Hello, and welcome back to Marquette women’s basketball talk!
In an effort to preview the 2021-22 season, we’ve already taken a look at the returning players that head coach Megan Duffy has on her roster. Today, we’re going to look at the three newcomers. Interestingly enough, each of the three fits into their own category in terms of how they arrive at Marquette, so we’ll go through each category one by one.
Okay, enough chit-chat, let’s get to it.
The Bonus Year Transfer
Graduate Student - #12 - Guard - 5’7” - Fort Wayne, Indiana
Kids, is it good when you add another school’s all time leader in three-pointers made to your roster? Oh, it is? Well, then it’s good news that Karissa McLaughlin plays for Marquette now.
McLaughlin walks away from Purdue with that record in hand as well as a ranking of #20 all time in scoring and #16 in scoring average. If it wasn’t for injuries shortening her senior year to just seven games, McLaughlin would have been on track to easily slide into the top 15 in total points in West Lafayette and had a good shot at the top 10, too. Before that slowed down senior year, McLaughlin averaged 12.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game across her first three seasons on campus. While shooting more than half of her shots from behind the three-point line in every single season of her Purdue career, she only shot 39% from the field. That sounds bad, but again: Mostly a three-point shooter and through her first three seasons of college hoops, she hit 36% of those.
The question becomes how much other than shooting does McLaughlin bring to the table. It’s safe to say that she didn’t elect to finish her rehab from the ankle surgery last offseason that limited her to just seven games in 2020-21 and play an extra season of college hoops to not play big minutes at Marquette. Megan Duffy has a big ol’ Selena Lott sized hole in her roster to fill, and that’s obviously where the 5’7” Indiana native fits in the best. She did rank in the top 500 in the country in assist rate per Her Hoop Stats in each of her three healthy seasons at Purdue, so that end of things might work out pretty well for the Golden Eagles. McLaughlin probably isn’t going to be as good of a defender as Lott was, but that’s more praise for Lott than it is a criticism of the 2017 Indiana Miss Basketball.
No matter what was asked of McLaughlin at Purdue or what Megan Duffy’s plans are for her, I think it’s safe to bet that McLaughlin is going to throw herself into whatever the team needs from her on a nightly basis. Cards on the table time: McLaughlin has never played in the NCAA tournament, as their last appearance was the year before she arrived on campus. Meanwhile, Marquette will be looking to break the program record for consecutive tourney appearances this season. You think that McLaughlin might be a liiiiiiitle motivated to get that experience? Just a little?
Oh, and FUN FACT: McLaughlin scored 53 points in seven games last season for Purdue to move into 20th place all time on the scoring list. One of the players that she passed? New Marquette assistant coach Kelly Komara. Might be just a liiiiitle bit of friendly trash talk going on in that locker room.
The Traditional Transfer
Junior - #44 - Forward - 6’2” - Cincinnati, Ohio
It’s easy to look at Kennedi Myles’ career averages of 8.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.8 steals per game along with her eight and say “ah, yes, this is a recruiting job that Megan Duffy completed to replace Camryn Taylor on the roster.” It’s up in the air as to how much truth there is to that, though. Myles made her commitment to the Golden Eagles on April 1st, while Taylor didn’t announce that she was transferring until April 12th and didn’t announcer her commitment to Virginia until May 2nd. Now, given the timeline with Marquette’s season ending on March 21st, is it possible that Duffy was well aware of Taylor’s thought process by the time that things got started with Myles? Sure, but we just can’t say that Myles was specifically recruited to replace Taylor.
That is where she most obviously fits into the lineup, though, right up to the point of Taylor starting every game last year and Myles starting every game that she played for Illinois. When you have a player like Myles who spent the last two years ranked in the top 175 in the country in defensive rebounding rate according to Her Hoop Stats and turned in a top 300 offensive rebounding rate as a freshman, well, you turn her loose on the glass and ask questions later. Megan Duffy has been very open about rebounding being a big part of how she has wanted Marquette to play in her first two seasons, and the addition of Myles to the roster doesn’t change a single thing about that, that’s for sure.
We have to wonder what the coaching staff is going to do about Myles’ shooting, though. Sub-40% shooting on two-point attempts just isn’t getting it done. Given the transformation of Lauren Van Kleunen’s game between her first two and last two seasons of college hoops, I’m not too worried about the effect that the coaches can have on Myles. That extends all the way to long range shooting, too. Myles is a very not good 4-for-30 in her career from beyond the arc. That’s not even a one-per-game pace, so it’s not a massive problem, but it is a “whatever you’re doing with your hands, stop it” issue. Again, Duffy’s staff turned LVK into a reliable (if not relied on) outside shooter over the past two years, so the proof of concept for improvement for Myles is there. We’ll see how fast we see the impact.
Freshman - #24 - Forward - 6’0” - Chicago, Illinois
The arrival of Makiyah Williams on campus has been waiting since April of 2020 when she made her commitment to the Golden Eagles. I’m starting there because she had some pretty interesting comments relative to joining a program in the Big East:
“(Marquette) was the best fit for me,” Williams said. “There were a lot of different coincidences, such as picking a school where I would be a part of a team that could beat a team like Connecticut. Also, I was outside two days ago, getting in a workout and I saw eagles flying outside my house.
“But Marquette just recruited me the hardest, talked to me more. It’s close to home, so a lot of people can come watch me play. I liked the facilities and the school is not too small or big.”
It’s the “beat a team like Connecticut” part there that I wanted to highlight. It’s nice to see that MU’s incoming freshman has high goals for her tenure in blue and gold.
Whether that pays off this year? Well, seems unlikely specifically relative to the Huskies, but weirder things have absolutely happened. As for Williams’ ability to contribute immediately, two things are at a head immediately. On one hand, it would seem that anyone who averaged 22 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks per game as a senior in the Chicagoland area high school circuit should be able to do a little bit of something right out of the gate, especially since that was Class 3A All-State worthy in the eyes of the Illinois Coaches Association.
On the other hand, we’ve seen Megan Duffy be somewhat reluctant to let her freshmen completely let rip. She was somewhat forced into it in year 1 just based on the roster composition, but the primary sources of offense and so forth were her veteran players. While Blue Star says that Williams is just ever so slightly outside the top 100 in terms of national rankings, that doesn’t mean that Duffy and her staff are ready to give her regular minutes, either. Williams was able to play 1 through 5 at the high school level, which is good news in terms of flexibility when it comes to getting minutes this year, but I doubt she’s going to be able to roll past Lauren Van Kleunen, Kennedi Myles, and Liza Karlen when it comes to those minutes at the 4 and 5.
Ultimately, I like Williams’ upside for her career at Marquette, we just might not see much of what she can do this season.