Marquette Wire

PREVIEW: Plenty of questions surround men’s basketball prior to American game

Senior+guard+Andrew+Rowsey%27s+status+for+today%27s+game+against+American+is+questionable.
Senior guard Andrew Rowsey's status for today's game against American is questionable.

Senior guard Andrew Rowsey's status for today's game against American is questionable.

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Senior guard Andrew Rowsey's status for today's game against American is questionable.

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Marquette dodged two bullets in their last game, escaping with a 79-70 victory over Northern Illinois and a relatively healthy Andrew Rowsey after a Husky defender stepped on his ankle in the second half. The team announced Rowsey was expected to practice ahead of today’s game against American University to wrap up the non-conference schedule.

HOW MUCH WILL ROWSEY PLAY?

Although the team confirmed Rowsey’s injury was nothing serious, how much playing time he’ll see against American, which prominent analytics site KenPom ranks 302nd out of 351 Division I teams, is up in the air.

“Obviously he’s a huge part of our team,” head coach Steve Wojciechowski said at the press conference following the Northern Illinois game. “Andrew’s quietly having a hell of a senior year, and I don’t want anything bad to happen to him.”

Even if Rowsey is capable of playing 30-plus minutes, Wojo may decide to rest him anyways, especially with a game against the No. 9 Xavier Musketeers looming to start conference play Dec. 27.

Rowsey, along with sophomores Markus Howard and Sam Hauser, comprise Marquette’s offensive triumvirate. Those three players account for 70 percent of Marquette’s points and 90 percent of its 3-pointers. When all three players score in double digits, Marquette is 6-1.

Of those three, Rowsey is the most involved in the offense. Thirty-two percent of all Marquette possessions end with a Rowsey action — a made shot, a turnover, etc. — which ranks 26th among all Division I players.

MORE MINUTES FOR FROLING

Sophomore center Harry Froling’s much-anticipated return to the hardwood was uneventful Monday against NIU. He had a turnover, a foul and two rebounds in three minutes of action.

Having not played basketball in roughly a year, there was bound to be some rust on Froling.

“We have a rotation of eight guys, and he’s going to have to work himself into earning more minutes,” Wojo said. “That’s something we’ve talked about.”

Theo John’s emergence as a true center prevented Froling from playing more minutes. John scored seven points, grabbed five rebounds and rejected three shots in 14 minutes. Combine those 14 minutes with junior center Matt Heldt’s usual starting workload, and there wasn’t much time left for Froling.

One potential solution is to play Froling on the wing. Froling stated last spring he felt comfortable playing away from the hoop and even doing some ballhandling. He took a significant portion of his warm-ups Monday from behind the 3-point line.

Wojo said he avoided shuffling the lineup too much against Northern Illinois because his team was “fried” from finals the previous week. However, he expressed confidence that there would be plenty of work for Froling going forward.

“I don’t worry about him,” Wojo said. “He’s gonna be a real (sic) important player for us, and he’s just got to keep his head up and keep working at it.

SCOUTING AMERICAN

There aren’t many teams in the country that depend more on the top of the lineup than Marquette does, but American is one of them.

Stopping the Eagles comes down to stopping two players: point guard Sa’eed Nelson (19 points per game) and small forward Larry Motuzis (18.8 points per game). Those two players combine for 57 percent of American’s points this year. Both of them are on the floor for over 94 percent of the Eagles’ total minutes.

Nelson, the 6-foot-1 sophomore out of Pleasantville, New Jersey, may prove particularly troublesome for Marquette. Although the Golden Eagles have played much tighter on-ball defense in recent games, they’ve had trouble defending quick, ball-dominant guards in Nelson’s mold. Junior Robinson (Mount St. Mary’s), Jajuan Starks (Eastern Illinois) and Eugene German (Northern Illinois) have all scored at least 20 points against Marquette this year.

American is 3-7 and has lost four of its last five games. The lone victory in that stretch was against Howard at home Dec. 9.

VIEWING INFORMATION

The game will be nationally televised on FOX Sports 1 starting at 6 p.m. CT.

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