With the 2018-2019 season in the books, let’s take a few moments to look back at the performance of each member of YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles this year. While we’re at it, we’ll also take a look back at our player previews and see how our preseason prognostications stack up with how things actually played out. We’ll run through roster in order of total minutes played going from lowest to highest, which means we kick things off with everyone’s favorite Milkman.......
Senior - #12 - Center - 6’10” - 240 lbs. - Neenah, Wisconsin
Matt Heldt Traditional Stats
Matt Heldt Fancy Stats
Heldt will likely enter the year as the starting center. With him being the only senior, the cynic could reference the Peter Principle as the sole reason for his expected playing time. I then would ask that cynic to find another player in the school who is 6’10” and can also play basketball. I don’t think the cynic would have an answer for that.
I don’t see any reason why Heldt’s role on the team will change. He’s a large body that provides adequate defense and a well above average rebounding ability. On offense, he serves as the Fredo of this basketball team, meaning his job is to not screw anything up. But while Fredo let his ego get the best of him and made dumb mistakes by turning over key information to Hyman Roth, Heldt has molded perfectly to his role and refused to turn over information (the ball) to Roth (basketball players not on Marquette).
One of the many reason why Marquette’s defense was bad last year is that oftentimes Heldt was either the best or second best defender on the team, which was never a good sign. He’s a fine defender, but he should never be one of the guys that a possession hinges on. He’s like the Kiss Me Thru The Phone of Marquette. If you’re looking for optimism this year’s defense, Heldt will almost always be the third or fourth best defender on the floor. While that doesn’t absolve him of assignments like Jessie Govan and Udoka Azubuike, this will allow him to dedicate himself more to those assignments instead of having to constantly help out at the last minute when a guard inevitably drives through Marquette’s first line of defense.
Why You Should Get Excited
Look at this at the :20 mark. Looks like Our Milkman developed himself a little midrange shot. It’s not really that surprising, considering his 87.5% FT% last year, but it’s a nice little treat to have. He doesn’t need to be Thomas Welch on the baseline, but it’s something Wojo can hopefully rely on if they need a gimmick bucket in a tight game.
There’s not really much else you can do to improve on the second highest Offensive Rating in the nation, so that’s about all I got there. Hopefully on defense he either stops hedging on ball screens or gets way better at it. With better guard defenders this year I can’t imagine he’ll be expected to do that with the frequency he did last year.
I also want him to get an alley oop this year. I would rip out my own lungs if that happened.
I think his rebound numbers will fall a bit overall, but I figure that will be more of a symptom of the players around him, like Ed Morrow, than anything else. Really that just decreases his chances of another double-double, which would be quite disheartening but not necessarily impactful to the team’s success.
I don’t know. Maybe his turnover rate increases a bit? Maybe he refuses to chuck up 17 threes on senior night, despite our rampant requests? Maybe he gets Eric Hinske’s back tattoo*? Maybe he tries to lick a referee? Again, we have a pretty good idea of who he is and what his role will be. I’m just ready for it all to begin.
*I ask a lot of you as readers, but this is one thing I really need you to do right now. Go look up “Eric Hinske Back Tattoo”. Like, now.
WELL, that was way off. His role changed in the most dramatic way on the team, playing barely over 10% of available minutes and recording 8 total shot attempts, none of threes which is simply a travesty. The rapid emergence of Theo John and the addition of Ed Morrow created a bit of a logjam at the center position. If this situation happened 10 years ago or under a more old school coach, Heldt would be splitting minutes with John and Morrow would be a traditional power forward. The current Steve Wojciechowski offense does not pander to that style, though, so there were three bigs fighting for one spot. While Heldt has the distinct height advantage over the other two, the mobility, defensive aggression, and refined offensive skills of John and Morrow made it impossible for the senior to get any minutes.
It will sound heartless, but I do applaud Wojo for this decision. It sucks having to tell a four year player who works as hard as Heldt that his final year will be spent riding the bench, especially when he had just spent the year before in the starting lineup. There are a lot of coaches who would give the senior the lion’s share of the minutes just because of seniority, even if it would make the team worse overall. It’s a position that I don’t envy at all, because Heldt is a perfectly fine player, but the other options were just...better.
From Heldt’s perspective, I can’t imagine the realization that there just isn’t a place for him on the team. Couple that with a broken foot right later in the offseason to all but ensure that he can’t make up any ground before the season and I would be a Grumpy Gus if I were him. And maybe he was, too, but I didn’t see any signs of pouting during the games. I wrote more extensively on his attitude before his senior day, but the way he carried himself throughout the year made a clear impact on the team. That sounds like vague writer-speak, but every quote from team members about his season was bursting with high praise about his effort in practice and the leadership he provided.
I do wish that Heldt could’ve had a bigger moment in the spotlight on Senior Day. His lone start of the year lasted a full 3 minutes (or as I like to call it, “an average performance”) and was marred by a brutal loss to Georgetown amidst a demoralizing finish to the season. What should’ve been a glorious send-off with fans chanting his name as he walked off the court in the final seconds of a blowout win became sandpaper on our tongues. I felt awful for him, but now he can live his life actually having a fun answer when people come up to him unprompted to say, “Wow, you’re tall. Did you play basketball?”
Fine, you twisted my arm. I’ll talk about the Xavier game again. With Theo and Ed both on the bench with foul trouble and Marquette needing to fend off a Surprisingly Good Xavier team, Heldt saw the opportunity to shine and pounced. He played a season high 20 minutes and the offense instantly started to flow with him in the game. His natural instinct for where to be on offense, the ability to set perfect screens to give Markus Howard the extra inches of space that he needs, his perfect box-outs, all of it was on display that Saturday afternoon. The behind-the-scenes work blossomed to his game-changing moment where he grabbed an offensive rebound and immediately kicked it out to Sam Hauser for the go-ahead three. The Golden Eagles did not look back and it led to this heartfelt moment in the postgame press conference. Easily one of the many highlights of the season.
Season Grade, on a scale of 1 to 10: 10
If you thought I would give The Milkman a grade that had even a drop of objectivity, you clearly don’t know what this blog is about.