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

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Post-March Blahs

William Faulkner once said, "Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life."

So I guess that means the clock stops in 167 days when Midnight Madness ushers in the next vintage of the Marquette Warriors. 167 days is a long time.

In the meantime there have been a series of developments worth noting:

First, congratulations to Jerel McNeal who just wrapped up a fine professional season. An NBA D-League All-Star this season, McNeal led the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to the league's championship series against the Iowa Energy. After forcing a decisive third game on the strength of 37 from McNeal earlier this week, last night RGV fell in the decisive third game, 119-111.

McNeal was outstanding in what amounted to the league title game, finishing with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists. John Pudner posted a must-read, in-depth review of Jerel's performance overnight.

In the playoffs McNeal averaged 27 points, 6 boards and 6 assists in seven games. After getting a cup of coffee in the NBA this year with the Hornets, expect McNeal to make an opening day roster in the fall.

In not so good news for another of the Three Amigos, Marquette graduate Dominic James saw his season come to an end for Lukoil Academic due to a foot injury according to this report. If the report is to be believed, James returned to the States to have surgery on the foot earlier this month. What a shame. James was having a solid season for 27-0 Lukoil where he was the team's second-leading scorer at 13.9 points per game to go with 2.7 rebounds and 4 assists per game.

Meanwhile Jimmy F. Butler is making a name for himself with NBA scouts. Earlier this month Butler shocked many when he was named the MVP of the Portsmouth Invitational after leading his team to the title in that showcase event. At Portsmouth, Butler did what he did for three seasons as a Warrior, that is, everything. After the event, Butler raced up (and onto) draft boards and is now a consensus second round pick. The 2011 NBA Draft is scheduled for June 23 at the Prudential Center in Newark. Here's hoping Jimmy's exit from the building that night erases the pain from his last visit.

McNeal makes case for NBA by dominating a big front line again in title loss

Sound familiar? McNeal drives past the trees for 29 points and 11 rebounds, but his 6-foot-5 and under team loses the championship.

With no teammate taller than 6-foot-5 on the court most of the game, 6-foot-1 ½ Jerel McNeal was the only Rio Grande Viper able to go up against the opposing line of 7-footer Scott VanderMeer (Illinois-Chicago), 6-7, 220 pound bull Michael Haynes (Fordham) and 6-foot-9 Stanley Robinson (UConn).

McNeal shot 12 times after a drive to the hoop, missing only once as he hit 8 shots and drew fouls 3 other times. McNeal set up another 17 points on his game-high 6 assists, but teammates missed another 10 open treys after McNeal had driven to draw the defense and then kicked the ball out.

McNeal even went among the trees to grab a game-high 11 rebounds after seeing his teammates destroyed on the board the first two games in the series.

However, in a result too similar to his Herculean 30-point performances against Stanford and Missouri, the Iowa Energy front line simply dominated the Vipers front line to claim the NBA Developmental League title, 119-111.

McNeal1st quarter2nd quarter3rd quarter4th quarterTotal
Drives1-1, fouled 11-13-43-3, fouled 28-9, fouled 3
Ins. Arc0-00-0, fouled 10-00-00-0, fouled 1
Free throws1-23-30-03-47-9
Non-shootingFouled 1Shot 1 TechFouled 1 on rbFouled 14 fouls
Total shooting1-4, 1-2, 3 pts2-2, 3-3, 8 pts3-6, 6 pts4-6, 12 pts10-18, 29 pts
Assists/Pts.3 asst = 8pts2 asst = 6 pts1 asst = 3 pts06 = 17 pts
Kickout missed214310
ScoreLed 39-34Trailed 61-62Led 88-81Lost 111-119

Just two weeks after getting his first 10-days in the NBA with the Hornets, McNeal once again made his case that he belongs during another in a long string of dominating performances at the next highest level.

1st quarter

With the Vipers apparently realizing they had no chance to stop the Energy inside in a half court defense, McNeal locked up with MVP Chris Stinson (Iowa State) full court and shut him out for almost 10 minutes. Stinson scored the one trip the Vipers put another defender on him, but other than that hit only a scoop shot against McNeal in the final minute of the quarter to finish with 2 points in 11 minutes of McNeal guarding him.

McNeal actually missed his first three shots of the game, two jumpers in the lane after getting a rebound and loose ball and a 3-pointer. However, near the end of the quarter he drove from half court on the right side through four defenders, a la Dwyane Wade vs. the Mavericks in the NBA championships, to score and give the Vipers a 39-34 lead at the end of the quarter. Starting with that basket, he would finish the night hitting 10 of his last 15 shots. In addition to his three assists that quarter, he twice in the first half had the “hockey assist,” with a great pass that led to another great pass and a basket.

2nd quarter

In the 2nd quarter McNeal was perfect shooting. He drove from 25 feet out to beat his man and the 7-footer at the hoop, then moments later curled to the left corner for a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer. The one time he pulled up for a jumper inside the arc he was fouled – hitting both free throws – and he added a technical free throw to score 8 points in the quarter to help the Vipers maintain a lead. However, with 59 seconds left he was whistled for his 3rd foul of the quarter and 4th foul of the game. With him on the bench, the Energy went on a quick 6-0 run to close the half with a 62-61 lead.

3rd quarter

McNeal missed two treys in the quarter, but with all his teammates simply sitting around the arc, McNeal drove to the left side of the rim three times to score. He also went in for three more rebounds.

However, the Energy took advantage of the McNeal’s cautious defense with four fouls. They were able to go at him knowing he couldn’t risk a 5th foul and that there was no one else on the Vipers athletic enough to keep up with them or big enough to deny them at the rim. While McNeal did enough on offense to keep the Vipers ahead 88-81 by the end of the quarter, the game had settled into an exchange of every Viper except McNeal trying 3-pointers while the Energy dominated them going to the hoop.

4th quarter

The turning point of the game came with 9:06 to go. The Energy had just taken an 88-90 lead and stole the ball again. McNeal was the only defender to get back against the break, and he popped out of the arc to try to draw a charge that could have enabled the Vipers to get the ball back and tie the game. He was a split second late planting his feet, resulting in his 5th foul and several minutes on the bench during which the Energy took control of the game.

However, once back, McNeal led a final run. Despite the five fouls, he made an incredible defensive play to go straight up with the much taller Robinson and deny him a lay-up, then drove to the other end of the court to score to the left of the basket to cut it to 95-102. Moments later he snuck behind Robinson to the right of the basket, took a pass, and banked it in just before Robinson could reject it to pull the Vipers within 101-105 with 3:40 to play.

After trading 3-pointers, the Vipers had their last chance with 1:25 to go. After a 3-pointer cut the lead to 104-108, McNeal and Jon Scheyer trapped a Energy player and the ball was poked away. McNeal grabbed it and broke to the basket, then threaded a pass to Richard Roby (Colorado) only to have Roby’s lay-up rejected by a trailing Robinson. The Vipers fouled on the rebound, and instead of a 106-108 score, it was 104-110 with 1:25 to go and over despite on more trey from McNeal.

Future in the NBA?

While we can’t get around the fact that only playing the shooting guard position at 6-foot-1 ½ (official NBA measurement without shoes) does not usually result in time on an NBA court, we can only hope that that McNeal’s ability to take it to another level this year will get him a nitch somewhere in the NBA next year.

Currently 104 of the players in the NBA, approximately one out of every five, played in the D-League, so the fact that McNeal has been dominating other players just below the NBA is encouraging. His combination of 3-point shooting and drives to the hoop to score and get fouls could make a GM somewhere think he would be worth having on the court for a few minutes.

Many gave up on Tom Copa before he eventually made the NBA after a few years, so we can keep hoping Jerel does the same if he keeps playing at this level. It was great that Buzz made the trip to see him score 37 to keep the Vipers from being eliminated in Wednesday’s game.

However, as I’ve stated before, even if he never plays a minute in the NBA, Jerel has to be remembered as one of the greatest college players in the history of Marquette basketball. Almost 700 players have taken the court for Marquette, and only five times in all those years have the sports writers agreed that an MU player was one of the best 10 players in the entire country (1st or 2nd team AP All-American). Based on the only other four players who can make that claim, Jerel should always be remembered as one of the greatest:


1971 – Dean Meminger
1972 – Jim Chones
1977 & 1978 – Butch Lee
2003 – Dwyane Wade
2009 – Jerel McNeal

Finally, the box score below for last night’s game indicates just what a one-man show Jerel was for the Vipers.

Rio Grande2-pointers3-pointersFTRebAsstStlPts
M. Janning1 of 35 of 91 of 2104218
M. Faye2 of 22 of 71 of 230011
P. Sullivan1 of 30 of 02 of 22304
J. McNeal8 of 122 of 67 of 9116129
J. Scheyer2 of 32 of 101 of 244011
C. Atchley0 of 04 of 72 of 250214
R. Roby5 of 110 of 32 of 6 44312
T. Harris2 of 32 of 60 of 041010
K. Lewis1 of 10 of 00 of 00012
Totals22 of 3817 of 4816 of 2532229111

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Matthews on pace for top 5 all-time MU NBA players; McNeal best pro player not in NBA

While Brandon Roy was the star, the Trail Blazers unbelievable rally from a 23-point deficit to defeat the Mavs and even the series 2-2 today capped an incredible week in the pros for Marquette grads.

Thursday an award was presented “to the Trail Blazers player who best represents the true spirit of (Marquette great) Maurice Lucas through contributions on the court and in the community, as well as in support of teammates and the organization.” That night Dwyane Wade and Wesley Matthews lit it up with 32 and 25 points respectively. Two days earlier Jerel McNeal scored 35 points and had 8 assists to lead the Rio Grande Valley Vipers into the championships of the NBAs minor league.

While I don’t focus much on the pros until MUs season is over, it was a great week to remember these MU all-time greats as well as Steve Novak (Spurs) and Doc Rivers (Celtics coach) also still alive in the playoffs, and Jimmy Butler as works out to try to join Lazar Hayward as a surprise NBA 1st round pick (currently DraftExpress picks him to be the 7th pick in the 2nd round).

In this light, I did reflect on a good post on MUScoop by MerrittsMustache that included the following: “It would be nice to see guys like Diener, Novak, Lazar and the Big 3 be recognized for what they accomplished at MU … (but) they're obviously not on the same level as Wade, Ellis, Lee, Thompson, etc.”

First off, I agree with the statement. In fact, when I rated the greatest MU players of all time in “The Ultimate Hoops Guide: Marquette University,” several years ago, that is the exact order I had the four greatest of all-time, with the late, great Lucas just a couple of spots behind them. However, I do believe a balance has to be struck between the nostalgic who believe today’s players aren’t anywhere near the great 70s players, and the modernists who discount the greats from decades past because athletes get better and better every generation through better training techniques.

AP writers rating indicates McNeal was one of best 5 MU players ever

I do believe that Jerel McNeal did reach the level of play of our all-time greatest players his senior year. While I'm a stat nerd, I always thought the one subjective constant since 1948 has been the AP All-American team.


Only five times in history have the AP writers from across the country agreed that a Marquette player was one of the best 10 players in the country that year:

Dean Meminger, 1971
Jim Chones, 1972
Butch Lee, 1978
Dwyane Wade, 2003
Jerel McNeal, 2009

Despite all the accomplishments of Bo Ellis, Earl Tatum, George Thompson, and all the other greats, even during their best year they were never judged as one of the best 10 players in the country, so I do believe McNeal has to be viewed as on the level of these all time greats if judging just how good a player got while on the court at MU.

Certainly, the fact that Jerel never made a Sweet 16 or was drafted by the NBA may hold him back. Maybe, if Jerel had “choked” in big games to prevent MU from advancing that could be held against him. However, the fact is that MU was eliminated due to a lack of depth and height. The last two times MU was eliminated (by Stanford and Missouri), Jerel played two of the greatest games of any Marquette player ever – scoring 30 points both time.

McNeal's credentials as best NBA minor league player

Certainly I was as disappointed as anyone that Jerel didn’t get drafted, and then had troubles in Europe. But he is right on the verge of the NBA. Right now I believe there is a strong case that Jerel McNeal is the best pro player NOT in the NBA as he is dominating the top NBA minor league. Jerel:

1. Was one of the top 5 scorers in the NBA-D League in leading his team to a 28-12 record and first place, until he was,
2. Called up to the New Orleans Hornets for 10 days due to Chris Paul’s injury during which time the Vipers only went 5-5, and
3. After Paul’s return, came back to the Vipers to lead them in scoring in all five playoff games including clinching the semifinals win by leading the team with 35 points and 8 assists to send them into Sunday’s championship (apparently he is as good in the clutch in the D-League as he was verses Stanford and Missouri).

Wesley Matthews on pace to be top 5 MU NBA scorer

In addition to the under-appreciation I believe some have for Jerel’s status as one of only five MU players to be picked as one of the Top 10 players in the country his senior year by the AP, I also don’t believe all fans realize that Wesley Matthews is on place to become one of the top 5 players in MU history if judged by how good they proved to be in the NBA. In just two seasons, Matthews has amassed 2,069 regular season points, the 12th best of any MU player in history. If Matthews can keep up his pace of 1,300 points this year for just 5 more seasons, he would become one of the top 5 NBA scorers in Marquette history:

Most NBA points - MU alums
1 Dwyane Wade 13908
2 Maurice Lucas 12312
3 Don Kojis 9931
4 Glen (Doc) Rivers 9418
5 George Thompson 8128
6 Jim Chones 7663
7 Jerome Whitehead 4531
8 Dean Meminger 2538
9 Larry McNeil 2525
10 Earl Tatum 2515
11 Tony Smith 2514
12 Wesley Matthews 2069
13 Chris Crawford 1663
14 Lloyd Walton 1432
15 Jim McIlvaine 1083

The book isn’t closed on either of them, or Butler or Hayward. As of today, I have them ranked as the 11th best and 17th best of all-time with Hayward at 20th, but I do give credit for NBA performances. We may look back on Matthews and McNeal as two of the very greatest of all-time if they keep playing at their current level.

Updated rankings after 2011 seasons

Rank First name Last Years Played
1 Dwyane Wade 2002, 03
2 Maurice (Bo) Ellis 1974, 75, 76, 77
3 Alfred (Butch) Lee 1975, 76, 77, 78
4 George Thompson 1967, 68, 69
5 Dean Meminger 1969, 70, 71
6 Jim Chones 1971, 72
7 Maurice Lucas 1973, 74
8 Don Kojis 1959, 60, 61
9 Earl Tatum 1973, 74, 75, 76
10 Terry Rand 1954, 55, 56
11 Jerel McNeal 2006, 07, 08, 09
12 Dave Quabius 1937, 38, 39
13 Jerome Whitehead 1976, 77, 78
14 Tony Smith 1987, 88, 89, 90
15 Larry McNeil 1972, 73
16 Travis Diener 2002, 03, 04, 05
17 Wesley Matthews 2006, 07, 08, 09
18 Jim McIlvaine 1991, 92, 93, 94
19 Lloyd Walton 1974, 75, 76
20 Lazar Hayward 2007, 08, 09, 10
21 Glen (Doc) Rivers 1981, 82, 83
22 Bernard Toone 1976, 77, 78, 79
23 Dominic James 2006, 07, 08, 09
24 Ed Mullen 1933, 34, 35
25 Gary Brell 1970, 71

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rating the Raters

Welcome back, Dr Blackheart. Here is the good doctor's latest guest column -- a rating of the raters, he calls it.

As my post-season NCAA hoops withdrawal kicks in, I decided to look for a back edition of Sports Illustrated in my private library. No, not the “Swimsuit Issue” but the November 22nd “College Basketball” preview. It was such a crazy season of “The Unexpected” that I wanted to look back and see how well SI did in predicting the 2010-11 season. I remember this edition arrived in the mail just before I hopped on a plane to Kansas City for the CBE where the unranked Warriors were to face SI’s #1, #3 or #14 ranked teams in a pre-Thanksgiving tournament.

MU played well against the favored competition back then, but I was left with a lot of uncertainty around their experience, roles and identity. As it wound up, this uncertainty spread to all of college basketball and lasted down to the last half of the championship game. Reflecting, I figured that it was worth a look-see to determine how well all the mainstream experts did predicting this crazy season. After all, this is what we pay them to do—to help us average fans separate our irrational loyalties from the facts. So I dug up their preseason to final rankings for a postmortem face-off (Note: I used each poll’s final rankings to compare to preseason--whether the poll’s last ranking was at the end of the regular season or post-NCAA’s.)

So, how well did these experts test out? The answer: Their test scores needed to be curved and they all seemingly copied off of each other. Here are some quick snippets of their performances:

  • No pundit had the eventual national champion in their Top 25’s. Sports Illustrated didn’t even have UCONN in their preseason “Field of 68”.
  • All graded out around 57% on the pre to post test overall…including the pre-post Top 25’s.
  • Each had a C/D grade for the Elite 8’s being ranked in the Top 25 preseason…and a C- for predicting closely for the Round of 32.
  • Virginia Tech, purported to be the last team out of the Big Dance on Selection Sunday, was the one team the experts had in their Top 25’s who did not make the Big Dance.
  • Most of the Top 10 teams in each poll’s final ranking were at least listed in their preseason Top 25’s.
  • The coaches (USA Today/ESPN) were no better or worse than the media.

So who won out? Basically, they were all subterranean on their “expert” prognostications. To try to get to some conclusion, however, I created an index based on the average score of all the raters for each element and in total. So, a 1.00=average of the five raters. This provides a relative score for each versus the other to determine if any one stands out. Well, that didn’t help much as they all appear to be guilty of “group think” as their picks were almost the same. Sports Illustrated did score a bit better—and I mean a ‘lil bit—so I will have to crown them the “The King of the Misfits”-- although they only were able to get 45 out of the “Field of 68” right preseason—or 66%.

So what’s the take away from all of this? Archie the Bartender is probably a more reliable source of expertise. Or, even better, strike up a conversation with your local librarian.

Top 50 recruit wish list updated with 15 signees and 1 new huge prospect

I had received requests for updates as some of the Top 50 on the recruiting wish list signed. There has been a lot of activity the last few days, resulting in 15 of the 50 signing somewhere, including my #5 Keith Coleman needing two years of JUCO and my #2 Jarion Henry apparently going to New Mexico after tweeting about their "hotties."

However, perhaps the biggest news (thanks ATL MU WARRIOR) is I cannot ignore that a 7-foot, 4-star player from DJO's home town of Raleigh, NC, was just released from his commitment to NC State and easily becomes the 2nd biggest potential get besides Murray on the "wish list," and remember that's all this is. Murray visits this weekend though he is reportedly leaning to Kansas or WVU.

I also added a team score to every player so you know how good a team the player was on last (150=Ohio State, 139=Marquette, 120=best JUCO school, 100=best prep school, St. Anthony's of New Jersey.) These are all based on www.masseyratings.com, so please go contribute to his unbelievable work. I listed all new signed players on the bottom, and Juan Anderson has led his California team to an 89 rating, meaning they are only 11 points worse than St. Anthony's. The new 7-footer Joseph Uchebo also led his team to great success, as his 86 indicates they were only 14 points worse than St. Anthony's. However, my #9, big man Yvan Ngirabakunzi, played for a high school with only a 22 rating, meaning maybe his competition was way to low to make the jump to the Big East, though he may if Central Florida is added.

#1st NameLast NameHeightLevelTeamTeam scoreCommitted or other news
1AaricMurray6-foot-10CollegeLa Salle126visiting MU this weekend
1.5JosephUchebo7-foot-0PrepRaleigh, NC Word of God867-foot 4-star just released from NCSt commit
2JarionHenry6-foot-8PrepDallas TX Kimball92looks like New Mexico
3PierreJackson5-foot-10JUCOCollege of Southern Idaho114Baylor
5KeithColeman6-foot-9PrepLee, Maine High School72JUCO - Marshalltown CC
6GarrickSherman6-foot-10CollegeMichigan State137expected Notre Dame, visiting now
7PhilipJurick6-foot-11JUCOChattanooga State Tech CC114 
8Gods GiftAchiuwa6-foot-9JUCOErie Community College103appears Washington, maybe St. John's
9YvanNgirabakunzi6-foot-10PrepPiney Woods MS Piney Woods22verbal to Central FL orida
10AmathM’Baye6-foot-9CollegeWyoming120reportedly Oklahoma
11AntonGrady6-foot-8PrepCleveland OH Central Catholic68Cleveland State
13TavaresSpeaks6-foot-4JUCOCape Fear Community College99Liberty
14GeneTeague6-foot-9CollegeSouthern Illinois122 
15HooperVint6-foot-10PrepVan Buren AR Van Buren76UTEP
16MarsellHolden5-foot-11JUCOSan Jacito College Central106 
17MichaelHale5-foot-9JUCONorth Idaho96 
18A.J.English6-foot-3PrepMiddletown DE Appoquinimink70 
19LonnieHayes6-foot-0JUCOMO State U - West Plains102 
20JeffEarly6-foot-3PrepMonroe College 95 
21TonyKimbro6-foot-6PrepLouisvilleKY Jeffersontown83 
23LarryMcGaughey6-foot-5JUCOLawson State111 
24TyquanGoodlett6-foot-3PrepJersey CityNJ St. Anthony100 
25HanifNixon-Hughes6-foot-4JUCONorth Dakota State Science106 
27TylerBrown6-foot-4JUCOMarshalltown Community College114Illinois State
28JeremyJones6-foot-2JUCOSeward County Community College103 
30RecoLewis6-foot-2JUCOWaycross College88 
31CharlesAshford6-foot-1JUCOVincennes University 96 
32CheikhMbodji6-foot-9JUCOGrayson County College81Cincinnati
33DylanTalley6-foot-5JUCOBlinn College114Nebraska
34RogerFranklin6-foot-5CollegeOklahoma State133North Texas
35OrlandoSanchez6-foot-8JUCOMonroe College 95 
36QuintonPippen6-foot-4JUCOMO State U - West Plains102 
37GaryCooper6-foot-8PrepMonroe, MichiganMonroe48supposedly MU looking at him
38CharlesBennett5-foot-10PrepHouston TX Yates42 
39JaysonGuerrier6-foot-4JUCOAlabama Southern CC105 
41QuevynWinters6-foot-5PrepOldsmar FL Oldsmar Christian76 
42TaylorSmith6-foot-6JUCOMcLennan Community College86Stephen F Austin
43AlexCarmen6-foot-3PrepLong Beach, CA Poly96 
44CorbinThomas6-foot-6JUCOSouthwestern Illinois College 96 
45CoreyWilford6-foot-1JUCOConnors State College99reported Murray State visit
46D'AndreMartin6-foot-2PrepMonroe, LouisianaRichwood71 
47MartyreDemarco6-foot-2PrepPhoenix, AZ Shadow Mountain39 
48TavianPomlee6-foot-5PrepDavenport, IA Central22 
49DerrellArmstrong6-foot-1JUCOAllegany College of Maryland 91 
50DiyaaldinKelley6-foot-11CollegeMaryland Eastern-Shore109 
SJuanAnderson6-foot-6PrepCastro Valley, CA Castro Valley89Reportedly has grown!
SJamal Ferguson6-foot-3PrepNorfolk,VA Maury672012 off to great start
SToddMayo6-foot-3PrepFitchburg, MA Notre Dame72Welcome! Practice against O.J.
SDavid Singleton6-foot-3CollegeHigh Point115Another potential point.
SDerrickWilson6-foot-0PrepLakeville, CT Hotchkiss School76Point Guard gets stronger
SJamilWilson6-foot-7CollegeOregon130Can't wait.

And I hate to even put this out there if you are a geek like me, but the prep ratings were determined by going to http://www.highschoolsports.net/massey/matchup/Basketball/Varsity/Boys/, where you can find any two prep teams in the country and match them against each other. I treated St. Anthony's as the 100 and gave each prep school above a rating by subtracting however many points they would be expected to lose to in a game against St. Anthony's.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Top 50 wish list for last roster spot - the other 48 in order after Murray and Henry

I hadn’t planned to post a follow-up piece this weekend, but due to some of the great responses to my breakdown this morning (see below), I was able to get about 80 available high school players, JUCOS and transfers who might help Marquette on a spreadsheet and evaluate. From there, I ranked my top 50 wish list in order.

Thank you especially Dr. Blackheart for the transfer and JUCO All-American list, and brewcity for going through the JUCOs to pull up info, some of which I have listed almost verbatim below as my reasons for wanting the player.

Finally, let me say that there is no one on this list except Murray I would have rather had than Juan Anderson and Jamil Wilson, and having Todd Mayo and Derrick Wilson make the Top 10 list in New England and David Singleton give up a scholarship to come here already makes this a great class no matter what we do with this last spot. Whether we add a freshman or JUCO for next year or get a transfer that will come in with 4-star Jamal Ferguson in 2012, the future is bright. Also, please comment if I am including anyone who is already committed or that you know there are reasons there is no chance of getting him here.

1. Aaric Murray 6-10 La Salle force underneath could mean a deep run in 2013 and 2014
2. Jarion Henry 6-8 Texas prep would join Juan Anderson to give us two big 4-stars for four years to come
3. Pierre Jackson 5-10 PGs domination of junior college tournament like Crowder last year could give another dynamic point guard
4. Juwan Staten 6-0 freshman point guard for Dayton stepped in to be 10th best assist guy in country as a freshman - would love him here for Junior's senior year and then two years after Junior left
5. Keith Coleman 6-9 tough prep from Maine could be a late catch like Davante last year
6. Garrick Sherman, 6-10 Michigan State sophomore transfer didn't play a lot but decent shot blocker who hit 48 of 69 shots - would like him still being around one year after Otule
7. Philip Jurick 6-11 JUCO blocking 8 shots a game and ranked as 8th best JUCO would join Otule to make MU one of shot-blocking teams in country
8. Gods Gift Achiuwa 6-9 dominant player (23 ppg, 11 rpg) but at 6-9 and playing against weak competition just can't put him at the top of the list
9. Yvan Ngirabakunzi 6-10 three-star prep out of Mississippi could let Gardner play the 4
10. Amath M’Baye, 6-9 Wyoming sophomore who played over 32 minutes a game despite blocking a lot of shots and grabbing rebounds

11. Anton Grady 6-8 three star prep out of Cleveland hopefully got to see our Sweet 16 run!
12. Aaron Harwell, 5-10 PG for Centenary - I know they were 1-29 but this guy had great assist numbers for a terrible team and was the 15th best steals guy in the country and could play immediately (due to Centenary downgrading) and give us three years - Reggie Smith's replacement?
13. Tavares Speaks 6-4 JUCO 1st team All-American from Raleigh who can score at will - he is worth trying for just because he sounds like DJO with a little more height!
14. Gene Teague, 6-9 sophomore for Southern Illinois who could give us a lot of rebounds and some scoring Otule's senior year and the year after (hit 60 of 99 shots)
15. Hooper Vint 6-10 Arkansas prep at 190 pounds does make me nervous, but with progress of Otule and Gardner he can develop as a backup
16. Marsell Holden 5-11 JUCO 1st team All-American could take over scoring from the point as a change of pace from Junior Cadougan
17. Michael Hale 5-9 JUCO only pure point guard on 2nd team All-American squad who can score and assist - small but could be a really good Mo Acker type
18. A.J. English 6-3 three-star Delaware prep would certainly round class nicely - but with our current depth I'd just rather gamble on a center like Vint
19. Lonnie Hayes 6-foot JUCO 1st team All-American who could be impact player, but with some turnovers
20. Jeff Early 6-3 JUCO 1st team who is tough enough to play in the Bronx but focused enough to plan on Liberty before this breakout year - I'm intrigued at a combo guard like this if he can really play the point

21. Tony Kimbro 6-6 three-star guard from Louisville will have potential, though in the "switchable" category where we are stocked
22. Desmar Jackson, 6-5 Wyoming sophomore guard is actually Wyoming's best player, just think their center M'Baye fills a bigger need for MU
23. Larry McGaughey 6-5 JUCO 1st team All-American guard could be a poor man's Wesley Matthews - doesn't fill PG or C need, but still a "best available" potential option
24. Tyquan Goodlett 6-3 three-star from St. Anthony's in NJ are good credentials - hope he didn't go to the UNC game
25. Hanif Nixon-Hughes 6-4 JUCO Honorable Mention ran the point for a pretty good team as a freshman, so might consider grabbing him for 3 years
26. Jordan Latham 6-8 Xavier freshman was a 3-star who didn't break the rotation, but if Buzz believes he would be good with a change of scenary, I wouldn't mind a 6-8 guy with a year of practice against a major program
27. Tyler Brown 6-4 two-time JUCO All-American would be great - but as a 6-4 switchable doesn't fill the PG or big man need
28. Jeremy Jones 6-2 JUCO was 3rd team All-American and several high majors seem to like him - just don't know if he is a point
29. Colton Iverson, 6-10 Minnesota Junior - would love his shotblocking but sitting out one year to only play during Otule's senior year lowers his value to MU
30. Reco Lewis 6-2 JUCO HM who can dish and steal to give us an option at point, but also rebound and score - only fear is his team was TERRIBLE and you would hope a point could raise the game

31. Charles Ashford 6-1 JUCO point guard could be the top assist man available to backup Junior, but as only an Honorable Mention All-American on a weak team a few more questions
32. Cheikh Mbodji 6-9 JUCO power forward has major college interest, but as an honorable mention for a terrible team there are some questions
33. Dylan Talley 6-5 JUCO guard probably more of a fit for LSU - Honorable Mention All-American
34. Roger Franklin, 6-5 Oklahoma State sophomore hasn't played much in two years, but if we still see his 4-star potential from when he looked at MU originally not a bad pickup
35. Orlando Sanchez 6-8 JUCO HM led nation in blocked shots, but his team was terrible so think just a solid sub for Otule-Gardner
36. Quinton Pippen 6-4 JUCO Honorable Mention - now that we have Mayo's brother can't say I'd mind getting a shot at Scottie Pippen's nephew
37. Gary Cooper 6-8 prep from Michigan - wouldn't mind one more option inside
38. Charles Bennett 5-10 prep point guard from Houston would be an "extra" point guard against the press I imagine.
39. Jayson Guerrier 6-4 JUCO Honorable Mention who can help bring the ball up against press - and plays a couple of miles from my house in Alabama
40. Milos Kleut, 6-10 Lipscomb sophomore didn't play much, but did hit 15 of 26 shots so might be a good backup for Otule for when he got in foul trouble senior year and then give us one big man for the next year

41. Quevyn Winters 6-5 two-star prep out of Florida
42. Taylor Smith 6-6 JUCO 3rd team All-American but as a 6-6 shot-blocker probably more valuable to another team
43. Alex Carmen 6-3 prep from California - nice if Juan helps us establish that pipeline
44. Corbin Thomas 6-6 JUCO 3rd team but a switchable
45. Corey Wilford 6-1 JUCO 2nd team, but more of a scorer so may not fill the point
46. D'Andre Martin 6-2 prep from Louisianna
47. Martyre Demarco 6-2 prep from Arizona
48. Tavian Pomlee 6-5 prep from Iowa
49. Derrell Armstrong 6-1 JUCO HM who can run the point and dish, but lot of turnovers playing for a very poor team.
50. Diyaaldin Kelley, 6-11 great shot blocking junior for Maryland Eastern Shore but would purely be a one year back-up for Otule senior year

Transfer Murray or Prep Jarion Henry ahead of JUCO All-Americans on wish list

God's Gift Achiuwa 22.3 points and 11.7 rebounds per game certainly explains Marquette's interest. However when comparing him with other potential recruits that has to be tempered by the fact that he played for a team that Marquette would have beaten about 99-62 this year.

Erie Community College is a Division 2 JUCO school, so Achiuwa's stats are not nearly as impressive as Jae Crowder's 18.9, 9.0 at Howard College, which was better than most Division 1 schools last year, or Aaric Murray's 15.2, 7.7 at La Salle. Level of competition is the key to evaluating the rest of the stats, and luckily www.masseyratings.com gives us the tools to measure how Marquette would be expected to do against the other 2,071 JUCO and college teams.

Ohio StateL66-77-111st ranked team
XavierW72-7026-8 Jordan Latham
Howard CC last yearW74-60146-5 Jae Crowder last year
La SalleW87-73146-10 Aaric Murray
WyomingW80-60206-5 Jackson/6-9 M'baye
College of Southern IdahoW94-69255-10 Pierre Jackson
San Jacinto CCW97-64335-11 Marsell Holden
Monroe CC-BronxW101-57446-3 Jeff Early
Lawson State Community CollegeW89-61286-5 Larry McGaughey
Missouri State-West PlainsW97-60376-0 Lonnie Hayes
North Idaho CCW98-55435-9 Michael Hale
Erie Community CollegeW99-62376-9 Gods Gift Achiuwa
Cape Fear Community CollegeW92-52406-4 Tavares Speaks
Chattanooga State Tech CCW83-58256-11 Philip Jurick
Appalachian Bible SchoolW131-191122072nd ranked team
Dallas, TX High School  6-8 Jarion Henry
Lee, Maine High School  6-9 Keith Coleman
Van Buren, AR High School  6-10 Hooper Vint

So to take an extreme case, if we heard that the star of the Appalachian Bible School team was thinking of transferring to Marquette, we wouldn't be very excited because they are the worst team in the country and would likely lose about 131-19 to MU on a nuetral court. At the other extreme, if a good role player from Ohio State wanted to transfer we would be interested since they were about 11 points better than MU last year, so their strong sub might be our starter.

This is why we insisted last year Crowder would be a rookie star. He led Howard College to the national JUCO title at 28-2, and they were actually the 117th best team in the country, much better than the top JUCO team this year (Midland 265th ranked). While Howard would have been expected to stay within 14 of MU last year, only four JUCO teams this year would be expected to stay within 25 points.

The two players who jump out from those teams as players who could probably contribute to MU are point guard Pierre Jackson, who was ranked only 62nd the beginning of the year, but took 1st team honors and tournament MVP for a good Southern Idaho team that could have held their own against Marquette (predicted 94-69 loss). Sounds like he is leaning Iowa, but with Buzz's knack for nabbing JUCO players, we don't know who we are in the running for.

However, if we have settled on the final spot being a big man, then certainly 6-11 Philip Jurick is the one true center out there with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 8 blocks per game for a Chattanooga State Community College team that likewise could have held it's own against Marquette (83-58 final predicted). He initially played at Tennessee as a 4-star recruit before dropping down to JUCO, and Mississippi State and Huggins both want him, and his defensive dominance against pretty good JUCO competition is one reason his team would be forecast to hold MU to a reasonable 83 points in a hypothetical match-up. Obviously the question is how important he would be in light of Chris Otule's excellent defensive play since only scoring 11 ppg at the JUCO level probably indicates he would purely be a dominant defensive player.

We just bring up these two JUCO players and Achiuwa because of Buzz's reputation and knack for grabbing JUCOs, and because they have at least not committed elsewhere. However I have provided an alphabetical list at the bottom of all 50 JUCO All-Americans and how their teams would have done against Marquette from Xavier Blount/Johnson's Conchise College team that could have stayed within 22 points, to Cheikh Mbodj's Grayson College team that probably would have lost by about 58 points.

Not to say a good recruit can't come from a bad team, but view the players stats in the context of their competition if signed.

Tranfer Murray bigger impact player than any JUCOs

Crowder's Howard team last year was about as good as Murray's LaSalle team this year, and better than Wyoming, whose top two players are transfering and of interest to some MU fans. Murray's stats as the best player and a dominating inside force for a team that was only about 14 points worse than Marquette makes him the player who would likely add the most extra wins, but transfers have to sit out a year of course.

As for other transfers, I do believe 6-9 Amath M'baye from Wyoming is worth a look. MU would likely have beaten the Cowboys about 80-60 this year, but as M'baye was one of their top two players already he could certainly be an impact player after a redshirt year. While Xavier was really just a couple of points worse than MU despite our big tournament win by more, 6-8 freshman transfer Jordan Latham was a non-factor for them and was just a 3-star in high school, so I would think M'baye would be a better catch if available.

Jarion Henry or other high schooler may be best realistic pick-up

However, now that we are no longer desperate for depth NOW, absent Murray the best pickup might be a high school player, with our last possible shot at a 4-star possible in Jarion Henry out of Texas. I believe that would be a bigger get than Achiuwa, though I would probably still take Murray first. Now with Baylor setting up Facebook pages to gush over Henry, New Mexico practically giving him the keys to the city on his visit there, and Texas turning attention to him, it may well be that we are not even in the picture for Murray, Achiuwa or Henry, but the same principle of evaluating competition applies to whoever the last signee is.

With MU having already locked up two of the top 10 players in New England, 6-foot-9 Keith Coleman could be an intimidating force inside, or 6-foot-10 Hooper Vint is in Buzz's wheelhouse at Arkansas.

One reason I am tending a little away from a JUCO is that as I poured over the JUCO All-American team that was just announced, the problem is that there are only a couple of centers (our top priority) and pure point guards (probably our 2nd priority). However, here is the alphabetical list so that if a JUCOs name starts to be thrown around you have a quick reference to see how good their team was last year.

FnameLnameJUCO SchoolScoreMU ScoreMarginHeightAll-Am
RyanAaronGillette College5689-336' 3"3rd
DeonteAlexanderEast Mississippi Community College5292-406' 1"HM
DerrellArmstrongAllegany College of Maryland4997-486' 1"HM
CharlesAshfordVincennes University5093-436' 1"HM
QuintoriusBivinsAtlanta Metropolitan College5788-316' 2"2nd
XavierBlount/JohnsonCochise College6284-226' 4"2nd
HaunsBreretonWestern Nebraska Community College5388-356' 7"3rd
TylerBrownMarshalltown Community College5782-256' 4"2nd
RaymondCintronMississippi Gulf Coast Community College5188-376' 1"2nd
MonteraleClarkHighland Community College - Illinois5094-446' 10"2nd
SpencerColemanEastern Arizona College5888-306' 7"HM
RobertCrawfordConnors State College5595-406' 6"HM
JeffEarlyMonroe College57101-446' 3"1st
JustinEdwardsHillsborough Community College4493-496' 8"HM
CarlosEmoryHoward College51107-566' 7"1st
ChrisEvansWabash Valley College6191-306' 7"1st
KevinFosterCollege of Central Florida5994-356' 7"3rd
FreddieGoldsteinMotlow State Community College5287-356'HM
JaysonGuerrierAlabama Southern Community College5387-346' 4"HM
ParisGulleySoutheastern Community College5797-406' 2"3rd
MichaelHale IIINorth Idaho College5598-435' 9"2nd
DeangeloHaleyKankakee Community College5494-406' 3"3rd
CarlHallNorthwest Florida State College56100-446' 8"1st
LonnieHayesMissouri State University - West Plains6097-376'1st
MarsellHoldenSan Jacinto College-Central6497-335' 11"1st
MarcusHootenCopiah-Lincoln Community College3895-576' 3"HM
AlfonzoHubbardSalt Lake Community College5998-396' 5"HM
AnthonyHubbardFrederick Community College5592-376' 5"2nd
PierreJacksonCollege of Southern Idaho6994-255' 10"1st
ElliottJohnsonHighland Community College - Illinois5094-446' 7"HM
JeremyJonesSeward County Community College6096-366' 2"3rd
PhilipJurickChattanooga State Community College5883-256' 11"2nd
RecoLewisWaycross College4899-516' 2"HM
CheikhMbodjGrayson County College45103-586' 9"HM
LarryMcGaugheyLawson State Community College6189-286' 5"1st
TyrusMcGeeCowley County Community College5595-406' 2"1st
JoeMitchellHutchinson Community College5694-386' 1"HM
MalcolmMooreTyler Junior College5893-356' 7"3rd
BlakeNashWilliston State College5687-316'2nd
HanifNixon-HughesNorth Dakota State College of Science5487-336' 4"HM
QuintonPippenMissouri State University - West Plains6097-376' 4"HM
OrlandoSanchezMonroe College57101-446' 8"HM
D'AngeloScottArizona Western College48101-536' 7"3rd
TaylorSmithMcLennan Community College53106-536' 6"3rd
TavaresSpeaksCape Fear Community College5292-406' 4"1st
DylanTalleyBlinn College6489-256' 5"HM
CorbinThomasSouthwestern Illinois College5194-436' 6"3rd
Alan MichaelThompsonBrunswick Community College5387-346' 2"HM
WidgettWashingtonNortheastern Junior College5685-295' 11"HM
CoreyWilfordConnors State College5595-406' 1"2nd

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Big East continues to justify number of bids; close 2nd to ACC in NCAA winning percentage

Despite the media campaign being run against them, the Big East completely vindicated its 11 tournament selections by going 13-10 in the tournament. That 57% winning percentage that is almost exactly the average for a BCS Conference over the last three years, and 11% better than the average Mid-Major performance:

3-yearAve. of 64WinsLossesPercentage
Big East9382560%
Big 126251858%
Big Ten6251957%
Pac 104141156%

In short, the fact that 11 tournament invites could compile virtually the same winning percentage as the other BCS conferences get with 4 or 6 invitations shows the right number of teams are being invited. It is important to answer the critics because future bids could be on the line:

1. Charles Barkley's prediction that there is no way the Big East would have six teams in the Sweet 16 was quite bold considering no conference has ever done that. Barkley wrapped up a disasterous three weeks on the NCAA circuit last night by predicting before the game that if the game was messy and the game wasn't played in the 70s then Butler would win. How wrong and incompetent can you be for three weeks running - one of the messiest and lowest scoring games was an easy UConn victory - would have won by 20 if Kemba's ankle wasn't hurt.

2. Another announcer said he hoped the Big East's "disasterous" tournament would ensure that no conference ever received 11 bids again because more Mid-Majors need to be invited. Let me get this straight - an average of 17 Mid-Majors are in the field every year and win 46% of their games and an average of 9 Big East teams are in the field every year and win 60% of their games, and this means we need - what 23 Mid-Majors so teams like UAB can get blown out? Seventeen certainly gives the VCUs and Butlers a shot every year, but as the only conference that has produced a Final Four team three straight years, I don't believe the Big East should be the one losing spots:

Final 4 teams last three years
Big East 4
Mid-Majors 3
Big Ten 2

If any BCS Conference hasn't justified it's spots, it's been the SEC and Pac10 who have a lower winning percentage in tourney play just sending their top 4 teams every year.

3. The Big East only had two Sweet 16 teams because they beat other Big East teams to get there! This one really bugged me, since you can just as easily theorize that four Big East teams would have been in the Sweet 16 if they hadn't knocked each other off. Certainly the Cincy-UConn game was particularly risky to UConn since they DIDN'T LOSE TO A NON-BIG EAST TEAM ALL YEAR. Maybe Syracuse would have won against a team that hadn't figured them out earlier in the year, and maybe a hot Cincy team would have beaten someone besides the eventual national champs - cuts both ways.

4. The winning percentage is distorted because it would be a losing record without UConn's national title run! As shown above, the ACC is the only conference with a better winning percentage than the Big East over the last three years by a 63% to 60% margin. Now if we take out national championship teams, the Big East still has a 56% winning percentage while the ACC drops to 46%. The impressive part about the Big East this year was not that they had the one dominant Duke, UNC or Kentucky team that can win it all after playing in a weak conference. The amazing thing about the Big East this year was that we had 11 teams probably somewhere between the 10th and 40th best teams in the country, and that had never happened before. Sure, I didn't expect Louisville to lose opening round (I picked them out 2nd round) or Pitt to foul Howard 85 feet from the basket to lose, but I also didn't believe the Big East had a Final Four team this year and our 9th place team that went 9-9 this regular season just won the title.

The average nine spots has proven right, and in a particularly balanced year 11 could be completely justified while in a top-heavy season we may just get seven. But their is no statistical justification for saying the Big East received too many bids this year or in recent history.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Last Recruit

It’s April? Will we hear about the final roster spot being filled in the coming days?

If players win championships in preseason, coaches win it on the recruiting trail. A future huge NCAA tournament game could be decided based on whether or not MU signs a key high school player, transfer or JUCO player to fill their last roster spot for next season and additional one for the next season.

With Buzz have retooled the team from the hypothetical national 6-foot-5 and under team to a team of switchables, most agree that a key big man or point guard would be the final piece of the puzzle.

As outlined before, MU currently has 27 wins on paper for 2012 and 26 wins on 2013 based on the current roster, so could a recruit add a few more wins to get MU to the 31 wins Connecticut currently enjoys as they enter the national title game?


MU may have struck gold with Jamil Wilson for next year. Filling the last spot with a transfer obviously keeps MU at 27 wins next year since a transfer would sit out, so it would have to be a prize that could really give us a deep run in 2013 to make it worthwhile.

The top of the dream list would be Aaric Murray, who just missed 5-star status as the 10th best 4-star out of 100 when MU looked at him two years ago as a freshman. Murray is the one player that would be projected to add 5 additional wins to MU in 2013 as a junior based on his performance to date, meaning MU would project 31 wins in two years PLUS whatever their final recruit would bring. Aaric has done almost exactly what a high 4-star would be expected to do his first two years, including being worth 4.0 wins to LaSalle this year as their best player – halfway between a 4-star and 5-star sophomore averages:

Aaric Murray4852454131734
Jerrell Williams454243463773.5
Tyreek Duren322931466292.8
Earl Pettis299134864022
Ruben Guillandeaux39289791812
Bench total     0.7

As you can see, his production is about halfway between what you would expect from a sophomore 4-star and 5-star, so he looks like almost a 5-star just as originally ranked.

0-2 Stars0.

While MU is reportedly going after him, I do not know how realistic a chance we have. One report this week said he would go to Kentucky if offered, and had him list Florida and West Virginia as two other potentials, assuming he doesn’t risk it all and test the pro waters.

As for point guards, Korie Lucious volunteered his interest in transferring from Michigan State to Marquette, but MU did not have interest and he instead went to Iowa State. While it might have been nice to have a guard who had a Final Four under his belt, as a senior he would have eaten up the final scholarship for last year while not playing, and then only played in Junior Cadougan’s final year, thus taking away a spot that could have helped develop the point guard post-Junior.

There were 367 Division I transfers after last season, so we there could be others that might fill the center or point guard position.


A late freshman signee is unlikely to add many wins for next year, but obviously builds the best for the future. Even a 4-star or 5-star typically only adds about 2 wins his freshman year, while a 5-star typically adds 4.7 his sophomore year and a junior 3.1 wins – so MU could expect 31 or 29 total wins in 2013 with one of them added. However, even 3-stars generally aren’t worth an extra win until their sophomore year, and 2 wins their junior year.

While some have questioned Buzz recruiting nationally, the fact is there just isn’t that much talent in Wisconsin (MU grabbed the only Rivals 5-star player from the state since 2005 with Vander Blue), and even the four contiguous states to Wisconsin have had only a few more five stars since then. The fact is that Big 10 country is producing very few 5-stars, so the fact that Buzz can go to Texas and the rest of the South, the Big East gives MU a shot at the East, and that grabbing the top small forward in the West (Juan Anderson) shows that Buzz really does have a national base for recruiting is key when you look at where the 5-stars have come from since MU joined the Big East.

Now, before anyone gets upset, if a state had an equal number of teams from different major conferences I just went with the team with the higher Pomeroy rating, so this year I put Wisconsin as a Big 10 state, but when MU finishes higher than them next year, I will list it as a Big East state no matter how many alums they have.

ACC (47) BE (31) B10 (29) B12 (27) 
VA8RI1Neb0SEC (33) 
P10 (27)   WI1AR1
AZ1Other (11)   GA13
CA18AK1  LA2

Obviously signing the right freshman probably doesn’t give MU the next piece of the puzzle right away, but it starts to build for 2014 and 2015.


And finally, the JUCO option is typically the best for adding immediately impact. With a roster full of JUCO All-Americans including the JUCO POY Jae Crowder, Buzz knows that the right JUCO is Marquette’s best bet to have a realistic shot at the 30-win plateau and a potential deep run in 2012 and 2013. The JUCOs are hard to track until the All-American list comes out, and I can’t pretend to be an expert. I did put together a scoring system for any JUCO that was in the national Top 25 in one of the five key offensive categories (points, assists, steals, blocked shots and rebounds) and added some credit for players who made the all-tournament team.

I have no idea if any of these guys are key players, but it at least gives a list of JUCOs with the kind of huge assists numbers we’d like if Buzz wanted to add an extra point guard or the rebounds and blocked shots if Buzz believes we need another big.

1OrlandoSanchezMonroe College 423154  All-tourney
2WidgettWashingtonNortheastern Junior College825  22294 
3AveronMatthewsBroward College57932894   
4PierreJacksonCollege of Southern Idaho     MVP
5ChristopherEvansWabash Valley College507    All-tourney
6PHILIPJURICKChattanooga State Community College 303229   
7DennisTinnonKansas City Kansas Community College672388    
8KennyBucknerCollege of Southern Idaho 312   All-tourney
9AnthonyHubbardFrederick Community College599293    
10TitusRublesIndependence Community College528320    
11RodrigoSilvaLaramie County Community College 307151   
12RyanAaronGillette College834     
13TreyAndersonNeosho County Community College478  183  
14BruceMasseyDodge City Community College   213108 
15DytrelBraceyWestern Oklahoma State College   203111 
16MartelJacksonMalcolm X College   200111 
17XavierBlount/JohnsonCochise College675     
18DylanTalleyBlinn College674     
19TyrusMcGeeCowley County Community College662     
20DerrellArmstrongAllegany College of Maryland641     
21BlakeNashWilliston State College640     
22BojanMihajlovicCentral Wyoming College640     
23MarsellHoldenSan Jacinto College-Central639     
24TylerBrownMarshalltown Community College638     
25TerryTaylorPratt Community College   19287

Look out for the All-American list, and we will anxiously await which way Buzz goes to fill the last spot this year.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Buzz's New Deal

According to the official Marquette press release, two days ago Buzz Williams signed his new contract to remain the coach of the Marquette Warriors. Per school policy, Marquette has not revealed the terms of the agreement, however, Rosiak's blog post fills in the whispers. From Rosiak, "it's believed the contract will again be in the form of a rollover and pay Williams in excess of $2 million annually".

We think this is (obviously) great news.

Buzz definitely ends up very well in the new arrangement. With an annual roll-over contract, he gets what is essentially a lifetime contract with minimum downside. One may argue that a rollover contract minimizes his upside. However, the fact that it's been renegotiated each year suggests his upside can be maximized further as well. While it's speculation, Buzz probably got a reduced buyout as part of the deal as well.

Clearly, Marquette is comfortable with a higher-level of long-term risk with Buzz Williams. Marquette certainly gave their head coach plenty, placing his salary into (and beyond) many of college basketball's elite coaches on top of rolling it over year-to-year. Still, one key question is what Buzz gave up in the contract.

Currently, Georgia Tech is experiencing the downside of a rollover contract, as they are now on the hook to Paul Hewitt for a substantial sum, perhaps as much as $5M over the next seven years. On Twitter, Todd Rosiak confirmed that the Buzz contract is"exactly like Hewitt's", though Buzz is set to be paid a much higher annual salary. It is also notable that Hewitt signed his lucrative deal after leading the Yellow Jackets to the 2004 Final Four whereas Buzz earned his after a Sweet 16 appearance.

We believe Steve Cottingham is a competent and professional negotiator. There had to be more that Buzz conceded in the contract other than, "I won't look at Oklahoma". Perhaps the buyout, previously rumored at $3.8M, stayed relatively large with the new deal, affording MU a great amount of institutional control.

The most important signal from a contract this size is one of increased expectations. The layperson will probably wonder what Buzz has done to deserve a contract that is one of the top twenty contracts in the country. Despite the successes, Marquette has not been an elite, top twenty program the last three years. In addition, anyone that has a potential gripe with the program also now has additional ammunition to state, "Buzz is getting how much per year and we ..... ". Regardless of those looking to complain, increased expectations for the program are well deserved.

However, while Marquette would have been fine had Buzz elected to move on, there is no disputing the value of continuity.
This contract helps demonstrate Marquette's continued commitment to the basketball program. Almost every program thinks they can pull in a better head coach than they really can. The tizzy that occurred when rumors increased about Arkansas and Oklahoma highlighted the potential concern about starting with yet another new coach.

Honestly, Buzz has managed to represent Marquette well, stock the roster with highly ranked recruits, developed a high-quality offense year after year, and make the NCAA tournament each year. Oh yeah... and a Sweet Sixteen. Fix the defense and Marquette is near-elite.

Again, this contract says Marquette will continue to invest the necessary financial commitment to successfully compete in the toughest basketball conference in the country. Not all conference members can say that. Congratulations to all parties for making this deal happen quickly and without drama.