When you boast two talented players who stand 6’10” and 6’11” in Henry Ellenson and Luke Fischer, respectively, if you are Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski, well, you have to be darn right giddy these days.
After struggling in his first year as a college coach, Wojciechowski has put together the pieces to make the 2015-16 campaign one where the Golden Eagles can make a significant leap. This past season was a struggle for Marquette, as it finished in a tie (with Creighton) for last place in the Big East with a 4-14 conference record (13-19 overall).
However, prior to the start of last season, Wojciechowski assembled one of Marquette’s all-time best classes to counteract any struggles that were destined for last season. You can read more about Marquette’s clas here, but to put it simply, Wojciechowski knocked it out of the park, as 247 Sports ranked Wojciechowski’s haul as the 13th best 2015 recruiting class in the country.
— MU Golden Eagles (@GoldenEaglesMU) October 20, 2015
Headlining the class, of course, is McDonald’s All-American Henry Ellenson and 247 Sports’ No. 9 prospect in the 2015 class.
The 6’10”, 240-pound forward from Rice Lake, Wisconsin, has such a sweet and diverse set of skills. Ellenson can bang down low, handle the ball like a guard and shoot from the perimeter with ease. He should be able to step in right away and make an immediate contribution.
Ellenson has skills that are already attracting attention from NBA scouts. And those skills should complement those of Fisher’s perfectly.
If you need reminding, Fischer is coming off a solid first year with the Golden Eagles, as he averaged 11 points and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting a solid .609 percent from the floor last season.
While Ellenson is a multi-purpose big man, Fischer is more of your traditional center. Fischer is great with his back to the basket and is highly efficient, as he takes and makes most of his shots in the paint. With Ellenson drawing more attention away from Fischer, Fischer could be in line for even more quality looks in the post, as teams will not be able to double-team him—at least certainly not as much as last season.
— Paint Touches (@PaintTouches) October 28, 2015
Game planning for guarding both of these talented big men is indeed a scary proposition for opposing Big East coaches. Considering their skills are somewhat different but they are similar in size, guarding Ellenson and Fischer will prove to be a nightmare matchup.
They even have some experience playing on the same court together.
During Marquette’s trip to Europe this summer, Marquette went 4-0 in exhibition games while steamrolling its competition. And while on the trip, Ellenson and Fischer co-existed in perfect harmony. Ellenson averaged 21.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting 56.5% from the field in four games overseas. Meanwhile,Fischer averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds per game, while shooting 64.3 percent from the field.
Granted, the competition was probably less than stellar, but it still gives you a glimpse on how special they can be when on the court together.
Led by the exploits of the frontcourt, Wojciechowski is very confident in his team heading into the 2015-16 season.
“I think we’re a little bit more offensively gifted than we were last year.” Wojciechowski told Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I think we have the ability to score the ball from, really, all five positions on the court, which at times certainly wasn’t the case last year. I think we’ll be able to push tempo, push the pace of play faster than we did last year. I think also because of our size we have more depth on the defensive end as well.”
To complement the twin towers down low, Wojciechowski has a solid backcourt you should take note of, too. Sophomore Duane Wilson and freshmen Traci Carter and Haanif Cheatham are a couple of versatile guards who bring some unique skills to the table. Marquette is not just about their big men, but a team that you have to be careful from all spots on the court.
But make no mistake, the duo of Ellenson and Fischer is what will draw the most eyeballs. So, if both live up to their press clippings and hype, Marquette stands a good chance to some damage this season.
Maybe even a return trip to the NCAA Tournament could be in Marquette’s future.