"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, November 29, 2018

Is up down and right left? Is #MUBB a defensive team that struggles on offense?

We've gotten more clarity in the last week about what Marquette is this season both in the micro and macro sense. We first revisit the Kansas game, a tale of two halves and discuss what it means within the context of the Wojo era. That discussion leads to a conversation around how real the idea is that MU is now defensively competent and a problem on offense. And more importantly, what does it take to "heal" the offense. We spend some time talking Louisville results as well and what that tell us about the maturity of the team. We then turn attention to the upcoming game against Kansas State, a top 15 program, coming to the Fiserv Forum on Saturday. They are a strong defensive team who's looked good but against less than stellar competition whereas MU has looked questionable at times but against quality competition. We close out the pod with Joe being completely unaware that Katie Holmes has a Marquette connection and a quick debate of famous not athlete MU fans/alum. As always, enjoy! https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/6cucdy/ScrambledEggs_editted_112818.mp3

Saturday, November 24, 2018

4 to 5 years to judge a college coach....sticking to the timeline

Several years ago, I made the statement that one needs 4 to 5 years to FULLY judge a coach at the college level.  That provided humor and fodder for some, but I'm sticking to the statement. What's so magical about 4 to 5 years?  Coaches have done rebuilds in faster time.  

My rationale on the timing is simple.  Time is a great tool to judge, usually the longer the duration the better until you reach a point of diminishing returns.  We can use marriages, personal relationships, careers, or host of other life experiences to prove out the point.  The longer one must judge a body of work, usually they will either prove themselves or not.  At some point, you know.

For college coaches you must give him or her a reasonable chance to succeed and fail.  Four to five years means several recruiting classes of the coach cycle through all four years. Therefore, most coaching contracts start out 4 to 5 years in duration.  That time horizon also eliminates the cupboard is full or bare situation from the previous coach.  It avoids the Charlie Weiss / Kevin Olie phenomenon, while also giving credit to schools like Loyola who stuck it out for the likes of Porter Moser.  You see, Moser had a losing record in each of his first three years at Loyola, even taking a step backward in year three.  It wasn't until year four that the Ramblers broke through.  Yes, Moser had success two jobs ago, but lacked that formula in his second job.  It happens, sometimes that school isn't right, and you move on.  Charlie Weis went 9-3 and 10-3 his first two years at Notre Dame, for which he was rewarded with a monster contract.  The Fighting Irish didn't wait the 4 to 5 years to judge and made a huge mistake as Weis floundered to at 16-21 record his final three years.  There is an endless list of examples on both ends of the spectrum, including some of these names that started out slow and then lit the world on fire: Frank Beamer, Coach K at Duke, Tom Landry at the Cowboys, and so many others.  

Which brings us to Marquette and year five of Wojo's tenure.  Expectations have risen, fans are ready for the breakthrough season, some are starting to reach for the knives while others hold on to waning patience.  

Time to panic or are we right on schedule?  

For starters, where are we?  Marquette is 4-2 and ranked 36th in Ken Pomeroy ratings, 26th in Sagarin, and 24th in Warren Nolan ELO rankings.  Those are decent ratings and highest in the Wojo era if they stay that way.  Our losses are to soon-to-be #1 ranked Kansas and on the road at soon-to-be ranked Indiana.  One could argue that probably all but 10 teams in the country were going 4-2 with the early schedule MU has played. Proof coming from Tennessee and Michigan State losses to KU and Assembly Hall's ability to devour high ranked opponents for decades.  It's not that we lost, "it's how we lost and how we looked" is the popular refrain from some fans.  Did we look bad, or did two good teams make us look bad?  A few fans point to Presbyterian College game as further proof.  Or the views that despite being 4-2, we don't look very good.  Are they wrong?  Is it panic time, or are we right on schedule?

Another popular theme....in year five, we shouldn't be making the mistakes we are making.  Perhaps they are on to something...perhaps.  This is not the same team as last year.  We lost our top scorer and assist leader in Andrew Rowsey.  We lost his senior leadership, too.  This year we have one senior, a work his-ass-off heady Matt Heldt who will do most of his leadership in practice with limited minutes on the court.  We are lucky to have Mr. Heldt.   Rowsey's departure and Heldt's reduced role has meant integrating newcomers Joe Chartouny, Ed Morrow, Joey Hauser and Brendan Bailey quickly.  Through the first six games, those four new players are involved significantly:

  • 35% of the minutes played
  • scoring 28% of the points scored
  • grabbing 31% of the rebounds
  • dishing out 41% of the assists

Not immaterial by any stretch, but they need to do more, and they need to get up to speed quickly for MU to have success this season.  Morrow and Chartouny were expected to deliver immediately, thus far it has been spotty and inconsistent.

The defense has improved, and the offense has slumped.  Will the trade-off offset each other enough to bring meaningful success?  

Did Wojo bite off more than he should have with the schedule?  Marquette has three ranked teams coming up in the next 14 days, all of them at the Fiserv Forum.  Plenty of coaches would have chosen an easier schedule to rack up a few more wins to start the season.  We are going to know a lot more about this club come December 8th, and more still come January 8th.  Tip of the hat to the program for scheduling up because they didn't have to.

It is still awfully early to panic, but I'm sticking to my 4 to 5 years judge.  Wojo needs to get the team to gel, make them tougher, more fluid, less selfish at times and highly competitive. The return of Elliott may help, or it may add another player into a rotation that needs to find consistency.  Here's hoping Wojo and the team can get it figured out.  This is a talented team at many positions, my worry is they may not be talented enough at the most important position in college basketball....the point guard spot.   If MU fails to meet expectations, it may be time to think differently. My heart says this team will figure it out and will rise to the occasion.  My head is still wavering.....important two weeks coming up.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Oh boy, looks like we might have to put the pessimistic hats back on

Well, the tone for this week's podcast is going to be considerably darker than last weeks when we were all seashells and balloons. The Indiana game was one of the more frustrating of the Wojo era and we have a therapy session about it. We talk about what went wrong, is it more of the same or a blip, and whether 13 minutes at the end of Presbyterian gives us a sign of hope or simply the light at the end of the tunnel which turns out to be a train coming at us. We then pivot to the match up with Kansas and try to imagine scenarios where MU doesn't get boatraced and how critical the Tennessee/Louisville match-up is to saving the non-conference season (yep, we're there already). We close out with the Big East having a no good, very bad non-conference season to date and why it's critical for the Big East to get its stuff together. We promise this is a fun version of wallowing in self-pity :) Enjoy! *Apologizes for the 30 seconds of bad audio at the 1:30 mark, wasn't there live and there was no way to fix it.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Warm-ups are over, It's Indiana, It's Indiana

#mubb looked good but not great in the opening two games of the season so we're here to break it down. The defense is better, fact or fiction, is up for debate in the first half of the podcast. We close out the podcast with an analysis of the early season ranked match up and whether MU has a shot at the W. Quick podcast for this week, just getting into our regular season grove. Enjoy! https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/u9bwha/ScrambledEggs_editted_111218.mp3