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 the Minnesotan who might just play the most important role on the team this season..….
Redshirt Junior - #2 - Guard/Forward - 6’5” - 210 pounds - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Out of all the notable events that happened last year, it seems like the emergence of Sacar Anim ranks rather low on the list of things that Marquette fans remember. It makes some sense. Memory is a fickle beast. We are all humans with rapidly changing experiences that we can’t fully keep track of. As time trudges forward, we whittle away the less important experiences in life, and the crowning of the fourth best player on an NIT team probably doesn’t rank up there on necessary keepsakes.
Over a stretch of about 6 games in the middle of the season, Anim established himself as the fourth scoring option. This proved to be critical in his breakthrough performance in what would have been a key win at Creighton had Marquette followed our very specific instructions to not lose to DePaul. If you recall, Markus Howard left the game early with a leg injury and the Golden Eagles found themselves down 51-35 late in the first half without its star player. Sacar then turned in a masterful performance, finishing with 26 points, amazing defense and most importantly, a win.
With him being the fourth option on a team with offensive firepower, opportunities didn’t present itself much down the way, but the 6’5” slasher will look to expand his role with a good chunk of scoring missing from last year with Andrew Rowsey’s graduation.
His role in the offense will still be to create opportunities at the basket either by finishing at the rim or kicking the ball out for threes. His size and speed combination makes him a one-on-one nightmare and he’s a terrific cutter. With a pass-first point guard in Joseph Chartouny on the team, we could see a lot of backdoor cuts turning into easy buckets.
That size and speed combination was also very useful on the defensive end. During my offseason defensive scouting project, you all actually rated him as the best defender on the team mainly because of those reasons. He can guard multiple positions well, which is critical with the way Wojo tends to put out smaller lineups. The block and steal numbers aren’t going to pop out at you, but he doesn’t let his guy blow right by him.
I suspect that he, along with Joey Hauser, Jamal Cain and sprinkles of Theo John, will ultimately be the first guys off the bench. There’s a good chance that we see a defensive-minded lineup consisting of Chartouny/Elliott (eventually? maybe? please?)/Anim/One of the two Hausers/Heldt. That’s…a legitimately good defensive lineup that doesn’t sacrifice a lot on offense. It won’t happen much, but the guard options defensively this year should show a massive improvement.
Why You Should Get Excited
Pleasantly surprising performances following a stretch of failures:
-Matthew McConaughey at the beginning of the McConaissance (probably when he starred in Lincoln Lawyer. Could also be when he was the agent in Tropic Thunder. That’s such a great movie.)
-Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia!
-John Travolta in “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”
-David Schwimmer in “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”
-I would say Cuba Gooding Jr in “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” since comedy works in threes and all, but the man was in Snow Dogs. Nothing could ever tarnish him after that.
-Sacar Anim’s late season three point shooting splurge
Anim’s overall three point shooting numbers last year really did stink. 8/34 looks like Ian Happ’s batting average, not a passable three point percentage. However, if you take out your magnifying glasses, you’ll notice he started the year 1-16. That is Significantly Less Great, so he ended the year making 7 of his 18 trey balls just to make me happy. Thanks, Sacar. Yes, that’s a really small sample, but a summer’s worth of reps could help him develop that shot into a legitimate weapon. Teams can never have enough shooters these days, and the more you have, the harder it is for the defense to cover everyone appropriately.
There is also the question of who will account for all of those Andrew Rowsey points. While Markus Howard and Sam Hauser will look to expand their roles as scorers, Anim will likely be that former role player who looks to turn himself into a primary option when he’s in. The minutes might be harder to come by this year, but his usage should see a sizable uptick when he does get playing time. If he proves himself to be up to the challenge and adds that extra dimension to an already elite offense, then I’ll probably just start laughing because Wojo is an offensive wizard.
Before the Greg Elliott re-injury, I worried about a logjam among the wing positions. I figured that Jamal Cain would likely play a lot fewer minutes than he would otherwise deserve to play and Anim would have to get used to a lesser role than he was used to last year. Now that the depth in that position is more “normal” with Elliott missing a good chunk, if not all, of the year, Sacar should expect to see a continuation of his expectations from last year.
Where I think Wojo might try to expand Anim’s role is as a ball handler when Chartouny is taking a break. I originally figured that role would be split between Elliott and Howard, but even if Greg plays this year I don’t see him taking on that role with the injury being to his hand and all. Those normally hold the basketballs, which is fairly important when you’re playing basketball.
Depending on if Markus wants to maintain his throne in the Primary Bucket Getter Kingdom, Anim could be the guy taking the ball up when Chartouny needs a breather. Howard’s value to this team will be greater if he’s playing off the ball and Anim has shown the ability to drive the ball and avoid turnovers at at least an average rate. Where this could go wrong is if Sacar isn’t able to prove himself as a distributor, which he would need to develop considering he was fifth on the team in assist rate last year. Anim doesn’t have the “Eff you” range of Andrew Rowsey, so if he gets thrown into a backup point guard role that he can’t manage then the offense has a lower floor.