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.

I believe in Dwyane Wade.

30 10 2008

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).

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.

Unsung Player Day: Steve Novak

4 04 2008

When Tracy McGrady says that you’re “the best shooter [he’s] ever seen,” shouldn’t you be getting at least a little bit of press? Although he owns one of the sweetest strokes in the league, you won’t hear Steve Novak being bombarded with interview requests.

As soon as Don over at With Malice… told me that he was declaring April 5th as an Unsung Player Day, the 6’10” forward out of Marquette came to mind. I mean Bruce Pearl gropes Erin Andrews and he continues to get press. Where’s the love for a nice guy like Stevie Novak?

Novak had an incredible start to his collegiate career. He helped Dwyane Wade and Travis Diener bring Marquette to its first Final Four since Al McGuire. Along the way, Novak earned Conference USA All-Freshman Team and became the Conference’s Sixth Man of the Year. After that fast start, Novak essentially underwhelmed during his sophomore and junior seasons.

But come his senior year, he literally played his way into the NBA. Novak kick-started Marquette’s first season in the Big East, guiding the program to the best performance out of all the former C-USA teams. He averaged 17.5 points, 5.9 rebounds while shooting 46.7% from 3-point range and 47.7% overall. It was good enough to be an unanimous All-Big East First-Team selection. He shared unanimous selection honors with Randy Foye, Allan Ray and Rudy Gay. Not bad company, if you ask me.

The Houston Rockets drafted the long-range marksman with the 32nd pick overall. Things weren’t stellar for the man during his rookie season. He averaged 1.5 points and 0.7 rebounds in 35 games with a single start. The Rockets sent him down to the D-League a couple times where he played for the Rio Grand Valley Vipers.

Novak’s second professional season has treated him a bit better. He’s seen increased playing time, especially since Yao Ming went down with an injury. He’s reached double-figures twice this season. The highlight, so far, was when he hit a buzzer-beating, game-winner against Sacramento.

Like an old man easing into a warm bath, Novak is getting a better awareness of how to play the game. His value, at this point, comes mainly because he stretches out the floor. The Rockets’ offense is predicated on lots of half-court sets with their big men setting up the offense at the elbow or high post. Novak and his deadly three-point shot catches just enough attention when he fades into the corner.

In a game where one play separates winning and losing, every advantage counts. So the next time you watch Tracy McGrady and the Rockets, keep an eye out for #20. You may be pleasantly surprised by the young Steve Novak.