Marquette women's basketball is starting over.
There's no other way to put it. Terri Mitchell's final three recruiting classes have all been decimated or evaporated due to transfers, leaving just two players that she recruited on the team right now even though it's been 18 months since she was let go. The two players left behind through the dissolution of the team don't strike fear into the hearts of mortal women or their coaches, either. Sorry, Shantelle & McKayla, but it's true.
So here's second year head coach Carolyn Kieger, being forced to remake the team in her image before she even starts that second season. The good news is that she had a head start on that process, as she had four seniors on the squad last year and a redshirt junior that's taking her post-grad transfer year at Bowling Green. That allowed Kieger to go out and recruit five tippy-top freshmen, three from right here in Wisconsin, and another from Chicago. She added three foreign born freshmen in the spring signing period, so at worst, Marquette has bodies to put on the floor this season.
There are going to be growing pains this season. There are going to be inexplicable losses. There are going to be borderline inexcusable mistakes. There are also going to be moments of sheer joy. If Kieger is right about the freshmen she's brought in, if the recruiting services are right when they think four of them are top 150 players, then Marquette could get fast in a hurry and end up surprising people at various points this season.
Patience will be required. This season is largely going to look like what would happen if you started a Division 1 team from scratch. Hopefully the patience pays off sooner rather than later.
Game #1: vs UW-Green Bay (0-0)
When: Friday, November 13, 2015, at 7pm Central
Where: Kress Events Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin
Audio/Visual: UWGB is streaming the game for free, and there's live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
Given Marquette's youth, this might not be the best opening game for the Golden Eagles. UWGB has recorded 38 consecutive seasons with a winning record, 17 straight Horizon League regular season titles, and 16 straight 20 win seasons. "Hey, maybe they've gone through a slight down cycle this season! They've got to be due for one, right?" I appreciate your optimism here, but that's not the case. The Phoenix were the youngest team in the Horizon League LAST year and still won the whole shebang. This year, head coach Kevin Borseth returns 87% of last year's scoring, four starters, and three players who earned all-HL honors at the end of last season. Needless to say, the Phoenix are the favorites to win the Horizon League for the eighth consecutive season.
If that wasn't bad enough, you know that Borseth is going to make sure that his women know that the program is currently sitting on 899 wins, and gee willikers, wouldn't it just be swell if they got win #900 in their home opener?
Green Bay's top two scorers from a year ago are back and both were preseason Horizon League First Teamers. Redshirt junior Mehryn Kraker led the Phoenix with 12.5 points per game a year ago, while junior Tesha Buck was right behind her at 11.6 ppg. Both Buck and Kraker barely missed averaging five rebounds per game, and they're both adept passers, although Buck's 107 assists a year ago were tops amongst returning players.