Marquette opened a new season in the new Fiserv Forum with an 67-42 win against UMBC.
The defense was impressive. If you hold any team to 14-of-62 (22.5%) from the field, you’re having a great night. But how the defense looked is what was promising. Marquette was constantly switching with success. Wojo seems to prefer players that can guard multiple positions comfortably.
Brendan Bailey, both Joey Hauser and Sam Hauser, Sacar Anim, Joseph Chartouny and Jamal Cain all showed the size, strength and footwork to defend effectively on the perimeter and the post. They also featured a light full-court pressure. While not creating game-changing havoc, the pressure was able to slow UMBC down and take time off the shot clock. The roster has the length and athleticism for Wojo to use this full court pressure productively throughout the season.
Marquette had an off shooting night, headed by Markus Howard. From beyond the 3-point arc, the team shot 8-for-32 (25%) with Howard shooting a poor 2-for-12. He still managed a productive night with a team high 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Sam Hauser also had 15 points and eight rebounds.
The rotation was a big question coming into this season. As expected, Howard and Sam Hauser both played 30+ minutes. However, Sacar Anim led the team with 33. Anim continues to impress; he knows his role, dominated in transition and played great defense. Joey Hauser played 25 minutes and looked strong on both ends of the floor.
The big surprise was Theo John. First off the bench, John played 24 minutes and earned them. With his first career double-double going for 11 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks, John was dominant with powerful dunks and soul-crushing swats. Brendan Bailey started and played 17 minutes, and scored five points and played great defense. Jamal Cain made his presence felt in 15 minutes, finishing with seven points and six rebounds, Cain seemed to go after every rebound. With a deep roster and a fight for minutes, Cain may force more playing time with his defense and rebounding.
The transfers were disappointing. Ed Morrow started, but only played seven minutes finishing with zero points and zero rebounds. Joseph Chartouny only played 16 minutes, but showed no reason he should play more.
The biggest question fans will have after this game is where was Matt Heldt? Expected to play big minutes, Heldt did not check into the game until there was 1:02 left on the clock. Wojo spoke of Heldt after the game: “I love Matt Heldt. Tonight was two minutes. Another night, it might be 32 minutes.” Fans will have to hope Heldt just didn’t fit into the game plan against UMBC and better days will come for “The Milkman.”