Big East Summer Capsules: Marquette Golden EaglesPosted by mlemaire on August 6th, 2012
While most relish the onset of Summer, college basketball junkies do not. Most of the news surrounding the sport is recruiting rumors and commitments or injuries and transfer news. In order to help keep folks up-to-date on what their teams are doing during the summer, we put together these summer capsules for each team in the conference. Next up is Marquette.
1. Will the Golden Eagles get Todd Mayo back and when?
As a freshman last season, Todd Mayo showed moments of brilliance for Marquette. Sure, he was a streaky shooter who took some questionable shots and turned the ball over a lot for a guy who doesn’t work with the ball in his hands all that often, but he was also a freshman, and a very talented one. Coming into next season, many have pegged Mayo as the team’s breakout offensive star thanks to the increased touches he is likely to see with Darius Johnson-Odom gone and the assumption he would improve his game over the course of the summer. Those plans have been put on hold for now though as in late June news leaked that coach Buzz Williams had suspended Mayo indefinitely for a violation of team rules. Since then, absolutely no information has been released about what the violation was or how long Mayo will be suspended, but some have speculated the sophomore will miss a large chunk of time if he even returns at all. Williams wouldn’t have suspended Mayo indefinitely unless it was warranted, but this is a disappointing turn for both Mayo and the program. The 6-foot-3 guard had the look of a breakout player poised to become one of the more versatile offensive weapons in the country and his team definitely needed that scoring punch. Now everyone will just have to wait until the powers that be decide Mayo has served his punishment or that he is not worth the trouble, and who knows how long that wait will take.
2. How will they replace Jae Crowder?
With Vander Blue, Junior Cadougan,Trent Lockett, and potentially Mayo all returning to campus with another season of experience under their belts, the backcourt should be one of the team’s strengths, even with the news that junior college transfer T.J. Taylor is leaving the program for personal reasons. The real question will be how the Golden Eagles plan to replace their do-everything forward and reigning conference player of the year, Jae Crowder. Crowder was second on the team in scoring, first on the team in rebounding and steals, and was an irreplaceable defender because of his athleticism and versatility. The onus now falls on forwards Davante Gardner and Jamil Wilson. Both players were leaned upon heavily last season, and each showed flashes of their potential, especially Gardner who finished third on the team in scoring (9.7 PPG) despite starting just 19 games. Unless Williams got hit on the head and changed his philosophy, the Golden Eagles will still be a stingy defensive team without Crowder, where Gardner and Wilson will really need to step up is on the offensive end of the floor and on the glass. The team has perimeter weapons, but in order to keep the defense honest, they will need one of their bruising forwards to become a consistent offensive threat. The presumptive favorite to fill that role best is Gardner, but he will need to stay healthy to make that happen.
3. Keeping Chris Otule healthy is a must.
Marquette is one of the few teams in the country with a bona fide center in 6-foot-11, 265-pound senior Chris Otule. When he has been healthy, Otule has provided a reliable presence in the paint and excellent rim protection. Unfortunately for the Golden Eagles, Otule has never been able to stay healthy. His freshman season was derailed by a fractured foot, and then he missed the 2009-10 season when he broke his other foot. Then, last season, Otule played in just eight games before suffering an ACL tear that forced him to sit out the remainder of that season. Now, finally, presumably, maybe, Otule is healthy and ready to anchor the Golden Eagles in the paint. But I don’t think any Marquette fan is breathing easy quite yet. We already discussed the questions about the team’s frontcourt, and a lot of those questions will have easy answers if Otule can play a full season. But we are talking about an extremely tall man, who puts a lot of pressure on his lower half just by the fact that he has to carry all of that bulk around. We aren’t saying that Otule is out of shape or too heavy, we are only pointing out that ankles and feet and ligaments usually do not enjoy lugging nearly 270 pounds up and down a basketball court for 30 minutes per night. There may not be a lot that the team or the fans can do about the looming injury potential other than hope and pray, but if anyone is in need of a lucky break or two, it is Otule, who has been admirably dealing with adversity his entire life. He deserves a chance to play out a full season, and here is to hoping that the injury gods smile upon him.