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Where Marquette’s backcourt can improve this summer

(USA Today)

(USA Today)

Earlier we broke down where Marquette’s frontcourt can improve this summer (check that out here) and now we’re breaking down where the guards can do the same. This is a far-less experienced group, meaning they have more room to grow in an all-important offseason. Take a look:

Juan Anderson: The Golden Eagles switchable is transitioning from the frontcourt to the backcourt, and the biggest improvement he can make this summer is proving his worth on defense. He showed off his offensive game as a high school star but, after a failed attempt to make him a power forward (he played out of necessity, more accurately), he must defend the perimeter. Who knows where his minutes will be–he finally has a healthy offseason in front of him–or if he’ll actually play ahead of Steve Taylor and/or Jameel McKay. If he can make a smooth transition, however, he’s already got the upper hand as an experienced junior with two seasons under Williams.

John Dawson: This is far-and-away Marquette’s biggest unknown entering the 2013-14 season. From the infamous YouTube theory–the dangerous task of basing a player off highlight video reels–and the times I have spoken with Dawson about his game, this is someone who must acclimate to the Big East level. At 6-foot-4 he’s a combo guard, but will be tailored to become a point guard at the next level; his impressive passing skills and transition decision-making make that so. What he must do is add strength (like all freshmen) and prove he’s worthy on the Big East level: Right now it’s an unknown–not a statement–making it a question that must be answered.

Jajuan Johnson: Had it not been for the rest of Marquette’s stellar 2013 recruiting class, Johnson would be receiving the full-blown Vander Blue treatment. Expectations are still high, and I have reasonable and fair skepticism Johnson can reach those goals in Year 1. Still, he’s an impressive talent and minutes are open at shooting guard. What Johnson must improve on is his defensive game. It’s what he admitted to me shortly after his commitment, and it’s really something that can only come with time. He’s a polished offensive player who, like Todd Mayo–another Day 1-ready freshman–must understand there is another side to the Division I game past scoring the ball. Johnson must prove his worth on the defensive end if he wants to play right away.

Todd Mayo: We documented in-full what hurt Mayo last year, playing passively and attacking the rim less than he did as a stellar freshman. That’s what he must do again as a junior. For the first time, the shooting guard position is Mayo’s to lose. If everything is in line off-the-court–attitude, academics, etc.–he’s going to flourish, as long as he keeps attacking the basket. [SHAMELESS PLUG] Read more from our Synergy post on Mayo’s freshman vs. sophomore seasons.

Jake Thomas: It’s been quite the offseason for the mythical practice sharpshooter, and he’s back for his redshirt junior season. The improvement here is quite easy: shoot the ball! There’s a statistic out there somwhere that proves Thomas was best when making his first shot attempt, and while it’s not the ideal Buzz Williams way to shoot early in the possession, that’s who Thomas is. His minutes won’t be much higher than the 9.0 minutes per game he averaged last year, but when he’s in we would like to see a confident shooter who is more concerned with how hot he can get than he is making the wrong decision. It’s a tall order, but perhaps another year on campus will do the trick.

Derrick Wilson: The upperclassman’s deficiencies are well-known–he has attempted 71 shots in 749 career minutes, an astonishing number even for a defensive specialist. It’d be wishful thinking to consider Wilson all of a sudden becoming a scoring juggernaut, so that’s not where I’m headed. What I want to see–and there may be a Synergy post coming later–is the favorite to start at point guard become more of a penetrating threat. From watching some quick film, he rarely got to the paint on his assists. He can’t just be a passive distributor this year like he has been in the past, and my thought is five-on-five scrimmages will bring out the best in him. Like Mayo, players have a different mentality when they know they’ll be called upon to log major minutes.

Duane Wilson: Since taking over the Marquette beat in 2008, I have gone on record as being giddy about four incoming recruits: Jimmy Butler, Juan Anderson, Todd Mayo and Steve Taylor. Figure out my success rate on your own, but while you’re at it add another name to the list: Duane Wilson. Whether he’s Day 1-ready, Wilson must work on his point-guard skills. Buzz Williams has seen success with shot-first point guards in Mo Acker and Dwight Buycks, and that’s what Wilson is right now. As a back-to-back state-title winner, Wilson had Diamond Stone at his disposal to pass to; now he has more options available, and it will be fun to watch how he uses them. The scoring is there–he shot 55 percent from beyond the arc last year–and now we’ll see how quick he turns into an all-around point guard.

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