2013-14 Player Review: #25 Steve Taylor, Jr.

Our first Player Review might be the least exciting one.

(Editor's note: Following the introductory press conference for new head coach Steve Wojciechowski, Steve Taylor was very candid about his experiences with Buzz Williams during the 2013-2014 season.  You can read this article from Paint Touches for more on Taylor's comments.  While we have not changed a word of his Player Review after hearing his comments, Taylor has provided some much needed context for what was a very frustrating season for player and fans alike.  Thank you.)

With the 2012-13 season now in the books, we take a moment to look back at the performance that each member of YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles turned in this year. While we're at it, we'll also take a look back at our player previews and see how our preseason prognostications stack up with how things actually played out. We'll run through the roster in order of total minutes played (lowest to highest). We'll start things off with the sophomore forward from Chicago.

Steve Taylor, Jr.

#25 - Sophomore - 6'7" - 235 lb.
Games Minutes FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% Off. Reb Def. Reb Reb. Ast Stl Blk Fouls Pts
23 10.3 1.0 3.0 32.4 0.1 0.6 15.4 0.5 0.8 61.1 0.8 1.9 2.7 0.4 0.3 0.0 0.7 2.5

What We Said:

Minimum Expectations: With McKay's departure and Juan Anderson's move to the backcourt, there are minutes to be had behind Jamil Wilson at the 3 and the Oxtule at the 4/5. Asking for double the numbers from Taylor's freshman season might be a bit too much for minimum expectations, so let's go 50% increase over 2012-'13: 12 minutes a game, 4.5 points, 3.0 rebounds sound good to you as a starting point?

In My Worst Nightmare: The leg isn't quite right and never gets quite right, Taylor's ability to attack the glass on offense is hampered, and Anderson is forced back into duty behind Jamil Wilson. Basically, Taylor repeats Joe Fulce's senior season -- and that is no knock on Big Joe, who was one of the guttiest players to ever pull on a Marquette uniform. That's simply to say: tall, skinny guys with oodles of potential and bad knees are the stuff nightmare fuel is made of, and I'd be a very, very sad boy if that's the path Taylor found himself traveling.

In My Wildest Dream: Taylor's career path doesn't track Joe Fulce's, but instead goes the way of Jimmy Butler, who, like Taylor, carved out a niche in his first season at MU before blossoming into the team's best player in his last two years. With Jamil Wilson sure to get big run this year, Taylor probably won't have the opportunity that Butler did in his junior year, so, even in my wildest dream, I can't hope for 15 points and 7 rebounds a game. Nope; I'm hoping for the 8-to-10 point, 5-rebound year that sets up the 15-point, 7-rebound season next year.

That was the text of our official preview for Steve Taylor. How this season ended up going for him is almost too well explained by the comment left by Mr. Kensington:

Love Steve

Perhaps our most important reserve this season?

And thus, when we walked into the Bradley Center for the season opener against Southern, we were all stunned to see Taylor's name sitting up on the scoreboard. Given the sudden development of Taylor starting after we knew that he was dealing with atrophy in his leg muscles after offseason knee surgery, things were looking up for him.

And then he played 12 minutes, missed all four of his shots, and grabbed five rebounds.

Ok, well, that game was maybe closer than expected, and defense wasn't Taylor's strong suit, so maybe that's not a big deal. He turned around and had 16 points and 11 rebounds against Grambling, and had a monster day on the glass against Ohio State, grabbing nine caroms.

And then Buzz pulled him from the starting lineup following the offensive disaster that was that Ohio State game.

Taylor's minutes dwindled from there, culminating in the Wisconsin game, where he did not play at all. The following Thursday, Buzz Williams had this to say:

"I think he's doing better," Williams said. "He's been able to do more rehab and strength training. His issue is his quad is not 100%. That affects the rest of his lower body. It's kind of the same situation as with Duane. Keep rehabbing. He was able to go through the entire practice yesterday. Hopefully his body will continue to respond."

"In Steve's situation, he wasn't able to do everything in September and October," Williams said. "I started him the first two games in hopes that would give him some gas, just to change his gears a little bit. But he's just hurt. There's no way you can rattle someone who is not physically 100%."

Counting the Wisconsin game, Taylor played just 12 minutes over the next 10 games, including seven games where he didn't play at all. At this point, it seemed safe to assume that the season was essentially lost for the sophomore.

And then Taylor had 14 points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes as Marquette defeated Georgetown in overtime. It was the first sign of life for the Marquette season as a whole, but it was also a light in the darkness for Taylor. Well, maybe he's okay now! Hey! Here's another 23 minute outing against Villanova just five days later! STEVIE'S GONNA BE FINE!

10 minutes against Providence, 19 against St. John's because someone had to play with Jamil Wilson on the bench, five minutes against Butler, and his eighth DNP of the season against Seton Hall.

Well, crap. Taylor would against see solid minutes against Georgetown in the return bout, scoring eight points and grabbing three rebounds, but his season was essentially over after the Seton Hall DNP.

In short, a rough, injury plagued season from someone who Marquette and their fans were clearly counting on to do important things.

Best Game: I refuse to count the Grambling game as anyone's best game. It's not fair to them, it's not fair to Grambling, and it's not fair to you, the reader, for these reviews to say "DIDJA SEE THIS DUDE AGAINST GRAMBLING!!!!?!?" over and over. So I'm left with two options, really: Ohio State or Georgetown? Since Taylor didn't score against Ohio State, I'm going to go with the overtime game at Georgetown. Bonus points for a stretch in the second half where he scored eight straight points for Marquette, and since that took five minutes of game time to pull off, I'm not even going to assign him any blame for Marquette taking a 36-33 lead on his first bucket of the run to cutting the Georgetown lead to 44-42 on his last.

Season Grade (1-Worst Nightmare to 10-Wildest Dream): Given he was never right to start the season and clearly never truly got right at any point this season, I'm tempted to take the easy way out and assign Taylor an "incomplete" and just move on. But Rubie correctly identified the knee issue in his Worst Nightmare aspect, so we have to take that seriously. Taylor did end up hitting that 3 rebound mark if you round up, even given his limited action through the wide majority of the season, so I'm going to give him a bonus point for that. Unfortunately, that means I have to give Steve Taylor, Jr.'s sophomore season a 2.

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