Marquette had the luxury of having a golden frontcourt last season -- Henry Ellenson and Luke Fischer provided one of the top big men tandems in the Big East.
However, the Golden Eagles can't say the same this season. With only two players standing taller than 6-foot-7, Fischer and sophomore Matt Heldt, Marquette lacks depth and size inside. No longer does it have Ellenson's scoring talents to lean on, and the Golden Eagles will miss his team-best 17.0 points per game from last season.
Ellenson's departure for the NBA Draft after a great individual season places the frontcourt responsibility on Fischer's shoulders for this upcoming season. This is a role that isn't new to the rising senior. He has been a fixture at center for Marquette in each of the last two seasons, starting in almost every single game since being declared eligible after transferring in from Indiana.
Over his previous two seasons with Marquette, Fischer has shown steady improvement. He averaged an improved 12.1 points and 6.2 boards last season. While his 68.2 percent performance at the free throw line isn’t ideal, it’s far improved from the 58.2 percent from his sophomore year.
Standing 6-foot-11, as Marquette’s tallest player, Fischer certainly gives the Golden Eagles an imposing, sizable force up front. With his final season on the horizon, Marquette will need him to take a large jump forward. He has proven himself to be an efficient scorer in the post. He likes to use his large frame to establish good position down low, as a back to basket center. From there, he gets the job done by finishing with his trusty jump hook that he can use on either shoulder. With his length and height, his hook makes it difficult for defenders to stop. Last season, he shot 60.8 percent on the floor, boasting the third-highest shooting performance in the conference.
As efficient as he might be, his play offensively is limited to the paint. He may be good at finishing and dunking around the basket, but he doesn’t have a steady mid-range jumper to rely on. It’s not exactly terrible for Marquette, but it does limit what he is capable of.
On the defensive end of the court, he showed that he could play more aggressively on the boards, increasing his rebounding average. This aggression also showed in his blocking, as he finished in the conference top 10 in blocks per game with 1.4.
Fischer has the potential to be an impact maker, following in the footsteps of key Marquette big men in recent history. Since the beginning of the decade, players like Ellenson, Devante Gardner, and defensive specialist Chris Otule, have emerged as focal points and game-changers for the team. As the most seasoned front court member on Marquette’s roster, he will have a large load to carry. Heldt, the only other center listed on the Golden Eagles’ roster, is still unproven. He didn’t see the court a whole lot last season, averaging only 5.1 minutes per game.
This is a big opportunity for the big man to seize.