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2018-19 Marquette Basketball Player Review: #0 Markus Howard

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for the Big East Player of the Year

When Markus is at his best, he’s unguardable
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

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 today we focus the final player review on the most electrifying player on the roster this past season.......

Markus Howard

Junior - #0 - Guard - 5’11” - 180 lb. - Chandler, Arizona

Markus Howard Traditional Stats

Games Min FGM FGA FG% 3PTM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OReb DReb Reb Ast Stl Blk Fouls Pts
Games Min FGM FGA FG% 3PTM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OReb DReb Reb Ast Stl Blk Fouls Pts
34 33.6 7.4 17.6 42% 3.5 8.8 40.3%** 6.7 7.5 89%** 0.4 3.6 4.0 3.9 1.1 0.03 2.1 25.0

Markus Howard Fancy Stats

ORtg %Poss %Shots eFG% TS% OR% DR% ARate TORate Blk% Stl% FC/40 FD/40 FTRate
ORtg %Poss %Shots eFG% TS% OR% DR% ARate TORate Blk% Stl% FC/40 FD/40 FTRate
110.7 36.1%** 36.7%** 52.0% 59.0%** 1.5% 11.2% 27.2%** 18.4% 0.1% 1.8% 2.5%** 7.2%** 42.5%**

**- Denotes a top 500 national ranking per KenPom.com

WHAT WE SAID

Reasonable Expectations

Well, Howard has the most talented team surrounding him that he’s had as he enters his third year. It’s the best Golden Eagle team talent-wise since 2013. Enter primary ball-handler with exceptional defense Joseph Chartouny via grad transfer from Fordham. Just his presence on the court will help Howard. He’ll be able to play off the ball and be more creative as to how he wants to score. Chartouny is also a great passer and will give Howard a lot of easy baskets which didn’t happen too often last year.

It’s not just Chartouny’s presence that will help though. Big Red Ed (Morrow) will be stout in the paint and pull down many rebounds if history repeats itself. He did this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Nebraska. That will give the the Golden Eagles many second chance opportunities. And what better way to get some second chance points than for Howard to leak out behind the arc after a rebound and drain a three. I envision this happening quite a bit this season.

I expect Howard to finish in the top 5 in the Big East in scoring, top 3 in 3-point field goal percentage, first in threes made, and first in free throw percentage. He will finish on the All-Big East first team at the end of the year.

Reasons To Get Excited

Howard could be the best shooter in the country. So he won’t be needing the ball in his hands as much because he won’t be playing point guard when Chartouny’s in. Side note: Howard’s usage rate is going to be through the roof this season. That means that he can move around and get open and won’t be forced to always create his own shot. He’ll have more catch and shoot opportunities which will improve his shooting percentage.

Another thing going Howard’s way is that it’s not just a three-headed monster for Marquette. Alongside Howard you have Sam Hauser, Joey Hauser, Sacar Anim, Ed Morrow, and Brendan Bailey who can all post nice scoring outputs. Not to mention the occasional double-double by The Milkman Matt Heldt and Jamal Cain’s 15 point game on 5-7 from deep once every few games. Dream scenarios here.

“But what does this all mean, Besay?” Well, it will give opposing defenses fits that’s for sure. They can’t just focus on stopping two players because any of the MU players listed above can go off on any given night. We still have to see how Joey Hauser and Brendan Bailey develop, but I believe they will be double digit scorers by the end of the year.

Howard will excel because he won’t be guarded as tightly or double-teamed. There’s just too much talent on the roster to do that. I think he’s simply going to be more open this year and will take full advantage by DESTROYING opposing defenses. Best shooter in the country and Big East Player of the Year are definitely within grasp for the Arizona native.

Potential Pitfalls

None.

Okay so I’m going to be academic here and actually put some thought into this one even though I don’t want to. Let’s be honest, this is how we BS’d many papers in college.

Let’s talk about Howard’s defense. If it doesn’t even marginally improve this season, he could cause the Golden Eagles some trouble defending the pick and roll. Thankfully the rest of the team has the potential to be at the very least average on defense so it might not be noticeable. Thinking long-term, it would be of great interest for Howard to improve his defense if he wants a legitimate shot at a top end pro career. It can be any aspect of his defense really. On ball defending, steals, charges taken, it doesn’t matter to me.

If Howard’s defense doesn’t improve, his minutes could take a slight hit when Wojo needs a defensive lineup on the court. As mentioned above, Marquette has options on offense other than Howard. While having Howard on the floor is the preference, if Wojo feels he has a better defensive option without him, the Golden Eagles will still be able to score fairly easily.

Let me begin by checking in on how well Markus met the reasonable expectations I set for him at the beginning of the season in the preview that’s blockquoted directly above.

  • Top 5 in the Big East in scoring? Check (finished 1st).
  • Top 3 in three-point percentage? Nope, finished in 8th with 40.3%.
  • First in threes made? Yep, led the league in made threes (120) and per game average (3.5).
  • First in free throw percentage? No, got edged out by teammate Sam Hauser who led the conference with 92.4%.
  • All Big-East First Team? Most definitely, and won the Big East Player of the Year as well.

All in all, he did a pretty good job of meeting the high expectations that were set for him.

Unfortunately for Markus, I was wrong about one thing: Joseph Chartouny’s impact on the team. He did not pan out as most Marquette fans would have liked, and quite honestly, probably not as well as even the coaching staff would have liked. Too many turnovers was his main issue. Aside from that, he never really looked comfortable attacking the rim and was average at best at distributing the ball. Thus, Markus ended up being the primary ball-handler for most of the 40 minutes, even more so as the season wore on, and had to create his own shot quite often. It was fine because he’s superbly good at doing that but it would have been nice to see Chartouny develop into a better offensive talent in order to (yes, I realize how insane this sounds, but you get the point) maximize Howard’s potential as an all-around player.

Defensively he stood his ground. It’s always going to be difficult for him to be an elite defender because of his size. He showed some more toughness defensively positioning himself well and it seemed like he took more charges this year (even though I don’t have proof to back that up). Plus, some of the other guys like Theo, Ed, Sacar and Joey Hauser stepped up defensively to create a wall to block offenses from getting easy baskets.

Markus had an incredible start to the 2018-19 campaign having two games of 45 points against Kansas State and Buffalo in non-conference. As an encore he dropped a Big East record 53(!!) points in an overtime game against Creighton. These kind of performances are what made him the most exciting player to watch in college basketball this season. What I could not predict is how much injuries would affect his game in the most important part of the schedule. As we are all aware, he was not the same player after the game at Villanova where he banged up his wrist after a hard drive to the basket. It’s no coincidence that Marquette dropped the ensuing three games to finish the regular season on a 4-game skid.

It’s been a topic that’s been heavily covered on this site as well as amongst the Marquette faithful. Here’s what we had to say about the turning point in Markus’ season. The main takeaway from this well-written piece is that Markus was lethal shooting the ball before suffering his injury but didn't have the same spark on his shot after.

I want to direct your attention to the second tweet in the thread by our friends over at Paint Touches for more proof of this crucial turning point for Markus’ season. It gives you a pretty good idea that the Golden Eagles weren’t the same after Howard landed hard on his wrist late against Villanova. While he excelled on the court when he was being used more than 35% of the time before the injury, he struggled mightily afterwards as his usage rate stayed the same.

Best Game

Buffalo. Scoring 40 points in a half is more impressive than 53 total points in a game. Plus he had an extra 5 minutes to get to 53 against Creighton. Not to mention that Buffalo was a top-15 team when Markus blew them away in the second half. It was a close game until he activated video game mode and went bonkers in the second half. I wish there was a stat on the highest scoring halves in NCAA division 1 history but I looked everywhere and there’s no record to be found. I’m willing to bet that 40 points is very high up there on that (imaginary) list.

Season Grade, on a scale of 1-10

It’s difficult to accept the fact that maybe Marquette would have been better off if they rested Howard for a game or two to let that wrist completely heal. Who knows how far this team could have gone had Markus been 100% at the end of the season. He simply didn’t look himself the final four games and into the Big East tournament. With that being said, I still think he deserves a 7/10 for how well he played before his injury. He played about as well as I expected and even provided some “instant classics” type of performances early in the season. In the end, you can’t control injuries and it’s a shame that it definitely impacted his game when it mattered the most.