After the Wisconsin Badgers were knocked out of the Final Four by the Kentucky Wildcats, lots of Bucky fans needed a little time before looking at next year. Some were real quick to figure out where UW fit in to next years Big Ten (and beyond) race. Personally, I needed a little time. I had to see what the top underclassmen in the B10 were going to, when it came to their NBA careers, specifically the current powers in the Big Ten. Let's take a look at who left:
Michigan lost Big Ten Player of the year, Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III. Stauskas grew more from his freshman year to sophomore year than any player at that stage I've ever seen. He's a top 20 pick. GR3 showed flashes of the player many think he can be. I don't think he was very consistent. He probably should've stayed but who am I to judge? He's a late 1st/early 2nd rd guy. Michigan will likely take a step back.
Michigan State's Gary Harris went pro. When you're the leading scorer on the trendy powerhouse team in the Big Ten, why would you stay? I think he'll be a really good pro who will create on his own more than Tom Izzo allowed him to. Couple Harris leaving with Keith Appling & Adreian Payne gone to graduation and MSU will struggle to find points!
Ohio State is losing 2 big contributors from last years team: LaQuinton Ross & Aaron Craft. Ross was the teams' leading scorer & rebounder. Craft was the team leader & the best on-ball defender in the country last year. Sorry, osu…you're not as good either.
Indiana has lost 4 players from last years team either due to transfer or in Noah Vonlehs' case, the NBA.
I'm sure there are others that I'm leaving out but with all that talent LEAVING the Big Ten, and most of Wisconsin's team coming back? (Dekker, Kaminsky, Hayes, Gasser, etc - SG Ben Brust is the only major contributor UW will lose) Look out BigTen…the Badgers are gonna be TOUGH to keep out of the spotlight. Bo Ryan's NEVER finished out of the top 4 in the B10 and I'd be SHOCKED if it started next year.
Milwaukee Bucks C, Larry Sanders just doesn't get it. This is not a "slam Larry" blog. I'm just so frustrated (like many Bucks fans) with this guy. He was building block. A focal point. A defensive force. A "Milwaukee" guy with a midwest workman like attitude that fans could get behind. Well...that's out the window. Who is Larry Sanders? None of the above (except the defensive force part). Let's review, shall we??
August 21, 2013: Larry Sanders signs a 4-year $44 million dollar extension with the Bucks. A questionable contract for a offensively challenged Center who no doubt is one of the best defensive players in the NBA. By the way, he signed his contract at a Boys & Girls Club in downtown Milwaukee. LOVED THIS. Thought it was great to do it in front of the kids in the city & provide some inspiration. Sanders said this was going to help him become the MAN that he wants to be and the face of the franchise.
November 5, 2013: Larry Sanders was involved in a bar fight at Apt 720 in downtown Milwaukee. Video shows Sanders throwing Champagne bottles into the crowd, in the VIP area. Why was the fight started? I've heard lots of stories and versions of the incident. Regardless, Sanders SHOULD NOT be getting into fights at bars. Can he go to bars? YES. I have no problem with that. But there is no reason he should get involved with fights. We all know Larry has a problem with his temper ON the court (which he's admitted to). And now we know it's not just a "basketball thing". By the way, Sanders hurt his thumb during the fight, causing him to miss significant playing time. Man. Face of the franchise.
November 13, 2013: Reports surface that Larry Sanders was cited twice in January 2013 for cruelty to animals. According to court records, a neighbor called police to say Sanders kept his two German shepherd puppies outside in the cold for hours without proper shelter, food and water. Sanders paid a total of $330 for the two municipal citations. (via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Man. Face of the franchise.
December 5, 2013: Larry Sanders responds on instagram to the heat he's taking for the 720 bar fight. I can't even describe this...just read it. As you would imagine, this didn't stay online very long. Man. Face of the franchise.
April 4, 2014: Larry Sanders was suspended 5 games for violating the NBA's drug policy. Sanders got busted for smoking marijuana...FOR THE 3rd TIME. Sanders apologized but has vigorously defended his stance on the legalization of the drug. I agree with Larry. Weed SHOULD be legal, in my opinion. But here's the problem, Larry: ITS NOT. Just because you're a millionaire and a celebrity, doesn't mean the laws don't apply to you. When they say "don't smoke weed"...well...DON'T SMOKE WEED. Man. Face of the franchise.
What should the Bucks do? Not my call but thats FOUR strikes in just over a year. As far as i can remember, you only get 3 strikes before you're out.
Larry is no longer the fan favorite he was just one year ago. As for trading him? Ask any GM in the league & they'll tell you that Sanders trade value is ZERO. Due to injuries, Sanders has played in 23 games this season. He's started 20 of them. He averaged 7.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.74 blocks per game. Oh, and by the way, his $44 million dollar extension? It BEGINS NEXT SEASON.
After a long search, Marquette University has named Steve Wojciechowski as it's 17th basketball coach in school history.
Not Shaka. Not Ben "i've been to 3 final fours" Howland. Not Cuonzo Martin. Wojo. This is one that's gonna very interesting to watch. Why did Wojo finally leave Mike Krzyzewski's bench after a decade & a half at Duke? I've got 3 theories on this...
1 - He got sick of waiting. Seriously, was Coach K EVER going to leave Duke? He's been there forever. He's still got great teams every year...although it looks like it's getting tougher for him to go deep in the tournament lately (see Mercer, Lehigh). Recently Coach K said publicly that he'd like to be at Duke for AT LEAST 5 MORE YEARS. At age 37, you figure Wojo wasn't gonna wait til his early 40's to get his 1st gig. So he took it.
2 - He's using MU as a stepping stone to GET BACK to Duke. He may have been told, "go get some experience, then come home". It's a possibilty. Duke doesn't strike me as a "first gig" type of place. Marquette does (see: the last two guys...and now this one) Time will tell if this is a long term buy, or a short term lease at MU for Wojo.
3 - He's been told he's not in line to get the Duke job. This would be a bit surprising, considering how committed to Duke Wojo has become. Player/coach - LIFER. But maybe someone else is in the eye of Coach K. My best guess? Shaka Smart. Why not? He won't go out west. He won't come up north. Maybe he REALLY wants that Duke job, and he's willing to wait around for it. Call it a long shot...
I'm excited to see what Wojo will bring to this team. Will we see the "3-pointer friendly" offense that the Blue Devils run? I hope not. Will Wojo be like Tom Crean & Buzz Williams & bolt for another job? I hope not. But this is what Marquette does. They don't hire the "big" name. They took a chance on an assistant coach on Tom Izzos' bench and that got them elevated to Big East status + a final four (along with other post season tournament births). Buzz? He was on Creans' staff & took the Golden Eagles to 3 straight sweet 16's.
A LOT of programs in this country would kill for that. So let's sit back and watch Wojo work...
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.
Can't say ANYONE saw this one coming. The 5th seeded Panthers won FOUR games in the Horizon League tournament (Detroit, Valpo, Green Bay, Wright State) and now they're dancing. UNREAL. This is MADNESS. But then again, this IS March.
What now? The Horizon League champ was a 14 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament (Valpo). They also won the regular season crown. UWM was 5th and i can't see the NCAA selection committee rewarding their great late-season run with a number that high. Had Green Bay won the tournament? They'd be a 14 or a 13 but these Panthers? They may just have to play in the "first four" AKA: Play-in games.
But so what? This was a great run for a team that was picked to finish DEAD LAST in their league. One "writer" in this city said the University should "throw in the towel and move on". GIVE UP BASKETBALL?? NO WAY.
Good for you, Coach Jeter. Good for you, Panthers. Good for you, UWM Alumni.
You may get Florida. You may get Wichita State. Who knows? But I know this: This was a great run for Milwaukee. The city is behind you, hoping for some March magic once again.
I’m a day late, but here’s my latest final four blog…
Last week I picked Florida/Louisville/North Carolina/Creighton to go the final four…of course, Louisville & Creighton lost during "Upset Saturday". And as we sit less than 2 weeks from Selection Sunday, I’ll update my picks…again, I have the right to change until I turn in my bracket.
Florida – No reason to change this pick. #1 keeps on winning. 21 in a row as I type this with South Carolina this week…then they close with Kentucky!!!!
North Carolina – also keeps on winning. 12 in a row. I know they EEKED out a win over Notre Dame…and don’t look now – Tobacco Road round Two is this Saturday night.
Virginia – Yep, I’m jumping on the UVA bandwagon…for now. NO ONE is talking about the Cavaliers but THEY (not duke or unc) won the regular season ACC title and with a win over Maryland, could finish 17-1 in the ACC. Their SMOTHERING defense & outside ability could push Tony Bennett’s team to the F4.
Arizona – It’s taken me a while to jump on the Wildcats bandwagon but this week, I’m in. Nick Johnson & Aaron Gordon are a lethal 1-2 punch. (Gordon should stay at AZ, btw). And did I mention the size of this team? They are HUGE at every position.
Sorry to Wichita State (I’m not a believer), Syracuse (something has changed lately) and Duke ( I just hate Duke)…
Until next week…ooooohhh baby – CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT WEEK!!
OK…Here we are just a few weeks out from the NCAA Tournament and the one thing I can tell you is this: I have no idea who’s going to make it to the Final Four. The field is so evenly matched this year that I can make an argument for about 12 teams. Each week I’ll give you my Final Four picks, but they will likely change often…
Creighton – one of the deadliest offenses I’ve ever seen. A hot shooting team like that can go deep especially with Craig McBuckets leading the way
Florida – Big. Physical. Can beat you inside AND out. So much talent on that team. How does Billy Donovan not get talked about in the “Mt. Rushmore” discussions?
Louisville – Maybe the best team CURRENTLY in college basketball. Just knocked off Cincinnati…oh, and they KNOW how to win- see: last year.
North Carolina – is anybody hotter than this team? 10 wins in a row & they’re the only team in the AP era to beat the top 4 preseason teams in the same year (Lou, KY, msu, Duke)
I could be 0-4 here…but who knows. What’s your Final Four as we sit 3 weeks from the Big Dance?
"After two Marquette games we've seen two different Marquette teams play. We saw Marquette struggle in the first game to put up points. They only made 13 baskets the entire game. And the second game was on the complete opposite side of the spectrum putting up 114 points. Although Grambling State hasn't won a game in over a year, 114 points is still pretty impressive seeing that was the first time they have done that since 2010 against Mississippi Valley State (102-77). So through the first two games this is what stood out to me the most:
Free Throws: The charity stripe hasn't been kind to MU over the first two games shooting below 65% in both. The first game they put up a remarkable 53 attempts, but only made 33. And in game number 2 they put up only 31, but managed to make only make 19. The combined percentage through two games is an abysmal 62%. If the poor shooting continues at the line, you will see games lost by this team because they didn't take advantage of the freebies. And with all the fouls being called because of the new rules, it is imperative they start converting on those free points.
Derrick Wilson has not shown he's the answer at point guard: I know it's only been two games, but what I've seen so far doesn't make me confident in his abilities to be the number 1 guy. In two games Derrick has taken two shots and scored one point. I know Derrick isn't an explosive offensive player, but he at least has to attempt to look like he can score. He has had open looks, but passes them up and I have yet to see him try to drive to the basket. I don't care if he misses, I would rather have him take shot to keep his defender honest. If he doesn't shoot, it then becomes 4 on 5 offensively and that will not work against a good team. His turnover to assist ratio isn't bad. He has 13 assists and only 3 turnovers, but a bulk of his assists (9) came in the second half against Grambling State. He needs to show me more from the beginning. John Dawson subbed in at point for Wilson, and honestly I felt he did a better job running the offense. The biggest thing was that Dawson was not afraid to put up a shot, and by driving hard to the basket he was able to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. Right now I feel more comfortable with freshman running the point than I do Derrick, and that worries me.
Deonte Burton is the best freshman so far: Burton's physicality has him the most ready for the physical beating that occurs in Big East play. His ability of getting to the basket and making some pretty tough shots has been really exciting to see. He is really good at creating his own shots, which is really important after the first game when only 3 guys really scored for Marquette. Burton put up 14 points and 6 rebounds against Grambling State. His instincts so far to find a way to the basket have really been impressive. Buzz even said he reminds him of Crowder in that Burton is able to create his shot when nothing is there. If Burton can continue to develop his game, he could earn some major minutes down the road.
The big test will come on Saturday against Ohio State, but through two games Marquette has shown us there's some talent here. The success will depend on how quickly they can put it together."
Our own Zach Klupchak will blog about the Marquette Golden Eagles all year! Here's his 1st installment:
Marquette opens the season tonight with one big question. Who’s going to replace 48% of their offense left from Junior, Vander, and Lockett? Stop me if you haven’t heard that before from a Marquette team. It seems every year Buzz Williams has to find a way to replace major holes left from players leaving, but with Blue’s abrupt departure this time seems different.
The good news is Buzz has his best recruiting class to date with Duane Wilson, Jajuan Johnson, and Deonte Burton, all top 100 recruits, who will look to make an impact quickly. Buzz will also return one of the best front courts in the country with Chris Otule and Davante Gardner and wings Jamil Wilson, Juan Anderson, Steve Taylor will look to improve on their success from last year.
The two guard positions will be were the most questions will come from. For the time being it looks like junior guard Derrick Wilson will run the point replacing Senior Junior Cadougan. Derrick has shown to be a great defender in his career so far, but his offense has been mostly non-existent. Buzz has already said he has begun to trust Derrick like he did Junior and with the injury to freshman Duane Wilson, Buzz will have to trust him even more.
The shooting guard position will be a battle between Jake Thomas and Todd Mayo to start out, but look for freshman Jajuan Johnson to push for minutes soon. Buzz has said Johnson has been the most impressive freshman so far. This team has the potential to be as deep as or deeper than last year. And last year’s team was able to play ten deep by the end of the season. The biggest challenge for Buzz to start off will be to find the right combination of players who fit well together and who will be able to put up the points left behind from Vander.
I honestly don’t see why this team can’t be as good as last years. They have returned everyone but three and have added a deep freshman class. As long as they can figure out the guard position and their front court stays healthy they have enough talent to make another late season run like in years past and with Buzz still the coach it will be tough to bet against that.