TREBBY: Marquette’s own Fab Five

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After the men’s basketball game against DePaul on Monday night, I thought about where seniors Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder will go down in the annals of Marquette history.

It’s difficult to say how well the duo will be remembered, and it would be unfair to judge them before this season’s end. If this team makes another Sweet 16, they might just go down as two of the best.

That got me thinking about players from the program’s recent past, and who I sincerely thought was the best. I proceeded to think about the best five Marquette  players since the turn of the century.

When up against names like Wade and Diener, it may be a bit lofty to put Johnson-Odom or Crowder in there now, especially with the talent this program has seen.

So, for now, here’s my best Marquette basketball line-up since the year 2000…

POINT GUARD: Travis Diener. The first word in my mind when I think of Diener: tough. That doesn’t come from the trip to the Final Four in 2003, but the two years after.

The numbers Diener registered in those two years are ridiculous, and quite unappreciated. He averaged 18.8 points his junior year, then 19.7 as a senior, while still dishing out 6.0 assists as a junior and 7.0 as a senior.

I want Diener on my team because of his jump-shot, aggressiveness and incredible competitiveness.

SHOOTING GUARD: Dwyane Wade. What I thought about here weren’t Wade’s numbers, accolades or achievements but the impact he had on Marquette, as a university.

I bet plenty of people never even heard of Marquette before Wade became a star here. Not only did Wade put the program – and himself – on the map he put the school on the map. There are many students past and present who wouldn’t have come to school here without Wade.

If there was a Mount Rushmore of Marquette as a whole, not just of the basketball program, Wade’s face would definitely have to be on there.

SMALL FORWARD: Jimmy Butler. While at Marquette, Jimmy Butler defined the term “team player.” Butler was the guy who did whatever was needed whether it was defending, scoring, rebounding or whatever else.

A lockdown defender, Butler shut down some of the game’s best scorers. I’ve never seen a player with such an ability to guard so each position than Butler. He guarded every position on the floor, and did it with aplomb.

Butler also became a very good scorer his junior year, averaging 15.2 points his last two seasons in a blue and gold uniform.

But most of the good Butler did won’t show up on any stat sheet. His impact on Marquette transcended the stat sheet.

POWER FORWARD: Steve Novak. Probably the best catch-and-shoot player in the program’s history, the 6-foot-10 Novak is lethal not only from three-point range, but anywhere the court.

A career 46 percent shooter from beyond the arc, Novak was a key player off the bench on the 2003 Final Four team as a freshman. He was then a unanimous All-Big East First Team player his senior year, the program’s first year in the conference.

With Diener, Wade and Butler penetrating the lane, Novak would’ve torn teams apart on the perimeter.

CENTER: Robert Jackson. It’s amazing how someone who only played one year for Marquette could have such a big impact.

Without Jackson, the 2002-’03 team never gets to the Final Four. A force down low, Jackson averaged 15.4 points per game and 7.5 rebounds.

His combination of finesse and brute strength during his year as a Golden Eagle is tough to find in college, putting him in my five.

What’s impressive about this group is that it could match the best lineups from schools like Kentucky, North Carolina or Duke during the same time period. That speaks to the leaps and bounds Marquette has made since the year 2000.

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