Best case/worst case scenarios: Breaking down Marquette’s roster

The Marquette Golden Eagles will open up their 2011-2012 season in exactly three weeks at the Bradley Center, which means we have 21 days to bring you as much preseason coverage to get you ready.

From Darius Johnson-Odom to Derrick Wilson, every player will enter the season with expectations. It would seem that each of those expectations fall right in the middle of what the best-case scenario and worst-case scenario is for each player. Here’s a preview of the Marquette roster and what each player’s ceiling and floor are for the 2011-2012 season.

Darius Johnson-Odom, senior, SG

Best-case scenario:He’s the Golden Eagles’ most talented and hardest working athlete, which

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means the sky is the limit for DJO in his senior season. He may not have the natural talent to pull off a Kemba Walker-like run through the Big East and NCAA Tournaments, but if the shooting performance from his sophomore season returns and defensive improvement is evident, he could very well be an All-American candidate come March. All signs from this off-season (endorsements from LeBron James and Kevin Durant) point to Johnson-Odom putting together a memorable season in Milwaukee.

Worst-case scenario: Johnson-Odom suffers similar shooting woes like he did last year and he tries to do too much without Jimmy Butler. Defensively, his dedication is questioned and it keeps him from being one of the all-time Marquette greats. Still, DJO’s worst-case scenario is probably better that most player’s best-case scenarios. He’s going to be outstanding this season, it’s just a question of whether he plays within his role to get the most of his talent.

Jae Crowder, senior, PF

Best-case scenario:The front court is a little more crowded than it was when Lazar Hayward was a senior, but Crowder’s ceiling is

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close to what Hayward did in 20o9. He stays out of foul trouble which keeps him on the court for 30+ minutes a night, allowing him to reach his personal goal of averaging a double-double. It’s tough to see him out-producing Johnson-Odom, but he can get close if his outside game is on and he stays on the court.

Worst-case scenario: Foul trouble plagues Crowder for much of the year and he never finds a good rhythm offensively. He also falls in love with the perimeter, instead of banging down low to replace the void left by Butler. He shot 36 percent from beyond the arc last year, which is fine, but his true game is inside.

Junior Cadougan, junior, PG

Best-case scenario:“Second half of 2010 Junior Cadougan” shows up and is able to play 30 minutes a night in the Big East.

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A handful of players at media day referred to Cadougan as “Buzz on the court,” so if that leadership role is evident, the Marquette offense could really fly. Defensively, he can be a lock down defender if his stamina is there, because the quickness sure is.

Worst-case scenario: Cadougan is still not in good enough shape to play extended minutes, meaning Buzz Williams has to rely on two freshmen point guards for 15 minutes a night, leading to disaster. Also, Cadougan must improve on his outside shooting or defenses will give him the Rajan Rondo treatment, sagging in to 15 feet, daring him to shoot (and miss).

Chris Otule, junior, C

Best-case scenario:The Big East is full of talented bigs, and Otule could very well be the next one added to the list.

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He has focused on his offensive game this off-season, working with his left hand more and cutting his weight down. This could lead to a much leaner, quicker Otule, who averages 8 points and 6 rebounds and works his way onto one of the All Big East defensive teams.

Worst-case scenario: His offensive game is still in a rut and sophomore Davante Gardner shows much more promise scoring the ball, leading to Otule’s demotion. Foul trouble also becomes an issue for Otule, who can only play situationally when another team goes big on Marquette.

Jamil Wilson, sophomore, SF

Best-case scenario:Wilson does a little bit of everything, finishing as Marquette’s second leading scorer and leader in rebounds.

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He shows a Jimmy Butler-like skill set, but also extends his range out to the three point line, something Butler never really used extensively. Defensively, Wilson is a Butler clone, guarding anywhere from the 1 to the 4 and coming up with timely stops in key situations.

Worst-case scenario: Simply put, the pressure is too high and he tries to do too much. He seems to have a firm grasp on what his role is, but he still has just one year of collegiate experience and is being asked to replace a first round NBA draft pick. If Wilson has trouble guarding post players and becomes one-dimensional offensively (lacking a perimeter game), Marquette is in trouble.

Vander Blue, sophomore, SG

Best-case scenario:We see what we expected to see last season, which is a confident scorer who has no problems

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taking the ball to the basket. Blue can average 10 points per game if his jump shot improves and he takes the shots he is supposed to take. Defensively, Blue has had an off-season to work on his quickness and strength and could wind up on an All Big East defensive team. Last time I talked to Blue it seemed that his confidence was sky high, meaning we could see a breakout year.

Worst-case scenario: His offense has made no improvement and his solid defensive play is no longer worth having to play 4-on-5 offensively. Blue has a short fuse at times, and if he gets off to a shaky start and still can’t score, it could make for another long season.

Jamail Jones, sophomore, SG

Best-case scenario:Jones used the off-season to learn the system and comes in as a key contributor off the bench.

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He shows improvement defensively and is able to spell Jamil Wilson at the three spot. His offensive game also becomes more consistent, leading to time at shooting guard as well. Jones is the perfect 2/3 switchable and could play an important role off the bench.

Worst-case scenario: Freshman Juan Anderson possesses better defensive skills and Jones is once again lost in the rotation. Consistency is still an issue and he still looks lost on the court. The talent is there, but Jone has admitted he needs to do it on a more consistent basis in order to garner minutes.

Davante Gardner, sophomore, PF

Best-case scenario:He proves that his offensive outburst in 2010 was no fluke, and he continues to be Marquette’s most talented big in the post.

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His trimmed down physique also allows him to be more athletic on the defensive end, making him a key part of the rotation, rather than a situational substitute. His play late in the season bumps Otule from the starting five, and Gardner keeps it until he graduates.

Worst-case scenario: The sophomore slump occurs, and Gardner gets lost in the mix behind Crowder, Otule and Jamil Wilson. His defense is still marginal, at best, and he is still a one-trick pony on the offensive end. He also tests out his range from beyond the arc, and Buzz is none too happy.

Todd Mayo, freshman, SG

Best-case scenario:The biggest unknown in the 2011 recruiting class bursts onto the scene, much like Gardner did in 2010.

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He is able to score from anywhere on the court and his defense is solid enough to make him the first man off the bench. He also takes on a back-up point guard role to spell Cadougan, and the combination of Mayo and DJO is one of the best offensive back courts in the Big East.

Worst-case scenario: He has trouble acclimating to the college game, much like Blue did a year ago. His defense is sub-par and it’s clear he needs to put on more bulk before contributing at a high level. If Derrick Wilson isn’t ready, either, it becomes a guessing game as to who replaces Cadougan off the bench.

Derrick Wilson, freshman, PG

Best-case scenario:He becomes the perfect spell for Junior Cadougan, supplying Marquette’s second line

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with a bit of outside shooting and, more importantly, lock down defense. He won’t need to make a huge impact in order for the Golden Eagles to have success, but aggressiveness on defense would make life on Cadougan easier.

Worst-case scenario: He’s a no-show, and his Big East body doesn’t translate to immediate results. He is slow to pick up the offense and isn’t quick enough to make an impact defensively.

Juan Anderson, freshman, SF

Best-case scenario:The “perfect” Buzz Williams recruit is indeed perfect, playing the two and three and using his ball handling skills to run the break as a 6-foot-6 point guard.

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Defensively, he uses his length to knock away balls in passing lanes and blocking shots. His impact could be key for the defense.

Worst-case scenario: His small frame limits what he can do once the Big East season begins. His skill set makes him capable of playing, but his minutes are limited due to physicality. Also, we don’t see much of a jump shot (one of his weaknesses coming in), which forces him inside where he isn’t big enough to compete.


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