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.





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).





One Man’s Fast Break

10 07 2008

Dee Brown has signed an offer sheet from the Washington Wizards ending his fast NBA break.  The former University of Illinois star returns to the NBA after a year in Turkey with Galatasaray Cafe Crown.  Brown averaged 14.7 points, 3.8 assists and 2.5 rebounds while starting 14 of his 15 games. 

Although it’s not quite linear, Brown’s state-side return can prove that a return trip for a Europe-bound Brandon Jennings is quite possible. 

Circumstances are different because Brown had completed a successful collegiate career and was drafted prior to overseas basketball.  But the increased frequency of cases like Brown’s is beginning to create a conduit for American ballers.

There are plenty of Americans who have established basketball careers overseas.  Some, notably Anthony Parker of the Toronto Raptors, have been able to parlay that success into a successful NBA career.  Parker spent five seasons with Israeli powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv after a few lameduck seasons in the NBA and CBA.  To say he was successful would be an understatement.

Anthony won five national championships, five national cups, two Euroleague titles on his way to two Euroleague MVP awards preceded by a Euroleague Final Four MVP.  The trick of increasing relevancy overseas is tried and true.  Though, while Parker had to clearly establish himself to get back into the NBA, Brown did not.

What’s questioned is whether a player can keep his relevancy while traveling overseas.  Brown has more name recognition and clout than Parker did due to Brown’s success in the NCAA and the recency of his draft date.  This bodes well for American high schoolers looking to burn a year overseas before becoming eligible for the NBA draft.

A player like Brandon Jennings has the hype and recognition necessary to keep people interested.  Brown’s choice of destination didn’t turn the Wizards off.  Galatasaray’s website admits that their basketball section isn’t particularly well-known but they did have a great season — in part, due to Dee Brown.

Another issue is that Brown chose to play overseas rather than spend a season planted on the Jazz bench.  If a high school senior choses to play overseas rather than go through the college charade, will the NBA let him?  It will be interesting to see how American ballers navigate these waters as we move forward.








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