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2017-18 Marquette Basketball Preview Roundtable: Who Is The X-Factor?

This could go a lot of different directions given the relative lack of experience on this year’s roster.

Marquette men’s basketball
Ike Eke (13) and Jamal Cain (23) could be major contributors to Marquette’s success this season.
Facebook.com/MarquetteMensBB

The 2017-18 college basketball season is quickly approaching, and thus, we turn our attention to previewing the upcoming Marquette Golden Eagles men’s basketball season.

As you may have noticed, we’ve got a few new voices here on the site since the school year started. We’re going to take advantage of that and do something new for the season preview. We’ve got a stacked up list of questions about the 2017-18 campaign, and each of the new contributors to AE are going to take a crack at answering them. There will be a new question every weekday afternoon between now and the start of the season, so be sure to stop back every day to find the new one.

Onwards, then, to the question of the day:

Who is the X-Factor on this year's team?

Pistol Brad: I have publicly stated that at least three different guys on this team will be the “x-factor” this year (Follow me on Twitter if you want to hear me flip-flop opinions even more: @superfanmubb). After the intrasquad scrimmage held on October 14th, I have decided to change my opinion once again. I now believe that Sacar Anim will be the x-factor on the team this year. Anim was getting time with the first team and when head coach Steve Wojciechowski put all the players who had the best day on the same team Anim was included. If Haanif Cheatham does not have a monstrous bounce back season, Sacar Anim will be the only player on the team with previous college experience to fill Cheatham’s old role. Anim also has 2.5 years in a college weight room and it shows, he looks to have the physicality to finish around the rim on drives which most guards on the team do not currently possess. Anim has looked strong in practice and Marquette is desperate for a guy who can play both ways and defend multiple positions (now that I think about it, isn’t every team is desperate for a guy like that?). Anim has the potential to be a version of Jajuan Johnson that doesn’t make dumb gambles on defense and has a left hand. If Anim can provide valuable minutes, he would be instrumental in getting Marquette back to the NCAA tournament.

Besay: Harry Froling will be a dark horse coming in at semester for the Golden Eagles. He played for SMU last year so Big East teams have yet to get a taste of Froling’s game, and will only get two games worth of film on him with Marquette before league play starts. I think he will be a huge boost for MU on the glass this season with his unique mix of size and athleticism.

CLagore: Pick one of the four freshman. There are only five returning scholarship players for the Golden Eagles, and we have a solid idea of what they are (or at least what they can be). Since they'll all almost assuredly play the biggest roles on the team, it give us a good sense of what kind of team this'll be. Any one of the freshmen surpassing expectations for their first year would add another dimension to the team. Maybe Theo John is a defensive stalwart down low. Or what if Ike Eke is a lot more developed than we thought? Maybe Jamal Cain's athleticism lets him score with ease from every level. Or, just spit ballin' here, maybe Greg Elliott is good at literally everything. There's really no easy way to predict who among the newbies is going to stand out, if any at all, but if at least one of them can raise some eyebrows (in a good way) early, that's another bullet point for opponents to game-plan for on Marquette's scouting report.

Broadway Brown: Harry Froling and Theo John will both be X Factors this season. Froling comes back in December and provides another big body down low. During Marquette Madness, Froling showed his range by hitting a couple baskets behind the arc. John provides another big body as well. He is going to be a huge part of Marquette's interior defense and will get very quality minutes as a freshman.

NHammertime: There are a lot of different directions I thought about going with this question, and I'm really interested to see which way my fellow contributors go. There's no denying Matt Heldt has made huge strides since stepping on campus 2 years ago. I honestly didn't know if he would ever be able to contribute watching him early in his freshman year. Something seemed to click towards the end of his freshman campaign right before he got hurt. He looked more comfortable on the floor and played with more confidence. The starting center position is all his this year. It is a position that could correlate to Marquette's success or failure. Heldt needs to be on the floor, which means avoiding foul trouble. This has been a problem for him in the past. For the first semester, Marquette's options at center are Matt, Ike Eke (freshman, doesn't seem ready to carry the heavy load), Theo John (freshman), and Sam Hauser (DEATH lineup). Matt needs to be on the floor 20-25 min/game, defending the paint and rebounding the ball... don't even need you to score, Matty! Defense and rebounding have been a problem lately for MU, and if Heldt can hold down the fort in those two areas, it correlates to a more well rounded squad.

Ben Snider: If everyone could please pay respect to the original X Factor, Dante Hall, that would be much appreciated.

Thank you. I think to be an X Factor you need to not necessarily be good enough to play all the time, but be good at one particular thing and be a psycho about it when you are on the court. Think Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. with less minutes or every Virginia Commonwealth player ever. I’ll go Greg Elliott here. He’s probably not going to get many minutes on account of Andrew Rowsey and Markus Howard shooting approximately 35 threes a game, but from what I’ve read about him, he should be able to make an immediate impact on defense. If he can get 15 minutes a game to basically wreak as much havoc as possible on Big East guards, that can be a huge difference maker. I will immediately change my answer to anyone on the team who wears a headband, AKA the foolproof way to determine who the X Factor is. Jajuan Johnson stopped wearing one last year and I’ve never felt more betrayed. We need more headbands.

Poll

Who will be the X-Factor for Marquette this season?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    Sacar Anim
    (33 votes)
  • 14%
    Jamal Cain
    (15 votes)
  • 2%
    Ike Eke
    (3 votes)
  • 8%
    Greg Elliott
    (9 votes)
  • 13%
    Matt Heldt
    (14 votes)
  • 24%
    Theo John
    (25 votes)
  • 4%
    Other (explain in the comments)
    (5 votes)
104 votes total Vote Now