Tuesday was Big East Basketball Media Day. By the lack of major stories coming out of Madison Square Garden, I think it’s safe to say that most of what was said by the coaches and players was not particularly newsworthy.
However, Fox Sports college basketball insider Evan Daniels did have one statement attached to a quote from Marquette men’s basketball head coach that was pretty interesting. Here’s the tweet:
Steve Wojciechowski is expecting FR Sam Hauser to have a big role this year: "He’s a guy that’s different than other guys in our program."— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) October 11, 2016
Let’s get that down in hard print in case that tweet disappeared into the ether:
Steve Wojciechowski is expecting FR Sam Hauser to have a big role this year: "He’s a guy that’s different than other guys in our program."
Huh. I tell you what, I’d really appreciate a lot more context for both Daniels’ summary and the exact quote from Wojo’s mouth.
Let’s start with the basics here. Sam Hauser is a freshman who won back to back state titles at Stevens Point (WI) Area Senior High School. He’s listed by Marquette at 6’7” tall and 225 pounds after being described as 6’6” and 210 when he signed his letter of intent nearly one year ago. He was named the Gatorade High School Player of the Year in the state of Wisconsin, and he was ranked #83 in the country by 247 Sports’ Composite system.
That’s undeniable fact stuff. Here’s one more for you: At 6’7” tall, Hauser is the third tallest player on the team. He trails only senior center Luke Fischer (6’11”) and sophomore center Matt Heldt (6’10”). Everyone else? 6’6” and down.
So all of that provides a bit of context as we try to figure out what could Wojo mean by a “big role” as summarized by Daniels. Hauser is a freshman on a team that returns nine of 11 scholarship players and adds a graduate transfer (Katin Reinhardt) who was a more than capable player on two USC teams that made the NCAA tournament. Because of the experience on the roster, there’s at least reason to think that Hauser wouldn’t be a player that would be relied upon in 2016-17. Contributor, sure, possibly, but a go-to guy for any particular facet of the game? That’s up for debate.
However, as the third tallest guy on the team and the third heaviest guy as well, you could make an argument that Hauser could get a lot dumped on his plate right away. With Hauser providing size that’s hard to find most other places on the roster, it’s entirely possible that Wojo may be planning to ask him to play a lot at the four merely because there’s no one else who can handle defending the second biggest guy on the opposing team. With Hauser’s ability to knock down three pointers (he shot nearly 44% as a senior at SPASH), he could turn into a very dangerous stretch four option for the Golden Eagles who will most likely depend on a one-in/four-out offensive strategy to be successful this season.
There is risk in assigning a heavy work load to freshmen, though, and Wojciechowski experienced that first hand last year. While starting every single game of the season, Haanif Cheatham turned the ball over on more than 24% of the possessions when he was on the floor. Traci Carter was even worse, coughing it up more than 29% of the time. Henry Ellenson did a lot of really great things for Marquette while having the best freshman season in program history by a wide margin, but he still shot just 29% on three pointers.
Perhaps the problem there was that Marquette needed major workloads from three freshmen at once to be competitive. Maybe Wojo can give a lot of responsibility to one freshman and it will work out amidst a wide range of returning and/or experienced talent and skill. For now, we’re just going to have to wait to see what happens when Hauser takes to a collegiate court for the first time at the United States Naval Academy.