Junior Cadougan: “We Can Work It Out”

Junior guard Junior Cadougan will have to teach the younger point guards how to play the position in coach Buzz Williams' system. / Tribune file photo

Buzz Williams said Dominic James was arguably the only true point guard he’s had starting for him during his first three years as Marquette’s coach.

Now he has Junior Cadougan.

The junior guard should fill the void at the point guard position created by the departure of Dwight Buycks — although Williams would not deem Cadougan the starter when asked at media day on Oct. 14.

Cadougan showed glimpses of brilliance as a sophomore in his first full season of Division I basketball after he missed the first 18 games of his freshman campaign with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

He notched a double-double (10 points and 10 assists) in an 86-62 victory over Providence on Feb. 27 and propelled Marquette with his 15-point, five-assist performance in a 67-61 win over West Virginia in the Big East Championship tournament.

On the season, Cadougan averaged 4.00 points and 3.19 assists in 19.8 minutes per game as Buycks’ backup.

“I thought the last few games, if you statistically looked at his impact on winning and losing over his last eight games of our season, it was distinctly different than the first 20,” Williams said. “I think that he’s in better shape than he’s ever been in.”

Cadougan’s cardiovascular fitness as the season progresses will, in part, determine his minutes this season, Williams said.

“Offensively, I’ve always felt he’s had a good understanding for how to play and how, specifically, I want him to play,” Williams said. “Defensively, he’s got to improve. But he understands how hard he has to play. I tend to think that we’re going to be best when he’s a major contributor to what we’re doing. I have high expectations, and so do the other players on our team.”

To make himself better for 2011-’12, Cadougan spent extra time working on his jump-shot this offseason to transform himself from a player who excels at getting to the basket to a player who can knock down an open jump-shot at a clip better than 15.2 percent from beyond the arc — as was the case last year.

Freshman Derrick Wilson, the only other true point guard on the roster, was impressed with Cadougan while watching him on TV last season.

“I think he can be one of the best point guards in the Big East,” Wilson said. “But it depends on how much effort he puts into it. But knowing him, I know he’s going to put a lot of effort into it.”

Senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom said he believes Cadougan will finish the season top-five in the Big East in assists per game. For comparison, the fifth-ranked assister in the Big East averaged 5.1 assists per game last season, 1.9 more than Cadougan’s average.

“He knows where I like to shoot the ball. He knows where (senior forward) Jae (Crowder) is effective. He knows where (redshirt junior center) Chris (Otule) is very effective. He knows what pass to give to Chris (Otule) off the pick and roll. And he put himself into top shape this summer and this preseason. And I think he’s going to be one of the main focuses on our team.”

But beyond Cadougan, the position is a big question mark. There isn’t a true point guard on the roster with Division I experience.

“I’m going to have more of a coaching role this year to help Vander (Blue) play the point, help Derrick (Wilson) play the point, so they can help me out,” Cadougan said.

Freshman guard Todd Mayo, sophomore guard Blue, as well as Wilson all could see time at the position behind Cadougan this season.

“Who the other guys are, I don’t know. We’ll figure it out,” Williams said. “But I think we have multiple guys, within how we play, that can initiate the offense.”

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