How will the minutes shake out this year?


Photo by Anthony Giacomino/ Paint Touches

Going into last season, general sentiment had Sacar Anim building off his redshirt year and playing a bigger role than his freshman season, but not necessarily a pivotal or even starting role.  Then Haanif Cheatham transferred and Anim was tasked with taking over heaviest defensive duties on a full time basis.

However, despite seeing plenty of court time in the non-conference slate, through the first 8 Big East games, Anim had only cracked the 22-minutes played barrier twice. Jamal Cain had shown to be a much better shooter and Greg Elliott had more success guarding point guards and faster players.

For the rest of the season, he saw less than 25 minutes of play only once and finished 4th in minutes played, finishing closer to 1st in minutes played than 5th. It’s very difficult to predict how minutes will shake out over a 30+ game season, particularly for players that hadn’t made a big impact, or been on the team, to date. Sacar’s 2018 season is the perfect example.

So it is with great hesitancy that I reveal how I think the minutes will shake out. There are simply too many pieces that have yet to feature at Marquette but still promise to have a big impact.

Is Chartouny simply going to be used at the point? Can Marquette afford to put Morrow at the 4 and have two players that can’t shoot or drive? How long will it take Joey to acclimate to college ball? Is Brandon Bailey an Erik Willams’ type starter, or an actual impact player?

In my view, this MU team has enough pieces to play a whole host of lineups for long stretches of time, and that’s without including an injured Elliott.

Need length on defense? Chartouny/Anim/Bailey/S. Hauser/Morrow

Need shooting? Howard/Bailey/Cain/S. Hauser/J. Hauser

Need stability? Chartouny/Howard/Anim/S. Hauser/Heldt

What we’ve seen to date in the open scrimmages and exhibition can lead us to some conclusions that may prove busted by the first week of December. But it’s not fun to wait and see, so here are mine.

Studs (30+) – Markus Howard, Sam Hauser

The backbone of basically the last two years, this is their team both on and off the court. They have proven to be elite at this level and will get no shortage of minutes. You know exactly what you are going to get.

Key Contributors (20+) – Sacar Anim, Joseph Chartouny, Ed Morrow

All 3 have proved that they can play at this level, but will be adapting to new roles on this particular team.

I have noted on Twitter a few times the past few months that I think Sacar will be 3rd on the team in minutes played, and I’m sticking with that. Using Defensive Player Impact Plus Minus, only Matt Heldt had a more positive impact defensively last season, and Sacar did it in almost 300 more minutes of action, usually playing with both Rowsey and Howard on the floor.

Anim also is one of the few slashing players on the team that can get to the rim with his athleticism, leading Marquette in “Cut” baskets with 45 points on 39 possessions, according to Synergy. More surprisingly, he led the team in put backs, scoring 34 points on 27 possessions last season. He needs to improve as a shooter and ball handler to take his game to the next level, but at this point in time, he is unique in what he brings to the floor.

I’ve written about Chartouny at length all summer, so it’s no surprise to see him here. And even though he had fairly gaudy assist rates at Fordham, seeing his vision and feel for the game and getting the ball into great scoring slots over the course of a full game made me an even bigger believer. He is exactly what this team needs.

Morrow’s contribution will also be key, but not as visible, in my opinion. Although he did score multiple times with his back to the basket, this offense isn’t designed and doesn’t thrive in these situations. And let’s face it, he won’t be facing anyone shorter than him the rest of the season.

However, Morrow’s defensive impact won’t solely manifest itself on the boards or in the stat sheet. I think he will see a majority of his time at the 5 because despite physical limitations (height), he is strong enough to guard most D1 fives. More importantly, his positioning and reads off of screens already have him ahead of Heldt or John. He is going to be vital to this defense improving.

Wing Rotation (10+) – Joey Hauser, Brendan Bailey, Jamal Cain

It’s silly to try and stuff Joey (a natural 4) and Brendan (a natural 2) in the “wing” section, but suspend your disbelief for a second. These 3 players all have pretty high ceilings and will play pivotal roles going forward, I just don’t trust them enough to predict it will happen this year. All will have stretches of games where they feature heavily, but it will be done at the expense of the others. I see them combining for about 45 minutes a game, it’s just a matter of matchups and hot hands to divvy them up.

I’ve only seen Joey in limited controlled settings plus the exhibition, so my word doesn’t mean anything. But Wojo’s quote deserves some eyeball emojis. He sticks to personality and coach speak when describing his players, and rarely gives us any Buzzisms. But that quote that stands out as something out of the ordinary.

Joey may share a surname, but he is already much more aggressive. Aggressiveness alone doesn’t tell us much, Theo is also more aggressive than Sam, but you can see the makings of a truly special player. For now, his defense still leaves a lot to be desired and he rushes a bit with the ball. With so many options at the 3/4/5 he will not have to play through mistakes or tough games this season.

Brendan is a much tougher nut to crack. Son of Thurl, Mormon mission, 2 years off, yada yada. I’m sure you’ll hear it each and every game. I just haven’t seen enough of him, good or bad, to get a read. The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive through the preseason, but I don’t know if that is based on level of competition or expectations coming in. I’ll keep them low and wait to be happily surprised.

As for Cain, Ryan made a great pitch for why he’d be a terrific option for a redshirt, so you can read about his strengths and weaknesses at length there. He’s the most athletic player on the team and his stroke is legit, but he isn’t clearly ahead of either Joey or Bailey at this point, so he’s simply in the mix with them.

Bigs Rotation (10+) – Matt Heldt, Theo John

Both Heldt and John are strictly 5s at this point, and with Morrow’s mobility and experience, it could limit their playing time any given night.

More than anyone, I think Heldt’s minutes will be entirely match-up based. In games he’s suited to do well, he’ll play a large portion of the available minutes. In games against the more mobile bigs, he won’t see much of the court. I would expect to see him in the game late, though. His terrific free throw shooting makes him a weapon in any press break situation.

As for Theo, I thought he’d have limited minutes this season and that was before the thumb injury that forced him to sit out the secret scrimmage and the exhibition. His presence and shot blocking ability alter would be attackers and post ups, but he still struggles in the pick and roll, particularly defending the roller. But it also wouldn’t shock me to see his defensive awareness be much improved after a full season and off-season to improve.

Medical Questions (0) – Ike Eke, Greg Elliott

I was and am one of the conductors of the Greg Elliott train, but a second injury to the same hand/thumb has me questioning if it isn’t wiser to give it a full season to heal. It’s not that the team couldn’t use him, rolling with only 2 possible point guards is a very risky proposition. I’ll let the doctors and the Elliott family decide, but if does end up sitting, it won’t lower the ceiling of this team, just lower the floor.

Ike’s back injuries continue to plague him, so even in the event he does see the floor, I doubt it will be for more than spot duty this season.

Final Minutes Breakdown


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