With the 2016-2017 season in the books long ago, let’s take a few moments to look back at the performance that each member of YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles this year. While we're at it, we'll also take a look back at our player previews and see how our preseason prognostications stack up with how things actually played out. We'll run through roster in order of total minutes played (lowest to highest), which means we (finally) wrap things up with the season leader in minutes played.....
#10 - Freshman - 6’7” - 225 lb.
Sam Hauser Traditional Stats
Sam Hauser Fancy Stats
(** - denotes top 500 ranking via KenPom.com)
First and foremost, I think we’ll see a version of Sam Hauser that has been grossly underrated by the recruiting services. Here’s the thing: All of them list Hauser at 6’6", and two of them list Hauser at under 200 pounds. ESPN actually lists him at 180 pounds. He was 6’6", 210 lb. when he signed with Marquette last November, sure, but over the past year he’s grown another inch and gained 15 pounds. He’s gone from a kid who could be physically dominant purely by his height in the high school game to a guy who fits in just fine amongst the players at the collegiate level.
I think this is going to pay dividends immediately for head coach Steve Wojciechowski, particularly since Hauser is the third tallest player on the team. From watching SPASH in the state tournament last year - and by that, I mean watching the first 15 minutes of their games because HOO BOY were they over early - Hauser never made the wrong decision. Sure, maybe the guy he passed to didn’t make the shot. Maybe his shot didn’t fall. Maybe maybe maybe a lot of things, but his instinct was never wrong. He’s the kind of player where you lose track of what he’s up to on the court, never really showy, and then you look at the box score at the end of the game and Hauser has absolutely wrecked you.
I think - and there are definitely indications to this end out there already - that we’ll see a guy who gets a chance to contribute for the Golden Eagles early and often, and he does a little bit of everything. Even at his size, Marquette lists him as a guard/forward combo. Sometimes he might be zipping around the perimeter to knock down a three, sometimes he might be in the paint doing his share on defense. I don’t know if he’ll accrue the kind of stats to be on the Freshman All-Big East team at the end of the season given how deep the MU roster is and how much Wojo claims he wants to go deep with it, but I think we’ll see more than than enough of Hauser to be impressed with him at the end of the season.
Why You Should Get Excited
Man, how great would it be to see a freshman step in, play gutty minutes at the four on defense on this size starved roster, and then turn around on the other end and bang home threes from the corner? It’s entirely possible that, given his ability to shoot the long ball, Sam Hauser is the prototypical "stretch four." Given how this roster is assembled, anyone who can play inside defense alongside Luke Fischer (and Matt Heldt, I suppose) is going to get as many minutes as they can handle. If that’s Hauser, then I’m all in favor of that. I think Hauser’s ceiling - at least as a freshman - is making the conference’s all-Freshman team at the end of the season, and that would be more than welcome.
With the current roster construction at the Al McGuire Center - two centers, a lot of guards and wings - anyone who can defend in the paint and/or rebound is going to be indispensable to this team. Guys like Traci Carter and Duane Wilson aren’t going to be asked to do that, so that role will have be filled elsewhere. If Hauser isn’t going to be able to at least switch onto bigger players and defend them here and there, it’s going to be hard for him to get minutes.
So here we are, at the very last installment of the Player Reviews, talking about the guy who was most indispensable to Marquette this past season, the guy who earned the most total playing time across the stretch of 32 games in the 2016-17 season..... and it’s freshman forward Sam Hauser of all people. Not too shabby for a guy who didn’t crack the starting lineup until the fifth game of the season.
It almost didn’t end up like this. Hauser finished the year with 847 minutes played, occupying a spot on the court for nearly 66% of MU’s minutes this season. Haanif Cheatham was the only other player to crack 800 minutes this past season, getting to 814 by the time the horn sounded in the South Carolina NCAA Tournament game. However, Hauser raced past Cheatham in the final six games of the season, never playing fewer than 24 minutes while Cheatham struggled to get 10 minutes in that final run.
It’s kind of a weird thing when your minutes leader isn’t on the floor for 70% of the season. I suppose that’s how you end up with Sam Hauser ending up leading the team in minutes played but failing to make it onto the Big East’s All-Freshman team. He was one of the 30 most efficient players in the country and the 30th best three-point shooter in terms of percentage and amazingly surehanded when it came to turnovers (one of the 100 lowest TO rates in the country), but nine points and five rebounds per game with just a shade over an assist per contest just isn’t wowing the league’s coaches. Good luck finding a Marquette fan who was disappointed in Hauser this season, but I suppose it’s accurate to say he didn’t have a season that measures up next to guys like Justin Patton and Shamorie Ponds. Oh well.
We’re also in a weird place where a guy who averaged 9/5/1 led the team in minutes played, and on top of that, no one wants to argue that Sam Hauser played more minutes than he deserved to play. In fact, the argument can clearly be made that, based on Hauser’s efficiency, he should have been playing more this past season. The flip side is that the Marquette coaching staff has to balance getting the most offensive pop out of Hauser with not overloading a freshman with too much responsibility, especially on the defensive end. Hauser’s output on defense, including having one of the 400 best defensive rebounding rates in the country, is where he earned his playing time. Even at a listed size of 6’7” and 225 pounds, Hauser qualifies as undersized to play defense in the post or as a rim protector, but that was the job he was assigned for the most part this past season. You could best describe his frame as “lanky,” but he still went out there and busted his ass to provide MU with as much defensive presence as he could muster, and we have to tip our cap to Hauser for that.
Best Game: Well, this going to be kind of difficult. Hauser scored a career high 19 points three times this season: at Georgia, vs Fresno State, and vs St. John’s. He was marked as KenPom.com MVP for the FSU and SJU games, but his best offensive rating of the three came in the Georgia game. Hauser tacked on six rebounds against Georgia and five rebounds plus two assists against Fresno State. I think we have to go with the St. John’s game as his best outing, though. Eight rebounds and an assist against the Red Storm, plus four steals and a season high five made three-pointers. Hauser made his first four three-point attempts of the game, all in the first seven minutes of the game, and that propelled the Golden Eagles to a six point early lead on their way to a 93-71 victory that they desperately needed to make the NCAA tournament.
Season Grade, on a scale of 1-10: I think it’s safe to say that Hauser accomplished every positive landmark that was laid out for him in his preview, with the exception of hitting the ceiling of being on the Big East’s All-Freshman Team. He balances missing out on that with his ridiculous offensive efficiency and by leading the team in minutes played, though. Somewhere in here, we have to give him credit for being the guy hauling in the game clinching rebound and holding the ball when time expired against Villanova. Still, he missed out on the All-Freshman Team, so we have to limit Hauser to “merely” a 9 for his freshman campaign. Sky’s the limit for what he can accomplish going forward, though......