In the Big East, the Marquette Golden Eagles entered this year as a forgotten team. Well, that has changed rather quickly just nine games into the new season with a 7-2 record.
A three-point loss to Belmont in the season home opener was disappointing while a 28-point loss to Iowa in the third game didn’t help Marquette’s case. However, the Golden Eagles have rattled off six straight victories, including a win over then No. 22 LSU and steady Arizona State.
Freshman power forward Henry Ellenson has been everything he was expected to be for Marquette and more thus far. The 6’10” Ellenson is currently the team’s top scorer (16.7 PPG) and leading rebounder (8.8). He’s shooting an effective 47 percent from the field. He has four double-doubles already, including a dominant 21-point, 16-rebound performance against Belmont. His lone bad outing came against Iowa when he had three points on 1-of-8 shooting.
Ellenson is a star in the making and anyone who didn’t see that coming is clearly not paying attention to the freshman recruits this year. He has reached double digits in eight games, including three 20-point performances with two coming over the last two Marquette games, wins over Maine and San Jose State.
Center Luke Fischer is the lone upperclassmen in the Golden Eagles’ starting lineup, as he’s joined by Ellenson, freshman Haanif Cheatham and sophomores Sandy Cohen III and Duane Wilson. Marquette has only one senior on the roster and he’s only appeared in two games. Junior guard Jajuan Johnson is the lone veteran off the bench, so to speak, as freshman guard Traci Carter has seen plenty of playing time early on.
Fischer ranks just behind Ellenson in points (14.8) and rebounds per game (7.8). At 6’11”, 245 lbs, he’s an inch taller than his frontcourt mate and weighs the same. The duo make up one of the best frontcourts in the conference. Averaging 2.2 blocks per game, Fischer is a great defensive asset.
As for Wilson and Cohen III, the two have been good at times.
Wilson averages 12.6 points per game and sees the court the most outside of Ellenson and Fischer in the Golden Eagles backcourt. Cohen III has the same name as a father character on Fox’s late hit television program “The O.C.”, but plays the game with much less drama. He’s is averaging just 9.3 points per game in 28.1 minutes per night, but he broke out with a career-high 24 points on Tuesday night in an 80-62 victory over San Jose State. He scored 11 of the team’s 13 points and had 17 at the half.
“I haven’t had a game like this since I’ve been here,” Cohen III said via the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. “I was really just taking open shots. A couple times my teammates had good screens and got me open and I was just able to knock down threes.”
As for the other freshman in Marquette’s starting lineup with Ellenson, Cheatham is averaging 10.1 points per game while shooting 55 percent from the field, a ridiculous 64 percent from beyond the arc. He’s helping this team’s offense in a big way.
Over the past three games, the Golden Eagles have opened the scoring in the first half on a combined 49-2 run. Even though they are young and unheralded, this is a hungry and talented group.
Marquette has failed to advance to the NCAA Tournament two years in a row, but don’t expect it to fall short again this year.