When it came time to figure out how to go about previewing the 2018-19 Marquette women’s basketball season, a decision had to be made. The usual tactic around these parts is to split the team in to returning players and newcomers. Unfortunately for Carolyn Kieger’s team, she has 10 returning players and just two newcomers. That leads to one VERY VERY VERY long article I don’t want to write out to that length and you don’t want to spend that much time reading one thing, and one much much much shorter article.
With that in mind, we’re going with a different split here, and this one actually makes a lot more sense given how Kieger has coached the team over the past three seasons. In the previous article, we discussed the five senior starters, or at least they should be starters, in theory. That’s usually where Kieger went last season, but even the 2017-18 Big East Player of the Year didn’t start every game last season. Here we’ll talk about everyone else on the roster, aka The Bench. Not The Bench Mob, that’s a different thing, and MU doesn’t have any walkons on the roster.
As mentioned, MU has two newcomers on the roster this season, so for the purposes of organization, this has been divided into sections with the five returning women, followed by the two newcomers.
In general, I want to make a note about the women we’re talking about in this article. The six seniors are gone after this season. They’ve been carrying the heaviest of weights for this program for the past three seasons. A lot of continuing on with the progress that Carolyn Kieger has made as head coach is going to fall onto someone starting next year, and while MU has a lot of freshmen coming in, some of that weight needs to be carried by these women. With the exception of Sandra Dahling, they’re going to be the veteran faces a year from now, and while none of them have truly been relied on to this point, that’s going to have to change at some point in the next 365 days.
Onwards then, going in alphabetical order for both sections....
THE RETURNING PLAYERS
#20 - Forward - 6’2” - Junior - Bridgeville, Delaware
2017-18 Stats: 26 appearances, 5.9 minutes per game, 1.1 points, 1.7 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.5 steals
Every time I see Altia Anderson play for Marquette, I like what I see.
The problem is that she’s a lanky 6’2” tall, and thus she doesn’t have the physical capacity to fill Marquette’s lone true weakness: defending larger post players. We’ve seen those physical presences give Marquette fits over and over again in the past two seasons, and we saw it again on Thursday night in this year’s lone exhibition game. Grand Valley State’s 6’4” center did a number on Marquette and ended up beating the Golden Eagles.
There’s not really anything different that would have happened if Anderson had played literally at all in that game, as being able to defend those types of players just isn’t her strong suit. Unfortunately, that also leaves her without a strong role on this team, even after two years on the bench. The fact that she couldn’t get off the bench in a tightly contested exhibition game probably tells us that we’re in for more of the same from Anderson in 2018-19. That’s too bad, because I like what I see from her every time she gets out there. It’s just that those minutes are just few and far between.
#10 - Forward - 5’9” - Senior - Stockholm, Sweden
2017-18 Stats: 18 appearances, 3.5 minutes per game, 0.3 points, 0.3 rebounds, 0.3 assists
I’m not going to try and trick you into thinking that this is the year that Sandra Dahling puts it all together and averages a double-double or something. We know what Dahling is at this point in terms of an on-the-court player, and so does the coaching staff.
What we also know is that she’s the emotional center of the team.
You know how the refs always meet with the team captains before the game, just the average “hey, how’s it going, let’s have a clean game today, etc.?” Dahling was the constant presence in those pre-game meetings last year. She’s the captain. Not the reigning Big East Player of the Year. Not the 2017 Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Player. It’s Dahling and her 63 total minutes played last year.
Everyone has a role on this team. Dahling’s might be the most important.
#24 - Guard - 5’11” - Sophomore - East Greenbush, New York
2017-18 Stats: 33 appearances, 5 starts, 19.6 minutes per game, 2.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.4 steals
Of the group that will be still around next year, it may be Selena Lott that has the most crucial role to play in the transition. If you look at the returning group as a whole relative to what they’ve shown already and what Marquette will end up losing, it seems that Lott is the most likely candidate to take over as primary ballhandler next season. Of course, Carolyn Kieger has loaded up her recruiting class with players that sound like they might be able to take that task on, but you generally want a veteran presence to be the floor general.
That seems like it’s going to be Lott.
It’s going to be hard for her to absorb minutes in that role this season from Danielle King, Natisha Hiedeman, and Amani Wilborn, but it seems like something she’s going to have to try to work her way towards as the season progresses.
The good news is that she’s already more than defensively capable. Kieger sang her defensive praises last season, and that showed with her steals numbers last season. We’ll see what she can add to the arsenal this season.
#30 - Guard - 6’0” - Junior - Chicago, Illinois
2017-18 Stats: 34 appearances, 2 starts, 8.8 minutes per game, 3.9 points, 0.7 rebounds
Going into last season, the obvious role for Spingola was to step into McKayla Yentz’s job as shooter. Mission accomplished, to a certain extent. Her 37.6% mark from behind the arc made her the second most accurate shooter on the team last season, trailing only Allazia Blockton at 39.2%. However, as you can see from her stat line, while Spingola played in every game, she was playing a role coming off the bench to knock down shots and that’s about it. She averaged out to just one made triple per contest, which is fine, but with so many teammates talented enough to start taking the ball to the rack, you’d think that she could get a few more chances than that.
There’s not much change in the roster from last season with the losses of Shantelle Valentine, Olivia Moskari, and Myriama Smith-Traore. The roles from last season are essentially staying in place, depending on what the two newcomers bring to the table. What is it about Spingola that can earn her a few more minutes per game this season? Her shooting ability seems to be an untapped potential for the Marquette offense, but she has to fight her way past the senior starters to get onto the floor for serious minutes.
Lauren Van Kleunen
#42 - Guard - 6’2” - Redshirt Sophomore - Mason, Ohio
2017-18 Stats: 34 appearances, 8 starts, 15.5 minutes per game, 4.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.7 steals
If you take a player’s very first collegiate game and base your evaluation of the rest of their career off their first game, then we could very easily say that Lauren Van Kleunen’s redshirt freshman year was a disaster.
In last year’s opener, after sitting out the 2016-17 season, Van Kleunen started, played 29 minutes, shot 8-of-15 overall, including 5-of-10 from downtown, finished with a team high 23 points, grabbed eight rebounds, three on the offensive end, and chipped in a block and two steals.
As you can see from her stat line from last season, the rest of 2017-18 wasn’t quite as successful. That’s the kind of thing that happens for freshmen, though, even for redshirt freshmen. After going 5-for-10 in the opener from three-point range, LVK went just 11-for-54 the rest of the season. That’s 20% for those of you playing along at home, and it gave her a 25% mark for the season.
Van Kleunen went 3-for-8 in the exhibition game against Grand Valley State, so perhaps she’s been working hard on her shooting and perhaps that she has the green light from Carolyn Kieger this year. She seems to have a decent amount of trust from the coaching staff in terms of playing time, but with as many talented offensive players that Marquette has, a 25% shooting average for the year just isn’t getting it done in terms of efficiency.
It’s possible that Van Kleunen earns minutes this year by being able to defend the interior. At 6’2”, she’s one of the taller players on the team, but she’s still listed on the roster as a guard. We’ll have to wait and see if she can find a way to make an impact on either or both ends of the court.
#21 - Center - 6’4” - Junior - Presidente Prudente, Brazil
As we discussed when Marquette announced the transfer of Maqueia from New Mexico Junior College, it was a little hard to tell as to how naturally gifted she was in terms of basketball ability. This is mostly due to janky stat keeping at the junior college level, but the questions existed.
The Brazilian clearly has the physical stature to shore up Marquette’s interior defense this season. However, it’s unclear from the exhibition loss to Grand Valley State as to whether or not Maqueia will be able to live up to that responsibility. She played just four minutes and committed four personal fouls in the process. In theory, she should have been the perfect answer to GVSU’s Cassidy Boensch, but that was not the case.
Marquette is going to see a lot of players this season who are big and much better than Cassidy Boensch. Can Maqueia get on the floor and stay there to improve Marquette’s defense? The Golden Eagles ranked #219 in the country last year in points allowed per possession according to Her Hoop Stats, and they ranked 340th out of 349 teams in two point shooting defense. Something needs to fix that this season, and the going thought was that was why Marquette recruited Maqueia. The jury’s still out on whether it’s going to work.
#52 - Forward - 6’1” - Freshman - Mequon, Wisconsin
When you’re a college freshman just 15 months out from tearing your ACL and playing college basketball and your coach says, “She doesn’t look like a freshman out there. I think she’s going to help us in a lot of ways, and I think you will see her getting a lot of minutes,” then you’re probably doing something right.
That’s Chloe Marotta’s deal right now.
Well, kind of.
That “getting a lot of minutes” thing kind of went out the window in the exhibition game when she played just eight minutes. Now, she did grab four rebounds in that short expanse, and three of them were on the offensive end. She came in with a reputation as a great rebounder, and that seems to be paying off quickly.
Then again, maybe eight minutes a game is a lot for a freshman. I suppose it probably is, right? Maybe she’s right where Kieger needs her to be right now, and as she gets into the flow of her first collegiate season and first competitive season in more than a year, maybe Marotta will end up doing the exact amount of work that the Golden Eagles need from her this season.