Marquette’s Time to Make Strides

18 Jan

In the three years prior to Coach Steve Wojciechowski’s arrival Marquette was hardly wallowing in losing seasons and bad teams.  Now in his third season the program has his footprint with his recruits and his style and the Golden Eagles are turning the corner and looking for an NCAA Tournament bid.

In Buzz Williams’ final three seasons Marquette averaged 24 wins with two trips to the Sweet 16 and an Elite Eight appearance in 2013. In Williams’ final season Marquette finished 17-15 and at 9-9 in the Big East.  After the season Williams jumped to the ACC and Virginia Tech and Marquette hired Wojciechowski who was a longtime assistant at Duke.

His first season as a head coach wasn’t exactly picture perfect with a 13-19 record and winning just four games in the Big East.  The team struggled scoring, rebounding and nearly all aspects of the game especially during conference play where they scored 68 points per game but gave up over 76.  In his second year Wojciechowski’s squad saw a seven game improvement finishing the season at 20-13 but again struggling in conference play finishing just 8-10.  While the wins and losses showed an improvement, the team really improved offensively averaging 76 points per game and shot much better from the field at nearly 47%.  The team still struggled to get stops on the defensive end giving up 74 points per game, but when they did get stops they were also much better on the defensive glass grabbing over 26 per contest.  One of the reasons Marquette showed improvements offensively is because they had more scoring options.  Last season they had five players average double figure points led by freshman Henry Ellenson who scored 17 and grabbed nearly 10 rebounds per game.  Ellenson left for the NBA after his one season but the other four who averaged double figures; Luke Fischer, Duane Wilson, Jujuan Johnson and Haanif Cheathem have all returned for this season.

So far this season the Golden Eagles are 3-3 in the Big East with wins over the bottom three teams DePaul, Georgetown and Seton Hall.   Through the first six games they are averaging 79 points per game but are still giving up over 76 per contest and still struggling rebounding the ball at just 33 per game is 307th in the nation.  The good news for Marquette is there is still plenty of time to take another step forward with six games remaining against the four teams currently ahead of them in the standings.  Offensively the team is more balanced than in Wojciechowski’s first couple of seasons with freshman Markus Howard and senior Katin Reinhardt joining the returning trio as double digit scorers add to that a couple of guards, freshman Sam Hauser and junior Andrew Rowsey average 9.2 and 9.3 respectively.

It has been baby steps for Marquette in the last couple of seasons and for the Golden Eagles to continue to move forward they will need to get a marquee win or two before March and make strides towards the top of the Big East.

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