How y’all doing?
It’s been a couple of days since COVID-19 concerns forced the shutdown of the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, and the closing of Marquette’s campus thru April 10th, and the shuttering of the spring NCAA championships and thus the remainder of the Marquette athletics calendar. It’s been a little bit stressful for all of us for various reasons. For those of us who merely enjoy watching the athletics as entertainment, we don’t have that emotional high point to rely on now. For those of you out there who 1) work in athletics or 2) are a college athlete, I can’t imagine how wildly frustrating this is for you. Not only do you lose the ability to be on campus with your friends, but you also don’t have any competitions to prepare for, either as an administrator or a coach or a player.
So, we’re going to try to install some normalcy around here. I don’t know what the immediate future holds for this website without lacrosse, golf, track and field, and tennis to carry us through to May or, in the case of track and field, to June. But, eventually, for the 2020-21 school year, things are going to bounce back to normal. Perhaps some kind of new normal, but normal for sure.
Here’s what we know will eventually be coming down the pike for us to talk about in the perhaps not so distant future.
#1 - Basketball Recruiting Stuff
Sure, the NCAA has already activated a policy of not allowing coaches to head out on the road to do any recruiting due to the coronavirus. Let’s be clear: This is absolutely for the coaches’ benefit, because if you left it up to them to decide whether or not they should travel for their own safety, most of them would end up in some sort of weird game of chicken where if one coach goes, they’ll all go.
In any case, Marquette men’s basketball is decidedly behind an eightball in terms of recruiting right now. Here’s what the recruiting picture looks like for head coach Steve Wojciechowski:
The Golden Eagles currently project to have only 10 scholarship players available when the 2020-21 season begins. That could be 11, depending on what happens with the scholarship that was issued to Tommy Gardiner, who joined the team as a walk-on in 2018-19. In any case, it seems likely that if Wojciechowski can round up three players that would be expected to play more than the five total minutes that Gardiner played in 2019-20, he’ll probably hand out the scholarships to those three guys.
As such, we’re bound to hear something about that situation at some point in the not distant future. The only 2020 prospect that Marquette is really involved with is Karim Mane, the Canadian who visited Milwaukee for the Villanova game back in January. Mane is a 6’4” combo guard ranked in the top 125 of the 247 Sports Composite system, but he’s also #25 in their internal system. As a Canadian, he’s also NBA Draft eligible at this point, and he has not ruled that out.
Other than that, we’re looking at transfers, both of the traditional and graduate variety. With the season ending suddenly and also many schools shuttering campuses, it’s hard to tell what kind of timelines we’re looking at for information on who will be entering the transfer portal. It might be soon, it might take til May. Either way, that seems to be the most likely options for next school year.
We’re also looking at the Class of 2021, as they will be eligible to sign letters of intent in November of this year. As you can see from the chart, MU has no commitments for that class right now, and currently will be expecting to fill the spots opened up by the graduations of Theo John, Jamal Cain, and Koby McEwen.
There’s also Marquette women’s basketball recruiting to watch. Here’s Megan Duffy’s current situation.
That’s a freshly updated picture that you’re seeing for the first time. You can see the one open scholarship at the bottom for the 2020-21 school year, because that’s the spot that was supposed to go to Tori McCoy. While she started 2019-20 on the Marquette roster, my understanding of things is that she has finished up her degree and since she still has not received a kidney transplant, there is no chance that she’ll play another game of Division 1 basketball. She hasn’t been on the MU roster for the spring semester, so this is isn’t breaking news, nor is it surprising.
I don’t expect Duffy to fill the spot, as she already has 14 women set for next fall, with four freshmen and Antwainette Walker ready to take minutes. A traditional sit out transfer might be a possibility, but that person coming in as a sophomore or junior in 2021-22 just jams up the roster worse than it already will be in terms of class balance. It’s most likely best to just pocket the spot and look forward to the Class of 2021 with it. The women’s team is in the same situation for 2021 as the men with no current commitments and the signing period eight months away.
#2 - Fall Sports Schedules
It might be a hot minute before we get these, but it also might not be. Last year, we got volleyball on May 29th, women’s soccer on June 4th, and men’s soccer on June 5th. That’s quite a bit off, but then again, with no events to administrate between now and then, it’s possible that the gears get moving a little bit quicker this year and those schedules find their way into our grubby little mitts faster. The announcement of all three will be interesting. Women’s volleyball will be expecting to aim at a tenth straight NCAA tournament, but will have to do it without All-American Allie Barber this time around. Women’s soccer will be heading into the first season under new head coach Frank Pelaez, so it will be curious to see what direction he takes the team in after they struggled for the past two years. There’s nothing internally different about men’s soccer, at least not as much as the other two and not more than your usual college changeover, however..........
#3 - The Connecticut Impact
......... those three fall sports schedules will be the first time we get to see how the Big East is affected by adding UConn Huskies to the slate. The Huskies officially re-join the Big East on July 1st, although since UConn and the American Athletic Conference have shut down for the year just like MU and the Big East, technically they’re already on board.
Still, they’re not officially on board til July, and I’m willing to go on record as promising you a piece to welcome the Huskies men’s basketball team in the door. It’s gonna be a bit on the long side and is going to take me a little bit of time to run down all the necessary facts to get the point across, but UConn fans should get a kick out of it. Not all fans of the current 10 Big East teams will, though.
If you’re wondering about how the Huskies re-entering the league will affect Marquette, I wrote 4,100 words about that last August. There’s discussion in there about what we might see when those three fall schedules are announced. I particularly recommend that you go read what I wrote about volleyball.
#4 - Wrap ups for men’s and women’s lacrosse, and y’know what, women’s basketball, too.
There’s a half-written recap of the Marquette men’s loss to Michigan sitting in the AE dashboard right now. I haven’t even thought about starting on the recap of the women’s win over Detroit Mercy. They’ll get finished eventually, and following those will be some kind of close to the season. The men’s end of things is especially important in that regard, since this was the first season under new head coach Andrew Stimmel. We also need to do some kind of a dive into how Megan Duffy’s first season went, so that’s coming eventually.
On the topic of two seasons that ended suddenly.......
#5 - What’s up with that whole relief for spring sport athletes thing?
The NCAA has apparently approved scholarship and eligibility relief for athletes who were participating in spring sports this school year. I’m not clear if this is a blanket free year for everyone or if you have to file some sort of perfunctory paperwork to get it done in order to officially track scholarships properly, but it doesn’t really matter quite yet. The details will still need to be worked out one way or another, and the NCAA says as much in their statement announcing this.
I’m not 100% sure how many Marquette athletes will end up taking advantage of this. All of Marquette’s spring sports are equivalency sports, meaning that the teams are dividing up a limited scholarship total into chunks. For example, MU’s men’s lacrosse team is splitting up just 12.6 scholarships. That’s not a lot of scholarship money flying around, so most if not all of the guys are paying something to attend Marquette. I would presume that the NCAA’s relief effort would not mean that they get full scholarships all of a sudden. In addition to that, I don’t know how many of the seniors are that interested in returning for grad school that they’re mostly paying for AND playing lacrosse/golf/track & field/tennis. We’ll see what happens, I guess.
#6 - Men’s Basketball Player Reviews
Yep, those are still coming. We’ll get to them in April, just like we always do in order to create a little bit of separation from how the season ended so we get a quality evaluation.
#7 - The Men’s Basketball Defensive Scouting Project
Ben Snider, our head defensive scouting analyst, has already informed the AE home office that he’ll be getting started on this sooner rather than later. Keep your eyes open.
Hey, that’s a lot of stuff!
We’re still going to need to fill some time one way or another, of course. I kicked out the call for ideas on Twitter the other day, and some of them seemed pretty good. I’m pretty sure you’re going to be seeing Dawson’s Creek recaps to celebrate Dawson Garcia joining the basketball team in the fall. Still might need more, though, and this site exists so y’all actually come here, read what’s going on, and interact via comments, Twitter, Facebook, etc. So I want to try to give you guys the kind of stuff you want to see as we’re filling the time until there’s actual Marquette sports to talk about again.
There’s no idea that’s too ridiculous, AND they don’t have to be strictly Marquette related, or even strictly sports related. I can’t guarantee that we’ll get to every idea that y’all come up with or even be able to execute some of them, but we’ll at least consider all of them. We’ve got four full months for sure to get through, so knowing what y’all want to talk about is going to help a whole bunch.
In fact, let’s start off with a mailbag! We’ll aim for a publishing date on Tuesday, so the faster you send in your questions, the more likely it is that they’ll get answered. Just like your ideas for future content, there’s no question that’s too out there, and don’t feel that you need to keep it to Marquette or sports, either.
So, fire it up! Sound off in the comments, hit up the Twitter or Facebook, or if you’re a more private person, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org! The email inbox is always open for any questions or feedback that you have.