"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

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Preseason Roundtable: Replacing Butler

We're only a few days away from the opening of Marquette's season, but it still feels like there are plenty of questions that need to be answered. To address these questions, we've brought the Cracked Sidewalks crew together, including one of our regular guest contributors, Dr. Blackheart. Here's the first query:

How will Marquette replace Jimmy Butler?

Alan: You don't replace a guy like JFB, at least not with one player. I think that you'll see Jamil take up a big part of his scoring and rebounding, and hopefully Jae and DJO can also see an uptick to offset Jimmy's loss. My real concern is on defense. I think Vander needs to step forward as the guy who can guard anyone. He may not start, but he can get 25 minutes off the bench as a stopper at multiple positions. If that happens, we should move on without missing a beat.

Dr. Blackheart: You cannot replace his "smarts", but Jamil Wilson is more athletic, and more versatile offensively with his perimeter shooting, passing, and dribbling. The combination of Wilson, Crowder, Otule, and Gardner will have to deliver on the JFB intangibles.

James: Likely cannot replace his versatility and leadership. He was a 1st round draft choice and I don't see another one on the bench to take his place. Wilson will be part of the answer. Crowder will be the other part. I think Jae has a monster year.

John: Jamil Wilson. Marquette was terrible on defense last year until Butler started moving around the court to guard the likes of Kemba Walker and Tu Holloway. At 6'7" with length, Jamil gives Buzz the same kind of option to come up with a scheme to improve the defense. While on the court as a FRESHMAN at Oregon, Jamil was actually a better rebounder both offensively and defensively than Jimmy was as a SENIOR (grabbed 8.5% of Oregon's misses to Jimmy's 8.2% of Marquette's, and 15%-12% advantage on defensive rebounds). Jamil was just as good a shot blocker as Jae (3.3% of opponent's shots) which is three times as many blocks as Jimmy and means MU will have two of the best shot-blocking forwards in the country along with the best shot-blocking center in the Big East, which makes it more likely MU can hold down opponents FG percentages even with the guards going for steals. Obviously Marquette cannot replace Jimmy's ability to get to the line, but Jamil could replace him where MU needs it even more -- on defense. The fact that Jamil steps into Jimmy's role is the reason that the improvement of all the returning players should make MU a better team this year than last.

Kevin: You don't replace guys, one for one, the other players on the team pick up the slack. DJO and Jae add 2-3 ppg, Vander (please, please, please) adds 3-4 ppg. Otule, Gardner, and Wilson chip in.

Rob: I don't think they will. It's too difficult to replace one of the most efficient players in MU history, who could also be dialed in consistently every night. However, MU didn't exactly replace Hayward either (Crowder was not the same), nor did they replace the Three Amigos. To me, a more interesting question is how will MU look differently this year and still be great offensively. Because you know MU will still have a great offense this year.

Tim: Logic says Jamil Wilson. Wilson was the best athlete in the program last year, and a full year of acclimation should make him an immediate impact player. That said, Butler won't be replaced -- the team will play differently. With DJO and Crowder, MU already has two go-to scorers and Wilson's flexibility will create fits for the opposition. Realizing that last season MU had one of the least experienced rosters in the Big East & now has one of the most veteran squads, replacing graduates -- even one as talented as JFB -- is not a concern.

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