Marquette Basketball: Predictions for Golden Eagles' Team Awards

Ryan Curi@rcuri1Featured ColumnistOctober 15, 2013

Marquette Basketball: Predictions for Golden Eagles' Team Awards

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Marquette basketball finished the 2012-13 season with an Elite appearance and share of a Big East regular season championship. While both those goals are attainable again in 2013-14, the losses of key players Vander Blue, Trent Lockett and Junior Cadougan cannot be undervalued. Here is a look at some of last year's award winners, received at the season ending banquet. 

    Most Valuable Performer - Vander Blue

    Most Improved Player - Vander Blue

    Sixth Man of the Year - Davante Gardner

    Defensive Player of the Year - Trent Lockett

    Rebounding Effort - Trent Lockett & Jamil Wilson

    Create for Others - Junior Cadougan

    Lazar Hayward "Everyday Tough" Award - Chris Otule

    Darius Johnson-Odom "Sacrifice For The String" Award - Juan Anderson

    Character Revealed Award - Junior Cadougan

Most Valuable Performer

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    Win McNamee/Getty Images

    Last season, Davante Gardner entered the year as the Golden Eagles' top returning scorer. Gardner was overshadowed by Vander Blue's drastic improvement during their junior seasons, earning Blue the team's MVP award and Second Team All-Big East honors, while Gardner was only an Honorable Mention selection.

    As a senior, Gardner should finish atop the team in the scoring column, though closely contested by redshirt senior Jamil Wilson. Gardner is an incredibly efficient scorer who averaged 11.5 points in only 21.5 minutes a year ago. During that span, Gardner attempted five free throws per contest and converted on 84 percent of them, an incredibly high mark for a center.

    Gardner and sixth-year senior Chris Otule have been part of a platoon at center for Buzz Williams over the course of their careers, which should continue. However, don't be surprised to see the two on the court together more often this year, as Gardner can play the high post with Otule banging in the paint. Doing this would allow an increase in minutes for both players, but Gardner in particular.

Most Improved Player

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    As Junior Cadougan's backup at point guard for two seasons, Derrick Wilson provided a steady ball-handling presence who can defend the heck out of you. However, during his underclassmen years, Wilson only scored 60 points, while shooting under 32 percent from the field and 46 percent from the free throw line.

    Wilson should get his chance as the team's starting lead guard as a junior. While it isn't expected that Wilson suddenly become a big time scorer, he has improved his jump shot. More importantly, he will get his teammates, especially the bevy of MU big men, the ball in places they can score. 

    Wilson has a 3:1 assist-turnover ratio for his career, a mark he would love to maintain. He will also be the team's best perimeter defender, hounding opposing point guards. Wilson will have competition for minutes with freshman Duane Wilson (unrelated), though ultimately I believe Williams will give the more experienced player the nod to start games.

Sixth Man of the Year

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    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    Not too often is a team's most valuable player also their sixth man. As the old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Despite receiving more playing time than Otule, Gardner has always been his backup. Otule is a better defender and gives Marquette a better chance at winning the jump ball. For that, I believe Williams will continue to start Otule and bring Gardner off his bench.

    Gardner is capable of playing extended minutes, as he hit the 33-minute mark in both contests against Syracuse last season. He will still find himself on the court at the end of most games, particularly since he is the team's best foul shooter. On any Buzz Williams coached team, starters and reserves don't really make a big difference.

    Williams will play the hot hands in his deep rotation and by now Gardner has grown to embrace his sixth man role. If Williams does indeed decide to start his best player in Gardner, freshmen Duane Wilson and JaJuan Johnson become the lead candidates to win this award.

Defensive Player of the Year

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    Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

    For his career, Otule has blocked 114 shots, while also pulling in nearly four rebounds in 17 minutes of average playing time. Otule is a defensive-minded presence who serves the intimidator role in the Marquette frontcourt, which is loaded with offensive studs like Gardner, Jamil Wilson, Jameel McKay and Steve Taylor Jr.

    Despite competition in the frontcourt, Otule's minutes and role as starting center should remain constant. After all, Otule was asked back for a sixth season following a terrific March Madness. Otule has never played back to back healthy seasons in Milwaukee, the reason for his redshirts, but here is to hoping that streak comes to an end.

    Otule was especially terrific in the Golden Eagles' win over Davidson by a single point, where he notched a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds, while also swatting four shots. Otule knows his role and plays it well. All in all, his sixth and final season playing for Buzz Williams should be his best one yet.

Miscellaneous Awards

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Rebounding Effort - Jameel McKay
    Create for Others - Derrick Wilson
    Lazar Hayward "Everyday Tough" Award - Chris Otule
    Darius Johnson-Odom "Sacrifice For The String" Award - Juan Anderson
    Character Revealed Award - Jamil Wilson

    McKay averaged a double-double a season ago in Junior College. Rebounding is a skill that translates to any level of basketball and clearly McKay has a knack for the ball off the rim. Wilson is a pass first point guard, who should lead the team in assists.

    Otule, who can only see out of one eye, has battled countless injuries over the course of his basketball career and is the definition of tough. Anderson plays with a similar chip on his shoulder and although he flirted with the idea of transferring, Williams and company should be glad to have Anderson back. Whether Anderson remains a starter or becomes a reserve, he'll play hard when on the court.

    Wilson needs to step up as a team leader in his final season, after an outstanding March Madness effort. If Wilson continues that high level of play, he could be the next MU product to find himself on an NBA roster this time next season. 

    Best Performance In A Supporting Role - Barb Kellaher 
    Hank Raymonds Sportsmanship Award - Jamal Ferguson
    Dwyane Wade Legacy of Leadership Award - Derrick Wilson
    Standard of Academic Excellence - Jake Thomas 
    Rebounding Effort - Trent Lockett & Jamil Wilson
    Create for Others - Junior Cadougan 
    Sixth Man of the Year - Davante Gardner
    Most Improved Player - Vander Blue
    Defensive Player of the Year - Trent Lockett
    One Shining Moment Award - Jake Thomas
    Wesley Matthews "Just Today" Award - Steve Taylor, Jr.
    Lazar Hayward "Everyday Tough" Award - Chris Otule
    Rob Frozena "We Are Marquette" Award - Jamil Wilson
    Joseph Fulce "WDYL? 1%" Award - Todd Mayo
    Jimmy Butler "Only Now Exists" Award - Junior Cadougan
    Darius Johnson-Odom "Sacrifice For The String" Award - Juan Anderson
    Most Valuable Performer - Vander Blue
    Character Revealed Award - Junior Cadougan