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, we turn our attention to the young man who might just be the best three-point shooter in a generation.....
Sophomore - #0 - Guard - 5’11” - 175 lb. - Chandler, Arizona
Markus Howard is coming off a fantastic freshman campaign. As I am sure you have heard by now, Markus shot 54.7% from behind the arc, which led the country. In fact, since 1992-93, only six players have connected on at least 51% of at least 150 attempts, and Howard had the best shooting percentage of all of them. Yes, he did that in his first year of college. Oh, and he was 17 years old right up until the final week of the regular season. Besides shooting lights out from three, he also averaged a team high 13.2 points along with 2.3 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game. Pick a news outlet out there that covers college basketball in some fashion, and they’ve talked about Markus Howard and the kind of bananas-level shooting he adds to the Golden Eagles. Will all the fame get to his head? I doubt it. Markus is a very humble and hard working player, he will just continue to get his 300 three point shots per day in and live life just as he did last year. Although, with all this fame, I am sure opponents defenses will make sure to press Markus out behind the three point line to limit how many shots he takes. Head coach Steve Wojciechowski is also on record saying Markus has the green light to shoot as long as it is a good shot.
It is going to be hard for Markus to replicate his unreal three point percentage from last season, so expect that number to go down a bit, not a lot though. It’s important to remember that even though he connected on nearly 55% of all of his threes last year and 57% of them in the Big East schedule, a year where he shoots 40% is still really really good when compared to the rest of the country. Howard averaged 22 minutes a game last season and I, along with probably the entire Marquette fanbase, believe his minutes will be upped to about 30ish minutes a game barring any foul trouble. Howard proved he belonged in the tough Big East conference last season with his freshman stats. Expect Howard to up his assist numbers some more as he comes in this season as the primary point guard. With more time on the court more points, assists and rebounds will appear in Howard’s box score. Howard also made the Big East All Freshman team last year so expect opposing defenses to be more aware of Howard’s presence on the court.
Why You Should Get Excited
There are a couple reasons to be excited for Markus Howard’s sophomore season. One reason, as the great Al McGuire would be happy to tell you, is that his freshman season is over. He had a great freshman campaign and made everyone realize he belongs here. Like wine, a player will get better with age and experience. Another reason to be excited to watch Markus Howard is that he spent the entire offseason not only working on his unreal three point shooting, but his defense and ball handling. He also seems to have taken more of a leadership role on this team, which is good especially for a young player. Along with Andrew Rowsey expect to see a couple four point plays between the two. A final reason to get excited for Markus Howard is his ability run a pick and roll with some of Marquette’s new big men. I am already thinking about the alley oops from Howard to Theo John and the Bradley Center going nuts.
Also: Markus told Sports Illustrated that his goal for the season is to connect on 60% of his three-pointers. So that will be fun to watch.
Again I’m not a big fan on picking on people’s flaws especially a D1 basketball players, but I have to by law of the blog. So, one pitfall for Howard could be his impressive three point shooting numbers from last year may get to his head and he may start taking a couple too many threes. Wojo said Howard has the green light when he thinks he has the best shot, let’s hope Howard does not take many contested threes. Another pitfall could be his defense. The fact of the matter is that Howard is still sub-six feet in height, and at the end of the day, that creates a liability for him on defense. There’s nothing he can do about how much space he can occupy on defense, and larger guards - hi, Sindarius Thornwell - can be a problem for him to defend. Howard worked a lot on his defense during the offseason, so I do not think it could be a huge problem, but with more time on the court comes more responsibility for Howard on both offense and defense.
Markus Howard will lead his team to many victories this season and perhaps maybe even an NCAA Tournament game.