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:
What is the most interesting storyline for the 2018-19 Marquette season?
Can be on-court action, can be coaching, can be recruiting, whatever you want it to be.
The fanbase’s confidence in Wojo is what I’m most interested in. The results this year will determine whether or not he is a long term option for this program. If he locks down a 5 seed (or better?), then he can finally move past the “good recruiter/bad coach” stereotype in the eyes of most fans.
The most interesting storyline of this season will be figuring out who the hell Brendan Bailey is. Obviously we know some things like he is the son of Thurl Bailey, a 21 year old freshman at Marquette coming off a Mormon mission, and that’s about it. As our own esteemed Brewtown Andy has stated over this offseason, we should not expect anything from Bailey as he hasn’t played competitive basketball in two years,. I was all on board with this until reports came out of practice saying that Bailey actually looked like he was going to get real playing time this season and was “the real deal”. I am not one to put much weight in rumors from practice, but I am intrigued that the 21 year old freshman is receiving so much hype. It should be interesting to see what this kid can actually do. On one hand, you can look at his as a guy who hasn’t played basketball in two years and should be excited if he even gets minutes, but on the other hand he at one point was a top 50 recruit on 247 (he fell to 92 by the end of his senior year) who has had two years to mature and could prove to be an important player for this team. Truthfully, I don’t have a clue what Bailey is going to do this season and that is why I think it is the most interesting storyline to watch.
I’ve been struggling to put words to a concept that I’ve been thinking about probably since the middle of last season. You can hear me fumble my way through the idea on the Real Chilly Podcast, in fact. Since then, I think I’ve figured out a way to explain the idea, and that idea is, essentially, the most important and interesting storyline for the 2018-19 Marquette season.
Ready? Here we go.
It is more important for Steve Wojciechowski to do something with this team that can unequivocally be pointed to as a success than it is for him to reach any specific goal, and thus prove that he can do this job.
Top two finish in the Big East? Win the Big East Tournament? Win two NCAA tournament games? All of these are good possibilities. If MU accomplishes one of them, you have to call the season a success one way or the other. It doesn’t have to be two of them, or all three of them. Just something that can be pointed to as the reason why the season was a rousing success. This team is too deep and too talented to not succeed, and if they do not, the fingers don’t have anywhere to point other than at the head coach.
A close second option is whether or not Jon Rothstein assigns Marquette a catchphrase.
This is a no-brainer for me. This team’s most interesting storyline is if and how the defense improves. Marquette has been an elite collegiate offensive team for two consecutive years, but is 19-17 in the Big East and has yet to win a game in the NCAA Tournament. That’s because the defense has (to put it generously) sucked, and if it continues on the same poor trajectory, overall improvement will be marginal at most. If the defense only sucks a little bit, this is probably a tournament team. If the defense is high major hoops average, it’s a top-25 team. If the defense somehow becomes good with additions like Joseph Chartouny and Ed Morrow, look out.
I kind of agree with Ben here. I think the fanbase could be interesting this year. Wojo has all the pieces he needs to put together a tournament team. I, personally, am still a believer in Wojo, but I definitely know some people that are out on him already.
I am genuinely interested in if Marquette is the second-best team in the Big East this year. I know we all said that they would be almost assuredly in the top-3 in our BE standings roundtable last week, and almost every major publication preview has them at No. 2 or 3, but I am a little shocked as to how this has become a foregone conclusion? It makes total sense on paper, but things rarely play out as they do on paper. The Big East is a tough-ass conference, and without getting too into detail here, there are quite a few teams that could scrap together a couple more conference wins than Marquette. For a team that hasn’t shown any evidence of playing defense in a couple years, Marquette is really getting the benefit of the doubt that other Big East teams got a lot worse. Don’t get me wrong, I also think Marquette will finish as one of the three best teams in conference this year, but my certainty of that happening seems way less than everyone else.
Can we stop anybody? We already know we’re gonna be good at scoring the ball this year, and we finally have offensive balance and playmaking at basically every spot on the court. We don’t need a top 10 defense to win (although that would be nice). We just need a top 90-100 defense to be comfortably in the tournament (in my opinion, we still have to win games and whatnot). Can this team make that step?
Will Matt “The Milkman” Heldt be spotting up from behind the arc and actually draw defenders??? If so, this offense will have yet another added dimension and frustrate the living hell out of defenses. Could you imagine hearing “Heldt drains the three!” on the broadcast?! If he’s anywhere close to respectable from deep that will mean Marquette’s offense is the #1 ranked offense in the country as BPI predicted.