We’ve got to get through these non-sports days one way or another, so let’s answer some reader mail, shall we?
Watch out, the first one is a doozy.
From @Porembski: So what happens with Wojo? He’s got to be coming back, right? I’m guessing he always was, but yes, some of the fan base and alumni were ready to move on (late season “must win” losses to DePaul & the Johnnies will do that to you).
From Hugh on Facebook: Who will be the men’s basketball coach in 2020-21?
Yeah, I guess we have to start here, huh?
Okay, so let’s deal with this in pieces.
#1 - Steve Wojciechowski was at the helm for a hilariously awful collapse in 2018-19, as he allowed his clearly injured superstar guard to escalate his usage while being objectively bad as the team lost six of their final seven games.
#2 - The second and third best players on the team bolted within days of said superstar guard announcing that he would not be entering the NBA Draft process.
#3 - The university tore up Steve Wojciechowski’s contract, giving him a brand new five year deal.
#4 - After guiding the team to a 17-6 start and popping into the AP poll for the first time all season, Steve Wojciechowski then presided over yet another hilariously awful collapse, losing six of the final seven regular season games. The difference here is that the superstar guard was the superstar he was billed as, averaging 29 points, four rebounds, and four assists while amassing shooting splits of 46%/47%/82% in the final seven games..... but the team routinely got blown off the court.
#5 - Even with all of that, it seems almost certain that Marquette was going to qualify for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, giving Steve Wojciechowski tourney appearances in three of the last four seasons.
#5 - The coronavirus brought the season to a merciful halt before MU could play another game.
It has now been five days since the 2019-20 season was spiked. If Marquette was going to make a move, they would have done it already. The coaching staff is already at work reaching out to transfer prospects, and if the athletic department and university leadership wanted to make a move, they’d do it before Wojciechowski and his staff started doing that. Barring an absolute stunner of a move from 770 North 12th Street or a choice to depart for a different job, Steve Wojciechowski will be the Marquette men’s basketball coach in 2020-21.
This should not surprise you. Sure, last May, I posited the theory that athletic director Bill Scholl should have figured out a way to give Marquette an insurance policy on Wojciechowski’s brand new contract. But if you’re Wojciechowski, why would you agree to a contract that gives Marquette the opportunity to turf you the very next season if things don’t go well for you? It seems likely that when that contract was signed, it guaranteed that Wojciechowski would still be in charge through 2020-21 if not longer.
I get that many of you reading this don’t want that to be the case, and I’m not trying to say that the athletic department did a good thing with the contract or that they’re doing a good thing by bringing him back. I’m just laying the whole thing out on the table to look at.
We also have to address the coronavirus aspect of this. If there was even the slightest hint of interest in moving on from Wojciechowski, the fact that university leadership has been neck deep in figuring out how the actual university is going to be run for the next month (or longer?) has guaranteed that there won’t be a change. The last thing you, the Marquette fan, want to see is a wildly distracted university leadership council attempting to conduct a job search for the university’s most public facing job. The last thing that the university wants to do from a PR perspective is actually terminate an employee during the coronavirus lockdown, no matter if they could honestly justify it or not. Forget about the Jesuit Catholic aspect of pulling someone’s job out from under them in a situation where they can’t really travel to interview for a new job: How many other coaches have been let go since last Thursday? Is Dan Majerle at Grand Canyon the only one? And GCU had Bryce Drew set to go by Tuesday morning? That’s not just luck there, that was a calculated move with an end destination in mind.
So, yeah. Wojciechowski’s going to be back on the sideline in November. It might not be the best move for the university, but it definitely seems like the one they’re plunging ahead with for now. Fingers crossed that something drastically changes with how he’s running his show, I guess.
From Erica on Facebook: Who is likely to be the starting point guard for the women’s basketball team next season? Can they find someone to replace Isabelle Spingola’s outside shooting?
Okay, now something fun to talk about.
First of all, it depends on what your definition of point guard is. If you purely go by “leads the team in assists,” then MU’s starting point guard is returning for 2020-21. Selena Lott had 5.6 assists per game this past season as a junior, and we can expect her to be back in her blue and gold #24 when Megan Duffy reconvenes practices in the fall.
With that said, it’s reasonable to ask if Lott’s production was actually because she was handling the duties or if it was just a byproduct of Duffy’s system. Lott racked up 29% of the team’s assists on the season as the Golden Eagles registered an assist on 68% of their buckets on the year. There were just a ton of assists to go around in 2019-20, and Lott happened to be MU’s most reliable ballhandler and thus on the business end of a lot of those assists. Jordan King was no slouch, by the way, averaging 3.2 assists per game and ending up as the only other player with more than 75 assists on the year. For now, at least, I think it’s safe to say that Lott and King maintain their roles on the squad. If Duffy thought someone else on the team could have done those jobs this year, she would have gone in that direction. Rose Nkumu seems to be the only one of the four freshmen to have a crack at grabbing the PG spot, but there’s no reason to throw a freshman directly into the fire like that with King and Lott can get the job done.
As for Spingola..... hooboy.
Okay, let’s address the fact that Duffy didn’t really utilize the three-ball as a major function of the offense. Only 25% of MU’s shots were long range ones this past season. Part of this is because the four-headed monster of Altia Anderson, Lauren Van Kleunen, Camryn Taylor, and Chloe Marotta were more than talented enough inside to allow MU focus their energies inwards. The other part of that is that MU didn’t have any other good shooting options. Spingola, Lott, and King combined for 92% of Marquette’s outside shots. Spingola and Lott were quality markswomen, connecting on 39% and 35% respectively. King..... uh, no. 27% isn’t getting it done in college hoops.
No one else really has anything resembling enough data to prove that they can (Destiny Strother was 4-for-9) or can’t (Claire Kaifes was 2-for-13) from shoot from behind the arc. However, someone is going to need to do that next season, because the interior game only works as well as it does if the Golden Eagles can keep defenses honest with outside shooting. Antwainette Walker didn’t do much shooting (or playing) at Little Rock, but maybe that can change after her transfer redshirt year. Rose Nkumu and Danyel Middleton were expected to take big shots on their high school squads, but high major Division 1 basketball (hello, two games against Connecticut) is an entirely different story. Right now, we have to slap a big ol’ question mark on that one and hope that Duffy keeps her mind as open as possible when it comes to offensive ingenuity next year.
From @lessthannick11: Best “backpack” carrying style ranked: double shoulder, over 1 shoulder, messenger bag cross shoulder, briefcase carry.
From best to worst:
Messenger bag cross, over one shoulder, double shoulder, briefcase carry
Honestly, it’s just a matter of figuring out your personal preference for the first three. Briefcase carry is the sucker’s move, so it’s dead last. I have a messenger bag and use it a lot for personal use, and going crossbody with the strap leaves you able to use both hands and arms relatively easily. Over one shoulder wins over double shoulder because you automatically look cooler carrying a backpack with one shoulder. You have so little in your backpack that you don’t need both shoulders! That’s a person who really knows where their towel is. Double shoulder is third by default then, but making use of your body’s inherent load bearing design is so much smarter than using one hand like a sucker.
From Charlie in the email inbox: What are your favorite memories from short term MU players (Played under a year and a half)
Morrow and his UW Block? Reinhardt against #1 Nova? Trent Lockett Dunk vs. Georgetown?
Uh, sure. Those are good answers.
I’ve noticed I’ve gotten worse and worse with memories of Marquette basketball sticking in my head over the past few years. Guys who were around for a very short time have even more trouble sticking in my head, especially when we’re trying to remember a singular moment in time that defines their entire time at Marquette.
Hey, how about Henry Ellenson’s last second block of Kris Dunn to secure the win at Providence? There, I added one. I feel better now.