Marquette ’09-10 Preview
Rebuilding project underway.
Yes, the departure of a pro-ready triumvirate may damage the Golden Eagles’ chances next season. Yes, Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews and Dominic James accounted for a staggering 62 percent of the Golden Eagles total offensive output in ’08-09. Yes, they were a poised pack that led by example and manufactured offense at a torrid pace.
The loss of a high-scoring, tough and cerebral three-man wrecking crew offers a steep challenge to the Golden Eagles. Still, nobody is hitting the panic button. Not with a young nucleus of talent that can right the ship while potentially upgrading the boat in particular categories.
Buzz Williams, a God-committed, faith-first coach, is blessed with a nucleus of fresh talent for the ’09-10 campaign. Williams did a commendable job reeling in gritty forward Jeronne Maymon scoring guard and JuCo transfer Darius Johnson-Odom, and Junior Cadougan, a 5-11 Toronto-bred point guard who should play immediate roles in the MU rebuilding project this season.
Lazar Hayward | 6-7 | F | Senior
This versatile forward was often forced to play out of his nature, going up against bigger, more physical players on the blocks. In the end, it made no difference. Hayward was an indispensable factor in Marquette’s offensive execution. Hayward closed out a stellar junior season with nine double-doubles. He averaged 16 points and 8.3 points and turned in titanic performances against Providence, DePaul, Villanova, Pitt, and Utah State in the big dance. With veteran leadership and three years of experience under his belt, the driver’s keys are funneled down to the senior from Buffalo.
Jimmy Butler | 6-6 | G/F | Junior
Big, strong guard is flushed into a significant role next season. Butler proved he’s ready for the transition, as his game picked up toward the end of the season. A spark off the bench, Butler poured in 19 points on the big stage at Madison Square Garden… though Villanova eked out a 1-point win during the dizzying, Big East Tournament tug of war tilt.
David Cubillan | 6-0 | G | Senior
Played a significant role off the bench as a hot-shooting frosh, but a sophomore shooting slump because of nagging injuries led to off-season surgery on both shoulders. Cubillan never found a role last season as he worked his way back to health. Now, with a gutted roster void of experience, he could be thrust back into the rotation.
Junior Cadougan | 5-11 | G | Freshman
Hotly-pursued 6-1 guard averaged 21 points, 8 dimes, and 3 steals at Christian Life Center in Humble, TX. Cadougan chose Marquette over plenty of high majors, Louisville, Texas and USC, to name a few. Likely to be James’ heir from day one.
Jeronne Maymon | 6-6 | F | Freshman
Athletic, 230-pound strongman will pay immediate dividends for the Eagles. Attacks the basket at will, looks good in transition, and can play above the rim. Proven boardsmith also plays with unbridled toughness and tenacity on defense. His presence could allow Hayward to play his natural small forward position, forming a forward duo as tough as anyone in the country.
Darius Johnson-Odom | 6-2 | G | Sophomore
Southpaw who can shoot the mid-range jumper and extend it to beyond the arc. JuCo standout penetrates the teeth of the D at will and features an explosive first step. His scoring rep needs to be cultivated into a Big East scorer to help replace loss of McNeil.
The loss of James, McNeal, and Matthews takes some major offensive weapons out of Marquette’s arsenal. James’ name was littered all over columns canvassing who’s who in the Big East guard department since his sophomore season. He was the poster boy, a scoring-dishing guard who stirred the drink for the Eagles.
McNeal established himself as an elite scoring fish in the Big East pond, one who will now swim with the sharks at the next level. While NBA teams passed up on the kid who excels at shooting off screens and burying pull-up Js, JM will likely follow the paper trail over the waters.
Matthews, the homegrown product, averaged 18 points and 5.7 boards, looking virtually unstoppable in games against Georgetown and Rutgers (when he shot the rock at a sizzling 10-10 clip).
Zach Smart has written for Big East Basketball Report, Hoops Addict and The East Coast Bias. Read more on his blog.