With the 2014-2015 season now in the books, we take a moment to look back at the performance that each member of YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles 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 roster in order of total minutes played (lowest to highest). We've already put two in the books, which brings us to MU's redshirt sophomore from Germantown.
#40 - Redshirt Sophomore - 6'11" - 245 lb.
What I Think We'll See
At first, nothing at all. Fischer is not eligible to play in Marquette's eight games due to NCAA transfer restrictions. MU rather craftily did not schedule the traditional "Saturday after finals week" game this season in order to make sure that grades from first semester can be properly filed so Fischer can be eligible for one extra game.
His first game will come on Tuesday, December 16, at home against Arizona State, and he'll get three games against teams ranked higher than #260 in the preseason KenPom rankings in order to get his legs underneath him before Big East play starts on New Year's Eve. Fischer's going to get all the minutes he can handle in those games in order to get Marquette used to playing with him. Depending on how successful Marquette has been at executing the game plan in their first eight games where the 6'7" Steve Taylor is MU's tallest player, Fischer's playing time will depend on how well he can blend into the mix. Because of his height, I expect that he'll go straight into the starting lineup, but from there, it's up to him.
What I Want To See
The last time Luke Fischer played an official NCAA game, he scored 10 points on 4-5 shooting, grabbed two rebounds, blocked three shots, and even dished an assist in 19 minutes. I want to see this blown out to at least 25 minutes a game, so that would be 15 points, and five rebounds, give or take. But there is a note of hesitation to my expectation: That game was against Kennesaw State, who finished 2013-14 ranked #336 on the KenPom charts. The Owls had just two players over 6'8" on the roster, so it might have been an easier time than you'd want to see to take anything real away from that game. Still, with so little height on Marquette's roster, the minutes are there for the taking for Fischer, and all he has to do is show that he belongs.
What I Don't Want To See
Marquette is going to be in a lot of trouble this season if Fischer can't show that he belongs on the court. The Big East schedule is littered with guys clearing 6'10" on the measuring tape: Matt Stainbrook, Tommy Hamilton, Joshua Smith, Carson Desrosiers, Chris Obekpa, Daniel Ochefu, Will Artino, just to name a few of the best. While it may be a transition season for the Golden Eagles, league contests could turn into a half court bludgeoning if Fischer isn't out there to provide a stopper threat in the middle. He will need to play reliable defense, and it appears that for Steve Wojciechowski, that means pressing after made baskets. If Fischer can't contribute in that regard, even if it's just as the guy getting all the way back to prevent a breakout bucket, then it's going to set back the whole team's efforts.
We knew it wasn't going to last, right? Yeah, Luke Fischer exploded onto the scene with a 9 for 11 game against Arizona State, and yeah, he made every single one of his shots in four of his next six games. But it wasn't going to last. We knew that. Fischer wasn't going to make 82% of his shots for the rest of the season.
What I didn't know is that Fischer was going to finish the season with the 64th best 2 point field goal percentage in the country. Sure, he got a headstart with that firey start, but that's still an outstanding effort from a guy who essentially had never played college basketball before December 16, 2014.
That's how we have to look at this season, y'know? Fischer played just 130 minutes for Indiana in 2013-14, or to put it another way with a little bit of perspective for Marquette fans, just one more minute than Deonte Burton played for Marquette this past season. It wasn't anything you can take seriously as a year of experience, so this was his baptism into this level, and in a lot of ways, it was a baptism by fire. Fischer was immediately the biggest player on the team and a focal point for opponents both on offense and defense. He had to get up to speed quickly for Marquette and Steve Wojciechowski, and really, he did as well as could be expected, maybe even better.
I mean, forget about that he finished with the second best offensive rating on the team. Forget about being the centerpiece of the 1-3-1 zone that Wojo deployed with a serious amount of success on the fly. Forget about playing nearly 30 minutes a game as a 6'11" dude with a bad shoulder that needed off-season surgery. Look at the historical perspective. Luke Fischer's not breaking into a lot of all time records due to missing the first eight games of the schedule. Did you realize that if Fischer had played the full 32 games and averaged the same number of blocks in the extra eight games, he would have finished with the 7th most blocks in any season in the nearly 100 years of Marquette basketball? Remember: Jim McIlvaine owns four of the top five seasons. That's how good Fischer was once he got onto the floor, and he did that while playing a lot of that 1-3-1 zone where he wasn't stationed near the basket, but instead up near the free throw line. Even with the shortened season, Fischer still finished with the 3rd most blocks by a sophomore behind Mac and Chris Otule.
Best Game: One last chance to shine for the Bradley Center crowd. One chance to send Derrick Wilson, Juan Anderson, and Matt Carlino off with a home win. One last shot at getting that big home crowd ovation after a win for the season. Luke Fischer answered the bell. 5-11 from the field and a surprising 7-8 from the free throw line for 17 points, nine rebounds, an assist, and three blocks. Sure, he had better scoring games, but the Golden Eagles got the full package from Fischer in the home finale against DePaul.
Season Grade, on a scale of 1-10: We can definitely say that Steve Wojciechowski got every minute of Luke Fischer that he could get. He ended up playing way more than the 25 minutes per game that I was hoping we'd get. Sure, he didn't hit the scoring number that we threw out there, but he pretty much hit the rebounding number, even if he didn't turn into the offensive rebounder that he showed in brief minutes at Indiana. Fischer proved he belonged amongst the big men in the Big East, and to a degree, he did it on the fly as he got up and running as a part of the Marquette lineup. I'll score Fischer at a 7. He played well, especially for a guy who was essentially a freshman. Not knock your shoes off great, but he showed he belonged on the court and left Marquette fans waiting for more over the next two years.