UNGER: Luke Fischer re-emerging as a rim protector


Photo by Brian Georgeson

Luke Fischer blocks DePaul’s Joe Hanel during Marquette’s trip to the Allstate Arena Feb. 2.

Although Marquette men’s basketball has struggled since its surprise victory over Villanova, dropping four of its previous five contests, there is one positive the Golden Eagles can take away from its recent skid. Luke Fischer, who was missing in action on defense at the start of conference play, has quickly recaptured the effective shot blocking form he displayed during his sophomore campaign.

The change in tone of Fischer’s defensive tenacity seemed to be sparked by his six-block performance at Creighton Jan. 21. After starting off BIG EAST conference play with just five blocks in six games, the 6-foot-11 center has totaled 22 swats in the following seven contests. This includes a seven-block performance at DePaul and a four-block performance at home against Butler.

Through 13 BIG EAST games, the Germantown, Wisconsin-native surpassed his conference block total from the previous year by seven. The senior’s recent play also put him on track to pass his career-high swat total of 53. A handful of his blocks, especially against DePaul, were easy layups for opponents that turned into fast-break points for the Golden Eagles.

“We want Luke to be a shot-blocker,” head coach Steve Wojciechowski said after Marquette’s victory at DePaul. “Those are things that we want him to do and he’s good at it. We need him to continue to do that.”

For Marquette, Fischer’s resurgence could not have come at a more important time. After dropping three games to teams below them in the conference standings, the Golden Eagles now stand at 6-7 in the BIG EAST and are likely on the outside looking in for the NCAA Tournament. In addition, Marquette’s usually deadly offense has looked less potent as of late, scoring just 65 and 62 points during the team’s two-game losing streak.

The Golden Eagles upcoming slate also features teams that rely heavily on their inside offensive presence. Xavier, who Marquette still has to play twice, has three offensive options above 6-foot-9 that are utilized on more than 20 percent of the Musketeers’ possessions. None of the three have attempted a 3-point shot this year.

Creighton also poses their own matchup nightmare in Justin Patton, one of the best big men in the entire country. The 7-footer ranks fifth in effective field goal percentage in the entire NCAA and has flushed 71.4 percent of his two point attempts (eighth in the country).

If the Golden Eagles are going to get back on track during their final five games, Fischer must continue his recent improvements on the defensive end of the floor.