It's been well documented that Marquette will enter this season without 60 percent of its scoring and three lock-down defenders from a season ago.
Dwight Buycks is looking to pick up the slack.
The 6'3" junior from Indian Hills (Iowa) Community College has impressed in summer workouts and will give the Golden Eagles a scorer and lockdown defender complimentary to senior forward Lazar Hayward.
Choosing to take the junior college route as a freshman and sophomore, Buycks flourished and gained national attention while leading his team to a 58-13 record over the course of two years. He averaged 17.5 points per game during a sophomore year that saw his team finish second in the nation.
Buycks knows his junior college work helped him, but that Division-I basketball is at a whole new level.
"The biggest change, I would say, is work ethic." Buycks said. "In junior college we worked a lot, but when I got here it was something totally different. I handled it real well and there weren't any problems with it. Just something I had to get used to."
Something else Buycks will have to get used to is the possibility of playing point guard at the D-I level. Incoming freshman Junior Cadougan, who was slated to platoon with senior Maurice Acker at point guard, was lost for the year with a torn Achilles' tendon. With Cadougan out, Buycks knows he will have to become a more versatile player in order for the Golden Eagles to succeed on the court.
"I'm more of a scoring guard," he said. "But at the same time with [Cadougan] down, I really wouldn't have any problem playing the point guard and slowing down the scoring role because, at the end of the day, it's all about wins."
Slated as the favorite to start at the two-guard alongside Maurice Acker to start the season, Buycks will surely be one of the Golden Eagles' leading scorers. He demonstrated his ability to score by shooting almost 51 percent from the field at Indian Hills last season.
But as confident as Buycks is in his ability to both score and distribute, he also knows that defense is the real key to the team's success this season.
"Defense is what's going to set the tone for us and get wins," Buycks said. "It's really not all about offense. Defense is what wins games and I feel like that's the most important thing to do."
At Marquette Madness, Buycks guarded the taller Jimmy Butler for the majority of the scrimmage and was seen guarding Lazar Hayward in a recently posted YouTube video of a Marquette practice. As he demonstrated last season, Buzz Williams will put the five most athletic players on the court, even if it means giving up size in the process. Because of that, Buycks understands the added importance of his stout defense.
"[Buzz] wants to win, and he gets after it on defense. He wants the toughest guys and I feel like that's a real big key to our success."
The addition of six newcomers to the team this season, including four freshmen, makes growing pains inevitable. But Buycks knows that being a junior means he needs to lead the younger players from day one. And his influence as a veteran player is certainly needed as this team transitions into a new era of Golden Eagles basketball.
"If somebody is doing something wrong, I'll go over and tell them how I feel about it and to help them so they can keep making progress.
"We want to keep moving forward."