by: David Kay
Dwight Burke, Ousmanne Barro, Marcus Jackson, Mike Kinsella, Terry Sanders. Not since the Final Four run in 2003 when Robert Jackson was roaming the paint has Marquette had a legitimate post presence who was a reliable scorer and rebounder. Three games into this season, MU’s low post game just took a major blow as Buzz Williams announced sophomore center Chris Otule will be sidelined for the year after suffering a fractured right foot in practice. (Otule missed a big chunk of the beginning of last season with a broken bone in his left foot.)
By no means was Otule going to have a Robert Jackson-like impact for the Golden Eagles, but Buzz had praised how hard the rec-spec rocking Otule had been working and how much he had improved from the end of last season. Plus at 6-10, 250 pounds, Otule was the only real “banger” Marquette could throw on the floor.
With Otule sidelined for the season, Marquette will have no choice but to once again rely on their wing players to carry the load. 7-2 freshman Youssoupha Mbao played in his first game for MU Saturday against Grambling State, but is a LOOOOOOOONG way from being a real contributor as he is still learning the system, very raw with his all-around skill set, and skinnier than Lara Flynn Boyle.
After Mbao, the tallest Golden Eagles are junior Joe Fulce and freshman Erik Williams. Both stand at 6-7 and are lengthy and athletic but by no means can handle the banging down low that the Big East brings on a game-by-game basis. 6-6 freshman Jeronne Maymon has spent a fair amount of time early this season playing the four position but has looked out-matched inside as he relied more on his finesse game than his physicality while earning Mr. Wisconsin honors at Madison Memorial High School.
So that will once again leave Lazar Hayward to play much bigger than his 6-6 build. This will be nothing new to Hayward as the senior has spent much of his collegiate career playing out of position at the four, even times last year playing center. My real concern is that Hayward has not learned how to stay out of foul trouble when guarding bigger and often times stronger players. He has gotten into first half foul trouble in Marquette’s first three games of the season against less physical teams so imagine what is going to happen in conference play if Hayward has to guard the likes of Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody, Syracuse’s Arinze Onuaku, Louisville’s Samardo Samuels, or Cincinnati’s Yancey Gates just to name a few. MU CANNOT afford to have Hayward spending stretches of games on the bench because of foul trouble as he is their most reliable and efficient offensive weapon. Maybe it is time Buzz adopts Jim Boeheim’s tactic of playing strictly a 2-3 zone???
With Otule joining freshman point guard Junior Cadougan (ruptured Achilles) on the bench, Marquette’s re-loading year just took a turn for the worse. Barring amazing growth from some of the younger players, I really cannot see Marquette winning more than four Big East games this season which means there will be no chance of them making any post-season tournament. We will see how much Otule’s injury effects the team beginning Thursday when Marquette opens up the Old Spice Classic in Orlando against Xavier.Follow paulmbanks