Friday, February 15, 2008

Marquette Update

I'll start out by quickly mentioning, as most here know, that I am a lifelong Badger fan and UW alum. I have never liked Marquette, really didn't like them after their Final Four run and am now back to not really caring about Marquette. I do like watching them play when their offense is clicking because I like the slashing style of basketball, but it seems that too often guys are standing around and watching James or McNeal cut to the basket.

Anyhow, Marquette has had a solid season to date, but probably a bit below most fans expectations. They cruised through the pre Big East schedule and currently sit at 7-5 in the Big East which has several good teams (better than the Big Ten) but is lacking a truly great team.

I thought Marquette was really starting to hit the tank during that Notre Dame game, but they way they closed it out was impressive. They were not able to pull it out, but played tough inspired ball over the last two minutes. I think those two minutes could spur them on to a strong finish to the season. Seaton Hall isn't a world beater, but Marquette laid a whupping on them.

So, if Marquette closes out the season stong and makes it to the Sweet 16, it think it will be a successful season in many fans eyes. But what happens if they play decent down the stretch but bow out in the first round of the tournament. Does Crean start to draw some heat? I work with a bunch of Marquette grads and many are huge fans. They mentioned there is already a bit of heat there, but Crean is a great salesman and obviously a Final Four appearance will buy you several years at the school (unless you are LSUs coach).

As an outsider, the reason I think Crean would catch some heat if the team exited early this year, is his post-season record. As I mentioned, a Final Four is an awesome accomplishment and obviously something to hang your hat on for a long time. (I am sure Bennet could have stayed at Wisconsin as long as he wanted, as painful as that would have been to watch.) But outside of that Final Four, Crean has not been a post-season wizard:

  • 2007: 8th seed; 1st Round NCAA loss

  • 2006: 7th seed; 1st round NCAA loss

  • 2005: NIT - 1st round loss

  • 2004: NIT - 3rd round loss

  • 2003: Final Four

  • 2002: 5th seed - 1st round NCAA loss

  • 2001: No postseason

  • 2000: NIT

Granted, those first two seasons he was playing with Mike Dean's crap. But outside of the Final Four year, Crean has not won an NCAA game and didn't make the tournamnet the two seasons following the Final Four run.

I have been critical of Bo's NCAA success at Wisconsin. However, Crean's post-season record is pretty rough. Honestly, if the Badgers had a post season record like this, I would be asking for a new coach.

What do the Marquette fans think? Is the post-season success an issue at Marquette? Crean has done a lot for the program but are people souring on him? I gather that, obviously, people want to see more March wins, but Crean has been great for the program, so they cut him some slack. Is this accurate?

Anyhow, big game tonight against Pitt. Any Hackers going?


Woz said...

The Marquette program has come a long way since the Brian Wardle era.

Let's face it, Marquette (being a private institution) is all about money. They've got a marketable team with decent recruiting potential and a coach who knows how to play that side of the game.

Since Crean has come on board he has:
-Led Marquette to the final 4
-helped transition them to the Big East (huge).
-made the school piles of money
-recruited well enough (seems on the surface) to field a tournament team for the foreseeable future.

BIG ONE SELDOM REMEMBERED: Didn't bolt after the final 4 season...remember when Bill Self took off for Kansas? Crean had the Illinois job but turned it down.

Success in the tournament will only get better as they have became an annual participant again.

Krey & I will be at Game Time tonight...will try to sneak into the game for 20 bucks or less.

Woz said...

Oh yeah, Tom Crean's job is not in jeopardy.

brad said...

Crean has been good for MU...there's no doubt about that. They "matter" on a pretty consistant basis, which could not be said since the 70s (save that sweet 16 blip in 1994). When I say "matter," I mean they're consistantly in the top 25, usually have some big regular season wins, are in the Big East (thank you, D-Wade) and make the tourney with some semblance of regularity.

Crean's problem isnt just the NCAA Tourney struggles. His guys don't seem to get any better. That's all on coaching. That, and he's had some pretty good players transfer.

Bottom Line: How about getting a coach that can recruit AND coach...there's an idea. Would someone like that who's a name coach be falling all over themselves for the MU job? Probably not. It's still a small, Private, Jesuit school in Milwaukee. There's no deep pockets like a 40,000 student state school with a football team.

Crean's fine for now, but if they don't win a tourney game this year, then I'll call for his head.

matt said...

Wisconsin fan comment alert:

Bruce Pearl would be a perfect guy for Marquette.

He's got the slickness to handle the business side like Crean does, he's a good recruiter like Crean is, and he has a system on offense and defense that produces results.

I think Marquette is a step up from Tennessee (SEC school with football as the #1, #2, #3 and #4 most important sport in the athletic department, with women's basketball being #5). At Marquette, college basketball is the only game in town, they have spent money on practice facilities, play in an NBA gym, have the pedigree and history, play in the Big East, etc.

I don't think Crean will be fired, but should he choose to move on (Indiana, anyone?) Marquette would do well to go after a guy like Pearl.

My two cents.

AP said...

I'm sure Crean's name will come up somehow for some bigger job like Indiana, like it did for Tennessee before Pearl, like it did for the Illinois job.

The guy constantly likes to dangle his name out there for bigger jobs, and the Jesuits at MU have reciprocated by throwing so much freaking coin his way that he'd be stupid to take less money, and go somewhere with higher expectations.

I'm just saying that Crean sticking with MU hasn't been completely altruistic, and for a guy who's supposedly happy here, he sure does like to court a lot of other jobs.

If you google NCAA coaching salaries, Crean's name comes up near the top of most lists/articles that I saw, and he's ahead of a lot of guys who are better coaches and a lot of guys who've had more NCAA success....

The next time Crean wants to flirt with another school, MU should show him the NCAA "success" list that Goldy made and let him walk....and I agree they should've made a bigger move to keep Pearl in state.