With the 2015-2016 season now in the books, we take a moment to look back at the performance that 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 roster in order of total minutes played (lowest to highest). That means we start with the freshman from Minnesota...
#2 - Freshman - 6'5" - 205 lb.
What I Think We'll See
A whole lotta hustling. That's how Sacar Anim is going to get playing time this season. With the current roster construction, Wojo has Anim set up as an undersized power forward. With Henry Ellenson occupying a majority of the minutes at the 4 this season, Anim's minutes are largely going to come from either A) Ellenson needing a breather or B) Ellenson ending up in foul trouble. In either case, Anim's probably not going to get his number called for long stretches of playing time this season, so he's gotta make the most of what he gets. On top of that, busting his can is also going to be the quickest way for Anim to earn the favor of his gym rat head coach, and nothing says "bonus PT" like the guy with the fancy suit liking your hustle.
It's possible that Anim could start to get some time at the 3 in a lineup alongside Ellenson and Luke Fischer if Wojciechowski looks to get a little more physical with his lineup, as Anim's got the most college ready bulk on his frame. That remains to be seen, of course, and it would mean that Anim would have to somehow sneak past Sandy Cohen in the rotation, too. In any case, that kind of development is still going to rely on Anim's hustle, both in games and in practices.
What I Want To See
Let's just keep it simple here: I want to see the kid play. He didn't contribute much to Marquette's statsheet on the European trip over the summer (9 ppg, 3 rpg), but he did shoot 11 for 14 on his shots inside the three point arc. If he can contribute a little bit of a breather for Ellenson (or maybe for Cohen), finish strong around the rim and haul in rebounds in traffic against quality competition, then it's just one more facet on the diamond that is Marquette's season. I'm not expecting much from the rook, but whatever he can give, I want to see as much of it as possible.
What I Don't Want To See
If I kept the last section simple, then this one's even easier, isn't it? Anim getting nailed to the bench for whatever reason could end up being a quietly bad thing for Marquette. One of the things that's kind of unspoken about this team given the influx of talent in the five freshmen and Wally Ellenson's return to eligibility is that they're still playing three players short of a full roster. There are two empty scholarships right now and Andrew Rowsey isn't available to play as a transfer. Even worse, the real shortage on the roster is on the front line, where Henry Ellenson is the only true power forward and Luke Fischer only has Matt Heldt backing him up. I don't know how much Wojo is going to need to rely on Anim to fill minutes in the lineup, but he's going to need him at some point. Anim has to be ready to fill whatever vacuum there is within the 40 minutes on the floor. I don't want to see him stuck on the bench because Wojo can't rely on him.
Also the "I" word. I'm not going actually type it out but you know what it is.
So. Sacar Anim. He, uh, was on the team and stuff, it appears, huh?
17 appearances on the season for the 2015 Minnesota Player of the Year, none longer than 11 minutes, only 8 longer than five minutes. Three of those 5+ minute outings came in Marquette's first three games of the season, and then he appeared in just 13 games over MU's final 30 games.
No one's going to confuse this for a successful season for Anim, that's for sure.
While it didn't translate into action on the court, it's clear that head coach Steve Wojciechowski and his staff valued what Anim achieved in practice and in the classroom on a day to day basis. He was given the Top Scholar-Athlete Award at the annual awards banquet, which may be as simple as "highest GPA on the team," but that's still recognition of what he did on the basketball side, too.
We heard time and time again during the season from Matt Velazquez from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Anim came to Marquette with the knowledge that he probably was not going to play all that much this season. That came true. He put in his time in practice and in the classroom, so he's got that going for him. Strength & Conditioning Coach Todd Smith has tweeted repeatedly since the season ended about Anim being the standout performer of the day in the weight room, so we know he's putting in the effort there, too. That's all good news. We just didn't see much of anything from Anim this season on the court to talk about, y'know?
Best Game: Well, we could go with his high minutes game of the year against Maine, where he played 11 minutes and scored four points. Of course, Marquette won that contest 104-67, so you'd hope that he'd play a ton in that one. Instead, I'm going to go with the home game against DePaul. Sure, Marquette lost that game. But 1) Anim's nine minutes were the most he played in any Big East game this season and 2) he entered the game and promptly banged home a three pointer to beat the shot clock in that game. It's the little victories in life.
Season Grade, on a scale of 1-10: Well, the idea of Anim as power forward never really came to fruition this season. Wojo ended up swapping Luke Fischer and Henry Ellenson for each other as games progressed, which honestly probably makes more sense than anything else. That ended up making the issue of Anim being nailed to the bench a moot point, so we can't really downgrade Anim for that, right? It would seem his lack of playing time was ultimately more of an issue of "doesn't fit the game plan" more than "can't be trusted out there." He played hard when he got a chance, and was definitely engaged with the entire team process. Still, without any real significant contribution on the court, I don't think I can give Anim a better score than a 4.