The 2021-22 college basketball season is quickly approaching, and thus, we turn our attention to previewing the upcoming Marquette Golden Eagles men’s basketball season.
To that end, we’ve got a stacked up list of questions about the forthcoming campaign, and we’ve gotten the #mubbPAC of Paint Touches, Anonymous Eagle, and Cracked Sidewalks back together to take a crack at answering them. There will be a new question every weekday afternoon between now and the start of the season, so be sure to stop back every day to find the new one.
Onwards, then, to the question of the day, intentionally placed here, one day before MU’s lone exhibition game:
Who’s in the starting five on opening night…. And does a starting five matter with this team?
Tim Blair, Cracked Sidewalks: On opening night — Darryl Morsell, Greg Elliott, Kur Kuath, Olivier-Maxence Prosper, and Justin Lewis. And no, the starting five doesn’t matter, at least early in the season where Smart will surely rely on an expanded rotation. I’d presume there is no set lineup for quite a while, and by the time conference play begins, Tyler Kolek is either starting or getting starter minutes. Watch out for Stevie Mitchell doing the same as well.
Andrei Greska, Paint Touches: Starters no matta. I think Shaka is going to go deep into the bench most games and it won’t make a difference who tipped. Lewis, Morsell, Prosper, Kuath and Kolek are the top minute getters, if that helps.
Joe McCann, Cracked Sidewalks: Lewis, Kuath, Morsell, Prosper, and Kolek. The first three there are locks in my opinion. I’m least sure about the 1, but I imagine we’ll see a lot of opportunities for a lot of guys to take control of that spot. Phil and I talked about this on the last podcast, and I agree with his take that Elliott may be better as a sixth man than a starter. But I’m sure Greg will get a lot of minutes, even if he doesn’t start. The starting five kind of matters because you want to get every game off to a good start, but the overall distribution of minutes matters more.
John Gunville, Anonymous Eagle: Honestly, the starting lineup will fluctuate throughout the season and minutes won’t be super skewed in favor of starters so it probably doesn’t matter. Most guys on the roster will get enough game time to earn minutes in conference play and post-season. I’m not really going to throw out any super surprising names for the night one starters: Kolek, Morsell, Elliott, Lewis, and Kuath. I’d love to see a freshman sneak their way into the lineup, but Mitchell is the most likely option and he’s been injured so we’re probably not going to see him in minute one.
Alan Bykowski, Cracked Sidewalks: Tyler Kolek, Darryl Morsell, O-Max Prosper, Justin Lewis, Kur Kuath, though I don’t think it matters that much. I’m more concerned with who is the closing five in tight games. I’m leaving out Elliott and Mitchell because I’m not sure they’ll be healthy enough to start by then. I think we’ll see a lot of run for Kam Jones as well with David Joplin and Oso Ighodaro both having defined roles. I could see them going 9-10 deep with everyone outside Morsell and Lewis varying widely in terms of minutes on a game-by-game basis.
Patrick Leary, Anonymous Eagle: Obviously Morsell and Lewis. Kuath is the perfect “starting center who plays fewer minutes than a starter” archetype, so he’ll start, but could also have a legitimate starting role depending on his play. Word is Kolek has been running the point, and he’d probably start anyway if he was off the ball. And why not throw in old reliable Greg Elliott as the fifth.
Phil Bush, Cracked Sidewalks: I’m super pro Stevie Mitchell for unexplainable reasons but starting line ups will not matter. Kur, Justin, and Morsell will get the most starts but it’s really not going to matter. We may even have an honorary Erik Williams on this roster (for the uninitiated, Erik started and played like 6 minutes before giving way to Jae Crowder (no, seriously) in the Buzz Williams era) but it doesn’t matter because there will a lot of line up variety and a lot of “starters.”
Ben Snider, Anonymous Eagle: Darryl Morsell, Greg Elliott, Tyler Kolek, Justin Lewis, Kur Kuath. The point guard development will be the most important one of the season. Between Kolek and Stevie Mitchell there’s two guys that can potentially grab hold of the primary ball handler role for the next few seasons. Neither has the pedigree required to make the immediate impact, though, so there may be a fair amount of feeling around to see who works best with what unit. I think the other 4 are safe bets to stick around.
Rob Lowe, Cracked Sidewalks: You can sharpie in Morsell, Kuath, and Lewis, but I don’t think it matters. We’re going to see a whole scrambled eggs of lineups.
Carter Chapley, Anonymous Eagle: Morsell, Elliott, Prosper, Lewis, Kuath. I’d say tie goes to the veteran in terms of starting guards but you could very well see Tyler Kolek or Stevie Mitchell play their way into starting minutes early or down right starting but neither are bona fide point guards quite yet so you let them develop. Ultimately there are enough pieces on this team that it feels like minutes are going to vary widely from game to game so maybe being a starter means very little, but getting the first chance to impress on a given night has to matter somewhat.
Todd Welter, Cracked Sidewalks: I advocated for Stevie Mitchell to start at point guard right away. Then he suffered the annual walking boot tradition injury. I think that puts him behind a bit. In the first game, I think Shaka goes with Kolek, Morsell, Elliott, Lewis and Kuath. Does it matter who starts? Heck no because we all know a switchable like lineup can mean you start a game to bring some energy like in the historical perspective Erik Williams [Editor’s Note: Two Erik Williams mentions in the same article! A new AE record!] was starter but played like eight minutes. Also the cliche is always true, it isn’t who starts the game but who finishes it.
Brewtown Andy, Anonymous Eagle: Kur Kuath and Darryl Morsell didn’t come here for their bonus year to come off the bench. Justin Lewis is too much of an inside/outside threat that he has to start. Two spots to go. For rangey athletic reasons, I’ll hand the 3 to Olivier-Maxence Prosper.... and for the final backcourt spot? Kam Jones. Got a feeling about him after watching what he got up to at the Haunted Hoops scrimmage. As for the “does it matter” question, well, to peek behind the curtain, I’m the one that suggested the question, so you can already guess that I wanted to hear what everyone else thought on my idea that this year’s Marquette team might just have a bunch of guys averaging between 20 and 27 minutes. If Shaka Smart is serious about “we need them to be able to breathe and stand upright after three minutes” then lots of guys are going to play big minutes and the first five on the floor is barely going to matter at all.