Oh, man. It is a good time to be a fan of Marquette men's basketball.
If you're cool and hip, you're aware that Marquette is now ranked TENTH in the country, per the AP poll. If you were not aware of this information, congratulations, now you are. Please refer to Brewtown Andy's piece regarding the nitty gritty of the matter, if you so choose to seek further information.
Beyond the fact that that we've been a total powerhouse lately and people besides us think so as well, this is a really big deal in terms of morale, and what this means for the future after the upcoming post season. Projected to finish ninth this year, it seems that most of the MU fanbase is just happy to be here. After several minutes of scrolling the Twitter machine, I've recovered an early November tweet from Paint Touches that gives us a peek back into the past of what exactly- *checks tweet*- 946 of us thought where MU might be heading in the post season. The results were solidly optimistic, but not confident, with NCAA tournament: Bubble Watch winning out amongst three other options. Though Marquette opened the season with two wins, and only a five point loss to current #1 Purdue, you couldn't call that evidence of something big a'cookin. Then the Baylor win happened, and since then, this team has been pulling out some of its biggest guns. Even when we've lost, it's hasn't been embarrassingly bad. We went to double overtime at Providence and only lost by five. Did I suffer from a sudden rise in blood pressure watching that game, perhaps, but I didn't feel like it was an unearned/soul-crushing loss at the time.
This week is Marquette's fifth consecutive in the top 25, which at this point isn't surprising- did I mention we're TENTH- but I think that it's impressive that for the most part, we've only gone up in our rank since we entered the top 25. We've been consistent, which wasn't the case when our previous coach was still employed.
No. I'm not going to say his name.
Shaka has instilled something into these boys- and whether there's some secret competition about who can be domino of the game the most or they're just having fun playing, generally speaking, good basketball, something excellent is happening- and I think it's going to keep happening, unobstructed. The team is having a good time on the court- you can see it when we make an almost-disrespectful dunk on our opponents, (or, very disrespectful, attempted dunk, in Keeyan's case), and when the team bleeds out onto the floor in a series of shouting and slapping at the floor after any one of the guys does something even mildly interesting. I am so here for this behavior because the energy is very clearly translating into the crowd mindset as well. The hype is palpable everytime the student sections fill up in Fiserv! I want someone counting my EGB's, because I'm not high-fiving the pep band members surrounding me every time we score a bucket for nothing.
Two years ago, our coach was being booed when his name was said in lineups, we had no NCAA wins for the greater part of a decade, and the three most prominent Marquette blogs joined up to formally say "hey, we want him to go away." Now, we're ranked tenth in the country, we're projected on Bracket Matrix as a 4 seed for March, Shaka's iconic striped-tees are being sold in the Spirit Shop (The Coach Who Shall Not Be Named could never), and we're happy. Three-ish hours ago, the Anonymous Eagle Twitter account asked, what people's favorite part of top ten Marquette is. The replies range from how good it is feeling that the ranking is earned, to the fact that watching MUBB is simply just fun again. The one that stuck out to me is from the user @TheSurrealPaul, who said "The fact that for the first in 20 years, I don't have an obvious favorite player on a ranked #mubb team. I love all these guys and the way if one or three of them are having [an] off night, one or three others step the f up."
So true, Paul.
My answer to "who's your favorite player on the team?" changes every time someone asks me it. I love Jop, and Sean Jones is a short king, and Stevie is my boy, and I can't wait to keep watching Chase as he grows within this program, too. Each of these players is bringing something special and different to the table and what they are doing right now, when Shaka's term as coach is still so young, when we still have a lot of time with the underclassmen on the team?
Well. I don't know about any of you, but I think we may be looking at some more top ten Marquette in our futures- and that is also something to celebrate today.