Buzz Williams

2014 forward Marial Shayok verbally commits to Marquette

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Just hours after junior college transfer Jameel McKay announced his decision to transfer, Marquette received a verbal commitment from 2014 forward Marial Shayok. Shayok, a 6-foot-6 native of Ottawa, Ontario, attends Blair Academy in New Jersey where he announced his decision. According to many recruiting analysts Marquette and Providence were believed to be Shayok’s top two choices, with the Golden Eagles winning out in the end.

Shayok’s decision comes less than a week after he took his official visit to Marquette, and he becomes the fourth verbal commitment in the 2014 class for head coach Buzz Williams. Shayok joins forward Malek Harris and guards Ahmed Hill and Sandy Cohen as players verbally committed to the Big East school. Shayok, who possesses a good skill set that includes a solid perimeter stroke, is listed as being 6-foot-6 but according to multiple outlets he’s still growing.

Shayok helped lead Blair to the finals of the New Jersey Prep A tournament, scoring 21 points in the team’s 64-45 semifinal win over Lawrenceville Academy.  Blair fell in the title game to St. Benedict’s Prep, which at the time featured Tyler Ennis (now a freshman at Syracuse) and Isaiah Briscoe (one of the top players in the 2015 class who now attends Roselle (N.J.) Catholic).

Shayok’s commitment gives Marquette additional depth at the small forward position with Jamil Wilson graduating after the 2013-14 season. But even with this news the Golden Eagles are still in a position where they need to add some more size, with McKay’s decision to transfer and both Davante Gardner and Chris Otule out of eligibility after this season.

Marquette Sweet 16-bound after holding off Butler in tournament’s best game

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Around this time last season, Marquette was on its way to the Sweet 16 with Big East Player of the Year Jae Crowder and his right-hand man, Darius Johnson-Odom. Three different Marquette assistants sat on the sidelines and guard Vander Blue was a solid producer on a solid Big East team.

One year later, Crowder and Johnson-Odom are gone. Those three Marquette assistants have moved on. And perhaps most importantly Vander Blue is at the center of a Golden Eagle run that once again finds them in the Sweet 16 after a 74-72 win over No. 6-seed Butler at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Saturday night.

After two Davante Gardner free throws with four seconds left to play gave Marquette a four-point lead, 74-70, Butler launched an inbounds pass the length of the court where center Andrew Smith grabbed it and laid it in for two. That pulled the game within one possession, 74-72. A botched inbounds play by Marquette and perhaps a missed foul call allowed the ball to go out of bounds with two seconds remaining, giving Butler one final opportunity to tie.

The subsequent pass was thrown to Smith at the top of the key, but he stumbled and missed a three-pointer that would have given Butler the win.

Blue had 29 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including a big three-pointer from the right corner with 1:29 to play that tied the game at 69. His major performance followed a game-saving layup in the Round of 64 that allowed Marquette to survive and advance past Davidson.

With all the change that has come to this program over the past year, there has remained one constant: head coach Buzz Williams. Williams did not win Big East Coach of the Year, but he very well could have. Considering the assets that he lost, the development of the players he had returning, and the production that he has been able to help them unlock, this Marquette run to the Sweet 16 is remarkable.

Marquette now moves on to play the winner of Miami-Illinois for a chance to punch its ticket to the Elite Eight.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Marquette gets share of Big East title on Vander Blue overtime buzzer beater (VIDEO)

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St. John’s stormed back from 10 points down with 2:46 to play in the second half Saturday to force overtime, but No. 17 Marquette was too much in overtime for the young Red Storm.

With just over seven seconds remaining in overtime and coming out of a timeout with possession of the ball, Marquette guard Vander Blue drove down the right side of the paint and was met by St. John’s shot blocker Chris Obekpa. Blue used his build to shield the defender away and threw up a layup that rattled around the rim and went home as time expired for a 69-67 win.

The victory ties Marquette with Georgetown at the top of the Big East standings, with Louisville in control against Notre Dame in the second half Saturday. A Louisville win would create a three-way tie at the top of the conference.

Watch Blue’s buzzer beater below:

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Pregame Shootaround 2.3.13: Marquette-Louisville sets table for Super Bowl

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Game of the Day: No. 12 Louisville vs. No. 25 Marquette (2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Marquette coach Buzz Williams has his team where few expected it to be after losing key starters Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder after last season. The Golden Eagles are competing and contending in the Big East, off to a 6-1 start in league play thanks to increased production from Vander Blue and Davante Gardner.

Louisville comes into Sunday’s game on a much different note. The Cardinals were once the No. 1 team in the land, but have since dropped three of four games and find themselves in the middle of the pack in the Big East. The key Sunday will be increased offensive production. Against a tough Marquette defense, if Louisville can’t score points like it was earlier in the season, coach Rick Pitino’s team could be headed to a 5-4 mark in league play.

Who’s Getting Upset?: No. 23 Minnesota (-9.5) vs. Iowa (1:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

The Gophers snapped a four-game losing streak with a win over Nebraska earlier this week, but now they face an Iowa team that could give them problems. I have faith in this Iowa team, one that hung with Indiana and Michigan State before losing down the stretch, and gave Michigan a run for its money in the first half before the Wolverines shifted into another gear entirely.

The Hawkeyes match up well on the boards and can keep with Minnesota when it comes to scoring points. It will be a plus if Iowa can contain Trevor Mbakwe. In a Minnesota loss to Northwestern, Mbakwe was efficient, but the Gophers’ only scoring option.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Lehigh vs. Army (1:00 p.m. ET) 

When star guard C.J. McCollum went down with an injury, the road to a Patriot League title got a lot tougher for Lehigh. But even without him, the Mountain Hawks are 5-1 in conference play and can pull into a tie for first with Bucknell if they can get  a win Sunday against Army. Lehigh already has a big road win over Bucknell, which gives them the advantage in the standings, but expect all roads to lead to Feb. 18, when the two teams meet again.

Five Things to Watch For

1) When Illinois was tearing through its non-conference schedule, the Illini looked like another legitimate contender in the loaded Big Ten. Coach John Groce’s team has now lost five of its last six games, which includes double-digit losses to Minnesota, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Illinois gets another shot at Bo Ryan’s Badgers on Sunday.

2) Villanova has been one of the most pleasant surprises in conference play so far, having beaten back-to-back Top 5 teams. The Wildcats take on a Providence team Sunday that ran Connecticut down to the wire before ultimately losing in overtime earlier this week.

3) It seems that Stanford might have flipped a switch and now become a solid contender in the middle of the Pac-12 race. Dominating wins over Utah and a short-handed Oregon team have the Cardinal closer to reaching its potential, considering the talent they feature on the roster. The more agressive Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis are, the better off Stanford will be.

4) Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell led Virginia to a solid home conference win over NC State earlier this week and will try to carry that momentum against Georgia Tech on Sunday.

5) Connecticut had to grind to beat Providence in overtime, but you still continue to get the sense that coach Kevin Ollie has this program moving in the right direction. They have a chance to improve to 5-3 in the conference with a win over South Florida on Sunday.

The Top 25

No. 12 Louisville vs. No. 25 Marquette (1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

No. 23 Minnesota vs. Iowa (2:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Other Notable Games

Providence vs. Villanova (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

South Florida vs. Connecticut (2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Oregon State vs. Stanford (3:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks)

Virginia vs. Georgia Tech (3:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Wisconsin vs. Illinois (3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Loose bat at Bradley Center delays Marquette-Providence (GIF)

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This is one of those special days in college basketball. What we might have missed out on with marquee Top 25 matchups, we can make up for with bizarre on-court events.

Take, for example, this scene at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, where a loose bat delayed play because it caused panic every time it flew across the court. The GIF below shows Sidiki Johnson doing a nice Matrix-like move to avoid the oncoming bat. It’s so chuckle-worthy that it’s worth watching a few times.


Facility managers at Bradley Center even turned the lights out to try to catch the bat with 7:36 left in the game, creating this eerily gorgeous scene:


The goal was to try and get the bat to settle in the rafters. The theory was that it was attracted to the brightness of the court.

“It was funny to begin with,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “But after awhile, it was, ‘Damn the bat. We have to win.’ There is going to be a winner and a loser. There’s not going to be an asterisk that said a bat was in the building.”

But there will be this blog post.

And if you’ll notice, I didn’t once mention who won the game. (Until now, Marquette did. “”There were no bright spots in the game except for Batman and Robin in the damn building,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “Actually, it was pretty funny. I thought the officials were more afraid than anybody.”)

(h/t @ bubbaprog and @anonymouseagle)

(Image via screengrab of the broadcast)

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Bizarre finish gives Marquette 49-48 win over No. 15 Georgetown

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The under-12 minute timeout in the first half of Marquette-Georgetown Saturday afternoon, Marquette led by a score of 5-4. How bad was it? There were flashbacks to Georgetown’s ugly 37-36 win over Tennesse earlier this year.

But for as unsightly as the first half of basketball was Saturday at Bradley Center in Milwaukee, the final three minutes provided some theatrics as Marquette held on for a 49-48 win.

Davante Gardner had 12 points and seven rebounds for Marquette, while Trent Lockett narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.

With 0:10 remaining and the Hoyas trailing by one point, 47-46, Jabril Trawick missed a three-pointer that would have put Georgetown ahead. Gardner got the rebound and was fouled, sinking two shots at the line to extend the lead to 49-46 with 0:08 to play.

Georgetown rushed back down the floor and Greg Whittington missed a three-pointer to tie, but was fouled by Lockett. Whittington hit the first two and seemed to be in a rhythm, but Marquette coach Buzz Williams called a timeout to ice him prior to his third attempt.

Whittington missed the third attempt and Lockett grabbed the rebound and was fouled, meaning Marquette remained ahead by one, 49-48.

Here’s where it gets bizarre.

Lockett missed the first free throw and tried to miss the second, but Georgetown was called for a lane violation, though it appeared he pump-faked during his free throw.

He got another attempt, looking again to miss intentionally. The ball grazed the rim, but a referee whistled it dead, thinking that it had not touched the rim. The clock continued to run and ran out as Nate Lubick tried a heave, which was blocked.

The referees ruled that Lockett’s shot had hit the rim and the game was deemed to be over.

Markel Starks finished with 18 points to lead the Hoyas on 7-of-12 shooting.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_