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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It takes Juan, to know Juan

(Article Written by Roberto Ruiz,, twitter @RobertoRuiz33)

Juan Anderson insists that his jump-shot isn't bad. Anderson is a normal guy who was gifted with the ability to grow taller, jump higher, and shoot straighter than the average person. I must admit, I expected Anderson to be a full of himself jerk. Simply put, I was not looking forward to talking with a basketball player who has had his butt kissed by college recruiters, basketball analysts, and coaches everywhere. When I conducted the interview, though, he had just finished working out because he knows that he still has to get stronger to make it at the next level. In fact, when I asked him about whether he has added some arc to his jump shot, he showed that he has insecurities just like everybody else. He says his jump shot “isn’t that bad.”

The Anderson Household

Anderson grew up with a Latino mother and a Caucasian father. He serves as the father figure to his younger siblings and shares a strong bond with his mother, who taught him responsibility by making him clean up after himself and his family. When asked which major he wants to declare, Anderson showed this bond by deferring to answer until he talks with his mom about it.

Anderson says the hardest part about leaving Castro Valley, California for Milwaukee is that he will have to leave his family behind. His mother, though, will be in attendance for many of the games next season.

Coming to Marquette

The saying is that “west coast players don't go east.” But Anderson broke that mold by committing to Marquette, and he is proud of it. What exactly led him to our private college on the banks of Lake Michigan? The Big East. Anderson covets competition, something he rarely got playing in California, and he says that the Big East is the best conference in the nation.

Beyond the conference, Anderson fell in love with Marquette's team camaraderie and is eager to become a part of that family. While here, he bunked with Joe Fulce and attended several team practices. Just watching Marquette's fast style of play enamored Anderson, and within two weeks he committed to Marquette. Reinforcing his decision was Marquette's Sweet 16 run in the previous NCAA tournament, during which he was incredibly excited and proud to sport his Marquette apparel.

To top it all off, going to a good academic school was one of Anderson's top priorities, and he found that at Marquette. “I am thinking four years. I am not even thinking about the NBA right now.... I am thinking Business, Psychology, or Criminology [for my major], but I am not sure because me and my mom haven't talked about that yet.”

What Anderson Brings to MU

What exactly should we expect from Anderson during his time here at Marquette? At 6'8”, 210 lbs, Anderson has a long, lanky body. He has long arms, and uses his length as an advantage against stockier forwards. Anderson's real strength is his defense, but his offense is truly starting to take shape. “I was 5'7” my freshman year, and I was actually a really good shooter then. But as my arms started to grow, and as my legs started to grow, it kind of became weird.... I am just getting used to getting more consistent with my shot…. I am not used to my arm length yet [and how it affects the follow through].” This may be true, but he is getting more arc on his shots and sinking them with more consistency.

Of all the NBA players he can look to, Anderson tries to model his game after Carmelo Anthony's. If Anderson bulks up, his game very well could match Anthony's, but with better defense. When asked if he was more of a closer (like Dwyane Wade) or a complete package (like Lebron James), Anderson said he was the complete package. He loves the pretty passes, the tenacious defense, and the fast-break dunks. When presented with the idea of taking a cue from Tayshaun Prince, Anderson shunned the idea, claiming to be more built than Prince. While his offense may struggle at first as he tries to sink set up jumpers in set offenses, he will excel at fast-breaks, and will create many opportunities with his length and quickness.

My Final Thoughts

Anderson will bring his talents to Milwaukee this summer, and though he may not see much playing time his first year, he should be a catalyst to the Golden Eagles squad in the upcoming years. Anderson's unselfish, unrelenting play will surely win him a special spot in Coach Williams' heart. Over the course of his freshman season, Anderson's style will guarantee him court time in meaningful games at the end of the season. In fact, Anderson's play should mesh perfectly with Marquette's system.

Marquette basketball fans should be excited for Anderson to be part of the team; his down to earth attitude and blue collar style should attract him to students and fans alike. Just don't be afraid to say hi to that tall, lanky Latino guy walking through Central Mall.

Interesting Tidbits

Much like Buzz Williams coaches, Anderson plays with a lot of emotion on the court. Anderson loved watching Williams blow up at the end of the Syracuse game, knowing that this coach would be the perfect one for him.

When asked how he will deal with Milwaukee's cold weather, Anderson admitted to being concerned about the transition. “I woke up this morning, and it was only like 23 degrees, but I told my mom I didn't know how I was going to deal with the cold,” well he will have to figure out quickly, because it gets far colder than 23 degrees here.

A self proclaimed quiet, shy, and humble young man, Anderson is not sure how he will handle the celebrity of being a top basketball player in Milwaukee. He does know, however, that it is a gift and he should cherish it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Reaction to Braun's Extension

(Article Written by Roberto Ruiz,, twitter @RobertoRuiz33)

The Milwaukee Brewers and Ryan Braun have agreed to a five-year $105 million dollar contract extension on top of the current agreement; this was a deal that will ultimately lock up Braun until 2020.
This move is conjuring up criticism from across the nation, mainly because many believe that the Brewers could have waited a few years to make the deal, but now instead leave themselves open to Braun suffering a catastrophic injury.
The majority of the criticism is coming from Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Boston, all major cities. Fortunately for them, their hometown baseball teams have the luxury of waiting until players hit the open market to throw money at them. The Brewers, a small-market team, do not have this luxury. The Brewers can not rely on a player liking Milwaukee enough to stay here when millions more dollars are being shoved in his face by another city. C.C. Sabathia said that he really liked Milwaukee, until he saw how much New York was offering. Prince Fielder has confessed his love for Milwaukee, but is not willing to pass up the huge payday awaiting him in a bigger city if he leaves.
The contract will make Braun the second-highest paid outfielder in the history of the league, but that is not as extreme as it sounds. By the time that contract kicks in, there are almost certainly going to be bigger contracts handed to outfielders by other teams. The price for a starting outfielder goes up every year, and Braun's contract involves only a slightly higher guaranteed salary than the other big contracts handed out this past winter. As mentioned though, those contracts also started this year, while this contract will not start until after the 2014 season. To be fair, Braun's numbers and popularity do suggest that he should be one of the top paid outfielders in the league. He has been an all-star in every full season he has played, and he has won the Silver Slugger award as the best slugger at his position.
As a franchise, the Brewers are throwing themselves on Braun's shoulders. Braun has been an excellent producer on the offensive side of the ball, and fans flock to get a glimpse of him. With the core group of Yovani Gallardo, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, and Braun locked up for years to come, the Brewers should be in good shape.
One potential downside to this contract is that it cripples the likelihood that Fielder will be staying around beyond this season. Though this seems like a big blow, the Brewers had already come to terms with the fact that Fielder was not going to stay around. The Brewers did not have enough money to throw at Fielder, so why keep it laying around in hopes that he changes his mind and wants to be a Brewer for life? This scenario was as likely to happen as me getting a job as Sports Editor for the Journal Sentinel tomorrow. Fielder is as good as gone, but Braun wanted to stay.
Fans have been showing up to Brewers games more than ever the past few years, and inking the fan favorite for nine total years isn't such a bad move. The Brewers did not drastically overpay Braun, if at all. Nor did they make the mistake of making the negotiations public (like so many teams have been doing recently).
At the end of the day, the main reason the Brewers and Braun agreed to this deal is because they both liked their future if the other was in the picture. This contract was a reward to Braun, and a showing of appreciation for his love of Milwaukee (and his agreeing to a very team friendly contract after his breakout rookie season).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Von Wafer's Missed Opportunity

(Article Written by Roberto Ruiz,, twitter @RobertoRuiz33)

On Monday night, Von Wafer made one of the most boneheaded moves ever seen in the NBA. In overtime, Wafer went up for a dunk against the Washington Wizards, but missed the dunk. Not realizing that he missed, he celebrated facing the crowd before turning and running up-court. Upon turning, Wafer ran into Jermaine O’Neal, who had rebounded Wafer’s miss and was attempting to go up for a shot, forcing O’Neal to double dribble and turn the ball over. Wafer is receiving criticism from every direction, but we should all take a step back and assess the situation.
Wafer is a seldom used bench player who was getting extended playing time and he was trying to make the most of it. As a fan of basketball, I see missed dunks several times every year, but this one was different. Missed dunks are excusable, causing turnovers are not. Wafer should not have been celebrating a dunk during such a crucial time because the points would have put Boston up by four with three minutes left to play.
Wafer is known as a hard worker, and has been a spark off the bench when called upon. Yes we can snicker at an NBA athlete missing a dunk, but it is not fair to ridicule him for celebrating what he thought was a crucial basket. If it had gone in, the dunk would have emotionally charged the Celtics and they surely would have gone on to close out the lowly Wizards. This ended up being a crucial play, because Boston ended up losing by one, and this in reality was a four-point swing.
After looking at the game, lets look at the bigger picture: Boston was not playing to win the game, they were not fighting for playoff positioning because they rested four of their starters for this game. They were already in the third seed for the playoffs, so in reality what Wafer did was nothing more than a meaningless mistake. It is not fair to criticize a third year player when he is just trying to make a name for himself. Besides, Wafer obviously felt bad (and perhaps a little dumb) for what transpired, just watch his reaction to the play. He has learned from his mistake, I am sure it won't happen again.
Mistakes happen, and this is what the public needs to understand. If you were given an opportunity to show your talents in your workplace, wouldn’t you attempt to make a name for yourself? You might fall on your face in the process, but at least you tried. There will always be more opportunities, and I promise you that Wafer is not sitting in his condo crying about what could have been. He knows that an NBA team won’t look at that play and decide not to give him a roster spot.

Year of the (Under)Dog

(Article Written by Roberto Ruiz,, twitter @RobertoRuiz33)

Nobody could have seen this NCAA men’s tournament unfolding the way it did. The University of Connecticut Huskies (UConn) won the national championship game, beating the Butler Bulldogs 53-41 in Houston, Texas. Though third seeded UConn winning was not an absolute surprise, the rest of the tournament was tossed in a blender from the very beginning. Eleventh seeded Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) made a run to the Final Four, and eighth seeded Butler made it to the championship game. Predicting an NCAA men’s tournament is nearly impossible most years, but this year it was even more difficult. Seeding did not seem to matter as no number one or two seeded team made it to the Final Four, and upset after upset busted brackets everywhere.

Championship Game

UConn won an ugly basketball game Monday night, holding Butler to 18.8% shooting for the game, the lowest shooting percentage in championship history. UConn’s defense was not that great, but instead the Bulldogs just missed open shot after open shot. Even layups were rolling out for the Bulldogs, who were obviously bothered by the length of Jim Calhoun’s squad. Coach Calhoun, now the oldest coach to win the national championship (68 years old), won his third championship and did so by feeding the ball to Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb.

Lamb took over the end of the game for the Huskies, beating Butler with his length and athleticism. While Walker scored more points and led the team with his attitude and fearlessness, Lamb was there when it mattered, soaring over the Bulldogs for layups and dunks.

Connecticut blocked ten shots, a championship game record, and even disrupted three point shots by putting their hands in the faces of the Butler shooters. The blocks led to UConn dominating the paint,

allowing Butler to make only one basket in the paint.

For the second consecutive year, coach Brad Stevens’ team will be heading home after the championship game as losers. This has been an incredible two years for Butler, a mid major school that had never made a sustained run in the NCAA tournament until Stevens showed up. At the tender age of 34, Stevens seemed to be caught in the headlights the game, and his team showed it. Playing zone for the first time in the tournament because nothing else was working, Butler seemed out of sorts for the entire second half. Though there was probably little that Stevens could do, it was an ugly performance nonetheless.

Marquette’s Surprising Run

Marquette was the last Big East team (Connecticut was the second-to-last) to be admitted into the tournament, and they made the second longest run out of the ten Big East teams out of the eleventh seed. While few picked Marquette to upset Xavier, even fewer picked them to get past third ranked Syracuse. Led by the gritty play of Jimmy Butler and Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette made a run to the Sweet 16 for the first time since Dwyane Wade could be seen roaming the Marquette campus.

Coach Buzz Williams put himself in line for an extension with his excellent coaching during the tournament. Williams was thrust onto the national stage with his post-game antics after the Xavier and Syracuse games. Williams could be seen screaming into the stands, giving band members high fives, pounding on the scorers table, and stomping on the ground with full force. While his antics got him on the national stage, his savvy coaching got him the extension. Many Marquette fans questioned Williams’ coaching abilities over the last two years, but many of those questions have been answered after he obviously out-coached Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim.

Jimmy Butler was Marquette’s most valuable player of the tournament. Butler shot nearly 50% from the field, while playing stingy defense, getting six steals in the two games Marquette won. Playing in his final games for Marquette, Butler led his team and showed why he is considered the heart of this basketball team. Butler will most likely go undrafted in the upcoming NBA draft, but expect him to latch on with a contending team solely because of his work ethic and quick hands.

Marquette struggled during the regular season, but this season has to be considered an overall success. Marquette was one of the last sixteen teams standing, and this season will impact the future years of Marquette basketball. When Wade led Marquette to the Final Four, it put Marquette on the map for recruits such as Dominic James, Wesley Matthews, and Jerel McNeal. We will know the true impact of this run when recruits come to Marquette when they otherwise would not have considered it.

Upsets Galore

Richmond (12), VCU (11), Morehead State (13), Marquette (11), Florida State (10), Butler (8), and Arizona (5) all beat teams that were seeded considerably higher than they were, and five of the teams made it to the Sweet 16. VCU was the true cinderella of the tournament, beating Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State, and Kansas to reach the Final Four. Butler beat the number one, two, and four seeded teams in their bracket. Florida State made it to the Sweet 16 after beating Texas A&M and Notre Dame. Morehead State beat fourth seeded Louisville in the first round before succumbing to Richmond. Richmond beat fifth seeded Vanderbilt and Morehead State before falling to Kansas. Arizona beat number one overall seed Ohio State.

Looking back on the tournament, every game felt like a toss-up. There were no dominating teams in the tournament, and that led to one of the most exciting NCAA tournaments of all time. There is no fun in a favored team going in every night and dominating their opponent. The overall lack of talent in the college pool may be frightening to fans, but it does lead to a more exciting tournament. At least fans have that to be thankful for.

Player of the Tournament

Kemba Walker is the obvious choice. Walker was the prototypical leader of the Huskies in every way imaginable. Walker was the closer for the team, often playing his best during crunch time, he also led by example when it came to walking the line of showing emotion. He never let the moment get the best of him, and often got in teammates faces when he felt they needed to be woken up. Walker, a senior, played like there truly was no tomorrow for him, and he brought a championship to Connecticut in his final game as a Husky.

Coach of the Tournament

Brad Stevens has a bright future ahead of him, despite his poor coaching performance in the last game. Butler lost two starters from last years squad, and they did not enjoy the stellar regular season that they did last year, but Butler ended up in the same position that it did a year ago. Butler regressed from last season, but Stevens found a way to maximize the talent available to him and once again consistently beat the bigger, richer schools in the tournament. Stevens’ star will only continue to rise, but let’s hope that we will see him out-coaching higher paid coaches again next year.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Marquette Fanatics/Student Section Season Recap

Article Written By: Ryan Ellerbusch (Twitter: @MUWarriorBBall and @RyanEllerbusch5)

Another season has come and gone for the Marquette men’s basketball team as the Golden Eagles’ Sweet 16 appearance and 22-15 overall record (9-9 in Big East) exceeded many preseason expectations.

Not only did Darius Johnson-Odom and Jimmy Butler earn all-Big East honors along with a new contract for head coach Buzz Williams, but the Marquette student section comprised of nearly 8,000 Fanatics on any given gameday turned in an impressive season-long performance too.

The 2nd oldest active arena in the NBA, The Bradley Center, hosted 18 Marquette home games this past year that brought 280,545 total fans through the turnstiles or an average of 15,586 per contest. In the most hyped rivalry game of the season that saw Marquette fall to the Wisconsin Badgers 69-64 on Saturday December 11th, a sellout crowd of 19,074 fans were in attendance. Despite the early season setback, fans stayed committed through the ups and downs of a rugged Big East conference schedule and on Saturday January 29th, the Golden Eagles captured a quality win at home by a score of 76-70 against Syracuse in front of 19,032 blue and gold supporters on National Marquette Day, marking the second largest home crowd of the season.

Newcomer and former National JUCO Player of the Year Jae Crowder, who averaged 16.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game this season for Marquette, had only positive things to say regarding what he likes about playing in The Bradley Center.

“I like that it’s an NBA court,” said Crowder. “It gives you a different atmosphere from a college basketball standpoint. You get a different vibe and feeling as you walk into the Bradley Center.”

Freshman Fanatic Spencer Bonahoom, who on average waits three hours outside of The Bradley Center prior to a game, believes that the Marquette players do feed off the energy and atmosphere of the home crowd on gamedays.

“I think the home games definitely give them a lot more energy,” said Bonahoom. “There’s not a lot of teams that have this many seats for the crowd so playing in this NBA arena definitely helps the noise level go up when we have a sellout. You can tell that the intensity picks up when the stadium starts to get loud and that all starts with the student section.”

Crowder also added, “That is when everything is at your best. You play hard and you feed off the crowd when you’re tired. That’s real college basketball when the crowd gets involved.”

And that one player who Bonahoom believes is the heart and soul of the Marquette team, none other than junior forward Jae Crowder.

“Crowder has been a huge addition,” states Bonahoom. “He always brings the intensity, he seems to get the key rebounds when we really need them, and of course he has been quite the scorer for us.”

Bonahoom, who can often be seen in the front row of the Marquette student section leading the cheers and wearing a gold shirt, gold shorts, wristbands, long socks, and his infamous We Are Marquette bandana, has truly enjoyed his first full season as a Marquette Basketball Fanatic and the unique benefits and entertainment at the games.

“I like a lot of the pregame stuff” admits Bonahoom. “Turning around when they introduce the opposing team, clapping back and forth right before the tip-off, and just all the chants and the yelling. It definitely gives it the great atmosphere that you have here.”

An assortment of giveaways including each a yellow and baby blue Marquette basketball shirt as well as a special Father Wild shirt and bobblehead have surely kept students coming back to games too thanks to a fabulous effort by the Marquette promotions staff.

Buzz Williams, who will enter his fourth season as head coach with the Marquette Golden Eagles next year making in excess of $2 million annually, is also very thankful and appreciative of the encouragement that the student section and fans give to his program. Prior to home games at The Bradley Center this past season, Williams has made it a priority to enter the court through the tunnel near the Marquette student section and either clap or shake the hands of the front row of fans and waving to the remainder as he proceeds towards walking to his team’s bench. In addition, Buzz has periodically bought and hand-delivered donuts and pizza to the crowds of students waiting in line hours before the doors to the arena had even opened.

The dedication of the Marquette University freshman class in particular at the basketball games this winter has been nothing short of spectacular and the passionate Fanatics have even made the extra effort over Christmas break to show their support as they cheered on the Golden Eagles to a 73-65 victory over Rutgers at The RAC in Piscataway, New Jersey back on January 5th. Two Yonkers natives and Marquette freshmen, Joe Naber and Kevin Dolan, both saw the game in-person and had great experiences in doing so.

“Since I’m from New York, I know a lot of kids from the area and one friend was able to get me a ticket there,” said Dolan. “He brought a few of our friends from high school and he wore some of his Rutgers stuff, but I of course went with my trademarked Marquette t-shirt that the Fanatics get. I was actually sitting in their student section with a Marquette shirt on and it was kind of funny because Joe Naber, another fellow Fanatic who is from the same area, was also there and he got a picture of me on the other side and you can see this one little speck of gold sitting in the student section and it was me.

Although the game was not nationally televised, during halftime locally on Time Warner Cable Sports 32, the camera zoomed in on Naber and his autographed Marquette hard-helmet by the entire Golden Eagles’ basketball team that he wears to every game.

“I was sitting exactly across from the student section and their student section is behind the hoop as well,” said Naber. “Their student section was pretty packed. It was during break, but Rutgers is a state school so they had students who do live in the area. It was definitely a fun game to be at.”

When comparing Marquette’s student section to Rutgers, both Naber and Dolan were shocked at how different the gameday experience was.

“I was probably one of maybe 20 or 30 Marquette fans there so I was definitely the minority, but that athletic facility is very nice and it’s really small,” said Naber. “It definitely is a different experience from The Bradley Center and that place did get loud, but it’s still a lot louder here.” Simply put, “their student section is nothing like the Marquette student section,” stated Dolan.

The amount of support that the Marquette basketball players receive from the fans cheering on the team in the stands and off the court by sending encouraging messages via Facebook or Twitter is yet another benefit of being a student-athlete at a unique university in Marquette that is built around the tradition of basketball and the 1977 NCAA Championship won by legendary head coach Al McGuire.

“It’s big” said Crowder. “Marquette really evolves around basketball and you can tell from a player’s standpoint as you play here that everyone notices you, everyone knows you, everyone looks up to you, they speak to you, and they’re behind you, so just being here at Marquette I love it.”

And that support continued all throughout the NCAA Tournament as the team was welcomed back to campus by approximately 25 fans and members of the media at The Al McGuire Center at 2 a.m. following their 66-62 win over Syracuse to advance and clinch a Sweet 16 berth. Numerous team send-offs, viewing parties, and the upcoming postseason banquet on Wednesday, April 13th to honor the success of this past season and the graduating seniors are just a few instances to describe the loyal fan base that Marquette basketball is happy to be apart of.

“I love the team and I love when we win” said Bonahoom. So at the end of the game when you know that we got the game in hand and everyone starts chanting We Are Marquette, nothing beats that feeling. The place is rocking, the We Are Marquette chant is going, and that’s the best feeling there is.”

**Thank you everyone for reading. If you have any suggestions on future stories or players that I should writes articles on, please tweet at me. The Warrior Sports Staff is anxious to hear your feedback and interests.**