The Mailbag is back again after last week’s successful debut, so let’s jump right in......
Via @SwaggyMo33: Do you think Marquette will be better this year than last year? Lost some key pieces but will gain more d and front court athleticism
Well, not to chicken out on answering this, but it depends on what you mean by “better.” As SM33 alluded to, it’s probably unlikely that Marquette ends up as the 4th best effective field goal shooting team in the country with the departures of Katin Reinhardt, Jajuan Johnson, and Luke Fischer, all of whom had an individual eFG% over 50%. As a result, they’re probably not going to have KenPom’s 8th most efficient offense, either. If Marquette improves on either their 19-13 overall record or their 10-8 Big East record, it’s going to be completely dependent on the defense getting miles and miles better.
I think they will be a better defensive team, but with Purdue and the three Maui games in the first five or six games, we might have to wait to actually see that in effect. This is even more likely as MU will have to depend on Theo John or Ike Eke to back up Matt Heldt as Harry Froling won’t be eligible til December. The likely result is that Marquette isn’t noticeably better than their record from last season, but they’ll be playing much better than in 2016-17.
Oh, it’s Oscar’s and it’s not even close. I want to make this clear: I actually like Oscar’s. The menu is simple, but the food is great; the atmosphere of the place is super retro-Milwaukee, and the patio is pretty neat. I need to make sure that you understand that I honestly like Oscar’s before the next paragraph.
Look, Solly’s has a sterling reputation as a Milwaukee area icon, and hooray for them for it and hooray for everyone who enjoys their burgers. For me, it’s inedible garbage. Go look at their Facebook photo album if you’re not familiar with the joint. Why in the name of all that’s holy would you want to purchase a sandwich — aka a food item that has a bread base resting on the plate — that’s literally sitting in, and thus absorbing a puddle of melted butter? If I’m missing some of the charm of it somewhere here, please pipe up in the comments section and let me know.
I’ll tell you what: I’m definitely looking forward to Oscar’s new second location just a bit south of Miller Park later this year. Anything that brings quality burgers closer to my house is good.
Via blarson in the email inbox: What position will Sam Hauser play next year? He was primarily a small forward in H.S and AAU, however, with his surprising strength down low and shot blocking ability he did a pretty great job defending even the stronger power forwards last season. Will Wojo risk playing Hauser at the small forward where his foot speed could be an issue? How will the arrivals of PF/C Theo John and Ike Eke impact where Hauser plays? How would his offensive game differ playing SF compared to PF?
First of all, I don’t believe in positions in basketball, at least not in the traditional PG/SG/SF/PF/C terminology. I believe in roles within a particular team, but the best option is always to get the five tallest guys you can who can also dribble and shoot.
To answer your question, though: I think that to start the season, Hauser will usually be the second tallest guy on the court for Marquette. Think about it: Your starting lineup is likely going to be Markus Howard, Andrew Rowsey, Sam Hauser, Matt Heldt, and a yet to be determined player, probably Haanif Cheatham. I don’t think we can expect Theo John or Ike Eke to play with Heldt at this point, and I think Jamal Cain is probably best deployed as a wing defender. Harry Froling throws the calculus off a little bit, so we may have to wait until December before we really know what Hauser’s role on the team actually is.
Given the influx of guys who are 6’8” or taller on the team, I think it’s possible that Wojo could end up playing a lineup that has two of them on the court at the same time along with Hauser. At that point, I don’t think we need to worry about Hauser staying in front of wing players on defense, because with two potential rim protectors on the floor, you could, in theory, design the entire defense around the idea of funneling drivers towards Heldt/Froling/John/Eke. If the whole point is to merely deter your man long enough for one of two guys to alter their path to the basket, then you don’t need to worry about being able to keep up with guys to a certain extent. It wouldn’t just protect Hauser, by the way, as both Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey had foul issues at times last season.
I’m not worried about Hauser’s offensive contributions if his role on the court shifts due to increased size. He’s the kind of player who just fits in around what his teammates are doing and sometimes you don’t really notice him all that much, and then you look up and realize he averaged nine points and five rebounds while leading the team in minutes played.
Via @77ncaachamps: Is Summerfest overrated? Discuss.
I’m pretty sure it is, and I’m pretty sure I’ve always thought that. I have not been to Summerfest since 2012, when Foo Fighters played the Marcus Amphitheater. (FUN FACT: It’s not the Marcus Amphitheater any more! When did that happen? Who knows?) Before that, I was last in attendance in 2002, for my first date with my wife. That is the sum total of times I have been to Summerfest, and I really don’t expect to ever go back. I suppose there could be another Amphitheater act that could get me to go, but let’s not hold our breath, shall we?
If you REALLY like live music performances, and you don’t really care about ever hearing of the band in question before or after they play, then Summerfest is probably super awesome. Don’t get me wrong, the list of headliners on the free stages is always pretty strong. However, if you want to actually, y’know, be within 100 yards of the stage for the headliners, you need to show up hours ahead of time. You know what’s low on my list of things to do? Sitting around doing nothing in late June/early July sunshine, listening to bands I’ve never heard of and don’t care about, and paying absurd prices for beer and food.
This isn’t me yelling at kids to get off my lawn, either. I had these thoughts when I was 16/17/18 years old and growing up in central Racine county, with relatively easy access to Summerfest. The idea of burning an entire day just to go see Spacehog or Seven Mary Three or whatever seemed maniacally stupid.
FUN FACT I JUST DISCOVERED: While double checking the list of headliners to make sure that it was, in fact, pretty strong this year, I discovered that the BMO Harris Pavilion is actually doing reserved seating/ticketing for about half of the headliners on that stage. Wanna be in the same area code as House of Pain (and I know the Bucky fans out there are just going to pee themselves for a chance to see Jump Around played live) for their show? That’ll be $25. No showing up before 4pm to get in for cheap for you!
Via [REDACTED] in the email inbox: What is your opinion on The Elam Ending?
I think it’s kind of brilliant and I’m really looking forward to seeing it in use at The Basketball Tournament’s Jamboree.
Here’s the short version for you, if you’ve never heard of it: At the first stoppage of a basketball game with less than four minutes to play, the game clock is turned off. The officiating crew looks at the score, adds seven points to the team that’s leading (or to the score of the tie game), and the game will be over when one team reaches that new +7 target score.
EXAMPLE: Marquette is leading Georgetown 71-67 with 3:47 left to play when a Hoya player whistles a pass out of bounds. Clock stops. The game clock is turned off. The PA announcer declares that the game will be over when a team reaches 78 points.
This will do two things: Effectively eliminate fouling by the trailing team to get the ball back and cause the game to end with the ball going through the rim.
Fouling to extend the game and give yourself a shot to hit a bunch of threes to rally seems like a solid strategy, but if the mere act of scoring points inches your opponent close to victory, it’s not. Under Elam Ending rules, if the trailing team fouls the leading team four times, and they make their first seven free throws, the game’s over.
In addition, every time Marquette hoists a shot in my example scenario once they’ve reached 75/76/77 points, it could be the game winning shot. Of course, if Georgetown gets a couple of stops and takes a 72-71 lead, now they’re just six points away from winning the game. Imagine a Georgetown rally in the example and the game is tied at 77. Next bucket wins. Might be pretty fun, huh?
It also increases intensity by a team winning a blow out, because the game ends when they reach the +7 target score. Two treys and a layup, bang, we’re outta here. No slouching around burning clock for three minutes when the game has long since been decided.
Via Editor Emeritus @Rubie_Q: rank the Big East fanbases in terms of insufferability
With 1 as most insufferable and 9 as the least (I feel like I can’t properly rank Marquette):
1 - Seton Hall. You get to be ranked as the worst fan base when grown women attending a volleyball game have a discussion, serious or not, about whether or not they want to shoot the home team pep band with a BB gun. THIS HAPPENED AT THE MCGUIRE CENTER. AT A VOLLEYBALL GAME.
2 - Providence. Sorry/not sorry, Jonathan Xavier ruined your entire fanbase forever for me.
3 - Creighton. Sorry, Jays faithful, but y’all are the Louisville of this iteration of the Big East. Regardless of event (soccer, volleyball, basketball, whatever) or day or time, there’s always at least 50 of you in attendance. It’s weird and you’re creeping us out.
4 - DePaul. Yeah, I don’t care that your women’s basketball team is really good. The guy who shows up at the McGuire Center and waves a flipping flag is annoying as hell and you’re still cheering for DePaul, you nozzle. He shows up at volleyball and soccer, too, and only one of those three teams is any good.
5 - Georgetown. Look, it’s over for you guys. Just accept your fade into obscurity already.
6 - St. John’s. See Georgetown.
7 - Butler; 8 - Xavier. I honestly don’t have a reason to dislike you guys at all yet. Xavier gets to be #8 because they hate Cincinnati, too, so that breaks the tie between them.
9 - Villanova. I’m giving you guys credit for not being insufferable doorknobs about owning the rest of the league in men’s hoops and winning that national championship. You have all been impressively sedate about it.
Via @AndyGold24: Do you have a least favorite movie? And also does your least favorite movie say more about you than your favorite movie?
My least favorite movie ever is The Cell, a flick from 2000, directed by Tarsem Singh, and starring Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, and Vincent D’Onofrio.
It contains the single stupidest plot hole I have ever seen and the entire movie is balanced on the conceit that dozens of FBI agents are wildly incompetent at the most simple facets of being agents of a bureau devoted to investigation.
The visuals in the film are amazing, there’s no doubt there. However, based on how the plot is resolved, the entire “well, we have to enter this insane dreamscape” part of the movie — which is most of it’s 107 minute run time — is completely unnecessary.
I don’t know if I have a specific favorite movie, at least not one that I reliably point to as my favorite like I can point to The Cell as my least favorite. However, I will concede that the plot hole in The Cell driving me insane probably does say a lot about me. I have the same visceral reaction to the “car chase in a melting and collapsing ice castle” scene in Die Another Day. It’s REALLY stupid.
Via @RBarsketis_11: What's the biggest weakness of MU basketball roster? What's the biggest strength?
Well, the strength is the easy one: Outside shooting. Last season, the four-pack of Markus Howard, Andrew Rowsey, Sam Hauser, and Haanif Cheatham combined to shoot 229-of-488 on three-pointers for a shooting percentage of 46.9%. And yes, that’s including the not-great-compared-to-his-teammates but actually mostly acceptable 32.5% from Cheatham. As discussed earlier, I’m 100% okay with Howard going bananas with the three-point attempts next season. Even if (and by if, I mean when) he drops off from his freshman year pace, he’s still going to be better than 95% of college shooters, and that’s A-OK by me. The same can be said for Rowsey and Hauser, although I’m going to need Cheatham to do a wee bit better before I sign off on more attempts per game from him.
The biggest weakness is a relative lack of experience, and yes, that’s turning into a familiar refrain for Marquette fans. Last year, Marquette ranked #192 in average experience and #206 in minutes continuity. The year before, #344 and #218 respectively. In Wojo’s first season, #141 and #313. In 2017-18, Marquette is losing 44% of its minutes played with the departures of the three seniors and Duane Wilson transferring to Texas A&M, so I don’t expect to see MU suddenly wander into even the top 100 of either of those categories. While it’s great that the Golden Eagles will suddenly have five guys 6’8” or taller on the roster, the fact of the matter is that those guys have a combined 651 college minutes played and 505 of them are Matt Heldt’s. Marquette’s success next season is going to pretty much completely depend on whether a mid-year sophomore transfer and three freshmen can provide a lot of defensive presence for a program that has been objectively bad on defense under their current head coach, and if that doesn’t sound like a red flag to you, I don’t know what does.
Do you have a question for the Anonymous Eagle Mailbag? It can be about Marquette hoops, any other Marquette sports, or whatever strikes your fancy at the moment. Tweet it to us (@AnonymousEagle) or email it to us (email@example.com). The more the merrier, and we’ll see if we can turn this into a weekly thing.