Before the 2017-2018 season started, the AE staff gave their predictions on a variety of questions about how the season would play out aka The Roundtable. As we are at the halfway point of Big East play, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at those predictions, see where we now stand, and also evaluate what might happen moving forward. Think of it as a parent/teacher conference of sorts, but with three-pointers.
Who leads the team in scoring?
Markus Howard currently leads the team in scoring at 21.7 ppg, but Andrew Rowsey is on his tail with 20.5 ppg. It has seemingly been a back and forth battle between the two. Markus puts up the big numbers on the road, and Rowsey at home...you know the story. To put things in perspective, Howard and Rowsey are the top 2 scorers in the entire Big East conference, so really, if you voted for either one, you deserve partial credit.
Both guys have significantly improved on their prior year numbers of 13.2 ppg and 11.6 ppg respectively. In my personal preview, I said Rowsey would get to 20 ppg, which would lead the team. Well here we are, 20.5 is not good enough to date. It has been fun to watch each of the two seemingly put up 30 in any given night. It should be a good battle to the end, and make sure you enjoy it. The prolific scoring and shooting numbers that they are putting up in the same season will be looked back on as a special season.
Who leads the team in rebounding?
Sam Hauser leads the team in rebounds with 5.9 rpg. That (1) up there was my vote by the way, humble brag. I had thought that he would only build on his impressive 5.0 rpg freshman campaign, and he has.
However, newcomer Harry Froling has been very impressive rebounding the ball since joining the active roster. He is currently second on the team with 4.5 rpg. Froling is averaging 14.9 minutes per game compared to Hauser’s team leading 32.3. It seems as though Froling has begun to carve out a larger role on the team, and thus more playing time. However, I think the consistency and more guaranteed playing time for Sam Hauser will be the reason why he leads the team in rebounds when it is all said and done.
P.S. Theo John still looks like he eats rebounds for breakfast. Theo, if you are reading, #FreeTheFro.
Who leads the team in assists?
Last year, Marquette’s leading assist leader was Jajuan Johnson at 2.7 apg. Currently, they have 3 players averaging more than that mark. Andrew Rowsey is the leader with 4.2 apg. He has been the primary ball-handler when both he and Markus Howard are on the floor at the same time. It is important for a team like Marquette to move the ball to free up open shooters. Rowsey is followed by Hauser and Howard who both average 2.9 apg. Barring a massive shift in philosophy from the coaching staff, I don’t think either will be able to close the gap and catch Rowsey.
Which sophomore (Markus Howard or Sam Hauser) has the biggest jump forward?
How do we begin to analyze the “biggest jump?” Markus Howard has received a lot of national attention for his 52 point game. There have been a lot of national articles written about him, and his name has finally begun to be mentioned as an NBA prospect. Sam Hauser is so steady. Coach Wojo has stated multiple times that Sam Hauser is the most important player to the team. The stats don’t lie though, so let’s take a look.
2016-2017: 13.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.3 apg, 50.6% FG, 88.9% FT, 54.7% 3P
2017-2018: 21.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.9 apg, 46.5% FG, 95.2% FT, 38.1% 3P
2016-2017: 8.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.3 apg, 47.3% FG, 82.8% FT, 45.3% 3P
2017-2018: 14.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.9 apg, 50.2% FG, 90.6% FT, 49.6% 3P
The % of increase in points between the two is almost identical. They both have shown a solid increase in rebounds, with Hauser increasing his assists at a better clip. The big difference is FG% and 3P%. Sam Hauser has increased his efficiency in both categories to the point where he is shooting the ball better than Howard this year. Therefore, as it stands right now, I would give the nod to Hauser. Both of these players have been relied on heavily during their first 2 years on campus. Their continued growth and experience will be key to finishing the remainder of this season strong.
Who is the X Factor on this year’s team?
A lot of names were thrown out there for preseason X Factor. Sacar Anim, Harry Froling, Matt Heldt, Theo John, Greg Elliott, and even Ike Eke. This is good, because everybody has their own opinion as to the definition of an X Factor. You could also make the argument for many of the guys listed above being the X Factor. Sacar Anim has been a reliable player to slot in the starting lineup every night and shadow the opponent’s best offensive player. Greg Elliott has shown flashes as a great defender as well. Harry Froling looks like he is starting to become more comfortable in the system. I think the X Factor for this season is still undecided. However, the things that I have seen from Froling the last few games makes me think that he could be the difference for this team moving forward. Harry Froling is my new pick for X Factor.
Who is the starting five on Opening Night against Mount St. Mary’s?
Your actual Opening Night starting five? Rowsey, Anim, Cheatham, Hauser, Heldt.
Welp, nobody could have predicted that one. A lingering ankle injury kept Markus Howard out of the starting five, even though he still played 25 minutes that night.
Rowsey, Howard, Anim, Hauser, Heldt has been the most common lineup this season. In the last game vs. Villanova, Froling replaced Heldt. We will see if that was a matchup thing or if that will be the norm moving forward.
Who (or what) will be the biggest surprise on this team?
The biggest surprise so far was Haanif Cheatham leaving the program. Transfers happen every year for a variety of reasons, and if you follow Marquette, you should be used to it by now. The loss of Cheatham was significant. Although he was coming off of a down sophomore season, many were expecting a bounce back to reflect something closer to his freshman year numbers. Even if that bounce back didn’t happen, Cheatham would still have been relied on for reliable minutes. His defensive prowess and veteran presence would have made for multiple lineup options. We will never know the impact he would have had on this team. It has forced Jamal Cain and Greg Elliott to grow up quickly. Cain, Elliott, and Sacar Anim have taken the minutes that Cheatham would have played. In the long run, it may prove to be beneficial for the development of the players I just listed. However, having Haanif Cheatham on the roster only improves the overall makeup of this team.