I hate to say it, but don’t expect too much from Marquette this season.
There’s too much uncertainty. While Buzz Williams and his staff continue to be outstanding recruiters (when they follow the rules), there’s no way to tell how good this year’s team will be. You have to remember that they lost two of their BIGGEST weapons during the offseason – Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom.
To show a sample size of what those two meant to the team, take a look at this. Between both players, they averaged 35.8 points per game and 11.9 rebounds per game. If you do the math, those impressive numbers amount to 47.5 and 32.8 percent of Marquette’s team totals from last season. There’s no question that the players on this year’s roster will have some serious shoes to fill. The question is - who’s going step up?
If Marquette can stay healthy, unlike last season, they could be a little more legit. The return of center Chris Otule is a major boost. I’m expecting a big year from Otule because he’s going to have something to prove as a senior. Forward Davante Gardner is also an intriguing figure in the low post. At 6’8’’ and 290 pounds, this big boy was a force to reckon with last season, while he was healthy. His height has been an issue, but Gardner makes up for it in his bulky weight. Driving to the hoop, opposing players may be running into a brick wall. If Buzz decides to start Otule with Gardner, that could be a dangerous combo. I’m also a big fan of Jamil Wilson. While he doesn’t have the height or size of the other two, that kid can shoot and get you boards. He’s going to get a lot of playing time going forward. Also, Juan Anderson is a good off-the-bench defender and freshman forward Steve Taylor, Jr. is getting a lot of love from Buzz. These frontcourt players can get you points in the paint as well.
From a frontcourt perspective, Marquette can survive if those five players remain healthy. However, when it comes to the backcourt, I’m very skeptical. This team has a boat-load of guards (eight to be exact). To me, they all have question marks on their heads. It appears Buzz Williams will start Junior Cadougan, Vander Blue, and transfer senior Trent Lockett against Ohio State tonight. Can these three players make up at least some of the offense that Crowder and DJO left behind? Let’s look at the numbers…
Last season with significant minutes, Cadougan averaged 6.3 points per game, shooting only 38 percent from the field, 24 percent from three-point land. When it came to free throws, he was close to 69 percent. He averaged close to two rebounds and three turnovers per game as well. Like Otule, Cadougan is a senior this year. While his numbers last season are disappointing, he still has a lot of talent. His speed, agility, and mobility could play a big factor in hisperformance. I’m hoping he has a more improved season.
With so many expectations coming from Madison, Vander Blue has underperformed. I’m still waiting for this kid to take his game to the next level. Taking a look at his numbers last season, Blue averaged about 26 minutes, shooting 41 percent from the field, about 25 percent beyond the arc, and around 70 percent in free throws. Blue averaged 8.4 points per game. He was a decent rebounder with close to five boards per game. It’s time for Vander Blue to show who he really is. Will the real Vander Blue please stand up?
Then, there’s Trent Lockett, a transfer guard from Arizona State. Of the three starting guards, Lockett is the most intriguing. In his last two seasons with ASU, Lockett averaged 13 points per game. Playing over 30 minutes per game, Lockett has maintained a shooting percentage around .500 in his last three seasons. Last year, he was 41 percent from three point land. He can get you rebounds and assists, but his turnover rate has been a little high. If there’s someone that can make up for some of the offense, I would choose Trent Lockett. It will be interesting to see how he makes the transition from the PAC-12 to the Big East, though.
As for Todd Mayo, I don't know if he's going to amount to anything. He needs to get his act together quickly. I guess him and Buzz have established a better relationship...Only time will tell if this team needs him badly...
As for the other five guards on this team, I don’t know too much about them. Once MU gets into Big East action, we’ll see which guards become solid off-the-bench options for Buzz Williams. I am expecting sophomore guard Derrick Wilson, though, to have more of an expanded role this season, than last season.
As you can see, there is a lot of talent here, probably more defensive than offensive. I can’t say any of these players are garbage either. Once again, though, you’re asking for a lot of players to take their games to a level like Crowder and DJO did. I don’t believe any of these players on this Marquette team are NBA bound as of right now. Marquette will be competitive and may crack the Top 25 throughout the season. Don’t expect them to reach the Top 10, though. With a chance of being on the bubble, they should still make the NCAA Tournament in March.
Final record for the season: (this excludes invites and the Big East Tourny) 18-11
Big East record: 11-7
Where will they finish in the Big East?: 7th place overall
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