"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

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Case for Starting Stevie Mitchell

DJ Carton's unexpected pro departure and Symir Torrence's decision to stick with transferring has left Marquette with a big void at point guard.

Granted, Marquette only returns three scholarship players to wear a Golden Eagles uniform so this is just one of many voids. 

Marquette Head Coach Shaka Smart has done a lot of work to fill the roster with as much talent as he can. In the pick-and-roll offense that Smart likes to run, the point guard is one of the most important positions on the court. 

Shaka can go the veteran route for a starter with super-senior transfer Daryl Morsell or the returning Greg Elliott, who did some point guard duty his freshman season. Smart compared sophomore transfer Tyler Kolek to the legendary Travis Diener.

The issue with those options are Morsell has been more of a combo guard and less of a facilitator with a career 2.2 assists per game and 15.7% assist percentage. Kolek only averaged 2.3 assists a game at George Mason last season and a 14.2% assist percentage. Elliott really was asked to run the point in limited minutes as a freshman back in the 2017-2018 season. The other option is giving freshman Stevie Mitchell the ball right out of the gate. 

It is sort of like the old football question with a young quarterback, do you give the rookie the ball right away or do you have him sit or limit the minute and be groomed into the position?

                    Photo Courtesy of Marquette Athletics

First, Mitchell is no ordinary freshman. He does come in with accolades as he was Pennsylvania's Gatorade Player of the Year and 2,600 career points at the high school level. He does project to being capable of handling the point. The 247sports.com scouting report states..

Stevie Mitchell is a skilled point guard prospect. He has a polished handle with advanced footwork, doing a good job of utilizing jabs and change of direction to get where he wants on the floor. He has a score-first mindset and doing so from all three levels but is also a willing and talented passer with vision who can facilitate with both hands. Areas to improve are his athleticism and speeding up his release on his jumper.

Three-Man-Weave.com described Mitchell’s game as…

Mitchell is more of a pass-first pure point, showing an impressive mid-range game and decent vision while lacking crazy athleticism; he likely will have the typical turnover and consistency issues that come with freshman point guards.

He also does not lack for confidence. He is already talking of scoring a thousand points or more at Marquette.

One thing is clear, Shaka, like every college basketball coach, loves to use his guards as the example you can see below show his guards where in Shaka’s Texas top-5 players usage rate of those who on were on the court for ten or more games last season.

Is it wise to hand out starter’s minutes to a freshman point guard in pick-and-roll, heavy guard usage offense? Just in general, is it a good idea to use a freshman over the veteran options? 

Shaka’s VCU Final Four run benefited from starting point guard Joey Rodriguez getting good minutes his freshman year. Shaka though was not involved in that decision as Rodriguez’ VCU freshman year came while Shaka was an assistant at Clemson. 

Using a program historical perspective, one thing I always remember former Marquette Head Coach Buzz Williams saying about Dominic James was what made him a great point guard was not just his athletic ability but that he got the ball from day one. He was allowed to make his mistakes (He had a great freshman year) and really learned the role (He went from a scoring point guard to an all-around point guard by his senior year). 

Then again, Cordell Henry was given a heavy load from day one and had 74 turnovers his freshman campaign. There were times he made decisions that left your head scratching up until his early junior season.

Junior Cadougan was given the point guard duties on day one sort of (An injury practically wiped out his freshman year so he started his sophomore year) and only had 58 turnovers and 115 assists. He was also not the greatest athlete. 

Tony Miller was never known as a superior athletic point guard but he dished out 221 assists to just 93 turnovers his first year. 

The program historical perspective shows some of the better point guards Marquette has had over the past 30 years was given the starting nod early on in their career, they had their hiccups but ended up having really good careers in the long run. More importantly, leading their teams to March success (Well, in Henry’s case, getting to the Tournament after a couple years of missing out is still success in my book).

In the long run, it might beneficial to have Stevie Mitchell in the starting role right from the get go knowing you can back him up with Elliot, Kolek and Morsell. Also Shaka can call on switchables in Kam Jones and Emarion Ellis. 

This season projects as a rebuilding year. It will be great if Marquette can somehow get into the NCAA Tournament and exceed the ninth to tenth place Big East prediction finishes. If that does happens, the main goal of the season is to build towards a brighter future under Smart. It can start with giving the starting point guard role to Mitchell in the first game.


 



Tuesday, October 05, 2021

How This Season Will Go...Generally Speaking

The Marquette Men's Basketball Team 2021-22 regular season tips off is nearly a month. It represents not only a new season but the beginning of a new era as Shaka Smart takes over as head coach.

                                        Photo Courtesy of Marquette Athletics

There are going to be plenty of new faces on the court to go along with the new coaching staff. Justin Lewis, Greg Elliott and Oso Ighodaro are the only returning scholarship players from last season’s squad.

Smart wasted no time filling up his first roster with a mix of super seniors (It sounds better than graduate transfer with an extra year of eligibility due to a COVID-19 exception), traditional transfers and freshman.

Marquette’s super seniors are 2020-21 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Darryl Morsell who spent four years at Maryland and former Oklahoma rim protector Kur Kuath. 

The 2020-21 Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Year, Tyler Kolek transferred in after a year at George Mason and Oliver-Maxence Prosper brings his game and sweet nickname, O-Max, to MU after a year at Clemson.

Then there is Shaka’s first recruiting class rounding out the rest of the roster. He convinced originally committed to Wojo recruits Stevie Mitchell and Kam Jones to stick with their promise to join the team. Both won Mr. Basketball in their respective states (Jones was the Division II winner in Tennessee and Mitchell in Pennsylvania along with winning the Keystone State’s Gatorade Player of the Year). 

Smart then convinced Emarion Ellis, David Joplin and Keeyan Itejere to follow him to Marquette after all of them originally agreed to play for Smart at Texas. It equaled a recruiting class good enough for a 19th national ranking according 247sports.com and Sports Illustrated and Rivals.com ranked the class 20th.

This roster has talent, length and athleticism. It has players who can defend at a high level. All the traits you would see in a Shaka Smart team.

                                      Photo Courtesy of Marquette Athletics

It is also a roster that has a super majority of its players who have not played a single game together, has only two players who played significant minutes at Marquette (Oso played in just five games) and only one player who averaged double-digit points in a Division I college season (Kolek’s 10.8 last season).

Oh, then there is the always brutal Big East schedule to navigate and non-conference match ups with UCLA, Illinois and a possible West Virginia game if MU beats Ole Miss in the Charleston Classic opening round. There is also road games against Wisconsin and Kansas State. It is not the easiest schedule to incorporate all these new pieces.

With all that inexperience and the schedule, a rebuilding year is to be expected. A great season preview from the three-man-weave.com projects a ninth place Big East finish. The Big East Blog thinks the Golden Eagles will finish 10th. Marquette is currently getting long shot odds to win the Big East. Just for fun, Oddshark.com has Marquette currently at +7000 to win the National Title with both Draft Kings and BetMGM giving +15000

Although, it is not all doom and gloom as Painttouches.com's Andrei Greska gives a slightly better outlook on the Doug Russell Podcast

It is definitely shaping up to be a probable long rebuilding season on paper. Luckily, games are not played on paper. 

How might this season play out? Well, if I can forecast that my 401k would be doing much better and I would be hitting jackpot on every scratch off I buy. There is a couple general scenarios I could see panning out in Shaka’s first year.

Exceed Expectations and Makes the NCAA Tournament

How this happens? Well, some main things have to happen...

  • The roster chemistry develops quickly.
  • The Golden Eagles pull off a couple surprise upsets in non-conference. 
  • Lewis fulfills his NBA talent potential and provides a special player performance every game. As I like to call it, he has a winning impact improvement on the team (Think Lazar Hayward elevating his game even more his senior year or Vander Blue's final season)
  • Elliott stays healthy and follows in the steps of JaJuan Johnson and Sacar Anim by having a great senior season.
  • Morsell and Kuath lead a suffocating defensive effort every game. 
  • Kolek plays like his Travis Diener comp. 
  • Oso and O-Max provide good bench minutes.
  • Finally a couple of the freshman make a Dominic James and Jerel McNeal like winning impact in their contributions. 

The talent is there is to make a surprise NCAA Tournament appearance. Defense should not be a problem for this team. The offensive scheme is also there. Shaka loves pick and roll, but unlike Wojo who loved high pick and roll (and one guy dominating the offense), Smart prefers to run it from various spots on the court. As Painttouches.com points out, that can lead to less likely chances of the opposing defense shutting down the offense (Like what we saw in the Wojo era). Executing the pick and roll, along with good chemistry and the talent optimizes itself to get easy buckets or clean looks at the three could provide a dependable offense to compliment the defense.

Although if they do make the NCAA's, you are probably looking at First Four or nine to 11 seed Dance invite. There will be games where the inexperience shows. There will be some growing pains as Shaka installs his brand of play. There is playing Villanova, UConn, Xavier and Seton Hall twice on the schedule. If everything shakes positively as described above, MU can still get some wins over the middle tier of the conference for say a 5th or 6th place finish. That might just be enough to get a March invite.

Make the Not In Tournament

How this happens? Well, this kind of stuff happens...

  • The roster takes a lot longer to gel and inexperience shows in resume building games. 
  • Lewis improves but not to the special player status. 
  • Elliott has some injuries again he has to battle limiting his effectiveness.
  • Morsell has the "transfer delay impact" aka, defers too much as he tries to feel out his new program and takes a lot longer to be the player Marquette needs him to be.
  • Kolek maintains his A-10 stats.
  • Most of the freshman play like freshman.

Another way to think of it is this season goes like the Henry Ellenson season without crippling losses to DePaul thus getting a NIT invite.

The Projections Fulfilled

How this happens? Well, probably these things happen...

  • The roster never really gels as Shaka struggles to find consistent rotations.
  • A couple of the freshman transfer out during the season over lack of playing time.
  • Lewis improves but to a nine to 10 points per game player and also misses some time like he did last season.
  • A major injury or two.
  • Kolek is unable to step up in class and struggles in the Big East.
  • Kolek and Mitchell turn the ball over a ton running the point.
  • All the freshman play like freshman.

Well, you get the picture. It turns out to be what we think-too much inexperience that is not ready to compete at a winning pace both in non-conference and the Big East.

The team plays good defense but has assignment and communication issues since none of them have played together which leads to some heartbreaking losses. The offense goes into lulls and has turnover issues as it struggles to run pick and roll. The youth leads to some blowouts from the Villanovas of the world and bad losses to (gulp) the DePauls of the world. We possibly get a repeat of last season or Wojo's first season (Hopefully we do not have to relive eight-strong). Best case in this section is somehow still squeaking out a 16-15 overall record (Because the most minimal expectation at Marquette is never have a below .500 record) heading into the Big East Tournament and then pulling off a Georgetown like run to win the Big East Tournament and go dancing. 

Okay, okay, too much. It just would be nice to see Marquette exceed expectations and not met them this season.




Sunday, September 05, 2021

Walk-On Greats

Marquette is looking for a walk-on to join the 2021-2022 men's roster.

Being a walk-on is more than just waving a towel at the end of the bench and celebrating every made basket.

 

As the first walk-on to ever earn four varsity letters Rob Frozena pointed out, you may not be a Division I talent but you are expected to play and practice like a Division I player

While you get a jersey, a great seat to every game, be the hero of the student section and the victory cigar symbol when you enter the game (or the white flag), a lot goes into a being a walk-on. Oh, you are still paying tuition (unless you are at BYU), so in essence you are paying to be on the team and all the work and time commitment that comes with it.

Why would anyone in their right 18-22 year old mind willingly volunteer for such a role? 

That is why I always respect the walk-on. The Rudy's of the world as I like to call them. 

Their career stats will always have a zero point in front of them. The games played is usually in the single digits and averaged minutes is usually one. The walk-on who enters a game gets to say something not everyone can say and that is playing in a Division I game.

Some of my greatest walk-ons hits at Marquette would have to start with Frozena and it is not just because he was the first to make it all four years. It was also because he understood the role of the walk-on so well: Work hard, ignore the screams to shoot a 30-footer and have fun. He never took himself seriously and focused on how he could help the team that day get better. Also, he willingly took years of Buzz Williams hollering at him and came back for more.

 

Another favorite I have to go with is Cam Mariota. He is the second player to make it all four years as a walk-on in program history. His dad Marc had a pretty good career back in the 1980's as a scholarship player. Sadly, his father never got to see Cam in a Marquette uniform due to Marc’s untimely passing away. Cam could have played football at the FCS level but Cam wanted to wear a Marquette hoops jersey. He did just that with class.

Another good one was Craig Kuphall only because Head Coach at the time Tom Crean gave one of the best quotes when he rationalized benching Jerel McNeal in favor of Kuphall to start the second half against Savannah State on December 30, 2006. Marquette was playing sluggish in the first half but Crean was not trying to send a message to his team. He just liked the look in Kuphall's eyes coming out of the locker room. No message to send I guess except Kuphall had great eyes. Although Marquette then went onto to destroy Savannah State and Kuphall did not play much again.

My final personal favorite is Tony Gries (Full disclosure I did indirectly sublet his Renee Row room from him the summer after I graduated in 2004). He joined the 2003 Final Four team early that season but what stood out was he could actually ball. I remember there was talk about how much he challenged Dwyane Wade in practice. Gries even earned a chance to get some regular playing in the 2003-04 season when no one could really pin down being Travis Diener's backup. Crean gave him a shot against Canisius and Gries handled his own in a narrow victory. It was enough to earn another some playing time but the next game was against Wisconsin. Gries checked in and immediately had quick turnover which in turn led to Gries returning to the end of the bench for the rest of the season.

Hey, it is the end of the bench where a lot of the hardest working players on the team sit. They do not get any glory but glory is not what a walk-on is after.

Monday, August 02, 2021

A pod episode that wonders around more than David Carradine

Welcome to the offseason #mubb, buckle up for an adventure! This podcast is a meandering roll through topics both direct to MU basketball and indirect. Topics include: -The Basketball Tournament -MU roster -MU schedule -Jae Crowder -Milwaukee Bucks -NBA -NIL -Transfer rules -Too many other things to name Enjoy! https://mcdn.podbean.com/mf/web/6xp746/ScrambledEggs_Editted_080121.mp3

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Marquette Deputy Athletic Director Mike Broeker Interview

I got the chance to catch up Marquette Deputy Athletic Director Mike Broeker to discuss the recently released non-conference schedule. 

The man has turned scheduling into an art and science. 

In our interview, we also discussed how working with new Marquette Head Coach Shaka Smart on the schedule went and how Smart differs from the three other head coaches Mike has worked with. In addition, we talk about former player Brian Barone coming back as head coach of SIU-Edwardsville and Barone's hope for a statue of his corner three to beat Cincy (It was all in good fun). 

We did discuss the chance of the Delta variant causing potential schedule issues this season.

We talked about Marquette using the Deer District space before games for possible pregame events (Not on the Bucks scale but it is on their radar to do some stuff). We did talk about the potential conference realignment towards the end and is there chance Marquette will play old rivals like Louisville or Cincy again?

We did wrap it up with while it is hard to see the likes of Theo John, Dawson Garcia, Jamal Cain and Koby McEwen go elsewhere, it is nice to see them land at some good spots (Mike is guy who appreciates any athlete in any sport who has walked through Marquette so it is good to have a guy like him be part of Marquette Athletics).

Monday, July 26, 2021

The All-Time Marquette 15 Man Roster

The Big East blog a little while ago put together a Marquette Fab Five lineup.

One name immediately missing is Bo Ellis. The only man in Marquette history to be on two Final Four teams, win a National Championship and design the best uniforms in human history.

                                 Image from the Marquette 2020 Record Book

I think the author did his best considering the main point of his assignment was to come up with five most recognizable names from the program. 

While we are it, if you are talking about name recognition, how does Jimmy Butler or Doc Rivers miss out? Although to be fair, Markus Howard is way higher in the record books than Butler and Rivers and Dean Meminger won the NIT when it mattered.

Anyways, these type of lists are always good to run the in the summer as it strikes up nostalgia and debate. 

Especially, since right now a #MUBB fan has only a few things to discuss: What should be done with the final scholarship, what the starting rotation might look like, Jae Crowder's NBA Finals performance making him persona non grata in Milwaukee and the Golden Eagles Alumni Team playing in the Basketball Tournament.

It got me thinking though who would be on an all-time Marquette men’s basketball roster? If there was 13 scholarships to hand out to any player who has worn a Marquette jersey, who would get it? 

So I put together my list and I added two roster spots for “walk-on’s” (aka honorable mention). 

Full disclosure for some of the Al McGuire era fans, I was not alive during that time.  I had to go off the record books and on tales of greatness recounted from my hardcore, 77 year-old MU alumni father.

                                Image from the Marquette 2020 Record Book 

If a certain player was missed on this list in the McGuire days it was probably because that player was not discussed much when my old man would talk about the glory days. For example, I did not get a lot of Earl Tatum stories growing up as a kid but I was always told how great Ellis or Butch Lee was.

                                    Image from the Marquette 2020 Record Book

One more sidenote, I started really getting into Marquette hoops in 1989. I also covered the program from 2001-2014 for either the student media, Newsradio 620WTMJ in Milwaukee or the Associated Press. So if this list does slant to towards the more current crop of players, please know it is because I watched a lot of these players more.

The Scholarship Players

Bo Ellis: I already pointed out the postseason success as a main reason Bo should be on any all-time list. He is second all-time in rebounds and one of two players ever in program history with over 1000 boards. He finished with 1663 points (11th all-time) and made the third most field goals in program history. He is tied with Tatum with for the most career wins at Marquette with 101. He was an influential player on Marquette’s future Chicago recruiting pipeline, that Doc Rivers wore 31 to honor Ellis. He could protect the rim. All the ingredients needed for the first player to give an all-time spot.

                                                   
 Photo courtesy of the Raynor Library Special Collections and Marquettewire.org

Butch Lee: The most decorated player probably to ever put on a Marquette uniform. A two-time All-American with one of those being a consensus First Team All-American in 1977-78, he is the only Marquette player to win the Naismith and Rupp award. He earned a National Championship ring when he ran the point the for the 1977 Championship team and scored a team-high 19 points in the title game. In addition, he led the ‘77 team in scoring with over 19 a game. Therefore, it is a no-brainer offering Lee an all-time roster scholarship.

                                          Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Dean Meminger: Al McGuire said Meminger was “quicker than an 11:15 mass at a seaside resort.” The program's first consensus First Team All-American, he was the leader of the 1970 NIT Championship team when winning the NIT meant something (Probably could have won the NCAA had Al not gotten upset with seeding and decided to play in the NIT). His senior year he averaged 21.2 point per game on a team with only one loss and finished with a career 1637 points (14th all-time). Imagine what those numbers would have be if he A) been allowed to play as a freshman B) had the three-point line (Go about 53 seconds into this video to see his range and then enjoy the rest of the MU history highlights). That is why he goes on my all-time roster.

                                     Image from the Marquette 2020 Record Book

Doc Rivers: When combing through the record book, Doc may not have had the chops as some of the players listed above and below. He was an AP All-American honorable mention, 33rd all-time in scoring with 1234 points and just one NCAA Tournament win in three seasons. He was still a special player when he stepped onto the MECCA court. He could get to the rim for highlight dunks and also hit big shots (Go about 20 seconds in). I want special players on my roster and also a highlight reel, dynamic player. That is why Doc grabs a spot.

                                               Photo from @MUOverload

Dwyane Wade: Enough has been written and spoken about his legend so I’ll keep it short. A hundred years from now they will still be talking about his Elite Eight performance against Kentucky. He was that special and that is why he will always be on a Marquette all-time anything.

                                              Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Jae Crowder: I know I am picking the former Big East Player of the Year and Second Team All-American over say Sam Worthen. In his two years, Crowder could do it all and that is why he makes my 13. Need rebounds? He was grabbing them. Need points? He could get them around the rim and from beyond the arc (Loved watching him hit that trailing three). He did some winning come March as he led MU to back-to-back Sweet 16’s. An all-time roster needs winners and a versatile players. Something that sums up Crowder.

                                              Photo courtesy of Marquettewire.org

Jerel McNeal: No one ever played better defense at guard than McNeal. If he wanted to steal the ball, he could go over to his man and just take the ball. (He is the program’s all-time leader in steals). Also, I never witnessed a player get better and better offensively in four years than McNeal. He came in as freshman being a slasher and by his senior he developed an all around offensive game that he left (At the time) as the program’s all-time leading scorer. Also, he was the most consistent of the Dominic James (Great freshman year), Wesley Matthews (Great senior year) and McNeal (Really good freshman and sophomore year, great his junior and senior year) trio so that is why I put on this roster. I still wonder who wins in one-on-one between those three (I asked McNeal back in the day during a postgame presser and he said they wouldn’t want none).

                        Photo from Marquette Athletics (obtained through Painttouches.com)

Jim Mcllvaine: I wanted a rim protector on my roster and no one swatted shots better than one of the best players to wear 34 (the other two being Tony Smith and Travis Diener). He holds the program’s all-time record with 399 blocks along with the single game record with 13 rejections. He also won the Iba award in 1994 as the nations best defender. The big man could also get it done on the offensive end being fifth all-time in field goal percentage and scored 1278 career points. Oh, and he was part of a group that helped bring Marquette out of its late 80's, early 90's doldrums by being a key player on the '94 Sweet 16 Team, its first appearance in the Sweet 16 since the 1977 Championship.

                                       Image from the Marquette 2020 Record Book

Jimmy Butler: I remember back in Jimmy's first year on the team a Marquette Tribune reporter kept asking Buzz Williams about Butler's performance after every game. Butler could score six points and we would get a question from this student reporter. I kept thinking to myself why does he keep asking about the sixth man with a limited role? Well, this student reporter knew how good Butler would be once James, Matthews and McNeal graduated. He combined with Lazar Hayward the next season to keep Marquette as a tournament team when it seemed like Marquette was destined for a rebuilding year. The next season along with Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom, he got Marquette back to the Sweet 16 that kicked off a three-year in a row stretch. Jimmy Buckets was truly a jack of all trades. He was an elite defender with his defense being a big reason Marquette got to the 2011 Sweet 16. Outside of Aaron Hutchins and Vander Blue, no one else could come up big in the clutch. He gives the roster defensive flexibility and clutch buckets.

                                              Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Maurice Lucas: Before he was known as Bill Walton's enforcer on the late 1970's Portland Trailblazers, Lucas was one of the top players on the 1974 NCAA Championship runner-up team. He scored 21 points and pulled down 13 boards in that game. His career at Marquette was also really, really, really good in his two seasons by scoring just under 1000 points and pulling down 643 boards. Had he been at Marquette two more seasons, who knows how big those numbers would have been. Some of you might say how could I put him on the all-time roster over Jim Chones? Well, I guess I didn't want to risk the wrath of some of the older alumni still bitter about Chones leaving school during the regular season (With McGuire's blessing) that may have cost a National Championship. Plus, I wanted some toughness on this roster and there was none tougher than Lucas.

                                     Image from the Marquette 2020 Record Book

Markus Howard: No one scored more points in a Marquette uniform than Howard. He is the only player in program history to score 50 points in a game and he did it three times. In addition, he owns sixth other offensive program records and is one of the top 25 NCAA all-time scoring greats. We all know what he accomplished since he only recently left Marquette. In case you were in a coma or living under a rock from 2016-2020, just take a look at some of his impressive scoring feats. He could fill up the box score quickly and that is why he makes the list.

                                           Image from the Marquette 2020 Record Book

Travis Diener: People sometimes forget there might not have been Wade's terrific Sweet 16 game against Pitt or the Elite Eight game for the ages against Kentucky if it was not for Diener. It was not just because Diener was running point most of the time. It was also because in the Round of 64, while Wade was struggling to find his shot against a pesky Holy Cross, Diener went off for 29 to avoid a potential first round upset. He then followed that game up with 26 against Mizzou in that overtime second round win. Diener played so well in his two March Madness appearances that Tom Crean would say it was a shame they could never get him back in his final two seasons in blue and gold. He was the franchise after Wade took his game to the NBA. A prime example being his 29 during his senior year carrying MU to a 63-54 win over. He scored over 1000 points alone while averaging 19.3 points per game in his final two years as he took his game to a whole new level. He could knock down threes with ease and push the tempo. It was a shame his career ended on a broken hand that cut short his senior year. Hey, he is still giving the Marquette faithful great memories in the The Basketball Tournament. Memories is just one of the many reasons Diener lands on this roster.

                                               Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Steve Novak: The best pure shooter in program history. Any all-time great roster is going to need shooting and a floor spacer. When he was hitting from downtown, he could literally win a game on his own like the over 30 he hung on Number Four Louisville during his sophomore year. It was the night when he went for over 40 against UConn in Marquette’s first ever Big East game where he was as Jim Calhoun put it “Simply brilliant.” I remember thinking Marquette was going to get blown out and I had to work at 620WTMJ for most of the game that I would not be missing out if I did not get to th game. As I was driving home, I just kept hearing the radio call of Novak burying three after three that somehow my car was parked in a Bradley Center parking lot and luckily I had my press pass with me that I was able to catch the last 10 minutes. Additionally, Novak may have hit the greatest game winner in program history when he hit that three to beat Notre Dame. 

                                               Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

The Walk-On's (aka Honorable Mention)

Lazar Hayward: The man who played in the most games in program history, scored the third most points, has the fifth most rebounds and 96 wins while wearing blue and gold only makes walk-on status. I know, crazy right? I guess what knocked him down the board when looking at the 13 above is the lack of NCAA Tournament wins and I guess just one All-American honorable mention. I know, I know splitting hairs. Hey, he still makes the team. This team not only gets a great inside, out offensive player but one of the most crafty rebounders ever. He was listed at 6’6” but was more like 6’4" yet he was constantly asked to guard guys twice his size and come down with a rebound. Nine times out of ten he did as Buzz Williams would always say, he only saw one other player rebound like Hayward and that was Dennis Rodman. 

                                                     Photo from Seattletimes.com

Tony Miller: Okay this is the one that may really blow up some folks. I can see some going come on, this guy! Yes, I am very well aware that are a lot of other great players that could make this list especially from the late 80's and the 90's (Like Tony Smith, Trevor Powell, Ron Curry, Roney Eford, Robb Logterman, Anthony Pieper, Chris Crawford, Damon Key and Amal McCaskill). Yes, I am aware that I passed on say Don Kojis, the first major star player in program history or George Thompson who was McGuire's first major great player or Tatum who has his jersey retired and 101 wins as a player. I picked Miller because I actually witnessed his greatness and how underrated he was. While this all-time roster has got some guys who can handle the ball, there was no one better in a Marquette uniform at dishing out assists than Miller. That is why he takes the final spot. He is the program’s all-time leader by a country mile in assists with 956 which is top 10 all-time in NCAA history. His career 7.8 dimes a game ranks is top-20 in the NCAA record books. His 17 assists against Memphis in 1995 is still the school's individual single game record. The five seasons prior to Miller's arrival in 1991, Marquette was 65-78 with no Big Dance appearances and a few NIT showings. When Miller graduated in '95, Marquette made the Tournament twice with its program's first Sweet 16 in 18 years and nearly won the NIT (Mike Deane's first year). Oh, and Marquette went 81-42 in his four years on campus. He was a leader, an unselfish player and most importantly a winner. That is why he grabs my final roster spot.

                                          Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Feel free to Tweet or reply in the comments section with your own list. Also, you will notice I did not put together a starting rotation as that is something that can always be discussed at a later date (Or on Twitter or MUScoop.com when folks either say I agree, I can’t believe he left off so and so, etc.).



Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Name, Image and Likeness Possible Impact on Marquette

The NCAA is getting ready to allow college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness (NIL) starting July 1st.

About. Darn. Time.

The NCAA and its member schools for decades have profited in the range from millions to billions off a labor force paid in tuition, room and board. Also me thinks the NCAA is doing this to avoid any further appearances in front of the Supreme Count. 

Either way, it is time for players to be able to make some money of whatever personal brand they build during their time in school.

Really let's face it, amateurism is now just a matter of is the player actually being paid to play in the game. Disagree? Just at look at the Olympic model (You know the event that outside of basketball, hockey and baseball events celebrates amateurism) and see how much amateurism there is when it comes to landing endorsement deals.

While it is not officially approved by the NCAA, this is coming based on some state passing legislation allowing NIL deals starting July 1st and the NCAA’s recent defeat in the Supreme Court.

Big deals are on the way in the college basketball world especially the big time players.

Talking with a friend who has worked for a major marketing firm in the past said 100% they would use college athletes for campaigns. It makes sense as you can pay that athlete for the social media reach and also a lot less (figuratively speaking) compared to a pro athlete.

Since the framework is loose, it will be a wild world in the beginning. 

How will that affect Marquette? Does the Athletic Department have a plan in place already?

The Marquette Athletic Department when reached for comment advised me it was best to check back later. The main is with so many unknowns and moving parts, they would like some clarification from the NCAA on what the world will look like after July 1st and from there more details will follow on what the plan will be. 

Should we worry then?

Marquette does have a top 40 market in its favor along with a Deputy Athletic Director with an extensive marketing background, and at least when it comes to the men’s hoops program, a head coach with forging relationships as a pillar of the program. In addition, Marquette did roll out an initiative back in August 2020 to start preparing for this change. 

Really, I do not see the landscaping changing that much. The top talent will still seek out the best coach and program it feels to get him or her towards the pros. The only difference is the top players can now make some money in college.

Who this can really benefit is the three of four-year player. You know the player who becomes a star at the program but maybe doesn’t have the chops to go pro early or be in the pros at all. This is where their earning potential is at its highest (Danny Parkins at 670 the Score in Chicago made a great point on this).

Those are going to be typically your lower ranked four and three stars recruits which is in Marquette’s recruiting wheelhouse. Heck, I would be more worried about the transfer portal than what can Marquette offer a player for endorsement deals.

One thing is for sure, July 1st will mark a big change in the college athletics world. Marquette is getting ready once it knows what that world will specifically look like.