Post on Post: Mac Evaluates '10-11 Post Play

Unlike previous years, the 2010-11 Marquette Golden Eagles have post players who are offensive options down low on the blocks. When it comes to post play, why not get the thoughts of an expert like Jim McIlvaine (MU '94)? I asked Jim about his impressions of 6-10 Soph. Chris Otule [in part 1 of our article[ and 6-8 Fresh. Davante Gardner [in part 2].

I always thought Jim McIlvaine was one of the top post players Marquette has had since the McGuire era. He was the best college shot blocker I have ever seen but he was also a very good post passer. In fact, there are no better post passers than other posts. They understand when the post is open even though he is always guarded since he is close to the basket.

DOS: Jim, thanks for taking time out. This year Buzz Williams' offense seems to be involving the post a lot more. Have you noticed that too?

(In the South Dakota game, Chris Otule had 15 points and 8 rebounds. In the Duke game, Davante Gardner received so many post looks that Coach K doubled the post to get it out of his hands.) >p>[JMac]I love Chris Otule's post position this year and his foot work. He is getting deeper post position than he did in previous years. I can live with a three second call (turnover). As long as it is erring on the side of aggression. You try to work into a position where you can catch and dunk. I have been really impressed with the effort that he has put in. You can really see the work he has done to change his body (weightlifting) since he's gotten here. You can see it physically on the court with the way he moves.

DOS: Chris Otule is an interesting case. You are talking about a big man that is going to be here for two more years after this year. He is going to be a five year senior and that can be valuable. A 23-year-old is a man not an 18-year-old kid. He still has two years after this year. Could he be like Amal McCaskill?

Jimmy Mac: He does remind me of Amal in many ways. He has a lot of upside as big guys often do. Coach Williams often stresses the lack of defensive prowess for both Otule and Gardner in their inability to front a post man. As casual observers, we do not always see those things or things that do not show up in a stat sheet. The coaches are acutely aware of what is going on defensively with their teams. Any defensive deficiencies are exposed when you play a team like Duke or Gonzaga. The coaches can preach and beg but with some big guys it just doesn't sink in until there is another big guy that can come in and show what the coach wants.

DOS: You had 13 blocks against Eastern Illinois your senior year (Dec. 1993). You had two additional blocks after a Marquette guard had committed a foul as his man was beating him to the lane. As the man shot, he was fouled by the Marquette guard and the shot went up and you blocked it, but that really isn't a block because it would never have been a shot unless it had gone in because the guy was fouled.

Against Eastern Illinois you had 13 blocks and two of those post foul non-block blocks and the NCAA record for one game was 14 set by David Robinson and Hakeem. Kevin O'Neill came in to the press room and said that "We had him down for 15 blocks," so I felt terrible because I thought the stat crew had not missed one, so I would take a look at the tape again. But upon review, I confirmed that it was 13.

Otule, especially in the South Dakota game, he had two of those where there was a foul, the ball went up and he came over and took care of business. There is value to that play.

Jimmy Mac: It's good that he is making that play because it forces the offense to make free throws to gain points. At the same time, it is a learning process for his teammates to know where Chris is and how you can use them. They have to get into a place where they understand and feel comfortable and confident where is he going to be and that they have help defense coming on dribble penetration. So they release at the right time so they don't commit the foul. You want to give Chris an opportunity to give Chris a clean block.

DOS: No one messed with the opponents' psyches more than you. Out of timeouts guys would be looking out of the corner of their eyes, where is Jim McIlvaine? A shot blocker like you is like a pass rusher in football who can sack the quarterback. It just makes everybody flinch.

Jimmy Mac: I think teams are going to be more aware of Chris as a shot blocker so much the guy is attacking off the dribble drive but the guys who Chris is guarding down low. The opponent coaches are going to be saying, "You've got to occupy him – get a body on him to prevent him from coming over and giving help defense. Otherwise we will be in trouble if he does come over." There will be a team adjustment but that comes with respect. The better numbers, the more film study that coaches see and once they find that Otule will come over and help out, the more they will adjust.

[Part 2: Mac on Davante Gardner]

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