On Wednesday evening, we got a little bit of Marquette women’s basketball roster news, as Destiny Strother announced that she will be transferring to Pittsburgh. Strother was a freshman during the 2019-20 season, and after sitting out one season at Pitt, she will have three years of eligibility remaining.
This was a little bit of a surprise, as the athletic department and the women’s basketball team specifically never announced that Strother was pursuing a transfer. While I was running a few Twitter searches to see if the men’s team was connected to any new transfer names on Wednesday morning, I popped across a “Women’s Basketball Transfer Portal Entries” account that said that Strother was in the portal. But again, with no announcement from Marquette, it’s hard to know if you should take some random Twitter account seriously. More to the point, Strother’s own Twitter never made mention of her impending departure, either.
Without making this about what announcements Strother made for herself, because she’s entitled to as much privacy about these decisions as she wants, this bumps up against a generalized problem that I have with covering all of Marquette’s sports here on Anonymous Eagle. With all of that attention to all of those sports, I think they should all take themselves all as seriously as possible. To make this specifically about Strother’s departure, it’s hard to wave the banner of “PAY ATTENTION TO WOMEN’S SPORTS BECAUSE THEY KICK ASS” when the team itself is deciding to just quietly pretend that there’s no news to talk about. Maybe this is just a coronavirus sized hole in the attention level this time, but it’s also not the first time that I’ve had to piece together conclusions about the Marquette roster. Exhibit A: Tori McCoy just disappearing off the roster following the fall 2019 semester without any kind of a fanfare. Exhibit B: Sharna Ayres transferring to LSU without any mention from Marquette. Exhibit C: Amanda Maqueia being labeled as a junior on the MU roster even though the athletic department knew she only had one year of eligibility available to her because international transfer reasons and then just shuttling her off the roster without a single mention as to why.
See what I mean? That’s just in the past calendar year, and that’s just for women’s basketball, which is presumably Marquette’s second most visible sport.
In any case, it’s not entirely surprising that Strother is transferring following her freshman year. Let’s recap her experience in Milwaukee, shall we?
- Committed to Marquette in November 2017
- Signed a letter of intent in November 2018
- MU head coach Carolyn Kieger departed for Penn State in April 2019
- Asked for her release to pursue other options following Kieger’s departure
- Ended up sticking with Marquette, perhaps because Megan Duffy retained Vernette Skeete and Scott Merritt as assistant coaches
- Played a total of 46 minutes while appearing in only 17 of Marquette’s 32 games
- Merritt left to join the Illinois staff, followed by Skeete three weeks later
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the random WBB portal Twitter posted that Strother was in the portal just three days after Skeete was announced as a part of the Illinois staff. Strother was clearly having second thoughts about the Golden Eagles when she asked for her release from her letter of intent after Kieger left. It seems obvious that she was re-recruited to Marquette by Skeete and Merritt. With both of them now gone and Strother barely playing even with them around, you can see why the Michigan native felt that her future was best spent elsewhere.
We wish her nothing but the best at Pitt as well as in anything else that comes her way in the future. I think we also have to point out that it’s possible that she’s at Pitt because of Marquette connections. Former Marquette head coach Terri Mitchell is the associate head coach at Pitt, and since Mitchell was Kieger’s head coach at MU, I don’t think it’s wild to think that Kieger might have put in a good word for Strother.
Anyway, with a roster spot now open, it’s time to update the scholarship chart.
Strother’s departure gives Megan Duffy a second open scholarship for the 2020-21 season. However, Marquette wasn’t recruiting any new freshmen to go with the class of four women for this coming fall at this point, so there won’t be any other additions in that regard. With six sophomores for next season including Antwainette Walker finishing her transfer redshirt and four freshmen coming in, I don’t think there’s really a reason to be interested in another transfer coming in at this point. It’s possible, of course, and things are still unsettled since the school year isn’t over. 13 players is a big roster, though, so I wouldn’t expect Duffy to be looking very hard.
Rolling those two scholarships over to the 2021-22 school year would provide a solid opportunity to help balance out the classes on the roster. Those two open spots would join the spots left vacant by the conclusion of the careers of Selena Lott and Lauren Van Kleunen. Adding freshmen at that point gives you a junior class of six, a sophomore class of four, and a freshman class of three or four, and that’s a pretty good mix. It also would help soften the blow down the road when Duffy will have six open roster sports for the fall of 2023.