The 2018-19 college basketball season is quickly approaching, and thus, we turn our attention to previewing the upcoming Marquette Golden Eagles men’s basketball season.
As was the case last year, we’ve got a stacked up list of questions about the 2017-18 campaign, and each of the contributors to AE are going to take a crack at answering them. There will be a new question every weekday afternoon between now and the start of the season, so be sure to stop back every day to find the new one.
Onwards, then, to the question of the day:
Who will be most negatively affected in terms of playing time by the depth on the roster?
In other words: Who is going to see their minutes cut down the most from last season or in general in order to fit all of the guys on this year’s roster onto the court?
For a top 50-ish recruit, I imagine Joey Hauser will probably have a smaller role than what he might otherwise hope for. He’ll likely be one of the first 3 guys coming off the bench, but I don’t think he’ll be groomed to become a starter by the end of this year or even next year unless he develops at a crazy rate. He comes into the year being at a halfway point between his brother Sam and Ed Morrow in terms of their scoring abilities. Depending on Morrow’s immediate impact, that could put Joey in an awkward spot.
I’m going to spin this question a bit different than the rest, because I’m really of two minds as to who I think the answer to this question is, and they impact each other. If we’re talking returning minutes, I think it’ll be Theo John. I anticipate Jamal Cain will play some two and some three in backup roles, which pushes Brendan Bailey and the Hausers into the three and 4, not to mention plus Ed Morrow at the 4. Both Joey and Sam Hauser could get minutes as a small ball 5 because Ed Morrow has stated he does not want to play the 5, plus Matt Heldt will most likely start at the 5 and Ike Eke might snag a few minutes here and there.
On the other hand, if you look at the three and four, you have Sacar Anim, Sam, Jamal, and Ed that can all warrant minutes for those spots. There have been rave reviews of Brendan Bailey coming out of the preseason. Does that leave Joey Hauser out in the cold for minutes at the forward spots? If he’s a better Sam, do you risk dropping the consistent Sam’s minutes for the unseasoned Joey? Is he more or less versatile? I’m just wondering out loud if he ends up with the short end of the stick in the forward logjam, and am not confident in this statement, but it’s a question I’d like to consider.
The influx of newcomers on the roster are threes and fours (Morrow, Joey, Bailey, Eke), so the prevailing thought would be whoever played the most minutes there last season. But that’s where this one gets tricky, because last year’s starters at the three and four, Sacar Anim and Sam Hauser, are probably needed at other positions, Sacar as the backup two-guard and Sam playing whichever forward spot the lineup necessitates.
So I’m going with Matt Heldt. Heldt played 54 percent of available minutes last season when his only competition at the five was Theo John and Harry Froling. Now he has to contend with a more experienced John, Ed Morrow probably being better at every responsibility a center has even though he’s a bit shorter, and even some potential Ike Eke and Joey Hauser intervention. I’m as big an irrational Matt Heldt Stan as it gets, but he’s got more competition on the horizon this year.
AND I QUOTE:
“Matt may start for us. Matt may be a guy who plays eight minutes for us. I don’t know. That will all be determined based on practice and what group out there gives us the best chance to win.”
That’s Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski as reported by Ben Steele of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel whilst talking about the impact of Matt Heldt on the squad. There’s a lot of good stuff in there from both Wojo and Heldt, so please go read it.
The point here is that Wojo isn’t exactly nailed down to a defined role for a lot of guys this year, and if he’s saying “Matt might play eight minutes” out in public, then he has absolutely had a conversation with Heldt about the possible fluidity of the situation from night to night. Heldt, though, may be the one most at risk on a regular basis, especially if the MU staff sees a benefit to running out a lineup with nothing but dudes who can shoot threes. While Heldt has shown an interest in throwing up the long range bombs in preseason practices, there might be a lot of other lineups that are better for the Golden Eagles that have Heldt on the bench for long, long stretches.
While I think he’s going to get the short end of the stick this season, don’t think that you’re not going to get every inch of effort from The Milkman for every minute that he plays this season. That’s just what he does.
I believe Ike Eke will suffer from the roster depth. I have to say this: Ike is one of the nicest guys I have ever met. However, I still think he needs to develop a little more and will not play as much, especially with Matt Heldt, Theo John and Ed Morrow ahead of him.
As much as I hate to admit it, I think Matt “The Milkman” Heldt will see his minutes drop significantly from last season. Don’t get me wrong, I love Heldt’s work ethic and his proficiency at the free throw line (88% last year!) for a big man. But Theo John, Ed Morrow, and Ike Eke are more athletic than Heldt and can be more dynamic in the paint. I see Heldt playing the role of the veteran leader late in the season and being the second or third guy off the bench in relief of the guys mentioned above.
This is the deepest team of the Wojo era and honestly as long as I can remember. With depth comes playing time issues as you cannot play more than five guys on the court at a time, in case you didn’t know. This means, in all likelihood, a returning player is going to see their minutes go down pretty substantially. I suspect it will be a frontcourt player as the backcourt is rather thin now with Greg Elliott undergoing hand surgery. It will be hard to keep Jamal Cain off the court this season with his shooting, defense, and rebounding all being pretty damn good for a SF/PF. Sam Hauser obviously will be on the court for as much as possible so that leaves us with Theo John and Matt Heldt as the two most likely candidate to see their minutes take a haircut. Even if reports of Heldt developing a jumper are true, I still consider him the favorite to lose minutes to the new guys, Theo has so much potential that even scratching it will make him a more versatile defender than Heldt (unless he is going up against Ethan Happ whom Heldt will always dominate). Matt Heldt is a senior, so it may look bad to reduce his minutes his last year here but as he could be the nicest guy on campus and a true team leader I am sure that if his minutes were reduced he would take it in stride and do everything he could to help the team win.