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 will be the biggest surprise of the 2018-19 Marquette season?
It can be a pleasant surprise, it can be a shocking surprise, or anything in between.
This team will have at least a top 75 defense. I realize that this shouldn’t be seen as a huge accomplishment in a vacuum, but Marquette’s defense has sucked butt during Wojo’s tenure and has gotten worse each year. This year, however, the issue has already been addressed. Adding Joseph Chartouny and Ed Morrow and replacing Andrew Rowsey is a massive improvement. I made a Twitter thread addressing the improvements the Chartouny addition made from only a size perspective. Add in the fact that Chartouny is an elite defender and we’re looking at a team that can get some clutch stops.
Markus Howard will be the Big East Player of the Year and a first team All-American. On a deep roster, the sort of production to warrant this seems somewhat unlikely, but Howard made a significant jump in scoring ability from 2017 to 2018, and it’s possible he finds a way to jump again in 2019. If Marquette is hanging around the middle of the top 25 and pushing Villanova in the Big East like a lot of predictions have them doing, having a 23-ish points per game scorer in that mix will naturally lead to a lot of accolades.
Try this one on for size, kids:
Marquette goes undefeated at home in their first year at Fiserv Forum.
Kansas State? Nerds. Wisconsin? Nerds. Villanova? Nerds. Everybody’s going to lose to the Golden Eagles at Fiserv this season and by season’s end, we will start referring to the building as Fiserv Fortress.
The biggest surprise will be Sam Hauser winning Big East Player of the Year.
You heard it here first, folks. I think that this is the year Sam becomes actually recognized as being a top level talent. It’s easy to say that he’ll get overlooked in favor of Markus Howard, but if Sam averages 18/9/5 shooting in the mid-40s from long range and is solid from the line? Man, that’d be nuts. And the crazy thing is, he can actually do this.
Please do not @ me for this take. Or do, getting trolled on Twitter about my basketball opinions can be kinda funny tbh.
Sam Hauser will lead the team in points and rebounds per game this year. I know it’s kind of a hot take, but Sam should have the most minutes on the floor this year..... again.... and I don’t see why he wouldn’t be able to rack of those point and rebound numbers.
It’s a weird surprise, but still a surprise: Three of the starters will be replaced by conference play. Marquette has a pretty tough opening schedule with Indiana, Kansas, Kansas State, Wisconsin and Buffalo headlining their non-con slate. That means lineups have to start meshing quickly. We’ve seen in the past that Wojo isn’t afraid to switch things up if he feels it could help the team, and I think with the roster depth, we might get some of that this year. Markus Howard and Sam Hauser are the only two guys I know will start every game, barring injury. There are a lot of other factors that could result in lineup fixes. Maybe Theo John takes the opening tip only to be subbed out by Ed Morrow or Brendan Bailey immediately for a small-ball lineup. Maybe Joseph Chartouny needs to run the second unit if they have massive troubles initiating offense (this is a problem I don’t think people have thought much about) and Wojo trusts Howard to keep the first team running. Maybe Sacar Anim just isn’t as good as Bailey or Jamal Cain. Maybe Matt Heldt supplants Howard as the starting point guard, relegating Howard to the bench. Anything can happen, and I think this team has the potential to get real funky, in a good way, with their rotations.
The biggest surprise of the Marquette season will be our 12-1 record in the non-conference season. Marquette has a very tough non-conference season with Kansas, Wisconsin, Kansas State, Buffalo, and Indiana all serving as opponents in the first 13 games. I understand that there are still some players that need to be fully worked into our system, but I believe the players are going to be fully bought in and get off to a hot start this season. I have my one loss predicted against Kansas but, honestly, I like the way we match up against Kansas and can’t rule the game from being competitive down the stretch. Overall, I think we are in for a pleasant surprise at the beginning of the year.
Brendan Bailey will be a consistent starter by the end of the season. There’s been rumblings that he’s had an incredibly good offseason and in Marquette’s first exhibition he started, played 22 minutes, and scored eight points on 2-6 shooting. Nothing stands out here except for significant playing time. Make what you will of an exhibition but it does show Wojo may be inclined to use him regularly throughout the season. With his gifted combination of size and athleticism, I see Bailey becoming dangerous down low and developing his outside shot (he swished a three with a nice release against Carroll). Sam Hauser and Sacar Anim are comfortably a 3 or stretch 4. But If Anim can’t develop a respectable jump shot I can see Bailey sliding into the 4 spot and be a regular starter this year. He would realistically only be competing with Joey Hauser unless Wojo plays Ed Morrow at the 4 which may happen depending on the opponent. What a nice surprise it would be for a player who is just coming off a two year Mormon mission with very limited basketball related activities makes a significant impact as a starter in his first year at Marquette.