Tuesday, January 04, 2011



My first question to Marquette senior Jimmy Butler when I got him on the phone was about "Boot Camp," the preseason period that MU players go through each Fall. Butler was going through his last one as a Marquette player and I wanted him to explain what it had been like -- I mistakenly thought it was over. "It's not over yet," said Butler laughing, "we still have some more time left." What does it consist of?

Butler described a series of workouts designed to tax he and his mates both physically and mentally. "Lots of running, along with just about every defensive drill you can think of," he said. "Shell drills, slides, jump to the ball, defending against back screens and down screens." I said it sounded as if the 14 days were spent down in a stance.

"Sounds like you probably have a pretty good idea of it," said Butler, "it's brings us together as a team."

Butler will be counted on to do more this season for Marquette -- with Lazar Hayward gone -- and that's saying a lot, because Butler balled at a level that put him among the cream of the crop in the Big East last season. Butler put up averages of 14.7 points, 6.4 boards, 2 assists and 1.3 steals a game during his second full season of D-1 play (he's another "productive JUCO guy" that Buzz Williams and his staff seem to have mastered). Butler also shot the ball at a 53% clip from the field, made almost 77% of his freebies and connected from deep with 50% accuracy.

The first time I saw Jimmy Butler live I knew he had a chance to be a very good player in the Big East, even though his stats for the night didn't come close to telling that story. If you go back and look at some of the available history of that evening -- it was March 4th during the 2008-09 season -- and look at the box score, here's what you'd see next to the name Jimmy Butler: 0-1 from the floor, 1-2 from the line, 1 rebound and 4 fouls in 20 minutes. He wasn't mentioned in any post-game releases or talked about in the post-game presser but I remember two things impressing me about Marquette above all else that night -- their first year coach's in-game work and the competitive character of Jimmy Butler.

Undersized and lacking depth, Marquette played with a 26-3 Pitt team (ranked third in the country at the time) for thirty minutes, thanks to future big-money NBA free agent Wesley Matthews, future first-round pick Hayward and the splendid Jerel McNeal. Then the burial came in the form of a 21-2 second-half run during which Pitt pounded the ball inside to their own future pros (how they weren't first-round picks is still unfathomable to this day) in DeJuan Blair (23 and 9) and Sam Young (18 and 8). That Panther team also had Tyrell Biggs and Gary McGhee to bang inside when they needed them along with Gilbert Brown.

Marquette obviously was over matched physically in the paint and once they started missing shots, a point that unfortunately for them coincided with the aforementioned 21-2 run, there was never a doubt that Pitt would win (the final was 90-75 and gave the 13th ranked warriors from Milwaukee their seventh loss of the season). But long after most in the media section had stopped paying attention to the game, and started to focus on their deadlines, I marveled at the skinny athletic kid from Tomball, Texas, and the way he battled like he might never get to play another game of basketball again.

Butler threw his body around with Blair, Young and Biggs, earning his fouls while taking some ungodly punishment. At one point Blair looked hard at him and Butler looked right back, causing Blair to break out in a grin. It wasn't a grin that was mocking -- those were saved for UConn and Hasheem Thabeet -- but one meant to convey respect. I came away thinking that Butler was going to be good and that if he was the type of player Williams would be bringing to Marquette, then the people who decided to elevate him and not go outside for the hire were either lucky, geniuses, or both.

Now Butler is in much the same spot as some of his former teammates, expected to lead a group focused on meeting the only expectations that matter, their own. "My job is to make everybody better," said Butler, "and the way I do that is by being a better teammate and building trust amongst all of us. That to me is the biggest responsibility and the most important thing, that we trust each other." Butler will do that by echoing the lessons he's had drummed into him for the last few years by Williams and his assistants.

"We have to fight and defend and not take bad shots," he says. "Coach always stresses to us the need to be unselfish, to pass up a good shot if your teammate has a great shot." Butler's excited about the season, the team, and helping the new faces in the program bring as much as their ability will allow.

"We have a lot of new guys who are very good athletes and that's exciting but we have to do a good job of showing them exactly how hard they have to work," says Butler. I asked about JUCO transfer Jae Crowder, expected to be a big addition along with athletic talents Vander Blue and Reggie Smith.

"I think it will help having DJO, Buykes and myself to watch, because all three of us know how tough the transition from Junior College to the Big East is and how hard he has to work and fight every night," says Butler. "Skill wise he's a big body and strong guy who can play inside out, he's Lazar-like but probably not as good of a shooter. He's a beast strength-wise though, we just need him to realize how hard he has to bring it every night and that's a difficult transition to make." That "fight" mentality once again represents Marquette basketball because of players like Butler.

I think back to that March night when I saw Butler fight like his life depended on it, like he wasn't inside a plush arena getting his head handed to him but brawling on a Cracked Sidewalk with machete-armed samurai's.

Somehow, I think the message will get through loud and clear.


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Wednesday, December 09, 2009


Marquette bounced back from a pair of demoralizing losses with a Sloppy But Satisfying (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) over city rival UW-Milwaukee 71-51 at the Bradley Center Tuesday night.

The Golden Eagles ran their record to 37-0 against their intra-city foe as Jimmy Butler led the way with 20 points on a snowy Milwaukee evening. Darius Johnson-Odom provided a lift off the bench with 15 points and lazar Hayward added 13.

Marquette forced 21 turnovers and shot 52% from the floor in the win. Next up for the Golden Eages is a date in Madison against the rival Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday in their annual rivalry match-up.


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Monday, December 07, 2009


For the second consecutive time, Marquette blows a double-digit second half lead and falls to an ACC team. The first time came in the the Old Spice Classic finale in a 57-56 loss to Florida State. On Saturday a similar scenario unfolded as the Golden Eagles could not hold a big second half lead in a 77-73 home loss to NC State.

Marquette led 36-25 at the half, but a 17-2 NC State run turned the game around and put the Wolfpack ahead 63-49 with over 5 minutes left.

The Golden Eagles Suffer Defensive Letdown in Loss (Appleton Post-Crescent) as the Defense Collapses (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) allowing the Pack to shoot 71% in the second half in front of a displeased crowd of 15,803.

Junior forward Jimmy Butler had 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead four players in double figures. Freshman Jeronne Maymon missed the contest, taking a bite out of Buzz Williams' bench strength, with a hip-pointer and is day to day.

MU is left searching for answers just days before its annual intra-city showdown with UW-Milwaukee on Wednesday.


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Monday, November 09, 2009


Courtest of the NBE Basketball Report.

Marquette was in action Saturday afternoon in their lone exhibition contest before opening the season Friday at home against Centenary College. Lazar Hayward scored a game-high 24 points leading MU to a 106-47 exhibition win over the Milwaukee School Of Engineering. After falling behind MSOE 2-0, Marquette ran off the next 23 points and never looked back, scoring 53 points in each half, leading 53-25 at the half.

On a team looking for some backcourt help, David Cubillan had a very solid game with 12 points and 9 assists and showing he can run the team and play off the ball as well. Cubillan States His Case (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) for the starting point guard spot that senior Maurice Acker currently holds. Cubillan is much more of a threat to make shots at the lead guard position and that might be a tipping point in the battle to succeed Dominic James this year.

JUCO transfer Dwight Buycks came off the bench to score 15 points and starting forward Jimmy Butler had 14 points and 10 rebounds in support of Hayward. Sophomore big man Chris Otule also scored 14 off the bench.


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Sunday, August 16, 2009


August 16, 2009

COMMITMENT ALERT: Jamail Jones, 6'6 SF from Decatur (GA)

According to Dustin Rumbaugh of the HoopsReport.com, Jamail Jones to Marquette as part of the 2010 recruiting class is a done deal. The Georgoe native saw Marquette head coach Buzz Williams plenty on the recruiting trail in July and that dedication by the Golden Eagles' staff paid off with Jones committing this weekend.

Projected 2009-2010 Roster:

Seniors: David Cubillan (G), Lazar Hayward (G/F)
Juniors: Joseph Fulce (SF), Jimmy Butler (G/F), Dwight Buycks (JUCO G)
Sophomores: Chris Otule (C), Darius Johnson-Odom** (JUCO G)
Freshmen: Erik Williams (F), Jeronne Maymon (F), Junior Cadougan (PG), Brett Roseboro (PF), Youssoupha Mbao (C)
2010 Early Commitments: Aaron Bowen (G), Monterale Clark (C-JUCO), Jamail Jones (SF)

** played one year at JUCO level, will have three years of eligibility beginning in 2009-2010.


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Monday, April 27, 2009


April 27, 2009

COMMITMENT ALERT: Youssoupha Mbao, 7'2 center from Stoneridge (CA) Prep. Mbao is a native of Dakar, Senegal.

Marquette coach Buzz Williams' search high and low for a big man in the paint took him out to California as Youssoupha Mbao is the seventh player to commit to the Golden Eagles in the 2009 class. The news that Mbao, 7'2 center, Was to Visit (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) over the weekend came as news to many, now that Mbao has committed, the chase for information on the big man has been on.

Projected 2009-2010 Roster:

Seniors: David Cubillan (G), Lazar Hayward (G/F), Maurice Acker (PG)
Juniors: Joseph Fulce (SF), Jimmy Butler (G/F), Dwight Buycks (JUCO G)
Sophomores: Chris Otule (C), Liam McMorrow (C)*, Darius Johnson-Odom** (JUCO G)
Freshmen: Erik Williams (F), Jeronne Maymon (F), Junior Cadougan (PG), Brett Roseboro (PF), Youssoupha Mbao (C)
2010 Early Commitments: Aaron Bowen (G), Monterale Clark (C-JUCO)

* sitting out 2008-2009 season per NCAA transfer rules and will have three years of eligibility beginning in 2009-2010. McMorrow is also undergoing medical tests that could keep him from playing in the future.

** played one year at JUCO level, will have three years of eligibility beginning in 2009-2010.

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It has been just over one year since Tom Crean shocked Marquette fans and acceted the head coaching position at Indiana. Crean's replacement, Brent 'Buzz' Williams, has proven to be a hard worked on the recruiting trail and it seems that everywhere you turn you have a player listing Marquette as a school of interest. Williams has gone north of the boarder, down to Texas, locally in Milwaukee, to Pennsylvania and into the JUCO ranks for recruits in the class of 2009. Now, he goes into Senegal for the latest.

Youssoupha Mbao committed to the Golden Eagles while on a visit to Milwaukee this weekend. Mbao brings serious size, being listed at 7-foot-2. He showed nice ahletic ability last November playing for Stoneridge Prep (CA) in the National Prep Showcase, but he was painfully thin, weighing in at nearly 200 pounds, so his ability to contribute in the Big East will most likely depend on his ability to gain weight and strength.

Mbao, being 7'2, is obviously a defensive presence with his length and his ability to move his feet, which is pretty good at his size. Most of his rebounds were gathered because off his size, but in the Big East, he will need to show the ability to gain and hold position against stronger players and be stronger in going after the ball.

Still when you stand 7'2 and you have length and athleticism, your long term potential is well worth any risk. He could be a presence quickly defensively in the paint, something the Golden Eagles have not had for some time with a little strength and weight gain. Offensively he has a ways to go, but that is certainly not un-common for a young, developing big man.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article dies indicate there might be some additional legwork left in determining his eligibility as he has played in at elast one professional league overseas. Some notes on him can be found on NBA draft websites like DraftExpress.com as he has been on the NBA draft radar for a few seasons.

Earlier this spring MU added the second JUCO player for the class of 2009 (Buzz added two in 2008 and already has a commitment from one in 2010) in guard Darius Johnson-Odom, a 6-foot-2 scoring machine out of Hutchinson (KS) Community College, one of the traditional powers of the JUCO ranks.

Johnson-Odom averaged nearly 22 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, while earning freshman of the year honors in the Jayhawk conference, playing for coach Ryan Swanson on the squad that finished 20-12 this year.

Johnson-Odom played his high school ball at Wakefield High school near Raleigh (NC). In an effort to gain qualifying status with the NCAA, Johnson-Odom did a post-grad season at the Patterson (NC) School before landing this past year at Hutchinson CC.

Johnson-Odom showed his explosive scoring ability by scoring 46 points in a game this season. He is definitely a scoring lead guard and the left-handed shooter has a strong build that looks ready for the Big East.

In Todd Rosiak's Darius Johnson-Odom Interview found at the Journal-Sentienl online blogs, Johnson-Odom indicates that Pitt, Kentucky, Cincinnati, West Virginia and Tennessee were other schools actively recruiting him this season.

Brett Roseboro is a 6-foot-9, left-handed C/BF out of Quakertown (PA) High School. One the summer circuit, Roseboro showed to be a very fundamentally sound basketball player with good hands and nice footwork in the pain to score with several post moves. For his size, he has the ability to show himself quite agile and nimble. for more on his play this summer, you can check out his player profile at CAAInsider.com: Brett Roseboro.

This past weekend, Roseboro played in the Providence Jam Fest, so a year of prep basketball migh tnot be out of the question, but he maintained at the event he is committed to Marquette.

One week after getting Canadian 7-footer Liam McMorrow in a surprise addition to wrap up the 2008 class, Buzz Williams closed on another Canadian native as Christian Life Center Academy's Junior Cadougan verbally committed to MU in early July for the class of 2009.

Cadougan is a native of Toronto, but has been attending prep school in Humble (TX), averaged 21 points a game last season before breaking his foot in December. The 6-foot point guard is a tough lead guard with a stocky frame and recently had a very impressive NBA Top 100 camp. Marquette was wise to get him on campus and seal the deal with him as his stock was beginning to tick upwards rapidly.

While Williams had been busy with the class of 2008, he had also secured two commitments for 2009 from local players earlier, including Dwight Buycks, who thought he was headed to the Division 1-A ranks out of Milwaukee's Bay View High School as he was verbally committed to Bradley. However, academics caught up to him and forced him to head to Indian Hills CC to complete a couple seasons at the JUCO level. After just one season at Indian Hills, the interest in Buycks became intense, especially from the new Marquette staff led by Buzz Williams and Buycks has offered an early commitment to the Golden Eagles.

The 6'3, 185 lb guard led Indian Hills is scoring last season, nearly 16 points a game, as the JUCO power finished in 6th place at the NJCAA national tournament. Buycks was also generating interest from schools such as Tennessee, Memphis, Kentucky and Illinois.

The uptempo atmosphere of the Marquette offense was a big attracting to Buycks, as well the location and a chance to come back closer to home was equally important.

Last spring, for the second year in a row, and third time in the last four, Marquette lands the state of Wisconsin's player of the year. This time it is Madison Memorial's Jeronne Maymon Committing to MU (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel). As a junior, Maymon averaged 21 points and nearly 12 rebounds a game and he turned it on during the state playoffs, leading Memorial to a 2nd place finish while he averaged 30.0 points, 14.6 rebounds, 4.7 blocks, 3.7 steals and 3.0 assists per game for the Spartans in the WIAA state basketball tournament. Maymon visited Marquette May 20th and has been the top target of coach Williams and his new staff since he was hired in April.

NBE Basketball Report writer Doug Ferguson saw Maymon perform with the Illinois Bobcats at the GBOA North AAU tournament and was very impressed with his play. Here is the recap and detailed scouting report on Maymon included: GBOA North AAU Report.

Mbao, Johnson-Odom, Roseboro, Cadougan, Buycks and Maymon join Erik Williams, from Cypress Springs (TX) High School, as players in the Marquette class of 2009. Although Maymon and Williams are listed as combination forwards, they compliment each other perfectly. Maymon is a physical bruiser who is likely to play power forward and Williams is long, lean and athletic and could play more of a role on the wing. Williams was a recruit that coach Buzz Williams reeled in as an assistant and he will honor his commitment as earlier in April Erik Williams Reaffirmed Commitment to MU (Milwaukee J-S). The 6'7 forward had heard from Tom Crean since he moved on to Indiana, but his comfort level in Buzz Williams was the deciding factor to stay with his commitment.

The commitment of Johnson-Odom and the spring announcement that Pat Hazel, on paper, filled the last available scholarships for Marquette among the class of 2009. However, coach Williams indicated to the local press following the Golden Eagles' loss to Missouri in the second round of the NCAA Tournament he was still busy on the recruiting front. Even with the recent decisions of Jamil Wilson, Darius Smith and Dashonte Riley to attend other schools in 2009-2010, Williams continued to hit the trail and added Mbao.

Besides a possible year of prep basketball for Roseboro, there is a question regarding the last commitment for 2008 and if he will impact the Marquette program on the floor. It is going to take some time to find out as Liam McMorrow, a 7-foot center from Toronto, Canada, joined Chris Otule, Jimmy Butler and Joseph Fulce as the new faces in Buzz Williams' program in the frontcourt. McMorrow sat out as a transfer in 2008-2009 and worked at developing into a Big East caliber player before seeing live action at the college level.

McMorrow played just one season of organized basketball, avaregd 8.4 points and 6.5 rebounds in 20 league games for Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario. McMorrow had been a hockey and lacrosse player for most of his life, but a late growth spurt has him on the basketball court now. Recently Williams said McMorrow is continuing to undergo testing for a medical condition he wouldn't specify that could make his status for next season uncertain.

Buzz Williams worked his connections in Texas and his budding local ties of Milwaukee to land his latest commitment for the class of 2010 and Marquette as 6-foot-10 center Monterale Clark made a verbal commitment to the Golden Eagles recently.

Clark had attended local Milwaukee high schools Rufus King and Pius XI before heading off to Ware Prep in the south. Clark has always been an intriguing player because of his length and athleticism, but was in desperate need of adding some bulk to a frame that was in the 180-pound range last time he was seen playing with a Milwaukee-based AAU program the Running Rebels.

This season at Hill College Clark, who is listed at 200 pounts, is averaging 17 points and nearly 11 rebounds and 2 blocks a game. His coach, Swede Trenkle, at Hill college told the Journal-Sentinel that he has put on 16-17 pounds since arriving at Hill College. He also had scholarship offers from Oklahoma State, Baylor and Auburn according to the article.

Clark is the second player in the class of 2010 verbally commited to Marquette. Back in late November, the commitment to Marquette from Wolfson High School junior G/F Aaron Bowen took many by surprise. The Jacksonville (FL) native Bowen missed much of the summer AAU circuit because of an injured knee, so not a whole lot is known on him outside of his local area. Last season for coach Bruce Rosebrock, Bowen averaged about 17 points, over 5 rebounds and 4 assists a game, helping one of the state's top programs to another successful season.

A Closer Look at Aaron Bowen can be found at Todd Rosiak's blog on the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's website. Bowen has recently received a visit from an Auburn assistant coach and Florida, Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech and Jacksonville were other schools involved early. A sensational 41-point performance in last year's playoffs really go the ball rolling on his recruitment and Marquette came in and stole one out of the Sunshine State.

2010 forward prospect Tobias Harris of Long Island and NYC forward Shane Southwell are also high on the MU recruiting radar and were among the expected guests for Marquette Madness last fall. Other underclassmen visitors for the event-filled weekend included 6-foot-1 class of 2010 guard Lavonte Dority from Foreman High School in Chicago, 5-foot-10 class of 2012 guard Antonio “Bobo” Drummond from Central High School in Peoria (IL) and 6-foot class of 2012 guard Cameron Harvey from St. Joseph High School in Westchester (IL).

Another player to watch closely in the class of 2010 is Reggie Smith out of Thornton (IL) HS. Smith has indicated he followed Jerel McNeal's career at Marquette very closely and has a high amount of interest in the Golden Eagles. Another Chicago-area player on the MU radar include Providence St.-Mel big man Philip Jackson, who the Golden Eagles have scouted numerous times in the last year.


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Friday, April 17, 2009


April 17, 2009

Marquette has a lot to replace in their backcourt next season following the graduation of their dynamic guard trio. One player they hope to have step in right from the start is Hutchinson CC scoring machine Darius Johnson-Odom. Johnson-Odom Signs with Marquette (HutchNews.com) and will have three years of eligibility remaining after the native of Raleigh (NC) averaged 21.6 points a game, made 69 3-pointers and made 77 percent of his free throws. He set a single-game scoring record at HCC with a 46-point outburst against Coffeyville.

With juniors-to-be Joe Fulce, Jimmy Butler and Dwight Buycks as well as Johnson-Odom - on the roster for next season, with a commitment from, Milwaukee native Monterale Clark, for 2010, Buzz Williams Gets Help from Junior College Roots (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) on the recruiting trail.


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