By now, you should be more than familiar with our series of regularly updating leaderboards for various Marquette Golden Eagles sports accomplishments. Keep checking back to that link in the previous sentence for our charts as the seasons continue to churn through history and MU’s various teams continue to create new memories and accomplishments.
Today, we’re going to talk about Marquette’s single season assists record and top 10. We’re bringing it up because over the next two months, it’s going to be changing a bit.
The conversation starts in the mid-1990s and very clearly starts with Tony Miller. The Marquette legend holds the all-time single season record for assists with 274. He is the only player to ever clear 250 assists in a season, setting the program’s all time record as a junior. Miller is also the only player to post 220 assists in a season, and he did that first as a freshman when he beat out Sam Worthen’s then-record of 209 assists from the 1978-79 season. Miller then passed Worthen again as a sophomore before setting what is now the record as a junior and then threw up an extra 248 helpers as a senior.
The wild part about the entire thing is that the very next year, 1995-96, Aaron Hutchins passed Worthen as well and surpassed Miller’s sophomore campaign too, breaking up the stranglehold on the top four spots. Since then, no one has cleared 200 assists in a season.
Travis Diener came the closest, putting up 184 as a sophomore partially thanks to the Final Four run and then passing that with 187 in his junior year. Junior Cadougan was the most recent entrant to the top 10, tying Lloyd Walton’s 1976 mark and one-time program record of 183 as the Canadian helped guide the Golden Eagles to the Sweet 16 in 2012 and got to benefit from throwing the ball to Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom.
That brings us to this season, where Tyler Kolek has 80 assists through 13 games. That’s 6.2 per game right now. Marquette has 19 guaranteed games left on the schedule as I write this on the morning of December 29th: 18 Big East regular season games and one Big East tournament game. If Kolek just holds his average for the rest of the season, that’s another 117 assists and brings him to 197 on the season. That on its own would be the eighth best assists season in program history, and doesn’t even take into account 1) Kolek could increase his assists average, as he finished last year at 7.5 per game or 2) the fact that the Golden Eagles are clearly on track to play in the NCAA tournament and add at least one more game to the season.
A little bit of a bump to his average or a few more postseason games (or both!) and Kolek is very clearly sailing along to just the eighth 200 assist season in program history. If he does that, Kolek would become just the second player in program history to have a pair of 200 assist seasons, with Tony Miller clearly establishing the bar by hitting that plateau all four years. With a little bit of a bump from his average or a few more games, Kolek could easily chase down Aaron Hutchins’ mark of 215 and join Miller as the only two men holding down spots in the top five all time.
It would seem, however, that Kolek will not have a chance to break Miller’s single season record this year. He fell just five assists short of doing that last year, which means Kolek’s hand injury early in the Vermont game cost him the record, either by way of assists against UVM and Michigan State or by costing Marquette a spot in the Sweet 16 and getting to play at least one more game. Right now, Kolek needs 195 assists for the rest of the season to break Miller’s record.... which means he would need to assemble the eighth best season in program history in only whatever games remain this season to do that. That would mean averaging 10.3 assists per game for the rest of the 19 guaranteed games left on the schedule. Presume MU is guaranteed an NCAA tournament spot right now? 9.8 per game. At least two games in both the Big East and NCAA tournament? 8.9 per game.
It’s not impossible, of course, but it certainly seems unlikely.
Here’s the chart as it stands after Marquette’s February 28th game against Providence.
Marquette Men’s Basketball Single Season Assists