 16.5-13.5 (7.8 - 10.2), making us 3.5 games more pessimistic than the actual results. Boy was that off.
And now for this year's predictions, with the Cracked Sidewalks consensus at 21.3 - 9.8 (11.1 - 6.9). Reasoning is below the table.

DateOpponentLocationRobTimKevinJohnJamiebmaSteveTim K
Nov 12 Prairie View A&M Home WWWWWWWW
Nov 14 Bucknell Home WWWWWWWW
Nov 16 UW-Green Bay Home WWWWWWWW
Nov 20 South Dakota Home WWWWWWWW
Nov 22 Duke Kansas City, MO LLLLLLLL
Nov 23 Kansas State / Gonzaga Kansas City, MO WLWLLLLL
Nov 27 UW-Milwaukee US Cellular Arena WWWWWWWW
Dec 4 Longwood Home WWWWWWWW
Dec 7 Texas A&M Corpus Christi Home WWWWWWWW
Dec 11 Wisconsin Home LWWWWWWW
Dec 18 Centenary Home WWWWWWWW
Dec 21 Mississippi Valley State Home WWWWWWWW
Dec 29 Vanderbilt Nashville, TN LLLLLLLL
Jan 1 West Virginia Home LWLWWWWL
Jan 5 Rutgers Piscataway, NJ LWWWWWWW
Jan 8 Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA LLLLLLLL
Jan 10 Notre Dame Home WWWLWWWW
Jan 15 Louisville Louisville, KY LWLLLWLL
Jan 18 DePaul Home WWWWWWWW
Jan 22 Notre Dame South Bend, IN WLLWLLLW
Jan 25 Connecticut Home WWWWWWWW
Jan 29 Syracuse Home WLLWLLLL
Feb 2 Villanova Philadelphia, PA LLLLLLLL
Feb 9 South Florida Tampa, FL LWWWWWWW
Feb 13 Georgetown Washington, DC LLLWLLWL
Feb 15 St. John's Home WWWWWWWW
Feb 19 Seton Hall Home WLWWWWWW
Feb 24 Connecticut Hartford, CT LWLLLWLL
Feb 27 Providence Home WWWWWWWW
Mar 2 Cincinnati Home WWWWWWWW
Mar 5 Seton Hall Newark, NJ WLLWLWWW

ConsensusRobTimKevinJohnJamiebmaSteveTim K



Conference Wins11.1101191310131211

Conference Losses6.987958567

2010-2011 Predictions

The two basic questions for me are "how quickly will MU gel with so many young players?," and "how good is the Big East this year?" I was thrilled to see the love from FoxSports when they listed the top dozen backcourts this year - good news is that we are on the list, bad news is that we play five of the other 11 and none of them at the Bradley Center. I believe the first four of those are losses (Duke Nov. 22, Vandy Dec. 29, Pitt Jan. 8 and Nova Feb. 2), but I believe we will steadily improve and break through at Georgetown Feb. 13 for a huge win. The only other losses I see are the consolation game in Kansas City (certainly a home game for K-State but Gonzaga would be tough to with a young team playing it's 6th game together), and Hartford is still awfully tough despite Jimmy's heroics last year.

While I certainly believe we win at Rutgers January 5, I'm worried that going from there to Pitt and then having only one day rest before facing Notre Dame at home could result in dead legs that leave us with another early 3-game losing streak (Pitt-ND-Lville), but with that behind us I believe we go on a roll the rest of the season including getting ND back in their place, and fly into the tournament on an 11-2 run that will result in another good seed for a team that will this year be deep enough to not die at the Big East tournament or the subsequent NCAA trip.

With the season upon us, expectations for the latest vintage of the Marquette Warriors are rising. And that's just fine. 21 wins overall and 11 conference wins would mark a fine regular season and I think the optimism is warranted. Heck, 21 wins might not be ambitious enough when you consider the (albeit youthful) talent influx. While the team only has a handful of players who have logged significant minutes at the D1 level, roster turnover is a given in college ball and that's no reason to talk down expectations. Fact is that MU's roster is deeper now than it was last season and the replacement talent in the backcourt, where MU must replace two starters, is far greater than the talent that departed. With good health this past off-season across the board (a rarity at MU in recent years) and more talent up and down the roster, I expect the team to play consistent ball throughout the year.

Tim K
I didn't go outside of the box too much with my predictions, but almost every conference game along with a few others (Bucky, Vandy) made me think twice about my pick. Last season I would never have predicted a 5th place finish. This season, it's obvious that a 5th place finish is completely reasonable - but again, there are so many unknowns about this team that's it's hard to know where we'll finish. Although we competed in pretty much every game last season (home and away), I can't bring myself to pick a road win over any of the top dogs. I have us only losing twice at the BC all season, although I wouldn't be surprised if UConn, St. John's, or Wisconsin were able to knock us off at home. Although ND is a tough place to play, I really see no reason why we lose to the Irish this season. My heart can't take another season like last one's, though, so hopefully we can win in regulation by more than 3 points a few times this year.

Not much to say really. I think the Big East is going to be down this year, more so than years past. I don't think Louisville and Notre Dame are going to be as good as most people think they will, I don't think Seton Hall and St. John's are going to improve the way most people think they will, I think DePaul and Rutgers will still be downright awful. This schedule, with a few minor exceptions, sets up very favorably for MU.

If this year is like the past, I'll probably be on the optimistic end of the predictions. Here's the bottom line up front: 22-9 overall, 12-6 / 5th place in the league.Prairie View A&M, Bucknell, UWGB, South Dakota, UWM, Longwood, TAMU-CC, Centenary and MVSU should give us 9 early wins with plenty of gripes about the schedule and deep bench minutes to go around. Beating Duke would be an upset of historic proportions (Assuming they're still #1, it would be our first regular season win over a #1 ranked team--our only other #1 win was against UK in the 2003 tournament). Gonzaga and Kansas State are almost as tough as Duke so coming home with a win from KC will be extremely tough. MU should hold serve against Wisconsin on the home court. To wrap up the non-conference slate, MU is probably better than Vanderbilt anyplace in the world other than Memorial Gym, with its goofy raised floor and end-court benches (Vandy holds a 125-9 non-conference record since 1990).

Of the home conference games, only Syracuse and perhaps WVU will have a strong chance at beating us at home. Call it a split, beating WVU in the opener, and losing to the Orange. I don't see Cincy, SJU or Seton Hall as improved enough to take road wins at MU. Providence and DePaul should be fighting to avoid 16th.Of the other crossover games, Both Notre Dame and Uconn present challenges and opportunities. On paper we're probably better than Notre Dame, but have struggled in South Bend (and in Milwaukee last year). On paper, Uconn has more talent, but rallying a team through adversity doesn't seem to be a strength of Calhoun. We should get one win from both foes. Villanova, Pitt and Louisville will rightly be favored on their home courts. That leaves road wins for use at Rutgers, USF, and Seton Hall, and a prediction of an upset over Georgetown.

Boy, this is tough. I've seen one scrimmage and one game versus D3 talent. Judging by that, we're going undefeated. Knowing better, I think we go 20-11, 9-9 in the Big East.I divide our schedule into 3 parts:

Non-conference - we have 3 big games, all away from home, Duke. K-State/Zags, and Vandy. I think we go 1-2 there. The cupcakes, we eat.

BE Home games - I think we go 7-2, with losses to WVU because the home crowd will be hungover 10am Jan 1st, and we'll continue to never be able to beat Syracuse just because .. and because that game is National Marquette Day, and that's a big fat L.BE Away games - 2-7, with wins @Rutgers and @USF.

Bottom line, we go as far as our point guards quality of play. That is the one area that scares me the most. Will Junior be what we thought he would be or is he a few years off? Can Reggie Smith step in and fill a void? Does Vander Blue slide over and play some point? Or is the plan that Dwight Buycks is option 1A, 1B, and 1C? The Warriors finally have some passable size with Otule and Crowder and maybe even Gardner and Williams, though I don't expect big minutes from either this year once the meat of the schedule arrives. MU's strength will be the plethora of athletic wings with DJO, Vander, Fulce, Jones, etc.

But back to that thing about the point guard. As deep as we are on the overall roster, my concerns remain youth and play at the point guard position. Maybe Buzz surprises us all and Buycks is the guy. To be that special player, he will have needed to improve his handle considerably since last Summer. He also needs to back off of his shoot first mentality. Can he do it?Bottom line, MU goes 20-11 overall and 11-7 in conference play. If Buycks or any of the guards can play the point position well enough, then MU could expand that to 22 wins and a 13-5 record, but for now I'll go the conservative route. That's my prediction...NCAA berth definitely a possibility but need to pick up a few marquee wins. 10-8 probably won't do it, 11-7 certainly should.

This post is long enough. However, I would like to say that traditionally, the bloggers that are the most accurate with their predictions are Tim, Kevin, and Steve. Keep that in mind. Go Marquette.

note: thanks to all the bloggers for contributions and to KB for doing the table