Old Enough?

14 09 2009

Etan Thomas and Dave Zirin discuss the NBA’s current age limit.

Thomas:

My mother’s position is that our people had to fight so long for the right to be educated and now young people are not valuing that struggle and are essentially throwing their education to chase a dream that has been dangled in front of their faces like the horse with the carrot. I can’t disagree with her point and we go back and forth on this topic. Now, I stayed in school for four years. Had a wonderful experience at Syracuse University. Got my degree in business management, met my wife, grew as a person and it prepared me for life. But that’s my case. Is it fair to force someone who wants to take a different path to attend college?

Check out the entire piece; it’s quite good.





Lazar Hayward, 2010 NBA First Rounder?

7 07 2009

A 2010 NBA mock draft has Lazar Hayward, the senior Marquette forward, picked late in the first round.

I’m a big Lazar fan but I’m equally surprised to see him getting so much respect. The guy’s got the physical tools — he was a 4-star recruit coming out of high school. But his tremendous heart, rebounding savvy and sweet stroke during the last three years was overshadowed by the spectacular play of the Three Amigos (Jerel McNeal, Dominic James and Wesley Matthews).

Those players have now graduated and are fighting for spots on various NBA teams. And now Lazar is pulling a Macaulay Culkin.  He’s alone and coming into his own, making USA Basketball’s World University Games team.  His challenge next season will be maintaining highly-productive numbers with a very inexperienced Marquette squad.

If Jerel McNeal, universally-lauded for his collegiate play, couldn’t get a team to bite on a no-strings-attached 2nd round draft pick, I highly doubt Lazar can get himself selected in the first round.

The names and orders on NBA mock drafts are completely different before and after the NCAA basketball season.  At least a dozen college ballers you’ve never heard of will play their way onto that list, meaning that some of those names will drop off.

For example: before UNC’s Ed Davis physically dominated in the paint during the Final Four, do you think he was a consensus top 5 pick?

All that to say, I think it’ll be tough for Lazar to keep his footing.  I’ll be rooting for him though.





Practicing Free Throws

8 01 2009

Buzz Williams, Marquette’s head coach, has stated that he doesn’t make his squad practice free throws.

“Do you practice riding your bike?” Williams asked. “Those kids have grown up playing ball their whole life. You step to the line and you make free throws, and your shot doesn’t change. Just like when you’re riding a bike, it doesn’t change no matter how long it’s been since you rode a bike.

“But your mind needs to be right in order to make free throws … No, we don’t shoot free throws (in practice). Step to the line, shoot to make, be mentally tough enough to make them.”

That seems a little off.  Given that only two of their guys shoot over 80% — Wesley Matthews (82.5%) and Lazar Hayward (80.6%) — you’d think Williams would have them practice their free throws.

9.8 of their 30 free throw attempts per game are thrown up by people that are  shooting lower than 70% from the line.  Those six guys are shooting a combined 50% so if one of them are fouled during crunch time, it’s essentially a coin toss.

Repetition matters.  If I were Williams, I would allocate at least one segment of each practice to shooting free throws.





The Crowded East

5 01 2009

blair

Big East Basketball is all the rave.  As of tonight, the super-conference has nine teams in the AP Top 25.

Read and weep: nine of sixteen are ranked.

Wow.

Some say that because the Big East has at least four more teams that most of the other power conferences, it’s expected that they perform better as a whole.

The size issue may be a demerit but I feel that Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Georgetown and Notre Dame are good enough to go deep into March.

And top-to-bottom the Big East is undoubtedly the best basketball conference in the country.   Imagine being Rutgers and playing #2 Connecticut, #3 Pittsburgh and an out-of-conference #1 North Carolina all in the same week.  I almost feel bad for the Scarlet Knights.

Does competitiveness top-to-bottom make a better conference or is it the amount of teams that are capable of getting to the Final Four?

The argument personified is the Big Ten versus the ACC.  The Big Ten is coming off a pretty weak couple of years.  Purdue and Michigan State are backed by solid play from an entertaining Michigan team as well as a surprise Minnesota squad.

However, what the ACC loses in depth, the top-heavy conference makes up for in power with Duke, Carolina and Wake Forest in the AP Top 5.

So who’s the second-best conference in the nation?  And what constitutes a “better conference?”





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.








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