A Note Of Caution

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

While expectations for the team run high, we may want to take a step back when it comes to expectations for individual players.

Buzz Williams' yearly Boot Camp started for his players over the weekend. It's a crucial part of what Marquette does as a team, and as Buzz himself puts it, it's where the team is formed every year. If we're to believe the tweets from assistant coach Brad Autry, it seems like things are off to a good start.

But while Buzz and the coaching staff worry about the formation of the team, those of us out here in Fan-ville are left to speculate on how the season will go. We get help along the way, of course. For example, all six college basketball analysts at CBS Sports have picked Marquette to win the Big East this season. This will probably become a familiar sight as the season draws closer.

There are two components to people expecting good things from the Golden Eagles this season. First, the returns of Jamil Wilson, Davante Gardner, Chris Otule (AKA The Doctor Of Defense), and to a slightly lesser extent, Steve Taylor. The other reason is the highly regarded recruiting class brought in this year by Buzz and his staff. There's no doubting the composite rankings and junior college accomplishments of Deonte Burton, Jujuan Johnson, Jameel McKay, and Duane Wilson.

But that's high school and junior college.

This is Division 1 college basketball, and more specifically, D1 hoops as coached by Buzz Williams.

Let me put it another way. Take a look at these five stat lines.

  • 0 starts, 51% shooting, 0-4 behind the arc, 77% FT%, 5.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 0.7 assists
  • 22 starts, 46%/47%/68%, 13.0 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists
  • 17 starts, 49%/36%/62%, 11.8 points, 6.8 rebonds, 1.6 assists
  • 12 starts, 40%/16%/61%, 5.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists
  • 0 starts, 58% shooting, 0 three point attempts, 75% FT, 4.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, 0.3 assists

There's not a lot there to get excited about there, right? Maybe the second and third ones, based on the points in both and the rebounds in the third, but given that they didn't start every game, it kind of takes the edge off, right? The shooting percentages are mostly ok, except for that fourth one, and the free throw percentages on all of them could be better.

If you haven't guessed by now, those are the stat lines for (in order) Jimmy Butler, Darius Johnson-Odom, Jae Crowder, Vander Blue, and Davante Gardner in their first seasons under Buzz Williams. To put it another way, those are the five first year stat lines put up by the guys who only played for Buzz Williams at Marquette who went on to earn all-Big East team honors. DJO's line is ballooned by starting out with a team that could shoot the cover off the ball, something that this year's returning team can not do. Crowder's line is ballooned by the fact that he was the national junior college player of the year in the season previous to coming to Marquette, something that Jameel McKay did not accomplish. The rest of them? Role players at most in their first season under Buzz's tutelage.

I'm not saying that there won't be opportunities for all five (no, I didn't forget about you, John Dawson) newcomers to shine. I'm not saying that any of the newcomers will be busts. I'm saying that there's a chance, as proven by history of players in their first year under Buzz Williams, that none of the newcomers will have seasons that will knock anyone's socks off.

More importantly, it's okay if none of the newcomers turns into a superstar immediately. If they turn into dependable role players immediately under Buzz, then as history has shown, we're looking at very promising futures for them.

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