"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, August 30, 2012

Non-Conference Schedule 2012-13, Part I

It's time to get back to basketball. While bama did a great job covering the Value-Add side of Marquette's non-conference foes, I'm going to look at team capsules in terms of what they want to do and how they match up with Marquette. This will be the first of a four-part series, each will take a close look at one team Marquette is going to face and a brief look at the rest, broken down into three-four game arcs. I'm going with a wedding theme, since I'm getting married in a couple months.

Ohio State (Neutral)

Something Old: Jared Sullinger and William Buford are gone. Sullinger's impact will be felt on both ends of the floor, as he was one of the best attackers in the low post and a legitimate defensive presence, while Buford takes a ton of experience (averaged at least 29 mpg for 4 years) and scoring (averaged double-digits for 4 years).

Something New: First, Ohio State's tempo was significantly kicked up last year. Matta's teams averaged 65.4 possessions in his first 7 seasons, then turned on the afterburners last year averaging 68.2 possessions. They did this by shooting fewer threes and lengthening the bench. With four stud sophomores replacing Sullinger and Buford, most notably the quick and lanky Amir Williams at center, the Buckeyes will likely play even faster next year.

Something Borrowed: The Buckeyes will be one of the favorites in the Big Ten. Why? In ranking Ohio State #4 in the country, The Sporting News notes "Deshaun Thomas... [is] ready to pick up the two dozen shots per game they left behind, and he’ll make excellent use of them. Thomas has the skills to comfortably average 20-plus points per game."

Something Blue (and Gold): This should be an incredibly interesting match-up with Marquette. Both teams feature solid PGs in Cadougan and Craft, long, athletic forwards in Jamil Wilson and Thomas, and defensive stud centers that are offensively challenged in Otule and Williams. The X-factor for Marquette in this game will almost certainly be Davante Gardner. He's the best low-post scorer in this game, and during lulls in pace, his points and fouls drawn could be the difference. No matter what, this will be a good game for Marquette's strength of schedule and RPI, as Ohio State is a legitimate top-ten team and national title contender.

Colgate (Home)

Something Old: Apparently scoring the basketball. Colgate didn't have a single player score in double-digits last year, and only return two of their top six scorers.

Something New: The Raiders welcome a host of new faces, including Spaniard Alex Ramon, Alaskan JUCO Damon Sherman-Newsome, and former John Groce commit Ethan Jacobs.

Something Borrowed: Second-year head coach Matt Langel is a tenacious recruiter. As a Temple assistant, he traveled to Argentina to recruit Juan Fernandez, but upon arriving, learned that Fernandez was on the other side of the country and with no available flights. "It was Hertz rental all the way," he said. "Me in a compact with a stick shift driving along this bumpy two-lane road in Argentina for almost 10 hours." It's a recruiting story even Buzz Williams could be proud of.

Something Blue (and Gold): Langel is just beginning a huge rebuilding process. The Raiders will be a RPI drain, but also an easy win.

Southeastern Louisiana (Home)

Something Old:  One thing value-add missed is the return of Brandon Fortenberry. The star guard was averaging 17.6 ppg when he went down last year and is a leading Southland Conference Player of the Year candidate after being granted a fifth year.

Something New: JUCO transfer Dre Evans was once a Providence commit. He should combine with Fortenberry and Daron Populist to vastly improve the Lions' back court.

Something Borrowed: The Lions return 10 players and should be a threat to win the Southland, which is why Fortenberry, despite graduating, stayed for his fifth year. "'You always want to be the best you can be, but my thing at the end of the day is I just want to win a championship,' Fortenberry said."

Something Blue (and Gold): Marquette saw how dangerous low-major teams like Norfolk State can be last year, and the Lions are similar. They have the talismanic leader, experienced players alongside, and a coach looking for a breakthrough. But just like NSU lost heavily at the Bradley Center, the Lions won't likely put up much of a road challenge. Their wins will mostly come in conference play.

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