Top 68 Team Previews: #28 Marquette Golden Eagles
Darius Johnson-Odom is perhaps one of the most underrated players in college basketball. (Icon SMI)
By Kevin Mallory
Monday, September 26, 2011
Marquette Golden Eagles
Last Season: 20-14 (9-9)
Key Losses: Jimmy Butler
Head Coach: Buzz Williams
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Junior Cadougan 6-1 Jr. PG
SG: Darius Johnson-Odom 6-2 Sr.
SF: Jae Crowder 6-6 Sr.
PF: Davante Gardner 6-8 So.
C: Chris Otule 6-11 Jr.
Key Reserves: Vander Blue 6-4 So. SG, Juan Anderson 6-6 Fr. SF, Jamail Jones 6-6 So. SF, Jamil Wilson 6-7 So. SF, Todd Mayo 6-3 Fr. PG
Coming off a Sweet 16 appearance last year, Marquette will once again be one of the top contenders in the rugged Big East. Although Marquette lost Jimmy Butler, the Golden Eagles bring back their leading scorer in Darius Johnson-Odom along with Jae Crowder, the team's leading rebounder.
Johnson-Odom returns for his senior season after being named to the All-Big East Second Team, averaging 15.8 points per game. He hasn't received a lot of press but should receive greater attention now that Butler has departed. Also, regarded as one of the team's top defensive players, Johnson-Odom should build on his great play during the postseason last year—the Sweet 16 vs. North Carolina notwithstanding.
Crowder, son of former NBA player Corey Crowder, is two years removed from being named the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Player of the Year and a junior college First Team All-American. Many scouts are intrigued with Crowder's skill set. The 6-foot-6 forward is a scoring threat both inside and on the perimeter. Crowder led the Golden Eagles with 6.8 rebounds per game while chipping in 11.7 points per contest. The senior forward is expected to continue with his development and provide matchup nightmares with his size and versatility.
Listed at 6-foot-8 and 290 pounds, Davante Gardner will provide the Marquette frontcourt with some muscle and bulk. Gardner played one of his best games of the season in the Sweet 16 loss to North Carolina, finishing with 16 points and six rebounds. With that muscle and bulk, however, comes some finesse. Gardner provides great touch with his shooting and is known for being able to position his body for inside scoring. With Gardner's continued development, the Golden Eagles will have another big, strong, versatile player.
Otule will have to provide the size and length for Marquette at center. While the Golden Eagles roster is filled with tough, savvy and versatile basketball players, the team is relatively undersized. In an article by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, it was revealed that Otule is playing major college basketball with one eye. The junior has noted that he wants to play with greater consistency, and he will get that chance with more playing time after averaging only 17.6 minutes per game last season.
Junior Cadougan, a 6-foot-1 junior who averaged 4.0 points and 3.2 assists in 19.8 minutes per game last season, figures to be the likely starting point guard. Cadougan really improved last year and proved to be a reliable distributor.
Vander Blue, a highly rated recruit, had a solid freshman campaign with 5.1 points and 1.6 assists in 19 minutes per game. The 6-foot-4 sophomore could see time at either guard position. Freshman Todd Mayo, the brother of NBA player O.J. Mayo, could also see some time backing up Cadougan at the point.
One of the recruiting coups that Buzz Williams pulled this offseason was the signing of Juan Anderson. Anderson was rated the 61st best player in the Rivals 150. Buzz Williams was able to lure the California native to the Big East and away from schools like Arizona State, California and Oregon. Anderson is another one of those athletic and versatile players that Williams likes. He was excited about the idea of playing in what he called
"the best conference in the country."
Jamil Wilson, a transfer from Oregon, is a 6-foot-7 small forward who will contribute significant minutes. Wilson, who was a top-100 recruit out of high school, averaged 4.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game in 2009-10 as a freshman.
With experienced, talented and versatile players who are tough and smart, Marquette will once again be one of the teams to look out for in the Big East. A team that advanced to the Sweet 16 last season is on its way to making another deep postseason run.