It’s been a roller coaster week for Marquette basketball fans. Monday rumors of Marquette landing VCU head coach Shaka Smart and then Thursday night turning down Marquette’s offer. Now with the elimination of Smart as a candidate, this put Marquette in a bit of a crossroads. They can either look to find another big name to fill the position or possibly go with someone smaller, but has potential to be a long-term answer. Personally, I think Marquette needs to hire a coach that has the ability to keep the incoming recruits and be able to recruit top level athletes. Those need to be the criteria when hiring the new coach.
With that being said I believe they need to hire a big name guy in order to continue the success this program has had. Buzz made this program better off when Crean left it, and now Marquette needs to continue to build on to what Buzz did without taking a step back. Interim Athletic Director Bill Cords talked about how the program is better now than when he was running it before and they will have to ability to pick a high quality coach. And I think he is right.
This is the best open coaching job in the country right now and spends more money than any team in basketball besides Duke. While missing on Smart is tough right now, it shows how loyal Smart is to his team and in my opinion Marquette needs to find a guy as loyal as Shaka Smart to ensure stability for at least 7 to 10 years. I think there are many candidates out there that fit the mold and I firmly believe Marquette will find the right coach and continue to improve their program into the future.
I have said the entire season, that I can't make a judgment on this Badger Basketball team until March., I wanted to see March production. A Sweet 16 appearence for this team isn't good enough. A win tonight over Baylor in the Sweet 16 ,will give Bucky its biggest win since beating top seeded Arizona in 2000.
When is the last time Wisconsin has had a win in the NCAA's that you could say, "Wow" ..impressive job?" It hasnt happened under Bo Ryan. Most of the time its losing to inferior teams and they dont get to the big boys.
Wisconsin is still better than Baylor. The Bears are playing great but the Badgers are better. But if Wisconsin isn't hitting those 3's against that Baylor zone defense,it could be another March disappointment. This Badger team has beaten better teams than Baylor this season and they need to win this one otherwise it puts a damper on what was another great regular season.
Andrew Dunn-Bauman is back from Spring Training in Arizona and here is his weekly Brewers Blog
NL Central Preview by Andrew Dunn-Bauman
We’re less than a week from Opening Day at Miller Park, so it’s only right that it’s still below freezing. Nevertheless the countdown is getting serious, so with one final preview before the first pitch of 2014, here’s how I see the NL Central shaking out this season:
St Louis Cardinals (2014 prediction: 100-62)
The Cardinals are once again the team to beat in the NL Central, and with good reason. Adam Wainwright heads what is arguably the best rotation in the MLB. The Redbirds have six viable starters, (five to start the year with Jaime Garcia likely on the DL) and all of them posted ERA’s under four last season. The homegrown pitching depth on this club is uncanny, and extends to the bullpen as well. The Cards have a bunch of young, flame-throwing relievers headlined by closer Trevor Rosenthal, which means facing any portion of this Cardinal staff is a daunting task. Throw in the fact that Yadier Molina is calling the signals behind the dish, and facing this staff quickly becomes an absolute nightmare.
Offensively, the Cards have a solid lineup as well; one that Brewer pitching has struggled with in recent years. While they lost Carlos Beltran this offseason, the signing of Jhonny Peralta in the will provide a boost in production from the shortstop position, which has been inconsistent for the Cardinals recently. And of course, no one wants to face Matt Holliday. Barring an injury-plagued season, the NL Central is there for the Cardinals’ taking.
Cincinnati Reds (89-73)
The Reds won 90 games last season, and I expect them to come close to that total this year. The big loss for Cincinnati this offseason was their leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo to the Texas Rangers. Choo had a .423 on-base percentage for the Reds last year, and his production will be tough to replace at the top of the lineup. But center fielder Billy Hamilton could make waves as the Reds’ new leadoff man, bringing electric speed to the top of the lineup.
Johnny Cueto is the household name on the starting staff, but Mat Latos and youngster Tony Cingrani are above-average pitchers as well, and the lineup is still formidable, with the likes of Jay Bruce and Joey Votto. Closer Aroldis Chapman took a scary line-drive just above his eye in Spring Training, but reports are saying he could return as soon as late April, and his 100-plus MPH fastball effectively shortens the game to eight innings for the Reds. All in all this club should be competing for a Wild Card spot come September.
Milwaukee Brewers (87-75)
The Brewers are undoubtedly an improved squad this season. Having Ryan Braun for the full season can only benefit the club, and the hope is that a healthy Aramis Ramirez behind him will lead to a potent 3-4 combo for the duration of 2014. Khris Davis in left field is not quite proven yet at the MLB level, but brings another powerful bat to the lineup. The Crew returns a gold-glover in Carlos Gomez, and Jean Segura figures to be a real bright spot again at short, both offensively and defensively.
With the addition of Matt Garza, the starting staff looks truly solid from spots one to five to start the season, which is different from years past in Milwaukee. The bullpen looks to be solid as well, with the most notable addition being rookie Wei-Chung Wang, who made the jump from rookie ball in the Pirates organization last year, to the MLB in 2014. I have the Brewers as the most-improved team in the NL Central this year, earning 13 more victories than the 2013 campaign. Health is always a concern over the course of such a long season, but if this club can stay relatively healthy, I see them in the heat of a Wildcard race.
Pittsburgh Pirates (84-78)
This Pirates roster is largely the same as the one that won an impressive 94 games last season, but with one major piece missing; AJ Burnett. Burnett was a fixture in the Bucs’ 2013 campaign that saw the team snap its 20-year-long playoff drought. As a replacement for him, Pittsburgh signed free agent Edison Volquez, who posted a 5.71 ERA in 2013.
Burnett’s absence will be cost this Pirates teams some wins this season. On top of that, it’s questionable to assume that this club can repeat their magical season of 2013. There are three young arms in the Pirates starting rotation that are the key to the Bucs’ chances. They don’t quite rival the talent of the Cardinals’ young arms, but if they all pitch effectively, they can carry this team towards another successful season. Andrew McCutchen will shine in all facets once again, but I see a season just shy of miraculous this season in Pittsburgh.
Well if you followed me on twitter at all or listened to "Chuck and Wickett" you know that I have never been a big fan of Buzz Williams,the now departed Marquette coach. Buzz usually makes a handful of statements every year that you kind of just roll your eyes at. Too many to count. At the end of the day,he turned out to be the phony I thought he was. Unfortuately, a majority of Marquette nation bought into him.
He was never staying here long term. Its a shame, if you are a season ticket holder or Marquette booster,you would like to believe your coach when he says " I will stay here as long as they will have me" Leaving the manner he did,appearing on CBS shortly after, wearing Virginia Tech garb,rubbed me the wrong way and was a slap in the face of everyone who supported him.. But again, I shouldn't be surprised with this guy.
I warn you…while I may talk about sports for a living, and probably watch more college basketball than anybody you know…I’m terrible at picking the brackets. I’ve only won ONCE in my life (thank you Maryland in 2002) But…here we go!
SOUTH REGION (the one with Florida)
I’ve got the #1 Florida Gators coming out here. They’re just so good at EVERY position. New Mexico to the elite 8 is my sleeper here with TWO 7 FOOTERS. UPSET CITY: Stephen F. Austin to the sweet 16, Dayton over ohio state.
EAST REGION (the one with Virginia)
I’ve got Iowa State coming out here. LOVE Fred Hoiberg & what his team can do. TONS of inside/outside talent. I was on the Cyclones last year to get to the Sweet 16 but an Aaron Craft 3 with 1 second left kept me from my genius. UPSET ALERT: Connecticut over Villanova.
WEST REGION (the one with Arizona)
I’ve got the WISCONSIN BADGERS coming out here. THIS is Bo’s best team and their path is nice. I worry about a S16 matchup with Creighton, but they should AT LEAST get to the Elite 8. UPSET CITY: Nebrasketball over Baylor, North Dakota State over Boomer Sooner
MIDWEST REGION (the one with Wichita State)
I’ve got the Michigan Wolverines going to their 2nd straight Final Four. John Beilein is a PHENOMENAL coach & like Trey Burke last year, I expect Big Ten Player of the year Nik Stauskas to come up BIG. UPSET CITY: Kentucky crushes Wichita State’s dreams.
After splitting the 1st 2, Michigan will knock out Wisconsin in their 3rd meeting this season. Florida takes out ISU.
Giving way today to Andrew Dunn Bauman,who is at Spring Training
Opening Day Predictions by Andrew Dunn-Bauman
We’re less than two weeks away from Opening Day at Miller Park. Exciting, isn’t it? With the season so close at hand, and in honor of March Madness starting this week, it’s only fitting for me to make some predictions about this Milwaukee Brewers club.
I’ve spent the past week following the Crew at Spring Training, and have learned that manager Ron Roenicke isn’t one to give away any information regarding roster decisions until it’s an absolutely certainty. But I’m going to use my critical thinking and Nate Silver-like prognosticating skills to predict the Brewers’ Opening Day active roster and starting lineup:
1. Yovanni Gallardo
2. Kyle Lohse
3. Matt Garza
4. Wily Peralta
5. Marco Estrada
Jean Segura, SS
Scooter Gennett, 2B
Ryan Braun, RF
Aramis Ramirez, 3B
Jonathan Lucroy, C
Carlos Gomez, CF
Mark Reynolds, 1B
Khris Davis, LF
Yovanni Gallardo, P
The big surprise of camp so far has been 21-year-old lefty Wei-Chung Wang. Wang, a Rule 5 Draft pick from the Pirates, hasn’t allowed an earned run in six Spring Training outings, pitching 8 1/3 scoreless innings. Roenicke has said he’s worried that he “can’t tell what (Wang) has upstairs” because he has to communicate through a translator. Regardless of what he has upstairs, he’s had an extremely effective arm this Spring for Milwaukee. It’s impossible to keep Wang off the roster with the way he’s pitched in Spring, so I expect him to be a lock in the ‘pen on Opening Day. Tyler Thornburg will be the first one to get sent down if he struggles.
The first thing that stands out: seven infielders. Roenicke said that he plans to keep two first baseman on the roster, and has strongly hinted at plans to keep both Weeks and Gennett on the roster at second base. That totals six infielders, with no one to back-up Jean Segura at short. Having no one as a second option at shortstop is a big no-no, so I expect Jeff Bianchi to be kept as the seventh infielder. Logan Schafer’s ability to play all outfield positions allows for the extra infielder on the roster.
That being said, I expect the Brewers to either deal Rickie Weeks early in the season, or send Scooter Gennett down to Nashville if Weeks is clearly outplaying him. Either move frees up space for Caleb Gindl in the outfield. In the competition for a spot at first base, I see Juan Francisco as the odd man out.
Starting Lineup Analysis:
As ridiculous as I keep saying it is, the Brewers seem to be leaning more and more towards a platoon at second base. Either this is an elaborate ploy to boost Weeks’ trade value, or he’s going to be splitting time with Gennett. But with Julian Teheran (a righty) being slated as the Braves’ Opening Day starter, I expect Scooter to be in the starting lineup Opening Day.
At first base, Mark Reynolds will win the job. Roenicke doesn’t seem sold on Francisco at this point in camp, and Lyle Overbay won’t be an everyday player at this point in his career. Despite being just a .233 lifetime hitter, Reynolds can offer flexibility defensively, playing at both first and third base as well as emergency relief in the outfield, and Roenicke likes his power numbers.
Outside of that, the starting lineup is pretty straightforward. Both the players and fans alike expect this squad to produce a lot of runs.
Next week I’ll be back with one final look ahead at the Brewer season. For now, one final prediction: Virginia wins the tourney.
For more Brewer coverage from Spring Training, follow Andrew Dunn-Bauman on Twitter @ADBinMKE
There is nothing that could persuade me otherwise. The Badger basketball team should at least make it to the Elite 8. They play two games in Milwaukee,should be favored in both, and are better than any team in their half of the West bracket. Im looking at a Wisconsin/Arizona West Regional Final. The only thing that really bothers me about Bucky is if they have a just a ice cold shooting half like we saw on Saturday against Michigan State.
The table is laid out nicely for the Badgers. Ive been let down in the past by these guys as I have got sucked in by a great regular season. Im not getting my hopes up high but it is easy to see why so many experts like a run to the Final Four. We'll see
I have probably never written more about UWM Basketball than I have done in the last week. It started one week ago with them. Winning their first game in Green Bay at the Horizon League Tournament and the Madness kept going becoming the first five seed from the Horizon to get to the NCAA Tournament. An improbable of run as we have seen any team ever make in this state. Sure they are going to face a heavyweight in the NCAA's,and could smoked, but who cares.
UWM getting to the Big Dance is equal to Duke making it to the Final Four. So to the UWM Program, they will be treated like royalty in the next week and deserve it. It may be a once in a lifetime experience to play in the NCAA's. For one week,they will be able to bask in the spotlight.
Its a safe bet, most of those players on the team will be working in office jobs someday, and will never earn a paycheck playing the game. But playing in the NCAA Tournament is something that can never be taken from them whether they are the team's best player or last man off the bench..Enjoy the moment,as Coach Rob Jeter has been telling his team.
He is heading down to Maryvale... Andrew Dunn-Bauman has his weekly Brewers Blog
Just a couple of things to touch on from Brewers camp, as I’m en route to Phoenix today to check out the Crew in Spring Training... by Andrew-Dunn Bauman
#1: The resurgence of Rickie Weeks
I wrote a blog a few weeks ago saying that Rickie needs to be a distant silver medalist in the competition for the starting job at second base. At the beginning of the offseason, it seemed crystal clear that Scooter Gennett had won the position with his impressive performance in Weeks’ absence.
Now, it’s a far cry from a certainty. There are stories surfacing of a potential platoon between the two, or even the possibility that Weeks could win the job outright. That seems hard to grasp, but what’s most astonishing is that seemingly half of the Brewer fan base would rather see Weeks take the job and be the Opening Day starter at second.
Why? I’ve repeatedly heard fans argue that “Weeks has a higher ceiling than Gennett.” In what sense? Weeks is 30 years old. He is a lifetime .247 hitter, who has never hit higher than .279 in a season. Gennett is 23 years old, and he just hit .324 last year in 213 at-bats. Yet Weeks is considered by many fans as the more valuable asset to the Brewers, and his name is even being brought up as a potential leadoff hitter for the team this year. Am I missing something?
Fans fall in love with power numbers. It’s not just chicks who dig the long ball. I understand the excitement Weeks brings when he’s crushing the ball for a two-week period. But the consistency is just not there. Gennett is better defensively, and his “ceiling” is way higher than Weeks’.
#2: No big news is good news
So far it’s been a relatively quiet Spring Training in Maryvale. That’s a good thing. When Hank the Ballpark Pup captures the lead headlines for a couple of weeks straight, you know there’s not a whole lot going on. But that’s OK, because playoff berths aren’t earned in the Cactus League. The Crew is 6-8 so far this Spring, but wins in March are about as meaningful as Cubs victories in September.
Instead of winning games, the bigger focus of Spring Training is to prepare players for Opening Day, especially pitchers who need to slowly be stretched out in order to be ready for a heavy workload once the regular season rolls around. The Crew has avoided any major injuries thus far in camp, and that’s a more positive development than if Ryan Braun had gone yard in every plate appearance in Phoenix. True, Braun has been having himself a nice Spring so far, but those numbers are meaningless once Opening Day versus the Braves rolls around.
Moral of the story: Don’t get too excited about impressive numbers out of Maryvale, and don’t get anxious about a couple of rough performances.
Things to watch for over the next week:
I’m keeping an eye on the second base situation, and am interested to see who starts to emerge as the frontrunner at first base.
Keep tabs on Ryan Braun’s performance, as he has promised 2014 will be his best offensive season to date.
Matt Garza has gotten off to a tough start in Spring, and would like to get things figured out before it gets too close to Opening Day. Look for him to turn things around in his next start today versus the Angels.
For updates and news from Spring Training, follow Andrew Dunn-Bauman on Twitter @ADBinMKE