As a team that is used to winning—with Marquette having posted a winning season the previous 16 years—last season’s struggles (13-19, 4-14 in the Big East) were difficult to swallow for the people involved with the program.
Then again, new head coach Steve Wojciechowski didn’t exactly have it easy with a lot of talent leaving the program the same time ex-coach Buzz Williams did. It was definitely a year of transition for Wojciechowski and he did an admirable job on the court, but made more waves off it with his 2015 recruiting class.
Fans of the Golden Eagles are really amped up about the arrival of a stellar recruiting class that is ranked by many as a top-10 class (247Sports actually ranks Marquette with having the 13th best class). So, with Wojciechowski’s 2015 class ready to finally suit up, there is a feeling that the Golden Eagles can get back on the winning path.
Here then, are five pertinent questions facing Marquette prior to the start of the 2015-16 season. For more on their 2014-15 season and how the Golden Eagles stack up for the 2015-16 season, read more here.
5. Can Duane Wilson build on solid freshman campaign?
One of Wojciechowski’s more trusted players last season was now-sophomore Duane Wilson.
Wilson is coming off a season that saw him average 11.9 points per game, while being named to the Big East All-Rookie Team. The 6’2” point guard should only improve while playing with a better surrounding cast.
Along with the natural progressions he should take in his game, it’s all coming together for Wilson. While he will be pushed by star freshman Traci Carter, that competition should make both players better. So, expect another fine season from the athletic guard.
4. Amid so much hype, can recruiting class exceed expectations?
With one five-star stud in Henry Ellenson and three four-star recruits in 6’5” guard Haanif Cheatham, 6’0” guard Traci Carter and 6’10 center Matt Heldt, Wojciechowski has roped in one heck of a class (which also features three-star 6’5” guard Sacar Anim).
This no doubt will be the foundation for which will define Wojciechowski’s tenure at Marquette. For the first season the class doesn’t exactly have to light the world on fire, but they do have to make some tangible progress on the court after Marquette won just four conference games last season.
As long as Wojciechowski gets this team moving in the right direction and has them competing night in and night out, while coming close to doubling last season’s conference win total, the class will have done its job.
3. After Henry Ellenson, what recruit will stand out most?
Well to start, it is possible that some other recruit could outshine Ellenson, but he is the McDonald’s All-American and the player people are expecting great things from. So for the sake or argument, let’s assume Ellenson will have the biggest impact. So, who would be next?
My money is on wing Haanif Cheatham, a 6’5″ guard from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The left-handed shooting guard defines smooth. He can get up and down the floor with ease, glide to the hoop and drill jumpers from beyond the arc. You can watch the highlights below and see for yourself.
While he may get pushed around a bit, as he is a tad skinny, the four-star recruit will get better with each game and be someone Wojciechowski will look upon to provide scoring punch from the wing.
2. Can Luke Fischer and Ellenson coexist in frontcourt?
There is no reason to think there will be any issues with Ellenson and Fischer coexisting, as Fischer is slated to start at center with Ellenson slotting in at power forward.
In may ways they are alike, but in many aspects they are very different. Fischer is the more rugged of the two. He is more of a true post player, who takes and makes a lot of high-percentage shots in the post. The 6’11” junior is coming off a season in which he averaged 11 points and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting a solid .609 percent from the floor.
Meanwhile, Ellenson is the more physically gifted of the two, as he can stretch his game out to the perimeter while also possessing above-average athleticism. So, expect Wojciechowski to go with a big front line, while starting both big men.
Luke Fischer makes Marquette a different team. Next year Fischer and Henry Ellenson gives the Golden Eagles a monster frontline
— Brian Snow (@BSnowScout) December 17, 2014
1. Will Wojciechowski learn from last year’s struggles and push Marquette forward in second year on the job?
To put it bluntly, things did not go smoothly for Wojciechowski last season. But as a longtime member of Mike Krzyzewski’s staff, Wojciechowski probably picked up a thing or two along the way and he should have a better pulse on things this season.
Again, it was a year of transition for Wojciechowski and he likely knew that going in. With a more talented, deeper roster, expect Wojciechowski to show his true chops as a coach. He has a team that should take on his feisty persona.
So in other words, yes, a big turnaround in Milwaukee is possible this season. Whether that results in a postseason berth remains to be seen. Regardless, there is every reason to believe that this will be a very competitive team in the 2105-16 season.