What up Friartown?
The bad news is I won’t be live tweeting during the first half of the Marquette game today because I won’t be able to watch it (feelsbadman.jpg). The good news is that, in lieu of my ranting on Twitter, I’m leaving you all with some gifts.
Hit up the jump to get both the latest edition of FriarPod and read my Q and A with Anonmyous Eagle! See what Anon has to say about the dangers of Greedy Peterson’s Elbow, why Marquette remains undefeated at home, and learn about awesome pregame rituals! It’s all here to prepare you for today’s Catholic 7 collision in Wisconsin, so let’s dive in! Want even more? You can read my answers to Anonymous Eagle’s questions here!
Let’s get into this pregame buffet of goodness!
FriarPod – Episode 8
Anonymous Eagle Interview:
Good day to you fellow brother of the Catholic 7!
My brother: let us embrace as we boldly follow our Commissioner into glory.
Let’s start off with the realignment buzz: how are the Golden Eagle fans feeling about moving away from the Big Frankenstein to a new frontier of college basketball?
LOVE IT, if for no other reason than we’re trying something different and not sitting around waiting to see which middling Conference USA football team is joining the ranks next. We’re Johnny-come-latelys to the Big East, of course, but it was still tough to watch what the conference was becoming. I mean, we worked for like 25 years to get away from the Tulanes and East Carolinas and UCFs of the world, so you’ll understand if I wasn’t peeing my pants at the prospect of seeing those schools on the schedule year after year.
I think it’s safe to say that Marquette is one of the toughest places to play in this conference (you’re 10-0 at home in case you forgot), arguably even the country. The difficulty is on par with playing in Morgantown, but that’s unfair in a way since your fans are eons better than the God awful Mountaineer fans. What’s your secret?
You seem like a good dude, so I’ll let you in on the secret: you know those urban legends about teams sending call girls (or guys, if you’re into that) to the opposing team’s hotel the night before a game? We do something like that, but with sausage and cheese platters instead. It’s awful tough to play a basketball game at 1:00 in the afternoon when you’ve got a pound of kielbasa camping out in your lower GI and the meat sweats are starting to kick in. [Warrior: Free sausage and cheese? I should've been an athlete...]
Marquette is currently second in the conference with the sole conference loss coming from a heartbreaker at Cincy. With the exception Green Bay (dafuq?) Marquette has taken care of business and is on track for another successful season. What’s been the key to MU’s success? Is this season meeting, exceeding, or falling short of expectations?
Dafuq indeed re: that UWGB game. Unless things get really sideways in the last six weeks of the season, I think it’s safe to say that’s going to qualify as the low point in 2012-’13. For Christ’s sake, we drew up a play for our six-foot-nothing walk-on (who’s shooting like 23% from the field, mind you) when we were down one with five seconds left. (He missed, but in what qualified as a mild upset, didn’t hit the side of the backboard.) Dark times, man. Dark times.
I guess the key to MU’s success is playing overtime games, since three of our five conference games have gone to an extra period so far. We don’t always play smart, and we sometimes have puzzling lapses on defense, and our outside shooting is typically R-rated, but we play tough, which has become a calling card of any Buzz Williams-coached team. That leads to a bunch of close games, and we’ve been pretty good at closing things out in the new year.
The question of meeting expectations is a tough one, only because expectations were all over the map before the year. Marquette lost its two best players (and about 50% of its scoring) to the NBA, which led some people to say: “Just get to the Dance” was the goal this year. Other folks noted that MU is routinely underrated in those preseason conference polls (I think we were picked eighth or ninth this year) and expected us to overperform relative to those predictions. All things considered, I think the team is meeting expectations, and maybe exceeding them by a little bit.
What player has surprised the most this year on the Golden Eagles, for better or worse?
I’ll give you one of each: Vander Blue has been the most pleasant surprise. And that’s not because he was bad in his first two years; it’s because our expectations for him were completely out of whack. Most people thought he’d be the second coming of Dwyane Wade, which was a grossly unfair yolk to throw on the kid. So when he wasn’t Wade Jr. right off the bat — even though he’s a great defender, good rebounder, lethal in transition, etc. — some people chalked him up as a bust and figured he could never be The Guy. But he’s been outstanding this year, scoring around 14 points a game and upgrading his jump shot from “butt ugly” to “brutal looking but efficient.”
The biggest letdown, in my opinion, is senior transfer Trent Lockett. He was expected by most to be MU’s leading scorer, as he was for Arizona State last year, but after almost 20 games, it’s become clear we seriously underrated just how bad ASU and the Pac-12 as a whole were last season. He’s a hard worker and seems like a really good kid, but it’s just not happening for him at Marquette.
I’m guessing a lot of buzz will be around the Vander Blue and Vincent Council (or Kris Dunn, cause who knows) matchup, but to me the real battle I’m excited for will be Davante Gardner and Kadeem Batts. Break down Davante for me! Will this be a clash of the titans down below, or is this much adieu about nothing?
Oh, it should be great. Davante is a treat. He’s only good for about 20-25 minutes a game, owing to the bowl of jelly underneath his jersey, but he doesn’t waste any of them. He can’t jump over a sheet of paper but he’s incredibly nimble for a guy who goes three spins on the scale, which lets him draw fouls like a maniac — witness the Cincinnati game, where Ox was just 1-8 from the field but attempted 15 free throws in the last 16 minutes of action. He’s also our best free throw shooter by a comfortable margin, which can lead to hilarious results late in the game: against Pitt, when MU was up 3 with 20 seconds left, Ox brought the ball up court after getting a defensive rebound, but instead of waiting to be fouled, he tried a Magic Johnson impression and ended up sailing a pass into the fifth row of seats. Never a dull moment with that young man.
Jamil Wilson had a great game at Providence last year, scoring a then career high 16 points to go with seven rebounds. It seemed potentially like a break out performance but it appears he has continued to be inconsistent since. Were expectations elevated for Wilson going into this season and has he lived up to them? [Thanks FriarFrenzy!]
I see you’re already acquainted with Good Jamil. If PC is lucky, they’ll get to meet Bad Jamil — the cat who went scoreless with six turnovers and three fouls against North Carolina Central, and who turned in a bagel and almost fouled out in just 14 minutes against Butler, and who had 3 points and 5 turnovers when we got mollywhopped at Florida.
Jamil was mostly great at the end of last season, playing third fiddle to Jae Crowder and DJO, and I, for one, was conducting the “JAMIL’S GONNA BLOW UP” train before the year. He’s easily the most talented player on the team, has a good outside shot, has length that would make Jay Bilas faint, but I just don’t think he’s programmed to be a lead dog. Not that there’s anything wrong with being an excellent complementary piece, but it’s kind of a bummer when he’s got the potential to be much more.
Rank the following from least to most scary for Marquette: a blizzard, Freddy Krueger, Jon Xavier, Greedy Peterson’s elbow.
Freddy Krueger? We’ve got real serial killers to worry about here, not fake guys who are overdue for manicures. He’s last.
Blizzard’s next. We don’t get out of bed for less than a foot of snow. Hell, sometimes we don’t even plow the streets. “Throw a little salt on it” is the Wisconsin version of “rub some dirt on it, get back in there.”
Greedy Peterson was kind of a punk, but come on: dude’s nickname was Greedy. He sounds like the black sheep of the Seven Dwarfs. How much can you really be scared of someone like that? He gonna team up with Bashful and Sneezy and get crazy?
Jon Xavier’s Kanye impression — “yo, Imma let you finish this game, but I gotta talk to you about that foul first” — is the single wildest thing I’ve seen in college basketball, and you’re talking to a guy who’s seen Buzz Williams walk it out [Warrior: amazing] on the sideline and two-step in front of a gaggle of psychotic, moonshined-up West Virginia yahoos. You guys gotta get some security guards who aren’t drawing AARP benefits in the Dunk.
Your pregame ritual – what is it?
Bro: I’m 32. I got twins who turn one in two weeks. My pregame ritual is to make sure their diapers are clean and my Marquette sweatshirt doesn’t have visible poop on it, and to make sure there are enough toys to distract them from their new favorite game, Poke Daddy In The Eyeballs.
Don’t get old, my man. [Warrior: wise words]