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Learning About Lazar

I took part in a brief Q&A with the good folks at SB Nation's Marquette blog, Anonymous Eagle. You can read my end of the proceedings by clicking here. It was a Jesuit meeting of the minds as a Creghton Bluejay went back and forth with a Marquette Golden Eagle.  

Below the fold you can read Rubie Q's response to my questions about Mr. Hayward. 

CH: My question for you is this: From the moment he opened his mouth at the press conference, it became obvious that the Wolves picked up a complete professional.  You can just tell from listening to the guy for a few moments that he has his you-know-what together.  Does he have what it takes to become a guy that keeps the locker room together?  What can you tell us about his leadership?  What are the best aspects of his game and what are his best performances?

AE: Absolutely, Lazar can be (and, in my opinion, will be) a guy who keeps the locker room together.  I'm sure you've heard it 50 times by now, but it bears repeating: the kid will do whatever you ask him to do.  For instance:

He was billed as a 3 (and possibly a big 2) when he came to Marquette as a freshman, but, out of necessity, he played the 4 and, at times, the 5 during his four years.  Lazar never once complained about it.  He put his head down and went to work.

In his first three years, he often played third or fourth fiddle to Dom James, Jerel McNeal, and Wes Matthews (three career 1500 point scorers).  Lazar never once complained about it.  He developed into an effective post player, knocked down open looks, and deferred to his teammates without a peep.

This year, after James, McNeal, and Matthews graduated, the yoke fell on 'Zar's shoulders.  He was our best scorer, our best defender, and our best rebounder.  More importantly, the team gelled around Lazar and adopted his "bust your hump and let your play do the talking" style.  The end result?  In a year when not much was expected of Marquette, the team clawed and scratched its way into the NCAA tournament.

For these reasons, his coaches love him.  His teammates love him.  The media loves him.  And, obviously, the fans love him.

In terms of his game, Lazar is a good shooter.  He showed NBA three-point range at times last year, he makes his throws, and he's got a decent mid-range game.  He struggles to create his own shot, but he's got a quick release if you can find him on the wing.  He can guard a number of positions, and he's not afraid to mix it up in the paint.

As for best performances, it's hard to single out individual games, because he's been such a steady, dependable player for so long.  He scored in double figures in all but 2 games last year, and all but 5 games two years ago.  That said, 'Zar was huge against Providence on the road two years ago -- 25 and 7 in a game that the team rallied to win after being down by double digits in the second half -- and repeated the trick this year, scoring 28 and grabbing a critical offensive rebound and hitting two free throws when the team was melting down at the end of the game.  But a better example of the type of player 'Zar is was seen in this year's game at Cincinnati.  His shot was broke all game -- 1 for 10 coming into the last two minutes of the game -- but he grabbed 11 rebounds and then hit a crucial three-pointer with about 30 seconds left, and then made a couple more big shots in overtime.