Marquette fans are rightfully looking forward to the Trent Lockett era in Milwaukee. The former Arizona State Sun Devil is moving eastward to be near his ailing mother, who lives in Minnesota, and should bring an experienced scoring threat to a team learning to live without Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder.
The Golden Eagles are pretty loaded in the backcourt for 2012-13, with a rotation that looks something like this: Lockett, Junior Cadougan, Vander Blue, Todd Mayo and Derrick Williams. The big man rotation may be a bit thin — literally and figuratively — without the broad-shouldered Crowder patrolling the paint. Regardless, according to a roundtable hosted by the Marquette blog Paint Touches, some who write about the team are really looking forward to 6’4″ Paris Junior College transfer T.J. Taylor joining the guard platoon.
Andrei Greska, Paint Touches: I was going to say Steve Taylor, but I’ll play devil’s advocate for this one. I’ll go with the other Taylor, T.J. Steve will turn out to be the best player from this class, but a true freshman will have a much tougher time adjusting to the rigors and physicality of low post, Big East basketball. T.J. has more experience and has the ability to step in right away if his shot is dropping. He will get a shot to fill in for Cadougan in limited slots, giving him ample opportunity for playing time.
Greska’s assertion that he was playing devil’s advocate makes sense in light of the overwhelming excitement directed toward another Taylor – 6’7″ true freshman Steve.
Mark Strotman, Paint Touches: All aboard the Steve Taylor train. I have been as vocal as anyone about how good I believe Taylor can be ever since a conversation with Tony Benford back in February. Jae Crowder walked by on his way to the locker room, and Benford turned, saw Crowder and said, “He’s a lot like that guy.” Taylor already has the experience on playing what was essentially a national stage at Simeon, and his skill set is similar to Crowder, plus two inches. His importance to the second unit as the top rebounder and inside-out threat will be important to a team looking for scorers. He’s the real deal.
To say “he’s like that guy” while actually looking at a bulldog like Crowder is tough stuff. If Steve Taylor can back up that comparison, the Golden Eagles will again be fun to watch. If both Taylors live up to the hype, even better.
The Big South is moving its 2016 men’s basketball tournament out of Coastal Carolina and a new site will be figured out by November. According to a release from the conference the Big South is using a league bylaw that stipulates that members leaving with less than two years of notice are not eligible to host championships. Coastal Carolina announced this summer that it would be leaving for the Sun Belt as of July 2016, so the Big South wants to find a new location that benefits teams staying in the league.
The Big South men’s and women’s conference tournaments are now also going to be split into two unique events, with the men’s championships being held Thursday-Sunday, March 3-6. The women’s event comes the next week from March 10-13. Bids for both events will come into the league and a new location will be selected in the next few months.
It will be interesting to see if the site of the conference tournament is moved to a campus site or placed at a neutral venue. That type of thing could alter how the NCAA tournament autobid gets played out. With Coastal Carolina coming off of back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, this obviously changes their approach to the postseason now that they have to leave their city.
Virginia Tech is trying to decide what to do with injury sophomore guard Ahmed Hill, who had surgery this summer to deal with a tear in his patella tendon in his left knee.
The 6-foot-5 Hill has still not been released to work out with the team, but he is about a week to 10 days ahead of schedule in his rehab. But the injury is still nagging enough that Hill might not be healthy enough to really contritbute this season. Head coach Buzz Williams is deciding soon whether he wants to redshirt Hill or not.
Hill started a team-high 30 games for the Hokies last season, averaging 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
“I don’t have a decision on (Hill),” Williams said to reporters on Monday. “I will make the final decision. I’ll let (him) and his mom be a part of it, but I want to make a decision using the wisdom of doing this for a long period of time. If you let a kid make the decision, they always want to play.
“Right now, I don’t feel comfortable that I would want to play him. It’s just too early to be able to have much more of an answer than that.”
It’s still a rebuilding year for Virginia Tech, but they do get Maryland transfer Seth Allen, who is a talented guard who can score. The Hokies were hoping to have Hill and Allen as complimentary perimeter scorers, but now the plans might have to be altered. Williams went on to say that he would like to make a decision on Hill’s status by Halloween.