"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, December 31, 2005

Marquette suffers huge blow; Matthews breaks foot

Apparently sometime during the last non-conference game, freshman Wes Matthews suffered a stress fracture in his right foot. He was held out of practice on Thursday and test revealed the injury on Friday. He will be out indefinitely.

This is a huge blow to Marquette as Matthews is one of the three key freshmen on this year's team and a starter. Matthews is averaging roughly 10ppg and 5rpg.

While MU's backcourt is one of its deepest in recent memory, the loss of Matthews could be devastating. Crean's squad had developed a solid backcourt rotation, with Matthews emerging as a capable ballhandler in addition to his solid scoring and defense.

Whomever replaces Matthews in the starting lineup -- Chapman or Fitzgerald if Crean sticks with a 3-guard set, or a post player if the lineup goes 'big' -- will not be as athletic or talented as Matthews. The injury could force MU to alter its style of play, particularly on defensive where Matthews and his freshmen mates provide MU with its best on-the-ball pressure in years. Without an aggressive perimeter defense, MU might employ more zone defenses to help prevent direct entry passes into the post.

Entering the conference schedule with an unexpected talent deficit will test MU's mettle in ways nobody anticipated.

Click here for the bad news.

Get well soon, Wesley.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

MU Rips Lewis, Looks To Big East

MU defeated Lewis 88-40 last night in Milwaukee. The game was MU's final tuneup before its inaugural Big East opener against UConn on January 3 at the Bradley Center. Dominic James led MU with 22 points as the Golden Eagles improved to 10-3, and the Lewis Flyers fell to 7-4.

Here's Rosiak's recap of the game.

Here is the MJS Box Score.

Please note that Todd Rosiak will host a chat tonight about MU hoops tonight at the MJS Web site. You can click here to join the chat, which begins at 7pm CST.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Book Review: "Tales from the Marquette Hardwood"

The new book Tales from the Marquette Hardwood takes fans on a journey through the highlights and lowlights of the last 40 years of Marquette basketball. The text is built on chapter-length interviews with many notable figures from the MU basketball program. The book, by MU alum Mike Neufeldt and Milwaukee television personality Tom Pipines, sticks to a simple, nearly stenographic format which allows the personality of its subjects to emerge in ways that third-party interpretation could not.

The format, which eschews analysis, works best when the authors allow for a longer discussion with the subjects, as the conversations with Jim McIlvaine, Tom Crean and Rick Majerus demonstrate. Majerus' chapter is the book's best, as he describes his affection for Marquette -- with the benefit of nearly 20 years of separation from the university. Time and distance work wonders for Majerus, as he shares vivid memories of Coach Al, thoughts on the pressure of coaching at MU, along with his assertion that the Big East was a bad move for MU.

McIlvaine is candid throughout, most notably in discussing overly involved parents as well as Kevin O'Neill's treatment of players recruited by Bob Dukiet. More impressively, McIlvaine tells the world why team managers are such fine folks (you'll have to read the book for those details). Crean reflects on the Final Four run, but also offers personal anecdotes that we'd not yet read or heard. The biggest surprise in the book? The pages dedicated to James Langenkamp, which were witty and revealing.

Given MU's colorful history, it's surely an impossible task to capture the perspectives of every memorable player or coach. The authors delivered more than a dozen chapters, though a few lacked depth, and many notable players were not included. For example, the Hank Raymonds chapter is largely a reflection on Coach Al rather than exploring questions related to his own head coaching tenure. Also, the authors curiously spend a chapter with Bill Raftery rather than Billy Packer, a more natural subject for the book. Perhaps most disappointing are the absence of chapters from either Butch Lee or Bo Ellis.

Despite these nominal shortcomings, this book is a worthwhile romp through the last four decades of MU basketball. At its best -- and there's plenty of that in this volume -- this book will ignite your passions for Marquette basketball.

You can order copies of the book here and here at Amazon.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The More, The Merrier

The quality of the basketball blogosphere took a major boost this month with two new blogs that should factor into any fan's required reading list.

First, welcome to the blogosphere, John Casper. MU fans will remember Casper from his days as a reporter at the Marquette Tribune. John is now toiling as a member of the Fourth Estate up in Oshkosh and started the Wisconsin College Hoops Insider blog recently. Casper is a prolific blogger on all things hoops, so check-in often.

The Big East Basketball Roundup was also launched this month. The site offers thoughtful commentary on the nation's best basketball conference. Earlier this week there was a good discussion of MU's promising future.

Enjoy...and Merry Christmas to everybody.

MU Wins on Festivus Eve

MU outran the Delware State Univerity Hornets last night, running their record to 9-3.

Here's the MJS recap.

Happy Festivus.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Hornets Invade the Bradley Center

MU will be up to its eyes in Hornets on Thursday night as the good guys host Delaware State.

Delaware State buzzes into town with a record of 2-7. The Hornets are coming off of a road loss at the hands of the Bradley Braves over the weekend.

DSU is in the midst of a hellish non-conference schedule that has already included visits to UCLA, Michigan, and Rutgers. The Hornets play only two home games before conference play begins. 6'6" junior Jahsha Bluntt sets the tone for the Hornets, leading the team in minutes, scoring, and rebounding.

MU will look to raise its record to 9-3 heading into the Christmas break.

Here's the GoMarquette preview.

Brotherly Love

Todd Rosiak of the MJS delivers a gem today .... a feature on the relationship between Dominic James and his brother Germayne James, a senior guard at Division III Lakeland College up in Sheboygan.

An excerpt of note:

Raised in a loving but troubled household as youngsters - for a time the brothers lived with their grandparents because their father was absent and their mother was for a time incapable of caring for them - the two quickly latched onto each other, with Germayne in many ways serving as a father figure to Dominic. The two could usually be found on the concrete slab outside their home practicing their dribbling or at the nearby Boys' Club.

Here is the link to the full text. Nice job, Todd.

Monday, December 19, 2005

MU Declaws the Grizzlies

Jerel McNeal owned the first half and Wesley Matthews owned the second half as MU caged the Oakland Golden Grizzlies 90-69 tonight at the Bradley Center. McNeal (18) and Matthews (21) both delivered career highs. Dominic James completed the trifecta with 17 points as MU's freshmen again set the tone for the Golden Eagles.

McNeal poured in 14 first half points as MU built up a 44-32 advantage at the break, highlighted by a 22-15 advantage on the boards. MU stretched the lead to 48-32 early in the second stanza.

The lead did not last as Rutgers transfer Calvin Wooten exploded for Oakland, keying a frantic 17-1 run to tie the game at 49 with 13:45 to play. Steve Novak responded with a jumper to put MU up 51-49, and MU never trailed again.

Wesley Matthews sparked MU in the second half, pouring in threes at critical junctures as MU stretched the lead to 20 points at 80-60 later in the second half. MU coasted from there, winning its second game in three days at the Bradley Center. Matthews scored 15 of his 21 in the second half.

Marquette upped its record to 8-3 on the season. MU hosts Delaware State on Thursday at the Bradley Center.

Many thanks to the guys at the Ring Out Ahoya chat room for updates on the action tonight.

Here is the Yahoo boxscore.

Here is the GoMarquette recap.

Here is the AP recap.

Here is the Journal-Sentinel box score.

Here is Todd Rosiak's recap of the game.

Oakland Takes On Marquette

MU hits the floor tonight for its second game in three days as they host the University of Oakland Golden Grizzlies. I'm excited about tonight's game, how 'bout you? Calvin Wooten, a former Rutgers player, leads the visitors at nearly 24ppg. MU defeated the Golden Grizzlies on the road last season.

Its time for MU to fine-tune its young engine in advance of conference play........MU hosts UConn in its Big East opener in two weeks. After a sloppy win over USF on Saturday a sharp, energetic performance would be a welcome site tonight.

Here's the gomarquette preview.

The Official Mascot of the Oakland Golden Grizzlies

Saturday, December 17, 2005

MU rides Novak's 3's to victory over San Francisco

MU shot a horrible 26.5% in the first half and trailed 26-24 at the break to the Dons. In the second half, however, MU rode the 3-point shooting of Steve Novak and defeated USF 61-48 to move to 7-3 on the season. Novak buried six 3-pointers on the way to victory. Novak finished with a team high 22 points while Jerel McNeal added 15. Dominic James only scored 4 points, the first time in his college career he was held below double digits. Ryan Amoroso started in place of Barro today. Barro received one minute of playing time.

The Dons fall to 4-6 on the season, but do own wins over Texas Tech and Cal State Fullerton.

Click here for the ESPN Box Score

Link to JS article

Ling to AP article about Crean tucking note in Novak's shoe

Battling for Jesuit Supremacy

The Marquette Golden Eagles return to action this afternoon as they host the University of San Francisco Dons at the Bradley Center. MU will look to bounce back from a humbling defeat on the road against the University of Wisconsin @ Madison last Saturday.

Thanks to the inept Urinal Sentinel, we'll continue to rely on GoMarquette.com for detailed information about MU's upcoming games. The Dons are 4-5 on the young season highlighted by an 18 point win over Texas Tech. Here's a bit about the Dons:

San Francisco is a balanced squad, with all five starters each accounting for 9.3 points per game or more. The starters have scored 577 of the team’s 658 points (87.7 percent) and San Francisco has some big wins under its belt, including a 90-72 win over Texas Tech.

"They have five guys on the floor who can score in bunches," Crean said. "They beat Texas Tech by 18, so everything we say to our team begins and ends with that. It's really hard to beat a Bobby Knight team with numbers like that."

Here's a look at the Dons' roster and schedule/results over on ESPN.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Comparing the Big East's Top Freshmen

As finals week turns into the home stretch, let's take an early look at some of the best from the Big East's promising freshman class.

Craig Austrie7.13.62.9
Wilson Chandler7.30.47.0
Eric Devendorf8.71.92.1
Devan Downey14.42.62.0
Anthony Farmer9.93.22.7
J.R. Inman7.80.65.9
Dominic James14.46.64.7
Wesley Matthews9.12.63.7
Geoff McDermott9.62.36.1
Jerel McNeal9.32.23.3
Sam Young7.00.62.6

Not surprisingly, each of MU's leading freshman are at least as productive as the top performing freshman on any other Big East roster. It's notable that Providence's talented trio of McDermott, Efejuku and Curry are nearly on par with the productivity of MU's big three - with McDermott slightly more productive than his teammates. We'll have to analyze these guys head-to-head later in the year.

Both statistically and in terms of his indispensability to the team, Dominic James is easily the top freshman in the league at this point. For example:

  • James is one of only three freshman in the conference to average more than 30mpg (Geoff McDermott and Farmer are the others);
  • James is tied with Downey for the lead in scoring among freshman;
  • James averages nearly double the number of assists as the next closest freshman;
  • At nearly five boards a game, James out-rebounds many leading freshman post players.

While the start to James' career has been spectacular, let's be careful not to downplay the performances of Wesley Matthews and Jerel McNeal. With both players averaging roughly 25 mpg, they have ample opportunity to contribute -- which they do so across the board with numbers that are amazingly similar, and demonstrate well-rounded skills. For example, both Matthews and McNeal average better than 9 ppg, 2apg and 3rpg -- Dominic James, Geoff McDermott and Anthony Farmer are the only other freshman in the league to match or better these results.

Were it not for Dominic James' fast start, both of these players would be front-runners for the Big East Freshman of the Year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Lookin' for a New Bookmark?

It's finals week at Marquette, when the STUDENT in student-athlete reigns most supreme, so its a slow news week for the program. MU heads back to Al McGuire Court on Saturday when they host the USF Dons.

We'll get to that later in the week, but in the meantime here's a link to the Richmond (IN) Palladium-Item's special section on Dominic James. The sports eds there have faithfully updated the site throughout the young season, focusing on DJ (as you'd expect).

Monday, December 12, 2005

Doc Rivers elected to Marquette Board of Trustees

I'm sure some wished this old Warrior was on the BOT prior to this new BOT term cycle, but that is my own personal view and not shared by everyone on Cracked Sidewalks.

Good to see Doc on the Board.

For the press release, click here.

Tip of the hat to lj854 for the information

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Wisconsin defeats their biggest rival, Marquette

Coach Maurice "Bo" Ryan earned his 100th victory at the University of Wisconsin - Madison by defeating Marquette 77-63. Ryan said after the game it was especially satisfying since Marquette is Wisconsin-Madison's most important rival.

The game was a fast paced affair early as both teams got up and down the court at a frenetic pace. Wisconsin jumped out to an early lead on some 3 point shooting by Chris Rock...err Kam Taylor. MU bounced back with some nice play by Chris Grimm to take a 23-19 lead midway through the first half. The Badgers responded and took the lead for good 26-25 on a layup by Nixon. They continued to close out the half with a 23-10 run putting MU down 44-31 at the half. That was the killer run of the game as the second half was decided by just one point.

The Golden Eagles were plagued with 11 first half turnovers to only 2 by the Badgers.

MU scored the first 4 points of the second half and on several occasions closed to withing 10 late in the game but could not mount any significant run. Steve Novak led with 14 points while freshman Dominic James had 10.

Jerel McNeal and Dan Fitzgerald both fouled out. MU was whistled for 28 fouls to the Badgers 16 and received 12 more free throw attempts than Marquette. In the last three games in Madison, MU has taken on average 13 fewer free throws than the Badgers and they simply weren't able to overcome those advantages in other areas. In years past, the fouls were a huge factor in the outcome. This year they were not, many of the ft's coming at the end of the game. MU just shot poorly and despite outrebounding UW-Madison and holding Tucker to 8 points, they were simply not the better team today.

Next year's game will be at Marquette. The two schools have won the last 5 games on their home court. MU's turn in 2006.

Here is the ESPN Box Score

Friday, December 09, 2005

Give'em Hell Marquette!

With history accounted for, here's a few previews and predictions for Saturday's tilt in Madison, where Marquette takes on the University of Wisconsin @ Madison, one of the many institutions in the University of Wisconsin system.

Todd Rosiak notes Wesley Matthews' progress leading into today's game.

MJS previews the matchups and gives the coaching edge to Tom Crean.

Gregg Doyel boldly picks a wisconsin victory.

Marquette Hoops offers a lengthy article that examines the rivalry between Marquette and the University of Wisconsin @ Madison (not Whitewater, don't get confused)

Here's the Wisconsin State Journal's preview.

Here's the perspective of the athletic department at the UW @ Madison.

Here's the GoMarquette.com preview of the game.

UW @ Madison Awaits Marquette

Alert, Alert! Garry Howard decided to run two articles on the upcoming UW-MU game! Well, I sure hope this means the MJS is not depriving local readers of generic AP wire coverage to fill the hallowed pages of his sports section.

Rosiak takes a look at what the Big East's best trio of freshmen can expect in their first tilt with UW-Madison. Madison native Wesley Matthews offers that "The Marquette-Wisconsin rivalry has been going on for a long time and when you’re a part of Marquette, you know who your rivals are, and Wisconsin is definitely one of them. They’re just an hour away," Matthews said. "It’s going to be fun for us to play, it’s going to be fun for the fans to watch. It’s going to be a good game: two teams going at it, trying to win."

Meanwhile Mark Stewart fawns over Alando Tucker here. Stewart notes that MU had success against UW-Madison's best player last season:

Crean had the answer for Tucker last season, when he used 6-10 Chris Grimm against him. Tucker went 26 minutes without scoring in the Golden Eagles' 63-54 victory and scored nine of his 13 points during the final 6 minutes, when the Badgers were playing catch-up.

But it's hard to say if such a strategy would work this season. Tucker has been stronger with the ball and though he still gets a lot done in the paint, he is more apt to get there with his dribble than in past years.

The Badger Herald opines that "it will not only be the first 'big' home game of the season, but for some of Wisconsin’s freshmen, it will be their first hyped-up Kohl Center contest ever." How can that be true of some of the freshmen but not all of the freshmen given the first clause in that sentence? I'm just asking.

By the way, congratluations to Coach Tom Crean who is now the 3rd all-time winningest coach in MU history. Per Rosiak,
Crean, who is 127-67 in his seventh year, had been tied with Hank Raymonds (126-50 from 1977-’83) and now trails Bill Chandler (193-198 from 1930-’51) and Al McGuire (295-80 from 1964-’77).

Recent badger roadkill statistics indicate more work needs to be done by a concerned citizenry. Vermin, specifically badgers, remain a clear and present danger.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

MU Crushes the Crusaders

Faced with a 10-1 deficit at the hands of the visiting Valparaiso Crusaders, MU responded with a 41-19 run to close out the first half and never looked back enroute to an impressive 69-54 win.

Ryan Amoroso and Jerel McNeal led MU's balanced attack in the first half with eight points each -- while Wesley Matthews stepped up in the backcourt to control the game when Dominic James sat with two fouls. Matthews was impressive running the offense for MU, while McNeal earned his nickname -- McSteal -- a few times including one that led to a Matthews flush. James played just eight minutes in the first half.

MU was never threatened in the second half where despite abyssmal shooting, the good guys clamped down on Valpo and slugged it out for the win. MU led by as much as 16 in the second half, following the first of two Joe Chapman three's late in the game.

Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews starred for MU tonight. Their swarming perimeter defense helped to neutralize Valpo's productive bigmen, and led to countless deflections and a host of steals. McNeal and Dominic James led MU in scoring with 12. MU's attack was incredibly balanced tonight -- Novak with 8, Ammo with 8, Fitzgerald with 8.

Nice job by MU tonight, particularly in the second half when the team went into a four minute drought -- yet didn't allow Valpo to score during that same stretch.

On to Madison on Saturday.

Here is the CNN boxscore.

Here's the AP's brief take on the game.

Here is the GoMarquette recap of the game, including a box score and running tally.

Here's the box score from the good folks at Rivals.com.

Here's Rosiak's recap of the game from the MJS.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

MU Hosts Valparaiso

On Wednesday, MU welcomes Homer Drew's tough Valparaiso Crusaders to the Bradley Center. Valpo is led by 6'8" senior power forward Dan Oppland, and former MU guard Ron Howard. Oppland scored 22 to lead Valpo to a win over Tulane last week, and will be a tough matchup for MU on the blocks. Oppland led the Crusaders with 23 and 11 in a loss at Iowa last week. In the 2003 Blue & Gold Classic, Oppland gave MU fits though the good guys prevailed 75-70.

With the hellish Big East conference slate looming, winning home games is critical for the Golden Eagles. Valpo rolls into town as a formidable, yet beatable opponent -- and offers a chance for a solid out-of-conference win. As Coach Al once said (I think), "Old coaches win at home. That's why they're old coaches."

Time for MU to hold serve.

Here is the GoMarquette.com preview. Of note, "Valparaiso comes into the Marquette contest sporting a 3-1 record. The Crusaders’ leading scorer is Dan Oppland, a 23.3 points per game scorer. He started the year hitting for 26 against IPFW..........A solid inside team, Valparaiso is good on the glass. They grab 40.0 rebounds per game and own a +3.5 rebound advantage. Those numbers are skewed, however, thanks to a 44-16 rebound advantage over Ind.-South Bend of the NAIA. In its three games against NCAA Division I teams, Valparaiso has lost the rebounding battle. That’s not to say the Crusaders can’t rebound. Senior center Mohmaed Kone leads the squad with 9.0 boards per game, grabbing a season best 11 in the opener against IPFW."

Here is the Appleton Post-Crescent's preview.

Here is a feature in the Post-Tribune about Ron Howard coming back to Milwaukee to face his former team.

Here is the Northwest Indiana Times on the game.

John Dodds' Marquette Hoops team previews the game here.

Mortensen redshirt confirmed

After the South Dakota State game on Saturday, Marquette radio announcer, Steve "the Homer" True, confirmed that Coach Crean has decided to use a redshirt season on freshman, Matt Mortensen. Matt is a 6'6" wing from Provo, Utah. Originally expected to go on his Mormon mission straight out of high school, Mort instead decided to start his Marquette career this year. It is unclear at this point whether Mortensen will stay 5 consecutive years at Marquette or if he will break up his tenure with his mission.

New Book on MU Hoops

Good news for MU hoops junkies - - there's a new book on MU basketball hitting the shelves soon called Tales of Marquette Basketball. The book was written by Mike Neufeldt and Tom Pipines. Neufeldt is an alum, and Pipines has been covering MU hoops for decades as a TV sports anchor in Milwaukee -- familiarity that should factor into an entertaining account of MU hoops.

Per the publisher's Web site, "In "Tales of Marquette Basketball", fans can take a look at all the high and low points, from McGuire to Crean and everything in between. Personal interviews with many great Marquette players and coaches, including Hank Raymonds, Dwyane Wade, Rick Majerus, Mike Deane, Tom Crean, Glenn "Doc" Rivers, Jim McIlvaine, Travis Diener, and Tony Smith, give insight to memorable moments both on and off the court."

The interview list is impressive - one would expect that the personal experiences of these past players and coaches will deliver a memorable romp through the last several decades on the hardwood. Its good to see a publisher give a book like this a shot - - its not personality driven (at least not driven by a single personality) and while the audience might be niche, MU's cast of characters tend to be more memorable and colorful than most.

The book is not available just yet, but you can pre-order it HERE.

Finals Run

The 5-2 Marquette Golden Eagles conclude the first phase of the young season with a tough, two-game stretch leading into finals week on campus. Coming off of a confidence-building win over SDSU (which was good scheduling on the part of TC -- after four straight games away from home, this young team needed an injection of confidence and home cooking), MU hosts the Valparaiso Crusaders on Wednesday night before traveling to take on the University of Wisconsin-Madison Badgers on Saturday afternoon.

After this two-game stretch, MU is off for finals before hosting the USF Dons at the Bradley Center on December 17.

FWIW (which ain't much), here is the underwhelming MJS weekly MU report that doubles as a preview for the Valpo game.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Marquette crushes South Dakota State 87-52

MU shot a sizzling 61% from the field and held the Jack Rabbits to just 34% in a romp at the Bradley Center on Saturday afternoon. MU moves to 5-2 on the season.

Dominic James led Marquette with 14 points in a balanced scoring attack by the entire team. Seven players had 8 or more points for the Golden Eagles. Kinsella saw his first action of the year as well, coming off a foot injury. Matt Mortenson did not play, leading to speculation that he will redshirt for the 2005-06 season.

It was Travis Diener bobblehead day for the 11,342 in attendance. Marquette also revealed the Great Alaska Shootout Championship banner.

Click here for the boxscore

OMG, the Journal-Sentinel Previews the Game Today!

.......clearly a snowball made it through hell (sorta). The Marquette Golden Eagles take on the South Dakota State Jackrabbits this afternoon at the Bradley Center, where the good guys will look to rebound from a decisive loss at Nebraska.

Marquette enters the contest at 4-2, and will look to drag the Jackrabbits out to the woodshed for the second season in a row.

All kidding aside (and though its not a true preview of the game, per se, we'll take any MJS coverage not related to a game recap), Rosiak's article today offers a good perspective on MU's Ryan Amoroso. Stringing together consistently strong outings remains an issue for Ammo, partly because of the inconsistent minutes he's received early this year. But as Rosiak points out, "..everything came together against South Carolina" - - - now its time to take it to the Jackrabbits.

And don't forget.....today is Travis Diener Appreciation Day at the game. TD will be at the game -- welcome home, Travis. The first 10K fans into the Bradley Center will claim a Travis Diener Bobblehead doll.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A View From The Woodshed

The Nebraska Cornhuskers took control of this game early and never looked back. The Huskers outhustled and outmuscled MU, jumping out to a 35-20 lead midway through the first half on the strength of sensational shooting and an 11-4 advantage on the boards early.

Nebraska piled on with 27 total rebounds and 15 offensive rebounds -- in the first half. MU responded in the first half with 11 turnovers and just 13 total rebounds. Ugh. This game was over at the half when the Huskers led 48-29. Or was it.......

...........After Nebraska went up by 22 early in the second half, MU staged a furious rally to cut the deficit to just six with 6:08 to play after two Jerel McNeal free throws -- but it was not meant to be as Nebraska responded with a mini-run to stretch lead back to 13 points before winning the game 84-74.

This was a break-out game for Wesley Matthews, who scored 18 points, snared seven boards and dished out four assists. Matthews, along with strong board work from Amoroso and offense from Dominic James, keyed the run in the second half as MU showed plenty of gumption down the stretch.

Dominic James led MU with 22 points, including a three-pointer that cut the lead to 10 with just 1:15 to play. Steve Novak endured a night for MU, mustering just 13 points while struggling from the field. As a team, MU was just 8-33 from behind the arc.

In the end, MU's poor effort in the first half sealed their fate. Despite the disappointing loss, a 4-2 record at this early juncture in the campaign is encouraging. The team returns to Milwaukee tomorrow and will take on South Dakota State on Saturday.

Here's the early recap from the AP.

Rosiak from the MJS.

Here's the GoMarquette.com recap.

The Marquette Tribune offers this recap.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Road Warriors Head To Lincoln

Thank goodness for overtime victories that secure tournament titles, otherwise MU's fourth game away from home in the last week would seem all the more daunting. Regardless, on Wednesday night Tom Crean's young MU squad faces an undefeated Nebraska team (4-0) -- and with it, a chance to pick up a quality road win out of conference.

Nebraska is looking to avenge last season's 81-62 loss at the Bradley Center. MU leads the alltime series 4-3.

Nebraska is coming off of a 69-54 win over Southeast Missouri State where 6'9" senior forward Wes Wilkinson poured in a career-high 25 points and hauled in 9 boards. Wilkinson has been a revelation to Coach Barry Collier - - he's nearly doubled his scoring and rebounding averages from last season.

Like MU, Nebraska is a suspect rebounding team, currently playing to a slightly negative rebounding margin. MU's improved board play of late might be the key in this matchup. Nebraska's Aleks Maric, a 6'11" 265 pound Australian, will factor heavily into the rebounding battle (11ppg, 8.5 rpg) and could be a tough matchup for MU.

Former Nebraska hoopster Beau Reid offers player-by-player insight into the Huskers' young season here. To learn more about Nebraska basketball, please visit Husker Hoops Central.

GoMarquette.com, which is offering much improved game previews this season, has a terrific breakdown of Wednesday's tilt here.

The Huskers' official athletics site previews the game as well. Here's the Daily Nebraskan.

ESPN haters, unite!

Its an off-day for MU hoops, and I was fortunate enough to stumble on a classic blog --the latest effort on Every Day Should Be Saturday is an instant classic. The guys over there listed the 52 REASONS ESPN/ABC/DISNEY SUCKS.

As the first commenter insinuated -- cutting the list off at roughly 50 must have been tough, particularly when Stuart Scott only appears once. Anyway, enjoy.

More Props to MU: Hartford Courant

Ah, the benefits of a fast start in college basketball's greatest conference. The UConn Husky's near-hometown paper highlights MU's early season success with a young roster today -- and compares MU's GAS win with UConn's tourney title in Maui:

"UConn's victory was impressive without suspended point guard Marcus Williams - but not totally surprising. Marquette's ability to capture the Great Alaska Shootout was shocking because of the team's youth and a loss to Winthrop before the trip to Anchorage."

Read it all here.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Another Week, Another MU player Frosh of the Week

MU's heralded class of freshmen continue to roll up the honors. This week, the Big East has named Jerel McNeal Freshman of the Week in the Big East conference.

The Nation's Best Basketball Conference noted McNeal's performance at the Great Alaska Shootout.

McNeal made the Great Alaska Shootout All-Tournament Team while helping the Golden Eagles win the title. For the three games, he averaged 10.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.3 steals. He shot 66.7 percent from the floor and connected on all nine of his free throw attempts.

Steve Novak made the Weekly Honor roll for winning the GAS MVP Award.

Ammo named College Insider Player of the Week

Congratulations to Ryan Amoroso.

Photo from Marquette University

College Insider Player of the Week

Media Roundup

Nice props for the team here from Todd Rosiak. Rosiak notes MU's rebounding improvement and taking better care of the ball as keys to taking home the GAS title -- a huge step for a young team.

Yesterday's Anchorage Daily News profiled the 2005 GAS MVP, Steve Novak. "It's a real honor," Novak said. "(Miami Heat star) Dwyane Wade got it the last time we won the Shootout, and to come here and keep the tradition alive feels great."

In a tip of the cap to MU's inside guys and overall conditioning, Dave Odom said "all of USC’s big men, including starting forwards Renaldo Balkman and Brandon Wallace, must improve their conditioning if the Gamecocks are to be a force against their schedule’s top teams." This may be true -- but unlike MU, USC did not have an off day at the GAS, playing three games in three days.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


If a team wins a well-regarded tournament on national television, does anybody pay attention?

Surely not ESPN.COM, which as of 9pm EST on Sunday evening had yet to cover the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout - - a game it broadcast live last night. Here's what you get if you search 'Great Alaska Shootout' on the ESPN men's basketball homepage.

Incredibly, Yoni Cohen at yocohoops took the time to let his readers know that the USC Trojans edged out UA-A for a win -- to clinch fourth place in the GAS.

Maybe this is merely avoidance, since last week he opined that "Oral Roberts, Southern Illinois, or South Carolina are my odds-on favorites" to win the GAS. Of course, MU promptly dispatched of two of those "odds-on favorites" on consecutive nights. Perhaps this snub should not come as much of a surprise given what Cohen has written about Crean in the past, where injury was completely ignored as a factor in meeting expectations in previous seasons.

I'm all for calling out deficiencies in the MU program -- but positive recognition was warranted in this case from college basketball's premier blogger.

Regardless, the lack of attention paid to MU's extraordinary week by these two outlets might suit the program just fine. In a 16-team league with historic rivalries and Hall of Fame coaches that command the limelight, a young team flying under the radar could do just fine in the long-run.

On to Lincoln.

Marquette - Champions of Alaska ....AGAIN

The Marquette Golden Eagles captured the title in 2001 and they repeated their performance tonight against South Carolina in a thriller, 92-89, in overtime. Marquette was led by Ryan Amoroso's sensational game of 30 points and 12 rebounds, by far the best collegiate game of his career. Senior Steve Novak added 28 points and was named the tournament MVP. Freshmen Dominic James and Jerel McNeal also made the all-tournament team.

Click here for a box score

The two finalists played one of the best college games of the young season and the first overtime championship game in the 28 year history of the tournament. 23 of the previous 27 winners have gone on to the NCAA tournament that year.

The two teams exchanged leads throughout the night with neither team having more than a 7-point edge. MU had an advantage at the free throw line while USC made difficult shot after difficult shot all night long. At halftime, USC led by one point. In the second half both teams continued to shoot the ball well and take care of the basketball. Each team committed only 12 turnovers for the contest, a sharp reduction from MU's previous games.

As the game came down to the final minutes, MU took a 80-76 lead on a Dominic James three pointer. The Gamecocks answered with a 4 point play of their own as the drilled a trey and Barro fouled the shooter in the process. With the game tied, MU went for the win by having James isolated with the ball. He dribbled into the lane, levitated and took a 12 foot jump shot that was short. Wes Matthews grabbed the rebound but was hammered on the elbow as he attempted the putback. The refs swallowed the whistle and there was no call....USC and MU went to overtime. In the OT session it was the Amo and Novak show as the two played like Warriors and carried MU to victory. Amo's two free throws with 4 seconds left put us up by 3 and USC's desperation 3 pointer would not fall.

Marquette, now 8-1 all-time in the Great Alaska Shootout with two championships and one runners-up.

Todd Rosiak's article can be found by clicking here.

The Anchorage Daily News recap can be found by clicking here.

The (SC) State's recap can be found by clicking here.

The GoMarquette recap can be found by clicking here.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Cull The Cocks

South Carolina is evil and must be destroyed!

Go MU!

Here's a look at how USC edged Monmouth last night.

Friday, November 25, 2005

MU Brings Oral to Its Knees

Phew.......MU forcibly downed Oral Roberts 73-70 in the semi-finals of the Great Alaska Shootout. The Airing of Grievances was successful. MU now advances to play South Carolina for the championship on Saturday in Anchorage at 9:30pm CST on ESPN2. MU will try to capture is second GAS title of the Millenium -- MU took the crown in 2001 with a win over Gonzaga in the title game.

Tonight's game was nip and tuck for much of the second half with MU nursing a 42-40 lead at the under-16 minute time out, and the game was tied at 45 soon after. MU delivered a terrific run midway through the second half to extend the lead to 66-55 with 2:53 remaining -- but a series of turnovers and missed free throws allowed Oral Roberts to close the gap late. With under 10 seconds to play, Dominic James (6-11 from the free throw line) made the second of two free throws to put MU up 73-70, and MU was able to hold off Oral's advances as the horn sounded. James led MU with 15 points.

Tonight's game was highlighted by the emergence of Ousmane Barro, who's career-high 12 points and five boards were punctuated by a flurry of offense in the second half before fouling out late. Dan Fitzgerald was also stellar in the second half, delivering nine of his eleven during that stanza. In addition, Steve Novak helped MU control the boards (who'da thunk it), as MU managed more offensive rebounds in this game than in their previous three combined. Novak, who had a series three baskets earlier in the second half, also drew a clutch charge late in the game as Oral was closing in.

Also worthy of note .... MU's bench strength was apparent tonight, outscoring ORU's bench 24-3.

Congratulations, MU.

Here's the Anchorage Daily News recap of the MU victory.

Here's Todd Rosiak's take.

Here's the MJS box score.

A Fesitivus for Golden Eagles

Now that Thanksgiving is over (we hope you all enjoyed the holiday), its time for the Marquette Golden Eagles to jump back into action at the Great Alaskan Shootout. And while the rest of the world observes the Seinfeldian holiday of Festivus on December 23, we here at the blog posit that the 'celebration' was moved up roughly a month -- and here's why . . . . . . MU will take on the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles today - - and only a true Airing of Grievances in the Festivus tradition will ensure victory for Marquette, therefore earning the rite to be seen as the top eagle species on the top of the world.

MU will have to demonstrate heretofore undemonstrated Feats of Strength to control the backboards in today's tilt. ORU dominated the backboards by 45-25 on their way to a convincing win over USC two nights ago. ORU is led inside by 6'8" power forward Caleb Green -- so it appears that Jamil Lott will have the first opportunity to demonstrate the intimidating Feats of Strength on the blocks for MU.

According to Wikipedia, "Those attending (Festivus) participate in the "Airing of Grievances" which is an opportunity for all to vent their hostilities toward each other, and after a Festivus dinner, The Feats of Strength are performed. Traditionally, Festivus is not over until the head of the household is wrestled to the floor and "pinned"."

A Festivus for the rest of us!! Go MU, pin down the Golden Eagles of the Great Plains!

Here is the MJS preview.

Here's a look at how MU spent Thanksgiving preparing for the traditional Festivus celebration today.

The Anchorage Daily News chronicles MU player visits to a local elementary school yesterday.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Golden Eagles survive "FOUL FEST" in first round of Great Alaska Shootout

Marquette defeated Eastern Washington tonight 83- 73 in the first round of the Great Alaska Shootout. MU will take on Oral Roberts University on Friday at 8:30pm CST. Oral Roberts routed USC earlier this evening and was one of top mid-majors in college basketball last year.

Tonight's game was a foul fest. Marquette was whistled for 34 fouls, just two short of the all-time MU record. EWU chipped in 26 of their own fouls. Homer and Mac (and the crowd reactions) indicated the calls were just attrocious both ways.

Fortunately for Marquette, EWU shot only 53% from the line or it could have been a loss for the Golden Eagles.

Senior Joe Chapman led Marquette with 17 points while four others contributed with double digits. MU will take it as this young team continues to learn on the job.

For a boxscore, click here

In the post game interview, Coach Crean mentioned that Matt Mortenson may be redshirted.

Here is the Anchorage Daily News recap of the game, which noted that "Marquette's last Shootout win came on Nov. 24, 2001, when current NBA megastar Dwyane Wade led the Golden Eagles to a 72-63 win over Gonzaga for the tournament title. They have won four consecutive Shootout games after beating Eastern Washington in the first meeting between the teams."

Here is the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recap from Rosiak.

The MJS box score.

Here is the official MU recap.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Anybody Ready For An All-Nighter This Early in the Season?

On late Wednesday night, MU opens play in the 2005 Great Alaska Shootout with a tilt against Eastern Washington at 9:45pm local Anchorage time. Hey, with the national holiday upon us anyway -- who needs sleep?

The Eastern Washington Eagles are making their first-ever trip to the GAS, and enter the tournament with a record of 1-0. EWU is led three newcomers (sound familiar?) -- Rodney Stuckey, Kellen Williams and Matt Penoncello. The triumverate combined for 43 points, 16 assists, 10 steals and 15 rebounds in a win last week over Pacific Lutheran. En route to the season-opening win, the Eagles poured in 31 fast-break points and collected 26 points off turnovers. Look for EWU to pressure MU heavily when Dominic James is out of the game, much like Winthrop did.

MU enters the game at 1-1, with mounting concerns over the lack of productivity from its big men. MU was grossly out-rebounded in the loss to Winthrop, and outside of Amoroso's 10-point effort against Rice -- no other big man registered double-digit points.

A lineup of McNeal, James, Matthews, Novak and Lott, while intriguing offensively, leaves MU exposed on the boards......perhaps a bigger lineup is in MU's immediate future as the bigs get healthier. Ryan Amoroso, presumably recovered from a concussion sustained earlier this month, seems best equipped to turn things around on the blocks for MU. Ousmane Barro, himself recovering from an illness as well, also figures to contribute.

Don't bother looking for a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel curtain-raiser -- Garry Howard's team didn't care to preview the MU/EWU tilt or the GAS in general. With that in mind - - -

GAS Previews Worth Noting:

Here's the EWU preview of the MU game.

Here's MU's preview of the GAS.

Here's the complete GAS tournament schedule.

Here's a CSTV preview of the GAS.

Here's the Anchorage Daily News.

Here's the Morning News in Florence, SC with a focus on the Gamecocks.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Hayward, Cubillan sign LOIs

Making their commitments to MU official, David Cubillan and Lazar Hayward inked their LOIs, MU reported today:

Head coach Tom Crean announced the signing of Lazar Hayward (Buffalo, N.Y.) and David Cubillan (DA-Veed Coob-E-Yan) (Mara Caibo, Venezuela) to national letters of intent today. Hayward and Cubillan will enroll at the university beginning in the fall of 2006.

Hayward is a shooter, expected to come in and take over some of slack that will be created when Steve Novak graduates after this season. Cubillan will provide much-needed support in the backcourt at the PG spot. Both players were featured in an earlier Cracked Sidewalks report.

MU has one more scholarship to give, after losing seven-footer Chas McFarland to Wake Forest.

Dominic James named Big East Rookie of the Week

Kudos to Dominic James, who was named the Big East Rookie of the Week today.

James averaged 15.5 points, 8.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds.

Georgetown's Roy Hibbert was player of the week.

While it's early, if James can maintain those numbers, he'll break the records for freshman scoring and assists at MU. Glenn "Doc" Rivers holds the freshman scoring record (434 points/14.0 ppg) and Tony Miller holds the freshman assist record (221 assists/7.6 game).

MU's frosh rebound record holder is Bo Ellis, with an average of 8.5 per game.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Wintrhop Eagles (2-0) soar over Marquette (1-1) 71-64

Just one day after an impressive rebounding performance over Rice, Marquette forgot how to do so against Winthrop. Marquette dropped a 71-64 decision largely on second chance points after the Golden Eagles gave up 22 offensive rebounds to their brethren from Rock Hill. Thats on top of 17 defensive boards, resulting in a 39-21 overall mismatch.

Winthrop took full advantage of those second chance opportunities at the 3 point line, going 11-27. While MU held Wintrhop shooting to 35% overall, 33 points off treys and another 20 from the free throw line was too much to overcome.

After taking an early 8-4 lead, Wintrhop raced ahead and led by six to eight points for most of the first half. MU closed it to 4 with a McNeal three at the halftime buzzer, but Winthrop quickly built the lead back to a 10 to 13 point range, where it stayed most of the second half. MU made an attempt to comeback, coming as close as 4 points with the ball in the final two minutes.

MU regroups for the trip to Anchorage for the Great Alaska Shootout for a late Wednesday/early Thursday game against Eastern Washington.

MU's official page had this report.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel filed this screed.

The coverage was positive in Rock Hill, SC.

The Richmond IN Palladian-Iten's report is here.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Media Roundup: Marquette (1-0) fries Rice (0-1)

Marquette began to answer a lot of questions with it's first win of the season.

1. What will the opening day starting lineup look like? Tom Crean shuffled the starters once again, getting Steve Novak back into the starting lineup (after missing the first exhibition against Michigan Tech and coming off the bench for the UW Whitewater game). Other than Novak, it's a new-look lineup for MU, with the three freshman guards in the backcourt and Jamil Lott pairing up with Novak up front.

2. Will Fitzgerald live up to his hype? Last season during his redshirt year Dan Fitzgerald was rumoured to be the 2nd best player on the roster. After two disappointing exhibition performances, questions were beginning to form. Fitz answered his critics with a near triple-triple (9 points, 8 boards, 8 assists) in 24 minutes.

3. Can the team rebound? After being outboarded by a couple of D2 and D3 teams, rebounding became a concern for MU. The team answered last night with a 42-31 advantage off the glass.

For their effort, MU earned the right to take on Winthrop for the championship of the Blue and Gold Classic.

The media roundup:

Marquette's offical website covered the game.

The Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel report here.

Houston Chronicle says this

And the Richmond, Indiana Palladian-Item filed this report.

Wondering why a paper in Richmond, IN would make a Marquette game it's lead news story? That's where Dominic James went to HS. There's also a Richmond station on the Marquette Basketball Radio Network.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Chas McFarland Commits To Wake Forest

Earlier today, Worcester Academy's Chas McFarland commited to Wake Forest. McFarland selected Wake over MU and BC. To be sure, losing McFarland is disappointing, but Crean has time to address post play on the roster. Going into next season, MU returns Kinsella, Burke, Amoroso, Barro and Lott on the interior. TC will quickly turn the page and focus on top post prospects for next season, most notably Mac Koshwal and Keaton Nankivil.

Regardless, MU is expected to announce the signing of both David Cubillan and Lazar Hayward. With commitments from a combo guard and lights-out shooter, Crean filled noticable gaps in next season's roster. Even more interesting, both players -- Cubillan and Hayward -- are essentially 5th year high school seniors, each of whom might acutally be older than each of MU's current freshman.

The maturity of the these two will be a welcome addition to the young core of the 2006-2007 roster. In terms of next year's roster, Cubillan jumps into a role that MU will cover by committee this year -- combo guard/backup point guard. Hayward becomes the best shooter on the team the moment he steps on campus next fall. Mapped against the current freshmen, this group is both promising and complementary. And btw -- how sweet is it that Crean's last three commits are from the East Coast. Shades of Al?

MU tops UWW in Exhibition Finale

MU beat up UW-Whitewater last night, 80-58. Steve Novak (21 points) and Jamil Lott (14 points) led the way for MU.


Box Score

Emmett Prosser's courtside blog

gomarquette.com recap

Monday, November 14, 2005

McFarland to Announce on Tuesday; New Big East Power Rankings

Chas McFarland, the seven-footer out of Worcester Academy, completed his final official this weekend with a trip to Wake Forest. McFarland, an AAU teammate of MU's Dominic James, is expected to decide between MU, Wake Forest and BC. With Chris Grimm departing after this season, and with only Kinsella and Lott as upperclassmen -- McFarland would figure to break into MU's rotation early if he were to select the Golden Eagles.

Also, please check out the Big East Power Poll over at the Big East Basketball Report. We were delinquent in submitting our weekly entry to the poll, but count on it going forward.

Per McFarland's AAU coach, Chas will announce his college choice on Tuesday morning

Saturday, November 12, 2005

New Look MU in New Big East: AP

An upbeat article by the Associated Press' Colin Fly looks at the role MU's 'big three' incoming freshman have for Tom Crean. Fly describes how Steve Novak should benefit from MU's new-found athleticism in the backcourt -- but the most revealing comments are from senior Joe Chapman, reflecting on the 2003 Final Four run:

"That season really, really you don't know how good it is until you've been to the NIT two straight years," said Joe Chapman, one of the remaining members from that squad. "Going into your freshman year, you expect big things and going to the Final Four, you're like 'Wow, we're going to expect this every year.' But you really get a grasp of it now."

This kind of urgency is exactly what the program needs every year. Bravo, Joe (although, one hopes it was present in each of the last two seasons as well). With all the talk of MU's bright future because of the core of young talent in the program, passionate senior leadership is more important than ever.

In the article, Fly mentions that MU's 'modest goal' is to 'is to qualify for a slot in the 12-team conference tournament'. Novak, Grimm, and Chapman will surely aspire for more in their final season - - and with the new talent in the program, optimism is warranted.

Friday, November 11, 2005

New York Newsday: Big East is Ready to Roll

Another curtain-raiser on the newly expanded Big East. The article predictably covers the scheduling headaches, but also addresses each of the new members of the Big East with some level of detail.

One passage regarding MU:
At Marquette, a Final Four program in 2003, coach Tom Crean noted that increased interest has driven up ticket sales and opened new areas for recruitment. "There's such a fresh perspective," he said. "The rules have changed, being in the Big East."

Youth Is Served Early at Marquette

MU opened its exhibition schedule last night with a 71-66 win over Michigan Tech. MU was led by its three freshman starters -- Dominic James, Wesley Matthews and Jerel McNeal. Oh my goodness, three freshman starters who all performed well.

Seniors Joe Chapman (benched) and Steve Novak (injured) joined likely starter Ousmane Barro (flu) on the sidelines for this one - - which may have contributed to Michigan Tech's advantage on the boards (40-37), and their stunning productivity from behind the arc -- 13 of 32 three-pointers, good for 40.6%.

Matthews led the team with 19 points, while James bucketed 15, and McNeal stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, seven boards, three assists, three steals and a couple of blocked shots. Redshirt sophomore Dan Fitzgerald delivered 10 points, including a clutch 4-4 from the stripe in the closing seconds.

Look for Ryan Amoroso to turn things around in MU's next tilt against UW-Whitewater. In 26 minutes of action last night, Amo was a mere 1-6 from the field with two rebounds.

Here is the MJS recap.

Here is the box score.

Here is the gomarquette recap.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

David Cubillan Commits to Marquette

On the first day of the national signing period, David Cubillan, a SG/PG from highly regarded St. Benedict's in Newark, NJ, committed to Marquette University. Cubillan will provide much needed support in the MU backcourt -- even with the talented freshmen this season, MU does not have another PG or combo guard on the roster. After last season's struggles, Crean vowed never to be caught without enough capable guards in the program - - and now Cubillan is part of the solution to that problem.

Cubillan was a high school teammate of current MU freshman Dwight Burke last season, and plays for coach Danny Hurley.

MU is still actively recruiting seven-foot center Chas McFarland, who will decide between BC, Marquette and Wake Forest after visiting Tobacco Road this weekend. Lazar Hayward, a fast-rising senior from Buffalo, NY via Notre Dame prep in Massachusetts verbally committed to MU earlier this year and is expected to sign his LOI this week.

Welcome to MU, David!

Again, here is a look at some video on Cubillan, who looks to be a combo guard based on Internet reports and this video.

Marquette Season Preview

Welcome to the biggest time, the BIG EAST Conference. Tom Crean goes to battle this year with a young, talented roster that will take time to sort out. Crean welcomes seven newcomers, many of whom will contribute immediately on a team with much to replace --- realize that MU must replace its best scorer/passer (Diener), its most athletic wing player (Mason), its leading rebounder (Jackson), and the consummate team player, Todd Townsend.

It's clear that incoming freshmen James, Matthews, and McNeal will play significant minutes in the backcourt. Transfers Fitzgerald and Lott will man the forward positions, with Fitzgerald likely to see action at any of the guard and forward slots. Crean also welcomes PF Burke and swingman Mortensen to campus.

Tom Crean will enjoy remarkable flexibility with his roster, and will rely on senior sharpshooter Steve Novak to deliver consistently from the perimeter. Youth in the backcourt aside, MU might just sink or swim based on the performance of the frontline: Chris Grimm, Ryan Amoroso, Mike Kinsella, Ousmane Barro, and Jamil Lott.

With that, here's a game by game breakdown of how we see the season unfolding in 2005-2006.

RICE ^: Mike Kinsella’s former team comes to the Bradley Center sans one of their all-time greats, Michael Harris, who was lost to graduation. The Owls also lost starters McKreith and Gillespie and do not return a starter who averaged double figures last year. Marquette will win this one against one of Conference USA's newest additions. 1-0

WINTHROP/IUPUI ^: Winthrop is perhaps the scariest team on Marquette’s non-conference schedule this year. Seriously. Winthrop returns 12 of their top 13 players from a team that gave Gonzaga a serious first-round scare in last year’s Tournament. Unfortunately, Winthrop is primed to pounce on an upset here, as the Eagles will be licking their chops to face an inexperienced Marquette squad. 1-1

Eastern Washington #: Marquette opens the Great Alaska Shootout against yet another set of Eagles. Despite the high-flying dunks of the amazing Henry Bekkering, Marquette will coast into the second round of this tournament unscathed. 2-1

Oral Roberts/USC #: This will be an interesting second round matchup, no matter the opponent. Oral Roberts is another small conference tournament team, similar to Winthrop, and they could give both USC and Marquette fits with their experience. They return the Mid-Continent POY in Caleb Green and deadly weapon, Ken Tutt, (a combined 37 ppg), as well as dynamic guard, Jonathan Bluitt. This high flying attack might just well get past a USC team that is young and has a new coach in Tim Floyd. Athletic guard, Gabe Pruitt, is the go-to guy for USC, but the Trojans should be no match for Oral Roberts. Marquette will learn its lessons from the Winthrop loss and will match athlete for athlete with a tough Oral Roberts squad. 3-1

Southern Illinois/Monmouth/South Carolina/UAA #: Obviously, it is hard to project who MU would play in the final round, but if Marquette gets to the championship, it’s likely that it will either be Southern Illinois or South Carolina. South Carolina is coming off an NIT championship season and despite losing its leading scorer, Carlos Powell, returns seven key players. Southern Illinois is coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance and also loses its best player in Darren Brooks. Both teams are pretty solid and have a lot of experienced players returning. There will be no joy in MU-ville for Marquette in this one. 3-2

@ Nebraska: Marquette plays its first true road game in Lincoln, Nebraska this year, and will take on a team they trounced in the Bradley Center last year. The Huskers return some solid young pieces in scoring guard Joe McCray and Aussie center Aleks Maric and are probably a team on the rise in the Big 12. Having five games under the belt already, Marquette wins this one in a nail-biter. 4-2

SOUTH DAKOTA STATE: For the second year in a row, the Jackrabbits will have to deal with a former player’s night at the Bradley Center. Last year, it was Dwyane Wade night (with Shaq sitting courtside). This year, it is Travis Diener night, and the Jackrabbits will leave with their heads bobbling, just like the Diener bobbleheads that fans in attendance will receive. 5-2

VALPARAISO: Dan Oppland, Kenny Harris and the rest of the Crusaders will be gunning for a road win against Marquette and very well could get it here. Valpo will challenge Oral Roberts for conference supremacy this year. We still see Marquette pulling this one out, however, in another close contest against a very formidable foe. Homer Drew might scream about this outcome. 6-2

@ Wisconsin: This will be an interesting one. The Badgers lost a lot of firepower from last year, but also brings back the very talented Alando Tucker, as well as some other key components like Brian Butch and Kammron Taylor. Wisconsin, like Marquette, also had a terrific recruiting class and will count on Marcus Landry and Joe Krabbenhoft for instant contributions. As much as it pains us to say it, Wisconsin will pull out a close one this year at the Kohl Hole. 6-3

SAN FRANCISCO: A fellow Jesuit school comes to the Bradley Center for a mid-December chill. The Dons have the best recruiting class in the WCC, but will go back to San Francisco with no flowers in their hair. Marquette wins. 7-3

OAKLAND: No, not the Oakland across the bay from San Francisco… the one in Michigan. The Grizzlies shocked everyone by winning their conference tournament last year and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. Rawle Marshall and Courtney Scott and their combined 38 ppg are gone now, though, and Marquette will maul the Grizzlies into submission. 8-3

DELAWARE STATE: The Hornets almost pestered Marquette into a loss last year with their stingy D and ball control offense. They very well might do the same this year. Jahsha Bluntt and Co. will put a scare into MU, but will fall in the end at the Bradley Center. 9-3

LEWIS: DII opponent Lewis comes to Milwaukee behind former MU assistant, Kyle Green. This one won’t count towards Marquette’s record and it’s a shame, as the Golden Eagles will down the Flyers. Still 9-3

CONNECTICUT: Marquette opens BIG EAST play against perhaps the best team in the conference. Point guard Marcus Williams will rejoin the team for this game, and Rudy Gay, Josh Boone, Rashad Anderson, Denham Brown and a host of talented others will visit the Bradley Center on this cold January night. It will certainly be exciting to play such a terrific team, but Marquette will be humbled by the extreme athleticism of UConn in this one. 9-4, 0-1 (conference)

CINCINNATI: If any year can be considered a down year for the Bearcats, it probably is this one. Bobby Huggins is out the door, along with a couple of his recruits. Cincy does return terrific big men, Eric Hicks and Armein Kirkland, as well as key contributors like Jihad Muhammed and James White. This will be a year of ups and downs for Marquette, but on this night, Marquette will upset the Bearcats in a tough defensive battle, and will provide their fans with their biggest victory of the year. 10-4, 1-1

@ Seton Hall: There are no easy road games in the Big East, but this is as close as it gets. Seton Hall is in disarray right now and will have a very tough time making the Big East Tournament. Despite a valiant effort by their talented center, Kelly Whitney, the Pirates will walk the plank in this one. 11-4, 2-1

@ West Virginia: West Virginia is coming off one of their program's most exciting postseason runs. The Mountaineers came within a hair's breath of making it to the Final Four after losing a big lead to Louisville in the Elite Eight last year. Many key returners are present for West Virginia, including Kevin Pittsnogle and Mike Gansey. Marquette gets Pittsnogled in this one and the 'Neers will win by double digits. 11-5, 2-2

@ DePaul: Marquette plays its third consecutive road game and does so on the Tuesday after a tough Saturday loss at West Virginia. DePaul should struggle this year, but do have the very talented Sammy Mejia and a couple great newcomers in Karron Clarke and Wilson Chandler. Despite the near home court advantage, Marquette falls here to the Demons. 11-6, 2-3

NOTRE DAME: Chris Quinn and Torin Francis come into the Bradley Center hoping for a win here. Are you kidding me? The place will be packed with anti-Domers and the crowd will "cheer cheer" the Marquette squad "onward to victory." 12-6, 3-3

DEPAUL: Marquette will use its actual home court advantage to get its revenge against Jerry Wainwright and DePaul after falling in Chicago to the Demons. 13-6, 4-3

@ Pittsburgh: Although Pittsburgh should be a little down this year (middle of the pack in the Big East), they’re still a very tough team, particularly defensively. Terrific point Carl Krauser, and a talented group of freshmen will lead the Panthers to a low scoring but decisive win over Marquette. Look for Marquette to get killed on the boards. 13-7, 4-4

ST. JOHN'S: An underrated St. John’s team visits Milwaukee and should test Marquette to the limit. Terrific scorer Daryll 'Showtime' Hill and strong forward Lamont Hamilton will give Marquette all it can handle. However, Marquette will again use the home crowd to quell this Red Storm. 14-7, 5-4

@ Villanova: Three years ago, Marquette played and defeated a group of talented freshmen from Villanova in Madison Square Garden. It’s payback time. Those freshmen are now talented seniors, and despite the loss of Curtis Sumpter, Villanova will use its depth and athleticism to blow by Marquette in this matchup. 14-8, 5-5

@ Rutgers: Rutgers is one of those teams that gives visiting opponents fits on the road, eventhough they don’t end up with a great record overall or in conference. Led by scorer Quincy Douby and Chicago product Ollie Bailey, Rutgers will take Marquette down to the wire, but MU will end up victorious (barely) against the Scarlet Knights. 15-8, 6-5

GEORGETOWN: After turning the corner last season, the Hoyas are probably the biggest sleeper team in the Big East this year, and could end up near the top of the conference standings. Led by athletic forwards Brandon Bowman and Jeff Green, this talented, athletic and deep team will do very well in the Big East this season. Marquette will fall at home to the Hoyas on National Marquette Day. 15-9, 6-6

PITTSBURGH: The rematch against Pittsburgh will be a tough one, especially two days after a difficult defeat to Georgetown. Unfortunately, the Panthers will be able to strong-arm Marquette, once again dominating on the boards and on defense. Pitt will ruin Maurice Lucas night for the Golden Eagles. 15-10, 6-7

@ Notre Dame: Notre Dame seeks its revenge against Marquette in this one, and the long range shooting of Colin Falls and Chris Quinn will be too much for Marquette to handle. Irish eyes will be smiling at the conclusion of this matchup. 15-11, 6-8

@ Louisville: Marquette has had some definite success in Freedom Hall, but this Cardinals team is a buzz saw this time around. A healthy Juan Diego Palacios and David Padgett along with hot shooting Taquan Dean will take it to Marquette and ensure that Marquette finishes with a losing record in conference. This game will also mark four straight losses for Marquette… very bad timing for this sort of streak. 15-12, 6-9

PROVIDENCE: Still reeling from the loss of do everything forward, Ryan Gomes, the Friars come to Milwaukee on Senior Day and get all they can handle from a squad determined to win one for Steve Novak, Joe Chapman and Chris Grimm. The efforts of guard Dwight Brewington and talented freshman, Geoff McDermott, will be for naught as Marquette will end its regular season on a high note, and with plenty to look forward to in the future. 16-12, 7-9

We predict Marquette will fall short of the NCAA Tournament, but will finish 10th in the BIG EAST and will be a solid NIT selection this year.

^ denotes Pepsi Blue and Gold Shootout
# denotes Great Alaska Shootout

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Tom Izzo's Coaching Tree

An interesting article on ESPN.com with plenty of Tom Crean mentions.

Excerpt: "Tom Izzo, a former assistant under Jud Heathcote, is entering his 11th season as the Spartans' head coach. In that span, Izzo has helped six of his assistants become head coaches. Marquette coach Tom Crean is the highest-profile one of the group, having led the Golden Eagles to the 2003 Final Four. The other five include Mike Garland at Cleveland State, Brian Gregory at Dayton, Stan Heath (hired by Kent State and then plucked away by Arkansas), Stan Joplin at Toledo and Doug Wojcik, who is beginning his first season at Tulsa."

For the complete article, click here.

Marquette Player Previews

As Marquette prepares to open its season with an exhibition game on Thursday night, our blog takes a look at the current roster and breaks down potential contributions and expectations for each player. In a year when MU welcomes seven newcomers to the roster, we'd expect this initial analysis to look quite different by the start of conference play.

Likely starting lineup to open the season:
PG: Dominic James
SG: Joe Chapman
SF: Steve Novak
PF: Ryan Amoroso
C: Ousmane Barro

Steve Novak: 6’10, forward, Brown Deer, WI, starter… It is sometimes unbelievable how fast time flies. It seems like only yesterday that Novak was a skinny freshman, having his breakout game against DePaul at the AllState Arena in Chicago. Now Novak is a not-quite-as-skinny senior, and is expected to be the leading scorer and perhaps more importantly, the leader on a very inexperienced Golden Eagles’ squad. Novak should certainly benefit from the influx in athleticism at Marquette, as last year, after Diener went down, he was forced to do things outside his comfort zone. This year, Novak will the beneficiary of outlet passes from driving athletes like Dominic James, Jerel McNeal, Wes Matthews and Dan Fizgerald, and should put up big scoring numbers. Coach Crean has also mentioned that it is imperative that Steve gets to the free throw stripe a number of times each game—Novak is a 90%+ FT shooter—so expect to see Novak post up or dribble drive into the lane more this year as well. Novak should go down as the all-time leading 3-point shooter at Marquette, and should have a very productive season in his second year as a full-time starter.

Joe Chapman: 6’4, guard, Chicago Heights, IL, likely starter… One of the most frustrating sights for Marquette fans last year was watching Chapman, who is clearly not a point guard, have to handle point guard duties for Marquette last year after Travis Diener's injury. Chapman will be allowed to return to his natural SG/SF duties this year with the addition of point guard James and backup Fitzgerald, and should thrive doing so. Without a doubt, Chapman will be pushed for minutes by Matthews, McNeal and Fitzgerald, but his three years in Crean’s system should gain him the immediate starter’s role. We would not be surprised to see McNeal or Matthews end up as a starter this season, but Chapman is certainly a capable, if unspectacular, player there.

Chris Grimm: 6’10” center, Brighton, MI, reserve… Grimm has never really lived up to expectations at Marquette, but he has always worked very hard. This year, Grimm is trying to return from elbow surgery, and appears to be ready to play a role in the lineup. Chris’ role this year should involve mentoring the younger players and playing as a reserve at center, picking up charges and rebounds and setting screens (having no “moving screen violations” should be a goal, Chris!), and making his putbacks. We do not anticipate Grimm starting, but he certainly will play somewhere between 5-15 minutes at the center position this season.

Mike Kinsella: 7’0” center, Rochester, MN, reserve… Kinsella’s experience at Marquette has been a very disappointing one so far due to no fault of his own. First it was feet problems. Then it was knee problems. After missing a good portion of last year to injury, Mike was ready to go and excited about the season, and had even added 15 pounds in the offseason before the knee problems started. To Mike’s credit, his timetable for return went from questionable for the year to mid to late December to early December. If healthy, Mike can provide Marquette with a unique option at the 5 spot. Kinsella is easily the best shooter among the big men, and has a sweet looking long range jumper. Mike’s defense is suspect, but with the added weight, the hope is that he will be able to add to the center by committee rotation when he returns.

Jamil Lott: 6’7”, forward, St. Paul, MN, main reserve/potential starter… Jamil Lott was a big late junior college addition to the Marquette squad this past spring. He was highly recruited by a number of DI programs, and Marquette's hope was to have him come in and fill the void left by the graduated Marcus Jackson. Early opinions of Lott have been mixed. Lott appears to have a nice offensive game (an improvement over Jackson’s lack of offensive ability), but he also appears lost at times on the court. Lott definitely has a great deal of athleticism and will be used as a low post presence, but time will tell whether he will be a legitimate offensive option in the post while at Marquette. At this point, we project Lott to start the season on the bench, but he may push for the starting power forward position, depending on how quickly he adjusts to Crean’s system.

Ryan Amoroso: 6’8” forward, Burnsville, MN, possible starter/main reserve… Amo comes off a season that certainly showed the typical ups and downs of a freshman. In some games, Amo was terrific, showing Mike Wilkinson-like potential on the boards and offensively. In others, Amo would miss dunks, draw a costly technical foul at the free throw line, or make other freshman mistakes. Amo has bulked up even more over the summer, and it will be interesting to watch him with a year's experience. We expect marked improvement this year. His potential is tremendous, as he can hit the long range shot and score from the post. If he can stay consistent, we expect Amo to start at the power forward position… at least as long as he plays better than Lott in practice.

Ousmane Barro: 6’10 center, Dakar, Senegal, possible starter/main reserve… Perhaps a better nickname has never been had by a player at Marquette. A native of Senegal and a recent convert to the game of basketball, Ooze literally “oozes” with potential. With his extremely long frame and natural athleticism, Ousmane could be a force to be reckoned with down the road. This year, look for Ooze to improve in many aspects of his game, but still be a raw talent who can’t be trusted with more than 15-20 minutes per game. The good news: at the Marquette Madness event, Ooze scored 10 points in 15 minutes when paired with the terrific driving and passing of Dominic James. He also appeared to have substantially bulked up over the summer. The bad news: at the same event, Ooze also made some of the same silly fouls and did not appear to yet have the instincts of a great player. The likely scenario this year is to pencil Ooze into the starting position, and realize that he, Grimm, Kinsella and Dwight Burke will likely split minutes in the pivot.

Dan Fitzgerald: 6’9” guard/forward, St. Paul, MN, supersub… We finally get the chance to watch in games what everyone has been quietly talking about for the past year... the terrific versatility and overall solid play of Dan Fitzgerald. Fitz came to Marquette as an underhyped transfer from Tulane, and from all accounts, is a true jack-of-all-trades type of player. He has already solidified the duty of backing up Dominic James at the point. He also will undoubtedly see minutes at both the off guard and small forward position. At times, we may even see Dan playing a few minutes at power forward. Fitz can shoot the long ball, has a great handle for a man his size, is a good passer and has already been noted as an excellent defender. So, the bottom line is that even though Fitzgerald might not start this season, he will play starter’s minutes, and will fill a number of important roles for the team.

Dominic James: 5’10, guard, Richmond, IN, starter… Get ready for the incredible Mr. James. Perhaps never in the history of Marquette basketball has a point guard come in as highly heralded. James is a physical freak (his nickname is even Freak Nique), as witnessed by his trampoline-like dunks at Marquette Madness. Dominic is excellent on both ends of the floor, but as he says himself, the strongest part of his game is probably his passing. Repeatedly at Madness, James was seen breaking down defenders on the perimeter, driving to the lane and making incredible passes to wide open teammates (Steve Novak has to be salivating) or finishing around the rim like a pro. One area Dominic must work at is his long-range shooting. Nique certainly isn’t bad in this capacity, but he is no Diener… yet. Watch out for the little man with the big heart and game for many years to come.

Jerel McNeal: 6’3” guard, Country Club Hills, IL, main reserve… If any player can properly be labeled as “underrated” on this team, it is probably Jerel McNeal. McNeal is (yes, we'll say it) a Dwyane Wade-like defender, even though he is a couple inches shorter than Wade. At a recent scrimmage, Jerel had 27 deflections, which obviously, is an incredible number. Jerel is no Wade on the offensive side of the ball, but who is? McNeal is going to immediately push for minutes, and may very well replace Chapman in the starting lineup just by virtue of his extreme athleticism and work ethic. McNeal still has kind of a corkscrew-looking jumper, but that is something that he is already working diligently on. Jerel is, however, superb at driving to and scoring at the hoop. Look for Jerel to be a major part of this team’s success this year and in the future.

Wesley Matthews: 6’5” guard, Madison, WI, main reserve… Mr. Wisconsin Basketball will be a great player at Marquette, the only question is when it will happen. The safe money is on “sooner” rather than later. Matthews was impressive at Madness and other scrimmages with his scoring ability, defensive prowess, and maybe most importantly, his ability to “let the game come to him.” Maybe the best aspect of Wes is the extreme natural athleticism that allowed him to not only be tabbed as Wisconsin's best basketball player, but also first team all-state in soccer. Some people have speculated that because Wes split his time between two sports in high school, he may be a little behind when it comes to some fundamentals. While Wes does need to firm up some skills over time, he has showed a veteran’s poise on the court to this point, and figures to battle for solid minutes right away, along with his backcourt mate, McNeal.

Dwight Burke, 6’8” forward, Brooklyn, NY, reserve… This Brooklyn native who prepped in New Jersey was an extremely underrated pickup by Marquette late in the spring recruiting season. Originally slated for East Carolina, Burke was let out of his letter of intent when ECU fired Bill Herrion. Marquette snatched him up, and already, Burke has tremendously impressed those who have watched him scrimmage. Dwight’s surprising physical acumen has reminded some of Terry Sanders’ natural athleticm. Unlike Sanders, though, Burke has a nose for the rim, and the bulk and wherewithal to really battle down low.... the "bull in a china shop" type of player that can be so valuable. Burke is without a doubt raw in some aspects of his game. His perimeter shot looks bad and he still has to get a feel for the system. However, his performances in recent scrimmages have really made people think that long-term, Burke will be a starter at the power forward position. This year, expect Burke to find minutes here and there and improve through his apparently tremendous work ethic.

Matt Mortensen: 6’6” guard/forward, Provo, UT, reserve… It is difficult to get a true read on Matt at this point in time. In the early scrimmages open to the public, Mortensen looked overmatched athletically and did not appear to have a chance to contribute immediately to the program on the court. However, in the latest public scrimmage, Mort canned a number of three pointers and looked very solid on both ends of the court. With all the athleticism at the guard positions, it is hard to imagine Matt getting more than a few minutes per game this year, but he may be very valuable in certain games as a zone busting, David Diggs-like assassin from three-point range. Look for Mort to contribute more as time goes by.

Tomorrow, we'll preview the 2005-2006 campaign......