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2018-19 Marquette Basketball Player Preview: The Bench Mob

Four walk-ons! How great is that?!

Buddy Jaffee
Buddy Jaffee in the house, y’all

The 2018-19 college basketball season is right around the corner, so let’s get into the Marquette Golden Eagles basketball roster and take a look at what to expect from each player this season. We’ll be going through the players one by one: First MU’s lone true freshman, then the lone graduate transfer, followed by the three players who redshirted last season for one reason or another, and then wrapping up with the returning players, going in order of average minutes played per game last season from lowest to highest.

We’re going to organize our thoughts about the upcoming season as it relates to each player into categories:

  • Reasonable Expectations
  • Why You Should Get Excited
  • Potential Pitfalls

With that out of the way, we’re actually going to start things off with a little something special. For the first time in a long long time, Marquette has an abundance of walk-ons. Thus, let’s talk about......

The Bench Mob

Tommy Gardiner, Mike Lelito, Buddy Jaffee, and Cam Marotta

Do not underestimate the importance of the bench mob, not that they will rain down threes on opposing teams or play lockdown defense while up one with the clock winding down, but these guys who will be spending nearly all their time on the bench will exercise a great amount of control over the emotions of the team. As a former member of the middle school bench mob (Nothing like having noted Maryland one-and-done Diamond Stone transfer in and take your starting spot), I know firsthand how important the guy not playing are to team chemistry. That being said, these guys are on the roster for a reason… they can play basketball. At one point Gardiner, now a freshman at Marquette, averaged 17 points per game in in his junior year before suffering a season ending knee injury. Lelito, a redshirt sophomore, was a four time letter winner and a team captain his senior year at Hersey High in Mount Prospect, Illinois. Jaffee, also a freshman, earned four varsity letters in high school as well, at one point helping his team to the state semi-finals in Indiana. Marotta, the elder statesman of the group, has actually scored more points against D-1 competition than Duke’s best three players combined.

Reasonable Expectations

I can’t reasonably say that expect any of these guys light up the box score. However, what I can say is that it is reasonable for them to push the scholarship players as hard as they can in practice, be supportive during games, and maybe chuck a couple threes when we are blowing Wisconsin out in the Fiserv Forum this year. The other key thing for the group is to get good grades, unlike the scholarship players who may or may not agree with the adage popularized by the great Cardale Jones “we didn’t come here to play school” (Note: I do not think this is actually the philosophy of Marquette basketball as MU had a 3.7 team GPA this summer), the bench mob did come here to play school and I, and Wojo in all likelihood, expect they do well in class.

Reasons To Get Excited

Does anyone remember the Monmouth team of two years ago? If you don’t I can’t totally blame you, I can’t list a single player on that team. I do remember them punching way above their weight class and having one of the most fun and original bench mobs I have ever seen. With four walk-ons this season, our bench mob has a chance to be one of the more creative groups in the country. As someone who led his high school student section, I can confirm that cheering for people more talented than yourself can be nearly as much fun as playing the game itself and I am looking forward to what these guys can offer in terms of hyping up the guys in the court, the fans at the stadium, and those who prefer to watch the game on a screen at home.

Potential Pitfalls

Fortnite. Fortnite is the number one potential pitfall. For you fellas and gals who are fortunate enough to not know what Fortnite is, it’s a video game/cultural movement/dance phenomenon that is possibly the most irritating of all time, it has nearly consumed my entire generation. If the bench mob falls into the trap of playing Fortnite too much we may end up with derivative celebrations, poor grades due to lack of time doing homework instead of playing Fortnite, and carpal tunnel syndrome in some extreme cases. I am only mostly joking here as the Canucks (the guys with the skates and the sticks) have actually banned Fortnite on road trips because they were worried it was impacting performance. My hatred for Fortnite aside, there are not too many pitfalls I foresee for the bench mob, their success of the job is based almost entirely on effort. If these guys try hard in practice, keep an upbeat attitude on the bench, and don’t get kicked out of practice at any point during the season, they will have done a good job.