Marquette may have already matched last season’s win total, but conference success has been hard to come by. A once-dominant, perennial contender in the Big East has fallen by the wayside following the departure of Buzz Williams. And while expectations have been tempered for first-time head coach Steve Wojciechowski, the frustration is already evident. On its face, the Golden Eagles’ frontcourt pairing of Indiana transfer Luke Fischer – an experienced junior with a plethora of post moves – and highly touted freshman Henry Ellenson forms the core of the best offensive frontcourt in the conference. Unsurprisingly, the team is sporting both its best two-point field goal percentage offense and defense of the last 15 years. Marquette has thrived when working through the post, a reality made even more evident when the Golden Eagles shot 54.8 percent inside the arc against Villanova, a team that usually holds opponents to 41.9 percent two-point shooting (16th nationally).
Yet for a team that plays so well in the paint (Fischer and Ellenson shoot a combined 70% at the rim), the team’s offense has been undermined by an odd plan of attack. Entry passes or pick-and-roll plays that have commonly resulted in easy Golden Eagles points are scarcely used; instead, Wojciechowski’s team is playing at an unsustainably quick pace, averaging just 15.7 seconds per possession on offense. The team’s average offensive possession length has decreased from 18.6 seconds (198th nationally) to 15.7 (34th nationally) over the course of one season. This figure is undoubtedly distorted by a high turnover rate and low rebounding rate, but those two issues also plagued last year’s team, and to a similar extent. Perhaps as a result of the relative inexperience of its backcourt players, the quickened pace has Marquette turning the ball over on 20.5 percent of all its possessions, which puts them 296th nationally in the category.