College basketball season is quickly approaching. In an effort to preview it, we spoke with ten bloggers or writers, each covering a different Big East men’s basketball team. For the last article in our series, we have a conversation with Eric Gebhart, a student, Marquette hoops fanatic, and big part of MarquetteNation.com. Let’s learn more about our team by reading his answers below. Lastly, we asked him to rank the Big East.
2015-16 Record: 20-13 overall, 8-10 conference
Why will Marquette win?
EG: Marquette must play a much different, Villanova-esque type of offense this year in order to succeed. With the loss of big man Henry Ellenson, who provided NBA-level rebounding and scoring, the Golden Eagles are looking at a much smaller roster. In order to win games with this type of roster you must be able to take care of and score the ball at high levels. The additions of sharpshooters Andrew Rowsey, Sam Hauser, and Markus Howard have potential to complement the trio of Haanif Cheatham, JaJuan Johnson, and Luke Fischer, all of which had an eFG% of over 54%. There is potential that this team can win some big games, but they will need to hit a lot of 3’s and not turn the ball over in order to do so.
Why will Marquette lose?
EG: The main weakness in for these Golden Eagles will be the lack of size. Fischer will be the main guy in the middle with Matt Heldt coming in to give him a rest or because of trouble foul. However, there is not a guy on the roster who fits nicely into the 4 position. An exception is the 6-foot-7, 225 pound Hauser, but relying on a freshman to fill Ellenson’s shoes is a tall order. Rebounding will be, just like it has been in years past, a major concern for Wojo and Co.
Another area of concern is turnovers. Hopefully for the Golden Eagles, the turnovers we saw from Traci Carter and Cheatham were just freshman mistakes and not a recurring theme.
What’s Marquette’s ceiling and floor?
EG: Ceiling is 4th, and basement is 8th. Last year there was not much of a gap between the 4th and 8th spots in the Big East. Marquette finished 7th with a record of 8-10.
If the Golden Eagles are able to put an offense together that can score in bunches with help from outside the arc and Fischer inside of it then this team could actually improve despite losing an NBA-level player. Of course, the opposite is true as well. Marquette might not be able to play a Villanova style offense and be outmatched against taller and more physical teams and find their way to the bottom of the Big East.
Who should I be afraid of…and why?
EG: The player to watch on this team this year and for years to come will be sophomore Haanif Cheatham. He had one of the best freshman seasons in Marquette history but was overshadowed by Henry Ellenson. This year, without Big Hen to keep him off the radar, you will get to see his ability to score the ball more often. His great shooting percentages will be needed to help Marquette shoot behind the arc, and his baseline runners are a thing of beauty. His turnovers are concerning but hopefully they were more a result of freshman jitters than anything else. One thing is for sure, Cheatham will be a key for Marquette basketball for years to come.
Rank the Big East.
4. Seton Hall
8. St. John’s
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