Marquette’s story in recent years has frequently been about switchables – the players who defy conventional positional labels to create matchup struggles for opponents of the Golden Eagles. That’s not to say that coach Buzz Williams has no use for those with obvious basketball bona fides such as being really, really tall.
Marquette made the Sweet 16 last season despite a December 6 injury to Chris Otule, the 6’10” natural center who figured — at bare minimum — to be a defensive eraser in the paint. His absence left 6’8″ Davante Gardner as the tallest player on the roster. Gardner and Jae Crowder did what Buzz Williams’ switchables always do, and gritted it out against larger, stronger opponents. But you can bet they’d have had an easier time with Otule in the middle.
Otule has seen some setbacks along the road to recovery, but he thrilled Marquette fans this weekend by declaring himself healthy and ready to go for the 2012-13 season.
“I’m right on track. I feel like I can do anything,” Otule said. “I practice without any limitations, all of that.”
Buzz Williams admitted he has held back Otule in some drills as a precaution, but as a whole is happy where his fifth-year senior is right now.
“He’s becoming one of my favorite human beings of all-time,” Williams said. “His story is what college athletics, it’s what life is supposed to be about. I have been over-protective of him, relative to our work. But all the things that he’s overcome, just to be part of the team picture in 15 minutes, I think that’s really, really cool.”
Otule, who turns 23 in January, played six minutes in Marquette’s first public scrimmage of the season, scoring four points and hauling down four rebounds. The Golden Eagles open their season November 9 against Ohio State in Charleston, South Carolina.