Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Just Visiting: Post from a Guest

It's now been a few weeks since Marquette went down to Syracuse in the Elite 8.  While MU was so, so close to making it to Atlanta, you can't help but look back at expectations heading into the season.  Losing DJO and Crowder, aka 30+ points per game was a sure sign we'd be mediocre this season.  Boy, were we wrong.  4 months after the aircraft carrier disaster the 2012-13 squad takes a share of the Big East regular season title and gets to the Elite 8 for the first time in 10 years.

But enough about what I have to say.  Today's post comes from a guest at FanDuel, a fantasy sports site for just about every sport that offers cash prizes.  Enjoy.  Thanks FanDuel!

Is The Marquette Basketball Program As Strong As It Has Ever Been?

After Marquette’s domination of Miami in the Sweet 16 of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, the Golden Eagles made it into the Elite Eight to take on Syracuse. Even though MU fell to the Orange in convincing fashion, this season will go down as one of the more memorable seasons in the team's history. The question is, how strong is the program from a historical perspective?

Most older fans of Marquette instantly go back to the mid-1970s when people start to discuss the Golden Age of the program. That was back in the Warriors days, when the likes of Butch Lee and Bo Ellis helped Al McGuire win the school’s first and only National Championship.  To this day, Marquette's winning percentage in the 70s is the 4th best of any team in any decade.

Buzz Williams might not be ready to take the title away from McGuire as the best coach in school history, but in the last three years, he is certainly making the case to at least get into the discussion. Instead of relying on marquee, highly-touted players out of high school, he instead has a knack of grooming players to become outstanding college basketball players as upperclassmen.  With a top-10 recruiting class heading into the 2013-14 season, we'll all soon find out just how good of a team Buzz will have with a ton of raw talent.

Many thought Marquette was going to have a down year, as Big East Player of the year Jae Crowder graduated along with Darius Johnson-Odom. Guys like Vander Blue and Davante Gardner stepped up in a big way, helping to advance the team pass the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003.

With Williams committed to the team, this could be a trend for years to come. Building a program and having stability is the key. After Tom Crean left, MU faced the possibility of being in a serious hole, and even lost a few key players like Trevor Mbakwe.  Luckily, Buzz had a trio of seniors that kept the ship afloat until Buzz brought in his own recruits.  Since then, Buzz has kept the tournament streak alive, and now has 2 trips to the Sweet 16 and a trip to the Elite 8 under his belt.  All in all, a lot Marquette fans feel that Crean's departure was a blessing in disguise.  In a time when many teams are looking for the new hot prospect, many folks - including fantasy basketball players - will have their eyes set on Marquette with 3-year and 4-year guys leading the program (please come back, Vander!).  They might not have gone all the way in 2013, but the stage is set for a very bright future.

Is the Marquette program the strongest it's ever been?  The answer is no, but Williams is on track to changing that.  McGuire will always have a special spot in MU history, as I can't imagine they'll rename the Al McGuire Center to the Buzz Williams Center.  In addition to 1977, the program under Al also won the NIT in 1970 (when it was much more relevant), got to the championship in 1974, and churned out a few solid pros.  Before the Marquette program can pass the program in the 70s, winning a championship is a must, no doubt about it.  The golden eagles program isn't the strongest it's ever been, but it's certainly on the right track.