Top 15 Marquette basketball moments of 2011

2011 was quite the season for Buzz Williams and the Marquette Golden Eagles. Aside from winning 24 games and a trip to the Sweet 16, Marquette compiled a tremendous recruiting class for 2012, had a player selected in the first round of the NBA draft for the second consecutive year and provided plenty of memories that Marquette fans won’t soon forget.

Steve “The Homer” True may have said it best, however, at the team’s end of the year banquet: “Never forget how many people you made truly happy this year.” The same can be said for the first 13 games of this season.

Here’s a look at the top 15 Marquette basketball moments from 2011.

15. Todd Mayo’s performance against Wisconsin

Dec. 3: Points were at a minimum when Marquette traveled to the Kohl Center to take on Bo Ryan’s Badgers, but that didn’t stop Todd Mayo from coming off the bench to score 14 of Marquette’s 61 points. He was fearless attacking the basket and looked more like a seasoned veteran than a freshman playing in his seventh collegiate game.

One of the most memorable plays from the past year was Mayo’s floater with 1:47 remaining and Marquette up three (check the 0:42 second mark here). Fittingly, Mayo sealed Marquette’s with an emphatic two-handed breakaway dunk in front of the Badger student section.

14. Rob Frozena drains 3-pointer in closing seconds of Sweet 16 loss

Mar. 25: The game was over at halftime and most in attendance were patiently awaiting the start of the Ohio State-Kentucky matchup, but four-year walk-on Rob Frozena was playing as hard as he ever had to close out his Marquette career the right way. With nine seconds left in the game, Vander Blue found Frozena in the left corner for a 3-pointer that hit nothing but net.

Said Frozena after the game: “That was the perfect ending to my career. You have no idea. This whole four-year experience has been a childhood dream, and that was just the cherry on top right there.”

13. Vander Blue posterizes Washington’s Abdul Gaddy

Dec. 6: Most will remember Blue’s massive dunk over Washington’s point guard, but making the play all the more impressive was the fact that Blue intercepted the pass leading up to the slam. Blue fought through a rough freshman season that he called “the worst basketball of my life,” but has shown massive strides in his sophomore season, playing more aggressive and providing leadership to a young Marquette squad. It’s worth noting that the dunk came in a tie game midway through the second half, and he finished the play by making his free throw and finished with 11 points.

12. Marquette destroys No. 11 Notre Dame behind 12 threes

Jan. 10: A 2-1 start to the Big East season was nice, but Marquette fans were still looking for a signature win. They got their answer Jan. 10 against Notre Dame, when the Golden Eagles made a ridiculous 12-of-17 3-pointers in a 79-57 win over the No. 11 Fighting Irish. Senior Dwight Buycks led the way with a 5-for-5 performance from beyond the arc and juniors Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder added seven more treys in the dominating win. Marquette also held eventual Big East Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough to nine points, which ended up being his second lowest point total of the year.

11. Cadougan propels Marquette past West Va. in B.E. Tournament

Mar. 9: A win over Providence in the second round of the Big East Tournament had Marquette feeling good about their NCAA Tournament chances, but a win over West Virginia would have been the clincher. So who other than Junior Cadougan and his 4.0 points per game to lead Marquette to the Big Dance?

Cadougan finished with a career-high 15 points and added five assists in the 67-61 win, driving to the paint at will and making 7-of-9 free throws. In a game where Johnson-Odom, Crowder and Butler were a combined 6-of-19, Cadougan’s timely baskets was exactly what Marquette needed to advance to the next round.

10. Jae Crowder, clutch shots help take down No. 10 Syracuse

Jan. 29: The Golden Eagles stood at 4-4 in Big East play and were facing a reeling Syracuse team that desperately needed a win. The back-and-forth matchup came down to the game’s final minutes, and huge 3-pointers from Jimmy Butler (two seconds on the shot clock) and Darius Johnson-Odom (four seconds on the shot clock) sealed the deal for Marquette. It was that resiliency and poise down the stretch that had Marquette fans believing something special was in order.

Jae Crowder came up huge against the massive Orange front court, scoring 25 points and grabbing seven rebounds in the win. He also made 8-of-10 free throws to keep Marquette even in the closely contested battle.

9. Former players return to Milwaukee for Marquette Madness

Nov. 11: The official beginning of the Marquette season is always a special occasion, but Marquette Madness was made extra special in part due to the NBA Lockout (and potentially us). Former Marquette players Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Lazar Hayward, Wesley Matthews and Steve Novak all returned for the event and participated in a scrimmage that made the night one to remember. Players from the 2010-2011 team also received their Sweet 16 rings before the night’s festivities began for the men’s team.

8. Junior Cadougan, DJO clutch in overtime win at Connecticut

Feb. 24: The Golden Eagles had plenty to put on their NCAA Tournament resume midway through the Big East season, but one thing was missing: a quality road win. They were able to check that off the list after they went into Connecticut and picked up a 74-67 overtime win over the eventual national champion Huskies. Two key plays helped them get there.

Down 55-53 with just over three minutes left, Jae Crowder found Junior Cadougan on the left wing for a 3-pointer to put Marquette back on top. Then with 12 seconds remaining and Marquette down 59-57, Jimmy Butler and Darius Johnson-Odom forced Kemba Walker into a turnover and Johnson-Odom finished the play with a floater to tie the game at the end of regulation. DJO then dominated the overtime period, scoring nine points and leading the Golden Eagles to the elusive quality road win.

7. Crowder hits game-winner over Washington at MSG

Dec. 6: Jae Crowder’s game-winner from the right corner was huge, but making it all the more impressive was that Buzz Williams had the confidence in his team to not call a timeout after Washington took the lead with 19 seconds to go. While it made sense to keep the Huskies’ defense out of position, Williams believed his team could get the job done in a pressure situation, and they did. Vander Blue brought the ball up the court and Crowder, off a screen from Jamil Wilson, knocked down the game-winning shot with 6.3 seconds remaining.

6. “Three goggles” take on a life of its own

Mar. 9:  Wes Matthews and the Portland Trailblazers, Vander Blue and Jamail Jones brought the “three goggles” to Marquette, and it spread like wildfire. For the good portion of the second half of the season, Marquette players, in unison, would throw up the goggles after each made 3-pointer, and eventually fans got in on the action as well. The hand gesture hit an all-time high following Marquette’s Big East Tournament win over West Virginia, when Blue and Jones sported the front page of, hoisting up the goggles.

5. Buzz Williams embraces family following the Syracuse win

Mar. 20: Chalk this one up as a lasting image no Marquette fan will soon forget. Immediately following the end of Marquette’s third round win over Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament, Buzz Williams made a bee-line to the Marquette fan section. Waiting for him? His wife, Corey, in tears of joy and his four children. Even without knowing his journey to become a Division I head coach (see moment No. 3), the 2010-2011 season had been a long one for Williams, who dealt with countless rumors of him leaving for an opening coaching position in the Big 12 and closer to home. On the court, Williams dealt with a short bench due to injuries and a transfer, a smaller team in the front court-dominant Big East and close losses.

Through it all Williams was a rock, keeping his team focused during the whirlwind of a season and being the leader of a program picked to finish eighth in the Big East and, by many, not make it out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The embrace between Williams and his wife signified much more than just a congratulatory hug following a basketball game.

4. Jimmy Butler’s stifling defense in the NCAA Tournament

Mar. 18 and 20: The 6-foot-7 Butler had been asked to guard just about every position on the floor during his senior season, manning up on anyone from Providence’s Marshon Brooks to Syracuse’s Kris Joseph to Connecticut’s Kemba Walker. But nowhere was his defensive prowess seen better than in the NCAA Tournament, when he shut down Xavier’s Tu Holloway and Syracuse’s Scoop Jardine.

Both point guards struggled mightily against Butler’s combination of size and speed. Holloway finished five points on 1-of-8 shooting while Jardine went 2-of-8 to finish with six points. Defensively, Butler had six steals and 10 rebounds in the two wins. It was that defense that led the way for the No. 11 seed Golden Eagles in their improbable run to the Sweet 16.

3. Jimmy Butler goes 30th overall to the Chicago Bulls

June 23: This moment wouldn’t have been so high on the list if it weren’t for the story that came out days before the draft. ESPN’s Chad Ford wrote about Butler’s childhood, where he was kicked out of his own home at age 13 and forced to fend for himself on the streets of Tomball, wondering what the future held for him.

Butler had plenty of chances to fail but never did. He continued to work hard in basketball and (with the help of Lambert and his new family) academics and wound up at Marquette for his sophomore season. Butler continued to improve each year with the Golden Eagles, and by his senior year was one of the league’s best defenders and earned a spot on the honorable mention Big East team.

The Marquette chapter of his life ended with the Chicago Bulls selecting Butler with the final pick of the first round in the NBA Draft. It was a proud day for all Marquette fans, who have known of Butler’s hard work, determination and high character since the moment he stepped on campus three years go.

2. Buzz Williams shares his story

Mar. 19: Those close to the Marquette program know Buzz Williams is as unique an individual as they come. But following Marquette’s win over Xavier in the NCAA Tournament, Williams shared with the media the story of how he began his coaching career. The only way to do the story justice is to read Bob Ryan’s column profiling Williams, who never refused to take no for an answer in his quest to one day become a college basketball coach.

1. DJO sends Marquette to Sweet 16

Mar. 20: As soon as it was learned that Gus Johnson would be calling the NCAA Tournament games in Cleveland, it was all but assured that Marquette’s game would come down to the final minute. That’s exactly what happened, as Darius Johnson-Odom took a pass from Jimmy Butler and drained a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left to help give Marquette 66-62 win over Syracuse and a trip to the Sweet 16. Johnson-Odom finished with a team-high 17 points and gave the Golden Eagles their first trip to the Sweet 16 since the 2003 season.

Re-live the moment at the 1:05 mark of this video.

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