This isn't really a new development for blogs in general, but it is new for VUhoops. As part of our Marquette game-prep I traded questions with Marquette blogger Dan Daitchman. I'll post his answers here and you can read my answers to his questions on his blog "Stuck in 1977."
1. With only two players above 6'7" and neither of them playing more than 15 minutes per game, how has that lack of size forced the Golden Eagles to adapt?
Lack of size is something Marquette has had to deal with for the last few years. It has improved since last year, but we're still missing a serious inside presence. This has forced us to score inside and outside. The last couple years we "lived and died by the three," but this year we've been able to score a lot more inside through paint penetration and good ball movement. Jae Crowder has been a beast for the golden eagles in the low post this season.
2. Do Marquette fans feel "at home" in the Big East with new rivalries, or do you tend to focus on the old C-USA conference-mates? Who would you consider MU's biggest rival among the "old line" Big East schools?
Great question. I certainly don't think we feel as "at home" as the traditional Big East powerhouses, but with making the NCAA tournament every year since we joined in 2005 I think we've made our presence felt and don't feel intimidated by anyone. I tend to focus on every team as a Big East team rather than an "old" or "new" Big East team. As far as rivals go it's a bit of both. Everyone has their own opinion of who their rivals are, but I consider our three biggest rivals in the Big East to be Notre Dame, Louisville, and DePaul. As you know Louisville and DePaul were in C-USA with us which is part of where those rivalries comes from. Even though Notre Dame has been in the Big East for basketball for much longer than us, we have always played against them each year due to the Catholic school rivalry (I believe we've played them the second most of any school, Wisconsin is #1).
3. How important has the emergence of Darius Johnson-Odom to this team?
DJO was a major part of what kept us competitive last year, as he was the best at scoring on dribble-drives. This year he started out cold, but has been red-hot since conference play began. He's been shooting much better from all over the floor and is making smarter decisions when he gets caught in double-teams and triple-teams on drives to the rack. He's usually matched up against the other team's top-scoring guard which is a testament to the defense he plays.
4. Of the starting line-up, which player are you most afraid to lose for an extended period (foul trouble, etc)?
Tough question. Fouling on defense has been one of Marquette's strengths this year, as we're only allowing about 1 free throw for every 4 shots taken (15th in the country). One thing Buzz has no problems with is in-game discipline, and during last week's loss to UConn he pulled DJO for some very crucial minutes down the stretch when DJO tried to take the game in his own hands. I guess I'm most afraid of something like that happening again.
5. It felt like Lazard Hayward was at Marquette for about 15 years. Is any current MU player going to have the same impact on the team/conference?
The tough part about this question is the star performers on this team won't have enough years to have that type of status. Some may think that about DJO next year, but it's hard to judge when you're a fan of the player (it felt like Scottie Reynolds was at 'Nova for 100 years, but Wildcat fans may disagree). The top performers on this team with eligibility remaining are DJO and Jae Crowder, but they're both JUCO transfers so their time is cut short. I'd say at this point Vander Blue has the most potential for that since he's a true freshman, but he's really gotta step up his offense to have an impact like that.
6. What do you think is the ceiling for Marquette come March?
Sweet 16. Marquette has a good enough offense to pull off an upset or two in the tourney, but its defense will be exposed by any team higher than a 4-seed. I could definitely see us pulling off a 12-5 upset in the first round.
7. If you could trade me an MU starter for a Villanova starter, who would you trade me and for who? Why?
I'll go with something a little different here. I'll trade Jamil Wilson for Antonio Pena. Wilson is a transfer from Oregon who's sitting out this year but is expected to have an immediate impact next year with plenty of upward potential. I'd rather not deal with a work-in-process with Wilson and would rather know what I'm getting with Pena. I'll leave it to Jay Wright to coach up J-Wil.
8. What does Buzz Williams do differently that keeps the Golden Eagles so consistently strong?
I think the main reason for this is how hard he works his players in practice. He absolutely kills them in practice, and the philosophy works because his squad wants to play hard for him. It translates directly into games in that MU can never be ruled out of a game regardless of the score. Remember when Marquette came to Villanova last year and was down by 22 points, and eventually pulled within 5 down the stretch? It's all a credit to Buzz's coaching and the toughness he instills in his players. Now if we only didn't blow that 18-point lead at Louisville...
Don't forget to check out my Marquette game preview and to get your entries in for Closest to the Pin.