After back-to-back sweet sixteen appearances, many people might have been surprised to find the Marquette Golden Eagles predicted to finish seventh in the Big East conference. So what is the main reason behind this forecast for the Golden Eagles?
The loss of Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom.
This duo consistently dominated for Marquette, with Crowder averaging eight rebounds a game last year, and Johnson-Odom putting up 18 points per game. The loss of these two has people questioning whether or not Marquette can find someone else to step up and fill these gaping holes.
Head Coach Buzz Williams, is not concerned about the pre-season prediction for his squad however, and is confident in the depth of his roster. The Golden Eagles may have a different dynamic to the team this year, one that could lead to an even better season.
Although Williams acknowledged Crowder and Johnson-Odom as being two of the best players to be at Marquette in awhile, he is not focused on the loss of them. Instead, he is focused on a new season, and taking advantage of the variables that this year’s team brings to the table.
Marquette has much more depth this year, with multiple guys that have potential to step up and contribute on any given day. A potentially dominant trio of starters will return, with Vander Blue, Todd Mayo and Junior Cadougan. The Golden Eagles will also look to Steve Taylor and Trent Lockett for scoring, and Jamil Wilson and Davante Gardner for rebounding.
With the loss of Crowder and Johnson-Odom, this Marquette team will take on a new dynamic. The system will not revolve around two all-stars, but instead will be a system where each night leaves opportunity for somebody to be the top scorer.
Since Williams will be able to go deeper into his bench, scoring and rebounding will be much more balanced, posing a duo threat to the opponent. In the past few years, Marquette has been predictable in who will score and where the defense needed to primarily focus on. This year will be a different story.
Their non-conference is extremely competitive, featuring Ohio State, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Illinois, Butler, Texas, USC and Florida. With this schedule, the Golden Eagles don’t have much time to dwell on the loss of Crowder and Johnson-Odom.
Work ethic and athleticism is consistent across the board for Williams’ players, and he is optimistic about the potential of his team this year. People may have underestimated this team in the pre-season, but Marquette will look to surprise people and dominate the Big East.