With the 2020-21 season long since in the books, let’s take a few moments to look back at the performance of each member of YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles this year. While we’re at it, we’ll also take a look back at our player previews and see how our preseason prognostications stack up with how things actually played out. We’ll run through the roster in order of total minutes played going from lowest to highest, which means today we move on to our first review of a player who appeared in all 27 games this past season........
Redshirt Junior - #5 - Guard - 6’3” - 180 lbs. - Detroit, Michigan
Greg Elliott Traditional Stats
Greg Elliott Fancy Stats
*** — notes a top 500 national ranking per KenPom.com
Maybe it’s an unreasonable expectation based on history, but all I really want from Greg this year is a full and productive season. A clean bill of health as things get started and no games missed due to injury. We’ve never seen him at full power, and I suspect that after two ankle surgeries, we’ll never see him at full full power, if that makes sense. Still, he has the athletic talents thanks to his lanky build to be a notable contributor if not perhaps a force on the floor for Marquette. But he needs to be healthy to do that, and thus that’s all I want from him. Everything else will fall in line behind a healthy season for Elliott.
If you want to talk stats for Elliott, then I think T-Rank is pretty enthusiastic about him. Can I interest you in 7.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game? Those would all be career highs, as would the 64% of minutes played. As long as he can keep hitting threes at a prolific rate, I think this will definitely work out.
Why You Should Get Excited
There’s a chance that Greg Elliott is healthy. We’re over two years removed from his wrist surgery, so let’s not worry about that. Last year, he was able to return from injury and play in games (at a pretty high level, especially compared to what he was doing earlier in the year) before undergoing surgery after the season was halted. Here’s the thing about that surgery: It happened in April. The sudden injury surgery in the previous offseason? That happened in late June. If we presume that the surgeries were relatively similar or even if we presume that the latest one was more serious, then we know that Elliott has had two extra months to recover and rehab. That’s fantastic news.
If that’s the case, if he is better than he’s ever been while pulling on a Marquette uniform, then I really like what he brings to the table. Steve Wojciechowski’s Golden Eagles teams have struggled on the defensive end to be sure. One of the shining parts of the 2017-18 squad on defense — AKA Wojciechowski’s worst defensive team at MU — was Elliott causing dysfunction all over the court with blocks and steals. A 6’3” guard made out of pipe cleaners playing with one hand shouldn’t be able to be one of the best 300 players in the country in block rate..... but Elliott did that. What can he accomplish for the Golden Eagles if he’s totally healthy and ready to go? Elliott might be able to provide a defensive stopper option off the bench behind Koby McEwen or D.J. Carton, or maybe he creates a three-man backcourt with those two and takes the harder defensive assignment to ease the pressure on the other two guys. We’re not going to be looking to Elliott to carry the offensive weight on this team, but if he can be a threat to get to the rim and hit the open threes, then that opens up a lot of other options for whoever else is out on the court with him.
We’re all afraid that he’s just going to get hurt again, right? I mean, it’s the only truly obvious thing that is going to cause a problem for Elliott to get a chance to contribute to this team. The roster is thin enough where anyone with collegiate experience needs to be out on the floor chipping in at least 15 minutes a night just to get Marquette through the season. If you give a Swiss Army Knife of talents like Greg Elliott out on the floor for 15 minutes, good things will happen...... but he needs to be able to go out there for that to happen.
We should probably also consider the flipside of the Get Excited part, huh? What if he’s not healthy? What if the second ankle surgery has permanently robbed Elliott of the athleticism he needs to play at the high major Division 1 level, Joe Fulce-style? Marquette will probably be able to get through the season with the guard rotation of Carton, McEwen, Symir Torrence, and Dexter Akanno without him, but that means relying on a whole bunch of things to all go well for the Golden Eagles to have a successful season. That’s probably not what you want to happen, but if Elliott can’t keep up with the speed of the game because of the pair of ankle surgeries, then that’s just going to have to be what happens.
I’ll just come right out and say it off the top: Greg Elliott was underutilized by Steve Wojciechowski and his staff in the 2020-21 season.
Out of anyone on the team with more than 50 three-point attempts in 2020-21 (sorry, Theo John), Greg Elliott had the best shooting percentage on the roster. The 6’3” Michigan native connected on 45.5% of his 66 long range attempts on the year. Elliott also had the fewest attempts out of anyone who attempted at least 50 tries from long range this past season. I don’t want to tell anyone that they’re doing their job poorly, but I will say that when you don’t use your most accurate shooter and your only shooter over 36% for more than 2.4 attempts per game, you’re not maximizing your roster properly.
Heck, you might even be able to get former head coach Steve Wojciechowski to agree with the sentiment that we didn’t see enough of Greg Elliott this past year. After all, Wojciechowski is the one who relented and put Elliott into the starting lineup for just the sixth time in his Marquette career and the first time of the season on February 17th. Elliott started in five of Marquette’s last six games — Koby McEwen made his way back into the lineup for Senior Day — and all he did in the last six games of the year was average 11.2 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game while shooting a very robust 52% from long range.
Feels like a missed opportunity when Elliott averaged 4.8 points and 1.4 rebounds per game in just under 16 minutes of action for the previous 21 games, y’know?
That’s just talking about Elliott’s statistical contribution to the Golden Eagles’ season. I want to spend a few moments talking about feelings. You know what this past year missed while MU was going 13-14 and missing the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in Wojciechowski’s seven year tenure as head coach?
The team wasn’t fun to watch.
Beyond the overall malaise of seeing Wojciechowski’s usual flaws flare up over and over again, it just wasn’t fun to watch the team. Dawson Garcia had a pretty great year which we’ll get to eventually, but the big man from Minnesota’s game can easily be called methodical. There’s something to be said for playing with resolute determination at all times, but when it doesn’t come with visible emotion, it isn’t fun to watch. On the other end of the spectrum, Koby McEwen was full of his usually maddening play, and it came with his now-traditionally awful body language. Again, not fun to watch. The rest of the squad? Somewhere in the middle of all of that.
But not Greg Elliott.
I can watch an awful lot of losing basketball by a team I care about if I get something fun to watch along the way. Greg was fun to watch. I don’t just mean because he successfully accomplished good things on the basketball court like getting a rebound or making a shot or coming up with a steal. I mean Greg, personally, was fun to watch. I don’t want to say for certain that he was having fun on the court, that’s up to him to say, but he played like he was having fun. There was energy, there was enthusiasm, and more often than not, there was an infectious smile like the one you see at the top of the page.
That counts for something, especially on a mercurial at best and bad at worst team like Marquette was this past season. Watching Greg Elliott play basketball was fun. I wish we could have watched more things that were fun this past year, and that includes more of Greg Elliott.
There are a few options here, particularly down the stretch of the season, as Elliott scored in double digits in four of Marquette’s final six games. However, I’m going to dial it back a bit, and give Elliott bonus points for a big game while coming off the bench in a big spot. Back on December 14th, Elliott played 27 minutes as a reserve against #9 Creighton. He went 5-for-6 from the field, including draining all four of his long range attempts, to finish with 14 points along with four rebounds, three assists, and a steal as the Golden Eagles went into Omaha and picked up their second win against a top 10 opponent in a two week stretch. Ah, back when we had optimism about how the season was going to turn out. The point here is that Elliott was really great in a spot where Marquette needed a guy to be really great off the bench, and that deserves recognition here.
Elliott didn’t play near the minutes that T-Rank projected that he would, but the brunt for that falls on Steve Wojciechowski for not taking advantage of what he had on his roster until it was much too late in the season to do anything about it. That ended up costing Elliott a little bit in the stats department, but again: I’m not holding that against Elliott. He played well and played with verve when his number was called.
One thing I haven’t mentioned at all here is that Greg Elliott played in all 27 games for Marquette this past season. I’m sure he wasn’t 100% healthy all year long, no college basketball player is. Still, he played in every game, something he didn’t do in 2020, nor in 2019 when he had to miss the season due to injury. Playing in every game was not a given for a guy with Elliott’s health history, especially during a pandemic, so we have to tip our cap to him on pulling it off here.
Played in every game, was a ton of fun to watch, gave everything he had on every night, stepped up when his number was called. I’m going to give him an 8 on the year, because I’m going to give him a bonus for being great when Wojciechowski finally gave him a shot in the starting lineup and well over shooting the stat numbers that T-Rank projected for him.