Grading the Marquette Golden Eagles 2008 Frontcourt
Dwight Burke, PF, 2.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 0.2 assists
Burke started out the year with the tag no one wanted on the team: the big man. In what seemed like an oxymoron in Marquette’s three-guard, two forward offense, the “big man” was going to have to do all the dirty work and take none of the credit.
True to Burke’s label, that’s exactly what he did and, in the end, Marquette was a much better team all around because of it.
Burke started in all 35 games for the Golden Eagles, and while his minutes dropped as the season went on and Jimmy Butler became more meshed with the offense, Burke never complained or showed frustration for being taken out.
He posted career highs in points and rebounds while also tying his career highs for field goal percentage and assists. While Burke was hardly ever the go-to guy in the Marquette offense, he played within the offense very well and was a crisp passer, both down on the low block and up at the top of the key.
Having the experience played a key role in this as the chemistry of the seniors that was talked about so much was made possible in part to Burke’s play.
On defense, Burke had the daunting task of taking the other team’s big man night in and night out. In the Big East, this included Hasheem Thabeet, DeJuan Blair, Luke Harangody, and Greg Monroe. On the year, Burke also faced up against Tennessee’s Wayne Chism, Missouri’s Demarre Carroll, Utah State’s Gary Wilkinson, and Samardo Samuels among others.
While Burke was usually outmatched on a nightly basis from a height standpoint at 6'8", he did a fine job holding his own and fared better than anyone else would have in the Marquette lineup.
Regardless of the over-aggressive play that Burke sometimes got himself into trouble with, he was still put into crucial roles for this small Marquette team and was a stopgap for teams inside. Without Burke, the Golden Eagles would have seen their points in the paint and field goal percentage both go up on defense.
He finished his Marquette career with ten rebounds in the loss to Missouri, a seemingly fitting way for Burke to go out with his quiet performance but solid performance all around. GRADE: C
Pat Hazel, 2.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.0 assists
For whatever reason, Hazel simply has not worked out at Marquette. In his sophomore year, he was looking to get more minutes with the departure of Ousmane Barro and the lack of depth in the Marquette frontcourt.
He started the year off nicely with games of seven and 10 points and played 22 minutes in both contests. He even recorded a block in Marquette’s first four games of the year and was very stout on defense, but never really got into the rhythm of Marquette’s rotation.
He found himself getting extended minutes in the Big East opener against Villanova, but after his poor performance saw double-digit minutes just four more times the rest of the season and did not play in 13 of the team’s last 15 games. I personally thought that Hazel should have been seeing more minutes before Jimmy Butler got rolling, but it was not meant to be and it seems as though Hazel is on his way out.
Marquette is currently one scholarship over the limit, and if Liam McMorrow is deemed healthy by the staff for next year, it is generally assumed that Hazel will transfer. It is a sad ending for the last of Tom Crean’s 2007 recruiting class, but hopefully Hazel will succeed in the future where he is able to log more minutes and really show off his defensive ability. GRADE: D-
Chris Otule, 1.3 points, 1.1 rebounds, 0.0 assists
Otule was a project from the beginning of the season to the end, and whatever progress that might have been made throughout the season was not seen in any game action, not that it was Otule’s fault.
He may be asked to do more next season and hopefully he can improve his hands and fundamentals. He seemed very raw in the game time he did see and, although just a freshman, looked a little lost on the court at times. Still, it never hurts to have a seven-footer in the program and if Otule can get a fire lit underneath him, he could do well next year.
His best game was a four-point, five-rebound performance against Presbyterian, but the turnovers will need to stop and his hands will need to improve. GRADE: INC
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