Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Selfless Maturation of a Point Guard

Last night’s winning shot was not a career-defining moment for Dominic James. It was not a dramatized symbol of his time at Marquette. In fact, his clutch winning shot should not have come as a surprise to Golden Eagle fans. For four years in the Blue and Gold-clad uniform, Dominic James has been Mr. Consistent.

Eavesdrop on a conversation consisting of faithful Marquette fanatics. It is a safe bet that you will hear them mercilessly wanting more out of Dominic. MU fans are tireless in being critical of their fearless leader. They expect outstanding statistical performances from James. They demand nights where he should shoot “lights out” to pace all scorers. These demands stem from his outstanding freshman campaign that saw ‘Nic shatter Doc Rivers's 25-year old school record for points scored as a Freshman, with 473. He was named 2005-06 Big East Rookie of the Year and scored in double figures for 25 of Marquette's 31 games.

Fans of this year's team are naturally inclined to look at Dominic’s early career output and question, with the team’s current offensive binge, why James is not putting up career numbers this season. If you have watched any of Marquette’s games in 2008, you have seen an outpouring of offense averaging 81.2 points a game. Wes Matthews matched his career high in points, then broke it--twice. Lazar Hayward set his new career high with an earth-shattering 27 against Western Carolina. And Jerel McNeal is easily averaging the best point per game totals of his career, with 17.8 points per contest. Some are waiting for Dominic to take his share of the offensive success and become the Big East’s leading scorer.

Keep waiting.

Dominic's point production has dropped each season at Marquette. So have his turnovers. James's assist to turnover ratio has risen from 1.92 a game in the 2005-06 campaign to 2.71 in 2007-08. The fact of the matter is that Golden Eagle fans have the true honor of watching a point guard who quickly learned that an offense is a product of his decision-making. He could easily rip 25 shots a night. But James does not. In fact, his highest output of the season came last night in North Carolina, when he attempted 14 shots from the field. He made seven of those. It is hard to argue with a guy who, with regard to the night, said "I was feeling it."

That was a rarity for the now-selective Dominic James. He is shooting less than ten shots a game this season. Yet his team is off to a 10-2 start, and he has more assists at this point in the season than any of his previous years.

Four for years, Marquette fans have had the pleasure of watching a point guard who has been through the highs and lows of four years at one of America's most storied college basketball programs. He left for the NBA draft. Then he came back. Then his coach left. Fans were sure he was gone. He stayed. He now has a chance to lead his team back to the NCAA Tournament for the last time. The ball is in his hands. He knows it. And that is why when Dominic James's career is over, and his number one jersey is raised to the rafters of the Bradley Center, Marquette fans will remember their skilled confident point guard for many things. But it will all come down to the one attribute that the offense around him thrived on.


Brad Galli
MUTV Assistant Sports Director

Brad Galli is a sophomore in the College of Communication, majoring in Broadcast & Electronic Communication. He serves as the Assistant Sports Director of Marquette University Television (MUTV).

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