The 2019-20 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 freshmen, then the lone graduate transfer, followed by the two guys who were on the team but sat out all of 2018-19 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 guy who could most be categorized as the glue guy on the MU roster.....
Redshirt Senior - #2 - Guard/Forward - 6’5” - 210 pounds - Minneapolis, MN
Check my math here: Sacar Anim is the second Steve Wojciechowski recruit at Marquette to finish his college eligibility wearing blue & gold in Milwaukee.
The first, of course, was Matt Heldt a year ago, as Heldt was part of Wojciechowski’s first actual recruiting class at Marquette. Anim, along with Traci Carter, Haanif Cheatham, and Henry Ellenson, was in that same recruiting class. Anim’s redshirt season means that he’s still on the roster here in 2019, ultimately landing him in the #2 spot behind Heldt, and only technically ahead of Markus Howard, who gets the #3 spot this year.
This seems not great for Marquette (and that’s a discussion for a different time), but it’s worked out pretty well for Anim. He’s gone from barely seeing the floor in 2015-16 (just 83 total minutes played) to starting 61 times while appearing in all of Marquette’s 69 games the past two seasons. Anim has never been asked to carry the team, but he’s evolved into a consistent contributor (8.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists per game over the past two years) and has even recovered from a slow start to become a perfectly reliable if not very good long range shooter.
In other words, if anyone ever tells you that Steve Wojciechowski doesn’t develop players on his roster, tell them to go pound sand.
I think we could go ahead and say that Anim’s line last year of 8.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game while shooting 39% from long range is a perfectly acceptable baseline for 2019-20. He’s a bit like Quint in Jaws: “Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’.” While he’s a perfect example of how guys can develop and improve under the guidance of the coaching staff, I don’t think that anyone is expecting anything more from Anim that what we’ve seen the last two years.
In fact, being that reliable cog that you know what you’re getting every night on both ends of the floor is a perfect role for someone on a roster with Markus Howard. When you have an Atlas V rocket ready to launch every single night, you need to have a stable platform from which to launch in the first place. Sacar Anim doing Sacar Anim things is a major part of that platform for the Golden Eagles. If Howard’s shot isn’t falling, then Anim’s ready to knock down a few jumpers and get a few drives to the rim to help open up the rest of the floor for everyone else. If Howard is connecting, then the reliable threat of Anim somewhere on the floor helps keep defenses honest when they deal with the All-American. On the other end of the court, Anim’s physicality and agility help backstop whatever weakness or flaw is in the defensive structure due to Howard’s lack of imposing stature. It all works hand in hand. Robin Hood is capable of doing stuff on his own, but he’s not truly great unless Little John is out there with him.
Why You Should Get Excited
With the roster changes that have happened since the end of last season (look, I didn’t mention the Hauser brothers! Wait. Dammit.), there’s space within the construct of this Marquette roster for someone to step forward and make a big noise. That someone could be Sacar Anim.
FUN FACT: Sacar Anim shot 42.5% from behind the arc in Marquette’s Big East regular season games last year, making him the third most accurate long range sniper in the entire conference.
LESS FUN FACT: He did this on just 40 attempts, which is barely more than two per game.
MORE FUN FACT: That leaves a lot of room for growth! After all, there are 182 threes in Big East play that need to be made up somehow in 2019-20, and if Anim is gonna knock down 40+% of them, why shouldn’t it be him? If he’s going to become that kind of an outside threat, it just makes his drives to the rim even more dangerous, because defenders will have no idea what to do with him.
Mix in a little bit of “this is my last year” motivation to do a little bit more all over the place, and that’s a recipe for a big time performance all year long from Anim. Maybe it works out, maybe it doesn’t, but I think there’s a pretty high ceiling on what’s possible from him.
I mean, what’s the worst case scenario? Sacar Anim is just the same dude that we’ve seen for the last two years? Uh, okay, sign me up! Do a little of this, do a little of that, come up big when your number is called, play your role when it’s not. Cool, fine by me. I mean, it might be a little bit of a bummer to not get to see him shine a little brighter, but if the season ends up as a success, one way or another, well, that’s okay.