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2016-17 Marquette Men’s Basketball Player Preview: #12 Matt Heldt

Our reverse order of average minutes played brings us to possibly the most important player on the roster this season.

NCAA Basketball: Providence at Marquette Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016-17 college basketball season is right around the corner, so let's get into the Marquette basketball roster and take a look at what to expect from each player this season. We'll be going through the players one by one: First the freshmen, moving on to the two transfer players, and then wrapping up with the returning players, going in order of average minutes played per game last season.

We’re going to organize our thoughts about the upcoming season as it relates to each player into categories:

  • Reasonable Expectations
  • Why You Should Get Excited
  • Potential Pitfalls

With that out of the way, we move forward into the returning players......

Matt Heldt

Sophomore - #12 - Center - 6’10” - 245 lb.

Matt Heldt may be the subject of the most depressing part of the 2015-16 season.

I know, I know, it sounds a little weird to say that about a guy who averaged less than a point in 5.1 minutes per game. But here’s the deal. After not playing at all in Marquette’s first two games and posting two or fewer minutes in three of the next four, it would have seemed reasonable to think that Heldt was going to struggle to acclimate to college hoops as a freshman big man. Lots of big men go through that, and with Luke Fischer and Henry Ellenson on the roster, it wasn’t exactly the worst thing in the world for Marquette for Heldt to come along slowly.

Then, as Big East play started up, it seemed like the light had gone on for Heldt. At the very least, Heldt was understanding what he needed to do for head coach Steve Wojciechowski to put him on the court. He saw time in 11 of Marquette’s first 14 league games. Five times, Heldt got at least five minutes of burn, and there was a six minute jaunt in MU’s win over Stetson mixed into there. It wasn’t a lot, it wasn’t statistically significant. But it was something, and Heldt was earning his spot.

And then he missed the last six games of the season with a knee injury. Just as he appeared to really be figuring things out, we were deprived of seeing that as Marquette made a late push for the postseason that ultimately fell short. Like I said, maybe the most depressing part of the season.

Reasonable Expectations

With Henry Ellenson gone to the NBA after one season, Heldt is now the #2 big man on the team behind senior Luke Fischer. I’m not going to say something silly and claim that Heldt can vacuum up the minutes, the points, or the rebounds that Ellenson provided the Golden Eagles. But, he’s going to be the only real backup that Fischer has, and he’s going to have to pull his weight.

It’s really simple: If Wojo wants to go 10 deep every night, Heldt has to be one of the 10. He doesn’t have to be a major contributor, he just has to pick up the slack when Fischer needs a breather. 10, maybe 15 minutes a night of no drop off on the defensive end is all I’m really asking for. Anything Heldt gives you on offense is just a cherry on top. Oh, and I gotta come out and just say it: He’s gotta rebound. Has to has to has to rebound. Marquette was a bad rebounding team last year and that was with a naturally gifted glass cleaner like Ellenson. Heldt has to put every single inch of everything he’s got into getting those loose balls off the rim on both ends of the court.

Why You Should Be Excited

Have you seen the video of the “secret” scrimmage against Dayton? You should check it out.

Notice anything interesting in there?

Yep, that’s Matt Heldt starting and taking the opening tipoff.

Let’s all pump our brakes a little bit here. As you can see in the video, Luke Fischer has the kinesio tape all over his shoulder. Specifically his surgically repaired shoulder, but that’s a discussion that we can take up next week. Odds are that Wojo was just keeping Fischer a little bit on the safe side with whatever injury he’s dealing with, so Heldt took the tip. No big deal, let’s not get over our skis here.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuut if Heldt can push Fischer...... well. That’d really be something, wouldn’t it? I don’t think the two of them can play together this season, but it’d be really nifty to be able to finish this season with a sense of “well, MU will be fine at center next year with Heldt” because of what he was able to accomplish this year. If Heldt’s just as capable a defender as Fischer, especially with an up and down tempo, then it’s completely reasonable to expect him to play more than expected, and I’m totally here for that.

Potential Pitfalls

Heldt was really bad at committing offensive fouls last year. I mean, REALLY bad. Through the game at Xavier last season, Heldt had committed six offensive fouls. While that’s not a lot in general particularly through 24 games, you have to remember that he wasn’t playing all that much. Those six fouls accounted for 38% of his total personal fouls and 75% of his turnovers to that point of the season. This is a thing that can not continue this season if Heldt is going to be carrying any kind of responsibility to back up Fischer.

Now, in fairness to Heldt, he didn’t commit a turnover at all in the six final games that he played last year and only committed six total fouls in that stretch, none of which were obviously offensive fouls. That’s the kind of play that Marquette will need from him.... except that Wojo is going to need him to play about twice as many minutes on average.

I don’t doubt his effort, I don’t doubt his determination, I don’t doubt his heart. But until I see Matt Heldt pulling off 10-15 minutes a game while being able to defend his man, I don’t know how comfortable I’m going to be with the idea. We’ll see.