MILWAUKEE - Buzz Williams isn't going to waste time thinking about what his team could have been with sophomore guard Todd Mayo in the lineup. He's moving on without the sophomore guard that was ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA on Monday."We will absorb what Todd was going to give us," Williams said. "Does it change the complexion of our team? Yes. Does it make us better or worse? I don't know, we've yet to play. So I can't compare the two."What Williams did compare the situation to waslast season, when the Golden Eagles lost center Chris Otule to a torn ACL and then later lost fellow big man Davante Gardner for an extended period of time with a knee sprain. "Last year we played with four different teams," Williams said. "So we can always go, 'well this is a sample of what we were like with this group.' When we play on Friday it is game number one and he's not going to be with us so we're going to play 200 minutes amongst the guys that are going to be there in uniform."As for Mayo, there is no distinct timetable for his return. He could regain eligibility at the end of the first semester, which is around when Marquette begins Big East play, or Mayo can be lost for the entire season. Last season, Mayo averaged 7.9 points per game for the Golden Eagles, but was expected to see his role expand with the loss of Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder to the NBA. Now Marquette is left with very limited depth in the backcourt. "I think he would have had a distinct role on our team," Williams said. "Up until Tuesday, he did have a distinct role on our team. Obviously we haven't played a game yet but there are minutes that will have to be absorbed by the rest of our team."Special night for Wilson: Playing on the deck of an aircraft carrier is an honor that almost everyone would find special, but it especially hits home for sophomore guard Derrick Wilson. Both of Wilson's parents served in the Army, so he spent many years around the service. To play a game in front of the armed forces is something that means more than words can describe to him. "It means a lot," Wilson said. "They do a lot for our country. I don't think people realize everything they go through in their service. It's an honor to play for something like this."My dad is so excited. He's been in the military for 20 years and a lot of people don't get to experience something like this. He just said to have fun with it."While it is another game on Marquette's schedule, Wilson views it as much more than just a game. "It's all for the soldiers, so they can get joy out of it," Wilson said. "I mean it is part of our season but I think this is for a greater cause."
Early season test: Playing in the Carrier Classic was a no-brainer for Williams. However, it means matching up with Ohio State, ranked No. 4 in both major polls preseason rankings. "I prefer to play institutions that have a direction first. Like northeast or southwest," said Williams. "I like those teams first."Because Marquette doesn't often start its season against a BCS-conference opponent, a loss Friday would make the Golden Eagles under-.500 for the first time since Nov. 14 2000. Learning experience: The Carrier Classic will be more than just a basketball game for Marquette. Williams wants his players to learn as well.The Golden Eagles will get a tour of the USS Yorktown from its crew, as well as host a clinic for children of service members that just returned from a tour of duty."We need to learn something other than just they put a court down where airplanes land," Williams said. "I don't know if they wrapped their brains around it all, but I don't know if I have either. I think there's a lot of good stuff that will come out of it."Follow Andrew Gruman on Twitter.