It was Media Day for Big East basketball on Tuesday, which means it’s time for the preseason poll of the league’s coaches. If you’ve been paying attention to how things have gone in the offseason in regards to the Marquette men’s basketball roster, then you’re probably not surprised to find out that the Big East coaches collectively voted that the Golden Eagles will finish in ninth place in 2021-22.
I mean, this is the official blurb on the team in the actual Big East press release:
Marquette has been predicted ninth under new coach Shaka Smart. The Golden Eagles have almost a completely turned over roster. Promising sophomore forward Justin Lewis and veteran guard Greg Elliott are the lone returnees who have made significant contributions. Transfers and recruits will have opportunities to help right away.
Yeah, it’s not exactly inspiring confidence to the degree of “yes, this is clearly a top half of the conference team, everyone agrees.” Again, this should not surprise you. The blurb mentions Lewis and Elliott, and to take it one step further, forward Oso Ighodaro is the only other scholarship player on the roster who has played for Marquette in the past.
We should point out that only one point separates Marquette from 10th place Georgetown. In addition to that, with 10 points, it’s clear that DePaul was picked to finish last by every single coach that isn’t DePaul’s Tony Stubblefield since coaches can’t vote for their own teams. There’s not a huge gap between 8th place Creighton and 9th place MU, but given the small gap between MU and GU, it seems like the coaches have a clear separation for the bottom three teams in the league heading into the season.
The coaches also voted on a Player of the Year — Collin Gillespie from Villanova — and a Freshman of the Year — Aminu Mohammed from Georgetown — in addition to a preseason all-conference team. Counting Gillespie in here since is technically not part of the all-conference team because the league is weird and bad about this, there are 13 players who were noted as one of the best players in the conference heading into the season. None of them play for Marquette.
Again, this should not be surprising to you. If you think Justin Lewis is going to be there at the end of the year, well, that’s a solid bet to make, but you can’t really say he deserves a spot before the season starts. Maybe Darryl Morsell, who was the 2020-21 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year when he was still at Maryland? Sure, I see the argument, but I also don’t think he can make it into this list, not quite yet, not til we see what Shaka Smart’s team actually looks like on the floor.
As far as that goes, we’ll see the Golden Eagles in exhibition action against Bowie State on November 4th. The first official game comes five days later against SIU-Edwardsville.
Here’s the full rundown of preseason awards from the Big East:
Big East Preseason Player of the Year
Collin Gillespie, Villanova, G, Gr.
Big East Preseason Freshman of the Year
Aminu Mohammed, Georgetown, G, Fr.
Preseason All-Big East First Team
Nate Watson, Providence, C, Gr.
Julian Champagnie, St. John’s, G-F, Jr
Jared Rhoden, Seton Hall, G-F, Sr.
Paul Scruggs, Xavier, G, Sr.
Zach Freemantle, Xavier, F, Jr.
Preseason All-Big East Second Team
R.J. Cole, Connecticut, F, Gr.
Tyrese Martin, Connecticut, G, Sr.
Posh Alexander, St. John’s, G, So.
Justin Moore, Villanova, G, Jr.
Jermaine Samuels, Villanova, F, Gr.
Preseason All-Big East Honorable Mention
Chuck Harris, Butler, G, So.
Adama Sanogo, Connecticut, F, So.
2021-22 Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. Villanova, 100 pts (10 1st place votes)
2. Connecticut, 84 (1)
3. Xavier, 76
4. St. John’s, 73
5. Seton Hall, 68
6. Butler, 60
7. Providence, 45
8. Creighton, 38
9. Marquette, 26
10. Georgetown, 25
11. DePaul, 10