"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

Friday, November 11, 2011

One More Set of Predictions . . .

Having missed the official call for predictions (shows what changing jobs and Internet providers will do for you!), I still wanted to take the opportunity to put my thoughts on the board on the even of the first game of the 2011-12 season.

I've traditionally been one of the more optimistic prognosticators, with a 12-6 conference prediction for last season (compared to the eventual 9-9 conference record), 14-4 for 2008 (compared to 11-7 in James' injury season), 13-5 for 2009 (close to our final 12-6 record), and probably the only person on the planet who thought we would do well in 2010. when we actually turned in a respectable 11-7 league mark.

This year, I find myself closer to the Cracked Sidewalks average.

I found this probably the most difficult season in the last six or eight years to judge. We have a ton of potential--probably more than any year since the Final Four. But a lot of that potential hasn't been realized yet.

If even one or two of the question marks on this year's team are answered in Marquette's favor, we stand a great chance of a top-4 finish. If all of them go our way, we may well challenge for a league title.

As I see it, the questions are:

  • Can Jamil Wilson and Vander Blue elevate their level of play above their frosh performances (at MU and Oregon respectively) and achieve the expectations created by their top-50 RSCI HS rankings?
  • Can Junior Cadougan improve his effectiveness as the primary ball-handler and build upon Dwight Buycks' surprisingly strong performance in the role in 2011?
  • Can Davante Gardner improve his defense enough so that we see his tremendous offensive skills on the court more often?
  • Can DJO continue his strong performance once he becomes the primary target of opposing defenses, as opposed to the secondary stop after Jimmy Butler?
  • Can Chris Otule avoid the injuries that hampered his first two seasons?

As I said, two or three of those go our way, It's going to be a great season. All of them? There is no ceiling on this team.

OpponentLocationRobTimKevinJohnJamesAlan Dr Steve
Mount St. Mary'sHWWWWWWWW
Norfolk StateHWWWWWWWW
Paradise Jam Game 3NWLWWWWWW
Northern ColoradoHWWWWWWWW
South FloridaHWWWWWWWW
West VirginiaAWLLLLWWW
Conference Wins12.31314101112141212
Conference Losses5.854876466

Comments on the Non-Conference slate:

  • Our first test will come in the final of the Paradise Jam. Assuming Virginia is our opponent, the Cavaliers were a top-20 3 point shooting team last year, and MU was a poor 3 point defender.
  • I believe the short turnaround will hurt us at LSU. MU is clearly the more talented team, but a Saturday home game followed by a Monday game in Baton Rouge will be a difficult short turnaround. Not only does LSU have two more days of rest, they won't be traveling.
  • We'll make up for the LSU game by taking a win over top-10 Vanderbilt.


  • Bottom Third: DePaul, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Providence, and South Florida: We'll take all five of these games.
  • Middle Third: GU, VU, WVU, ND and St. Johns: First, MU should take all home games here--that means wins over GU, VU, and St. Johns. ND and WVU on the road will be challenging but we will be the better team on paper--those games represent the best opportunity for a quality league road victory. I think we split in our crossover games against Georgetown and Villanova.
  • Top Third: UL, UConn, Pitt, Syracuse & Cincinnati: It will take a significant effort win on the road against any of these teams, and even the home games will be difficult. I think we lose some of our home court advantage against UL due to the timing of the game and we'll wind up with a loss. Pitt has less experience than last year--if Buzz avoids the distraction of making this a "grudge match" due to Pitt's departure from the Big East, we should win. Cincy has an experienced team and returns some good talent--we play them twice and I think we'll split.

Overall that makes for a 22-9/12-6 record. Enjoy the Ride!

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