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!
What are your expectations for the 2021-22 Marquette men’s basketball season?
We gave this an “anything” definition. However you want to define “I need to see this” from MU hoops this season is an acceptable answer.
Alan Bykowski, Cracked Sidewalks: When I go game-by-game, I come up with a bubble team, but that feels overly bullish. I want this year’s team to be the one that people hate to play against. I want to see Darryl Morsell lock guys down like he did Markus Howard in Orlando, I want the defense to outwork opponents, and unlike Wojo’s teams, be the kind of unit no one wants to see on the back end of the schedule rather than the team people salivate to see a second time. Hopefully it ends fighting for a NCAA bid, but if we’re in the NIT, that would be fun too. Anyone who was at the Al in 2018 had a blast, and unlike that season coming after the 2017 NCAA bid, this time it would feel like progress from last year’s 13-14 disaster.
Carter Chapley, Anonymous Eagle: Be better at the end of the year than you are at the beginning. See progression from the young guys growing into larger roles, and be competitive in most games they play. A postseason tournament appearance can be very valuable for establishing culture so you hope an NIT appearance is in the cards, but really you just want to see growth and fight on a nightly basis. I think this team is going to beat someone it shouldn’t and lose a game it shouldn’t, but ultimately you hope you have more answers than questions by the end of the year.
Joe McCann, Cracked Sidewalks: Compete and be a better team in March than it is in November. I think we’re all exhausted with late-season collapses. I think this team can reach postseason play. Sure, we’d all love to make the NCAA Tournament, but even an NIT berth would feel like a win for this young squad and a coach in his first year. That may be a challenge, but I think they’ll be up for it. My biggest hope is this team establishes an identity under Smart, gives us some confidence that MU hired the right guy, and leaves us excited that a step forward is coming in 2022-23.
Andrei Greska, Paint Touches: My expectations are really low. Under .500 low. But what I’m expecting is a team that improved significantly each month so that come February, we look back at the non-conference schedule and see a different team. Progress during the season is my bar.
Rob Lowe, Cracked Sidewalks: Top 40 defense or bust, baby! Outside of that, I honestly have zero idea what to expect for the season. Simply, I am excited that Shaka Smart is here as our coach and I believe in the direction of the program under his stewardship. I am just here for the ride this season.
Ben Snider, Anonymous Eagle: My main hope is for there to be a night with a full Fiserv Forum against a good opponent where the crowd fuels the team to a huge victory. I’m not particularly worried about the overall direction of the program in the way that we all were with Steve Wojciechowski. We’re going to be looking at a lot of 4-6 seeds in the years to come with a “Final Four Dark Horse” team or two sprinkled in there and I don’t think this season will radically change that projection one way or another. What I want more than anything is to get that energy back from the fanbase. The slate for what the fan culture creates for this team is completely blank. Giving the fans the juice that just one big win provides can create a brand new ecosystem going forward.
Tim Blair, Cracked Sidewalks: Toughness, defense, in-season improvement. The first of these is subjective but if this team has it - and I expect it will demonstrate violent toughness, to be honest - the defense will develop and this team will close the season as a much improved squad. With a bit of good fortune and perhaps stealing a couple of wins during what will be brutal stretches in December and the bridge between January and February, this team could finish at or above .500 and grab a seat in the NIT.
John Gunville, Anonymous Eagle: My only expectation for this team is toughness on the defensive end. Maybe not super organized, clinical defending but five guys who work hard and want to force turnovers. Outside of dunk videos posted by the social media team, most of the offseason press that I’ve seen about the team is about hard work, hustle, and violence. That’s really all I want from this team, other than maybe a few fun wins.
Phil Bush, Cracked Sidewalks: This will be a return to Team Bubble Watch for Marquette. They will compete and surprise from time to time (in a good way), and that is going to lead to NCAA tournament projection types spending most of February saying “Y’know, we can’t say Marquette has no chance.” I think they will be solid defensively but the offense will struggle from time to time. They will be way, Way, WAY better than whatever Wojo could have offered up, so I’m excited. It’s gonna be a good season, in my opinion.
Patrick Leary, Anonymous Eagle: Improve over the course of the season. Set a path to contend in the Big East next season through legitimate flashes of talent from the younger parts of the roster. At least make us think there’s a chance at some point to make the NCAA tournament. Win more games than you lose, although maybe not necessarily in the Big East, that’s a tall ask.
Todd Welter, Cracked Sidewalks: My bare minimum expectation is and will always be to not have a below .500 record. I expect there to be some growing pains. It would not shock me at all if Illinois comes into Fiserv Forum and dominates Marquette. I would then look to see if the squad can bounce back, go to Charleston and have an impressive showing in that tournament. I would like to see enough improvement and growth to then pull off a win at the Kohl Center or get the Kansas State road win. I would like to see enough improvement to run with UCLA. Who knows, maybe pull off the stunner. Come Big East play, I would be happy with a 10-10 record and I think it could happen. I do not see the Golden Eagles running with Villanova, Connecticut or Xavier. I could see them getting splits or sweeps with the rest of the Big East. I would take a NIT invite with the youth and inexperience. Sneaking into the Tournament as a First Four or even in the 10-12 seed range would also be welcomed with open arms.
Brewtown Andy, Anonymous Eagle: Be fun. Play with violence, as the head coach is dictating. Do some wild athletic stuff that makes the Fiserv crowd go “OHHHHHHHHHH” at least once a game. Be interesting. Make opponents know that they had to beat you to win the game. Make me stop referring to Megan Duffy’s team as “Marquette’s good basketball team.” Be the cornerstone and foundation for whatever comes next in the Shaka Smart era of MU hoops.