The team Marquette hypothetically would put out on the court today will look significantly different from the team fans see at Marquette Madness. But that won’t keep us from taking a way too early look at the off-season, and where five Marquette analysts expect to see the most improvement from the team.
A significant rule change from the NCAA, that college coaches are allowed to work with players over the summer two hours per day and up to eight hours per week, will be put into effect this year.
The team will return from brief visits home to begin summer workouts, which will consist of extensive work with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Smith, head trainer Ernest Eugene and, now, the rest of the coaching staff.
Brew City Ball’s Jim Ganzer said he expects the Milwaukee Summer Pro-Am to take place the first week of July, which will give fans their first look at the team since Phoenix. A maximum of two Division I teammates are allowed on each team, but the main focus will be on individual improvement (but more so a display of athleticism and fun).
Here is Paint Touches’ first edition of Five Point Play for the 2012-’13 season.
1. Which of Marquette’s three newcomers (Trent Lockett not included) will be most important to the team’s success next year?
Mark Strotman, Paint Touches: All aboard the Steve Taylor train. I have been as vocal as anyone about how good I believe Taylor can be ever since a conversation with Tony Benford back in February. Jae Crowder walked by on his way to the locker room, and Benford turned, saw Crowder and said, “He’s a lot like that guy.” Taylor already has the experience on playing what was essentially a national stage at Simeon, and his skill set is similar to Crowder, plus two inches. His importance to the second unit as the top rebounder and inside-out threat will be important to a team looking for scorers. He’s the real deal.
Matt Trebby, Marquette Radio: Prior to Lockett’s arrival, I would have said T.J. Taylor. Now I will go with Steve Taylor, but it still is close. T.J. is the type of player who will make an impact because of his style, but he will be the fifth guard in the rotation. So Steve will get more of a chance, with only Juan Anderson and Jamil Wilson to compete with. I say Steve, but I think T.J. would perform better if given the chance.
Anonymous Eagle: The rotation of Cadougan/Lockett/Blue/Mayo/D. Wilson is pretty solid on its own, so anything that T.J. Taylor and Ferguson can contribute to that end of things will be pure bonus. Buzz has said in the past that he expects that Steve Taylor will be able to step in immediately and contribute to filling in the gaping hole that is left behind by Jae Crowder’s departure. Considering how Taylor was able to fit in to a very talented Simeon team, and do his part to help them win three straight Illinois state titles, I expect he’ll be able to find ways to contribute to Marquette immediately.
Andrei Greska, Paint Touches: I was going to say Steve Taylor, but I’ll play devil’s advocate for this one. I’ll go with the other Taylor, T.J. Steve will turn out to be the best player from this class, but a true freshman will have a much tougher time adjusting to the rigors and physicality of low post, Big East basketball. T.J. has more experience and has the ability to step in right away if his shot is dropping. He will get a shot to fill in for Cadougan in limited slots, giving him ample opportunity for playing time.
MarquetteHoops.com: With the addition of Lockett I think Steve Taylor becomes the most important player for next season. I might have said T.J. Taylor a month ago, but Lockett eases concerns about scoring in the backcourt. Replacing Jae Crowder will be extremely difficult, and it’s important Marquette has a guy who can provide solid minutes behind Wilson and solidify things on the glass.
2. Would you welcome a forward-oriented rotation that features Jamil Wilson, Davante Gardner and Chris Otule, or should Buzz Williams stay with a three-guard attack?
Mark Strotman, Paint Touches: It’s appealing, but not for more than 8-10 minutes per game. If everyone stays healthy, Buzz Williams will have the most front court flexibility since he arrived in Milwaukee. But the addition of Lockett will keep Marquette guard-oriented. That being said, a frontline of J. Wilson-Gardner-Otule has as much as versatility as any team in the Big East, and Williams will be able to implement it against the Georgetown’s and Syracuse’s of the world.
Matt Trebby, Marquette Radio: With Davante’s skill-set, he can play point guard! But seriously, those three can’t play together. Otule’s and Gardner’s lack of speed would create way too much of a defensive liability. As good of an idea as it may be, it is a bit unrealistic. I would say the three-guard lineup is the best option, especially with the five talented guards Marquette will have (Cadougan, T.J. Taylor, Blue, Mayo, Lockett), then go with Wilson/Steve Taylor/Juan and a center, and adjust whenever.
Anonymous Eagle: Whenever possible? Oh, no. No no no no no no no no. An occasional flash of a few minutes a game just to keep opponents on their toes, especially for down the road? Sure. But if you have all three out there for any extended time, then how long do you have to keep two of them out there while the third one catches a breather before coming back? Although, if Steve Taylor shows that he can contribute for long stretches right away….
Andrei Greska, Paint Touches: That’s a big NO. It’s great having the ability to go really big, but MU’s size would be best served being spread out. Otule and Gardner play way too similar a role and will see minimal minutes together, if at all. The three guard attack may not be the only alternative though, depending on the development of Steve Taylor and Juan. We saw Buzz use Gardner, Wilson and Jae together at times, and I think that we will see the reincarnation of that at times this year.
MarquetteHoops.com: I don’t foresee Marquette playing Otule and Gardner together. However, if Steve Taylor or Juan Anderson can provide solid minutes, you might see stretches where one of them plays with Gardner/Otule and Wilson.
3. Of the returning players, whose progression are you most looking forward to?
Mark Strotman, Paint Touches: Vander Blue won the “Most Improved Award” at this year’s banquet, but people still don’t realize how much better he played in 2011-’12. Until the day he graduates, he will be the most intriguing player to watch in terms of progression. Last year, his role was similar and he outperformed his freshman year numbers. But this year, he will be called on to score. His field goal percentages must improve, but I really believe it’s only a matter of time before he makes “the jump.” This summer could be it.
Matt Trebby, Marquette Radio: The popular answer will be Juan Anderson, but I don’t think he’s going to need to progress much. He just needs to play his natural position. I would say it will be Derrick Wilson, because offensively he has nowhere to go but up. Last season I would rather have had Jae Crowder shoot a half-court shot than Wilson a 5-foot runner. His defense gives him great potential and if he doesn’t play much next year he may be the next Jamail Jones.
Anonymous Eagle: I’m going to go with Juan Anderson. His development was hindered last season between his two early injuries and his suspension, but he showed big effort when given an opportunity and flashes of ability as well. With a full summer on campus to work on both his on court play and his physical capability with Todd Smith, I can see a potential breakout sophomore season from the Oakland native.
Andrei Greska, Paint Touches: Todd Mayo. After “shooting” out of the gates in the non-conference season, his “shooting” began to fail him after a few Big East games. He oozes talent and he has the scorer’s mentality all the while playing excellent perimeter defense. With DJO gone, I think Mayo becomes the outlet when the offense sputters. I can’t wait to see his game taken to another level.
MarquetteHoops.com: I’m really interested to see how Jamil Wilson is able to improve.The past few seasons we have seen the evolution of guys like Hayward, Butler and Crowder at the same position, so I am intrigued to see if that trend can continue. Wilson might have better physical tools than all of the above but we will see if he is able to pull it all together.
4. Would you rather Buzz Williams sign Wisconsin transfer Jarrod Uthoff or bank the scholarship for the 2013 class?
Mark Strotman, Paint Touches: No offense to Uthoff, who could very well succeed as a stretch-four under Buzz, but I really hope this last scholarship gets banked. A quick look at the talent Marquette is in play for in 2013 (Jameel McKay, Kendrick Nunn, Kyle Washington, Matt Thomas, Stevie Clark) makes it quite obvious that it’s the better way to go. Walk-on Jake Thomas can essentially act as a thirteenth scholarship, and it gives Buzz flexibility to take on a mid-season transfer. Not filling one’s scholarships isn’t negative. It’s simply planning ahead, and what’s ahead could be very bright for Marquette.
Matt Trebby, Marquette Radio: Buzz should just keep the scholarship for 2013, as his team will have plenty of depth next year. With six capable guards and a very potent front court, there is no need for the Badger reject from Iowa. If Uthoff comes, I would be shocked. With that being said, Jake Thomas should be thrown another scholarship. The team may not be losing much (Cadougan being the only one graduating), but it is always preferable to have that scholarship, especially with an impressive 2013 class.
Anonymous Eagle: I don’t care about taking on Uthoff just to screw with Bo Ryan and Wisconsin (and we’re the ones who run Badger Hate Week), and I’m not thrilled about the concept of Uthoff having to burn a year of eligibility while he sits out a transfer year after already red-shirting. Scout.com lists Marquette as interests on NINE of their top 100 for 2013 right now, and that’s WITHOUT including Deonte Burton and Duane Wilson, who are both in the top 100. A sophomore who hasn’t played a game in over 2 years or a freshman who’s one of three top 100 recruits arriving at MU to play together? Seems like an easy choice to me.
Andrei Greska, Paint Touches: Sigh, where’s the fun when we are all in agreement? I too believe in the banking strategy, should it come down to this scenario. Basing this analysis on scouting reports and hearsay, Uthoff just doesn’t fit into the style MU plays. Sure, a tall shooters are always welcome, but having him sit out for a year makes him much less appetizing. Bank the scholly and roll the dice for 2013.
MarquetteHoops.com: Give me a scholarship for 2013. I have seen Uthoff play before (with the Iowa Barnstormers AAU team) and looking back at my notes, there’s no doubt he is a skilled and versatile player. I thought his ability to work a two man game with the other big guy on his team was noteworthy. At the time I labeled him as an undersized 4. He didn’t really play above the rim or show the athleticism necessary to switch out on the perimeter. Therefore, I think there might be a better overall fit in the class of 2013.
5. Which team would you like to see Marquette play in the Big East/SEC Challenge?
Mark Strotman, Paint Touches: It helped Marquette when Norfolk St. shocked Missouri in the second round of the NCAA Tournament this year, but the basketball fan in me was crushed. Missouri doesn’t play the fastest paced game, but their bevvy of quick guards and outside shooting would make for a dream match-up with Marquette. Furthermore, it gives the Golden Eagles a chance to improve its RPI and resume, as Missouri should be a Top 25 resident all season long.
Matt Trebby, Marquette Radio: Kentucky. Why not? If Marquette loses, it’s not the end of the world. If they win, it’s huge. The Wildcats would be a very impressive victory for Marquette. While Kentucky will be extremely good next year, it would be great to have the chance to beat them. Not only would it be a fantastic victory, but even a loss could be beneficial. They would have played one of the best teams in the country and learned from it.
Anonymous Eagle: I’m sick of Vanderbilt, I don’t want to see Florida again for a long time, and Marquette already has LSU on the schedule. I’ll take either Missouri as revenge for the 2009 NCAA Tournament or Kentucky for revenge for showing up during Marquette’s game against Murray State in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Andrei Greska, Paint Touches: Tennessee. I still remember the shady calls that gave the Vols 13 straight points from the charity stripe and a 12 point victory last time these teams played back in 2008.
Add in the Maymon factor and a victory over Tennessee would be O so sweet.
MarquetteHoops.com: While there has been some speculation of Missouri or Florida–neither of which I would mind–I will go against the grain and say Vanderbilt. Yes, the same Commodore team we have lost to the past two years. It just does not sit well and would like a shot at picking up a win against them.