Marquette’s Season Hinges on a Single Phrase: Why Not Us?

Posted by Justin Kundrat on March 12th, 2015

The future remains bright for first-year Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski. Players, coaches and fans all knew this would be a rebuilding year for the Golden Eagles, with the staff focused on developing its younger players and instilling a defense-first mindset to eventually return the program to winning ways. Transfers Matt Carlino and Luke Fischer brought much needed offensive firepower to Milwaukee this season, but Marquette still finished 13-18 overall and just 4-14 in Big East play, competing in many close games that they were simply unable to close. Next season promises more: After receiving a commitment from consensus top-five recruit, Henry Ellenson, Wojo proceeded to add four additional four-star recruits across a range of positions, bolstering the team ahead of the departures of seniors Derrick Wilson, Juan Anderson and Carlino.

With little on the line, Mark Carlino and Marquette played about "as well as we could play" according to head coach Steve. (AP/Frank Franklin II)

With little on the line, Mark Carlino and Marquette played about “as well as we could play” according to head coach Steve Wojciechowski in the upset over Seton Hall. (AP/Frank Franklin II)

So with very little on the line this week, Wojciechowski instituted a new mindset for his team as it entered the Big East Tournament. “Why not us? Seeds don’t matter,” Wojciechowski said. “I’ve been in situations where I have been coaching on teams who have been the No. 1 seed and we got our butts kicked. Seeds don’t matter. [For] everybody it’s a fresh start.” Maybe the Golden Eagles don’t have the most talented or athletic group of players, and certainly the season hasn’t gone the way they had hoped, but the players seem largely unphased by it. “We’re huge underdogs, so we have nothing to lose and we’re going to play that way,” Carlino said. “Hopefully play aggressive and play to win.”

And that is the exact mentality Carlino’s team has adopted. On Wednesday night against a listing Seton Hall team, Marquette started hot and never looked back. Carlino went off for 26 points on 8-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc; Derrick Wilson tallied a career best 14 assists with just two turnovers; and the team held the Pirates to 5-of-22 shooting from three. “Tonight was about as well as we can play,” said Wojciechowski. “If we play our best game we’ll have a chance to win [any game]. The tournament play allows you the opportunity to start fresh. Regardless of what’s happened in the regular season, whether you’ve had a great season or whether you’ve had a season with some bumps in it. I think that’s how we approached it and our guys were terrific today.” Forget the fact that his team had lost 12 of its previous 14 games heading into last night, or that Marquette ranks dead last in the Big East in points per game. Marquette is officially on a mission.

The mission that started with beating the Pirates on Wednesday has led them to what will undoubtedly be an uphill climb against Villanova on Thursday. Not only is the turnaround very short at less than 15 hours, but the Marquette players and coaching staff will have to prepare for a team that has made great work of terrorizing opposing defenses and has won its last 12 games. Should Marquette be worried? Absolutely. But with nothing to lose and no time to worry, Wojciechowski’s team will be bringing everything to the table, starting with that new mentality. “That’s the beauty of postseason college basketball — you don’t have to be better than somebody for 30 games; you have to be better than somebody for one night.” So for Marquette, despite being written off and largely ignored this season, the saying goes on. “Why not us?”

Justin Kundrat (175 Posts)

Villanova grad, patiently waiting another 10 years for season tickets. Follow Justin on twitter @JustinKundrat or email him at

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