"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lazar deserves Big East MVP as MU could be playing for 3rd on Thursday

While someone else will be picked as the top player in the Big East this year, and others are bigger NBA prospects, when you look at where Marquette is today, there is no doubt that Lazar Hayward is the Most VALUABLE Player in the Big East this year.

With Lazar as the only returning player who had played even HALF the team’s minutes last year, MU was picked to finish 13th in the Big East. That was BEFORE their only players over 6-foot-7 both got injured, making Lazar the guy who had to take on opposing big men despite being only 6-foot-6, and their presumed starting point guard went down for months with an Achilles heel.

The fact that Marquette could be playing for 3rd place in the Big East Thursday against Pitt is a testament to Lazar’s conference play and leadership in bringing along the incredibly talented new recruits and his two fellow seniors.

Lazar’s makes MU one of only 6 teams to not lose by double figures this year

It is astonishing that a team as inexperienced as MU has not been blown out ONCE in 24 games. A team with very little experience, who relies on the 3-pointer would be expected to be inconsistent and just get blown away several times. In basketball, even good teams get blown out by 20 a couple of times a year. Yet somehow Lazar has never let the team get down, even when losing, making MU one of only six teams (of 347) to not lose a single game by double digits this year. Here are the others:
1. Baylor (by 7 to Colorado and Texas A&M)
2. Kansas (by 8 to Tennessee)
3. Purdue (by 8 to Northwestern)
4. Dayton (by 8 to KState)
5. Marquette (by 9 to Wisconsin)
6. Murray State (by 9 to Western Kentucky)
(the worst losses for Nova, Syracuse, Butler, UTEP and UAB were all by 10 points, everyone else in the country has lost by more than 10 points.)

As good as last year’s team was, Dayton, Tennessee, Villanova, UConn and Pitt all beat MU by more than 10 points.

Lazar has played his best against the Big East

Many stars build up their stats during the creampuff schedule, and then average far fewer points and rebounds once the rugged Big East play starts. Lazar was just the opposite, sharing and sitting during blowouts to get everyone else touches and confidence. While this holds down his season averages, it helped the team.

Once Big East play started, Lazar took over.

Lazar really does do all the little things, like drawing charges on breakaways and rejecting opposing stars (see future NBA star Dominique Jones last night).

In Big East play, MU looks like a high school team trying to box out – not for their lack of effort or technique, but for the incredible size they give up at every position. Lazar has grabbed an incredible 76 DEFENSIVE rebounds in conference play. Take them away and Marquette has grabbed only 161 defensive rebounds while giving up 138 offensive rebounds in conference play. Without Lazar opponents would come close to grabbing 50% of the rebounds when they miss. Lazar is BY FAR the most important player in the Big East on the boards, since he gives us our ONLY size and force on the defensive glass, as his 76 defensive rebounds hold opponents under 37% on their offensive rebounds.

Basically, Marquette only has two ways to stop opponents from scoring most of the time – force a turnover or Lazar grabbing a rebound after a miss.

So while Lazar is our only defensive rebounder, who gets the most credit for forcing turnovers? Despite the great effort from Mo Acker, Cube, DJO and Dwight Buycks, in BIG EAST PLAY LAZAR HAS 25 STEALS, MORE THAN TWICE AS MANY AS ANY OTHER MARQUETTE PLAYER!

Marquette simply wouldn’t be able to stop any Big East opponent without him, and the fact that we have won seven games and lost the other five by a total of 11 points is only possible because of him.

Best inside-out offensive threat in BE

Shifting over to offense, all Lazar has done is to shoot 43% from 3-point land (29 of 68), and made 84% of his freethrows, to average 18.5 ppg IN BIG EAST PLAY. Overall he has added more than 9 rebounds a game IN BIG EAST PLAY.

Sure, there are a few guys with higher averages (again, if Jones could have just shot 40 times yesterday he could have outscored Lazar), but no one else has provided a tougher matchup in Big East play by dominating inside and out, and no one who fills a bigger void on a team.

You can argue about who is the most outstanding player in the Big East, but when it comes down to who is the most valuable to his team, it is Lazar Hayward without a doubt. We have had a ton of great improvements and great recruiting by Buzz to reload so quickly, but none of this would have been possible without Lazar.

MU isn’t in the tournament yet. The RPI is a borderline 58th because it isn’t allowed to factor win margins so coming close against Nova, Syracuse, West Virginia on the road just counts as losses. Factor in the spreads like www.kenpom.com does and MU calculates as the 18th best team in the country. Hopefully MU finishes the last six strong and the Selection Committee gets MU in the tourney, but the fact that we are even on the bubble at this stage of the season is a tribute to the Big East’s true Most Valuable Player, Lazar Hayward.

1 comment:

Chris Cruse said...

phenomenal write up.puts into perspective everything that Lazar has done for this team, absolutely taking this team on his shoulders. cannot believe that we may be playing for 3rd place in the BE on thurs, what a year so far! Go Warriors!