The Marquette Golden Eagles are off to a 7-3 start to their season. Thus far, Marquette has given the fans hope for this season and things to come ranking number one in the Big East Conference.  They have done so by playing complete team basketball; getting contributions from everyone on the team.  Their brand of basketball has shown in the team’s offensive and defensive numbers.  Marquette is shooting a little over 50% as well as close to 40% from beyond the arc.  However, they have made it a goal this year to avoid falling in love with the outside shot by driving to the rack and pounding the ball inside which is drawing fouls.  The free throw line happens to be another strength for the team, shooting a little over 80% from the line. On the defensive end, Marquette on average is holding teams to just roughly 71 PPG while scoring roughly 86 PPG.    With everyone contributing to the team’s overall success, it makes it difficult to pick a clear cut MVP for their season thus far.   However, there are three players that seem to be leading the way just about every night which has strongly assisted game played this year.

Hannif Cheatham, Luke Fischer, and Jajuan Johnson are in a three horse race for the team’s MVP this season. They are the team’s top three scores. These three players often create and open things up lanes and shots for the rest of the team. Jajuan Johnson leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.4 PPG 5 RPG and about 2 stls a game.  Fischer averages 13.9 PPG and 6.2 RPG.  Cheathman averages 11.7 PPG and 4.2 RPG.   All three players bring different elements to the team however, all three are crucial to the teams early success. Some may disagree due to the recent breakout games from players such as Markus Howard, Andrew Rowsey, and Sam Hauser, however Fischer, Cheatham and Johnson are the most consistent in their contributions.  In most of the key games won and lost by Marquette this year, those three players have had a huge impact on the game rather positive or negative.

In the season opener, Marquette defeated Vanderbilt 95-71.  Jajuan Johnson led to team in scoring while having a huge impact on the defensive end.  Johnson managed to score 21 points (9-13 FG) and rack up 6 steals.  That’s no typo folks.  That’s more steals than most people can rack up with one player on 2k.  Luke Fischer chipped in scored 18 points (7-9 FG), while Cheatham scored 15 points (6-11 FG).  The effort to score on the offensive end translated well into stopping the other team from scoring as well.  Vanderbilt was held to just 39.7% FG shooting.

A little later on in the season, Marquette ran through the IUPUI Jaguars 104-79.  The big three showed up to play and effectively end the game early. Marquette was up 20 points by halftime.  Cheatham led the way with 22pts (8-11 FG) while Jajaun Johnson chipped in 11 pts 5 rebounds and 4 assist.  Luke Fischer scored 14 points without missing a shot (6-6) and grabbed 5 rebounds.  Marquette’s defense yet again was on point holding IUPUI to just 41.2% FG and 30% from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Marquette shot the ball extremely efficiently (57.1% FG 39.1% from three).

Photo via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In the sixth game of the year, the Golden Eagles faced The Houston Baptist Huskies.  Marquette beat the Huskies 101-79.  As you may have already guessed, there was more of the same type of domination from Marquette’s big three.   Luke Fischer messed around and dropped a double double.  Fischer scored 22 points only missing one shot, (9-10 FG) while dominating the glass pulling down 11 rebounds.  Jajuan Johnson followed suit with a 22 point (9-13 FG) game of his own while grabbing 5 rebounds and stealing the ball twice.  Cheatham added another 21 points 7 rebounds and 6 assist.  As a team, Marquette shot 56.1% while guarding the Huskies to just 43.3% shooting.

A big loss came just four games in against the Pittsburgh Panthers.  In this game, the big three struggled with what the defense threw their way.   As a team, Marquette was held to 40% FG and 28% from beyond arc.  On the other side, Pittsburgh managed to play an efficient game (49% FG).  The team’s leading scorer Jajaun Johnson was held to just 8 points (3-13 FG) and 4 rebounds.  Fischer was held to only 5 points and 9 rebounds, while Cheatham chipped in 10 points and 2 assist. Marquette received key contributions from Duane Wilson (11 points) Sam Hauser (11 points) and Andrew Rowsey (20 points), however their efforts were not enough to get Marquette the win; Pittsburgh 78, Golden Eagles 75.

In their most recent game, Marquette fell to their in state rival Wisconsin Badgers. Marquette went into the half up 5, however Wisconsin turned up the defensive intensity and ball movement in the second half crippling the Golden Eagles. Marquette shot the ball relatively well (46.6% FG, 45% from 3) but, Wisconsin went on a 16-0 run that Marquette was never able to overcome.  They often found themselves trading basket for basket which played into Wisconsin’s hands. Markus Howard scored a career high 22 points while Andrew Rowsey chipped in 15 points and Katin Reinhadt added another 16 points. However, Marquette’s big three was held to relatively pedestrian numbers.  Johnson was held to 4 points, Fischer chipped in 11 points and 6 rebounds while Cheatham managed to have the best game of the three scoring 16 and grabbing 8 rebounds.  Unfortunately, with Wisconsin shooting an amazing 58.2% FG as a team and every starter in double digits, Marquette’s efforts simply weren’t enough; Mubb 84, Badgers 93.

The Marquette Golden Eagles have started this season off with a simple statement.  “We are here and ready to ball.”  There are definitely things that the team needs to improve on heading into the second half of the season however, Marquette fans couldn’t have asked for a better start.  Marquette plays hard, and they are a team that you can no longer count out during games.  With the talent and chemistry slowly forming and coming together, the sky is the limit for what the team can accomplish this year. Overall, out of the three horse MVP race, Luke Fischer has the slight edge over Johnson and Cheatham. He’s second in scoring first in rebounding, a great rim protector, and the most efficient player on the team. However, with the recent breakout games from players outside of the big three, teams will now have to worry about the rest of the team heating up as well as the big three.  This can and will spell disaster for opposing defenses.  With that being said, Marquette looks ready to continue winning games.

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