"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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

MU Sets Record for NBA Players for 3rd Straight Year; 5 of them play in Playoffs

Two years after FIVE Marquette players played in the NBA in the same season, Marquette had FIVE players play in the NBA PLAYOFFS in one weekend including three starters and Jae Crowder, who had a +16 in just 12 minutes to help the Mavs almost upset the Spurs.

Marquette set a record for players in the NBA for the third straight year. For all the glory days of the past, the fact is Marquette never had more than three players in the NBA until Chris Crawford joined Tony Smith, Amal McCaskill and Jim McIlvaine to make it four in 1998, and then never topped that figure until FIVE played in the NBA. Then it was SIX in 2013 and EIGHT this season:

MU in NBAYears
41998-2001, 2010-2011
31971-1975, 1980, 1984-87, 1992, 1995-1997, 2004, 2007-2009

In 2012, Jimmy Butler joined Dwyane Wade, Steve Novak, Wesley Matthews and Lazar Hayward to make it five for the first time in Marquette history.

In 2013, those five were all still there and one of the greatest duos in Marquette history, Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder, set a new record with SEVEN Marquette players seeing action. DJO just had a few minutes on the court, but Crowder made the Mavs rotation.

This year Vander Blue joined DJO in getting a few minutes on the court and Dwight Buycks pocketed a nice $700,000 contract and got some real court time with Toronto (including 22 minutes in the season finale Wednesday) to set a new record with EIGHT Marquette players seeing action.

Buycks has the best chance of those three to play against next year. On the flip side, Marquette has three playoff STARTERS on the court this weekend in Dwyane Wade (Miami), Jimmy Butler (Chicago) and Wesley Matthews (Portland).

Steve Novak played only briefly Saturday for the Raptors but hopefully can continue to find a team that needs a tall three-point shooter for situations.

And that leaves Jae Crowder, who went from not being in the Top 100 prospects prior to his senior season, to finishing as the 2nd ranked player behind Anthony Davis at www.valueaddbasketball.com, to the Mavs rotation. In 12 minutes Sunday, Crowder was a +16 - meaning the Mavs won by 16 points while he was on the court, as he made the most of his quarter of play by hitting both three-point attempts and grabbing four rebounds, a steal and blocking a shot.

The +16 is not everything - 2nd team players mainly face other 2nd team players - but Crowder seems to be establishing himself as a player who could be around for a while.

Eight could be the peak, as it is unlikely all eight will play again in 2015 and the next two Marquette players listed in the Top 100 prospects in their class are freshman JuJuan Johnson (53rd) and Deonte Burton (67th). However, Crowder's line makes it look like MU has four solid players until whenever Wade retires and we can hope for the other four to find a steady spot.

Jae Crowder, SF16122 of 32 of 20 of 0134011036

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wojo signs with CAA Sports. Jimmy Sexton will represent, one of the most powerful figures in college sports

New Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski has signed with CAA Sports for representation.  Jimmy Sexton will be the lead agent for his affairs.

Sexton currently represents John Calipari, Erik Spoelstra, and Mike Anderson on the basketball side.  He is known more for his representation of college football coaches, including Alabama's Nick Saban, Auburn's Gus Malzahn, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, UCLA's Jim Mora among others. 

Sexton is considered one of the most powerful people in college sports as he represents some of the most sought out candidates in college football.  When college coaching football rumors are swirling, one of Sexton's guys is often mentioned as a candidate on the move.  He has been called "the SEC's true power broker."  Some cynics have argued that Sexton helps to seed those rumors to get better pay day for his clients.  At times, Sexton will represent multiple coaches for the same job opportunity which he leverages to the hilt.  Others, including many Athletic Directors, have generally high praise for Sexton's down home charm and personal relationship building, even if he just extracted a few million extra dollars from them.

Sexton has stated, "I always felt like the best negotiations are where you get what you want, but no one hates you for it."  Both sides feel good about the outcome.  His clients trust him and those he negotiates with (at least some) don't view him in an adversarial manner.  At the age of 20, Sexton convinced Reggie White to sign with him as his agent.

For Wojo to go from no representation at Duke to powerhouse agent like Sexton is interesting.  If one were to look at Sexton's client list of players and coaches in the NFL, NCAA football, NBA, etc, MU would likely rank near the bottom.  What does that mean for the future?  Well, not surprisingly if Wojo is successful, MU will be paying a lot of money to keep him around and I suspect more than a few rumors of his name being mentioned for other jobs.  It's how the coaching carousel game will be played.

First things first, he has to do well with MU or it doesn't particularly matter.

List of some of Sexton's clients

Nick Saban
John Calipari
Jim Mora
Erik Spoelstra
Ndamukong Suh
Tim Tebow
Bill Parcels
Will Muschamp
Mike Gundy
Steve Spurrier
Gus Malzahn
Frank Beamer
Rich Rodriquez
Bobby Petrino
Butch Davis
Phillip Rivers
Jason Witten

Chris Samuels
Aaron Glenn

Jason Sehorn
Michael Oher

DeAngelo Williams
Patrick Ramsey
Jerome Woods

Scottie Pippen
Horace Grant
Mike Anderson
Quinn Snyder
Rex Ryan
Don Capers
Jim Haslett
Lane Kiffin

Saturday, April 05, 2014

2003 Value Add Rankings Released as Final Four tips off

For the first time I am releasing Value Add Rankings for the 2003 season due to Ken Pomeroy (please subscribe at www.kenpom.com!) calculating tempo free stats for three additional years (2003-2005). As the Final Four tips off this let me run the program on all players from 2003 to 2014 to finally see just how good Dwyane Wade ranked during the last MU Final Four run.

Below for the first time are the top 25 Value Add players of 2003 and all of the MU players who added value in the Final Four season.

Of the almost 50,000 player seasons during the 12 seasons now going into www.valueaddbasketball.com, Wade's 2003 campaign ranks as the 7th most valuable performance. He did it in a very special year - of the 30 best seasons during that span SEVEN occurred during the 2003 campaign - more than double any other season. Chris Bosh had the 25th best season, Carmelo Anthony surged even more than the Kentucky freshman have this year to get up to seventh.

Unfortunately two Kansas players I would like to forget made it into the top 20, but going a little further down the list we see Travis Diener already at 39th (remember that is close to the top 1% of all players), Robert Jackson almost gave MU the rare trio of Top 100 players, and Scott Merritt gave us an even more rare four top 200 players.

Steve Novak was already in the top 10% of players, and he and Diener would take it to new heights.

The fact that Novak and Diener joined Wade with NBA careers is a truly rare feat, as many great players cannot get to the next level. The two players ahead of Wade in helping their team slightly more than Wade over the course of the season barely played in the NBA. Troy Bell was a dominant Consensus All-American among the top few players in scoring and assists, and Mike Sweetney dominated inside at Georgetown, but it was Dave West of Xavier who finished just behind Wade and is now more of a factor in whether or not Wade takes another NBA title.

I know it has been a down year - so getting an unexpected chance to look back at 2003 and what an incredible year and team it was was quite a treat for me as the Final Four tips off.

2003 RnkFnameLnameCollegeOffenseOvr Value Add
1TroyBellBoston College9.2612.17
5JameerNelsonSaint Joseph's5.110.48
6JoshHowardWake Forest6.1710.19
10MarquesGreenSt. Bonaventure5.728.92
12BrettBlizzardUNC Wilmington5.688.77
18ChrisKamanCentral Michigan4.117.57
20MarcusHattenSt. John's3.147.44
23CraigSmithBoston College5.947.4
25ChrisBoshGeorgia Tech4.57.27

Thursday, April 03, 2014

The Wojo era begins

To borrow from a favorite cartoon show of ours....yeah, MU fans, that month sure sucked last month. March just plain sucked. I've seen months suck before but March was the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked. So we quickly pivot from that to the dawning Wojo era. Side note, I can't spell words let alone Wojciechowski, so Wojo will be the nom de guerre for Scrambled Eggs. Anyway, we talk Wojo, what we think his impact on MU will be and what are our expectations. We walk through some of the reasons to like the hire despite Phil's and some fan's initial reluctance. We also talk about the current players, if they stay, and some very interesting quotes that came out. Lastly we talk incoming recruits and the new university president. So we welcome our new basketball overlord in Coach Wojo and wish him the best of luck! Download this episode (right click and save)

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The Forgotten Assistant? Let's Talk Wojo

When I wrote about current assistant coaches as candidates for Marquette, I didn't include Steve Wojciechowski for a reason. After playing at Duke for 4 years, Wojo played one year professionally in Poland before returning to Durham, where he has spent 15 years on the bench, the last 6 as Coach K's associate head coach. While other Duke assistants have moved on, Wojo has seemingly been groomed to simply move up a chair when Coach K steps down.

After today's announcement that Steve Wojciechowski would take over as the 17th Head Coach of the Marquette Men's Basketball team, I decided I should correct the error of leaving him off the list. I felt when I wrote that he was arguably the best assistant in the country, but unattainable. Clearly, the latter part of that wasn't the case. So here goes:

Offense Average: 6
Defense Average: 62
Top-25 Classes: 9/12
NCAA Wins: 34
Final Fours: 3

Steve Wojciechowski: The former McDonald's All-American played for 4 years under Coach K and after one year in Poland, returned to the Duke bench as an assistant. He has been there since he was 22 years old and in his 15 years has seen the Blue Devils cut down the nets at the Final Four twice. Despite playing point guard for Duke, Wojo was their big man coach for years, helping instruct the likes of Shane Battier, Elton Brand, Carlos Boozer, and numerous other NBA players. The past 3 years Wojo transitioned to instructing the guards, so he has experience instructing at all positions, with guys like Austin Rivers, Quinn Cook, and Rodney Hood benefiting from his tutelage. Wojo also has 2 Gold Medals as an assistant to Coach K on the USA Olympic teams. He's a proven recruiter and likely already has a relationship with some of Marquette's higher profile targets like Diamond Stone and Ahmed Hill. While many will say Duke recruits itself, no school competing for recruits against Kentucky, North Carolina, and Kansas could really say the job is easy.

One more note on Marquette's new head coach. I've already heard some grumbling that he will be another guy looking to move on as soon as possible and will simply angle to get the Duke job when Coach K retires in a few years. While that's entirely possible, if Duke did pluck Wojo back from Marquette, it would undoubtedly be a sign that he had a lot of success in his time here. In addition, he will be competing with guys like Johnny Dawkins, Mike Brey, Tommy Amaker, and Chris Collins, all also former Duke assistants that would likely return to Durham if give the chance, so Wojo is hardly a shoo-in for that role, especially considering other high-profile coaches like Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart could try to get the gig as well. Finally, Wojo has shown a ton of loyalty by staying at Coach K's side as long as he has. It seems that he knows a good thing when he has it. If Marquette treats him well and he returns the favor with a successful program, he could be here for a long time.