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 that today we take a look at the freshman son of Thurl Bailey...
Freshman - #1 - Forward - 6’8” - 190 lbs. - Salt Lake City, Utah
Brendan Bailey Traditional Stats
Brendan Bailey Fancy Stats
I claimed this Player Preview because I’ve been preaching the same thing about Brendan Bailey since he committed. It’s only fair that I see this all the way through to the finish. This will be the last time I say the following: Because of his Mormon mission, I have no expectations for Brendan Bailey.
I’m not saying I’m expecting nothing from him. This isn’t “well, he’s not going to do anything for Marquette this season, so just forget he’s even there.” This isn’t that. I’m saying that I have no expectations for him.
Back in January 2017, BYU football coach Kalani Sitake participated in ESPN’s coaches’ room commentary for the college football national championship game. Syracuse’s Dino Babers mentioned as a bit of coach-on-coach joking that it’s easier for Sitake to coach his linemen because some of them are 23 or 24 years old because of Mormon missions, and that’s the equivalent of coaching grown men against 20 or 21 year olds. Sitake’s good natured response was quite simple: If sending kids on Mormon missions was a good athletic plan for them, Alabama would be sending every one of their guys on missions.
Between his inactivity while on his mission and the depth on the roster, even with Greg Elliott’s injury, whatever Bailey can give this team this season is a bonus as far as I’m concerned. Five minutes a game here and there? Cool. 20 minutes a game and averaging five points and two rebounds? Cool. Starting and playing 35 minutes a night? Cool.
I’m totally on board with whatever Brendan Bailey can give to this squad. I just have no idea of what that might be, at least not until I see what head coach Steve Wojciechowski does with him on November 6th against UMBC.
Why You Should Get Excited
As much as I have spent all of Bailey’s time on his mission preaching patience and low expectations, the fact of the matter is that Bailey doesn’t look out of place on the floor with his teammates.
From the video clips from summer workouts and since practice started up a couple of weeks ago, and from all reports from the two open practices, Bailey has looked like a completely competent Division 1 basketball player. I don’t have any stats to back this up, but he doesn’t look slow, he doesn’t look tentative, he doesn’t look out of shape. At least in terms of physicality, it seems that Bailey will get every opportunity to earn playing time for Wojo. You can’t really ask for much more for a freshman, even if he is 21 years old already.
There’s also the issue of how well his playing style fits in with Marquette’s established offense style. In that link up there a bit, it mentions that on top of Bailey averaging 20 points and seven rebounds, it also says that he led the team with 49 made three-pointers. 20 points per game in 23 games comes out to 460 points. 49 treys is 147 points. 147 points is just barely under 32% of Bailey’s 460 points as a senior. Now, that’s not exactly Sam Hauser territory, where 58% of his points came on threes last season, but it’s clear that Bailey is mostly comfortable letting fly from long range. If he can make the distance transition from high school to college — and maybe this is where his layoff weirdly helps him — then he’s just one more shooter on this roster that teams are going to have to account for.
One more thing, and it’s a super tiny thing. At the second open practice last Saturday, Wojo started out one of the sides with this five man group: Markus Howard, Sacar Anim, Sam Hauser, Matt Heldt...... and Brendan Bailey. Now, hey, look, Wojo ended up mixing up the teams constantly during that scrimmage, flipping guys from one team to the other at almost every stoppage. Maybe that five man team to start with was just Wojo balancing out the two sides. The fact of the matter is that those five dudes are last year’s starting lineup with Bailey replacing Andrew Rowsey, though. That has to be encouraging.
Well, this one is pretty obvious at this point. There is the possibility that because of his layoff from competitive basketball that Bailey just can’t contribute to the team this year. That’s nothing against him or the reason for it, it’s just a possibility. That really does seem to be the only thing standing in his way from being a contributor, particularly after the thumb injury to Greg Elliott.
The other issue out there is that Wojo just feels he has better options in Sacar Anim, Jamal Cain, and Sam Hauser for the wing role that Bailey would most likely fit into on the court. With Marquette having big man depth unlike anything that they’ve seen in a long while, that’s possible. It would seem that going with a deep rotation would be best for everyone involved, but it’s up to Wojo to make that call. College coaches tend to not actually use a deep rotation for whatever reason, so a shorter bench could lead to little action for Bailey.
I’m really not sure what to make of Brendan’s season. On one hand, we saw flashes of an elite two-way player who can score off the bounce, be an offensive threat on the perimeter, and who can draw elite level defensive assignments and hold his own due to his length and quickness.
On the other hand, we saw a player who shot just over 25% from three, including being absolutely cold to start the year and never really finding any form of true offensive rhythm. We saw a player that, at times, would look lost on both ends of the floor.
The story of Brendan’s season is the inconsistency. Some of it is marred by bad shot selection and the seemingly complete inability to hit a corner three. Some of it is highlighted by incredible court awareness to hit a jump shot, immediately pick off the inbound pass, and grab an and-one. There were multiple games where his performance was invisible. There were multiple games where we saw all of the promise he had come to fruition. Brendan has elite length, is incredibly athletic, is laterally quick, and seems to be a budding defensive stopper. It’s not all put together offensively yet, but his shooting stroke is good. He didn’t really flash elite ballhandling skills and he recorded only 14 assists over the course of the entire year.
I like how Brendan became the go-to relief for Sacar Anim this year. That in-season development after Bailey began the year in the starting lineup (remember that?) is a good sign for his long term development at Marquette. His ability to completely disrupt guards with his length and quickness was invaluable. He’ll continue to have a role on this team even with the addition of Koby McEwen and Greg into the mix, especially considering that Anim will be a senior next year. He’s not a completed project, but he could quickly turn into a better Justin Simon with the right development defensively. He’s lankier and just as quick.
Oh, this is an easy one. After playing a combined 24 minutes in the previous four games, Bailey was pressed into service on the road against Georgetown because of the early game injury to Markus Howard. He ended up out there for 27 minutes, throwing together a nine point, two rebound, four block, one steal performance in a pressure cooker atmosphere. Marquette needed quality minutes from him without Howard available, and they got way more than just quality in MU’s 74-71 victory.
Season Grade, on a scale of 1-10
I’m gonna go with a 6. His role as Sacar’s backup and his defensive stopping ability was critical to this team. If he puts together the offensive skills he does have, he’s only going to get better. There’s a ton of promise, and he performed admirably this year even with his two year break. Too many bad offensive performances keeps his score down, but his ability to affect the game on the defensive end when called upon keeps the score from being tanked. I want to write this review again a year from now, and with a bit of luck, this section is a glowing review of his improvement.