The women’s team opened the evening with player introductions, a brief group dance number featuring none other than new Marquette president Michael Lovell, and the customary team scrimmage.
Freshman point guards Hannah Grim and Tia Elbert stole the show in the scrimmage, with Grim tallying eight points and Elbert displaying some deft passing ability on the fast break.
Then came the men’s team’s turn as the arena rocked with anticipation at the announcement of Wojciechowski’s young, new-look squad.
While the Marquette news story of the week was undoubtedly the commitment of Top-10 recruit Henry Ellenson to the program, his brother, Wally, put on quite the performance at Madness.
In one of the more entertaining dunk contests in recent memory, the junior transfer pulled off some tremendously athletic attempts only to be bested by the raw power and flawless execution of sophomore Deonte Burton.
Burton looked like a nightmare matchup in the men’s scrimmage. When he had the ball he knew right away what he was going to do with it. When he didn’t have the ball, he was throwing his body around with the type of aggression and physicality you wouldn’t expect in a preseason team exhibition.
Burton finished with six points in the blue vs. gold contest, while redshirt freshman Duane Wilson formally introduced himself after missing all of last season. At point guard, Wilson showed some agility and quick decision-making, while tallying seven points. Graduate senior transfer Matt Carlino also saw time at the point, as Wojciechowski said would be the case once the regular season begins, adding a layup, a three-pointer and two late free throws.
Newly anointed team co-captain Juan Anderson scored seven of the game’s first 13 points, knocking down a three-pointer of his own. But the biggest shot from beyond the arc belonged to Ellenson, who nailed a halftime buzzer-beating attempt, drawing one of the loudest cheers of the night. Along with his seven total points, Ellenson drew another loud reaction with an impressive blocked shot late in the first half.
Other scorers included junior Steve Taylor Jr., freshman Sandy Cohen III, sophomore Jajuan Johnson, senior co-captain Derrick Wilson and sophomore Luke Fischer, who had two strong takes in the paint. Despite a few technical difficulties, including a loose rim and chorus of smoke alarms that cut Wojciechowki’s speech short, this season’s Madness was one of the more intriguing and enjoyable installments in recent memory.