Record last season: 26-9 (Conf: 14-4)
Postseason: Lost in Elite 8 of NCAA tournament
Coach: Buzz Williams
Coach’s record at school: 122-54
Offensive efficiency: 111.2 (25th in the country)
Defensive efficiency: 94.2 (46th in the country)
Returnees: Davante Gardner (11.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG), Chris Otule (5.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG), Jamil Wilson (9.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG), Todd Mayo (5.3 PPG, 1.2 RPG), Derrick Wilson (1.1 PPG), Steve Taylor Jr. (3.0 PPG, 2.1 RPG), Juan Anderson (2.7 PPG, 2.9 RPG), Jake Thomas (1.8 PPG, 1.0 RPG)
Notable losses: Vander Blue (14.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.8 APG), Trent Lockett (7.0 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.8 APG), Junior Cadougan (8.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 3.8 APG)
Newcomers: JaJuan Johnson, Deonte Burton, Duane Wilson, John Dawson
G: Derrick Wilson
G: Todd Mayo
F: Jamil Wilson
F: Davante Gardner
C: Chris Otule
For as long as Buzz Williams is the head coach, the Golden Eagles will be recognized for their work ethic and discipline. But let’s be honest, a team doesn’t reach three straight Sweet 16s just on those attributes. Having a strong work ethic and laser sharp focus is key, but you also need talent. And just like the last three years, this team is talented; which is why Marquette was picked by the coaches to win the league when they met for Media Day last month.
The strength of this team starts with their fearless leader and coach, Buzz Williams. He’s the best coach in the conference and his results speak for themselves. He’s led the Golden Eagles to the NCAA tournament in all five years at the helm with three consecutive Sweet 16s and running. Last year they advanced to the Elite 8. He’s a mastermind who is always tinkering with his lineups and never becoming complacent. He has said that he goes to bed at night already excited about waking up the next day. He’s an animal and a winner.
Turning to the players who actually play the game, you must start with Marquette’s front court. Comprised of Davante Gardner, Chris Otule and Jamil Wilson, this is the most talented front court in the Big East. All three have versatile offensive games, and are tough on defense. Good luck out muscling any of these three guys on either end of the floor.
The back court isn’t as daunting, and is where the question marks reside. Derrick Wilson will assume the point guard duties this year as a junior after being a limited participant last season. And Todd Mayo will be starting at the two guard after coming off of a down sophomore year. Both have been in the program long enough now to know what is expected, and they should be prepared to make the leap.
After those two, it’s the members of the talented recruiting class that Buzz welcomes this year. Duane Wilson was thought to have a chance at taking over the point guard role, but an injury will keep him out a few weeks. However, the sharp shooting JaJuan Johnson and the aggressive and versatile Deonte Burton will certainly factor into the rotation.
Steve Taylor, Jr., who may end up starting at one of the forward spots, is back after coming off of a promising freshman year. And Juan Anderson and Jake Thomas will provide sound depth at the forward and guard spots respectively.
The Marquette Golden Eagles are the team in the Big East with the best coach, best front court, best incoming recruiting class and depth at every position. Games aren’t played on paper, but this is the best team in the Big East this season.
Projected Big East finish: 1st