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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Shaka’s squad focuses on the now, despite expectations of others

Photo by Alex DeBuhr
Marquette men’s basketball held a open practice for fans at Fiserv Forum Oct. 28.

There are six days until the 2022-23 Marquette men’s basketball season kicks off against Radford and the Golden Eagles are trying to build off of its success in head coach Shaka Smart’s first season.

“There’s so much work left to be done and our emphasis to our guys is focusing on what’s important now,” Smart said. “It’d be really easy to fast forward mentally to that game (Radford) but right now we have a lot of habits to continue to build on and concepts to keep getting better at because we’ll have good competition very early in the season.”

The Golden Eagles are coming off a 19-13, 13-3 Big East season with its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2019.

One of the biggest questions entering this season will be: How does Marquette replace the scoring of Justin Lewis and Darryl Morsell?

Both Lewis and Morsell combined for 31.2 points per game last year. 

Sam Gutierrez, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said that he believes that sophomore forward David Joplin and junior forward Oso Ighodaro will fill the stat sheet more.

“I feel like with the loss of our big men, it’s really going to open up an opportunity for Oso,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez also thinks that Ighodaro will play some of the point position while Joplin could play a similar role to what Justin Lewis held last season.

Marquette was picked to finish ninth in the Big East Coaches’ Preseason Poll for the second straight season.

“We were sitting here last year in a very similar position,” Smart said during Big East media day. “Picked ninth, no players on the preseason all-conference team and we had some guys emerge that weren’t talked about as much.”

Similar to the idea of last year’s breakout, CBS Sports analysts state “it doesn’t mean MU won’t be a factor; we have to see it to believe it.”

Gutierrez said he is hesitant on what could happen this season from the Golden Eagles.

“We’re still one of the youngest teams, not just in the Big East but in the entire country,” Gutierrez said. “Because of that, I feel like we will have a ceiling. I think the highest we could do is maybe fourth in the Big East.”

Finishing fourth in the Big East could be carried out by many players on the team that professionals believe have potential.

Field of 68 basketball analyst Terrence Oglesby said in a Big East preview conference Oct. 18 that sophomore guard Kam Jones could have a breakout season, including leading the conference in scoring.

“This dude’s a bucket and he can do it in a lot of different ways,” Oglesby said. “He can shoot it from three. He shot over 39% as a freshman from three. He’s got good size at six-four, buck ninety-five. This guy can get to the rim, he’s athletic enough to finish.”

Gutierrez also commented on Jones’ ability.

“We’ve entered a period where he’s upgraded. He’s like a total bucket now,” Gutierrez said.

Despite the optimism about the roster, they Golden Eagles will be tested early in the season.

From Nov. 29 to Jan. 3 Marquette will play eight top-60 KenPom teams and are projected to go 2-6 in that stretch.

“Honestly, I would not be surprised if we see a similar season like we did last year,” Gutierrez said. “Especially when we get into conference, we get really intense play right off the bat. I think that’ll be tough. I think we’re going to be better than people say we’ll be, but I think we’ll end up like we ended up last season.”

This article was written by Benjamin Hanson. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @benhansonMU.

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About the Contributor
Benjamin Hanson
Benjamin Hanson, Sports Reporter
Ben Hanson is a sophomore from Minneapolis, Minnesota studying journalism, digital media and advertising. He is a sports reporter and the assistant social media producer for the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. When he's not in the newsroom, he likes creative writing, being with friends and going to sporting events. He is excited to be able to spread the word of the Marquette Wire because it has done so much for him while also refining his sports writing.

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