After back-to-back Elite 8 appearances, it’s normal for expectations to be high. And they were for Marquette as the Golden Eagles were picked to win the Big East Conference in the preseason.
But, as we all know, those really mean nothing.
With Vander Blue deciding to leave for the NBA draft at the end of the 2012-2013 season, there was an obvious hole in the MU offense: outside shooting. But the roster still seemed loaded, especially in the front court where Marquette arguably had one of the best heading into this year.
They brought back the reigning Sixth Man of the Year in Davante Gardner; Chris Otule, who was granted a sixth season by the NCAA; and Jamil Wilson who was such a big part of the NCAA Tournament run last season.
Add that to veteran guards Todd Mayo and Jake Thomas coupled with a talented recruiting class led by Deonte Burton and everything seemed to be set in place.
But when you struggle to make baskets, it is hard to win. And the Golden Eagles struggled all season long shooting only 44 percent from field, which was good enough for 160th in the nation.
It started with the first game of the season when Marquette hosted Southern. MU shot 36 percent from the field en route to a 63-56 win.
The struggles continued against Ohio State as the Buckeyes held the Golden Eagles to only 35 points. That’s right, 35 points. They shot 10-53 from field. That’s 18.9 percent, or in other words, atrocious.
From there on out though, the season was full of close, tough losses. Four non-conference losses to Arizona State by two, San Diego State by eight, Wisconsin by six and New Mexico by 7. All of them eventually made the NCAA Tournament.
Then conference play started on the road at Creighton with a great opportunity to make a statement in the conference.
All Creighton did though was make 13 three’s in their first game in the new Big East in a 67-49 victory.
Throw some in some more close losses including two overtime losses at Butler and at home against then No. 4 Villanova, and you have a team on the bubble.
Marquette finally went on a run in mid-February as they won three games in a row. It was the first time they had won back-to-back games in a month, and they went into their rematch with Creighton knowing that a win puts them back in the tournament discussion.
They could not get the job done in a 15-point loss in Milwaukee.
And the season ended about as poorly as it possibly could have as the Golden Eagles lost four in a row including two double overtime losses and a 3-point loss to Xavier in the Big East Tournament to end their season.
Yeah, that’s right, they didn’t even make the NIT. For the first time since 1999, Marquette failed to make either the NCAA Tournament or NIT.
And just when the Golden Eagle faithful could not get any worse, it did. Head Coach Buzz Williams decided to take the Virginia Tech head coaching job in the offseason, fleeing Milwaukee for Blacksburg and the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Buzz had led Marquette to three years in a row of at least making it to the Sweet 16, providing MU with national attention it hadn’t received since Dwyane Wade took the Golden Eagles to the Final Four in 2003.
Williams' departure represented a deft blow to a terribly rough season for the Golden Eagles.
Now, everything lies with newly acquired head coach Steve Wojciechowski. Better known as Wojo, a former assistant under Mike Krzyzewski, the new head man for Marquette will have a lot of young guards at his disposal along with rising star Deonte Burton.
But it might just be a rebuilding year for Marquette, a phrase I know MU fans do not want to hear after a 17 win season.
It can’t get much worse, right?