2012--13 RECORD 26--9 BIG EAST 14--4 (T-1ST) WHAT'S BACK MINUTES: 56.3% POINTS: 55.5% REBOUNDS: 57.9%
As usual the Golden Eagles will be led by a talented combo-forward (Jamil Wilson), feature a slow but efficient offense and defend as well as any team in the country.
What's unusual is that Marquette's backcourt, after the departure of 2012--13 leading scorer Vander Blue for the NBA draft, will not be nearly as strong as it has been in the past. Can junior Derrick Wilson be the full-time point guard? Can junior Todd Mayo become a go-to scorer? Will freshman guards Deonte Burton, JaJuan Johnson and Duane Wilson—three components of the best recruiting class that sixth-year coach Buzz Williams has signed—be as good as advertised?
"You win with guards, and you could argue our backcourt is as inexperienced as any we've had," Williams says. "But our collection of frontcourt talent is as good as we've had."
That is the consolation. While center Chris Otule and power forward Davante Gardner, both seniors, will be key contributors, it is Jamil Wilson, also a senior, who will play the role made familiar by former Marquette star big men Jae Crowder, Jimmy Butler and Lazar Hayward. Williams says Wilson is more athletically gifted than those three, all of whom appeared in the NBA last year. But the 6'7" small forward has yet to display the "edge" those players had. "I have had to work on showing up every day and being that gritty guy that no one wants to go up against," Wilson says.
The Racine, Wis., native believes improved ballhandling and a more consistent outside shot will help boost the 9.7 points per game he averaged a season ago. He and the rest of the frontcourt will have to produce, especially early in the season while the backcourt settles in. "If the guards get stuck, they can slow it down and they have someone down low they can pitch it to, sort of a safety net," says Wilson. "We can rely on that early, and then by the end of the year everything will fall into place."
Projected Lineup (2012--13 STATS)
PG DERRICK WILSON
JR. 6'1" 1.1 PPG 1.6 APG
SG TODD MAYO
JR. 6'3" 5.3 PPG 0.7 APG
SF JAMIL WILSON
SR. 6'7" 9.7 PPG 4.9 RPG
PF DAVANTE GARDNER
SR. 6'8" 11.5 PPG 4.8 RPG
C CHRIS OTULE*
SR. 6'11" 5.1 PPG 3.5 RPG
F STEVE TAYLOR
SOPH. 6'7" 3.0 PPG 2.1 APG
F JUAN ANDERSON*
JR. 6'6" 2.7 PPG 2.9 RPG
BUZZ WILLIAMS (6TH SEASON)
SIWhat concerns you about the team this season?
BW We have a whole new team. Look at guys we have who have played significant roles, and there are not that many—maybe three. Then we have three freshmen who are healthy, and they have a long way to go. The rest of the team is made up of guys who have never had to carry a burden on the floor. They will end up being the swing votes of our team. What are they going to be able to carry? I would bet on them [succeeding]. I would also bet on the freshmen, given their talent, but when you talk about winning meaningful games, road games, they have yet to prove that.
SIIs it annoying or flattering when your name comes up for other jobs?
BW I don't pay much attention to that. I can't control other things, so I don't feel one way or another about what people are saying about other places.
[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]
ROUND OF 64
AL TIELEMANS/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (WILLIAMS, WILSON)
DAVID E. KLUTHO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (MASCOT)