Last season was a disappointment for the Marquette Golden Eagles, to say the least. After back-to-back Elite 8 appearances under Buzz Williams, the talented squad from Milwaukee only managed 17 wins, with only nine of them coming in Big East play.
But things are much different for Marquette this season. Buzz Williams left for Virginia Tech, leaving a spot open for new head coach and former Duke assistant Steve "Wojo" Wojciechowski, and three starters from a year ago departed, basically four if you include Davante Gardner. There is a lot of room for many new faces and players that didn't see a lot of time on the Al McGuire Court last season.
So, here is my projection for the starting five next season.
Guard - Matt Carlino (Senior): The 6-foot-2-inch guard averaged 13.7 points per game and added 4.3 assists and 3.4 rebounds per contest for the BYU Cougars. Brigham Young averaged 84.2 points per game, which was good enough for third in the nation and the Cougar backcourt and Carlino had a lot to do with that. He is a much better scorer than last year's starter Derrick Wilson, and the switch should allow for Wilson to be a viable option off the bench as a lockdown defender.
Guard - Todd Mayo (Senior): Simply, Mayo has to be "the guy" for Marquette to have a successful year. Signs are pointed in the right direction for that to happen with Mayo scoring 20-plus points in each of the last three games, all in efforts off of the bench. He was attacking the rim much more and not relying on his average three-point shooting to provide all of his offense. That resulted in a lot more free throw attempts, and by the end of the year, Todd Mayo seemed like the only Marquette guard capable of making a shot.
Forward - Deonte Burton (Sophomore): This might be the craziest position to fill on the MU roster. Right now, I have Deonte Burton in here because I know he will start, the question is just where. Burton is only 6-foot-4, but he is a beast in the paint and can body up bigger defenders and finish through them instead of over them. Due to his height, I put him at the three, but this is a guy that Marquette will look to get a bulk of their scoring in the paint. Burton did not play very much early on in the season, but was a spark for the Golden Eagles that at times really struggled to score. He averaged 14 points per game in Marquette's last four contests, shooting a stellar 56 percent from the field in those games.
Forward - Juan Anderson (Sophomore): Juan Anderson may start off the year as the guy here, but he has never developed into the player many thought he could be, especially on the offensive side of the ball. And as I'll talk about with Luke Fischer, Marquette lacks height on their roster. For that reason, I think transfer Steve Taylor Jr. is a guy that could a lot of minutes. Taylor is more of a post presence as is a better post defender than Anderson. Neither of these guys has shown a whole lot for Marquette yet, but both could be keys to the Golden Eagles' success if they become better offensively.
Center - Luke Fischer (Sophomore): The two guys above are why I have Fischer starting. Like I mentioned, Marquette is really lacking in the height department after losing Davante Garnder and Chris Otule. For that reason, I think Fischer will start, but might only play role player-type minutes. The Golden Eagles have plenty of talented guards like John Dawson and JaJuan Johnson, along with new forwards in freshman 4-star recruit Sandy Cohen and recently acquired transfer Gabe Levin. Look for the lineup to go small much of the time, but usually teams don't like to go small to start off games. And with the lack of rebounding from the returning players, I think Wojo will give Fischer the nod when he's eligible.