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The Anonymous Eagle Mailbag: Two Marquette Lineup Questions & A Random Ranking

Kept the mailbag short in questions this week because one of them needed an extended answer.

NCAA Basketball: Providence at Marquette
“Hey, you figure I can put six guys on the floor just to get some burn for my team? I got a deep roster, man.”
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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 — — 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 @Cohete009: Do you think we will see more lineups with 2 bigs next season? Matt Heldt and Ed Morrow together sounds intriguing.

Well, first things first. Let’s divvy up the roster in terms of Brad Stevens’ triumvirate of players: lead guards, wings, and bigs.

  • Lead Guards: Markus Howard, Joseph Chartouny
  • Wings: Sacar Anim, Greg Elliott, Jamal Cain, Sam Hauser, Joey Hauser, Brendan Bailey
  • Bigs: Matt Heldt, Ed Morrow, Theo John, Ike Eke

I might be miscategorizing Joey Hauser as a wing instead of a big, but as long as his weight is listed by Marquette as under 225 (he’s 215 right now), I think he’s best labeled as a wing.

With the players divided up in that manner, the question then becomes what players are most likely to play 30 minutes a game, thus narrowing the flexibility of the roster. That’s Markus Howard and Sam Hauser for sure, possibly Joseph Chartouny (if he takes up all of Rowsey’s minutes) and Sacar Anim (averaged 27+ in 2017-18). At that point, you’re kind of just filling in around those guys, which really makes it seem like it’s not likely that two of the Bigs get on the court together.

I think that the possibility comes down to offense, more than defense. Marquette’s offense the last few years has, to some degree, been predicated on the concept of having a dangerous three-point shooter as the 4 in the form of Sam Hauser most of the time. If Morrow or Eke suddenly show an ability to knock down threes, then you don’t lose anything in terms of the effectiveness of the offense. Ed Morrow never took a three for Nebraska, but one of the reasons why he left Lincoln is because he wanted to do more than play an undersized 5. Remember, he’s only listed at 6’7”, so if he can chase guys around the perimeter and knock down shots that Tim Miles didn’t let him shoot, then Morrow becomes an invaluable component. If the younger Hauser ends up tilting towards the Bigs department, then we absolutely will see a lineup that includes two bigs, perhaps regularly.

From Jamey in the email inbox: What would you rank the following non-related items from 1-10, 1 being the best, 10 being the worst?

I’m not going to publish Jamey’s list twice for space reasons, so here it is in my order.

  1. Viewing the glass not on its characteristics as half full or half empty, but rather how well it goes with your collection of Marquette Jersey Pint Glasses from last season.
  2. Minute Maid Pink Lemonade
  3. A Matt Carlino vs Andrew Rowsey 1-on-1 pickup game
  4. Pinball
  5. Playing a ranked Villanova team on a weekday
  6. Someone who looks like Matt Heldt from a distance, but ends up not being him.
  7. Andrew Goldstein’s Book: Growing Up Green
  8. Companies that describe their culture as “work hard, play hard”
  9. The complex geopolitical quagmire that is the Middle East
  10. Waking up and finding you still have an hour to sleep before your alarm

I have absolutely no information about Goldstein’s book, so it ended up falling in between things that I could find something good about and things that are generally speaking bad. I suspect that I have just participated in an incredibly large roommate prank/inside joke.

From @CharlieWeber45: What is the typical BE rotation? How many guys can log significant minutes? Basically, how do we manage a full roster?

Marquette has all 13 scholarships filled for the 2018-19 season, although only 12 players are expected to be active, as Koby McEwen will have to sit out the season as a traditional transfer. This is going to lead to either A) head coach Steve Wojciechowski spreading the minutes waaaaaaaaay out or B) multiple guys not playing as much as you might think.

Let me explain. Thanks to College Basketball Reference allowing me to sort player stats with a simple click of the mouse, I was easily able to arrange team stat sheets in order of minutes played. From there, I created four groups for each team, but I only looked at the 2017-18 season. If you want to take a deeper dive than this, knock yourself out. 10 teams in the same league at the same time is a solid sample set for what we’re trying to accomplish here.

  • 30+ minutes a game
  • 25+ minutes a game
  • 20+ minutes a game
  • 10+ minutes a game

If you’re playing less than 10 minutes a game as an average, it’s possible that you’re racking up tons of minutes in buy game blowouts but then logging a minute or two here or there against high major foes. After all, not entering the game doesn’t give you a zero in your average minutes counter. The point is that if you’re playing under 10 minutes a game, you’re not a regular component of the squad. Think about it this way, to give it a Marquette spin: Are we really considering players who see less court time than Theo John (11.8 per game, appeared in 33 of 35 games) to be part of the regular rotation?

The four categories roughly line out to the most notable roles on the team: Stars, major contributors, starters/key rotation players, and regular rotation players. For the most part, most teams in the Big East all have similar minute distribution profiles. Seven teams in the league had either one, two, or three players getting over 30 minutes a game, with Xavier (1) and Marquette (3) at the extremes. The Musketeers were actually very close to joining MU at three, as J.P. Macura and Quentin Goodin both averaged over 29 minutes a game. That trend continues down a step, as six teams had four or five players getting 25+ minutes a game. Butler, Creighton, and Xavier all went under at three guys, while Villanova was the high exception at six.

Six teams had exactly five guys playing more than 20 minutes a night, while the other four — Butler, Creighton, Georgetown, and Villanova — all went higher, with the Hoyas and the Bluejays getting their rotations all the way out to seven. The magic number for 10+ minutes a night was eight, with five teams hitting that marker. Three more were at nine players. Providence (10) and Seton Hall (7) were the remaining outliers there.

In short: For the most part, Big East teams this past season were only using eight or nine players on a night in and night out basis. Even the team that went ultra deep on their roster — Providence — had a massively screwy set up where four guys played 30+ minutes, another hit the 20+ threshold, and the other five were between 10 and 20. Ed Cooley loves depending heavily on his starters to do everything, but uses lots of guys to fill in the spaces. Seton Hall went ultra-short, depending on their four seniors to carry the team, but barely dipping into the bench other than them. St. John’s might have been the screwiest roster set-up of all, with five guys logging over 30 minutes a night, but only three more guys falling between 10 and 20.

Like I said, I only looked at one season. I would suspect that numbers would be roughly similar for the entire league on a year-to-year basis though, even if they wouldn’t be consistent from team to team. It certainly looks like Wojo will have his work cut out for him in terms of managing 12 active players, even if he was one of the guys with a nine man rotation in 2017-18.