Chris Otule

Marquette’s lack of a star is what makes them so dangerous

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The last time we saw Marquette play, they were busy beating Syracuse thanks to 26 points — on 7-7 shooting — and eight boards from nimble big man Davante Gardner.

On Saturday, Gardner struggled, but his counterpart in the paint — Chris Otule — finished with 16 points, hitting all eight of his field goal attempts while Jamil Wilson, who was 3-12 from the floor and 1-8 from three against the Orange, finished with 19 points as No. 22 Marquette jumped out to a 15 point lead 12 minutes into the game, hanging on to beat No. 21 Notre Dame 72-64.

And that, in a nutshell, is what this Marquette team is all about.

They don’t have an all-american on their roster. They probably don’t have an all-Big East player. There are no NBA Draft Picks; Buzz Williams doesn’t have a Jae Crowder or a Darius Johnson-Odom or a Jimmy Butler.

What he does have is a versatile, 10-man rotation consisting of versatile veterans with some talented youngsters sprinkled in. There isn’t much glitz-and-glamour with this team, instead playing a blue-collar style perfectly suited to their head coach’s roots.

When talking about Marquette, the first thing that inevitably comes up is how hard they play, and as Williams told last weekend, he’s tired of the stereotype. But here’s the thing: it’s not like this is a negative statement. It’s not an insult, and it certainly isn’t a knock on the amount of talent in the program. It’s a compliment. It’s rare to see a coach get a team to consistently give the kind of effort that Marquette does.

It’s also why the Golden Eagles have a chance to win a share of the Big East regular season title this year. They’re deep, they’re versatile and they have weapons up and down their lineup. They also have a team full of guys that are talented enough to be a go-to guy at another program but play as if they are the glue-guy on the floor solely for their effort-level.

That’s a dangerous combination.

Because it makes game-planning for the Golden Eagles a nightmare. Take away Gardner and Otule can beat you. Slow down Vander Blue, Junior Cadougan and Trent Lockett and Wilson will go for 19. Feel like you’re making a run, and Todd Mayo will come off the bench and hit a pair of momentum-killing shots.

It’s really tough to stop a team that has five different guys on the floor that can beat you.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two¬†appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?