Welcome back to the AE Mailbag, everyone. A bit of housekeeping before we get started: The Mailbag will be on hiatus over the next two weeks. Don’t worry, there’s still going to be stuff to read on the site, the Mailbag is the only thing taking a break. We’ll have a brand new one on July 3rd, so as always, if you have a question you want answered between now and then, just email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get to it in July.
With that out of the way, on we go.....
Via @kurly99: Does it make sense [Chris] Holtmann is easier to replace at Butler than [Greg] McDermott would have been at Creighton but Holtmann is the better coach?
Technically this wasn’t submitted as a mailbag question, but I decided to give it more space to answer than Twitter allows. This stems from Ohio State’s job search last week, which involved first Chris Holtmann reportedly taking himself out of the running, OSU athletic director Gene Smith going to Omaha to meet with Greg McDermott and reportedly offering McDermott the job, but the Creighton coach elected to stay, and then ultimately Holtmann coming to terms with the idea of leaving Butler for the top spot in Columbus.
I think this is is accurate, or at the very least, it gives the appearance of that being the case. It may just be a matter of perspective, and that has to do with Butler more than anything else. Over the past nearly 30 years, Butler has time and time again shown that they can identify a coach who will succeed and give him the resources to do exactly that. Barry Collier (who is now the athletic director in Indianapolis), Thad Matta, Todd Lickliter, Brad Stevens, and Chris Holtmann have combined to post just two sub -.500 seasons with Butler and those five coaches have missed the postseason completely just seven times. Five of those times were in Collier’s first seven seasons which, and I can’t stress this enough, started back in 1990. The only misstep in their hiring succession was Brandon Miller, who ended up going on medical leave and resigning after one season.
Creighton, on the other hand, has had two coaches since 1994: Dana Altman and Greg McDermott. Altman made the postseason in each of his final 13 seasons, all coming out of the Missouri Valley Conference, and the only postseason miss by the Bluejays since Altman’s run began was McDermott’s second season in the Big East. It was also his first season without Doug, his All-American son, and it’s entirely possible that having Doug around papered over some ever so slight recruiting deficiencies as Creighton went from the MVC to the Big East.
The point is that we’ve seen Butler get their coach right over and over and over while Creighton maaaaaayyyyyybe lucked into one of the greatest college basketball players ever at the exact moment they made their only coaching change since Bill Clinton was President. McDermott seems to have things up and running in the Big East now, sure, but we just don’t have a feel for Creighton’s ongoing ability to identify the best basketball coach for their program over and over again.
As far as Holtmann being a better coach than McDermott, that’s how I would rank the two of them. Think of it this way: McDermott took a team mostly recruited to play in the Missouri Valley and struggled in his second season in the Big East. That was Holtmann’s first year in charge of Butler, and he was coaching a team that he didn’t recruit, that was partly recruited to play in the HORIZON LEAGUE, and a little bit recruited for the Atlantic 10, and ended up winning 23 games and beating Texas in the NCAA tournament. I mean, who are we kidding here?
Via @rayjoe2: What is insider thinking regarding Joey Hauser?
To bring everyone up to speed: Joey Hauser is the younger brother of current Golden Eagle Sam Hauser. Joey is listed at 6’8” and 210 lb. by 247 Sports, where he’s ranked as the #25 prospect in the country in the class of 2018 by their Composite system. He’s ranked as the best prospect in the state of Wisconsin, and easily the best available prospect in the state with Tyler Herro (#51) committed to the Badgers.
This is my read on the situation right now, although calling it “insider thinking” is a massive stretch.
- Joey Hauser is Steve Wojciechowski’s #1 priority for the class of 2018.
- Joey Hauser is leaning towards Marquette, but is still a long ways away from a decision.
- Wojo and the staff are making sure they’re prepared if that lean goes away, as Hauser is also being pursued by Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Virginia.
- It’s totally fine if Joey elects to go to college somewhere else, even if that somewhere else is Wisconsin.
- Even if Joey does go somewhere else, Sam still has as many as three more years to go at MU and blasting Joey and/or Sam over Joey’s decision is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad idea.
- The argument can be made, given the roster composition, that Marquette would be better off spending the last projected available scholarship for 2018 on a point guard, not a do-it-all forward like Hauser anyway.
Here’s the up-to-date scholarship chart, since we were talking about recruiting here.
Via @ChucklesBitMe: If you were to predict, how will the 2018 recruiting class shake out? Will we get Hauser? Will Wojo find a way to open up another spot?
Ok, we kind of just covered the first two questions, so let’s tackle the last one.
You tell me which guy you want to kick off the team.
No, seriously. That’s what “find a way to open up another spot” means. There’s literally no other meaning.
I mean, I guess technically there are other possibilities. Markus Howard could shoot 50% from long range on 8 attempts a game, win Big East Player of the Year, and declare for the NBA Draft. Sacar Anim and Matt Heldt could finish their degrees in three years and grad transfer. Haanif Cheatham could decide to go the Steve Taylor route for his final year. Sam Hauser could just up and go somewhere else. The four freshmen could not pan out and decide to bail.
You tell me which one sounds like the most fun to you (HINT: the answer is the Howard one), because that’s how Wojo will “find a way” to have another roster spot open.
Having a two person freshman class — Brendan Bailey and whoever ends up with the currently open spot — is totally fine. Look at what the rest of that roster is. It’s a great roster. Marquette doesn’t NEED more freshmen or more newcomers than that. To be quite honest, this coming winter will be the third straight year where Wojo is coaching a team that doesn’t have a lot of experience playing together and it’s getting kind of tiresome.
Via @AndyGold24: Scenario for you: A horrible accident happens that puts you in a coma the day before Marquette basketball tips off. You wake up a week after the national title game. How would you want to find out about how Marquette did? Would you want someone to spoil it for you? Avoid every MU fan until you find out? Would you binge-watch it like a Netflix series? Also how soon after waking up would you ask about it? Within an hour? A day?
Please note that the guy who just spent a semester in Australia, aka “the land where everything around you is trying to kill you,” is suddenly fascinated by horrible accidents befalling people. This is not a coincidence, I’m sure.
Ok, so presuming I wake up with perfect mental acuity, so rehab isn’t an issue, I think that once I realized that I had missed the entire season, I think that asking about Marquette hoops would be the first sports question that I asked. I’d imagine that I’d probably ask within a day, presuming that I didn’t have a boatload of testing needed based on my six months of atrophy because of being confined to a hospital bed. That kind of thing gets awfully distracting from important issues like how many games Marquette won.
I think I would want to find out by someone telling me. I would absolutely not watch every single game. Let’s be clear here: six or so of those games are buy games that Marquette should win by 15+ and therefore I don’t care. I probably wouldn’t even want to watch most games. If MU had a big upset win during the season, like this past season’s Villanova game for example, I’d want to watch that just for the sake of having the visual memory of the game that everyone else has. Same thing for any NCAA tournament games that Marquette ended up playing.
Via Brad in the email inbox: How big of a recruiting tool do you think the new stadium is/will be? Also how much more do you think they will charge for student tickets at the new stadium?
I like that you said “is” here, because Wojo was able to tell the current incoming freshmen that they would play in the new building for three of their possible four seasons in college. The Class of 2018 freshmen will be the first MU class to play all of their Marquette careers in what is currently named the Milwaukee Entertainment and Sports Center.
I don’t think Wojo saying “you’ll play every home game in the new Milwaukee arena” is any more of a recruiting tool than “you’ll play every home game in an NBA arena.” The fact of the matter is that as much as the building will be state of the art when it opens, the team will not spend that much time there. Maybe two hours for shootaround in the morning before a game, maybe four hours for a game, and that’s only 18 or so days a year.
I presume that student tickets will not increase. It would be a terrible PR move for the athletic department to suddenly pop the price up by $25 or whatever just because of the new building. The smarter move, financially speaking, would be to cut about 1,000 seats from the student section. Having 4,000 or so seats with an 8,000 undergraduate student body is kind of ridiculous and student attendance over the past decade or so has proven that to be the case. Trim it down, and thus Marquette can sell those extra 1,000 seats at full price instead.
Via Charlie in the email inbox: Sacar Anim... What can we expect out of him? Until Harry Froling can play, he is our most experienced bench player and someone who has had two years to shape his body, improve his shot, learn the schemes, etc. Is it fair to say we need him to at least carry Duane Wilson's numbers from last year?
Wait, is that right? Sacar Anim is the most experienced bench player for Opening Night? Rowsey, Howard, Cheatham, Hauser, Heldt..... oh crap, that is 100% right.
I have no idea what to expect from Anim. We know Wojo recruited him for a reason, and we know that he was the Associated Press Player of the Year in Minnesota as a senior. We also know that he and Wojo had a productive discussion about his future at Marquette that resulted in Anim redshirting, which effectively removes his ability to transfer until he has his degree in hand. I have to presume that the coaching staff is expecting him to be able to play solid minutes off the bench for sure, and based on Duane Wilson’s numbers from last season (scroll down a little bit), I honestly think Anim should probably be contributing more than that.
I really, really, really want Anim to have a solid year in 2017-18. It would mean a lot for him, I think, and I know it would mean a lot for Wojo and his staff in terms of identifying, recruiting, and developing talent that works in their system.
Via @TTrentC: Which player that transferred out did you hate to see go?
I usually don’t hate to see players leave. Maybe it’s a little cold and callous, but if they don’t want to be at Marquette, then I don’t want them at Marquette.
In retrospect, though, I really hate that Jameel McKay left. Not so much because of the kind of player he was at Iowa State, but more because his departure right after practice began was a giant red flag that something was going horribly wrong with Buzz Williams’ tenure. There were rumors at the time that McKay left because Buzz wanted him to redshirt, right? Looking back on it, is it a huge stretch to wonder if Buzz told him that he wanted him to redshirt but also that Buzz did not expect to be coaching at Marquette the following season anyway?
Via @GoodsOnSports: Who is your least favorite player you've ever watch play for #mubb?
It took me a while to figure out how to answer this. If you pay attention to the Player Preview/Player Review series, part of the reason it exists to allow for grading each player against expectations of what they can accomplish. For example: if you grade say, Duane Wilson based how his season went without any context, then you’d probably have to give him a 3 or so. Averaged 5/2/2, shot under 30% on three-pointers. See what I mean? But because of setting context for what was expected from him in the Preview, Wilson got a 7.
The point of this is that I tend to see the best possible eventuality for everyone who plays for Marquette and I want to see them succeed as much as possible. Thus, it’s kind of hard to have a least favorite.
The answer to the question is Todd Mayo.
I was never on board with Buzz Williams recruiting Mayo, and that’s because of his older brother. News first broke about O.J. Mayo accepting improper benefits in 2008, and in 2010, USC announced that Mayo was in fact ineligible due to said benefits. Todd Mayo played his first game for Marquette in November of 2011. Given the timeline there, Todd wasn’t even eligible to sign a letter of intent until six months after USC announced that O.J. had accepted improper benefits. Buzz recruited him anyway. From the get-go, I was firmly on the record as preemptively calling for Buzz Williams to be fired if Marquette ended up subject to NCAA punishment as a result of something that happened with Todd.
Now, nothing ever happened in that regard. But Todd Mayo was, in all likelihood, the most frustrating Marquette player in my fandom lifetime. Between his multiple suspensions, either handed down by the team or by the NCAA as a result of his academics, and stuff like Jamie McNeilly needing to tell him what to do after a timeout because Mayo had no idea what Buzz had drawn up (and McNeilly just told him “get open” and didn’t actually bother explaining the play to him), and finally bailing on Marquette nearly four months after Wojo was hired, it was just one thing after another with him. Let’s be honest: he was never good enough to be worth all the ridiculousness.
Via @RobertONeill31: What's the best Milwaukee brewed beer?
MILWAUKEE BEERS, RANKED (with the disclaimer that I absolutely have not had all of them because there’s a ton of new-ish microbreweries)
1 - Lakefront Riverwest Stein
2 - Milwaukee Brewing Company Louie’s Demise
3 - Sprecher Special Amber
4 - Brenner Brewing Butterfly Farts
5 - Lakefront Fuel Cafe
6 - Milwaukee Brewing Company Outboard
7 - Getting run over by a combine harvester
8 - Miller Genuine Draft
9 - Miller Lite
10 - Anything produced by MobCraft
Via @ericgebby: Best basketball shoe?
I really like my Marquette Jordan XXXIs.
That’s it as far as my opinions on shoes goes. Well, no, I take that back. I bought each of Dwyane Wade’s first two shoes from Converse. I really liked those, the second one moreso than the first one. Other than that, I dunno, like what you wanna like. I could even see myself buying a pair of the much-reviled Steph Curry shoes.
Oh, I do have a least favorite/worst shoe. It’s all of these.
Those are some boring ass gray shoes, Georgetown. What do you call these, anyway? The Air Honeymooners? Air I Love Lucys? Air Dick Van Dykes?
Via @77ncaachamps: Best opponent MU ever faced? EVER. And rank the top 10...
Well, the best opponent ever is probably the 1976 Indiana team that beat Marquette in the Elite Eight before winning the whole tournament and finishing as the last team to ever go undefeated for a whole season. You know what the bummer about that game is? Marquette was ranked #2 in the country at the time. How’s that for crummy NCAA tournament bracketing?? Related: The 1977 team was probably not Al McGuire’s best Marquette team.
The argument for the rest of the top 10 is probably the other #1 teams that MU has faced: 1953 Kansas State, 1956 San Francisco, 1974 North Carolina State, 1986 North Carolina, 2000 Cincinnati, 2003 Kentucky, 2011 Duke, 2012 Syracuse, 2016 Villanova, and 2017 Villanova. The San Francisco and NC State teams won the national championship that year, with the Wolfpack beating MU in the title game, as did the 2016 Villanova team. There’s your 2-3-4. #5 goes to Cincinnati, because the only thing stopping that team from winning the national title was Kenyon Martin breaking his leg. We’ll say #6 is UNC, #7 is Kentucky, #8 is Duke, #9 is 2017 Villanova, and #10 is Syracuse. That K-State team was ranked #1 in the country in early January and didn’t make the NCAA tournament, so sorry to you guys on being MU’s 11th best opponent ever. I suppose it’s possible that one of the 17 teams that were ranked #2 at the time that MU played them deserves consideration for the top 10, but I honestly don’t care that much.
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.