June 10, 2008Head Coach:
Buzz Williams2006-2007 Record:
25-10 (11-7 Big East) NCAA 2nd RoundReturning Players:
Dominic James, Senior (Point Guard)
Jerel McNeal, Senior (Guard)
Wesley Mathews, Senior (Guard)
Dwight Burke, Senior (Forward/Center)
David Cubillan, Junior (Guard)
Lazar Hayward, Junior (Guard/Forward)
Maurice Acker, Junior (Point Guard)
Trevor Mbakwe, Sophomore (Big Forward)
Patrick Hazel, Sophomore (Forward)Incoming Players:
Chris O'Tule (Center)
Eligible Incoming Transfers:
Jimmy Butler, Small Forward (JUCO w/3 years eligibility)
Joseph Fulce, Forward (JUCO w/3 years eligibility) Graduated:
Dan Fitzgerald, Senior (Forward)
Ousmane Barro, Senior (Center)
Lawrence Blackledge, Senior (Forward)Transfers Out:
Scott Christopherson, Freshman (Guard)Open Items/Issues:
The news broke on April 1st and it was anything but an April Fools Day prank to the Marquette faithful. Tom Crean was accepting the head coaching job at the University of Indiana. With the prospects of returning four starters from a NCAA Tournament team, Tom Crean was leaving the job that had made him one of the most secure coaches in the country for the fishbowl job at the University of Indiana that has NCAA sanctions over their head.
Marquette acted quickly and promoted Brent 'Buzz' Williams to the head coaching spot. Williams was an assistant at Marquette for one season after leaving the head coaching job at New Orleans, which he also held for one season. Williams was an assistant to Billy Gillispie at Texas A&M prior to being the coach at UNO.
This spring saw two recruits de-commit in the aftermath of the coaching change (Tyshawn Taylor and Nick Williams), one player transfer (Scott Christopherson), one player change his mind on transferring (Trevor Mbakwe) and a JUCO commitment from Jimmy Butler. Jerel McNeal also briefly flirted with the NBE draft before deciding to return and give the new coach, Buzz Williams, and his staff one year with the tremendous guard trio that Tom Crean left behind.Summary:
It is always an adjustment when a coaching change takes place. Marquette, seeing the foundation in place for a successful 08-09 season, wanted to minimize the adjustment and promoted assistant Buzz Williams to take the reigns. Williams inherits a veteran club, featuring seven upperclassmen among its 12-man roster. The wealth of experience is led by the guard trio of Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Mathwes, all have been starters for the majority of their previous three seasons. College basketball is a guard's game and Marquette is stocked again in their backcourt, which also includes quality reserves Maurice Acker and David Cubillan. This group creates match-up problems for many opponents with on the ball pressure and an attacking offense with quick guards. McNeal's offensive devlopment near the end of his junior year could have him positioned for a big senior season.
Also returning to the Marquette line-up is junior Lazar Hayward, a versatile forward who has altered his game to play inside on defense while remaining a perimeter shooting threat. His three-point percentage will likely continue to improve as he becomes more and more of a focal point of the offense and to create driving lanes for their three guards, the perimeter threat is a very big need on the floor for Marquette.
The player most likely to see a significant increase in responsibility this season is sophomore Trevor Mbakwe. The strong and athletic big forward missed much of last season after having knee surgery for a pre-season injury. It was a curious decision not to redshirt him with him returning to the line-up in February, but all indications pointed to him transferring out of Marquette in the offseason. However, after the coaching change, Mbakwe has decided to stick it out and he expects to get the majority of playing time in the paint, which is still an area of concern for the Golden Eagles because of their lack of size and depth in the front court.
It will be an interesting season for Marquette, their overwhelming experience will help balance the inexperience of their head coach. Having three guards with so much time under their belt will be a big asset for Buzz Williams and should help Marquette remain in contention among the top half of the Big East. Now, if they could just find some consistent and solid interior play to help match-up with more teams, this group might be able to get farther along than they have since joining the Big East.