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 turn our attention to a guy that we won’t actually see until December at the earliest.….
Sophomore - #5 - Guard - 6’3” - 175 pounds - Detroit, Michigan
You can probably skip the next paragraph or two. If you want to just get to the part where I discuss Greg Elliott’s role now that he will miss the first month or two of the season, I don’t blame you. I just need to get something off my chest, even though it will read like those essays that cooking bloggers will put before giving you the recipe.
I’m not a procrastinator. I’m sorry that this doesn’t make me relatable, but I don’t understand how some of you animals wait until the last minute to take care of responsibilities. I just can’t do it. I always do necessary shit with a few days to spare in case something goes wrong. The same applies to writing these articles. I signed up to write all my previews on October 2nd and immediately wrote all of them. For this one I noted the fact that we hadn’t heard anything regarding Elliott’s hand procedure from back in the spring, so the recovery must be going well.
Guess what, it didn’t. He tore a ligament in the same hand that ailed him last year and now my roughly average preview will never see the light of day. I’ll accept all thoughts and/or prayers during this troubling time.
Because I have in no way established myself as a writer and am also scared that Greg Elliott will somehow read this and be sad, I’ll point out that none of that was serious. I mean I did write a preview that’s now scrapped, but what’s best for Greg should take center stage here. I’m not going to pretend to know what the best steps for him are, but I will try to map out how his season could look depending on his recovery.
I imagine the redshirt question will not be answered until the Wisconsin game, which is the earliest he would be expected to come back. He seems to be moving forward with the intention to play this year, but a lot can change between now and then. If he feels significant progress has been made, then there will be a spot for him to contribute during Big East play as the first or second guy off the bench. If this proves to be a more lingering injury, he might think about taking the rest of the year to make sure he is fully recovered.
In terms of what to reasonably expect, as the title of this section states I should be doing, I don’t know. Again, this is all dependent on how a 19 year old who lives 550 miles from me reacts to physical therapy. So, instead of the “Why You Should Be Excited” and the “Potential Pitfalls” sections, I’ll just address what the likely outcomes are of either decision.
If He Plays This Year
[In the greatest Dr. Farnsworth impression you’ve ever heard] Good news, everyone! In this scenario, Elliott will be cleared to play against Wisconsin. He won’t be rushed into a larger role than he had last year, but there is always a spot on the team for a guy who ranked in the top 300 nationally in block and steal rates.
I sense in this scenario that Wojo would be extra cautious with his playing time. There are two other wings that have proven themselves as viable bench options in Sacar Anim and Jamal Cain and one former top 100 recruit in Brendan Bailey. As long as all of them don’t completely flop we would see Elliott see a handful of 5-10 minute games before assuming the role as the first or second guy off the bench.
The one thing that we know won’t be affected by the hand injury is his defense. He showed tremendous instincts last year with his ability to jump in passing lanes and his timing on shot contests was about as perfect as you could hope for. It also doesn’t hurt that his wingspan could probably stretch across Wisconsin Avenue. His overall strength led him to be overpowered by larger wings and he made some of those pesky freshman mistakes by losing assignments, but overall he was the best freshman defender in the Wojo era.
Offensively is where we will truly know how healed the hand is. Elliott had a hard time dribbling through traffic last year with this similar thumb injury. He coughed the ball up at a 19.9% rate that looks even worse when you consider he was almost always playing off the ball (Andrew Rowsey posted a decent 16.6% turnover rate last year, if you would like a reference point). Knowing he has been rehabbing the hand instead of focusing on his handles doesn’t make me entirely confident that those issues will be fixed.
What we can still hope for is his ability to score. He very sneakily was a top 400 two point finisher. He felt very comfortable around that rim and didn’t shy from contact at all, posting the highest free throw rate on the team. He made up for the lack of dribbling prowess with impressive cuts in order to get those opportunities. Long range shooting also became a weapon of his, hitting just under 37% of his threes.
I can’t imagine this would be the year that Wojo turns Greg into the point guard that I think he will end up being, so we’ll probably see a lot of what we saw last year from him. Even if there’s not much visible development, his style will certainly contribute to this year’s team.
If He Redshirts
Full disclosure, I think this is the most likely option. I’m not saying he should do this at all, but I think part of his decision making process will involve the current roster makeup. Sacar Anim has shown that he can become that third scoring option and Jamal Cain’s defensive season last year isn’t talked about enough as it should be. Throw in the potential for Brendan Bailey to contribute this year and that’s a lot of ground to make up after missing at least two months of gameplay.
So let’s say he isn’t feeling 100% by the time Big East play rolls around and he decides to completely forego his eligibility for the year. By that time, he’ll likely be okay to at least do full on scrimmages with the team. That’s a half year of precious development that doesn’t count towards his eligibility. Having two procedures on the same body part over 7 months isn’t a slam dunk in terms of recovery, but having a full 13 months until he’s expected to play again would give him time to both completely heal and develop more as a player.
I really don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Greg Elliott can become a star for this program. His defense is at a level well beyond his age and his offensive game can break open if he is able to dribble effectively with both hands. If he redshirts this year, he still might find himself struggling for minutes in a guard logjam, but at least he wouldn’t have finished his third year of eligibility by then. Once Markus Howard and Sam Hauser graduate, there will be a huge opportunity in the rotation for someone to take. Elliott seems poised to become the reincarnated tulku of this program once that happens.