YCS College Basketball Preview-The Alma Mater

>> Thursday

I'll get back to posting my meaningless conference preview in a bit. With the beloved starting the season, it's now time for my stupendous preview of your Marquette men's basketball squad.

Marquette, 3rd in Big East, a #4 seed for the NCAA Tournament:
One of the nation's best backcourts returns with the Three Amigos now sophomores. 5'11 point guard Dominic James will likely be playing his last season of college ball in 2006-2007. A playmaking lead guard, James can be desribed as a hybrid of T.J. Ford and Nate Robinson. A potential All-American this year, he comes into the season as the Big East's leading returning scorer and assist man at 15.3 points and 5 assists per game. James excels at driving to the basket, and is equally adept at finishing at the rim or dishing the ball to his open teammates. His shot still needs improvement, as he hit just 30% of his three point attempts and 64% of his free throws last season. At one of the other guard spots, defensive stopper Jerel McNeal returns. The 6'2 sophomore guard ranked in the top five of the Big East in steals last season, averaging more than two thefts a contest. On offense, he primarily looks to attack the basket, averaging 11 points per game last season. Typical of many freshman, he forced things too much last year. However, his fearlessness in driving toward the basket garners him a ton of respect. Like James, he needs to improve his perimeter shot. Offseason reports indicate this has happened, which will make McNeal that much more dangerous. Quite possibly the most talented member of the trio, 6'5 guard Wesley Matthews had an excellent freshman season averaging 9 points per game. This despite him missing the start of Big East play with a broken foot. A very smooth offensive player, Matthews combines a very solid outside shot with deceptive penetration skills. Matthews also plays excellent defense and could really break out this season. Looking to be a really strong under the radar pick-up, freshman guard David Cubillan should play quality minutes this season. A tenacious defender and solid outside shooter, the 6'0 Cubillan can play the point and off guard spots. Versatile Dan Fitzgerald can play anywhere on the court, and has excellent ballhandling skills for a 6'9 player. A very solid perimeter shooter, Fitzgerald also does a nice job of finding open teammates. His effort does not always translate into the box scores, averaging just 5 points and 2 rebounds per game a year ago. However, he's the type of player a winning basketball team always seems to have.

Another backcourt note, Ball State transfer Maurice Acker will be sitting out this season. A dynamic 5'8 point guard, Acker played high school and AAU ball with Jerel McNeal. Marquette fans have compared him to former point guard Cordell Henry, with many believing he's further along in his development than Henry at same age.

The frontcourt has a tough job replacing Steve Novak. Novak had an incredible senior season, averaging 17.2 points per game, including the memorable 41 point, 16 rebound effort against UConn. The key will be the devlopment of 6'10 post player Ousmane Barro. Barro, an athletic shot blocker, showed signs of becoming an impact player at the end of last season. Having never played high basketball due to an eligibility issue, Barro came to Marquette extremely raw. He has progressed nicely over the last two seasons, and he could become a force at both ends of the court this year. He has really improved his post game, and become a very good finisher when receiving the open pass underneath. On defense, he has great shot blocking potential but must work on his defensive rebounding. His style meshes perfectly with Marquette's goal of creating major disruption on defense. At the start of the season, Jamil Lott may start opposite Barro. A 6'7 forward, Lott will earn minutes because of his defensive ability. A very solid rebounder, Lott can also block a few shots. On offense, his scoring will primarily come off of open looks underneath, but he occasionally flashes a nice post move. Once he becomes comfortable with offense, heralded 6'6 freshman swingman Lazar Hayward may replace Lott in the starting line-up. Hayward comes to Marquette with a reputation as an excellent perimeter shooter, and showed a willingless in the prep ranks of fighting for defensive rebounds against much bigger men. Hayward can also play in the backcourt, but will likely get most of his minutes early on upfront. 7'0 senior center Mike Kinsella has a nice perimeter shot, and will earn spot minutes if he willingly competes down low against the Big East's bigger players. Injuries derailed Kinsella's promising career, but he does have an opportunity to have a nice senior season. Athletic 6'8 forward Trend Blackledge will be a nice option against smaller and quicker teams. Blackledge excels at running in the open court and finishing, and can also block shots. His skinny frame will hurt him against bigger teams, but like Kinsella he will a nice role player against certain foes. 6'8 sophomore forward Dwight Burke looks to be lost in the rotation, and will likely not get many minutes this season.

On the whole, Marquette should be a top 15 team and a real challenger in the Big East. The frontcourt players have something to prove, but the talent is there with guys like Barro and Hayward. Thanks to the excellent guard play, another trip to the Final Four for Tom Crean's crew is definitely possible. If James surprises and returns for his junior season, Marquette would be among the favorites for the 2008 National Championship.

Projected Starting Line-Up:
G Dominic James
G Jerel McNeal
G Wesley Matthews
F Jamil Lott
F Ousmane Barro

6th man: G/F Dan Fitzgerald

Other Key Subs:
F Lazar Hayward
G David Cubillan
F Trend Blackledge
C Mike Kinsella

7 comments:

Mike 8:23 AM  

Acker is LISTED at 5'8"??? That fucker must be really short.

Vinnie 12:35 PM  

The real question this year is, can the student section fill the very big shoes of us recently graduated Fanatics in the face-painting and sign-making department?

I still have my awesome super-sweet kickass Fitzgerald sign and am willing to lend it out for a small fee the next time ND comes (which is next season, if I'm not mistaken).

I can also teach those freshmen how to do the "John Randle" facepaint design.

Mike 1:47 PM  

The other real question is, can we still provoke a reaction from opposing players' mothers now that we're up in the nosebleed old people seats?

Anonymous,  2:11 PM  

Dominic James is not anything like nate robinson or tj ford. James is a pure point guard who can create, think Jamal Tinsley, and MU would have gone no where without him last year. I hope Novak sends him some money for helping him ass get drafted. And the real question is how gayer can you make the student section, how can any respectable human paint his face to a fucking basketball game. Thanks for helping our school have the lamest student section in the nation, now i remember why i stopped going to games, cuase of too many douche fuckers.

Matt Zuchowski 4:59 PM  

Congrats guys, we've gotten our first troll. It's good to see our blog has spread to the third grade classrooms of Milwaukee.

Vinnie 9:59 PM  

Douche fuckers?!?! I've never been so insulted in my life! That's just unbelievably hurtful. No wait...not hurtful. Stupid. Really, really stupid. And absurd. Seriously, what's this dude's problem?

Anonymous,  12:34 AM  

Actually, Zuch, I think you're overestimating this troll's level of education. Even a 3rd grader in that miserable school system known as MPS has the ability to turn on a spell check.

And our friend Mr. Douche Fucker was probably the no talent ass clown that showed up only to the big ESPN games wearing a ND or Wisconsin sweatshirt after getting drunk and stoned to Dave Matthews in his McCormick Hall dorm room. The Bradley Center was and is clearly better off without you.

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