Senior guard Cadougan must lead Marquette
MILWAUKEE — Marquette basketball coach Buzz Williams was honest — brutally honest, actually — when discussing the role of his senior point guard, Junior Cadougan, at media day last week.
"He's not very good in individual workouts," Williams said. "He would rank in the bottom quarter of our team. He'd rank in the bottom quarter of our team in boot camp. If you had just watched Junior every day from the day after Labor Day through Tuesday morning, you wouldn't look at him and go, 'He's a senior; he's a really good point guard; he's the guy that a lot of good things happen to when the ball comes off his hands,' because that's just not who he is.
"You can't quantify who he is internally."
Williams shoots straight when he talks about Cadougan, who won't likely lead the Big East, or even his team, in scoring any time soon. But that doesn't mean he's down on Cadougan. He just understands what Cadougan's role on this Marquette team is.
And after three years with the team, Cadougan's fourth year could in fact be his most important one yet.
"In the two years that Junior has started, we've been to the Sweet 16," Williams said. "Junior is slow … can't shoot very well, but what his heart is is really hard to quantify. For his story as a human being and where he's at as a student and as a player, he's really a good example for our guys."
It's that example that could truly be Cadougan's most important contribution to the 2012-13 Golden Eagles. With a great deal of leadership gone with the departure of Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom to the NBA, the Golden Eagles have a desperate need in that department, especially given some of the issues that have come from the team during the offseason.
Cadougan knows he's one of the likely candidates to fill that leadership role. He speaks confidently about his ability to facilitate. In ways, he's not just a point guard on the court. He's a point guard all the time.
"I've been here for four years, and I've been through it all and I've seen everything," Cadougan said. "I feel like the biggest job I have to do is keep guys positive. When we're going through tough times, just keep their heads up and keep on playing hard. I've been through it. I've been through it all. I'm the vet now, and I have to be like the big brother."
He admits that he's going to miss being able to dish the ball to Crowder and Johnson-Odom, whom he said "couldn't be stopped sometimes." That means he may have to create his own shot a bit more than he's used to, something he's worked on all offseason.
It's obvious that Cadougan knows the importance of this year, when it comes to his contribution to Marquette basketball as a whole.
"I feel like this year, I really have to be a threat out there," Cadougan said. "I'm going to do my thing and get my teammates involved and stuff, but this year, I feel like I really have to be a threat."
Cadougan will never be the most outspoken leader. He'll never be the fastest. Or the best shooter. But Williams has always seen something in Cadougan that goes beyond that, beyond the bounds of box scores and advanced stats. He just gets it.
"He knows how to manage their emotions and their personalities, even though he's quiet by nature," Williams said. "And I think that's hard to do."
And if Cadougan can take the next step in his game, improving his jump shot and continuing to work on facilitating for teammates — especially with Crowder and Johnson-Odom gone — Cadougan has the intangibles to be the piece Marquette needs to put the puzzle together again in 2012-13.
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