Editor's Note: The BIG EAST will be previewing both the men's and women's team from each BIG EAST member each weekday from October 22 to November 9 in advance of the 2012-13 season. Use hashtag #BECountdown to join the conversation on Twitter.
Marquette Golden Eagles Men's Basketball
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The Big Picture:
Marquette advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season last March. The Golden Eagles finished 27-8 overall and second in the BIG EAST with a 14-4 mark, their best record since joining the league. The 2012-13 edition of coach Buzz Williams' club will have to find a way to replace BIG EAST Player of the Year Jae Crowder and All-BIG EAST First Team pick Darius Johnson-Odom, though a veteran group returns. Offense may be a little more by committee this season. Marquette led the BIG EAST in scoring (75.4 ppg) with Johnson-Odom second individually at 18.3 ppg and the versatile Crowder fifth at 17.5. Both were NBA draft choices.
Who's Back:Three starters return including backcourt starters Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan. Blue, a 6-foot-4 junior, averaged 8.4 points and 4.5 rebounds while also excelling on the defensive end. Cadougan, a 6-foot-1 senior, is the point guard. He averaged 6.3 points and 5.4 assists, which was fifth in the BIG EAST. Todd Mayo played 21.1 minutes per game as a freshman and was impressive offensively, averaging 7.9 points. Sophomore Derrick Wilson backed up at the point as a rookie. Near the basket, junior Davante Gardner averaged 9.5 points and 5.3 rebounds while starting 12 games. He took over for Chris Otule who played eight games before going down with a knee injury. A strong return by Otule would make MU deeper and more experienced in the frontcourt. Junior Jamil Wilson made 15 starts at forward. He averaged 7.1 points and 4.1 boards. Forward Juan Anderson saw limited duty.
Crowder was one of the BIG EAST's top all-around performers last year. He averaged 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.5 steals, which was second in the league. In addition to his 18.3 scoring mark that included plenty of clutch baskets, Johnson-Odom was a 3-point threat, making 38.5 percent. Reserve forward Jamail Jones played a supportive role.
A key addition could be Trent Lockett, a senior transfer from Arizona State who will be eligible immediately. He averaged 13.0 points and 5.8 rebounds for the Sun Devils last season and may find an immediate home on the wing. He shot 41.2 percent from 3-point range. Another transfer, 6-3 Jake Thomas, is also expected to help with the perimeter shooting. Freshman guard Jamal Ferguson will try to find some playing time in a crowded backcourt. Heralded freshman forward Steve Taylor is expected to make a strong run to make the regular rotation right away. Again, the Golden Eagles have important pieces to replace, but seem to have enough able replacements to put an experienced and productive team on the floor.