"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Recruiting Heats Up for Marquette

While a segment of the Marquette fanbase is anxious because the program currently lacks a commitment from the class of 2011, Coach Buzz is blanketing high-quality talent. With a relatively young roster Coach Buzz is being more selective this time around, and that selectivity involves a number of nationally-ranked recruits most of whom would be immediate contributors as freshmen.

Last week Juan Anderson from Castro Valley, California took an official visit to MU. Anderson is a 6'6" natural wing whom Scout.com rates as the best wing player on the West Coast. Anderson is down to Marquette, Arizona State and California.

This weekend 6'7" top 50 target SF Rodney Hood will be on campus for his official visit. A four-start stud from Meridien, Mississippi Hood has offers from just about everybone and is visiting MU along with Louisville, Alabama, Georgia Tech and FSU. This guy is big-time.

6'8" Jarion Henry is also considering MU. The small forward from Dallas Kimball High School excels in transition and currently has offers from MU, Arkansas, Fresno Sate and UTEP, with others lingering, according to Rivals.com. Henry is expected to be at Marquette Madness in a few weeks.

With the departures of both Joe Fulce and Jimmy Butler after this season, landing a high-ceiling small forward is priority for the program. Hood, Anderson and Henry fit the mold of athletes that Coach Buzz prioritizes -- skilled, athletic players how can play multiple positions well.

The baseline
Along the baseline MU is actively pursuing 6'8" Mike Shaw, 6'8" Quincy Miller, 6'9" Trey McDonald, 6'8" Luke Mergerson, and perhaps 6'8" Tre Leonard.

Mike Shaw, a smooth 6'8" combo forward from Chicago DeLaSalle High School, is considering MU, West Virginia, DePaul, Illinois and Notre Dame. Buzz had an in-home with Shaw earlier this month -- but so did the other guys. Landing Shaw would be a signal once again about MU's strong presence in Chicago, as well as a blow to Flatlander institutions in particular.

Quincy Miller is a 6'9" Chicago product who is finishing out high school at Westchester Academy in North Carolina. Miller is one of the top 10 players in the nation, one of the two best forwards in the entire country. Miller has already visited Louisville and is considering Baylor, Kentucky, Texas, Marquette and perhaps Duke. It has been reported that Baylor and Louisville lead for Miller. It is noteworthy that current MU freshman Vander Blue was Miller's teammate last summer on the Team USA Basketball at 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship. That squad took home the gold medal. Landing Miller would be a coup, but it says here Buzz should not hold out for the kid if Shaw is ready to commit.

Trey McDonald is a 6'9" power forward from Battle Creek, Michigan. McDonald is drawing interest from MU, Minnesota, DePaul, Wake Forest and several others. McDonald is also expected to be at Marquette Madness in a few weeks.

Another big MU is looking at is 6'8", 230 pound forward Luke Mergerson from Duncanville, Texas. Tulane, Cornell, Boston College, Georgetown, Notre Dame and a many others are checking in on the big Texan.

Tre Leonard, an under the radar recruit, may or may not be visiting MU this week* (*this just in, Twitter can muddy the waters with recruiting). For now the interest from MU is just a rumor but Leonard hails from Wakefield High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, the same program that produced Darius Johnson-Odom. Leonard is a bit of a mystery in that he's been only lightly recruited by high-majors to date, but at 6'8" and 280 pounds perhaps he screams potential.

Shooting guards
D'Angelo Harrison, a 6'3" shooting guard from Missouri City (Dulles), Texas, has been a priority for some time. Harrison is considering MU along with Baylor, St. John's and Oklahoma State. Harrison is one of the best shooters in the nation and is expected to be at Marquette Madness in a few weeks.

High-scoring Nick Faust -- fresh off of a dominant summer which saw his national profile skyrocket -- is considering MU, Maryland, FSU, Oregon State and perhaps Villanova. A month ago it appeared that Faust might be down to MU and Maryland, which turned out not to be the case. Coach Buzz completed an in-home with Faust earlier this month but an official visit to campus has yet to take place.

MU has been mentioned lately with freak-athlete/wing guard Deuce Bello, who teams with Miller at Westchester Academy in North Carolina. Bello has not set up an official visit to MU but Miller has indicated the two might be a package deal. This feels like another long shot, and we'll likely gain more clarity around the Miller/Bello situation after the pair visit Baylor this weekend.

The next six weeks will be pressure-packed for MU on the recruiting trail. With just three scholarships to offer for next season (ha!), Coach Buzz is right to be selective but he'll work to avoid being aced out at any position of need. One thing we are confident about is that when it's all said and done, we expect another high-quality recruiting class on campus next fall. Buzz's history plus the slew of targets (that we know about) means that good things should come to fans who are patient.

PS - Don't forget to donate to Al's Run, supporting Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. Every little bit helps.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Al's Run 2010

It's that time again. Al's Run is under two weeks away, October 9th, 2010.

In the past 3 years, Warrior fans on CS have raised over $9,000 for Al's Run. 

We've established a tradition of starting with a goal of $1977, and smashing that goal a few times as the days go by.

Cracked Sidewalks doesn't sell you stuff here, we don't even show you advertisements, we just give you pure Marquette Basketball goodness.

All we ask for is a few bucks every year, for Al's Run.

It all goes to a great cause, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.   Think $10.  Or $25 or $100.  Whatever you want to put in the Al McGuire tip jar. 

So, click here, zip out your credit card and pay your respects to Al, and Marquette:


(NOTE:  In the past, we've had some very generous donors who have run "challenge hours" matching other donations that come in at a certain hour.  If you would like to run a "challenge" (which can be anonymous and have a max) please contact me at Hilltopper91@gmail.com.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Guest Post: Raining Threes Again?

This is the second of two guest posts from Dr. Blackheart. The first one looked at turnovers. This one digs into how much MU will continue to launch the three, and guesses at the starting lineup.

Raining Threes Again?

Previously, we discussed how Buzz puts players on the floor who simply do not commit turnovers — with the 2009-10 team committing the least amount of turnovers in Marquette’s recorded history (since 1979-80 when official negative stats started to be collected) . And, how that should be a lead indicator of who will earn playing time. When Buzz talks “toughness”, he really is not talking just about physical toughness, but also mental toughness…which may also provide a strong clue as to why he has a low patience quotient for some recruits (Roseboro, Newbill) or enrolled student athletes in his reign (Acker, JMay, Cubes). Certainly, Buzz shares that philosophy with Tom Crean, and it is why when players like Wes and Lazar make it to “The League”--pro scouts are starting to notice and appreciate the “toughness trait”.

Successful programs build on year to year success. Back to back nationally rated recruiting classes are an important sign in Buzz’s two years. A third in a row would be something MU has not seen in decades. Yet, success also is dependent on the system which is implemented. While Buzz runs the motion offense, he has been adaptable to the talent he can employ and who earn floor time. By stressing efficiency and patience on shot selection based on his talent on the floor, he has been able to keep MU in games where they simply did not have the physical match-ups. Lowering the tempo last season kept MU out of foul trouble, and stressed working the motion offense for shots MU’s talent could make.

We had the low turnover discussion which is a direct offshoot of Buzz’s efficiency obsession, but let’s now talk three pointers. The 2009-10 Archers made the most treys in MU’s basketball history. MU also shot the 2nd highest trey percentage last year at 41.3% next to the 1988-89 Bob Dukiet team of 45.3%. Let’s remember that the trey line has been moved back, however. Based on national statistics, the arc change in 2008 dropped shooting percents 0.9% clicks, for the record. (Of course, how a losing Dukiet team could achieve such record is another discussion.)

MU had an incredible four starters over 40% on treys: Mo jumped from 28.8% to 49.5%, Cubes jumped from 29.5% to 41.2%, JFB jumped from 0.0% to 50% and DJO was lights out at 47.4%. Zar was at a respectable 34.9% from 35.8% with three defenders hanging onto him on the inside. Even Joe on a few attempts was long-range accurate at 36.4%.

The likelihood that this will be repeated is low. Why? Buycks was not particularly accurate at 27.3% from behind the line. Junior didn’t even make a field goal last season—a two or three. Erik was 0 for 1 in garbage time minutes. The rest of the roster is made up of MU rookies or relative rookies due to injuries. Yes, they all have considerable athletic talent—and give us match-up depth for the first time in years--but are they or will they be “talented” enough in Buzz’s systems to see significant playing time?

From JUCO, we know that Jae will be good, although his orientation into D1 will take some time. Otule will see playing time—but it will be because of defensive purposes instead of fitting into Buzz’s offense. Since Junior is a distributor PG, those two’s playing time may be linked. I can see an energy three guard set of Reggie, Dwight and Vander. I can also see a three forward set of Joe, Jimmy and Jae that will see a lot of minutes with Junior/Dwight and DJO at the guards. I can even see a four guard set see lots of minutes. How about this line-up? Junior at PG, JFB at 2, Jae at the 3, Joe/Erik at the 4 and Otule at the 5?

So, based on Buzz’s penchant for mistake free basketball, including turnovers and shot selection, here is my starting five: Jimmy, Junior, Joe, Jae, and DJO. The name “The 4 Js and DJ” is fitting. Dwight will be the 6th man because of his energy. Hard to see the rookies replicating the offensive efficiency—and a 14-4 BE record seems like a long shot based on roster continuity versus the promise of potential.
Thanks, Dr. Blackheart.

Again, want to go deeper into the conversation? Join the thread at MUScoop.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Guest Post: Efficiency, Schmeffiency?

Sometimes a post or two comes along and we say, "I wish I had thought of that". This is the first of two such posts. A few months ago, MUScoop poster Dr. Blackheart wrote an excellent post on Efficiency, Schmeffiency? and used it to look deeper into Marquette's turnovers.

With his permission, we are republishing a few posts, because some ideas need a wider distribution.

Efficiency, Schmeffiency?

Entering his third year at the helm, Buzz Williams, for the first time, has an entire roster of his recruits in place (including three he recruited as an assistant). Inherited from his days as an assistant were two separate groups of experienced and accomplished guards and a NBA first round forward who have moved on. In are two straight nationally ranked recruiting classes.

What have we learned about Buzz Williams compared to other recent MU seasons that will shed light on who will be seeing the most minutes in the upcoming season? One, we know from Pomeroy that the Warriors were one of the smallest teams (341st in average height) last year, and Buzz has moved to remedy that. Two, he has balanced his classes by bringing in experienced and decorated JUCO’s over his first two classes. Three, he has brought in quickness and length with his athletically gifted freshman class. So, who starts?

Offensive Efficiency

MU ranked 22nd in Pomeroy’s adjusted efficiency ranking last season and ninth the prior year. Clearly, as Buzz has stated, he values every possession. To provide context, in the top 100 MU games in offensive efficiency since the 1996-97 season, Buzz’s two teams own 23 of those games, or 11.5 games per season of a rating in a game over 118.5. In contrast, teams coached by Tom Crean averaged 7.7 games per season over that level while Mike Deane’s teams averaged 2.7 games. Why does efficiency matter? MU won 95% of these 100 games!

Low Turnovers Despite High Turnover

So, how has Buzz accomplished this with the Three Amigos graduating and two severely undersized guards replacing them? While MU had a great eFG% year, and Jimmy got to the line at a high rate, the simple answer is a low number of turnovers. Consider this, in the lowest 100 turnover games since the 1996-97 season, a Buzz team owns 36 of these games—or 18 per season. Both Mo (3:1 A/TO, 1st in BE and 4th nationally) and Cubes (2.7:1 A/TO 2nd in the BE and 12th nationally) will be hard to replace from last year as were the Three Amigos. Again in contrast, Crean’s teams own 55 of these games, or 6.1 per season. And, Deane’s teams own nine or 3 per season. Startling! Even more amazing, Buzz’s teams own the lowest six turnover games in the past 14 MU seasons:

Who Starts?

Jimmy Butler led the BE in offensive rating last year and was 6th nationally (editor's note - JFB for POY). Joe Fulce is second among returnees with a ORating of 112.3. DJO equaled Lazar’s 108.1. Who else will step up to fill the backcourt gap of Mo (118.4) and Cubes (120.2) then? Junior seems like he fits Buzz’s “MO”, but he had an Orating of 54.1 and a A/TO ratio of 1.3 in an injury impacted season. Dwight (95.3 OR with a lot of minutes) and EWill (88.8 under limited minutes) were inefficient, as was Otule, in very limited action (87.2). The JUCO POY Crowder, a great passer, perimeter player, and who can go inside to earn a shot at the foul line looks like a good bet over those three—but he is a late arrival as he finishes up his JUCO classes. And, “the best thing about freshman are that they become sophomores”.

Whoever gets the starting call will get a quick hook if he turns it over, that is for Buzz sure.
Thanks, Dr. Blackheart.

Want to dig in deeper? (Go visit the thread on MUScoop)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How did MU make top 5 of two 6-foot-9 stars?

On August 26, Mike Shaw’s AAU coach announced Marquette was one of five finalist for Rival’s 58th ranked prospect. The next day, Scout’s No. 2 ranked player Quincy Miller twitted that he had added Marquette to a list of 12 other schools he had been considering.

Sunday the news got even better as Miller posted, "My list currently has 5 schools on it. Duke, Louisville, Baylor, Oklahoma and Marquette." Narrowing it to that five dropped Georgetown, Illinois, Kentucky, Memphis, Oregon, Syracuse, Tennessee and Wake Forest from the list.

How did Marquette make the Final 5 list for two of the top 6-foot-9 prospects in the country for 2011?

There is much speculation about how much players weigh Buzz vs. other coaches, programs' ability to produce NBA players, Final Four runs, conferences, tradition, climates, etc. While these may be given reasons given on signing day, I do believe the biggest factor is probably communication between players and potential players.

If an 18 year old has to filter through all the hype and plays to their ego, who is he going to trust the most? I’ve got to believe they turn to their peers – players who just went through the same decision – to find out if they regret or are thrilled with the choice they made.

For all our speculation, the fact is that Mike Shaw may simply be hearing very good things from his friend and MU freshman Reggie Smith. Quincy Miller may simply be hearing good things from his former USA national teammate and MU freshman Vander Blue.

I believe we all are confident Buzz is a great guy and probably makes an excellent pitch when he gets a visit, but don’t you think potential recruits check with current players to see what he is really like? To ask how players are really received on campus? We will never know what other questions are important when you are an 18 year old elite player, but I’m pretty confident they are asking their peers the questions that really determine their final commitment.

I’m as guilty as anyone of wanting to know right now who is going to be in the 2011 class and exactly what is happening, but the fact that Shaw and Miller even have MU in their Top 5 is a great sign that good things are being said about the program by they only guys who really matter – the players.

This year is going to be fun, and if we land a 6-foot-9 player like either Shaw or Miller, MU will truly be among the elite programs having filled the only weakness from the last few years (no elite big man). Let’s relax, and hope, and just wait for the announcements.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A look inside the schedule

After taking the weekend to analyze the schedule for the upcoming season two items jump out:

1) MU has advantages on the road this year;
2) MU will finish strongly this season.

First, let's look at the road games.

  • MU has eight days to prepare for the season's first road game at Vanderbilt;
  • MU has five days to prepare for the road game at Louisville;
  • MU has one week to prepare for the trap road game at USF;
  • MU plays UConn off-campus on a weeknight.
To close-out the non-conference slate MU travels to the Music City to take on Vanderbilt, kicking off a stretch where they'll play four of six games on the road. Kudos to Coach Buzz for scheduling a legitimate opponent -- on the road -- as the final tune-up for BIG EAST play. In an ingenious bit of scheduling MU has eight days to prepare for this key road test, although Christmas will cost the team a couple of days on the court.

The Warriors open BIG EAST play at home with a Hangover Special, a 10am tip on New Year's Day against West Virginia. MU then hits the road for games at Rutgers and Pittsburgh before retuning home for the Big Monday showdown against the Whining Irish, followed by a trip to Louisville. MU has some good fortune in this stretch --- five days to prepare for Slick Rick's crew. That's an absolute gift. Meanwhile the Cards have just a couple of days to prepare for MU.

Following the Louisville tilt, MU plays three of the next four at home before hitting the road for three straight at Villanova, at USF, and at Georgetown. First up, MU draws the Wildcats on campus for the season's toughest roadie. Villanova is 72-26 all-time in BIG EAST action at The Pavilion. At least the Warriors then have a full week to prepare for the season's biggest trap game, the roadie at USF, before heading to Washington, D.C.

Now let's look at how MU closes the year.

MU should close the year in style with four of the final six games at home. St. John's appropriately joins MU for Al's Night followed by the Seton Hall Pirates a few days later.

Next Marquette hits the road at UConn but avoids Gampel Pavilion, where the Huskies are an astonishing 125-17 all-time. MU has the good fortune to draw the Huskies midweek in Hartford 40 minutes from the main UConn campus in a place their fans call the morgue. Providence and Cincy wrap up the home schedule before closing the season at Seton Hall.

All told, MU has an advantageous BIG EAST schedule, one that could enable the team to earn a handful of quality road wins and close the season playing its best basketball. Soon enough we'll make our predictions for the upcoming season but for now I'd set the over/under on Big East conference wins at 11.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Here's the Schedule

First, here's the Marquette schedule for the year (or you can click here for the pdf). The Big Monday schedule was released yesterday, and Marquette was back on the tube with a game against Notre Dame on Jan. 10. Good news is that it'll be a home game (time of 6 p.m.) so the Warriors should have those Irish eyes crying by the end of the night.

Not only that, but there are ten nationally televised games on the schedule this year. The Big EAST schedule starts off with a 10 AM game on New Year's Day at the Bradley Center. That is way the hell early for New Year's Day, so get your bloody Mary's ready (with beer chaser of course) or just stay out all night and show up at the game. Rosiak has his take on the schedule too.

Finally, Buzz had a live chat today at 11. Click on the link to go read. Many of the questions were of the kool-aid variety, but kool-aid tastes delicious from time to time. If nothing else, Buzz's answers were more refreshing than "Both teams played hard".

By the way, Marquette Madness is in less than a month....and here's a look at your calendar this winter ---

10/15/10 Marquette Madness
11/06/10 vs. St Johns (Minn) - [Exhibition]
11/12/10 vs. Prairie View A&M

O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic
11/14/10 vs. Bucknell
11/17/10 vs. Green Bay
11/20/10 vs. South Dakota

O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic (games in Kansas City)
11/22/10 vs. Duke
11/23/10 vs. Kansas State/Gonzaga

11/27/10 at Milwaukee
12/04/10 vs. Longwood
12/07/10 vs. Texas A&M Corpus Christi
12/11/10 vs. Wisconsin
12/18/10 vs. Centenary
12/21/10 vs. Mississippi Valley State
12/29/10 at Vanderbilt
01/01/11 vs. West Virginia
01/05/11 at Rutgers
01/08/11 at Pittsburgh
01/10/11 vs. Notre Dame
01/15/11 at Louisville
01/18/11 vs. DePaul
01/22/11 at Notre Dame
01/25/11 vs. Connecticut
01/29/11 vs. Syracuse
02/02/11 at Villanova
02/09/11 at USF
02/13/11 at Georgetown
02/15/11 vs. St. John's (AL'S NIGHT)
02/19/11 vs. Seton Hall
02/24/11 at Connecticut
02/27/11 vs. Providence
03/02/11 vs. Cincinnati
03/05/11 at Seton Hall

BIG EAST Conference Championship
03/08/11 TBA New York, N.Y. TBA

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Meet the Newcomers

Marquette Basketball: Revealed - Episode 3

Friday, September 10, 2010

The case for Jimmy F. Butler as the Big East POY

This article from Jeff Eisenberg really got our juices flowing earlier this week as did this scouting review with Mike Gansey. In both of these articles Jimmy F. Butler was named the "Most Underrated Player" in the Big East.

One is anomaly, two is a trend. As the start of the season gets closer we are sure that Butler's name will consistently be placed in the "most underrated" category, yet he will be ignored in far too many pre-season evaluations of the Big East's best players.

No offense to Jeff and his good intentions, but underrated lists are a back-handed compliment to a player as seasoned and productive as Jimmy F. Butler. Throwing Butler on a list of underrated players is nothing more than code for 'east coast bias' or 'MU is not a traditional Big East power.' Simply put, Jimmy F. Butler should be discussed as a logical choice for the pre-season Big East Player of the Year.

Jimmy F. Butler for BE POY!

For the first time in recent memory the race for Big East Player of the Year appears to be wide-open. The league lacks a sure-fire NBA lottery pick amongst its proven upper-classmen and instead offers a host of talented players who are statistically comparable and will be expected to take major leaps forward this winter.

Let's look at the potential competition. Some of the candidates being tossed around the interwebs are 6'3 senior Austin Freeman (GU), 6'1 senior Chris Wright (GU), 6'2 junior Ashton Gibbs (Pitt), 6'1 senior Chris Wright (Nova), 6'1 junior Kemba Walker (UConn), 6'8 junior Kevin Jones (WVU), and 6'7 junior Kris Joseph (SU).

How does Butler compare to the other POY candidates?

The chart above shows the players across different categories, with the average at the bottom. The player with the best comparables by category is highlighted in green.

Let's start where Jimmy F. Butler is the best in the entire Big East. Out of the group listed above Butler led all players in field goal percentage (0.530) last season. Butler got to the line and made the most free throws amongst this peer group. JFB also had the lowest turnover rate (technically tied with Gibbs above but better according to Pomeroy). All of which leads to JFB being the most efficient returning player in the Big EAST (ORtg of 128.5). This should not come as a surprise, since Butler was the conference's most efficient offensive performer last season too.

Back to the statistical comparison. Butler was also the second best rebounder among the other potential candidates and had the second most blocks (both behind West Virginia's Kevin Jones).

Now for the intangibles; we believe Jimmy Butler is the Big East's best clutch performer. Why don't we revisit his two game winning shots from last year? First he hit the game winning shot at UConn.

Then JFB delivered in overtime, on the road at St. John's.

Plus, don't forget how:

- Butler scored 5 of his 13 total points against SHU last year in overtime & assisted on the only MU 3-pointer of the extra period.
- Butler's breakaway dunk at Cincy in the waning moments was the backbreaker for the Bearcats in that game.
- Butler scored 5 of MU's final 7 points to seal the win at Providence.

Where does Butler not stand out as the best in the Big EAST?

For starters in points per game, where JFB's average of 14.7 ppg puts him behind Freeman, Wright, and Gibbs but ahead of Fisher, Walker, Jones, Joseph. The highest returning average in this group is Freeman's 16.5 ppg. Butler is also also in middle of this pack on assists, steals, and player fouls -- though he averaged more assists per game than Gibbs, a guard, and more steals per game than Freeman or Gibbs.

Finally, JFB was below average on total usage during his junior season, which simply means he just didn't get enough shots while playing second fiddle to Lazar Hayward. This season Butler will be asked to step up his total usage and lead the Warriors. You don't think Butler can step up? Consider that last year he upped his scoring from 5.6 to 14.7 ppg, and his offensive efficiency only dropped from 131.2 to 128.5 -- the best in the Big East, both years.

That's right. JFB was the Big East's most efficient offensive player as both a sophomore and junior. How good has Jimmy been at Marquette? He was fourth in the country in this category as a sophomore and seventh in the nation as a junior.

Again, why is this guy popping up on underrated lists?

Is Jimmy F. Butler the best player in the Big East?

It's too early to say, and that's the point. There is nobody in the list of potential candidates that is clearly the best player. The race for BE POY is wide open, and JFB is in the race. We believe JFB begins the race in the pole position but few seem to agree with us.

Let's stop talking about Butler being underrated and start talking about Jimmy F. Butler as the Big East Player of the Year.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Marquette News Around the Web

It is so nice that Rushin is back at SI. This article about why he doesn't have a college football team really hit the mark for me. I mostly use college football as an indicator that the NFL starts soon, which is also mostly just an indicator that College Hoops will be back soon.

MUAthletics is trying another innovative social media ticket campaign. If you are on twitter, tweet @muathletics your reasons to purchase MU tickets or to give a short plug on the upcoming 2010-11 MU basketball season. Marquette could pick your tweets to appear on billboards in the greater Milwaukee area. The billboards are the ones at 14th and St. Paul as well as one heading North on I-43. Cracked Sidewalks is in the game.

The Miami NewTimes asks if Dwyane Wade has a kryptonite, and settles on his former SLU nemesis Josh Fisher. In those games, Wade was held to six points and seven points, respectively.

According to his twitter feed, Novak is working out for the Spurs and the Bulls. Good luck to Steve trying to latch on with a team.

Also, you need to be an insider (cough) to read the article, but ESPN has a decent feature on Wesley Matthews.

Finally, the Open Recruiting period begins today. There's no doubt Buzz and company will be extremely busy over the upcoming time leading up to and through Marquette Madness. The SportsBank has a nice recruiting summary.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Say What?!

The off-season's career dissipation line is growing short, thank goodness. Midnight madness is no longer a date on the other side of the horizon. As we round the third turn of the off-season here's a look at what you need to check out from around the interwebs.

The second episode of Marquette's reality series "Marquette Basketball: Revealed" is now live. In this segment Coach Buzz breaks down the Warriors' roster for the upcoming season.

As a fan this series is enjoyable and since the series is designed to reach fans, potential recruits, donors and others with a natural affinity for MU, the criticism levied against the program in this blog is off the mark. The series is what it is... sweet, tasty, kool-aid.

MUTV Sports will kick off the year in style by interviewing Dwyane Wade. I wonder how Brad, Todd and the team there will top this much-anticipated opening salvo. Nice job, team.

Jeff Eisenberg, the brains behind The Dagger -- Yahoo! Sports' terrific sports blog --- previews the upcoming Big East season slotting Marquette in as the league's 6th best squad. The Dagger also scouts the league with former WVU player Mike Gansey. Jimmy F. Butler makes Gansey's list as the most underrated player in the BE, and Buzz gets some high praise. (Also, thanks for the shout-out, Jeff)

One of the more interesting bits in this piece is Jeff's selection of Austin Freeman as the Big East POY. Jeff and I had a spirited discussion about this point on Twitter where I ultimately advocated for Jimmy Butler as the better POY candidate. After all Butler was the conference's most efficient offensive player last year, he is the league's best clutch performer, and last year MU enjoyed a better regular season than the Hoyas. Butler, Freeman, Ashton Gibbs, Kris Joseph, Fab Melo and Corey Fisher were just some of the names that were offered up in our back and forth. Regardless of your preference for this accolade, this year promises to be one of the most wide open races for that title in recent memory.

The Hoops Report figures MU is the 42nd-best team in the nation. That's pretty good considering the author has no idea that Jae Crowder and Junior Cadougan are on the team. Read this at your own risk.

Rosiak steps up with a much-needed blog about Jae Crowder, perhaps the most critical newcomer in some time for the Marquette hoops program. While we feel that expectations for Vander Blue may be a little bit high, there is nothing wrong with the view that Crowder should step in and contribute from day one. Little publicized but worth repeating... Jae was named the Juco POY last year, and his team won the Juco National Championship. He also has a 29" vertical leap and a father that played in the NBA. Take a step back and think about all that.

With more on Father Pilarz, here is an article from the JS. Also, Marquette's Dean of Education, Dr. William Henk, gives his own first impressions. Both links are absolutely worth following.

Finally, Al McGuire's 82nd birthday was yesterday. Dick Enberg remembered him in this memorable podcast. We miss you, Coach.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Blue's chance to make history

I’m sure Vander Blue, Jamail Jones, Reggie Smith, Jae Crowder and Davante Gardner don’t keep a copy of the “ESPN College Basketball Encyclopedia” on their desk like I do – but Marquette’s five newest players have a chance to make history in 11 weeks.

When they take the court in Kansas City against Duke, they likely will have a chance to be part of only the second Marquette team to beat a #1 ranked team. Using the Encyclopedia’s rankings up until the AP started, the results so far have been:

1939 – lost at Long Island 34-41
1953 – lost at Kansas State 72-88
1956 – lost at home to San Francisco 58-65
1974 – lost to NC State 64-76 in NCAA title game
1976 – lost to Indiana 56-65 in Elite 8
1986 – lost to UNC 64-66 at home
2000 – lost to Cincinnati 60-72 at home
2003 – defeated Kentucky 83-69 in Elite 8
2011 – vs. Duke (likely #1) in Kansas City Nov. 23

In fact, even defeating a top 3 team is rare. Despite all the great teams in Marquette history, MU is 4-40 all time against top 3 teams, with the other three victories being:

1941 – defeated #2 Wisconsin 40-30 at home (Badgers later won NCAA title)
1955 – defeated #2 Kentucky 79-71 in Sweet 16
2006 – defeated #2 UConn 94-79 at home

Even all of Al McGuire’s great teams went 0-7 against Top 4 teams – though no one really cares that UNC and UNCC were not in the Top 4 in 1977.

Want to know why Marquette has one of the deepest, most talented rosters in history? You can start with the fact that players like Vander Blue are offered the chance to play against the best teams in the country. When Marquette defeated UNC for the title on March 28, 1977 it was MUs 11th game that season against a ranked team. It didn’t happen again until 2009 for the Three Amigos senior year, and then it happened again last year:

11 ranked opponents – 1977, 2009, 2010
9 ranked opponents – 1994
7 ranked opponents – 1924, 1927, 1928, 1974, 1996, 2003, 2006, 2007
6 ranked opponents – 1929, 1930, 1961, 1973, 2004, 2008

One other fascinating note for me in the Encyclopedia was that the 1923 team is picked as the 8th best team in the country that year. Since there was no tournament until years later, maybe we need to claim the 1923 squad as an additional Elite 8 team and the 1933 squad (ranked 14th) as a Sweet 16 squad! MU was also pegged as the 18th best team in 1939 and the 21st best team in 1934 – but back to recent history …

The 2007 team went 5-3 against ranked teams to become only the sixth team in Marquette history to beat five ranked teams (only the 1977 team beat six ranked teams).

It’s rare to get a chance to take out a #1, and I’ll be in Kansas City just in case.
Sure, MU will be underdogs against a team coming off a national title and adding Curry to the squad. While I believe this is a team that can win 25+ this year and 30 games next year, this test may be coming too early with so many new parts. However, if Marquette plays the same kind of tenacious defense that destroyed three teams in Orlando last year for 2 ½ games, only this time with the depth to keep the pressure up through fresh legs and fouls to give, the new guys could truly get some minutes and be on the court for history.

The Three Amigos took the same court in Kansas City as sophomores for the same CBE tournament in 2007 and stunned a #9 Duke team 73-62. The other time MU defeated a Duke team in the Top 10 was in 1980, with a 80-77 win in Madison the season before Doc Rivers came to campus. Here are the all-time records against teams with various rankings, with game vs. ranked Duke teams noted.

Vs.No. 1 – 1-7
Vs. No. 2 – 3-20
Vs. No. 3 – 0-13
Vs. No. 4 - 5-9
Vs. No. 5 – 5-14
Vs. No. 6 – 6-18 (lost to Duke 1961, 1991, 1994)
Vs. No. 7 – 6-12 (lost to Duke 1979)
Vs. No. 8 – 3-12
Vs. No. 9 – 10-15 (beat Duke 2007)
Vs. No. 10 – 10-15 (beat Duke 1980)

Vs. No. 11 or lower – 73-93 (lost to #13 Duke 2008)

What a chance to make history and how great it is that even if MU doesn’t, this class will have so many more chances to go up against ranked teams.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Meet Fr. Pilarz

In case you missed how Marquette owns the Internet, here's some further proof.

This five minute interview is well worth your time.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Marquette owns the Internet

Marquette University kicked off the 2010-2011 academic year this week bringing us ever closer to Midnight Madness next month and a new season of Warrior basketball soon after. Timed to the opening of classes MU delivered its first installment of "Marquette Basketball: Revealed," a new all-access look at the MU men's basketball program hosted online. The inside looks at the team off the court are tremendous and the series promises to be one of the highlights of the upcoming season.

Let's be clear, no university in the country - BCS or otherwise - executes a digital media strategy as well as the Marquette University Athletic Department. Whether its the new-look GoMarquette.com, the participation of the department's leadership on platforms like Twitter, MU Athletics' own Twitter ID, the participation of student-athletes within social media domains, or the array of video updates and highlights, the university's commitment to invest in and execute a successful digital media program is unparalleled.

"Marquette Basketball: Revealed,"the latest example of the department's vision, will be a boon Buzz Williams as he continues to build the program. By controlling the virtual printing presses and realizing it has access to its own best sources of information (no kidding), the Athletic Department is building brand value for the program that was not possible just a few years ago. To use an overused phrase from years past on MUScoop -- "this will help recruiting."

No doubt.

Other items of note for the Marquette hoops fan:

....for old times' sake