Eight days after being announced as the new Marquette women’s basketball head coach, Megan Duffy has announced her three assistant coaches. Duffy will retain the services of Vernette Skeete and Scott Merritt while bringing in Justine Raterman, one of her three assistants from Miami (OH).
#muwbb Head coach Megan Duffy announces her assistant coaching staff! @CoachSkeeteMU, @smerritt18 and @jcraterman join @CoachMeganDuffy on the sidelines!— Marquette WBB (@MarquetteWBB) April 18, 2019
Skeete and Merritt were both hired by Carolyn Kieger when she took over as head coach in the spring of 2014. They’ve been with the program ever since, and will provide a moment of stability for the team as they make the transition from Kieger to Duffy. This is particularly important given the recruiting situation for the Golden Eagles, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Raterman is a new face in Milwaukee, but she’s not new to Duffy. Raterman was the Director of Video Operations when Duffy was hired to run the show at Miami, and was retained in that position before being promoted to assistant coach for this past season. Raterman finished her collegiate career in 2012 with 1,832 points and 915 rebounds for Dayton. Those are the #2 and #1 all-time marks in Dayton history since the Flyers made the jump up to Division 1 in 1984. She led Dayton in scoring all four years and in rebounding her final two campaigns while guiding the team to three NCAA tournament appearances and a WNIT appearance. In an odd turn of fate, Raterman’s collegiate coach was former Marquette WBB head coach Jim Jabir. If you’re so inclined, you can follow Raterman on Twitter: @jcraterman.
Let’s dive feet first into the recruiting situation, shall we?
Before Carolyn Kieger left, Marquette was expecting eight freshmen in 2019-20. One of them, Sharna Ayres, enrolled in January and was with the team for the entire spring semester. Two more, Shemera Williams and Destiny Strother, have apparently been released from their letters of intent. I say “apparently” because no one is actually using those words. The only phrasing I’ve seen for both is “reopening their recruitment,” and not to be a “THAT LETTER IS PERMANENT” guy here, but as long as the letter hasn’t been released, they can’t just open and close their recruiting process like a door. However, if they want to be released, they should be. I’d just like it if people would, y’know, use the correct phrasing to we don’t have to play guessing games.
Williams, a Milwaukee native and ranked #54 in the country by ESPN, is taking a visit to Kentucky, which is a thing that you can’t do if you’re not released. Strother’s club team is advertising that interested teams should call her club coach, which again, is not a thing that you should be doing in public if there’s an active signed letter. In any case, Marquette Wire’s Zoe Comerford reported that Strother was meeting with the MU coaching staff on Friday, so we’ll see how that shakes out.
That still leaves Claire Kaifes, Jordan King, Nirel Luogbo, Camryn Taylor, and Taylor Valladay apparently still signed and planning on coming to Marquette, at least for right now. Things can shift and move, especially since Duffy just got her assistant coaches locked into place, and that’s where things might work out for the Golden Eagles. With Skeete and Merritt still on staff, that could end up being the nudge that the high school seniors need to stick with Marquette. Again, if they want to be released, they should be. However, if MU does see an exodus from their recruiting class, then the 2019-20 season could get ugly in a hurry.
Here’s what the scholarship chart looked like before Kieger left.
With Williams and Strother at least saying that they’re still considering Marquette for the time being, I’m not going to alter the chart until everything is confirmed to be changing. As you can see, without the eight freshmen, things are going to be a little short for the Golden Eagles. They have seven returning players not counting Ayres, but that seven also includes Tori McCoy. Until someone says differently, McCoy is still waiting for a kidney transplant and she’s unavailable for basketball until that happens. That brings MU down to six players, and of the six, only Selena Lott, Isabelle Spingola, and Lauren Van Kleunen got notable playing time in 2018-19.
Things were always going to be a bit rocky for Marquette in 2019-20 with the number of freshmen that were coming in. If that number drops from the eight that Kieger had set in place, then it could get even rockier. We will have to wait and see how the retention of Skeete and Merritt affects how all of this shakes out.