Marquette Mailbag: Decisions, decisions….

(USA Today Images)

(USA Today Images)

We’re back to the Saturday mailbag, where we’re taking your questions from Twitter, Facebook and email and answering them. If you’d like to submit a question, tweet @PaintTouches, write it on our Facebook wall or send an email to On to the mailbag:

1. Todd Mayo is a Golden Eagle in 2013-’14: Yes or no. (@patrickkleary)

Yes. Every offseason–actually, I started receiving questions in February–the questions arise of whether or not Todd Mayo will be in a Marquette uniform the following year. And when Tuesday came around, and Jamal Ferguson was granted his transfer and Chris Otule opted for a sixth year, the next questions were on, guess who? Mayo.

So I asked a source close to the situation, who told me, “there’s no story with Todd.” While it’s true there were serious doubts about him returning after his academic ineligibility this past first semester, he seems to have made improvements in the classroom and on the court. It’s not always going to be smooth with Mayo, but it appears he will remain with the Golden Eagles for at least another year.

We broke down what Mayo’s outlook looks like for his junior season, and if he can finally string together a season’s worth of practices and games, it’s not difficult to see him having a significant role in the rotation. True, in last week’s mailbag I didn’t have him in my top eight of the rotation. But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe he can contribute in a positive manner.

2. Does Buzz continue pseudo-starting Juan Anderson next year? (@sam_asalways)

This is probably my favorite question I received this week. Buzz Williams isn’t the only coach in the country who starts a non-core player to bring a foul trouble-prone player off the bench, but his two picks the last two seasons have been interesting.

Juan Anderson started 31 games last year; the year before that injuries didn’t allow for Buzz to start a “non-core” player; and three years ago Erik Williams started the last 10 games of the year instead of Jae Crowder…really.

But next year Buzz will have his most talented group. Chris Otule will start while Davante Gardner comes off the bench, but it’s really tough to see Buzz keeping Jamil Wilson out of the starting lineup. Yes, he thrived off the bench (with Anderson starting) last year, but it’s his senior year and he’s arguably Marquette’s most talented player. Gardner comes off the bench because he can’t play 30+ minutes and needs to be fresh for the final stretch; Wilson can and will play 30+ minutes, meaning I think he’ll start next season.

In last week’s mailbag I predicted Derrick Wilson, Vander Blue, Jamil Wilson, Jameel McKay and Chris Otule would start. So to answer the question, no, I don’t think Buzz will use his pseudo-start option in 2013. Then again, that theory did lead Marquette to the Elite 8, so we’ll see.

3. If Vander Blue stays, will he see any minutes at point guard? (@MBielanski, @TheMUblueman)

I can’t blame you if you didn’t check the first two questions once you saw Vander’s name here, but go read those if you can. Let me start this question by saying I trust my sources who told me Blue is seriously considering the NBA draft. He’s not dead-set on it–he very well could be receiving feedback before making his decision by Apr. 28–but it’s still up in the air. But since the rumors began Tuesday, my purely speculative guess is Blue comes back for his senior season. You can’t blame him for feeling on top of the world after an incredible showing in the NCAA Tournament, but ultimately I see him coming back.

If he does, I really doubt he sees much time at point guard. It’s a nice theory because A) Junior Cadougan’s departure leaves a void at the point, B) Blue’s best chance at the NBA is as a point guard, and C) Blue at the point would help put Marquette’s five best players on the court.

But putting Blue at the point guard takes him away from the wing, where he absolutely excelled last year. Just as Darius Johnson-Odom would have been best-served for the NBA at point last year, as well as Jerel McNeal in 2008-’09, Buzz’s job is win games at Marquette. Blue is entrenched in the starting lineup and Marquette’s best lineup is him playing off the ball.

It’s also worth noting that Blue isn’t all that great of a passer. His career assist-to-turnover ratio is 1.02 (212-to-208) and he isn’t all that great of a dribble-drive threat in the halfcourt. He thrives off getting a step on defenders on the wing and pulling up for jumpers. That’s not much of a resume for a point guard. He could see minutes at “point guard” late in games when Marquette needs its three best perimeters on the court (two years ago Buzz went with Blue, Todd Mayo and DJO in some situations), but on the whole Derrick Wilson, Duane Wilson and perhaps John Dawson will hold down the fort just fine.

4. Which freshman will have the biggest impact next season?

I’m not going to include junior college transfer Jameel McKay in this one since the incoming All-American will thrive. As it stands, the two freshmen with the best chance of instant impact are point guard Duane Wilson and shooting guard Jajuan Johnson. No disrespect to Deonte Burton and John Dawson, but those two project more as projects (Dawson) and have steep competition at their positions (Burton). Both have high upside, but it may not translate in Year 1.

Wilson is going to be forced into minutes because of Cadougan’s departure. Derrick Wilson is one of Buzz’s favorite players and he trusts him with the offense. But he can only play so many minutes, meaning Wilson–who would play minutes anyways–will have an impact. His outside shooting is outstanding and he will quicken Marquette’s pace on the court. The question with him is how his passing will translate at the college level.

For Johnson, he’s the outside shooter Buzz did not have last year. He’s also the best recruit Buzz has pulled in five recruiting classes. He’s extremely talented, excels as a slasher and has good length on defense. There’s competition on the wing, but has partially opened up with Ferguson’s (and Jake Thomas’) transfer.

If I had to pick between the two I would say Wilson, simply because we know minutes will be there. Johnson could explode in the scoring department, but Wilson’s talent can’t be denied. The junior Derrick Wilson may get the benefit of the doubt to start the year, but Duane could start at some point in 2013.

5. What will Marquette’s pace look like next year? Duane vs. Derrick Wilson’s style of play? (@Cohete009)

Another really good question for the mailbag. Marquette has had a top-35 offense (efficiency) each of Buzz Williams’ five seasons, all while playing as slow as the 304th quickest pace (2010) to the 16th (2012). Last year, with the most talented and deepest group of bigs, combined with a lack of 3-point shooters, Marquette played at 64.4 adjusted possessions per game, 239th fastest in the country, slower than the national average.

With Chris Otule back for a sixth season and Jameel McKay entering the fold (plus Steve Taylor and Juan Anderson a year older) I see Marquette hovering around that same pace. They won’t speed it up too much with three forwards/centers on the court the majority of the game, but a backcourt consisting of Vander Blue, Todd Mayo, Jajuan Johnson and Deonte Burton will get out and run. That’s inevitable.

What’s interesting about your question is how things will change when Derrick Wilson is in the game vs. Duane Wilson. We don’t know about Duane, though being a dominant point guard in high school allowed him to run out more times than not, but Derrick Wilson rarely picked up the pace last year. In fact, his transition numbers, per Synergy, were really poor. As more of a game manager, Wilson is looking to make smart decisions in the halfcourt (which he does) rather than beat defenses with speed. Duane may pick things up a little–depending on how Buzz and the staff mold him–but the point guard alone won’t change pace enough to see a major difference.

Bonus: How many hours of sleep are you getting now that your late-night Synergy-ing is over? (@realnumber1sped)

Well-done. My sleep schedule is still a little off–as I write this it’s 3:43 a.m. (proof below) and I’m deep into season 3 of Archer, a hilarious show if you haven’t checked it out. But I’m having too much fun on the beat. Without delving too much into my personal life, I work most nights at CSN Chicago until midnight and get home around 1-1:30 a.m. From there it’s all Marquette, but it’s something I enjoy. Just as someone gets lost in a great book or a video game they love until 4 a.m., the same goes for me covering Marquette basketball. It’s not work. It’s my passion.

As for Synergy, I think Andrei would agree it’s equivalent to the ocean: We feel like we’ve found so much on it, yet 95 percent is still undiscovered. It’s truly an incredible tool that we’re trying to understand more of every time we go on the website, and we hope to make progress this offseason. I appreciate you looking out for my sleep schedule, but it’s just about the same as it was in-season. Yet it’s all smiles over here. Can’t get enough of the gig. You readers keep us going.


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Categories: Columns, Home, Mailbag


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