We're now into the home stretch until the men's basketball season kicks off on November 9th against Ohio State in the 2012 Carrier Classic. Since we're really just days away, it's time to start previewing this year's roster and what we might be able to expect from each player. As we did last year, we'll organize these previews by last year's average minutes played for Marquette, and as far as the newcomers go, we'll just have to make a wild guess as to what order to use. To give you some perspective on last year's wild guessing, we started with Todd Mayo. He had a pretty great season, so keep that in mind as we get started with freshman guard Jamal Ferguson.
Ferguson comes to Marquette after being a four year letterwinner at Maury High School in Norfolk, VA. He earned second team all-region and first team all-district honors while averaging 17.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his senior year. Here's what former Marquette assistant Aki Collins told MarquetteHoops.com when Ferguson signed his letter of intent last fall:
I liked his athleticism. I just liked his ability rebounding the basketball, his ability to finish in transition, and knowing how Buzz likes to play, he's a guy that can play multiple positions and help us on the defensive end as well.
He's an attacker. I think he needs to work on his jump shot, but I think he can handle the ball and slash to the rim and work on the offensive glass. I think the next step in his development is becoming a better perimeter defender. I don't know what his reach is, but he's very aggressive on that end of the court, so his length and ability to get after it defensively will give him a chance.
If you're a guard who has a nose for rebounding, you're going to go a long way with Buzz Williams. Whether Ferguson's defense is up to Buzz's standards right off the bat is anyone's guess right now.
Minimum Expectation: I think Ferguson might be the only player on the roster that has no real expectation for this season. The upperclassmen are expected to carry various loads, the sophomores are expected to take steps forward, Steve Taylor has expectations based on his career at Simeon and the praise that Buzz has given him already. Even Jake Thomas has expectations, and he's only a walk on. But I don't think anyone is really expecting anything from Ferguson. I'm going to go with avoids anything in the next section...
Worst Nightmare: Ferguson gets hurt early and never gets a chance to crack the rotation. With the combination of seeing a MU practice is what sold him on coming to Marquette and his early commitment to MU, we shouldn't have any worries about Ferguson becoming frustrated with his experience in Milwaukee. And thanks to the Brewers, we don't have to worry about him getting suspended for accepting playoff tickets.
Wildest Dreams: The combination of TJ Taylor's departure and Ferguson's size and aggressiveness on defense and rebounding gives him a chance to get on the floor and he becomes invaluable to Buzz's rotation. With Vander Blue, Trent Lockett, and Todd Mayo likely splitting most of the time at the wing spots, there's space for a tenacious rebounder and defender to get on the floor to give those guys more of a rest than just sitting down for each other. Ferguson could be that guy, especially if he can score even a little bit.