On Wednesday afternoon, Marquette Golden Eagles head coach Steve Wojciechowski had a media availability to talk about both the signing of class of 2018 prospect Joey Hauser and the season opener against Mount St. Mary’s on Friday.
The discussion about the season opener got off to a rough start right from the get-go, as Wojo announced that sophomore Markus Howard is dealing with a sprained ankle and freshman Greg Elliott has a sprained thumb. Neither guy has practiced since the Lindenwood exhibition game, and as a result, both men appear to be headed to game time decisions on their availability against Mount St. Mary’s.
That’s not super great.
In addition to the injuries, Wojo also announced that freshman Ike Eke will be redshirting for the 2017-18 season, which means that the Golden Eagles could find themselves with just seven active scholarship players to start the season. Perhaps Marquette will be able to find their way past the Mountaineers without Howard and Elliott, as KenPom gives MU a 96% chance of victory. However, #20 Purdue lurks next week Tuesday, and if those two are still injured then..... hooboy.
It’s hard to understate the potential loss of Howard from the lineup. As a freshman, he averaged a team high 13.2 points last season and shot almost 55% on three-point attempts. Elliott looked to be rounding into shape as a major contributor in his first season of collegiate basketball. He was the only one of MU’s freshman that Wojo trusted with notable minutes in the nailbiter exhibition win over Lindenwood. In the two exhibition games that Marquette played, Elliott averaged 5.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.5 assists, while averaging over 20 minutes per game. That’s some pretty solid contributions from a guy who’s not going to be asked to make a lot of significant offensive noise for this team. Yes, there’s the matter of his 0-for-5 three-point shooting, but he shot 4-for-8 on his twos, so that’s A-OK.
If neither guy can go — or, honestly, if only one of them can go — Marquette will need major contributions from both Andrew Rowsey and Sam Hauser to secure the win over Mount St. Mary’s. It would also be a major test right out of the gate for Haanif Cheatham, as the Golden Eagles would need the junior to show that he is completely past whatever was causing his sophomore slump last season.