Thursday, March 05, 2009

Lessons Learned From Dominic James

Marquette's Dominic James was named Big East Freshman of the Year after the '05-'06 season, but back then he was one of my least favorite college basketball players. He was lazy on defense, took a lot of bad shots, and frequently turned the ball over. Marquette was young and inexperienced that year; James was their best player so he shouldered the bulk of the offensive load.

Since that Freshman season, James has scored fewer points in each subsequent season. His backcourt teammates Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews, who arrived at Marquette the same time as James, have somewhat surprisingly emerged as more potent scorers than James. McNeal has become the school's all-time leading scorer and averages 19.9 ppg this season. Matthews is up to 18.7 a game this year, while James is down to 11.4 (down from a career-high 15.3 his freshman year).

But James is a better player now than he was then. His turnovers are down and his assist/turnover ratio is way up. His steals are up as well (James ranks third amongst "BCS" players in steals), his fouls are down, and he may be the best defensive guard in college basketball. Most importantly, Marquette is winning more than they have since NBA players Dwyane Wade, Travis Diener, and Steve Novak were in town.

Rather, was winning. Early in a February 25 showdown game against UConn, James broke his foot, ending his senior season. Marquette went on to lose that game against the Huskies, and have since lost their next two games (albeit difficult road games against Louisville and Pittsburgh they would have a hard time winning with James in the lineup). Before James was injured, Marquette was ranked 8th and had developed into a legitimate Final Four contender. Now they have lost three in a row and will likely be seeded in the 4-7 range for the NCAA Tournament.

James came to Marquette in 2005 along with Matthews and McNeal. The "Three Amigos" have played together for four years, something you almost never see a star trio accomplish in college basketball. The team has steadily improved over those four years and was poised to reach new heights. Then, just as it all came together, James was lost for the season. It didn't happen for any good reason, it wasn't part of the Plan, it was just horrible and unlucky. Sometimes bad things just happen.


Blogger Jeremy said...

Luck has an enormous impact on life. I think about that a lot and I feel that most people don't think about it very often. It's a lot more comforting to believe you control your own destiny.

7:34 PM  
Blogger PunkyPickett said...

So the lesson learned was that sometimes bad things just happen? That's a pretty remedial class you're taking, Moon.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous ReMMy said...

So broken foot = UIGEA?

7:43 PM  

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