If you’ve been paying attention this offseason, you’re well aware that Marquette enters the 2014-15 with serious concerns on the glass. After touting one of the most talented frontcourts in the Big East last season, finishing fourth in rebounds per game, gone are senior starters Chris Otule and Jamil Wilson, sixth man Davante Gardner as well as underrated rebounding guards Todd Mayo (left program) and Jake Thomas (graduation).
It’s part of college basketball, but Marquette’s frontcourt rebounding was hurt by A) junior Jameel McKay transferring from the program before last season began and B) forward Marial Shayok and center Satchel Pierce opting out of their respective Letters of Intent following Buzz Williams’ departure to Virginia Tech.
Steve Wojciechowski was not able to secure any immediate transfers inside — Gabe Levin will sit a year after transferring from LMU — leaving Marquette desperately thin at the forward position; of the Golden Eagles’ 10 players this season, only 6-foot-11 Luke Fischer stands taller than 6-foot-7, and he won’t be eligible until Marquette’s second semester. Add in Steve Taylor (6-foot-7) and Juan Anderson (6-foot-6) and that’s all Wojciechowski will have to work with in 2014-15.
Those five departures made up nearly 58 percent of Marquette’s rebounding from a year ago. It’s by far the highest percentage of rebounds lost in the Buzz Williams era (yes, it’s now over, but these are still his guys). The only other time Marquette came close to that 58 percent mark was in Williams’ first season, when the Three Amigos (and Dwight Burke) left and Williams was left to balance classes, which he did remarkably well from a rebounding sense.
Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler replaced the Three Amigos, each totaling more than 200 rebounds. Butler continued that run into his senior season and Williams brought in Jae Crowder and finally had a healthy Chris Otule at his disposal. By the time Crowder left Davante Gardner, Jamil Wilson and more Otule were ready to fill the void.
What that meant was Marquette losing between 34 and 40 percent of its rebounding for four seasons (2009-2013). The aforementioned recruiting losses, graduations and transfers have left a giant void, and in part Juan Anderson’s lack of production hasn’t helped matters.
Note: The chart below shows the percentage of rebounds lost following the year in the far left column. For example, following the 2009-10 season Marquette lost 43.8 percent of its defensive rebounds; following the 2012-13 season it lost 22.7 percent of its offensive rebounds.
But a deeper look reveals that Marquette isn’t the only Big East team losing its fair share of rebounding this season. Marquette’s rebounding clearly will be an Achilles heel all year, even with Fischer coming on board in December, but it may not be as big a hindrance based on what other Big East teams are up against.
There’s two things to note: Just about every team in the conference is bringing in more rebounding this season than Marquette; wing Sandy Cohen and transfer Matt Carlino will help some, but the inside is what it is, and it’s tiny. Second, nearly every team in the conference has underclassmen ready to fill the shoes left by top rebounders leaving the team; Marquette has Deonte Burton and perhaps Anderson, but past that there really isn’t much depth to speak of.
That being said, here’s a look at each team, with Marquette at the top and then going alphabetical, and the percentage of rebounds it is losing from last year. Red font indicates the team losing the highest percentage of each category:
A few notes to consider before getting into the team breakdowns:
– Half of the league’s teams (Marquette, Creighton, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Xavier) are losing 45 percent or more of its total rebounding from a year ago. Of those five teams, all but Georgetown (48.1%) are losing more than half of its defensive rebounding from a year ago.
– Four teams (Marquette, Creighton, St. John’s, Xavier) are losing its two top rebounders from last year. Marquette and Xavier are the only teams losing its top three rebounders, while DePaul and Seton Hall are losing three of its top four rebounders. Villanova is the only team in the conference not losing one of its top two rebounders.
– It’s tough to determine where the Big East stands when compared to other teams in different conferences (if someone has the time, be our guest to crunch those numbers) but when compared to previous Marquette seasons, the rebounds lost by the entire conference as a whole seems high, and that should bode well for the Golden Eagles.
Butler: Losing top offensive rebounder Khyle Marshall hurts, but Kameron Woods led the Big East in rebounds per game (9.0) last year and returns for his senior season.
Creighton: Top rebounders Doug McDermott and Ethan Wragge are gone, but every other significant rebounders returns. McDermott’s loss is a big one, as he averaged 6.9 rebounds per game last year, sixth most in the Big East.
DePaul: Talented sophomore Tommy Hamilton IV returns after leading the team in rebounds, but Sandi Marcus, Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin (kicked off the team midway through the year) are gone, though overall the Blue Demons’ 43.2 percent of rebounds lost is middle of the pack.
Georgetown: Nate Lubick (first) and Aaron Bowen (fourth) are gone, but the Hoyas should have Joshua Smith back and talented sophomore Bradley Hayes should make a jump in his second season.
Providence: LaDontae Henton was second in the conference in rebounding last year and will be near the top again as a senior, while Tyler Harris and Carson Desrosiers should give the Friars one of the better rebounding teams in the conference. Kadeem Batts (7.4 rebounds per game) is a big loss, but they should be able to withstand it.
Seton Hall: Ouch. Four of the Pirates’ top-five rebounders from a year ago are gone, including a whopping 59 percent of their offensive boards last year. Brandon Mobley (4.2 rebounds per game) will have his work cut out for him inside.
St. John’s: The Red Storm lose their top two rebounders from a year ago (Jakarr Sampson, Orlando Sanchez) but Chris Obekpa’s decision to stay with St. John’s is huge, as Steve Lavin’s group loses the third fewest percentage of rebounds.
Villanova: The Wildcats only lose James Bell, and they’re the only team in the conference that returns four of their top five rebounders from a year ago. With Daniel Ochefu and JayVaughn Pinkson back, Jay Wright’s group is in great position on the glass.
Xavier: The only team in the conference losing a smaller percentage of rebounds than Marquette, the Musketeers’ top three big men are gone, as is point guard Semaj Christon, who ranked sixth on the team with 2.7 boards per game last year.