There was chirping around the world of Marquette basketball on Twitter this morning. Cryptic messages were thrown out, frat dudes with 11 followers were delivering breaking news, and rumors began swirling. What started as subtle winds of vague hearsay swirled into a hurricane that will alter the course of the entire program.
Brothers Sam Hauser and Joey Hauser are transferring from Marquette.
#mubb Sam and Joey Hauser to transfer from @MarquetteU at conclusion of semester. pic.twitter.com/19wee8vARy— Marquette Basketball (@MarquetteMBB) April 15, 2019
If you heard anything about this before the official announcement just now, I assume that your first instinct was to laugh it off. Sam Hauser was set to be one of the stars of a team seemingly bound for the Final Four after fighting through 3 years of limited success. Joey was next in line to take over the program as its star player once Sam and Markus Howard graduated in 2020. It made no surface-level sense for two Wisconsin kids to jump ship at this point in their careers. I personally thought it was a dumb prank.
Eventually the truth broke through the cracks. The SPASH Brothers are gone, and from the official statements, it does not appear to be for family reasons. It would be an unfortunate, but understandable, reason to transfer, and any untold issues are one of the only possible issues I can think of.
A more nefarious reason would be the, um, short amount of time spent between this announcement and a certain announcement that was made on Friday. Markus Howard decides to skip the NBA Draft process to stay at Marquette, and immediately the Robin to Howard’s Batman and Robin’s brother decide to jump ship, all this coming off of a brutal losing streak to close off the season. I’m not one to guess how clubhouse relations are going, but this isn’t much of a guess. The connection seems obvious. Something was happening beyond the scenes that forced their hands.
Think about it this way: Sam is transferring to sit one year to play one year. Joey already used his redshirt year in 2017-18 after he left high school, and will have to, barring some weird NCAA ruling, burn his sophomore year of eligibility while sitting out and play for two years wherever he lands.
Purely in terms of basketball, there are silver linings. Marquette’s depth at the 3/4 spots in the lineup make a loss like this at least manageable. Sacar Anim, Jamal Cain and Brendan Bailey should be able to fill those spots at an above average level. A lineup featuring both Ed Morrow and Theo John might be in order at times. With the current lineup, I still see a team that could be a 5 seed. That’s not the issue.
There are, however, consequences that go beyond basketball. With the dreadful performance down the stretch this year, we’re starting to see how Wojo carries this program through hard times and it doesn’t look great. This was a team that could win the national championship and somehow that wasn’t good enough for two of their best players to even stay with the program. No respectable coach should let that happen. While I have confidence that the roster can pull together a good season, it could take one gentle push to break the team apart and I don’t think Wojo can fix it.
All the reason behind the confidence in Wojo was the buildup to a team like the one we thought we would see in 2019-20 and the sustained success that would be sure to follow. Not only will this team likely be worse than last year’s, but Symir Torrence is the only recruit Wojo has for after this year. With no extension signed before the losing streak, he can’t give prospective players the confidence that he will stay with the program for their careers. Even if he can land them, who says there won’t be more locker room drama? We’ll have more on this later, but this could be a terrible sign for the future of a program that once looked so bright.
One more thing, don’t tweet at college students about their decisions. They don’t owe you anything. Wish them the best and don’t be a nitwit about it.