Marquette Basketball Season Preview

Previewing the Marquette Golden Eagles 2019-20 Season

For the most part, the Marquette basketball program had an outstanding 2019-20 season. They hovered around the top-10 all season and legitimately challenged Villanova for conference supremacy, just finishing a game behind the Wildcats.

Recapping the 2018-19 season

Along the way the Golden Eagles had quality wins against Louisville, Kansas State, Wisconsin, and Buffalo out of the conference and then accrued wins against Villanova, Seton Hall, and St. John’s in league play.

However, they ended their season by losing their last four regular-season games and losing in the semi-finals of the Big East Tournament to Seton Hall. Murray State would pound them in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, despite the Marquette basketball program garnering a five-seed.

So you can say it was a bittersweet season for the Marquette faithful.

From a personal standpoint, Markus Howard had a season for the ages and won the conference’s Player of the Year award. He led the conference in scoring (25 points per game). He also was first in the Big East with 112 3-pointers made.

The conference named Sam Hauser to the All-Big East second team after averaging14.8 points and 7.1 boards. He also led the Big East in free-throw shooting (91.9 percent) and also knocked down 79 3-pointers.

Hauser’s brother, Joey, also received recognition for his season by being named to the All-Big East Freshmen team. He averaged 9.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game while shooting 44.3 percent from 3-point range.

Who’s Back

Foremost, Howard is back.

Despite the untimely departures of the Hauser twins (Sam transferring to Virginia and Joey transferring to Michigan State), the mere presence of Howard can keep the Marquette basketball program a threat in the Big East.

He is a sniper who can erupt at the drop of a dime. His scoring exploits are legendary and he can put the team on his back if need be.

That’s not to say that it has to be that way. Even with the loss of the Hauser brothers, there is ample talent returning to complement Howard.

Sacar Anim is back, and he is a glue-guy type that does a little of everything while playing solid defense. He averaged 8.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game.

Also back are a capable duo of big men in power forward Ed Morrow and center Theo John.

Morrow averaged 5.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 58.8 percent from the field. John, meanwhile, is one of the better—if not best—defensive big men in the conference. He led the conference in blocks (2.1 per game) while chipping in 5.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 60.2 percent from the floor.

Brendan Bailey, a 6-8 sophomore forward, showed some potential last season. Expect the former 4-star recruit to take on a bigger role this season. Ditto for Jamal Cain, a 6-7 junior forward, who also possesses some intriguing upside.

New Additions

To offset the loss of the Hauser’s, head coach Steve Wojciechowski has added two talented transfers in 7-0 center Jayce Johnson from Utah and 6-4 guard Koby McEwen from Utah State.

Johnson will team with John to form an intimidating duo in the frontcourt. He averaged 7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting 58.6 percent from the field in his last season with the Utes.

McEwen is the real prize though. The former All-Mountain West third teamer is coming off a sophomore campaign that saw him average 15.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

Freshman guard Symir Torrence also figures to get a lot of minutes in the backcourt. The consensus top-50 recruit is a dynamo with the ball in his hands. He’ll learn a lot playing alongside Howard and he will probably come off the bench, at least initially. He certainly has the potential to start, though.

Wojciechowski also is bringing in 3-star combo guard Dexter Akanno, but he figures to be worked in slowly.

Season Expectations

Again, while the loss of the Hauser’s hurts, it’s far from a death sentence. Chemistry will be the key and how the newcomers and the maturation of promising secondary players (Bailey and Cain) mesh with Howard will be telling.

That said, this team is more than capable of returning to the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Eagles should remain in the top half of the conference all season. Barring an injury to Howard, expect Marquette to garner another NCAA Tournament invitation.

Prediction: 21-7 overall, 11-5 Big East.

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