Trevor Jumps Ship

27 08 2008

The sophomore foward Trevor Mbakwe left the Marquette program for good.

It’s kind of like Brett Favre but the opposite.  The poor kid has been debating on whether he should leave the team or not for the past year.  Several months back, he announced that he would be leaving the team for a DII Minnesotan program for “personal reasons.”

And now, he’s decided not to return for personal reasons.  Coach Buzz Williams has said that he’s had a great summer working out with the team and he’s being doing well academically.  So it’s decidedly not a physical or school-related issue.

I find it interesting that the guy goes through a summer of work outs and then leaves the team a month before the season starts.  It’s a shame that he’s gone because that makes our front court even greener.

Good luck to you, Trevor.





Reaching Up

20 08 2008

Find a Toronto Sun article on Liam McMorrow, the seven-foot Canadian center who has recently transferred to Marquette.

Instead, McMorrow, who had never even played an officiated, five-on-five basketball game a year ago, is packing his bags, preparing to leave his Scarborough home for Milwaukee, where he has landed a full basketball scholarship to Marquette University.

Most people are done growing by the time they are 18 or 19, but nobody told that to McMorrow. The 21-year-old McMorrow went from 6-foot-8 two years ago to his current size.

Now McMorrow, who only shot baskets the rare times he wasn’t playing lacrosse, ice or ball hockey, has dreams of playing professionally and for team Canada.

McMorrow averaged 8.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks for the Durham College Lords in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association.  He’ll sit out for a season and then have three years of eligibility left for the Golden Eagles.

McMorrow’s size is welcomed on a Marquette program that can’t be accused of being particularly tall.  Besides the current 6’10″ freshman Chris Otule, the tallest returning players in 2009 will be 6’7″ (Trevor Mbakwe, Patrick Hazel and Joseph Fulce).





Alexander the Great

3 07 2008

The Yi Experiment has given way to Joe Alexander the Great. 

Although I’m not sure which Chinese language Yi speaks, it may have helped having a teammate that can speak Mandarin. 

Unfortunately, the pairing wasn’t meant to be.  Yi became expendable as the Milwaukee Bucks selected the forward out of West Virginia with the 8th pick. 

Alexander is one of those “…in a few years” guys.  He’ll be ready… in a few years.  He has a chance to be a great player… in a few years.  He’ll be one of the best players in his class… in a few years. 

I won’t disagree with his potential; the man can hold his on slam dunk contest topping it off with a Vince Carter “honey-dip” elbow slam.  But can he play now? 

I think he’s going to be real fun to watch.  Some have billed him as a super athletic Matt Harpring.  I don’t buy the Harpring comparison, which really comes up because the kid is white.

I see Alexander as a bigger Luol Deng with an established mid-range core competency.  They were both freakish athletes in college.  Both players have high release points, an ability to score in the post yet they both struggle with lateral quickness (compared to other pro prospects).  Alexander, like Deng, put on a show in March.  He averaged 23.8 points and 8.1 rebounds in the final month.  Huge.

We’ve heard a lot about his gym rat tendencies.  The guy is an extremely hard worker and he likes to hit the weights — much like every Bob Huggins recruit.  I really think the guy can be a nice player early.  The problem is the Bucks are crowded at the wing.

John Hammond isn’t done tweaking but they currently have Richard Jefferson, Desmond Mason, Michael Redd and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute on the roster.  Under Scott Skiles’ system, it may come down to who demonstrates a commitment to defense. 

Mbah a Moute is a Ben Howland recruit, so you know he’ll work on D.  Other than the former UCLA star, the other wings haven’t had to play a lick of defense in years.  If Alexander can play NBA defense, he’s got a shot to shine early.

Photo credit: AP





What up, Hoffman Estates?

16 06 2008

Guess where I’ll be next Thanksgiving?

Hint: NOT in California visiting my parents.

65 bones gets you in the building. Eight games in 2 days. Marquette, Auburn, Dayton and the powerhouse Chicago State are among the 8 squads.

This will be a good chance for me to rock the MU snowcap that Macaulay Culkin and I share.





Not Taylor Made

2 04 2008

Letters of intent are tricky. In Tyshawn Taylor’s case, that may be an understatement. With our beloved Tom Crean going to Indiana, Taylor is asking Marquette to nullify his letter of intent to play basketball for them.

tc.jpg

It’s no surprise that high school kids go to a school to play for the coach. The basketball player goes where he will fit into the style and where he’s built up a rapport with the coaching staff. With the exception of UCLA, Kentucky and a select few other schools, kids don’t play for programs. The question then becomes how are poached collegiate coaches held accountable? What exactly do we expect from ballers and why? I’ve asked this question before in a different context.

The Taylor camp is not outwardly malignant towards Crean. Even though Crean dumped Marquette in a move faster than Shaq dumps franchises, Taylor seems to think that there is a possibility that he will follow Crean to God’s Country.

And now Taylor’s high school coach, Bob Hurley, says that the coach Marquette installs will have to be someone he knows really well. Okay… like that makes sense. I doubt Mrs. Hurley or anyone from Hurley’s ol’ gang will travel to the midwest and accept a vacant coaching position in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Hurley doesn’t want anything to do with the school which is ironic because he’s projecting his frustration with Crean onto the school. Anyone else find it odd that a recruit would shun a school that got burned before the college coach that broke his commitment to his players?

College coaches leave for greener pastures every season. They are hardly ever held accountable for the kids they have left. Coaches can’t say “come with me” because it’s against NCAA regulations. The young athletes are left to their own devices. They are at the mercy of a new coach. They have no emotional armor save for comforting words from their equally confused and shell-shocked teammates.

The question then becomes whether or not Marquette releases their players from letters of intent. If it does not, you will find disgruntled players bringing down team chemistry and then dashing for the door like they got a blind date with Fran Drescher. It can also hurt the program’s reputation with influential high school coaches and prospective players.

All is lost anyway so if the school tears up the letters of intent, it may be the smart play. Unless Marquette gets a big-name coach immediately, it’s time to rebuild. Their cause is lost for the next 3 or 4 years, especially in the brutal Big East. So I say let the recruits go. It will save the basketball program’s reputation and that’s about the only good that will come from it. A lot rides on reputation; it directly leads to effectiveness and credibility, on and off the court. Need proof? Ask the Knicks’ James Dolan.





The Lopez Twins Make the Jump

1 04 2008

Brook and Robin Lopez have announced that they will hire agents and forgo the rest of their college eligibility. How will they fare on the next level?

Brook established himself as a force in the college game. The elder Lopez twin averaged 19.3 points, 8.2 boards and 2.1 blocks. He compiled a healthy 9 double-doubles until Stanford was eliminated by the Texas Longhorns in the NCAA tournament.

Like a good number of other people, I think Brook is a bit overrated. If he establishes deep position, you can pretty much give him the two points. His footwork is quite good for a young big. Brook likes to drop-step while keeping the ball high and he will then try to hit a hook shot over his left shoulder. He will have trouble when facing people his size that are dramatically more athletic and crafty.

If these kids weren’t 7-foot twins, there is no chance Robin Lopez leaves Stanford early. 10.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks doesn’t exactly make pro scouts drool. Robin didn’t exactly dominate while his brother was academically ineligible during the first nine games of the season. Robin was only marginally better as the focal point during those early games. 11.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.9 blocks — still not quite Bill Walton numbers.

brothers600.jpg

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not saying these kids are useless. I’m just convinced that their hype is a product of the lack of big men in college basketball. Are they really NBA-caliber players? There is obviously a case for that; they are making the jump after only two seasons at Stanford.

But what else can you say about them? They seem to have physically-matured. I don’t see them gaining another few inches or bulking up considerably. No one has ever accused them of being extraordinarily athletic so any further improvement will have to be mentally through their floor games.

The Lopez twins don’t strike me as particularly savvy, at least offensively. Robin has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.35 while Brook is slightly better with a 0.65 ratio. For comparisons sake, let me throw a few more numbers out. Kevin Love and Roy Hibbert — both savvy bigs in similarly-constructed defense-heavy teams — own 0.97 and 1.11 assist-to-turnover ratios respectively.

If the Lopez twins aren’t a step or a move removed from their preferred shots, they punt the ball away. Brook and Robin will have to dramatically improve in this area because they will be facing physically-menacing, defensively-aware 7-footers whom are much more athletic than the likes they have ever faced.

The future shouldn’t be all bad. The Lopez brothers should prove to be a bit better than another set of low-post twins from Stanford, the Collins twins. Jason and Jarron Collins were another set of twin towers for the Cardinal. Like Brook, Jason Collins was considered to be better than his brother. While Jarron was written off as the “defensive-minded” brother — or in other words, the brother with size but without a clear competitive advantage.

Brook and Robin will be better than the Collins twins but definitely not as good as the Grant twins. Horace Grant was a cog in a Chicago Bulls three-peat. His brother, Harvey, enjoyed a peak of 18 and 6 for about three seasons in the early 1990′s.

Brook should be a solid role-player at the very least. Robin won’t see anywhere near the same success. And although he’s being billed as a Joakim Noah to his brother’s Al Horford, Robin really doesn’t have game. He doesn’t have the defensive mentality of Joakim Noah and he certainly doesn’t hustle like Noah. However, they both have big hair and both talk as much shit as Bill O’Reilly. I could block 2 shots a game in the helter-skelter Pac-10 if I were a foot taller.

The Lopez twins will be living the Suite Life of Zack and Cody in NBA uniforms next season but don’t expect them to make much noise while there.





Did Kansas State’s Loss Hurt Beasley’s Draft Position?

28 03 2008

beasleyx.jpg

There’s been talk about how Kansas State’s second-round loss to the Wisconsin Badgers will hurt Michael Beasley’s draft status.  Let’s just de-bunk this theory immediately with the case of Kevin Durant.

Durant was a highly-touted NBA prospect who tore it up during his freshman year at Texas.  His freshman-loaded Big 12 team won their first-round game and then was eliminated after that.

Fast forward to this year and Michael Beasley.  Freshman tearing up the season?  26.2 points, 12.4 boards, 1.6 blocks while shooting 53.2% from the field.  Those points, rebounds and his field goal percentage better Durant’s, by the way.  So did Beasley tear it up?  Like Paris Hilton getting her credit card statement. 

This season’s K-State team was essentially Beasley, Bill Walker (another promising freshman talent) and the other freshmen.  K-State rookies accounted for 80.1% of their team’s points on the season.  Granted, K-State does have a lot of freshman, but that’s still ridiculous.  Beasley and Walker, alone, score 54.2% of the team’s points.

So let’s run through why K-State’s loss won’t affect Michael Beasley’s NBA draft stock.  It all boils down to rationalization but that’s how NBA front offices work.

Let’s be honest: Kansas State was never expected to do much.  Their game against Southern California was a toss-up but it wouldn’t have been disastrous had they lost.  Thaddeus Young was a lottery pick after a first-round loss in last year’s tournament.  Beasley and Young are basically the same type of player and supposedly have the same ceiling.  Obviously, Beasley is much more skilled at this point but nevertheless.  Beasley’s tournament games might as well have been ref-ed by his mom because he comes out winning regardless of the outcome.

Frank Martin’s menacing eyebrows and his X’s and O’s were left out to dry by Bo Ryan.  Wisconsin’s Ryan had K-State’s head coach read like a People magazine in a plastic surgeon’s office.

And it wasn’t done without a lack of effort from the K-State players.  Bill Walker straight-up balled in their second-round loss.  Walker did his normal clean-up after Beasley routine.  Beasley was in foul trouble, as usual, but he played enough to showcase his skills and grit agains a physically bigger, blue-collar Badger squad.

Athletic tweeners generally cannot hurt their draft stock with their tournament play.  This statement may come as a surprise but height and hype does make up for lots of shortcomings.  Blasphemy, I know.  Just don’t tell my mama that I said that.

The B-Easy was able to propel himself into a consensus top 3 pick during the conference season.  He displayed superior athleticism, an ability to hit consistently from the outside and a real mean-streak.  Each of his rebounds made a noise on TV like he was Inspector Gadget inhaling the boards.  Our expectations for him in the post-season play were slim to none and so he was able to coast.  Word on the street is that he’s having a “tough” time deciding whether to make the jump to the NBA.  I say go, go, go gadget flow.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.