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2016-17 Marquette Men’s Basketball Player Preview: #21 Traci Carter

We turn our attention to the sophomore lead guard who had a heavy turnover problem a year ago.

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-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 take a look at the presumptive starting point guard for this season........

Traci Carter

Sophomore - #21 - Guard - 6’0” - 175 lb.

In my eyes, Traci Carter acquitted himself very nicely as the starting point guard for Marquette last year.

He appeared in all 33 games, starting 19 of them alongside Haanif Cheatham. Overall, his shooting could stand a little bit of improvement, but he was better in the 18 game league season than he was overall last year. Carter posted one of the 50 best assist rates in the country, as nearly 33% of all Marquette possessions when he was on the floor ended with an assist from the Philadelphia area native. On top of that, he also secured a steal on 3.4% of defensive possessions, a rate that ranked him 75th in the country.

There is, however, the issue of the turnovers. Haanif Cheatham may have finished the season with the most total giveaways, but it’s Carter who led the team in turnover rate. Over 29% of possessions with Carter on the floor ended with Carter turning it over. That’s, uh, really bad. There’s an awful lot to like in Carter’s game, but those turnovers are threatening to ruin the rest of it, at least from an efficiency standpoint.

Reasonable Expectations

I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect Carter to suddenly get a better assist rate, and asking more from him in the steals department is probably foolish, too. However, if he’s going to regress slightly in those two categories, he’s probably going to need improvements everywhere else to keep his productivity balanced out.

The good news, I guess, is that there’s space for Carter to improve elsewhere, especially in the turnover department. With an already size-limited team that hasn’t shown an ability to rebound well in the past, Marquette can not afford to be expending possessions on offense on turnovers in large numbers. Take the 2009-10 Marquette team, which made up for a lack of size and an inability to rebound well by shooting the hell out of the ball (#35 in the country in effective field goal percentage, #5 in the country in three-point percentage) and not turning it over (7th lowest turnover rate in the country). This isn’t even a plea for perfection from Carter. In 09-10, Dwight Buycks played a bunch of significant minutes for Marquette and still turned it over on 23% of possessions.

Carter doesn’t need to be perfect, he just needs to be better.

Why You Should Get Excited

As silly as this sounds, I think that Carter coming off the bench in the exhibition game against Rockhurst might be a sign of good things for him.

Sure, I expected the sophomore to get the nod over freshman Markus Howard. But when Carter did enter the game, he immediately showed a very determined and dogged style of on-ball defense. What if Wojo is planning on deploying Carter as a defensive stopper? What if Carter’s role is going to be to arrive, raise hell, and leave? Turn up the pressure on the primary ball handlers for the other team, force some sloppy turnovers, record steals, and flip the rock ahead to his teammates for runouts and easy assists on easy baskets?

If Howard is more surehanded with the ball, and if Howard is going to be a better shooter than Carter (his FIBA U17 play would seems to indicate that), then this could be a timeshare between the two that benefits Marquette in the big picture. If we’re talking about a setup that means more made three pointers and more forced turnovers that leads to more blue and gold dunks, well, I’m certainly not going to disagree with that plan.

Potential Pitfalls

Until I see Carter reduce that turnover number, there’s going to be a little voice in the back of my head doing a Kermit flail in a panic about him continuing to turn the ball over this season.

Look, I’m sure that this is something that the MU coaching staff has drilled into his head over and over for more than a year now. It might not even be as big of a problem as we’re thinking it is. Carter’s turnover rate was a smidge lower in 18 Big East games than it was for the season as a whole, so maybe the light was already starting to go on for him last year.

If it hasn’t, though..... well. Last year, Steve Wojciechowski didn’t really have a lot of options available to him when it came to lead guards. Between Markus Howard’s arrival and Andrew Rowsey getting clear of his transfer redshirt season, Wojo has options this season. If Carter can’t provide minutes without turning the ball over, his minutes are going to go to someone else.