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Grading Each Player’s Performance at the Paradise Jam

Senior forward Jae Crowder's 14 points and 11 rebounds were vital to Marquette defeating Norfolk State in the Paradise Jam championship. / Tribune file photo

The Marquette men’s basketball team may have been in the warm sunshine of the Virgin Islands this past weekend, but it took care of business on the court, making mincemeat of Winthrop (95-73), Mississippi (96-66) and battling Norfolk State to a 59-57 victory. Below is an evaluation of each player’s performance this weekend using an academic scale (A,B,C,D,F).

Senior forward Jae Crowder: In the 96-66 dismantling of Ole Miss, Crowder was an astounding 9-of-11 from the field and hit his first two 3-pointers. He finished with 25 points and seven rebounds. Against Norfolk State he posted his second double-double of the year (14 points, 11 rebounds). Crowder was expected to be the second fiddle to DJO, and he hasn’t disappointed thus far. A

Senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom: He’s the No. 1 scoring option for this team, and it doesn’t seem like he’s played up to his full abilities yet. Yet, he’s averaging 20 points per game and scored that in all three games of the Paradise Jam tournament. Can’t complain with that production. A

Redshirt junior center Chris Otule: After his 14 point outburst in the season opener, it was nice to see Otule reach double-digits again in the 95-73 victory over Winthrop (11 points). He is still a work in progress offensively. He had three blocks against a very long Ole Miss squad and added four more against Norfolk State. He held his ground well and used his length to his advantage — something we’ve come to expect from Otule. B

Junior guard Junior Cadougan: Now if only the TV people could pronounce his name correctly (Ca-doo-gan, not Ca-di-gan) there’d be something special here. Coach Buzz Williams has dubbed Cadougan his man at the point guard position, and Cadougan has run with it. He posted a consistent eight points and six assists in all three games of the Paradise Jam tournament and has shown an improved jumper from outside. A-

Sophomore guard Vander Blue: It was a surprise to many when he was inserted into the starting lineup, but Blue has proven his worth. He dropped a career-high 26 points against Winthrop and has only once not posted double-digit points. His offense against Norfolk State was missing (he had zero points). He’s playing near-lockdown defense and is Marquette’s third best player at this point. A-

Redshirt sophomore forward Jamil Wilson: Wilson was supposed to be the next Jimmy Butler, but he hasn’t had much of an opportunity yet. He played just 10, 19, and 10 minutes (respectively) in the three Paradise Jam contests and appears to be behind Blue and Jamail Jones for playing time at the small forward. Wilson uses his length well on the defensive end of the floor but looks tentative and unsure of himself offensively. B-

Sophomore forward Jamail Jones: Jones has proven himself as a player that can score in bunches and with great athleticism. His jump shot is smooth and has an aura of confidence to go with it. He needs to get better closing out on defenders though, as he does not always come out under control and has a tendency to commit fouls in those situations, like he did against Ole Miss. B-

Sophomore forward Davante Gardner: Gardner has proven himself to be much of the same player we saw last year but slimmer. He can still score in bunches off the bench — as he did against Ole Miss with his 15 points. His seven rebounds and points against Norfolk State were huge. But he still gets out hustled to loose basketballs and struggles to put himself in a good position to rebound the basketball. B

Freshman forward Juan Anderson: In his first game back from his three game suspension, the 33-point victory against Ole Miss, coach Buzz Williams only played him two minutes. He saw zero minutes in the championship. He’s clearly behind on the depth chart with Jamil Wilson, Jamail Jones and Vander Blue as the top three players for the small forward position. It will be interesting to see how his role evolves as his suspension becomes a thing of the past. F

Freshman guard Derrick Wilson: Defense was his mantra coming into the season, and defense is his mantra now. Wilson can lock down opposing point guards with the best of them. His offense has been non-existent — he scored two points at the Paradise Jam tournament — but Marquette hasn’t needed him to, as it scored 90-plus points in two of the three contests. B

Freshman guard Todd Mayo: Mayo has hit 8-of-16 field goals at the Paradise Jam tournament and averaged 7.33 points per game over the three game stretch. He has shown a strong offensive ability in the Virgin Islands as well as on the season. His confidence and quick move to the basket have made him a valuable offensive asset off of the bench. B+

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15 Comments on “Grading Each Player’s Performance at the Paradise Jam”

  1. November 22, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    So everyone is an A or B, except Juan, who gets the F? First of all, two minutes should be an incomplete. A failing grade for JA is a slap in the face for someone that hasn’t Jada chance. How about giving him a couple weeks before you label him a failure? And giving all A’s & B’s elsewhere indicates there isn’t anything to work on.

    Derrick Wilson can’t score, Todd Mayo is slow on defensive rotations, Blue was ineffective against the zone, and those are just a few criticisms. But most detrimental was that it looked like the team as a whole bought a bit too much into their press (#16 AP, #8 kenpom) against Norfolk State. Rather than just blowing bubbles up their backsides, how about at least a small measure of constructive criticism?

    • November 22, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

      Taking the tournament as a whole, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say most of the players had A or B performances. Marquette fans will only remember Monday’s game, but since this is a full weekend grading system, I don’t have much beef with the high marks.

      As for Juan, incomplete may have been more fair, but that’s an easy way out. Through circumstances that didn’t have anything to do with on-court performance, he didn’t bring anything to the table. Simple as that.

    • Mike Nelson
      November 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

      “A” is the only grade where there’s nothing to work on. “B” means there’s still work to be done.

      And the whole team was ineffective against the zone, hence the reason MU almost blew its lead against Norfolk. It’s been a Buzz problem since he’s come to MU.

      I did mention Derrick Wilson cannot score. But I think that’s what we expect from him at this point and thus to dock him for it is inappropriate.

      Mayo has been a pleasant surprise offensively, in my eyes, so I wanted to reward him for what I think he’s done. I may be in the minority, but I thought he’d be a bench warmer. So far I’ve been proven wrong. Defensively there is work to be done. I gave him a B+ for his offense. His defense keeps him out of the A range.

  2. November 22, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    How can Juan get an F w/o playing? Incomplete is the only appropriate grade.

    • Mike Nelson
      November 22, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

      He gets an “F” because his selfish actions cost him the opportunity to get more minutes.

      Many of us thought he’d be an immediate contributor because his length makes him an asset on the defensive end of the floor, and he’s a strong rebounder.

      Incomplete is a very acceptable grade for Juan, depending on your point of view, but I believe he should be criticized for his selfish act.

  3. November 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    I disagree with some of these.

    Derrick Wilson was probably the worst player on the court this weekend. Don’t know if you caught Friday’s game, but he was terrible. The rest of the weekend he never got in a flow and couldn’t guard a lick defensively. He was a C-, at best.

    Jamail Jones provided nothing this weekend, either. He didn’t close out and had 5 points on 2-of-7 shooting in 23 minutes for the tournament. Not really “scoring in bunches.” Jones was in the D range this weekend. He hasn’t done squat since that great Mt. St. Mary’s showing.

    Juan can’t be an F, because he wasn’t going o play anyways. Not really fair.

    And Jamil was worse than a B-. I don’t know if it’s a chemistry or adjustment issue, but something’s gotta change. They’re going to need him down low.

  4. Jimmywiz
    November 22, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    Wow. Not sure if we were watching the same tournament. I agree with most that Juan should be given an incomplete. Derrick is spelling Jr. just fine – C. Jamail and Jamil have been disappointing thus far. Jamil looks bewildered out there. Todd is contributing more than I expected at this point – B. Then there’s Vander Blue. Given the hype I’d grade him no better than a C. Is it just me or does he look disconnected with his teammates?

    • Mike Nelson
      November 22, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

      What type of expectations did you have for Van at the beginning of the season?

      I was pretty down on him given everything that happened last year and was shocked when Buzz inserted him into the starting lineup.

      He has impressed me very much in the early stages, minus the zero points against Norfolk State in round 2.

      Jamail I still like, Jamil has been a big disappointment but I love his activity on the defensive end. Something has to give offensively. He looked like a completely different player at Marquette Madness and at the Haunted Hoops scrimmage. I’d be curious to hear what he/others on the team have to say about that.

      For me, C+ and below means you’re struggling hardcore. I don’t think anyone on the team is struggling that extremely. This is an undefeated team with 20-plus point victories in four of five contests.

      Its one blemish came against the zone which it has consistently struggled with since Buzz arrived. I put that more on the coaching staff then on the players since its been here as long as Buzz has.

      • November 23, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

        Do you have any stats to back up Marquette failing against zones since he’s been here? Because he torched Syracuse’s twice last year. Seems like a random claim with not a lot of backing.

  5. Bill Derleth
    November 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Did the guy who wrote this not know basketball or just not see the tournament. You guys have been doing really well, great analysis of the Ole Miss romp but these grades are shocking. Derrick Wislon was a C- or D Jamil Wilson never contributed so average at best..that would be a C. Vander was superb early in the tournament then was an offensive negative Monday turning the ball over and missing every shot. DJO, Crowder, Otule, Cadougan were solid–they get A’s and B’s. Gardner, maybe a B….Mayo maye a B- but after that C’s and D’s…

    Put a little more effort in your work….think,

  6. Mike Nelson
    November 22, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    The one grade I completely agree with and stand firm on is the grade for Juan Anderson. He does deserve an F.

    Why didn’t he play? Because of his stupid, selfish actions.

    The feeling was that if he hadn’t done what he did that he would have been a contributor on this team from day one because he gets after it defensively and has great length. But because he wasn’t thinking, he’s going to be in the dog house for a while. His actions earned him an F.

    Mark, I was unable to see Friday’s game. The game was supposed to be on where I was but it ended up not being shown so I missed it. I will defer to you if Derrick Wilson was bad Friday. And the Jones comment about offense was more about what we’ve seen from him as a whole. Very tough to judge his offense for how little he was on the floor. And I did mention he’s weak at closing out. I think I deserve props for that.

    I still think as a whole the team is in a good position. Like Andrei said, two 20-plus point victories are impressive. Something has to be going right.

    And on Monday we saw Buzz’s team struggle against the zone which has been a consistent since he’s been the coach here. That’s something that has been a Buzz problem.

  7. Mike Nelson
    November 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    Mark, no stats available for when teams strictly play against a zone. So I got nothing. Just based upon experience.

    One thing I will say about the Syracuse game last year, it helps when you can prep for the zone.

    But I know when teams throw the zone at MU in the past under Buzz that it’s like kryptonite. If you can find stats to prove me wrong please do I would love to see them. But good luck.

  8. 77ncaachamps
    November 24, 2011 at 12:52 am #

    Incomplete for Juan.

    How can you hold his off-season actions against him if you should only evaluate his in-game performance?

    With that line of thinking…

    You should include all players’ practice sessions, etc. And an A- for Vander? Talk about selfish actions: he was driving to the hoop 1 on 2 and 3. Save the late game steal, he was a minor factor in the game offensively. Vander, for his disappearing act, gets a B+ from me.

  9. Greg Campbell
    November 27, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    Shouldn’t Juan Anderson get an I instead of an F ?

    • Mike Nelson
      November 29, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

      An “I” is a very acceptable grade for Juan Anderson. That could be one person’s interpretation of the situation. But given that the reason he played only two minutes was self inflicted, I feel he deserved the “F.” He also only played two minutes, contributing little to the weekend.

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