With the 2012-13 season now in the books, we take a moment to look back at the performance that each member of YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles turned in this year. While we're at it, we'll also take a look back at our player previews and see how our preseason prognostications stack up with how things actually played out. We'll run through the roster in order of total minutes played (lowest to highest). We've already detailed Steve Taylor's season, so next up is freshman guard John Dawson.
#2 - Freshman - 6'2" - 195 lb.
Minimum Expectation: As Tom Hanks said in That Thing You Do: It's very important that you don't stink today. Here's Derrick Wilson's freshman year stats: Averaged 9 minutes a game in 33 appearances with two starts (Wisconsin & West Virginia, both wins), 24 assists and 9 turnovers for a ratio of 2.7/1. Just be good enough on defense so Buzz keeps giving you minutes.
In My Worst Nightmare: He gets hurt, too. Or worse, he stays healthy but Buzz can't trust him out there and he sits on the bench instead of providing depth in the backcourt until the coaching and medical staff can figure out what's going on with Duane Wilson.
In My Wildest Dream: Given the low expectation on Dawson a week ago, it's hard for me to really assess a Wildest Dream scenario for him now. How about this: shoot better than Derrick Wilson's freshman year: .371 from the floor and .471 from the charity stripe. And how about less fouls, especially in light of the increased focus on handchecking? Wilson averaged 7.0 (!) fouls called per 40 minutes played his freshman year. Don't do that. Please.
Now, first things first: we have to acknowledge that this was written after Duane Wilson suffered the stress fracture in his leg. It was still a fresh injury, so at the time, we didn't know that Wilson would definitely miss the entire season with a medical redshirt.
So let's take what we can from Dawson's season. He never played more than 10 minutes in a game in more than two consecutive games, and it took him until six games into the conference schedule before he played at all in three straight games. The part of this that is most troubling is that Marquette announced on December 27th that Wilson would sit out the rest of the year with his redshirt, so it took three weeks AFTER that to get Dawson anything resembling consistent minutes behind Derrick Wilson. Instead of trying to get Dawson up to speed to provide any kind of relief for Derrick, time was spent - and wasted - trying to get Jamil Wilson to fit in at running the offense.
Then came the most confounding part of Dawson's season. He played 31 minutes in Marquette's overtime win at Georgetown, including most of the final 12 minutes of regulation and four of the five minutes of overtime while lugging around four personal fouls. He had his season high of 12 points, seven in overtime alone, and he dished four assists, too. How was Dawson rewarded for this amazing effort? By playing eight minutes in Marquette's overtime loss to Villanova. In fact, it would take the next four games for Dawson to crack the minute load that he had against Georgetown. He would only break 10 minutes in a game five more times in the season, with 18 against Georgetown in Marquette's last win of the season being the high point.
Look, I'm not saying that John Dawson was the key component to Marquette's successes this season. But the fact of the matter is that he was called on for major minutes where he couldn't defend aggressively in a game that was crucial to Marquette's season at the time, and then he was largely ignored on the bench for the remainder of the season. This was difficult to understand at the time, as Marquette's season slowly sunk underneath the surface of the postseason ocean. Now we look back with the light of Buzz Williams' rapid departure from Milwaukee, and armed with the knowledge from CBS Sports' Gary Parrish on Monday's Eye On College Basketball podcast that Buzz was looking to get out "a month ago," perhaps the dismissal of any contributions from a ready, willing, and able freshman makes more sense.
Best Game: I'm still impressed with what Dawson did in the game against Georgetown, and seeing him pop in a bucket in overtime against St. John's on Senior Day made me call back to seeing Overtime Hero John Dawson. It was an outstanding effort from a little used freshman in a tight spot of the season, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do for Marquette in the future.
Season Grade (1-Worst Nightmare to 10-Wildest Dream): Ok, so here's what we've got. Dawson averaged more minutes (10.3 vs 9) in fewer appearances (24 vs 33) than Derrick Wilson did in his freshman year, and Dawson's assist-to-turnover ratio was 25/17 or 1.47 to 1. He didn't play much in the early going, but he did play regularly through most of the conference schedule, even if his minutes were whipsawing back and forth the whole time. Ultimately, he shot the ball worse than Derrick did in his freshman year (32%), but he was a much, much better free throw shooter (82%) in the few opportunities that he got. In addition, Dawson did come up lower than Wilson's foul's, getting called for 6.4 fouls per 40 minutes. It's hard to tag this, but I think a 4 is about right for Dawson's season.