John Dodds, Site Administrator: 21-9 overall, 11-7 Big East (T-6th)
This year's key will be the guards. Darius Johnson-Odom and Dwight Buycks were two of the top three JUCO guards last year. They are strong, can score and can play defense, but the $64,000 question is: can they play point guard? MU will surely miss Junior Cadougan, the best pure point guard on the roster. Seniors Maurice Acker and David Cubillan provide depth and a change of pace off the bench. Be patient. It will take two months for JUCO's to become comfortable – same as with top talent JUCOs Sam Worthen and Artie Green when they played for MU in '78-79. Buzz Williams called DJO the most talented player in his recruiting class, but he must stay healthy.
What MU lost from last year in guard experience, it will make up in post play. Lazar Hayward developed every facet of his game this summer playing on Bo Ryan's USA Team in the World University Games in Europe. He is joined by Jimmy Butler, who improved dramatically in the second half of last season and has continued to improve his offensive game in the offseason. They will be complemented by Jeronne Maymon, a 6-6 post player who will give Williams a great low post option. Maymon is a top offensive rebounder and an unselfish passer. These three forwards will present problems for opponents on defense. Each can score from the blocks, from outside and in transition. Fans who come early to games will be treated to the future as 6-10 Chris Otule and 7-2 Youssoupha Mbao practice their post moves with the assistant coaches. They will contribute, but I don't know when.
The bench will be stronger and deeper with Joe Fulce now healthy and able to play at least three positions. Fulce is a stats stuffer. Freshman Erik Williams might have the most upside of any player on the roster.
MU will start slow and finish strong. Buycks and DJO could both average 10+ points per game to take the pressure off of Hayward. The Big East is not as strong as last year. Still, MU does not have any margin for error. But they will be right there with a 12-seed on Selection Sunday.