With just one NCAA Tournament appearance in four seasons, pressure is mounting on coach Steve Wojciechowski to return Marquette to the status of consistent March participant, which it enjoyed under Tom Crean and Buzz Williams. Wojciechowski was tasked with rebuilding the program, and he’s certainly proven capable of bringing in talent. The fifth-year coach has assembled a roster that will mix experience, talent and depth. But for Marquette to move up the Big East standings and return to the NCAAs, the Golden Eagles must improve a defense that’s been among the worst in the nation the past two seasons.
At a Glance
HEAD COACH: Steve Wojciechowski
2017-18 RECORD (BIG EAST): 21-14 (9-9)
2017-18 POSTSEASON: NIT: Lost to Penn State 85-80 in the third round
C Harry Froling (2.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
G Andrew Rowsey (20.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 4.8 apg)
The Golden Eagles return all but one of their bigs from a year ago and will receive help from four newcomers.
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Marquette will rely on 6'10" senior center Matt Heldt, 6'9" sophomore Theo John and 6'7" junior Ed Morrow in the post. Morrow is eligible after sitting out last season following his transfer from Nebraska, where he averaged 9.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks as a sophomore. He should immediately provide a lift defensively with his ability to protect the rim.
The Golden Eagles roster features numerous players with the versatility to play multiple positions, led by junior Sam Hauser, who missed the summer after undergoing hip surgery in late March.
Hauser had a breakout sophomore campaign in which he averaged 14.1 points and a team-best 5.7 rebounds while shooting 48.7 percent from beyond the arc. He’ll be joined this season by his brother Joey Hauser, a consensus top-50 recruit who enrolled in January in order to be around the program and utilize the school’s training facilities while recovering from ankle surgery.
Junior Sacar Anim is the team’s best on-ball defender and is capable of guarding multiple positions while also contributing on the offensive end. Jamal Cain, a 6'7" wing, flashed vast potential as a freshman.
In addition to Joey Hauser, the Golden Eagles are expecting 6'8" freshman Brendan Bailey to contribute immediately. Bailey, now 21 years old, signed with Marquette in the fall of 2015 before going on a two-year LDS Church mission.
The lone loss to graduation was Andrew Rowsey, who averaged 20.5 points as a senior and combined with Markus Howard (20.4 ppg) to form one of the nation’s highest-scoring backcourts. While the two combined for 40.9 points per game, the Golden Eagles struggled to defend with the two sub-6-foot guards on the court together.
Howard will head into his junior season as one of the top shooters and scorers in the nation. His shooting numbers dropped a bit as volume went up, but he still hit 40.4 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Marquette received a big lift when former Fordham guard Joseph Chartouny joined the program as a graduate transfer. Chartouny averaged 11.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.9 steals in three years with the Rams and fills Marquette’s need at point guard.
Another versatile member of Marquette’s rotation will be guard Greg Elliott, a do-it-all type with upside to impact the game in a variety of ways with his length.
Wojciechowski finally has a complete roster of his own after inheriting a bare cupboard. Add in the fact that Marquette will be playing in the Milwaukee Bucks’ new arena in downtown Milwaukee this season, and expectations are high. After reaching the NIT quarterfinals, the Golden Eagles are poised to take the next step. How do they get there? It starts with improving on the defensive end. If they don’t, Wojciechowski could find himself on the hot seat.
Postseason Prediction: One & Done
Big East Prediction: 2nd