Ready for the attention

Heralded senior Jae Crowder is prepared for the additional attention.

MILWAUKEE—Prior to last season, only diehard Marquette fans had an idea of what kind of impact Jae Crowder could have on the 2010-11 Golden Eagles.

Heading into the 2011-12 campaign, a lot more people are taking notice.

Crowder was named Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention, which is just one sign that the rest of the conference has taken note of his talent. Big time performances against West Virginia and Syracuse at the Bradley Center were the most notable games last season, but Crowder wants to do that more often.

Chances are he will find it a bit more difficult this year, as he'll be one of the two Marquette players that most teams will key on. Along with fellow senior Darius Johnson-Odom, Crowder is going to have to have a big year in order for MU to have a big one as well. He believes that starts with consistency, and not taking any games off.

"You just have to take on that role of bringing your A-game every night," said Crowder. "Last year you could say we snuck up on a lot of guys because a lot of guys didn't expect us, but there are going to be teams now where you're the main focus of their scouting report."

Someone not shy of confidence, Crowder is thoroughly going to enjoy the challenge. He is really looking forward to the challenge of being one of Marquette's go-to-guys.

"It's a lot of pressure but I love it," Crowder said. "As a basketball player that's what you want. You don't want it to be easy."

Something Crowder excelled at last year, and will have to again in a bigger way this season, is rebounding. As a junior, he averaged 6.8 rebounds per game, which led the team.

With the loss of Jimmy Butler, Crowder will more than likely increase his rebounding total this year. Although he's only 6'6", getting down low and grabbing boards is something Crowder takes pride in, and is something that just comes naturally to him.

"You have to have that instinct that just snaps," said Crowder, "And you want to get that rebound more than the opponent does."

It's difficult to teach a player the necessary instincts and desire to be a good rebounder. It appears that Crowder has those qualities, and he takes pride in that, noting that is a reason he has such a great desire to get down low and rebound.

"You can't teach getting rebounds," Crowder said. "It's just something a player has or doesn't have. I still love to score as well, but you can't teach getting rebounds. That's just something that has to be in a player."

Prior to last season, Crowder said his goal was to average a double-double. He did not achieve that goal, instead averaging 11.8 points and the aforementioned 6.8 rebounds per game. Crowder was a bit frustrated he did not achieve his desired statistics, but says this year he is even more driven to achieve the plateau.

"That's still my goal, and what I want to do," said Crowder. "I want to average a double-double in the Big East. I wanted to do it last year, and I was close, but close doesn't get it. I feel like this year I'm capable of it, and I will do it."

Although the team made it to the Sweet 16 last season, Marquette's 15 losses are not lost on the senior. Along with having a more talented and deeper roster, Crowder believes that there are a few other ways the Golden Eagles can trim down their loss total.

"[It] starts with non-conference losses, you want to limit those as much as possible," said Crowder. "And lose no home games in the Big East. Once you eliminate those two things, those 15 losses will dwindle down."

"We lost quite a few home games last year," continued Crowder. "We lost two big non-conference games with Wisconsin and Vanderbilt, which really hurt us with our RPI."

Crowder is only in his second year, but it is his final one as a Golden Eagle. Having made a large impact last year, being a big part of the team making it to the Sweet 16, he wants to leave his mark in a bigger way. Crowder wants to become a part of Marquette's storied history, and before any statistical achievement, he believes that has to be done by winning.

"When you look at it, you want to be in that history," Crowder said. I feel like the only way you can be in that type of history is to win ball games. If you win games, the rest of it takes care of itself in my book."

After a Sweet 16 run last year, and a preseason top-25 ranking, the sky is the limit, not only for this Marquette team, but also for Jae Crowder.

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