Evaluating Marquette predictions: On, off, up in the air

Photo by Anthony Giacomino/Paint Touches

Photo by Anthony Giacomino/Paint Touches

The non-conference season is officially over, which means it’s only fair to revisit predictions, presumptions and questions that we, Paint Touches, the general population and the rest of the media covering Marquette had entering the season. Some were easy, others were more difficult and the rest were real question marks that weren’t worth guessing on.

What we’re doing here is (1) listing the preseason statement, (2) analyzing what has happened through 13 games and (3) noting whether the preseason prediction has A) come true, B) been off or C) still up for debate. We’ll try to avoid using “C,” but in some instances it’s necessary. Here we go:

1. Prediction: Derrick Wilson is ready to take over for Junior Cadougan

We detailed in full last week that Derrick Wilson, while improved individually, just hasn’t done it for the Marquette offense. It isn’t all his fault, though he hasn’t been exempt from the struggles. Whether you loved or hated Cadougan, it’s tough to argue that the point guard position at Marquette is better off right now. Wilson’s defense, rebounding and assists have been solid. The question is whether that has been good enough to say that he was ready to take over for Cadougan. Because he said before the year that he wanted to be more of a scorer and outside shooter, we’re giving Wilson a failing grade through 13 games. PREDICTION: OFF

2. Prediction: Todd Mayo is ready to shine in a starter’s role

Through 13 games, Mayo has started zero games. Jake Thomas has been in the lineup at shooting guard, Mayo has been suspended for one game, missed another with an injury and been a toss-up the other 11 contests. You can argue all you want for Jake Thomas being a starter; the fact that Mayo, as talented as he is, is still not in the starting lineup is a major concern. After being suspended for the Wisconsin game, he’s really on thin ice. As for his stats, the junior is averaging 9.6 points on 44 percent shooting. Not stellar, not bad considering the Golden Eagles’ struggles. We’ve given Mayo the benefit of the doubt for two-plus years, so why stop now? Verdict’s still out on O.J.’s brother. PREDICTION: IN THE AIR

3. Prediction: Steve Taylor will be the most disappointing player

This is a tough one because Taylor clearly is not healthy and after-effects of his offseason knee surgery continue to linger. Still, the ultra-talented sophomore has played just nine games, and in four of those has played single-digit minutes. Even when he was healthy, Taylor really struggled defensively. For whatever reason — most likely the injury — he just wasn’t ready to play big minutes. Even with Jameel McKay gone, Buzz Williams has gone with Jamil Wilson, Davante Gardner and Chris Otule, and when two of them can’t go he’s opted for a three-guard lineup. Even though his injuries have played a role, Taylor has been, by far, the biggest disappointment. PREDICTION: ON

4. Prediction: Marquette will struggle for leadership

Vander Blue doesn’t care for this website or Twitter account, blocking us out of the..wait for it…blue, as he prepared for professional basketball in Isreal. Still, there’s no denying that his leadership, knack for the spotlight and clutch basketball was crucial to Marquette’s success last year. Buzz Williams said at media day that the Golden Eagles were afraid to lead, as players didn’t know whether their teammates would respond to leadership. An 8-5 record says all you need to know: leadership is a question on this team. As always, we aren’t in the locker room, study hall or practice. But close-game losses (see: New Mexico) is all you need to know. PREDICTION: ON

5. Prediction: Deonte Burton is the biggest freshman unknown and a project

Wrong, wrong, wrong. We were wrong. We were incorrect. We messed up. We crapped the bed. We suck. OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what an incredible player Burton is. It’s OK if you don’t like the #BANE nickname; it works for the chiseled 6-foot-4, 230-pound wing and we’re sticking with it. Despite shoddy defense, Burton has a place in this team’s rotation and an even brighter future. He’s calm, efficient and strong inside. If his defense picks up, one could make the argument that he’s Marquette’s third best player behind Davante Gardner and Jamil Wilson. PREDICTION: OFF

6. Prediction: Outside shooting will remain a major struggle

Last year’s Marquette team was one of the worst in the last 10 years to make the Sweet 16. And with Junior Cadougan, Trent Lockett and Blue gone, the struggles weren’t supposed to cease, even with a talented freshman class coming in. And through 13 games, Marquette is shooting just 31.1 percent from beyond the arc, 260th best in the country. Jake Thomas has been stellar (see below) and Jajuan Johnson is coming on strong. Jamil Wilson is struggling (30.8 percent; 12 makes) and no one else is worth noting. For that reason, 3-pointers have been a gigantic struggle and likely will continue to be. PREDICTION: ON

7. Prediction: Chris Otule and Juan Anderson made the right decision to return

It’s tough to break down where Otule and Anderson would be if it weren’t for Marquette. What is known is that both have been important parts to Marquette’s season. Otule has averaged 7.2 points on 63.3 percent shooting and 5.1 rebounds; Anderson leads Marquette in steals (1.6 per game) and is third in rebounds (4.8 per game) behind only the centers. It’s hard to imagine where Marquette would be without two starters and key role players. PREDICTION: ON

8. Prediction: Jake Thomas won’t produce for the Marquette offense

Off the bat, that prediction has been wrong. However, consider that Thomas is shooting 34 percent from the field on 71 field goal attempts, the fourth most attempts on the team. It’s one thing to say that Thomas has been great from beyond the arc; saying he has helped Marquette as a whole is another story. We’re still not convinced that Thomas is the right guy to be starting over the likes of Burton, Johnson or Mayo. Still, it’s difficult to look past his 40 percent mark from beyond the arc. He’s more than a walk-on, to be sure. Because he’s struggling so much from the field, we’re giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt because he has made 1 of 14 2-pointers. Read that again and really take it in. PREDICTION: UP IN THE AIR

9. Prediction: Jamil Wilson is Marquette’s most likely all-Big East member

Not so much. Through 13 games, Wilson has averaged 11.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 24.7 minutes per game. Those numbers won’t make him an all-Big East member. He’s been a solid performer and arguably been Marquette’s best player. That’s different from becoming a top five player in the conference. He’s got a lot of work — and added aggressiveness and confidence — to do to be considered one of the Big East’s best. To date, he simply isn’t there. Right now, Davante Gardner is Marquette’s most likely member. PREDICTION: OFF

10. Prediction: Marquette will finish the season with 28 wins and a Sweet 16

Ouch. Marquette has 18 regular season games remaining, up to three Big East Tournament games and the NCAA Tournament. At 8-5, Marquette would have to go something like 15-3 in the Big East, pick up two wins in the Big East Tournament and a pair of Tourney wins to get to 28 wins and a Sweet 16. As it stands, that ain’t happening. Marquette may still be a Sweet 16 team if the chips fall right. They won’t win 28 games. PREDICTION: OFF

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