2008 Marquette Golden Eagles Basketball Preview
Former Marquette assistant coach and new head coach Buzz Williams inherits a talented team from former boss Tom Crean. In his final season with the team, Crean, who departed for Indiana in April, coached the Marquette Golden Eagles (25-10 overall, 11-7 Big East) to a fifth-place Big East finish and a two-and-out NCAA performance. At the Big Dance, the Eagles defeated Kentucky 74-66 and then lost to Stanford 82-81.
The Marquette frontcourt always seems to be a work-in-progress and this season appears to be no different. Junior Lazar Hayward (25.4 MPG, 12.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 0.6 APG, 47.4 FG%, 77.3 FT%) returns. The six-foot-six, 225-pound forward played out of position last season in the power spot. Yet, he excelled. Sophomore Trevor Mbakwe (9.2 MPG, 1.5 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.2 APG, 26.7 FG%, 47.4 FT%) was supposed to be a difference-maker last season (his first). Instead, after playing in just 11 games, he suffered a knee injury, underwent surgery and spent the rest of the time recovering. If he’s healthy, Mbakwe could be a major force for the Golden Eagles. Senior Dwight Burke (11.8 MPG, 2.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 0.2 APG, 60.4 FG%, 50.0 FT%) and junior college transfer Joe Fulce could put in some major minutes.
Senior shooting guard Jerel McNeal (30.2 MPG, 14.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.5 APG, 45.6 FG%, 70.2 FT%) proved to be the club’s go-to guy last season. In the final six games of the season, he was massive on both offense and defense. Dominic James (30.3 MPG, 12.9 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 4.4 APG, 39.8 FG%, 66.4 FT%), who played hurt last year, saw his game and stats fall off. It’s hoped that he’ll be back to his former productive self this season.
The Golden Eagles should once again finish in the top five of the
Big East. The big question is how will they do in the NCAA Tournament?
They’ve gone to the Big Dance three seasons straight and have
been done by the end of the first weekend each time. In order to
go deeper in the tourney, the Eagles must see some of their returning
players stay healthy and breakout.