The 2017-18 college basketball season is right around the corner, so let's get into the Marquette Golden Eagles 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 four freshmen going in alphabetical order by last name, moving on to MU’s lone available transfer this season, and then wrapping up with the returning players, going in order of average minutes played per game last season from lowest to highest.
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 turn our attention to the Minnesota native that sat out during the 2016-17 campaign......
Redshirt Sophomore - #2 - Guard/Forward - 6’5” - 210 lb. - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Can we say that Sacar Anim had a perfectly reasonable freshman year at Marquette? 17 appearances, averaged five minutes per game when he played, didn’t dent the scorebook all that much thanks to the small amount of playing team each time out. That’s not too bad, if we’re being honest. Remember, he was barely a top 200 recruit coming out of De La Salle in the Twin Cities according to 247 Sports, and he was on a team that needed big play from multiple top 100 freshmen in order to win 20 games.
That’s a perfectly reasonable freshman year.
That was in 2015-16. Then Anim redshirted the 2016-17 season, so it’s been nearly 20 months since we’ve seen him on the floor in a Marquette jersey, and longer than that already since he played more than five minutes in a game.
There’s a few different arguments, or trains of thought at least, on how Anim’s 2017-18 season could go. Rather conveniently, each one fits into the categories that we’ve already outlined for each preview article.
Anim didn’t play all that much as a freshman because of the roster construction in front of him at the time. He got a whole year off from playing in order to hone his craft, and now he finds himself on a roster where the biggest hole in the lineup is trying to figure out who is going to play on the wing.
The wing, aka: exactly where Anim fits best. At 6’5”, he’s not a prototypical power forward, and while he may have come into college with a bit more of a physical presence than your average 18 year old, it’s probably not the best spot for him. Stretch four, maybe, small ball five? Nah, not really. Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens talks about needing a lead guard, a wing player, and a big, and then figuring out the other two spots in the lineup around those three. Anim can be that wing for Marquette.
I’m not saying that he’s going to lead the team in scoring, I’m not saying that he’s going to turn into an all-Big East level performer. I’m saying there’s a bunch of open minutes in the lineup for a guy who plays the way that Anim plays, and the timing has never been better for him to reach up and grab the brass ring and succeed for head coach Steve Wojciechowski.
Why You Should Get Excited
It’s not like I’m pulling all of that stuff in the last section out of thin air, by the way. It’s just that Wojo’s plan for Anim is that obvious. Here’s a bit from an article that Ben Steele wrote on MU and Anim in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Playing alongside Markus Howard, Andrew Rowsey and Sam Hauser, Anim will look to slash into the heart of defenses, driving and kicking the ball out to those sharpshooters or trying to score at the rim.
On defense, the sophomore often will be tasked with shutting down the opponent's best perimeter player.
It is a role that the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Anim spent a year preparing for while redshirting last season.
"Sacar has really bought in to trying to do the things that our team needs him to do," Golden Eagles coach Steve Wojciechowski said. "In terms of being a defensive stopper, in terms of being a driver and slasher and keeping things simple on the offensive end."
Look, Anim wasn’t named the best high school player in the state of Minnesota as a senior by the Associated Press for his health. He’s got some skills. Those skill happen to be a very nice puzzle piece fit to what Marquette needs this season. Anim is going to get his shot at providing that to the team, and well, what if his development has gone REALLY well? In the exhibition against UWM, Anim grabbed seven rebounds, dished an assist, and came up with a steal. Cool! With shooters like Markus Howard, Andrew Rowsey, and Sam Hauser on the roster, Anim isn’t going to be asked to score for this team all that much, so rebounding and passing and defense is what Marquette needs from him. If Anim can fill the stat sheet in those departments, then that’s going to lead to good things everywhere else for the Golden Eagles.
Yes, I realize that this section is usually reserved for an explanation of how a player could max out his play in an upcoming season. That’s hard to do for Anim, since he’s played just 83 minutes of college hoops. Thus, if he can be a solid regular contributor, it’s going to make the whole team better than expected, and that should make you very excited.
So, uh, I kind of skipped over something when talking about what Anim did in the UWM exhibition, and I kind of did it on purpose.
He was 1-for-10 from the field, including an oh-fer on two tries from long range.
Now, in his defense, I’d like to point out that I did not attend the exhibition, and of course, it was not streamed or televised, so I didn’t see any of his 10 attempts. I can’t be that critical without seeing the shots that he missed. I’m not really worried about the two misses on three-point attempts. File that under “whatever.” Eight of the attempts came inside the arc, and seven of them were misses.
Ok, look. Things happen. Five of his rebounds were on the offensive end, so you have to figure that at least a few or the attempts were putbacks, and sometimes those are off balance and you miss. It happens. Sometimes layup attempts roll off the rim because you drew contact and it wasn’t a perfect attempt. It happens.
I think we’re all aware that Marquette’s margin for error this season is pretty thin. They need a lot of guys with very little collegiate experience to come in and contribute — not necessarily star, but at least contribute — for the whole thing to turn into a positive experience come March. One of the guys in question here is Sacar Anim. As one of the few guys with any collegiate experience, he needs to be a positive contributor on this squad.
1-for-10 nights can not be a regular occurrence from him. Hell, 1-for-5 nights can’t be a regular thing. If it starts going in that direction, Wojo is going to go in a different direction, and that’s no good for anyone.
Again, one game. One opponent. Small sample size. Probably overreacting, especially without footage of how those misses actually played out. But you can’t say it’s not a cause for concern.