Marquette Basketball: Strengths and Weaknesses of Golden Eagles' 2014-15 Roster
Steve Wojciechowski, former player and assistant coach at Duke under Mike Krzyzewski, is the new head coach at Marquette University. Wojo's hire followed Buzz Williams' unexpected and puzzling decision to leave MU in favor of Virginia Tech.
Williams lasted seven years in Milwaukee, six of which came as the team's head coach following Tom Crean's departure for Indiana. During his time at the helm, Marquette made three Sweet 16s and one Elite Eight appearance, while also making two additional NCAA Tournament appearances.
The 2013-14 season was Williams' least successful, despite being pegged as the preseason favorite in the new Big East Conference. The Golden Eagles finished the season with a 17-15 record, including 9-9 in league play, but missed all postseason tournaments.
The 2014-15 Golden Eagles will not only have a new head coach, they will have new faces on the court as well. The team loses three redshirt senior starters from a year ago in Jake Thomas, Jamil Wilson and Chris Otule, but most importantly, super sixth man and leading scorer Davante Gardner. Here is a look at this year's current roster by class.
- Sandy Cohen, G
- Duane Wilson (RS), G
- JaJuan Johnson, G
- John Dawson, G
- Deonte Burton, G/F
- Luke Fischer, C
- Steve Taylor Jr., F
- Juan Anderson, F
- Derrick Wilson, G
- Todd Mayo, G
- Matt Carlino (RS), G
After a decommitment from Indiana in high school, one redshirt season at UCLA and three up-and-down seasons at Brigham Young, Matt Carlino finds himself as a Golden Eagle for his final collegiate season. The 6'2" point guard averaged 13.7 points, 4.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals last season at BYU.
A 12.5-point career scorer, Carlino has the ability to stretch from the floor with his outside stroke. Carlino isn't shy to shoot the ball, especially as a point guard, yet he still posts above-average assist figures. Carlino matched up against the Golden Eagles as a sophomore in the NCAA Tournament, scoring seven points on only 2-of-10 shooting in a losing effort.
His final game as a BYU Cougar came at the BMO Harris Center in Milwaukee, home of Marquette and the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks. In that ballgame, Carlino scored 15 points in an opening-round defeat to Oregon. Look for Carlino to step into the starting point guard role from Day 1.
MU also added another transfer, though, Luke Fischer has been with the program since the end of the fall semester. Fischer, who hails from Germantown, Wis., left Tom Crean and Indiana in order to play closer to home. Fischer finished as the 34th-ranked player in the 2013 ESPN 100 rankings.
Fischer's best game at IU was his final one, where he scored 10 points and blocked three shots in 19 minutes against Kennesaw State. Fischer stands 6'11" and should assume the starting center role upon his return to the court, which will come in December 2014, once the fall semester comes to a close.
In recent Marquette basketball history, their teams have been led by guards. First, the Three Amigos: Wes Matthews, Jerel McNeal and Dominic James formed the team's backcourt. Then, NBA guards Jimmy Butler and Dwight Buycks led the way.
Darius Johnson-Odom and undersized big man Jae Crowder formed one of the nation's top duos in 2011-12, before Vander Blue had a breakout season the following year. The 2013-14 team was all about big men, though. Had the guard play been improved, last season would have turned out very differently.
Last year's primary power forwards and centers, Jamil Wilson, Gardner and Otule are all gone. This leaves Luke Fischer as the only player on the roster that stands over 6'7". Plus, Fischer is ineligible to play during nonconference play, due to his midseason transfer from IU last season.
This will leave the 6'7" Steve Taylor Jr. as the only option to play the 5 position during the preconference slate. Expect to see the 6'4" Deonte Burton playing power forward early and often, as he plays with a bull-in-a-china-shop mindset. More often than not, expect to see Marquette playing three guards at a time.
Strength: Guard Play
As shown on the opening slide, Marquette currently has 11 scholarship players for this upcoming season, after several decommitments from the program following Williams' departure. While adding a transfer or late signee big man would be ideal, this could very well be the team's roster once the season tips off.
Of the 11 scholarship players, eight are listed as guards. This comes in great contrast to last season's forward heavy rotation. Carlino should assume point guard duties given his past play, beating out last year's point guard, Derrick Wilson. Wilson is a solid ball-handler and defender, but he lacks the offensive firepower to play extended minutes. Freshman Sandy Cohen is also a natural point guard.
Three members of the 2013 recruiting class, JaJuan Johnson, John Dawson and Duane Wilson will be fighting for minutes among themselves. Johnson and Dawson played sparingly as true freshmen, while Wilson redshirted last season following an early-season injury. While Dawson and Duane Wilson came to Milwaukee as point guards, expect both to see minutes at the off-guard next season. The 6'5" Johnson will also see time at the wing and was heralded as a dynamic scorer after his prep career in Memphis, Tenn.
Deonte Burton gets the G/F on the team's roster, though, he should be exclusively playing in the paint this upcoming year. Burton was an instant offense-type player a year ago and was selected to the Big East All-Freshman Team.
Todd Mayo, who was Mr. Clutch in 2013-14, will combine with Burton as the team's 1-2 scoring punch. Mayo, a career backup, may very well slide in as the starting small forward, despite standing only 6'3". Last season, Mayo played the 3 when on the court with sharpshooter Jake Thomas.
Last year, Marquette's starting five and top two subs consisted of three juniors and four seniors, despite a highly regarded freshman class. Williams was set in his ways and favored hard-working, defensive-minded players to more athletic and capable offensive players.
Derrick Wilson and Juan Anderson each started a majority of games a season ago, though, don't expect either to be on the court at tip off as seniors. Despite this, Derrick Wilson, Anderson and Todd Mayo are the team's only true veterans as seniors. Steve Taylor Jr. is now a junior, but he has missed plenty of time due to injury in his career.
Matt Carlino is a redshirt senior, though, this is his first season as a Golden Eagle. Sophomores Luke Fischer, John Dawson and JaJuan Johnson were never able to get into a consistent playing time flow as freshmen, while Deonte Burton's minutes were up and down. Duane Wilson has yet to take the court in his collegiate career, nor has incoming freshman Sandy Cohen.
For as much as the 2013-14 version of Marquette basketball underachieved, I expect the opposite in 2014-15. With strong guard play, untapped potential and a fresh coaching style, here's my best guess at next season's depth chart for Big East play.
PG: Matt Carlino/Derrick Wilson/Sandy Cohen
SG: Duane Wilson/John Dawson
SF: Todd Mayo/JaJuan Johnson
PF: Deonte Burton/Juan Anderson
C: Luke Fischer/Steve Taylor Jr.