This is part two of our “Marquette Weekend” series – for part one, click here.
As previously stated, Marquette Madness was an all-around awesome night, inflicting excitement, hope and promise all around for the upcoming season. One shouldn’t try to look at the event with an inclination for analysis, as most of the scrimmage stats are misleading due to the lack of defense. Sure, it was fun to see 282-pound Davante Gardner heaving up threes (in both the scrimmage and 3-point contests), but that’s not going to be a huge part of his game outside of Marquette Madness. Even so, there were still many observations worth taking note of throughout the course of the night. While we run it down, we’ll try our hardest to make observations that can also be supported with further information, because one shouldn’t try to take anything singular out of the game. Also, it’s nearly impossible to disappoint at an event like MU Madness – so most of these observations will be generally positive. With all that being said, we present to you our Marquette Madness 2013 recap:
- First off, about length of the women’s activites: yes, most would agree they were about forty collective minutes too long, but once the men’s intros came on, it was almost impossible to complain about the event as a whole from thereon out. The staff did a great job in getting both teams on the floor as much as possible, especially with putting them head-to-head in the three-point contest (although they lost handily to the men’s team).
- The intro video wasn’t as great as years’ past, but nonetheless enjoyable due to its graphics and portrayal of Chris Otule as Superman (adding to the award speech to come). Some may complain about the lack of dialogue or “chills inducement,” but with 4,000 fans screaming at full volume in a tightly-packed Al, great graphics was all this video needed. Also, on the topic of chills, that shot of Davante at the end will be giving Marquette fans nightmares for days.
- The players’ intros were priceless, especially if you sat close enough to see their facial expressions. The best intros were debated over Todd Mayo tossing a team-signed shirt in the stands, Davante Gardner’s goofy dancing, or JaJuan Johnson’s… well, what was he doing exactly? Note: the Tennessee influence is strong with this one.
You can watch the other intros at around the 1 hour 16 minute mark (and the rest of the event) here, courtesy of GoMarquette.com (scroll down and click MU Madness).
- Next was the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to none other than Chris Otule. It’s no surprise it went to the sixth-year senior, as he’s currently the only player who’s been on Marquette since Buzz Williams started his first year. The presentation’s intro video was entertaining, but incomparable to Buzz’s heartfelt speech on center court:
Unreal words of wisdom – no one deserves that award more than him. We all wish you could stay another six years, ‘Tule.
- Next was the three-point record attempt between Jake Thomas and Davante Gardner. Jake beat out Davante individually, making 22 to Gardner’s 19, but neither broke the world record at 26. The atmosphere wasn’t as great as it could’ve been, as Buzz’s speech seemed to have induced a temporary quietness about the crowd.
- In the three-point contest, the team of Buzz, Gardner, Anderson and Thomas took down the other three teams, beating the women’s team handily to take the championship. It was hard to hear the score, rules or just audio of any sort throughout the night, but it was still fun to see Buzz Williams draining three-after-three alongside his players.
- Then the real fun began. The dunk contest was, as expected, one of the most exciting points of the night. As predicted, Deonte Burton easily took down his opponents, beating JaJuan Johnson in the championship round and Duane Wilson and Golden Eagle mascot as well in the first. Burton also earned the only perfect 50 of the night, converting on an unreal between-the-legs dunk that clearly separated him from the rest:
Bane also had another nice dunk here, a 360 slam showing off his athleticism. Johnson put up the best competition for him, leaving us with a windmill, backwards two-hander, and most impressively, a between-the-legs, off the bounce slam:
Duane Wilson and the Eagle failed to convert on any of their dunks, although Duane did put up some impressive moves.
- Last on the agenda was the blue-white scrimmage. The game has little defense, so specific stats shouldn’t be taken very seriously. Here’s the box score, for those interested – courtesy of Paint Touches:
Many impressed during the scrimmage, as well as along the overall course of the night. Again, it’s hard to disappoint, but there were many observations worth noting. Here’s what DE noticed throughout the event:
- As predicted in our scoring article, this looks to be Jamil and Davante’s team (although by the looks of it, JJJ will be a huge scoring factor as well). Jamil himself seemed to displayed a charisma and confidence in his game that wasn’t always present last season with Blue leading the floor. Obviously, Gardner looked much slimmed down, as he’s currently down to 282 pounds after hovering around 300 throughout his MU career. Both were important players last year, but now seem to have taken their efficient play in second-option roles and expanded their games for the stardom they deserve. See for yourself with Jamil’s throwdown over a couple of blue-team defenders (or onlookers in this setting):
With Jamil’s versatility and athleticism, he’s the top candidate to be Marquette’s go-to scorer, especially considering that he’s already known to hit big shots (as he did in the Davidson game).
- Whether he’s fully recovered or not (Todd says 100%, Buzz says 85-88%), Todd Mayo looked great during the scrimmage. He was acrobatic around the rim and played with an overall smoothness about him – you would’ve never guessed he had surgery just over two months ago:
There are many more similar layup videos here, but we’ll simply leave you with the highlight of the night for Todd:
- JaJuan Johnson was impressive, putting his athleticism and shooting ability on full-display all night long for the crowd of 4,000. After somewhat struggling in the Milwaukee Pro-Am, the highly touted freshman had been starting to look like a “work-in-progress,” reminding us of the freshman/sophomore Vander Blue. But Johnson put on a show Friday night, finally displaying his lights-out shooting ability that wasn’t always there at the Pro-Am. More importantly, Buzz and the rest of the team had earlier raved about Johnson’s phenomenal play and effort during Boot Camp. During media day, Buzz and all the players were asked who had impressed them the most so far – and every one said Johnson. “Hands down,” added Buzz. “Easily number one.” Whether JJJ or Mayo starts at SG, it seems Johnson will nonetheless be contributing from day one.
- Anderson’s move to the perimeter was apparent, as he took more outside shots and tended to loiter around the three-point line. On fast breaks, he curled off and either distributed or sat for the open shot (instead of sprinting down the lane), hence the term “moving to the perimeter.” As he had done in this years’ Milwaukee Pro-Am, Anderson again succeeded in this new, more guard-oriented role.
- During media day, Buzz Williams made two things clear about Derrick Wilson: one, he’s the starting point guard – and two, he’s going to need to step up offensively to keep gaining his trust. We’ll have more on their specific comments in a later article – but on the topic of the scrimmage, Wilson certainly made an effort to create his own shot, and showed promise in taking the starting job. Seeing Wilson drive to the hoop or take step-back jumpers was a little strange, and even seemed forced at times for a guy who averaged 1.7 PPG last year. But this has been Buzz and Derrick’s plan all offseason – and no, this “plan” was not meant to turn Wilson into a first-option scorer. It was to maintain Derrick’s incredible ball-security as a pass-first point guard, but turn himself into good enough an offensive player to knock down a shot or two when needed. Wilson explained it best himself: “I think I have to shoot more because as far as the scouting report for different teams, if you look at the numbers and the film, (opponents) are like, ‘this guy’s not a scorer, so sag off him.’ So in order to get everybody else opportunities and to get the offense flowing, I think I do have to attack a little bit more.” Certainly, he showed signs of doing so – but before making any direct judgment on his progress, we’d rather wait until the season starts. So until then, we leave you with an acrobatic pass from Wilson during the scrimmage:
Hard to see with the referee in the way, but an unbelievable dish either way. With skills like this, he may not be needed to shoot after all.
With all that said, Marquette Madness was a phenomenal time for all involved, successfully enlightening fans and recruits alike on the culture of Marquette basketball. Seeing Sandy Cohen, Diamond Stone, Ahmed Hill, Tory Miller, and Marial Shayok chatting afterwords behind the autograph tables was definitely a promising sight to see, and hopefully one that holds foreshadowing. After all, if Marquette Madness already helped us get here…
…then I think we’ve got a bright future ahead of ourselves.
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