Friday, October 26, 2007


October 28, 2007


Official Website of Marquette Basketball

2007-2008 Official Marquette Roster & Bios

Meet Coach Tom Crean

Bradley Center

2007-2008 Marquette Basketball Schedule


Tom Crean enters his 9th season at Marquette, which places him among the longest tenured and highest paid coaches in the Big East. Crean guided the Golden Eagles to the Final Four in 2003 and has a 65.7% winning percentage since taking the reigns of the Marquette program.

Previously serving as the Associate Head Coach at Michigan State for Tom Izzo’s highly successful and respected program, it did not take Crean long to get the Marquette program turned around. After a couple .500 seasons, led by prized recruit Dwyane Wade, Marquette made the NCAA Tournament in his third season and reached the Final Four in his fourth season at the Milwaukee school. The appearance in the Final Four was the third in school history, but the first since Al McGuire coached the ‘Warriors’ to the Final Four in 1977.
Read More...Click 'Read More' below to read the rest of our 2007-2008 Marquette Team Preview.


Coach Crean has always worked hard at linking today’s Marquette program to the great teams that were led by Coach McGuire. This season, the Golden Eagles look to make their mark as another great team, led by the highly touted guard trio of juniors Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Mathews, Marquette is determined to put a couple disappointing finishes the last couple years behind them and return to the days of post-season success.

With a loyal and vocal fan base filling the Bradley Center in Milwaukee on a nightly basis, Marquette has hit the ground running since their transition from Conference USA to the Big East. The program will look to take the next step and find similar success in the postseason beginning this year as they return the majority of their production from last year’s successful squad.

THE 2006-2007 SEASON:

After surprising the Big East the year prior, the Golden Eagles had high expectations for the 2006-2007 campaign and things got off to a fast start, which included a Guardian’s Classic championship win over Duke, 73-62. That seemed to be the high point of their season which included a shocking home loss to North Dakota State, 64-60 in the finals of their own tournament. Losses to Providence and Syracuse got the Golden Eagles pointed in the wrong direction in the Big East, at 0-2, but an eight game win streak in the conference put Marquette back in position to challenge for the Big East title, which was expected in the preseason.

Marquette then lost four of their next five to eliminate themselves from Big East title contention as Dominic James struggled to shoot from the outside and teams countered Marquette’s perimeter quickness by packing their defense inside to neutralize the Golden Eagles attack and force them to shoot it from the perimeter. The season took another blow when Jerel McNeal injured a thumb in practice and was lost for the rest of the season. Marquette was done early (round one win over St. John’s) in the Big East Tournament and was thoroughly beaten by coach Crean’s mentor, Tom Izzo and his Michigan State club, in round one of the NCAA Tournament.

Marquette was led all season by the guard trio of James, McNeal and Wes Mathews as they combined to average over 42 ppg (59% of team’s total). However, James struggled from the floor, shooting just 38% on the season and 27% from 3-pt range. The trio averaged nearly nine turnovers a game between them as well. With the terrific trio struggling on the perimeter, the lack of inside production offensively and on the boards defensively prevented any consistent play from developing, ending Marquette’s season on a down note, again. The sour taste has not left for many as Marquette has been talked about cautiously by many fans, but media sources will continue to rank them high. With nearly their entire team returning intact, it should be a very good season in Milwaukee for these Golden Eagles.


College basketball continues to shift more and more to a guard’s game. Nobody in the conference has a better guard corps than Tom Crean’s Marquette Golden Eagles. Led by 5’10 Dominic James, 6’3 Jerel McNeal and 6’4 Wesley Mathews, this trio of juniors has the athletic ability and experience to make life tough on any other backcourt in the Big East. The past two seasons, James had been relied on to play a lot of minutes, nearly all with the ball in his hands. The Big East is physical and the style of play has definitely taken a toll on him. This year he gets some help with Maurice Acker, a 5’8 sophomore point guard, as an eligible transfer from Ball State. Acker was brought in as the likely starter at the point this year if James ended up leaving for the NBA draft. Heading into last season, James was regarded as a likely lottery pick based on his freshman season, where he took the conference by storm packing a lot of athletic bunch in his small frame. James’ season went sour as a sophomore as he began pressing due to a prolonged shooting slump as whispers of his NBA potential slipping began to grow louder. James also showed some signs of poor decision making and was all out of sorts as a point guard by the end of the season. Now, James will look to rebound his personal stock, but the Golden Eagles will help him with a true point guard to spell him and play alongside him at times.

McNeal returns and is one of the nest perimeter defenders in the college game. The strongly built guard was a high school teammate of Acker’s. He does play out of control at times when driving into the lane and his lack of outside shot can play into the hands of a defense in forcing him to turn the ball over. However, he remains a dangerous threat as one of the league’s best rebounding guards and is always capable of turning his defense in offense with a steal and finish. Probably their best all-around guard is swing Wesley Mathews. Mathews is the best of the group at shooting the ball, although he doesn’t look for his shot too often from the perimeter, but he has a high basketball IQ, plays both ends of the floor very well and knows how to draw fouls and converts from the foul line.

Also returning to the backcourt is sophomore David Cubillan, a sharp-shooter who hit some big shots late in the season and displayed that east coach coolness on the floor in pressure situations. Incoming freshman Scott Christopherson also will add depth to the impressive backcourt.


The area of weakness for Marquette last year was the frontcourt. Tom Crean and staff have taken strides to improve the depth and talent at the positions this season, but they will still likely play the majority of their games with three guards, a small forward and a center on the floor. At the forward position, Dan Fitzgerald and Lazar Hayward both return to the mix this season. They are likely to share the position again this year and both could also play in a more traditional line-up with two guards on the floor, but the strength of this team remains with their guards.

Eventually, Hayward should be the one to control the minutes at the forward spot. Getting a very late clearance from the NCAA last season set him back and trying to play a new position also set him well behind the learning curve last season. Hayward came out of the prep ranks with a reputation as a scorer, especially proficient from beyond the 3-pt arc and seemed like a candidate to replace the perimeter threat of the graduated Steve Novak. Having the perimeter threat at the forward position is a big key in the Marquette system that wants to spread the floor and let their guards attack the defense. Having a pure shooter to spotting out is a key in being able to spread the floor. Hayward only hit 10-48 from the arc last year, very uncharacteristic. Look for him to be better prepared to pick his spots and find the seams this year.

Fitzgerald did hit 42% from the arc, but he seems to be either on or off. He will never be a high volume shooter from the arc, but is probably better suited for a role of a guy that gives minutes hustling and spotting up as a shooter. If he hits his first one, ride him for a while. He brings experience to the mix as a 5th-year player, but if Marquette is truly going to rise above expectations, other players need to step-up and force Fitzgerald into a role-player position. Marquette can still be good with Fitzgerald playing a big role, but higher upside among Hayward and incoming freshman Trevor Mbakwe means they could be even better with contributions from them more regularly.

Mbakwe had to sweat out the NCAA Clearinghouse process this season, but the 6’7 athletic power forward with the long wingspan is ready to go. He is a natural athlete in the post, better suited to a power forward position, but could also share time with senior Ousmane Barro in the post. Barro is one of the most improved big men in the Big East and had a solid year last season. He still struggles in physical match-ups in the Big East, but he has come a long way and is beginning to become more of a threat on both ends of the floor.

Marquette also has more depth in the frontcourt and every now and then coach Crean will turn to players like Dwight Burke, Lawrence Blackledge or freshman Patrick Hazel and look for them to bring a unique impact to the game. However, with the attack remaining very guard oriented, do not look for a lot of production from the group.

2007-2008 PREDICTION:

As mentioned yesterday with Syracuse, Marquette is another school in the midst of a NCAA Tournament winning drought. This is the 5th season since Dwyane Wade left for the NBA and Marquette has not won a meaningful post-season game since (not counting NIT or Wednesday night Big East Tournament game). That streak HAS to end this year for Tom Crean, Dominic James and the rest of the Golden Eagle program. Marquette fans can take solace in the comparison to Billy Donovan and his program at Florida. Early in his tenure with the Gators, Billy the Kid landed in the Final Four. However, following that season, even with some high profile recruits, Florida stumbled, losing to higher seeds in five straight NCAA appearances. As soon as the questions began to mount on Donovan’s chances to succeed, despite the high salary and long tenure, Florida wins back to back national titles and he is the biggest name in the college coaching ranks. I will not predict a national championship this year for Marquette, maybe even a Final Four is a stretch, however, this is still a very talented squad poised for post-season success, not they have to put it together.




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