I, like many, picked No. 6 Marquette to lose to No. 11 Utah State in the first round. Without senior leader Dominic James, the Golden Eagles were 1-5 over their past six teams. Without James’ scoring ability, Marquette looked D.O.A. heading into the tournament.
After eeking out a one-point victory over Utah State, James is reportedly suiting up against No. 3 Missouri in his first game after breaking his foot on Feb. 25. However, even Marquette head coach Buzz Williams seems skeptical about James’ return:
“I don’t know how much he’ll be able to contribute. The thing that I’m excited about is we’re going to give him an opportunity to close out his career in the best way he possibly could.”
Translation: “Dominic probably won’t be effective against Missouri, but we’re going to get him minutes because he has done so much for our program and he deserves to be on the floor in his last game.”
James is a statistical conundrum. For whatever reason, his production has lessened each year of his career, from an impressive freshman year (15. 3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 5.4 apg) to a ho-hum senior campaign (11.4 pgg, 3.5 rpg, 5.1 apg). Not to mention, his free-throw shooting (46.1%) has been atrocious this season. Much as Williams might feel like the program “owes” James, the fact is putting him on the court in the final minutes — especially if it’s a close game — is utterly foolish. He’s too big of a liability.