Marquette Basketball Preview: #81
Overall Rank: #81
Conference Rank: #12 Big East
2008-09: 25-10, 12-6
2008-09 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Buzz Williams (25-10 at Marquette, 25-10 overall)
Coach Buzz Williams stepped into a great situation with a great group of players who were destined to make a run in the Big East and make the NCAA Tournament. Now it is time to rebuild and find out what Coach Williams and Marquette are really made of. The Golden Eagles have had to rebuild before, but this will be a monumental task.
Key Losses: F Dwight Burke, G Dominic James, G Wesley Matthews, G Jerel McNeal
A very talented group of newcomers will help. Junior college transfers Dwight Buycks and Darius Johnson-Odom have some much needed collegiate experience and could both be starting from day one. Point guard Junior Cadougan is a top ten point guard in this class according to most recruiting pundits and forwards Jeronne Maymon and Erik Williams may end up being the best of the bunch when all is said and done. This group will also give the team some much needed size with the addition of 7-2 center Youssoupha Mbao.
There is not much to speak of regarding returning backcourt players outside of Maurice Acker and he averaged just 2.8 points per game. However, Acker is a decent point guard who can take care of the ball. Wing Jimmy Butler averaged about 20 minutes game last year, but never started a game. The 6-6 junior was forced to play in the paint quite a bit and probably will be again this year, but he is a versatile player who could shine now that he will be given the opportunity to be a leader on the floor. David Cubillan could see his minutes drastically increase after finding himself pretty far down the depth chart over the last couple of years. The 6-0 senior will have to battle it out with the newcomers, but he is a decent player who was just stuck behind some of the best guards ever to suit up for Marquette.
Lazar Hayward is not only the star of the frontcourt, but of the entire team. He is the only returning starter and he should be in for a huge senior season after averaging 16.3 points and a team high 8.6 rebounds last year. At 6-6 he is undersized to play the five spot, or even the four for that matter, but he is a tough player who developed into a superb power forward. The problem is he will have a lot of trouble defending opposing centers in the Big East if he has to play the five spot a lot. That means a player like Chris Otule, a 6-10 sophomore who was slowed by injuries last year, needs to step up and at least be able to play some minutes at the center position. If Hayward is stuck there all the time, he will be far less effective.
Who to Watch:
Obviously the success or failure of this group depends on the newcomers. Is Cadougan ready to run the show? If not, can Acker or junior college transfers Buycks and Johnson-Odom pick up the slack? Only time will tell, but at least Marquette has some options on the perimeter. This group is not going to be Dominic James, Wesley Matthews and Jerel McNeal any time soon, or ever for that matter, so that puts more pressure on the frontcourt.
The frontcourt could actually be pretty good if Williams and Maymon can live up to their hype. But that will probably take some time. In a few years this will be an NCAA Tournament team, but for now it looks more like an NIT team. Replacing four starters and three players who were four-year starters is going to take some time and that time will be measured in years, not months.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Maurice Acker, Senior, Guard, 2.8 points per game
Dwight Buycks, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Jimmy Butler, Junior, Guard, 5.6 points per game
Lazar Hayward, Senior, Forward, 16.3 points per game
Chris Otule, Sophomore, Center, 1.3 points per game
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