With the season wrapped up, it's time to provide the bookend for the Player Previews we wrote to start the season. We'll take a look back at what we thought about each of the Marquette players back in November and see if we did a good job of prognostication. We continue our climb up the list of minutes played this year by moving on to senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom.
Hit the jump!
|2011 - Darius Johnson-Odom
This season Johnson-Odom will be expected to be "The Man" for the Golden Eagles. He'll be looked to as the go-to scorer and senior leader, just asand were before him. There has been plenty of buzz coming into this season: he was voted to the preseason All-Big East first team and is considered a serious contender for the Big East Player of the Year award. The lights will be shining brightly on DJO this season and I see no reason not to expect him to answer that challenge.
In My Wildest Dreams: The best case scenario for DJO is he lives up to the hype and then some. We certainly know what he's capable of doing on offense, but he has history of being quite streaky. There have been stretches where he looks completely unstoppable and drops 20 points in 10 minutes, but then other times -- sometimes in the same game -- when he disappears entirely. I've often joked that if DJO could ever put two good halves together in one game he would easily score 40 points. Hopefully this is the season that we see a few games like that. I also hope that he continues to make strides on the defensive end this season. After being a matador of the highest order in his first year at MU, DJO improved to a serviceable defender last season. If he continues on that path defensively, and produces offensively the way we know he can, I see no reason DJO can't challenge for conference POTY and help Marquette make some serious noise this season.
In My Worst Nightmare: I dare not audibly speak the worst case scenario for this player, for fear that it might actually come true (hint: it rhymes with the name of the dude that hangs out with Ernie on Sesame Street). Barring any awful, unforeseen circumstances, the worst scenario I can think of is that DJO is simply the same player he was last year. Not that there is anything wrong with what he did last year, but I think everyone is counting on him to take that next step, just like Jimmy and Lazar did. We're all hoping that he can seamlessly make the transition from Robin to Batman.
Where do you start with a guy who was a favorite to win Big East Preseason Player of the Year and lived up to the hype all season long by being named to the All-Big East First Team?
How about his statistical improvement from last year? DJO played more minutes, improved on all three shooting stats, and averaged more rebounds, assists, and steals while averaging fewer fouls. All that from a guy who was already considered one of the best players in the league. Be honest: If DJO had posted the exact same numbers as last year, you wouldn't have complained in the slightest. I know that we listed that as part of his worst case scenario, but it really wouldn't have been.
We got to see the development of DJO as a player as well. DJO became deadly with a righty floater in the lane, down to the point where I could actually see it coming when he drove to the basket AND I knew it was going in. The most impressive part about this development in his game is that DJO is left handed. Think about that. He's lethal with a highly finesse shot WITH HIS OFF HAND. On top of that, Johnson-Odom became proficient at causing opponents to get out of position because of his speed. He can change directions and speeds and then re-accelerate in his new direction faster than defenders can react. The crazy thing is that he manages to do this in transition AND in the half court. How many times did you see DJO get into the lane, slow down, and then take off again?
Best Game: I'm going to go with the home game against Seton Hall. DJO's shot wasn't falling (4-12 from the floor), but he figured out that Marquette was going to need more from him, so he made up for his shot. So he went out and grabbed 5 rebounds and dished out 7 assists to push MU to a 66-59 victory.
Season Grade (1 is Worst Nightmare, 5 is Minimum Expectation, and 10 is Wildest Dream): I'm going to give DJO a 9. He never had the point explosion like we thought he'd be capable of, but he did improve on both ends of the floor. On top of that, he was a major component to the best Marquette team in nearly a decade. Lastly, I give him full marks for being so good of a teammate that he ended the Bradley Center portion of his Marquette career encouraging the crowd to chant "M-V-P" for a different player. It takes a big man to know he's been surpassed by the man we will talk about tomorrow...