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

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Looking ahead to 2010-2011

During the last three weeks the nature of Marquette's roster next season has taken shape with verbal commitments from a pair of recruits and the decision to redshirt another player.

A couple of weeks ago I looked at the fallout from the surprising verbal commitment of 6'4" guard D.J. Newbill. Newbill is a classic under the radar kid who appears to be blowing up as a senior, prompting MU to push for a verbal as other programs began to make their way to Strawberry Mansion. To be sure Newbill is a talented player but his verbal ensured that Buzz Williams would have six guards on the roster next season while the Warriors maintained a gaping hole(s) on the baseline.

About that baseline gap......

Recently Buzz Williams announced that 6'10" sophomore Chris Otule will redshirt this season. The big Texan will have three years of eligibility remaining. On the one hand it is disappointing that Otule won't be able to return to help the Warriors down the stretch, but the redshirt year could help him and the team immensely. In the more intense collegiate environment Otule's body has yet to hold up and perhaps an additional season to improve his overall strength, conditioning and durability will lead to more consistent minutes in the coming years.

Perhaps the most important roster news of the last several weeks was the verbal commitment of 6'6" forward Jae Crowder from Howard Junior College in Big Spring, Texas. Originally from Georgia, Crowder went largely unnoticed in high school but his play as a freshman at South Georgia Tech was spectacular. At South Georgia Tech Crowder averaged 17 points and 10 boards, and was named the player of the year by the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association.

According to reports Crowder transferred out of South Georgia Tech because the college was not accredited, potentially limiting his collegiate options. This year at Howard Crowder is averaging 18 points, 9 rebounds and better than two steals per game for the Hawks.

While undersized at 6'6" Crowder is apparently up to 230 pounds offering the kind of muscle and girth that will fill a huge need on the baseline next season. Is Crowder enough? Certainly not but with the pressure on, Buzz landed a player to fill the program's most acute need and was able to corral a more mature player at that. One interesting aspect of Buzz' player development to date is that he is much more adept at coaching, teaching and developing mature talent than he is true freshmen. The in-season development of Jimmy Butler last year, the steady play of Darius Johnson-Odom and the improved production from Dwight Buycks this year are in stark contrast to the uneven freshmen performances turned in by Jeronne Maymon, Erik Williams and Chris Otule, none of whom made appreciable contributions as freshmen.

Heading into next season Buzz Williams will have one of the deepest backcourts in the BIG EAST -- Dwight Buycks, Darius Johnson-Odom, Junior Cadougan, Vander Blue, D.J. Newbill, and Reggie Smith.

This group of guards is collectively bigger and more talented than the current vintage and they'll be complemented by wing/combo forwards like Erik Williams, Joe Fulce, Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder, and Jamail Jones. Perhaps big men Yous Mbao and the recuperating Chris Otule will be ready for primetime by next fall.

A quick look at the handy MUScoop Scholarship table shows that Marquette will have a deeper and more talented roster next season, full of interchangeable parts enabling Buzz Williams to potentially confuse opponents with a vast array of lineups. The team will remain massively inexperienced on the baseline and expecting Mbao or Otule to deliver consistent production would be a mistake. However, the baseline talent deficit will have to be overcome by the roster's other strengths if the program expects to build on its encouraging performance this season.


ICHeights said...

Hey guys, is there any reason behind MU's inability to recruit big men. It seems to be a trend that MU just can not convince anyone over 6-6 to come play with all the talented gaurds MU has produced. Is it the offense they run? Lack of a coach to develop a big man? I just cannot see a reason why a skilled big man wouldn't want to come catch alley-oops from all these skilled guards.

Rick Rage said...

I agree with ICH eigths. With all the offensive output we get from our guards, you would think a big man would just love to reap all the benefits. Hopefully Buzz will be able to address this issue with any remaining scholarships or JuCo transfers. We've seen him bring in the outstanding guard talent and even a lot of talent at the 3 position, now let's see a solid 4 or 5 player that can hold his own with the bigs that teams like Syracuse, G-Town, UConn, Pitt and Louisville produce year after year.