6 things to watch for at Marquette Madness

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6 things to watch for at Marquette Madness

Traci Carter is one of the many guards Steve Wojciechowski has to play with on this year's roster.

Traci Carter is one of the many guards Steve Wojciechowski has to play with on this year's roster.

Photo by Wire Stock Photo

Traci Carter is one of the many guards Steve Wojciechowski has to play with on this year's roster.

Photo by Wire Stock Photo

Photo by Wire Stock Photo

Traci Carter is one of the many guards Steve Wojciechowski has to play with on this year's roster.

Video by Connor Basch

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Here are six things to keep an eye on when Marquette’s men’s and women’s basketball teams kick things off Friday at the highly-anticipated Marquette Madness.

1. Guards galore

The men’s basketball team has eight scholarship players designated as guards on the roster: Katin Reinhardt, Jajuan Johnson, Duane Wilson, Andrew Rowsey, Traci Carter, Haanif Cheatham, Markus Howard and Sam Hauser. Sacar Anim is listed as a guard/forward, bringing the list of potential back court players to nine.

This massive group of guards has a wide range of skills. There are shooters, slashers, passers, defenders, big guys, small guys and long guys. Who plays with whom will be fun to keep an eye on. Where does Duane Wilson fit in? Can Markus Howard carve out a role for himself? Who fills in where in three-guard lineups?

There’s no shortage of questions, but we do know a few things. Haanif Cheatham is the top two guard and he’s the premier back court player on the roster. Traci Carter is the only true point guard and he figures to start at the one. Andrew Rowsey is a proven Division I shooter, who shot 39 percent on more than 500 attempts at UNC Asheville. Beyond that, there’s plenty to learn about the guards.

2. How does Homecoming affect Madness?

Marquette Madness is one of the focal points of the school’s first Homecoming week since 1993. With the obvious interest alumni have in basketball, the event seems like the best replacement for a homecoming football game. However, it will be interesting to watch how an influx of alums affect attendance in the 3,700 seat Al McGuire Center. Marquette normally comes close to selling out Madness without Homecoming, so it should be a packed house.

Homecoming and the program celebrating its centennial could also bring in some interesting guests. Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker, who played for Wojciechowski at Duke, has come the last two years. Could Dwyane Wade, now with the Chicago Bulls, make the short trip? How about his former teammate, Steve Novak, who the Bucks picked up late last season? It will be interesting to see if Marquette brings in any other alums, or waits for the regular season to honor the program’s legacy.

3. The new guys

Marquette will have four new scholarship players on the court this season: graduate transfer Katin Reinhardt, redshirt junior Andrew Rowsey and freshmen Markus Howard and Sam Hauser. While Rowsey played in last year’s Madness (he sat out 2015-’16 after transferring), it will be the first time fans will see the other three in a Golden Eagle uniform.

In addition to seeing if anyone makes an impression, it will be interesting to see where each of them play. Reinhardt spent much of his career at small forward, but he may need to move to power forward due to the Golden Eagles’ lack of size. Speaking of size, Hauser is listed as a guard, but at 6-foot-7 he’s taller than all of Marquette’s forwards.

4. New uniforms?

The men’s basketball team tweeted Sunday that fans will have to wait until Madness to see the team’s new Jumpman uniforms. Will the team simply update their look for the company’s new jersey cut or go a completely new direction? Will we see a throwback uniform to honor the program’s 100th year of competition?

5. Will the women’s offense be able to run as quickly?

“Manic” would probably be the best way to describe women’s basketball’s offense last year. Four-guard lineups, seven-second possessions and 70-shot games were the norm in head coach Carolyn Kieger’s game plans. It all worked to an extent. The Golden Eagles averaged 77.8 points per game, which was second in the BIG EAST and 15th in the country. However, Marquette also allowed 78.3 points per game, the sixth-worst mark in the entire NCAA.

Part of the reason for those stats was Marquette’s personnel. Of the 10 players that saw the court, seven of them were guards. Only three of them had listed heights taller than 6 feet. The fast offense played to that roster’s strength while camouflaging some of its weaknesses. Now that Kieger has a four-woman freshman class of players that are 6 feet or taller, will she still stick to that same fast break-centric offense? Or will she tone it down a little bit and mix in some more half court sets?

The answer will likely lie in the starting lineup for both sides. Whichever side has more of last year’s players will likely look to run, while the younger, taller side might want to slow things down.

 

6. The competitions

One of the more entertaining parts of Madness each year is the annual dunk contest, which will have a new champion. Neither of the previous two winners, Deonte Burton and Henry Ellenson, are still with the program, as well as last year’s runner-up, Wally Ellenson. Sandy Cohen is arguably the favorite, as he had a strong showing in last year’s event.

As for the three-point contest, Cheatham led the team last year, shooting 39 percent from beyond the arc. He’ll have competition from the newcomers, such as Rowsey, who shot 38 percent at UNC Asheville in 2014-’15. Reinhardt was 13th on USC’s all-time three-point list and Howard shot 48 percent from three-point range while playing for the U.S. at the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship.

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