"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

Monday, September 28, 2009

Al's Run .. here we go.

It's that time again. Well, actually it's past that time. Al's Run is under two weeks away, October 10th, moved back a few weeks from its usual date.

Last year was a monster success, as Marquette Basketball fans raised $4,430 for the cause. We've been raising money for four years running, setting a new record each year.

We sucked so much money out of the economy last year, raising money for Al's Run, Lehman Brothers failed.

This year? Well, we don't want to over-reach. Last year was special, with lots of big donations. Let's start with a goal of $1,977, and work our way upwards.

Cracked Sidewalks doesn't sell you stuff here, we don't even show you advertisements, we just give you pure Marquette Basketball goodness.

All we ask for is a few bucks every year, for Al's Run.

So do us a solid, and pony up a few bucks, put a little something something in the tip jar. It all goes to a great cause, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. Sure, some will pledge $25, $50 .. but imagine if all our loyal readers gave FIVE measly bucks? Bingo, that's $10k.

So, click here, whip out your credit card and pay your respects to Al, and Marquette: http://www.firstgiving.com/MarquetteFans

Friday, September 25, 2009


With Midnight Madness just a few weeks away here are a few items to check out:

Earlier this week MU continued its excellent coverage of the program with this conversation with freshman Erik Williams. For additional perspectives on Williams check out our interview with his high school coach, Jon Harmatuk, from earlier this year.

Just one week earlier MU posted this Q/A with sophomore Darius Johnson-Odom.

Erik Schmidt from the Marquette Tribune opines on the Dwyane Wade Effect here -- probably a good read for the incoming freshmen more than anything.

Lazar Hayward won't sneak up anybody this season, and the national press are rightly acknowledging the senior's talents. Mike DeCourcy from The Sporting News slots Lazar in as the 10th best power forward in the nation -- not bad for a guy who will play out of position once again this winter. In addition, Hayward is featured on the cover of the current issue of Basketball Times, the hook The Examiner needed to file this profile of the Golden Eagles' most dependable player.

Looking to MU's basketball alums, Strotty takes a look at the NBA possibilities for the Three Amigos here. McNeal is trying to stick with the Clippers, James with the Bucks and Matthews with the Jazz.

Pico at The East Coast Bias pulled together a virtual panel of Big East bloggers to assess the face of the Big East. Pico also assembled this interesting Cash or Clunkers discussion. Well done, Pico.

By the way don't forget to bookmark the MUScoop Wiki page for the 2009-2010 schedule. A link to the schedule also appears in the right margin.

Also, last week Buzz Williams spoke at the annual Coaches Luncheon in Chicago -- the guys at MUScoop took notes and talk it up here.

The Madness begins on October 16 -- Joe Fulce has details (and it's great to see Joe dunking and apparently healthy)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

This off-season can't end soon enough

The injury-marred close to Marquette's 2008-2009 season was sure to give way to an off-season of discontent for Warrior Nation but the past several weeks can rightly be referred to as cruel and unusual punishment.

Other than receiving positive news about the eligibility of incoming freshmen Junior Cadougan and Youssoupha Mbao, Marquette has become Floyd Patterson to reality's Muhammad Ali, held up in the turnbuckle absorbing a barrage of hits and humiliation.

How bad are things for the Golden Eagles? The best news for the program in the last month and a half was the departure of 6'9" freshman Brett Roseboro and the oh-so-convenient reinstatement of the diminutive and unproductive Maurice Acker. While the news of Roseboro's departure validated months of rumors about the possibility some media reports left the impression that the 6'9" Pennsylvanian was run out of the program, at best a 'mistake' by both parties.

Acker clearly isn't a talent upgrade but he has the added benefit of freeing up an extra scholarship for a higher ceiling player in the incoming 2010 freshman class. At the very least this 'swap' reinforces negative stereotypes about what is really valued in college basketball.

More recently the Golden Eagles likely bid adieu to one of its top recruits for the incoming 2010 class when 6'10" Monterale Clark was charged in connection with a sexual assault on the campus of Hill College where he is a student. The details of the alleged sexual assault are gruesome, and while justice has yet to be meted out in the case it would be difficult to envision Clark ever suiting up for Marquette at this point.

Perhaps it's too bad Roseboro already completed his transfer to St. Bonaventure -- he can't take the convenient Acker U-Turn back onto the now depleted 2010 roster.

While Roseboro and Clark figured more heavily into Marquette's future plans, the upcoming campaign is already shaping up to be a long season. Capping off Marquette's 45 days of discontent, highly-touted point guard Junior Cadougan suffered a potential season-ending Achilles injury which is sure to sideline him for four to six months. Adding insult to injury sophomore transfer Darius Johnson-Odom injured his foot and will miss at least a month of action. Good thing Acker is back!?

There are few fates worse than early season injuries for unestablished talent in Buzz Williams' program. Last year early season injuries to freshman Chris Otule and junior college transfer Joseph Fulce stunted the development of these players, marginalizing their contributions for the entire season as the coach shortened the bench during conference play.

At this point one must presume that Cadougan will be fitted for a medical redshirt soon after the national signing period concludes. There's still hope for Johnson-Odom, who figures to be the most talented newcomer to the roster this year and, presuming an on-schedule recovery, would still have time to work his way into the backcourt rotation and take the lion's share of playing time along side Dwight Buycks.

Still, MU is not out of the woods with the current roster. While Mbao was cleared academically by the NCAA, his amateur status is still under review due to his participation on an overseas team that included a few professional players some years ago. Expect Mbao to miss a pair of games this season for each game he was on the roster of that team, compromising his development which, experience shows us, could make him a non-factor this year.

On the recruiting front, 2010 target Aaron Bowen de-committed but MU gained a better prospect when Jamail Jones cast his lot with the program. Bowen's summer performances were less than stellar and with lingering concerns over the health of his shoulder Buzz Williams was right to continue to pursue more talented options.

While Jones is in the fold, Williams has recently missed out on a host of talented kids from the 2010 class including Carson Desrosiers (verbal to Wake Forsest), J.J. Moore (eliminated MU from consideration), and Cameron Clark (verbal to OU). Additional reports indicate that top target Jay Pinkston is a Villanova lean while Doron Lamb is a pipedream.

With three scholarships presumably available who will Williams target next? The tide has to turn at some point for a program that is in desperate need of back-to-back strong recruiting classes. Wisconsin de-commit Vander Blue remains a possibility.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Good news for ...

Good news, for those of you who love loooong seasons.

It just got longer.

Todd Rosiak is reporting that Junior Cadougan ruptured his right Achilles’ tendon and will likely be out for the entire season.

With Darius Johnson-Odom also spraining a ligament in his left foot, he'll miss the next month as well.

That leaves Dwight Buycks, David Cubillan, and Maurice Acker, as the three true scholarship guards who aren't wounded.

And, don't forget Joe Fulce’s continued recovery from knee surgery, which leaves the Warriors with 9 healthy players.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Top 100 Recruits

I realized after this was originally posted that I tried to compare offensive efficiency for a team (points per 100 possessions) to an individual's Offensive Rating (which is a complex formula). That's a no-no. I guess it means that it's been too long since I've done real basketball analysis. guh

One of the things I am looking forward to most about this season is that it is completely up in the air. In a somewhat down Big EAST, Marquette could legitimately finish anywhere from 4th to 14th. I'm particularly excited to see how all of the various new players will perform this season, partially for the same reason. No one knows what to expect, especially with such a huge influx of new talent.

The question of what we expect from the new players drove me to take a look at Top 100 recruits in the Big East, and how they performed in their first year.

Thanks to the help from bma and statsheet.com, I tracked down every Top 100 recruit for the Big EAST from 2005 through last year. Because there were a number of puts and takes, this list may have some inaccuracies.

Over this four year period, there were 89 players listed as Top 100 by one recruiting service or another.

  • The heavy hitters were exactly what you'd expect: Georgetown (10 players), Louisville (9), Syracuse (9), UConn (8)
  • Marquette had five top 100 players. You know their names (James, McNeal, Matthews, Hayward, Mbakwe)
  • In somewhat surprising information, Rutgers had six Top 100 players.
  • South Florida was the only Big EAST team with zero Top 100 players
  • It's important to note that ten of the players in this pool (including Mbakwe) end up as incompletes due to injuries or lack of production. I actually consider this somewhat good news, because I would have expected the percentage to be a lot higher.
Over this period, how did these players perform their first year on the team?

Somewhat surprisingly, the average first year player, even as a Top 100 recruit, was... average. Seriously, the average of the remaining 79 players was an offensive rating of 100.4 and a usage of 20.6%. It doesn't get much more average than that. The first point that this brings up is that even Top 100 recruits are most likely not very efficient offensive players.

In fact, 70% of the Top 100 recruits in their first year had an offensive rating of 105 or less. Here is the breakdown of all of the players.

As you can see, I've broken down the players into four quadrants of Stud, Role Player, Ball Hog, and Non-Factor. They are surprisingly consistent across categories (20 Studs, 19 Role Players, 17 Ball Hogs, and 23 Non-Factors.
  • Stud - A player that has an above average offensive rating and an above average usage is a first year stud. These are players like Jerome Dyson, Greg Monroe, Samardo Samuels, DeJuan Blair, Jonny Flynn, and Scottie Reynolds. You know every single player on this list
  • Role Player - A player with above average offensive rating and a below average usage. They're not the focal point, but they are efficient on the court. In their first year, role players include Jeff Adrien, Kemba Walker, Austin Freeman, Jerry Smith, Kyle McAlarney, and Levance Fields
  • Ball Hog - A player that is below average offensively but above average in terms of usage. Guys in this category include Deonta Vaughn, Wilson Chandler, Chris Wright, Derrick Caracter, Mike Rosario, and Paul Harris. These guys put up points but hurt the team.
  • Non-Factors - Below average offensively and in terms of usage. Many of these players prompted a "who?" when I saw their names. Sometimes the players just need time (like Thabeet), but often, these guys simply become role players later, like Andre McGee or Reggie Redding. Or they don't contribute at all later.
Again, this is a view of how Top 100 players perform in their first year. So the second point is that there is a pretty even split as to whether or not these players will be true studs, simple role players, ball hogs, or even just a non-factor on offense.

I'm sure you'll note that I didn't mention any Marquette players in the list above. How did they do in their first year?

James was a legit stud his first year, with an offensive rating of 104.9 and a usage of 27.7%. McNeal was a true ball-hog that first year, consuming almost the same amount of possessions (27.1%) with an offensive rating of 87.7. woof. Lazar and Wesley were basically average players (100.5, 99.1, respectively) with slightly above average usage (22.5% each).

The good and the bad news

Here is how last year's top five players (JB = Jimmy Butler) would have stacked up against the same list of first year players. The Big Four were all studs, with offensive ratings and usage above average. It's no surprise that players improve over time. So even if the guys joining the team next year are sub-par with their offensive ratings, they can still get a lot better. That's the good news.

I previously mentioned that 70% of top 100 recruits have an offensive rating of 105 or below. Well, Marquette had four of its top five players above an offensive rating of 105. The only one of the top five producers not above 105? James, who was right there at 104.0. Heck... even Dwight Burke would have qualified as a solid role player (ORtg 109.9, usage of 9.9%). To put it another way, Marquette was a very good offensive team last year. If you are expecting a team that looks nearly as good offensively on the court as last year's team, well... that's the bad news. Even Top 100 recruits rarely match the level of production we saw last year.

Looking at Marquette's Top 100 Recruits
(I'll look at Darius Johnson-Odom and Dwight Buycks separately)

Barring injury, Erik Williams, Junior Cadougan, and Jeronne Maymon will receive somewhere close to the average number of possessions. The number of possessions they receive will probably be the most important aspect of how they perform in their first year and there are plenty of possessions to go around.

While it's almost certain that their offensive skills will be limited, there appears to be a chance that one (or more) of them will shine as a true first year stud. However, it also appears that one (or more) of them may end up as a ball hog. Regardless, even if these highly touted recruits struggle offensively, we should expect to see them grow into more offensively efficient players in subsequent years.

MU Player Videos .. part 2

More videos from MU:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Marquette releases the 2009-2010 Schedule

Marquette released the 2009-2010 schedule today. Check out the previous link for the details, or download the full PDF to keep. Rosiak checks in with his own coverage of the schedule as well, where he focuses on how the young Warriors will need to grow up in a hurry.

Picking up on some other comments, some of the noteworthy points on the season include

  • Kicking off at West Virginia. Do you think a vengeful Huggins is going to cut any slack?
  • Playing mirror opponent Villanova twice in seven days.
  • Marquette has exactly zero games on Big Monday.
  • There are only three BE Saturday games this year.
  • Game times are still being worked out.
With an opening stretch of @WVU, Nova, Georgetown, and @Nova, Marquette would be lucky to go 2-2, with 0-4 a very real possibility for such a young team. This could be a very long season.

Sat. Nov. 7 MSOE Exhib.
Fri. Nov. 13 Centenary
Tue. Nov. 17 Maryland Eastern Shore
Sat. Nov. 21 Grambling
Tue. Nov. 24 South Dakota

Old Spice Classic - Orlando, Fla. (All classic games on ESPN/2/U)
Thur. Nov. 26 vs. Xavier
Fri. Nov. 27 vs. Michigan/Creighton
Sun. Nov. 29 vs. TBA

Sat. Dec. 5 NC State
Tue. Dec. 8 Milwaukee
Sat. Dec. 12 at Wisconsin - ESPN2
Sat. Dec. 19 North Florida
Sun. Dec. 27 Presbyterian

Tue. Dec. 29 at West Virginia
Sat. Jan. 2 Villanova ESPN2
Wed. Jan. 6 Georgetown
Sat. Jan. 9 at Villanova
Sun. Jan. 17 Providence
Wed. Jan. 20 at DePaul
Sat. Jan. 23 at Syracuse
Tue. Jan. 26 Rutgers
Sat. Jan. 30 at UConn
Wed. Feb. 3 DePaul ESPN2
Sat. Feb. 6 at Providence
Sat. Feb. 13 USF
Thu. Feb. 18 Pittsburgh ESPN
Sun. Feb. 21 at Cincinnatti
Wed. Feb. 24 at St. John’s
Sun. Feb. 28 at Seton Hall
Tue. Mar. 2 Louisville
Sat. Mar. 6 Notre Dame (SENIOR NIGHT)

Mar. 9-13 BIG EAST Conference Championship - New York, N.Y. ESPN

MU Player Videos..

MU has posted a few player interview videos:

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Aaron Bowen Decommits from MU..

Todd Rosiak has reported that Aaron Bowen, a 2010-2011 commit, has backed out of Marquette and re-opened his recruitment.

Rosiak writes...

The primary reason for Bowen's change of heart, Rosebrock said, was the departure of Williams' former assistant, Dale Layer, who was hired as head coach at Liberty University on April 8.

Layer had been the point man in the 6-5 1/2, 180-pound guard's recruitment, which began last fall and ended with Bowen's commitment to MU last Nov. 20.

Discuss here ..

Bowen's Wiki page..

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Rosey out, Mo returns.

In cased you missed it last week ..

Freshman forward Brett Roseboro decided to leave Marquette before the school year began. Yesterday, Roseboro was picked up off the waiver wire by St. Bonaventure.

In his place, after Mo Acker left the team in June, he has now returned. Who knew there were sabbaticals in NCAA basketball?

Can't remember the roster? Check it here.

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Coach Buzz!