2012-13 Player Review: Chris Otule

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Expectations

Coming into this season, Otule wasn’t getting much hype. Most of the attention was being put onto his teammate, and fellow big man, Davante Gardner. There were some that thought this could be the season that Gardner became Marquette’s go-to-big man, figuring out how to play 30 minutes every game and improve defensively.

If things were to remain the same, then Otule’s role would still be as Marquette’s defensive force in the post. Offensively, he would “take up space,” as his coach said he does very well, and score occasionally.

So how’d it go?

Stats: 17.7 minutes, 63.4% FG, 5.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.0 block

In the first parts of the season, it looked like that would be the case. Otule was splitting minutes down low with Gardner, and was being subbed out of the game for offensive reasons whenever his coach could do so.

While the latter didn’t change too much, Otule showed signs of improvement offensively. He scored double-digit points in five games between February and March, showing a newfound aggressiveness and confidence in the post.

Otule’s fifth season at Marquette could also be seen as successful because he played in every single game. The redshirt senior avoided injury, and it’s no coincidence the level of his play got better as the season progressed. His knee got better and better as the Golden Eagles’ campaign continued.

High

We don’t know whether Otule will be back next season, so he decided to take advantage of what were possibly his final games in the NCAA Tournament.

Against Davidson, Otule delivered one of his best performances as a Golden Eagle. He scored 11 points and grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds. He actually tied his previous career-high of nine in the first half alone. Defensively, Marquette’s center forced Davidson to stay out on the perimeter, blocking four shots.

In the second half, he scored nine points, including a crucial tip-in with 5:23 remaining and Marquette down by nine. That sparked Marquette’s comeback and a 6-0 run to get within striking distance of the Wildcats, again.

Low

This was surprisingly difficult to find. Statistically, Otule was very consistent. He played around his average of 17.7 minutes per game pretty much every game – he got over 22 minutes just three times during the season and below 15 just seven times.

After the Golden Eagles’ win over Providence, Williams said Otule was joking about not getting his usual minutes, after playing just 12 in each of the team’s two previous games. His role was to stay down low, and a lot of his contributions didn’t show up on the stat-sheet.

If there was a “low” to his season, it may have been the games against Cincinnati and Providence. He played 12 minutes in each of them, and one of them went into overtime. Gardner scored 28 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in those two games, too. If one of the two interior forces was going to take minutes away from the other, it could have been Gardner during that two game stretch.

Bottom line

No one really knows whether Otule is definitely going to return next season. Even if he gets a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, I don’t think anyone would blame him for choosing to move on. Six years of college is a lot, and he already has his degree.

If he does choose to pursue a career overseas or in the United States, Otule’s size will give him a chance for success. While only having one functioning eye could hold him back, there aren’t many guys that are as big as Otule.

This season was an improvement for the redshirt senior. He improved offensively and continued his defensive presence in the paint. He would be missed on next year’s Marquette team, but the Golden Eagles have plenty of interior talent to combine for his absence. We’ll all just have to wait and see whether Otule’s Marquette career is over.

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