Talented freshmen infused into preseason mix at Marquette
MILWAUKEE (AP) There are so many fresh faces at Marquette that it might seem like Steve Wojciechowski is going through a second rookie year as a head coach.
But this kind of change appears to be for the better for the Golden Eagles.
Wojciechowski's first recruiting class has arrived, a five-member gem considered one of the best in the country. They're entering a third week of preseason practice.
After a 13-19 season in his first year as Marquette's leader, Wojciechowski has a young but full roster to play the style of basketball he wants to play in Milwaukee.
''We wanted to play an attacking style on both ends,'' Wojciechowski said about the 2014-15 campaign. ''I think we'll be able to push tempo, push the pace of play, faster than we did last year.''
Marquette had trouble just finding enough bodies then for practice. Injuries and midseason transfers left the team having to use assistant coaches on the floor.
The roster has been replenished in a big way thanks to Wojciechowski's recruiting prowess. The prized in-state recruit is 6-foot-10 Henry Ellenson, a McDonald's All American from Rice Lake. Traci Carter is a recruit from Philadelphia who might be the roster's only pure point guard. Haanif Cheatham, Sacar Anim and Matt Heldt round out the class.
''There's going to be some times when our freshmen, you're watching them play, you're seeing who can they be as a player. And then there's going to be times when we all watch and say, `Man, he was a real freshman today,''' Wojciechowski said. ''What we're hoping because they're going to be put in situations where they have to play early, those highs and lows turn into mostly highs.''
Marquette also adds Ellenson's older brother, Wally, to the mix. The older Ellenson redshirted last season after spending two years in Minnesota.
This is going to take a little time to get everyone used to each other. A 10-day trip in Europe in the offseason helped the team not only on the court, but off.
''Last year, we were just short of bodies,'' guard Duane Wilson said. ''This year, I feel like we have a lot of athletic guys. You're going to see a lot of up and down, a lot of dunks.''
Wilson, a third-year sophomore, is already one of the most tenured players on the roster. Juniors Wally Ellenson and Luke Fischer are the only older scholarship players.
The 6-foot-11 Fischer has the potential to be the top big man in the Big East, especially when joined by Henry Ellenson in a tall, talented frontcourt.
Wilson is the team's leading returning scorer (11.9 points), about a point better than Fischer. The older Ellenson is an All-American in the high jump whose athleticism excites Wilson.
Wojciechowski has about another month more of practice to find the right mix before the season tips off on Nov. 13 against Belmont.
''We're more established in every respect,'' he said, ''although we're younger and do have a lot of new faces.''