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, 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, let’s take a look at the older half of Marquette’s diminutive lights-out backcourt duo......
Senior - #30 – Guard – 5’11” – 180 lb. – Lexington, VA
Andrew Rowsey played two seasons at UNC-Asheville before making the move to Milwaukee, sitting out the 2015-16 season as a result of his transfer. Desperately in need of some shooting and always open to having more scoring guards, Marquette seemed like the perfect landing spot for Rowsey. I would guess that Steve Wojciechowski didn’t know he was getting one half of the best 3-point shooting tandem in the country, but that’s what he got. No complaints here.
At UNC-Asheville, Rowsey was a volume scorer and a lead guard. Averaging 20.3 and 19.2 points per game his freshman and sophomore years respectively, he was a gifted shooter stuck on a mediocre team in a mediocre conference. Rowsey, a 2014-15 Big South second team All-Conference honoree, was described by Wojo as showing the ability to “shoot and score at an elite level,” and having “great toughness and is a tremendous competitor,” when he made his commitment to join the Golden Eagles. It was great then, but now having seen what he can do, this year should be a lot more fun. His season riding the pine was uneventful, save for the best Andrew Rowsey story in all the land, from AE’s player preview a year ago:
Yes, that’s right, the 5’10” Rowsey started yapping at the 6’9” Ben Simmons, the future #1 pick in the NBA Draft, about how he flopped to draw the foul on Ellenson and, when Simmons went back at him, Rowsey had no backdown in him.
Now, here’s the two key parts of this story. First, as a transfer last year, Rowsey was obviously ineligible to play in the game, but that had absolutely no impact on his competitive nature when he believed that his teammate got completely hosed. Second, and this is probably the best part about this story, transfers are ineligible to play, obviously, and as an ineligible player, Rowsey was not allowed to have his transport paid for by the university. Thus, Rowsey paid for his own trip to New York in order to be with the team and yap at Simmons.
So, yeah, we got a little taste of the pitbull Rowsey could be, and got to see more of it last year. The dude is a pest. Other teams hate him (just ask Providence fans), we love him. That’s something you can’t teach, and Marquette fans should treasure it while they can. OK, onto basketball stuff.
Despite the backcourt filling out a bit since his commitment, he managed to find minutes early on in the season. Traci Carter’s departure made it a little bit easier, as he saw a slight uptick in minutes, and then proceeded to go for 15 against Wisconsin and 22 against St. Francis. The problem for Wojo was balancing Rowsey and Markus Howard, as playing the two sub-6-foot guards together was a defensive liability, but an offensive explosion. For most of the season, Rowsey came off the bench, which resulted in him getting Big East Sixth Man of the Year. It’s tough to get consistent minutes when the other guy playing your position is the best 3-point shooter in the country. But it certainly helps to be pretty darn good yourself.
By season’s end, Rowsey and Howard were both starting as well as playing about a third of the minutes together, which is a pretty big number considering how many guard combinations Marquette could throw out there. This season, I’d expect that trend to continue, to the delight of many fans and the horror of many teams.
Rowsey had a 24.4 percent usage rate according to KenPom last year. That’s a pretty solid number for a guy who played barely north of 50 percent of Marquette’s minutes. What’s really cool is that he led the Big East in Offensive Rating during conference play, which is when his minutes really started going up. I would expect his minutes this year to increase to between 25-28 per contest. It’s tough to see Wojo not having at least one of Rowsey or Howard on the floor at any given time, excluding a blowout.
How reasonable is it to expect Rowsey’s 3-point percentage to stay north of 40 percent? Fairly reasonable. Equal to his 44.7 percent from last season? Yeah, not that ridiculous to expect. North of that? Maybe? I can’t predict exactly where his percentage is going to fall. We know who Rowsey is at this point. He’s going to make a lot of shots, and most of them will be from beyond the arc.
What about the rest of his game? I’m just as curious as you are to see who does the majority of the ball handling when both he and Howard are out on the court. My guess would be Howard, but they’ll do a lot of sharing. Rowsey averaged 2.3 assists last year, which isn’t terrible, as he’s not that kind of guard. Hopefully that can change this year, even slightly. It’s worth noting that Rowsey threw together 11 assists in the charity exhibition against UWM. Marquette will rely a lot more on the three this year, so the floor will be spread. Considering all the new blood on the team, there’s a lot of inexperience. Rowsey by far has the most experience, so feeding new guys in spots where they can score will be crucial.
Why You Should Get Excited
There’s nothing I haven’t already said that can make you more excited for Rowsey’s season. He’s a lights-out shooter, he’s automatic from the charity stripe, he’ll get in someone’s face and he’s going to get the Bradley Center riled up. So, yeah, nothing else I can say.
But there’s something I can show you.
Wowsey. By the way, watch that a few dozen more times to watch Sam Hauser’s reaction. He knows it’s in before it starts to come down.
I don’t want to pick on a guy for being short. I’m short. I’m the same size as Andrew Rowsey, and a much worse shooter. But it could be a problem. I re-watched the 2017 Villanova win recently (Really bad first half, really good second half, lots of good tape there), and noticed some things related to his size.
First, on offense. As you might remember, Markus Howard only played seven minutes due to fouls, so it was primarily Rowsey and Duane Wilson running the show. Something else you might remember, Marquette last year (or any year ever, I feel like) didn’t handle the press very well. Aside from the Villanova game, they almost coughed up a lead against Georgetown because of it. Most players on both of these teams have generally longer arms than Rowsey. These are all facts you need to know. Back to ‘Nova. There was a point in the first half where ‘Nova was in a half court press and Rowsey received the ball a step into Marquette’s side of the court. The Wildcats sent two guys and swarmed him. Turnover.
It’s not the worst thing in the world. It was one turnover in the first half of a game Marquette eventually won. But it’s the principle that concerns me. Not many teams can press effectively at will, but when they do, trapping Rowsey or Howard is going to be a nightmare scenario for Marquette. I’m nitpicking, but I’m picturing a close game where Marquette’s getting pressed and their point guard can’t see over the opposing players.
On defense, it’s obvious stuff that you have to accept if you want Rowsey’s offense. He just doesn’t have the physical abilities to be a great defender. I love his toughness and #grit, but that only gets you so far. In that same Villanova game, Donte DiVincenzo jab-stepped one way and quickly crossed over, finding an open lane that Marquette had to collapse on and left someone wide open in the corner. First of all, Rowsey just isn’t quick or athletic enough to stay in front of guys. Second of all, he’s not quick or athletic enough to get beat and still be able to recover.
Third of all, he’s a lights-out shooter who’s going to do everything he can to win. He’ll be fine.