“With our personnel, we have to have guys ready to play multiple positions,” head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “It’s not like we have a depth chart. We have some guys, because of the limitations of our roster, (who) have to be prepared to play multiple positions. We lost a lot of scoring and rebounding from last season’s team and it’s not going to be one person making it up. It’s got to be a collective effort.”
Collectiveness. That is the word that will ultimately define Marquette’s 2014-15 season. The success of Wojciechowski’s first season will depend solely on how the pieces fit his style of play and how talented youngsters develop during the season. That’s where the issue lies; the Golden Eagles are capable, but inexperienced.
Wojciechowski is confident that his young roster will flourish as the season progresses.
“I think we have a number of guys who are unproven at the college basketball level. But I’m feeling we’ll have a number of guys who do prove themselves.”
Marquette’s tallest player until the Dec. 16 game at Arizona State – the first game Indiana transfer Luke Fischer will be eligible for - is junior Steve Taylor Jr., who is merely 6’7” and has primarily played power forward. With Fischer gone, Taylor will likely be Marquette’s starting center when they tip off against UT-Martin on Nov. 14.
“I’m the tallest player now and that kind of switches everybody out of position a little bit,” Taylor said. “Everybody’s got to be ready to play any position.”
Taylor said that playing center will change the way he plays slightly, but added that he will present matchup issues for opposing big men.
Fischer said he’s done his best to help his teammate in the paint until he returns to action.
“He feels like he’s a bigger guy now,” Fischer said of Taylor. “He’s been working on finishing high with hook shots and stuff like that and exploding to the rim. He’ll be going up against seven-footers for the first couple games so he’s definitely learning to play down low more than he has been before.”
As for Fischer, he said he is going to take advantage of his time to maintain his body and work on getting stronger and in better condition.
One of Marquette’s more ambiguous players, in terms of his role, is sophomore Deonte Burton. At 6’4” Burton could play anywhere from power forward to shooting guard. Burton said he is accustomed to not having a single role on the roster.
“I see myself playing everywhere and wherever the team needs me to play I will gladly play. I’m comfortable because I’ve never really had a position, I’ve always wandered.”
When asked about how he would overcome the team’s lack of height, Wojciechowski went back to the notion of collectivity.
“Obviously we’re an under-sized team and that can affect you in a number of different areas,” Wojciechowski said. “We’re going to have to do it collectively. We’re going to have to figure out ways to guard outstanding post guys collectively. We’re going to have to figure out how to rebound as a team. It’s not going to fall on any one guy’s shoulders. It’s going to fall on all of our shoulders.”
BYU's Matt Carlino transferred to MU
Marquette’s muddled backcourt offers no clarity either. The Golden Eagles added BYU transfer Matt Carlino at guard and also will have a healthy Duane Wilson, who redshirted his freshman season after suffering a season-ending leg injury. Throw in the departure of would-be senior Todd Mayo and incumbents, senior Derrick Wilson, and sophomores John Dawson and JaJuan Johnson, and there isn’t a ton of proven answers at the guard spot.
Derrick Wilson is a keen defensive player, but struggled mightily on the offensive end. Johnson was a talented recruit from Memphis, but wasn’t given many minutes by Buzz Williams. Dawson, who showed an ability to shoot from beyond the arc, could make a permanent switch to shooting guard this season.
“With the personnel we have this year I see myself playing more at the wing than at point,” Dawson said.
Despite the position change, Dawson said he thinks his skill set is probably more suited for the two spot.
“I probably can shoot it better than I can pass, so I would say I’m better at the two, but I’ll play any position I can to get on the floor,” Dawson said.
One way Marquette can overcome its limitations in the paint is to provide stellar perimeter defense.
“On defense you got to pressure the ball and make it hard for them to feed the post and stay in the passing lanes,” Dawson said. “Just play real hard and aggressive, be smart, stay out of foul trouble and give Steve and Juan a lot of help.”
Marquette’s season will be defined by reciprocity. The guards will need to help the posts and vice versa. With only 10 players on the roster from mid-December onward, Wojciechowski will need steady contributions from each member of his first team.
“We’re not super deep,” Wojciechowski said. “We need everybody on our team to be contributors, to see themselves with value and as members of our group. I’m not going to get too caught up in starters. I’m going to get caught up in the guys who are playing well and hopefully that’s more than just five of them.”