Outside of Big East Player of the Year Lazar Hayward, there's no question that junior Jimmy Butler and sophomore Darius Johnson-Odom have been the keys to Marquette's surprisingly successful 2010 campaign.
But as the regular season comes to a close, it has been Marquette's OTHER two seniors that have stepped up in the clutch for Marquette as they look ahead to the NCAA Tournament.
When the year started, Marquette featured six newcomers that seemed to get all the headlines with Hayward. Lost in the mix were seniors David Cubillan and Maurice Acker, who were thought of as nothing more than senior leadership and depth off the bench.
However, the two forgotten-about seniors have impacted Marquette's 20-9 season maybe more than any other guards on the roster.
Cubillan's time at Marquette has been a true roller coaster. After averaging just over 21 minutes as a freshman, Cubillan had shoulder issues that caused his minutes to decrease over the next two seasons to 17.6 and 9.5 minutes per game respectively. That could be the reason many expected him to be the third player off Marquette's already thin bench, but "Cooby" quickly taught Marquette fans not to underestimate the power of a senior.
His stats aren't likely to make Jay Bilas or Andy Katz forget about John Wall, averaging 6.2 points and 2.8 assists per game.
But looking deeper to find Cubillan's real value is where he really stands out, with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.9 in conference play, ranking second in the Big East. Not bad for a defensive specialist/shooting guard averaging over 30 minutes a contest.
Speaking of defense, Cubillan has played outstanding defense despite his height disadvantage (he stands just 6'0" tall).
His career night against Georgetown, in which he scored 18 points on 6-of-6 shooting from downtown, and was a key to Marquette's "signature" win. His plus-minus average also ranks 36th in the Big East, showing his true value on both ends of the court.
As good as Cubillan has been, the Golden Eagles would be nowhere without the fantastic play of point guard Maurice Acker. After leaving the team over the summer, Acker re-joined the squad and became even more important when freshman Junior Cadougan went down with a torn Achilles.
Acker has averaged 8.6 points per game and 3.6 assists per game as the team's starting point guard, and has had his fair share of big moments in his final season with the Golden Eagles. He poured in a career-high 23 points in a blowout win against Providence and has averaged just 1.1 turnovers in conference play.
The only reason Cubillan is second in assist-to-turnover ratio this season (2.9) is because Acker is in front of him at 3.1.
Acker has scored in double figures in Marquette's last two games, including 15 points in a crucial win over Louisville. Cubillan had one of his best all-around games in a Marquette uniform in their overtime victory over Seton Hall, scoring 16 points, grabbing four rebounds, and handing out three assists. He also had two steals and a block and did not commit a turnover in 45 minutes of play.
They don't get the headlines, thrown down the crazy dunks, or have the showtime attitudes that one would expect out of starting seniors, but it's apparent Acker and Cubillan are quickly realizing that their college careers are coming to a close, and they are making the most out of it.
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