Welcome back to the AE Mailbag! We’re going to try to do these once a week between now and (at least) August, so feel free to keep firing your questions in to the email inbox — firstname.lastname@example.org — or hit us up on Twitter — @AnonymousEagle — if you’ve got something that’s nagging at you. Marquette sports, college sports, movies, TV, favorite foods, whatever you’ve got, we’ll be happy to try to answer it.
Here we go!
From Mitchell in the email inbox: What happened to Deon Franklin, the walk-on from a year ago? Is Cam Marotta gonna be placed on scholarship?
Hey, funny you should ask about Deon Franklin. The Trib just published this article checking in with him. He’s still enrolled at Marquette, just no longer a walk-on. Can’t knock the guy for wanting to get a full college experience without the requirements that come with being on the basketball teams without the ability to play all that much.
As for Cam Marotta, it seems that the answer to that question is “not right now.” Head coach Steve Wojciechowski seems awfully set on bringing in players to fill Marquette’s two open scholarships right now, and if he’s successful, then there’s no spot for Marotta. Given that this will be his senior year, if we get to January and Marquette hasn’t taken on a mid-year transfer, I’d be willing to bet that he gets put on the tab for the remainder of the season. It’s the right thing to do.
From @SoxNerd: What’s your preference for Marquette’s first game in the new arena: Marquee foe (e.g. Duke), a rival (e.g. Notre Dame) or a buy game to assure a win? A friend of mine threw out Loyola-Chicago which would be cool. Thoughts? Have they settled on a first foe and I missed it?
Officially, there has not been an announcement as to who the first opponent in the Wisconsin Entertainment & Sports Center will be. However, I think we can make a solid guess. We know that Marquette is probably going to have a Gavitt Tipoff Game again in November, as they’ve already had one of their two bye years. We also know that Marquette is in the Preseason NIT, which will be at Barclays Center on November 21st and 23rd. That gives Marquette between the 6th and the 11th of November and between the 15th and 19th of November to fit in the two home games assigned to them by the Preseason NIT. Odds are that the first home game will be one of those games. Last year, those home games were filled by Austin Peay, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, and UNC Asheville as the opponents, so I would expect a similar level of team to be Marquette’s first opponent in the ESC.
And that would be my preference as well, even if they didn’t have the game assigned to them. Look, I know that DePaul made that big splash at Wintrust Arena with Notre Dame as their first opponent. But DePaul also needed to do that because their attendance was garbage in 2016-17 and it was still garbage at Wintrust in 2017-18. Marquette is going to draw 12,000-plus — more than Wintrust’s capacity — with their eyes closed for Opening Night, and if you’re not worried about making bank on the game, then don’t try to schedule yourself into a possible loss to open the arena.
With that said, I’d love to see Marquette schedule a Missouri Valley team every single year, and as long as Porter Moser’s at Loyola, that game would probably be a hoot.
From Kyle in the email inbox: What kind of an impact should we see with Dwayne Killings as an assistant coach whether that be in the offense/defense or recruiting?
I think that the biggest impact that Killings is going to have, at least immediately, is by being a new voice in the room. While staff continuity is a good thing from the perspective of everyone knows what everyone else is good at and you can play to those strengths, mixing things up with someone new just to change the outlook of the room can be a positive. This is especially true in coaching sports, where sometimes the best thing you can do is put a new pair of eyes on something. I’m not saying that Marquette is going to suddenly turn into a world beater merely because Killings says “hey, what if we did this instead?” once a week or whatever, but his new perspective should be a benefit.
Killings wasn’t at Connecticut long enough to make a recruiting impact, but he was at Temple for several years, and earned his rep as a recruiter there. None of the names of the high school prospects that the Owls were bringing in particularly jumps out at me as “oh wow, that’s right, they had that guy,” but Temple did make the NCAA tournament in three of his five seasons there and went to the NIT semifinals in another season. Clearly they were getting guys who can play well enough to do that, even if maybe their recruiting rankings weren’t knocking anyone’s socks off. If Killings’ skill is going to be unearthing lesser known talents that blossom while at Marquette, you’re not going to hear me complain about it.
From @CharlieWeber45: Heavyweight Title Fight: Who you got? Theo John or Faisal Abraham?
Oooooooo, that’s a good one.
First, a tale of the tape: Faisal Abraham was listed at 6’7” and 225 pounds as a senior, but he was a bad dude that year, recording more blocked shots in a season than anyone not named Jim McIlvaine in program history. He essentially doubled his career output in swats in one season and as a result, sits third all time for a career behind Mac and Amal McCaskill. Theo John stands 6’9” and was listed at 245 this season as a freshman. He’s already got the height and weight advantage on Abraham’s senior year size, which is impressive. John has the early stats advantage on Abraham’s MU career, including the fifth most blocks by a freshman, but John was asked to contribute immediately while Abraham was backing up Damon Key and Jim McIlvaine on a team that went to the Sweet 16.
We’re talking about a fight, though, and while John has the advantage in size, I have to give the advantage in a fight to Abraham, at least the way my memory of him on the court goes. Of course, most of my memories of him are derived from seeing him in his senior season as I was in the MU band at the time, so John still has a chance to overtake him by the time his Marquette career is up.
From @SoxNerd: How does I go about replacing Jim McIlvaine as Homer’s partner on the Marquette radio broadcasts?
Simple ha-ha answer: Turn in a resume and hope you crush the interview.
Textured and nuanced answer: Beat Steve Novak in a fight. If Mac’s spot is going to go to a former player, then Novak, who has been working for Fox Sports Wisconsin’s Milwaukee Bucks broadcasts and calling the occasional Wisconsin Herd G-League game this past season, is the most likely candidate to take up the mantle. Of course, this would mean that FS Wisconsin doesn’t have big plans for Novak for next season’s Bucks broadcasts, as he would likely miss a whole bunch due to Marquette commitments.
From Kyle in the email inbox: With Joseph Chartouny on campus, when should we expect a decision from him and what are our chances of MU landing him?
The Fordham graduate transfer was expected to be on a visit to Marquette on Tuesday, and I would imagine that the speed of his decision may be tied to whether or not he could get enrolled in summer school classes in whatever grad program strikes his fancy. If he can get into classes in mid-May, then he’s probably going to decide quickly. If he would have to wait until July, then there’s no reason to be fast about it.
I want to say that Marquette’s chances are looking pretty good. There were a long list of schools originally interested in him, but I can only find discussions of visits for Marquette and Louisville. Things could still pop up down the line, but so far, so good.
From @CrookedNumbers: In honor of our recent, uh, “spring” weather, what are your favorite warm weather destinations?
Texas goes to the front of the line for me. My in-laws live in the east Dallas suburbs, and our visits to see them are always great. Not just the DFW area, mind you, as we’ve made side jaunts to Austin and San Antonio, too. There’s no lack of stuff to do to keep my kids busy, the food’s great, and there’s lots of new and different beer to drink.
From @SoxNerd: Which number should be the next one Marquette retires? My rankings: 1) 10 for Tony Miller; 2) 34 for Travis Diener, Jim McIlvaine, & Tony Smith; 3) 94 to honor Kevin O’Neill’s Sweet 16 team which capped an era which rescued the program from wallowing in low mid-major-dom.
I see the value in all three of your suggestions there, but I’m going to have to go in a different direction here.
Marquette needs to un-retire every number except for Butch Lee’s #15.
Until/unless the NCAA changes their rules about what numbers players are allowed to wear, Marquette has too many retired numbers. As the rules currently go, you can only wear some combination of 0-5, and only those six digits. That means that there are only 36 possible numbers for college players to wear.
With only 36 numbers available, Marquette has retired 9 of them: #3 (Dwyane Wade), #14 (Dean Meminger), #15 (Butch Lee), #20 (Maurice Lucas), #24 (George Thompson), #31 (Bo Ellis & Doc Rivers), #43 (Earl Tatum), and #44 (Don Kojis). That, of course, is only eight, but Marquette also retired #11 in honor of Apollo 11, the first manned landing on the moon.
With nine retired usable numbers, that leaves Marquette with just 27 numbers. If Wojo uses all 13 of his scholarships, then essentially half of the available numbers are being used at any given time. When you have two walk-ons like we did this year in Cam Marotta and Mike Lelito, then you get up to 15 of the 27. If you start retiring more numbers, then you start getting into issues where new players on the team are going to have their choice of only 10 (or fewer!) numbers to choose from. That’s ridiculous.
Thus, the solution is to un-retire everyone (sorry/not sorry Apollo 11 crew), except for Butch Lee. Why does he escape the thresher here? Well, he’s got three National Player of the Year trophies: Basketball Weekly, UPI/Naismith Award, and Associated Press/Rupp Award. You get named National Player of the Year, you get your number retired forever. That seems pretty fair to me.
The upside of un-retiring the other eight numbers means that Marquette can hang a banner honoring every player to have earned All-American honors. There are 20 players in Marquette history, dating all the way back to Ray Morstadt in 1934, who have earned national recognition in that manner outside of the guys who had their numbers retired. Why not hang a banner with a series of names and numbers to recognize the deep roster of great players in program history instead of limiting things merely because the NCAA’s rules are hindering the available numbers?
From Kyle in the email inbox: Will student ticket prices rise next year with the new arena, or stay at $99? (hopefully the latter)
I would presume that student ticket prices will not be changing. While you can pretty much do whatever you want with regular student tickets and your established base will just keep buying their seats, the fastest way to suppress student turnout is to make those tickets bordering on prohibitively expensive for a college student.
While I expect prices to stay the same for students even while they go up a bit for everyone else, I also expect the student section to shrink in total number of seats. The fact of the matter is that Marquette has roughly 8,000 undergraduate students. A student section larger than 2,500 seats is way too big. Once you get to a point where you need a full 30% of your student body to show up to a game to fill their section to its capacity, you’re asking way too much from them. When it’s up near 50% like it was at the Bradley Center, you end up with 25% of your students at the game (that’s actually really impressive!) but the student section is half-empty, which is visually bad.
Knock the total number of seats down to somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000, which is roughly the number of students that can be guaranteed to show up every single night, and you get two things. First, you get a jampacked student section every night, which will help the atmosphere of the building. Second, you create artificial scarcity for the student section tickets, which drives interest in going to the games. You don’t get new seats to sell, not really, as the ESC is going to be slightly smaller than the Bradley Center, but if it leads to a slightly improved game environment, that’s okay.