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VUSports Big East Preview: Marquette

Our early look, 2016-17 season previews of Big East rivals continues with Broc Libra breaking down Marquette.

With only 64 days until college basketball starts on November 11th, I continue to break down the Big East teams in the reverse order I project them to finish.  I’ve already placed DePaul in the 10th position … for the Big East the team I predict to finish 9th, just go north about 90 miles to Milwaukee and the Marquette Golden Eagles. 

2015 – 2016 season

Coach Wojciechowski had a nice second season in which his Golden Eagles went 20-13 (8-10) but numbers can be deceiving as their abysmal OOC SOS was 344th out of 351, yet they still only went 10-2. Though after an opening loss to a pretty solid Belmont team, they did end up beating LSU, Arizona St and won @ Wisconsin, while dropping to Iowa by 28. In Big East play, they won @ Providence and @ Creighton, but lost all of their big home games, even losing to DePaul at home.  

During the season, Marquette was a really good 2 point shooting team as they shot over 52% from 2. They also got to the line quite a bit and made their free-throws at a solid clip (almost 73%).  They also were the third fastest team in the Big East at over 71 possessions per game, which led to a lot more opportunities for steals and blocks, though they only rated well, from an efficiency standpoint, in blocks. The problem that Marquette had was three main issues: 3 point shooting, Turnovers and Rebounding. With all of their quick guards, they had 3 guys who shot better than 35%, but they only took a combined 216 3 pointers. They essentially had two guys on the floor for half the game who were at least 6 ft 11, who were both solid rebounders and maybe the guards depended on their bigs to get those rebounds because no one else averaged more than 3.4 rebounds and that cost them. And of their team of 8 regulars, 4 of them had a positive assist/turnover ratio and none of them had at least a 2:1 ratio (though Traci Carter was very close).  Not getting off a shot and not securing a rebound is the best way to lose and while Marquette had talent, those issues haunted them all season long.

Who left from last year?

Similar to DePaul, Marquette lost quite a bit from last year, though it wasn’t as many bodies as DePaul.  The big loss was all everything forward Henry Ellenson as he was a stud. He led the team in scoring, blocks, rebounds, was 2nd on the team in 3’s made, was 5th in assists with almost 2 a game and shot 75% from the line. While he was a high usage/high efficiency player, he made his mark playing really good defense when he was the center.  While everyone knew Henry would leave, his brother Wally, also left, in a rather tumultuous manner, according to various public articles. I always thought he was an under utilized 4 man with great hops and athleticism, something Marquette could have used. 

Who is new?

Marquette also has a nice mix of incoming talent, including 2 freshman, an eligible transfer and a 5th year guy. Starting with their freshman, the star of the group is 5 ft 11 PG Markus Howard. This guy is a baller and has a sort of Steph Curry flair to his game (no, I’m not comparing them in any way, shape or form) the kid can shoot and he has handle. The only issue is his size and not that he’s small, but Marquette now has 3 guards who can all handle the ball and are either 6 ft or shorter. Sam Hauser is the other freshman, a top 75 wing player from Wisconsin, he has some good size at 6 ft 7 and is also apparently a very good shooter. Their eligible transfer is Andrew Rowsey, a 5 ft 10 microwave or started his first two years at UNC-Ashville. During his two years in Ashville, he scored 1,244 points, averaging 19.7 a game. While the Big East is definitely not the Big South, he shot 40% from 3, which again, gives Marquette another weapon as a shooter.  Their final incoming player is a 5th year guy, Katin Reinhardt, a 6 ft 6 wing who spent his freshman year at UNLV and his sophomore and junior year at USC. His final season at USC, he averaged 11.4 points and 2.8 rebounds, while shooting 37% from 3.  

Who’s returning?

8 guys started games last year and 6 of them return, including PG Traci Carter (5.4 points, 4.6 assists) wing Haanif Cheatham (11.8 points) guard Duane Wilson (11.6 points) and big man Luke Fischer (12.1 points, 6.2 rebounds). Steady guard JaJuan Johnson (10.2 points) and guard Sandy Cohen (5.9 points) round out the regulars. Athletic wing Sacar Anim, and big man Matt Heldt will also play some minutes this year. 

Big OOC games

Marquette’s OOC schedule should be better than last year, but that shouldn’t be too difficult. They start the season off by playing Vanderbilt in the Veterans Classic and are participating in the 2k Sports Classic and will play Michigan and either SMU or Pitt. They also play @Georgia, home against Fresno St and home against a loaded Wisconsin team. They round out their schedule by playing cupcakes in Howard, IUPUI, Houston Baptist, Western Carolina, St. Francis (PA) and SIU-Edwardsville. 

Final predictions

Starting 5:

PG – Traci Carter (SO - 6 ft 0)

SG – Duane Wilson (JR – 6 ft 2)

WG – JaJuan Johnson (SR – 6 ft 5)

WG – Haanif Cheatham (SO - 6 ft 5)

C – Luke Fischer (SR - 6 ft 11)

Remaining rotation (in anticipated order):

WG – Katin Reinhardt (SR – 6 ft 6)

PG - Markus Howard (FR – 5 ft 11)

WG – Sandy Cohen (JR - 6 ft 6)

C – Matt Heldt (SO – 6 ft 10)

PG – Andrew Rowsey (JR - 5 ft 10)

SF – Sam Hauser (FR – 6 ft 7)

SG – Sacar Anim (SO – 6 ft 5)

Final Thoughts:

It’s all depends on turnovers and rebounding. Marquette added 4 guys who are known as shooters, so their 3 point shooting will likely improve, but it all depends on turnovers and rebounding. Will Fischer and Heldt get rebounds? Will the guards help out and rebound? Will Coach Wojo go against his philosophy and slow the game down a little more to grab those rebounds? Will they make better decisions with the ball? There are 3 seniors on the team who may play with a sense of urgency and they can help lead this team, but it won’t be easy. While their defense wasn’t strong last year, it didn’t hinder them from losing, the rebounding and turnovers did and in conference, Marquette put up almost 100 fewer shots than their opponents and grabbed 40 fewer rebounds.  With 3 guards under 6 feet tall and not a ton of strength and length inside, it will likely be a solid OOC year for Marquette, but a tough conference season. 

OOC – 9-3

Big East – 7-11

Combined – 16-14

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