Buzz Williams brings an inexperienced group of players into West Virginia on Tuesday night for the first Big East road game of 2009-10. It will most likely be a learning experience for most of the players, which should be expected from a team that lost 80 percent of its production from a season ago.
If you've followed Marquette for the past 20 months, you know the kind of excitement and pain the team has been through. This season has been another rollercoaster ride. First Brett Roseboro leaves the program before the school year begins. Then, Junior Cadougan tears his Achilles tendon. Coach Williams then gets Vander Blue to visit for Madness, and a commitment soon follows. All of a sudden, three days before the Old Spice Classic, Chris Otule breaks his foot. Marquette is not fazed by the loss at first, and beats two tournament teams in two days before a heartbreaking loss to Florida State. Jeronne Maymon caps off the crazy fall semester when he leaves the program due to playing time.
Despite all of this, Marquette STILL has a chance to make a run for the tournament. To their benefit, the conference is down this year. Marquette has two games vs. Providence and DePaul as well as home games against Rutgers, South Florida and Notre Dame on Senior Night. On the road, the team travels to Seton Hall and St. John's, two winnable games. The potential is there for nine wins, and maybe as many as 11 wins, if the team stays healthy.
I don't buy into the negativity that a lot of people are talking about. Do you really think a team that has two All-Conference players would lose 10-12 games in the Big East? Not this season. Marquette has the ability to finish higher than:
St. John's – The Red Storm's 10-2 record looks good, but they survived against Brown, and St. Bonaventure. DJ Kennedy and Dwight Hardy are pretty good players, but a lack of depth will hurt them.
Seton Hall – New season, same story. Seton Hall seems to start hot, but fade at the end. They have never been good defensively, but they have a few shooters, albeit streaky shooters. Not enough faith in them yet.
Providence – Marshon Brooks is a solid player, as is Shauraud Curry when healthy, but the team has already dropped four games, including losses to Iona, Boston College and Rhode Island.
Rutgers – Despite the 9-2 record, the Scarlet Knights needed OT to beat Rider, and have the 347th strongest schedule in the league. Hamady N'Diaye and Mike Rosario needed a third wheel in Greg Echenique to be relevant.
DePaul – Losses to American and Florida Gulf Coast? Yikes.
Now, ask yourself again, will Marquette finish worse than any of these teams? Marquette has a chance to finish top-10 in the conference with only nine scholarship players. It's a rebuilding year, but the season isn't completely lost.