Marquette comes into the 2014-15 season with a new coach, a new A.D. in Bill Scholl, and new questions. Steve Wojciechowski emerges from the shadow of Coach K and will start his head coaching career in Milwaukee, where the Golden Eagles are definitely feeling the loss of Buzz Williams.
Last week, we gave you a few reasons to be positive about Marquette's plight this season. But now it's time to be a Debbie Downer. Here are a couple points as to why you should curb that optimism. At least for this season.
Wojo won't escape first-year growing pains
Mike Krzyzewski. Bill Self. John Calipari. Jay Wright.
All are phenomenal coaches who have each found success at the college level. But what do these four have in common?
They each struggled in their first year as a head coach.
Coach K went 11-14 in his first year of duty at Army before eventually winding up in Durham and turning Duke into the program it is today. Bill Self stumbled out the gates in his first two seasons at Oral Roberts, but since has made 16 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances with Tulsa, Illinois and Kansas, never finishing lower than 2nd in the conference during this span. John Calipari started 10-18 at UMass before finding his footing, and Jay Wright underwent three straight losing seasons at Hofstra before he was able to have success as a head coach.
What I'm saying is this, Marquette fans: don't expect much out of Steve Wojciechowski just yet.
Wojo will undoubtedly be a great head coach in college basketball. When you learn under the winningest coach in Division 1 history, it's expected of you. Even with a good crop of players returning and some very capable transfers coming in, this Marquette team will struggle in 2014-15. Wojo has already shown his recruiting chops and will restore this program to a perennial NCAA tournament team in the years to come, but lower your expectations this season. The ceiling will be that much higher.
Incoming class took a hit after Buzz Williams' departure
Before Buzz Williams departed for Virginia Tech, Marquette boasted one of the best recruiting classes in the nation. But once he left, several class of 2014 recruits - Ahmed Hill, Satchel Paige and Marial Shayok - decommitted.
Wojo was able to sway Sandy Cohen III into staying on, but after that, Marquette's incoming talent consists of strictly transfer players. Matt Carlino will definitely produce in a backcourt with fellow senior Derrick Wilson, and Luke Fischer will come in and start right off the bat. Only problem is Fischer won't be eligible until December 14th, and will leave a huge size gap in that lineup until he returns. Fischer is the only player listed above 6'7" on the Marquette roster.
The loss of Todd Mayo will be felt
Todd Mayo had his ups and downs in his few seasons at Marquette. He was the third-leading scorer for the Golden Eagles last season, and was expected to be a leader in the Golden Eagle backcourt in his senior season. But after the loss of Buzz Williams, Mayo felt it was time to move on as well, leaving the team to pursue a career in the NBA's Development League.
For Mayo, this isn't a bad decision. He will still work towards earning his degree, and there have been a few success stories to come out of the D-League. Glen Rice. Jr. (son of former NBA player Glen Rice, not son of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin) turned his suspension into an All-Rookie second team selection in the D-League, and he now finds himself learning under future Hall-of-Famer Paul Pierce in DC. P.J. Hairston left North Carolina for the D-League and became the first-ever D-Leaguer drafted in the first round, while Thanasis Antetokounpo (brother of the "Greek Freak" Giannis) went in the second round in June.
But Mayo's gain is ultimately a huge loss for Marquette. Mayo was expected to star in a backcourt with Carlino and Wilson, but now an already-small lineup will have to make up for his loss in other areas. Sophomores Deonte Burton and Jajuan Johnson will likely breakout this season, but we'll have to wait and see exactly how they transition into larger roles, playing more minutes and taking more shots a game, before we start giving this club NCAA tournament consideration.
How do you feel about Marquette's chances under first-year head coach Steve Wojciechowski? Take our poll and let us know in the comments section below.