Tag Archive | "Basketball"

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Marquette slips but does not fall

Posted on 10 March 2010 by Joe Beres

There is no question; Saturday’s loss to Notre Dame was hard to watch. When I think about the final fifteen seconds of regulation that loss becomes even more heart wrenching; Buzz why did we not just foul any of their players and take a one-point lead with the ball?

I am sure he had his reasons and after the job he’s done this year it is hard to question a call he made, but as the potentially last game I am going to see at home for quite awhile I need to blame someone. The loss on Senior Night was probably the hardest for Hayward, Cubillan and Acker, guys who have poured their heart and soul into this team over the past four years. But I know for me, each of these guys have been crucial elements to my continued obsession of basketball over my past four years at Marquette.

It is not even that Marquette lost, but that once again that we had to go through a fourth overtime in five games with fingers crossed, and this time our luck ran out. It is made all the worse by the fact that it ran out against the Fighting Irish of all teams. I am being completely honest when I say I would rather have lost to Depaul again then to Notre Dame. But the one good thing about Saturday’s loss was that in the long run it meant about as little as it could.

Yeah, the Golden Eagles could have picked up some ground in the eyes of the national public, but that is about as far as the damage went. Saturday was more about what was not gained instead of what was lost. With that being the last regular season game we kept our vital fifth seed in the Big East and even with a win the Golden Eagles could not have gotten the coveted double-bye.

We are still considered locks for the Big Dance and with Selection Sunday coming up this weekend it does not look like we are in any danger of losing that lock status. Heck, as long as Marquette can pull off at least one victory in the Big East tournament it probably did not even change where the Selection Committee is going to seed us. Aside from the wounded pride, this was a game that is not going to come back and haunt Marquette.

Right now most analysts have MU somewhere between a ten and a seven seed. A spot we have been in that spot for the past couple weeks, so unless we make a fairly deep run in New York that range should be expected come Sunday. That being said, Marquette has a strong chance to reach the semi-finals if not further in the Big East Tournament.

The Golden Eagles are playing either St. John’s or UConn for their first game Wednesday at 1 CST (do not forget to set an alarm). I think the Huskies are going get past St. John’s but either team can pull off the win and both are going to provide some stiff competition for Marquette. UConn is an especially difficult case because their inconsistent play means that any given game they can beat the best teams in the Big East (just ask West Virginia). However, either way I think Marquette can get past both teams because we have already both teams once this year on the road.

That would mean that the Golden Eagles would then match up with a struggling Villanova team. I know the Wildcats have not played their best ball lately, but I think this is going to be a battle to the wire because in case you have not seen any game the past four years: Scottie Reynolds is ALWAYS on fire when he plays Marquette. I do not expect this game to be anything different, so if we want to win Reynolds has to be shut down.

Provided we get past the first two rounds, Marquette would have to presumably match up against a stacked Syracuse team. I realize Syracuse was just beaten by Louisville for a second time, but this team has no holes and is my pick to win not just the Big East tournament, but the Big Dance as well. That combined with the prospect of Hayward, Butler and Johnson-Odom having to play a 30+ minute game three days in a row is not promising. Even if we lose this game, you can be rest assured it will be close because Marquette loves the nail biters.

If we can win two games in the Big East Tournament and keep it close in the semi-finals, a 6 seed is not out of the question. This would give Marquette a strong chance to win at least one game in the NCAA Tournament. Regardless of our seeding come Sunday, if you like MU basketball your thirst will hopefully be quenched for the rest of the week.

by Joe Beres
[email protected]

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Milwauakee Bucks short on players, but not on effort

Posted on 12 February 2009 by Tim Bucher

The Milwaukee Bucks, after undergoing a severe makeover this past off-season, now find themselves forced to do the same just a week prior to the All-Star break.
In a matter of two weeks, the team lost its starting shooting guard, center, and now point guard, all due to injury.

Wounded, but not dead, recent play has shown that the Bucks have chosen to brush aside excuses and fight on.

Last Saturday night against the Detroit Pistons the team forced a thriller of a game, ultimately falling in overtime, but carried nonetheless by second year point guard Ramon Sessions and his career high 44 points.

The plague of injuries began with former All-Star Michael Redd, who was declared out for the season after tearing both his anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in the January 24 game against the Sacramento Kings.

The hardships proved incessant when center Andrew Bogut was ruled out indefinitely with an incomplete stress fracture in his lower back. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Bogut, who had struggled with the injury throughout the season, will be reevaluated at the end of March when the team has only seven games remaining. So it is almost safe to say that his latest injury will keep him out for the remainder of the season.

Looking to add some depth at the shooting guard position, Milwaukee proceeded to trade for shooting guard Keith Bogans, sending backup point guard Tyronn Lue to the Orlando Magic.

Then, almost simultaneously, starting point guard Luke Ridnour suffered a broken thumb during practice, keeping him out for up to four weeks. In a matter of seconds, the Bucks went from having three point guards in their rotation to one: Ramon Sessions.

But the Bucks and head coach Scott Skiles have no choice but to go with the flow. “The script is the same, it’s just that the actors have changed,” said Skiles before Saturday’s game against Detroit.
In the team’s first game without all three starters, Skiles replaced Ridnour with Sessions, rookie Luc Richard Mbah a Moute filled in for Redd, and veteran Francisco Elson slid in for the injured Aussie.

While the team ultimately fell to the Pistons, in order to continue a run towards the playoffs the Bucks will need consistent effort from players who stood in the shadows only weeks ago.

As Sessions showed, every player will be forced to elevate their game in order to necessitate a competitive basketball team.

Skiles, in his first year with the team, has already made long strides with players and fans. Milwaukee, coming off a very disappointing 26-56 season, is only three victories away from surpassing last year’s win total and have been flirting with the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

As of Sunday, the Bucks sit half a game back of New Jersey for the eigth spot and three games back of Philadelphia for the seventh in a likely battle for a daunting best-of-seven series against Boston, Cleveland or Orlando.

Although making the playoffs would be extraordinary, at this point, the Bucks should be simply hoping to build off their efforts of late and limp into the All-Star break without losing their entire roster to injury.

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Change the NBA can believe in Bucks, among many teams, making alterations this season

Posted on 21 November 2008 by Tim Bucher

Change, the ubiquitous political rhetoric that has swept the nation, has apparently resonated with the NBA.

This summer, the league took part in several drastic changes: a contentious team relocation, moving the now defunct Seattle Supersonics to Oklahoma City, the decampment of several players to international competition, the celebration of 12 gold medal winners and a significant makeover by the means of trades and big-name free agents signings.

The Milwaukee Bucks, owned by Democratic Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl, felt the need to partake in some alterations of its own, supplanting old faces with new ones and taking part in the Olympic celebrations, boasting a gold-medalist of its own.

The clearing-house began with the firing of general manager Larry Harris near the end of last season. Harris was succeeded by John Hammond, a former executive with the Detroit Pistons in April. Hammonds did not waste much time, firing first year head coach Larry Krystkowiak less than a week on the job.

Several days later, the team hired former Chicago Bulls head coach Scott Skiles to become the 11th coach in team history. Skiles had previously led the Bulls to three postseason appearances before being let go after only 25 games last season.

The Bucks also made some key trades in the off-season, dealing Chinese national Yi Jianlian, oft-injured forward Bobby Simmons, fan-favorite Desmond Mason and uncharismatic point guard Mo Williams.

In return, the team acquired small forward Richard Jefferson from the Nets and point guard Luke Ridnour from Seattle Sloppy Seconds/Oklahoma Thunder. The trades allowed the team to shore up the small forward position and swap a shoot-first Williams for a pass-first Ridnour.

The Bucks did more shopping over the summer via free agency and the NBA Draft. The team signed veteran forwards Malik Allen and Francisco Elson and recently picked up former Pacers forward Austin Croshere.

But where the team figures to see the biggest dividends both this season and throughout the future, is from the draft. With the eighth pick, they selected West Virginia forward Joe Alexander, a player all too familiar to Marquette fans.

Last season against the Golden Eagles, Alexander scored 19 points as the Mountaineers upset then No. 10 ranked Marquette.

As far as this season goes though, Alexander has not been the biggest rookie contributor to the team. That honor goes to rookie Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, a forward from UCLA picked in the second round. He is averaging just over 9 points and 6 rebounds a game, adding a huge boost to a somewhat destitute frontcourt.

Another novelty the Bucks can add to their laundry list of improvements is a gold-medal winner. Lefty Michael Redd helped Team USA capture the gold medal in August, providing the USA a much-needed threat from beyond the arc.

While many experts do not see the Bucks destined to go very far this season, I will make a bold prediction, prognosticating the team to fill out as the eighth seed in the East.
And now, some more playoff predictions: I’ve got the Celtics and Pistons in the East and the Lakers and Suns in the West. In the Finals, the universal sentiment of change will ultimately come to end when the Celtics repeat as NBA Champions.

Analogous to the politics of today, many teams have felt the need for change, looking for any sign of hope and promise that next year will be better. For some bottom-dwellers like the Bucks, they believe they have found change they can believe in.

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Déjà vu: Remnants of ‘82 Brewers seen in ‘08

Posted on 09 October 2008 by Tim Bucher

Feeling the need to shake things up, a team trades for a future hall-of-fame pitcher midway through the season and then fires its manager in an attempt to “spark” the struggling team. On the last day of the season, the team clinches a playoff-berth with a huge home run from its budding superstar.

Not only was that the storyline for this year’s Brewers, oddly enough it was the exact same scenario which played out 26 years ago, the last time the Brewers made it to the post-season. The parallels between the 1982 Brewers team and this year’s 2008 Brewers are too eerie to be coincidence.

In 1982, the Brewers fired manager Buck Rodgers and replaced him with Harvey Kuenn, a favorite among players. In 2008, the Brewers fired manager Ned Yost and replaced him with Dale Sveum, also a player favorite.

Looking to shore up their starting pitching, ’82 General Manager Harry Dalton trades for all-star pitcher Don Sutton, who pitches the team to a post-season clinching victory the last game of the year. Also looking to bolster the starting rotation, ’08 General Manager Doug Melvin acquires CC Sabathia, all-star and Cy Young winner. Sabathia leads the Brewers to victory the last game of the year, also clinching a playoff-berth.

In the same 1982 regular-season finale, All-star Robin Yount came up big for the Brewers, hitting two huge home runs. All-star Ryan Braun comes up to the plate in the bottom of the 8th inning of the ’08 finale and hits a decisive two-run home run.

Although separated by 26 years, the two Milwaukee playoff teams have followed similar paths to the post-season. Regular-season statistics of the two clubs also show comparable numbers for each of the team’s superstars.

Let’s compare each team’s unequivocal star. For the ’82 team, it’s clearly Robin Yount. For the ’08 team, Ryan Braun. In 1982, Yount had 210 hits, 114 RBI’s, 29 home runs, and a sizzling .331 batting average. Braun, in 2008, put together 174 hits, 106 RBI’s, a .285 batting average, and also socked 37 home runs. “Rockin’ Robin” slightly edges out Braun when comparing the two, but the “Hebrew Hammer” deserves some recognition for the better nickname.

1982 First Baseman Cecil Cooper and 2008 First Baseman Prince Fielder also shared similar regular-seasons. Cooper ended the year with 121 RBI’s, 32 home runs, and a .313 batting average. Fielder had 102 RBI’s, 34 home runs, and a .276 average. Although there is parity among statistics, stature is another story. Cooper weighed in at 190 pounds during his playing days while Fielder finds himself at 270 pounds.

And there are more peculiarities linking this season’s Brewers with the ’82 team. Current manager Dale Sveum was drafted in the first round of the 1982 amateur draft by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Also, the Brewers honored the 1982 team prior to a game in 2002, a game in which the Brewers were playing host to this year’s first-round opponent, the Philadelphia Phillies.
The 1982 team went 95-67, winning the American League Eastern Division. Defeating the Angels in the ALCS, the Brewers advanced to the World Series. After a convincing Game 1 victory, the St. Louis Cardinals overmatched the Crew for the remainder of the series.

Today’s Brewers went 90-72 this year and clinched a spot in the National League Wild Card.

But this past Sunday, Milwaukee wrapped up their first playoff series since ’82 by falling to the Philadelphia Phillies, three games to one.

With the two clubs regular seasons invariably linked and both teams failing to capture a World Series title, current Brewer fans should hope that next year does not parallel what happened in 1983.

A year after making it to the World Series, the ’82 team finished 5th in the American East Division, subsequently falling subject to a quarter-century post-season drought. For the sake of the city, team, and fans, lets hope the Brewers make it to the playoffs before 2034.

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A word to the wise: a freshman’s guide to being a Marquette basketball fan

Posted on 20 August 2008 by Brian Henry

To the Newest Members of the Marquette Student Body,

Welcome to what will be the best four years of your life (perhaps five or six for some of you). It is my pleasure to welcome you to Marquette.
Now, I’m sure you’ve all heard about the friends you are going to make, the lessons you are going to learn, and the beer you are going to drink (trust me, it deserves it’s own category). That stuff is all fine and dandy, but I’m not hear to tell you about any of it. I’m not sentimental…
I’m a sports writer. And as a sports writer, it is my job to quench the one insatiable desire on this campus that never runs dry: Marquette Basketball. With that being said, it is time for you, the Class of 2012, to be acclimated to the proudest athletic tradition we have on campus.
First and foremost, there are no pre-requisites to be a fan of Marquette Basketball. You can be the fourth generation of your family to come to this fine institution, know its history, and know why its basketball program is so treasured. Or, you can still think Marquette is a city in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Either way, we’re all in the same boat.

The next, and second most important step is getting yourself in the building for every home game.
How do we do that Brian?
Easy. Walk into the Al McGuire Center, reach into your wallet, and throw down 85 big ones. That’ll get you one seat to every single home game for the season. Here’s another suggestion to go with that: buy those tickets ASAP!
Before I tell you why, it’s time for a brief history lesson. The last three years have been the most successful stretch in the history of Marquette Basketball since 1980. Come to grips with that. Not one of best, THE best in almost 30 years.
Sixty-nine total victories, averaging 23 wins per season and most importantly, three consecutive births into the NCAA Tournament. On top of that, the returning team was a goofy 7-footer’s miracle shot away from advancing to the Sweet 16. As you can imagine, tickets to these games are a hot commodity to students, faculty, and alums alike.

Now I know the year is just beginning, but do some math with me. There are roughly 4,200 student section seats at the Bradley Center. Our undergraduate enrollment is just over 8,000. Toss in grad students, and that’s 11,500 people who eligible to purchase student season tickets. That means well over half of the student body at Marquette will not have season tickets to basketball games. So if you want to be in the house, make it a priority or trust me, there are plenty that will.

Once you’re in the building, you are entitled to do anything that won’t get you kicked out of the arena (Trust me, I know from experience. Security can get pretty physical). Everyone knows the drill whether you’ve stepped inside the Bradley Center or not. Cheer loud and hard until you are blue in the face. I have no fear that you will struggle with that at all.

It’s the conversation that goes on after the game that forces me to lay down the law on a few issues…
Dominic James is not going to stop shooting threes… Deal with it.
We are a fast-breaking, guard oriented team that loves to play defense… Embrace it.
No, that huge guy at the end of the bench, transfer Liam McMorrow, cannot suit up this year, no matter how bad you want him to.
You are limited to only three uses of the phrase, “If we only had a true center…”
Yes, it is awesome that they sell beer at games, even though the prices are absurd.
And finally, never under any circumstance begin a statement with, “If Tom Crean was here…” (The person that hears you say that gets to punch you in the arm).

I’m not going to try and explain it in detail, but you are going to have a blast this year. This team will put you through more emotional highs and lows than Brett Favre’s off-season (It still stings, doesn’t it Packers fans?). Enjoy your time down at the Bradley Center and love your time here at Marquette.

Brian Henry
Class of 2009

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New coach: Buzz to the rescue

Posted on 08 April 2008 by Paul Nadolski

With the resignation of Tom Crean last week, the buzz around Marquette’s campus had recently been a downer. But with the promotion of Brent “Buzz” Williams to head coach, there is a reason to look up. While Williams does not have a great wealth of experience as a head coach, he is known as a great recruiter. Shooting guard Tyshawn Taylor, Marquette’s top recruit this year, had recently asked Marquette to release him from his letter of intent, but said that he would stay with the school if Williams was hired.

“I think the only way I end up at Marquette is if Coach Williams gets the head-coaching job, or if Coach Williams and another one of the assistants is still there,” said Taylor recently. “Coach Williams recruited me and I really want to play for him. I think that’s probably the only way.” His hiring may help save this past year’s recruiting class, which looked as if it would disappear after Crean left. Williams played a pivotal role in getting forward Joseph Fulce and center Chris Otule to commit to Marquette.

Williams has already started on next year’s recruiting class. He recently landed an oral commitment from top recruit Erik Williams, a forward who is a junior in high school. Williams had been the head coach of New Orleans University during the 2006-2007 season, in which he lead the team to a 14-17 record, and had been an assistant coach at Texas A&M, Colorado State, Northwestern State, Texas A&M Kingsville, and The University of Texas at Arlington before joining Marquette’s staff last year.

William’s ability to recruit probably was a huge factor for the school’s choice to hire him. Marquette wanted to hire a coach that would bring continuity to the program and continue the success that was seen under Crean.

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Marquette Makes Buzz Williams Head Coach

Posted on 07 April 2008 by Robert Fafinski

Buzz Williams will be promoted from assistant coach Marquette’s head coach, according to sources. Williams is known as one of the better recruiters in the nation.

He was the head coach for New Orleans University during the 2006-2007 season (14-17 record) and has been an assistant coach at Texas A&M, Colorado State, Northwestern State, Texas A&M Kingsville and The University of Texas at Arlington before joining Marquette’s staff.


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James to The Warrior: “If someone leaves us, we just want to rub it in.”

Posted on 02 April 2008 by Robert Fafinski

By Robert Fafinski III and Joe Beres

Dominic JamesFollowing this afternoon’s press conference about Marquette’s reaction to the departure of nine-year Head Coach Tom Crean, Warrior reporters spoke with Lazar Hayward and Dominic James, both of whom expressed residual troubles surrounding Crean’s departure on April 1.

“It hurts when the team is losing its leader,” James said in the Al McGuire Center lobby. “But we have to move on.”

Hayward said the difficulties he was having stemmed from the fact that the team seemed to be gelling and falling into place as one of the top five teams in the Big East.

“It’s tough to deal with, especially when we played so well last year,” Hayward said.

In terms of the team’s future, Hayward said his goals have not changed.

“It’s the same goals as last year,” Hayward said. “I’m always trying to get better and improve. No matter what happens I’m always working to improve on last year.”

James, though, went one step further.

“It increases goals,” James said.

When asked whether or not Crean’s departure would affect his decision to leave Marquette early for the NBA draft, James indicated that it would.

“It’s definitely a factor, but it is going to take time. I need to talk to my teammates before I make a decision,” James said. “It’s going to take time.”

Dominic JamesBut to further muddy the waters about his already clouded future at Marquette, James seemed to signal that reprisal was in the front of his mind.

“It increases goals.” James went on, “If someone leaves us, we just want to rub it in.”

In spite of recruits asking for release from their obligations to Marquette and rumors surrounding any future coach – names that include Tony Bennett of Washington State, Bobby Knight formerly of Army, Indiana and Texas Tech, Bruce Weber of Illinois and Sean Miller of Xavier – Hayward’s criteria for a future coach is simple:

“We want someone who’s a hard-worker, allows us to play freely and loves winning,” said Hayward.

Photo Credit: Mike Rudzinski

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Four no. 1 seeds to play in the Final Four

Posted on 02 April 2008 by Tim Bucher

Since its 1939 inception no Final Four has ever featured four number one seeded teams.  That is, until now.  This past weekend, top seeds University of North Carolina, Kansas, University of California-Los Angeles and Memphis all clinched a spot in the Final Four.  When the four teams take to the court this weekend it will mark the first time in the history of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament that such a feat has been realized.  The colossal match-ups have the making for one of the most competitive and thrilling Final Fours in recent memory.  The teams will all enter San Antonio with intriguing storylines, high expectations and the desire to leave as the best team in the nation.

Take for instance UNC head coach Roy Williams, who will be faced with the emotion driven task of coaching against a Kansas team that he led to four Final Fours before becoming a Tar Heel in 2003.

Asked in a 2003 Sports Illustrated interview if he would ever schedule a game against his former employer, Williams said, “Nope.  And if we do make the tournament and someone were to schedule us in a first-round game — just one of those ‘miracles’ that happen in the tournament — then I’d strangle everybody on the committee.”

Then the UCLA versus Memphis match-up has both teams with something to prove. UCLA may as well refer to the Final Four as their second home, this year making it three years straight, but leaving each year with disappointment rather than championship hardware.  On the opposite bench will sit undisputed Conference USA Champion Memphis, a team that has had to prove critics wrong all season as well as through the tournament.  Predicted by many to be the first number one seed to go down, the team will no doubt be looking to continue to defy the odds by bringing their up-tempo play against a consistent UCLA squad.

Each team has made a remarkable journey to reach the plateau upon which they currently sit but only one team will leave San Antonio fulfilled by capturing a national championship.  Each of the four team’s journeys, outstanding players and keys to capping off their season with a championship are highlighted below:

The North Carolina Tar Heels season and tournament experience can be summed up by two words.  Tyler Hansbrough.  The junior forward’s performance in the Tourney, as well as all season, has been marked by his steadfast work ethic and tenacious play.  Earning the nickname, “Psycho T,” Hansbrough finds himself averaging 21.0 points and 9.5 rebounds throughout tournament play.  The forward’s determination and passionate play helped guide the Tar Heels to victory over Mount St. Mary’s, Arkansas, Washington State and Louisville.  In the previous Elite Eight game against a Louisville team noted for their defense, Hansbrough hit four deep jump shots and scored 28 points.  Hansbrough will have to set the tone early on in an emotion filled game for UNC, the best transition team in basketball, to be able to pull away from Kansas.

Taking on North Carolina will be an overly athletic Kansas Jayhawks team coached by former Illinois head coach Bill Self who is making his first Final Four appearance.  The Jayhawks are led in scoring by guards Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush, each player averaging roughly 15 points a game.  But it was center Sasha Kaun who came through for Kansas in their two-point victory over Cinderella Davidson in their preceding tournament game.  The big man came up with huge baskets down the stretch as KU dispelled bracket-busting Davidson’s dream run.  The team also defeated Portland State, University of Nevada-Las Vegas and Villanova.  Perhaps the criticism of Kansas to this point has been the lack of competition they have faced throughout the tournament playing their hardest game against a 10 seed.  Although the team is not to blame, this still may leave them somewhat unprepared for a quick and physical North Carolina team.  If they can play up to their competition, the agile Jayhawks could very easily capture a Final Four victory in this toss-up of a game.

The other game on docket for Saturday features number one seeds UCLA and Memphis.  With the high amount of turnovers in college basketball it has become harder and harder to maintain a consistent level of success.  That is why the Bruins are a bona fide rarity; making it to the Final Four three consecutive years under third-year coach Ben Howland.  The team is led by freshman superstar Kevin Love who enters the game averaging 21.8 points and 11.0 rebounds a game.  Possibly the most NBA ready talent, Love’s repertoire consists of a consistent jump-shot, intense rebounding ability and sound passing skill.

Said Xavier coach Sean Miller of Love, “getting to the Final Four with a go-to player — maybe more so than UCLA has had in the past — could allow them to win the national championship.”  Along with Love, the Bruins have one of the nation’s most talented point guards in junior Darren Collison.  Love, Collison, and a solid core of talent allowed the Bruins to defeat Mississippi Valley State, Western Kentucky, Xavier and barely pulled away from Texas A&M.  The addition of freshman Love to the mix may be what finally gets the Bruins over the hump to bring a 12th national championship back to Los Angeles.

Taking on the Bruins will be a Memphis Tigers team that lost only one game all season.  Due to the team’s lack of schedule strength, Memphis has undoubtedly been the most criticized number one seed in the tournament.  The Tigers responded to the critics by defeating University of Texas-Arlington, Mississippi State, Michigan State and dominating over number two seed Texas.  Memphis head coach John Calipari is making his return to the Final Four after a 12 year absence when he took a one loss UMass team to the land of four.

In tournament play, the Tigers have posted two 20 point scorers in All-American Chris Douglas-Roberts and freshman phenom Derrick Rose.  Douglas-Roberts has taken much of the team’s criticism to heart as their leading scorer but responded strongly with a 28 point performance against the Longhorns.  For Derrick Rose, this season and tournament has been a showcasing as to why he has to potential to be selected in the top several picks of next year’s NBA Draft, if in fact he declares. On Sunday, Rose’s stat line sure read like a top pro-prospect, dropping in 21 points, nine assists and six rebounds.  If the Tigers can continue with the same consistent all-around performance they have exhibited throughout the year, expect them to send UCLA packing for the third consecutive year and bring a national championship back to Memphis.

Over the past several days critics have made the argument that the lack of a Cinderella team in the Final Four will hurt ratings and make for a boring set of games.  But the fact is that such a high level of talent amassed on the court at once can only mean a more competitive and fierce contest.

A quote from Highlander says it best, “In the end, there can be only one.”  Indeed. And the battle to determine the best in the nation will surely make for great basketball.

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April Fools? Nope. Player confirms Crean to leave Marquette.

Posted on 01 April 2008 by Joe Beres

Tom Crean

The news that no Marquette fan wanted to hear on a day that no Marquette fan really wants to believe has arrived. On April 1st, the Golden Eagles head coach, Tom Crean, left our beloved basketball program in pursuit of a job at the University of Indiana. With Crean leaving for a school in need of rebuilding and full of questions, Marquette fans are left with many questions of their own. The two main questions that everyone is asking are: will Crean’s recruits stay at Marquette or will they leave now that he is no longer their coach, and who will be able to fill the job that Crean has left vacant? Unfortunately, for us this very well may mean that both James and McNeal could be going out for the draft, as well as a couple of Crean’s 2009 recruits starting to look at what the Hoosiers can offer them.

However, there is plenty for Marquette fans to be skeptical about. Whether you are angry with him for leaving Marquette or happy to see some change, there is no doubt that he has given Marquette a height of attention that it has not seen since the Al McGuire days. He also did a great job of leading Marquette to becoming one of the most dominant teams of arguably the best conference in basketball – oh, and by the way, he took us to the Final Four in 2003. With all the national attention Marquette has received, we are able to talk to some quality coaches who may not have even considered Marquette previously.

One name that has been floating around between students is Bobby Knight. It would be very ironic if the former Indiana coach ended up at Marquette right after Crean’s departure. Knight retired from Texas Tech mid-season and became a part time analyst for ESPN. Many in the basketball community believe that Knight will coach again, but would he come back so soon? While Knight without a doubt would make a great head coach at Marquette and probably take the team to the next level, the odds may be against the former Hoosier coming back just months after retirement.

Despite their poor finish in the tournament, Drake’s head coach, Keno Davis, would be a great candidate for the coaching job. He led the Bulldogs in a dominating season in the Missouri Valley Conference and achieved a five seed in the NCAA tournament. This all coming from a coach whose team was expected to finish ninth in the conference.

Davidson’s lead man Bob McKillop is also a great option. He has shown a great eye for recruiting bringing in strong recruits such as Stephen Curry, Andrew Lovedale and Jason Richards. He had an extremely successful year in which he led the Wildcats to an Elite Eight appearance.

Now that Lute Olson is back with Arizona and he’s released the interim coach Kevin O’Neill, there is an opportunity to get somebody that had some success in a tumultuous year in and in a power conference. Not to mention that O’Neill used to coach at Marquette.

These are all good options for the lead man, but the best thing to do right now may be to wait and see who else becomes available. Regardless of what happens, Marquette is back on track as being one of the elite programs in the country and it will not take a legend to keep the success coming.

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