• Marquette Non Conference Schedule Part I: November Buy Games

    NJIT star Damon Lynn tallied 16 points & 11 rebounds against Seton Hall last season

    This is the first in a series on Marquette's non-conference opponents. I will be doing some analysis on all of the opponents Coach Wojo's team will see before the Big East season kicks off on New Year's Eve. This installment will look at the three buy games Marquette will be playing in November.


    The Coach: Former UNLV assistant Heath Schroyer takes over from Jason James, who went 37-117 in 5 seasons. The former Portland State & Wyoming coach runs a high-tempo offense that focuses on getting to the line.
    Projected Starters: G Deville Smith (Sr), G Dee Oldham (Jr), G Marshun Newell (Sr), F Myles Taylor (Sr), F Twymond Howard (Jr)
    Key Returning Players: Taylor led the Skyhawks in scoring (14.6 ppg) & rebounding (6.3 rpg) last year. Both Newell (10.5 ppg/3.5 apg) & Oldham (9.1 ppg/3.3 rpg) saw major minutes last year & will be expected to step up as well.
    Key Newcomers: Smith (9.7 ppg/2.7 apg) was a significant player for UNLV last year & followed Schroyer to UTM. He will be expected to run the offense. The Skyhawks add two JUCO All-Americans in Alex Anderson (16.7 ppg/4.6 apg) & Howard (15.8 ppg/9.8 rpg) who will have a chance at immediate minutes.
    On The Court: Like Marquette, Tennessee-Martin is a bit undersized. The Skyhawks will rely on their deep backcourt & the injection of talent Schroyer brought in. Smith will push the tempo & the Skyhawks have the players to keep it up. Schroyer’s past teams were always top-100 in adjusted tempo. They were also always excellent at getting to the line. That includes twice leading the country in free throw rate, once at Portland State & once at Wyoming. Schroyer’s teams usually struggle from long-range, so expect the Skyhawks to focus on high percentage interior shots & frequent drives to the hoop. On defense, they will likely stick mostly to man. Schroyer’s teams excel at limiting second chance points due to a team rebounding focus.
    Season Projection: UTM was picked last in the Ohio Valley’s West Division, but Schroyer has brought a new attitude & added players used to winning. After three straight sub-300 RPI seasons, the veterans view this as a chance at redemption. This is a team that can surprise some people & has a good shot at getting back to the OVC conference tournament. That said there’s a reason they are the first team on the schedule. It will take the Skyhawks some time to come together & they should be a fairly easy first opponent for Coach Wojo.


    The Coach: Derrin Hansen has overseen a successful transition from DII to DI with the Mavericks. UNO had their first winning DI season last year (17-15) & made the second round of the CIT before falling to Murray State. They play very fast on offense & defend well without fouling.
    Projected Starters: G Devin Patterson (Jr), G CJ Carter (Sr), G Randy Reed (Jr), F Jake White (Jr), F Mike Rostampour (Sr)
    Key Returning Players: Carter (13.5 ppg/3.4 apg) led the Mavericks in scoring & assists while big man Rostampour (9.2 ppg/7.5 rpg) was a beast on the boards. The Mavs lost two of their top three scorers in John Karhoff & Justin Simmons, which means they will need bigger contributions from sharpshooting reserves Alex Phillips (5.1 ppg/39.2 3P%) & Jalen Bradley (4.8 ppg/40.0 3P%).
    Key Newcomers: Wichita State transfer Jake White will be expected to contribute immediately. He played on their Final Four team & adds an interior presence to help replace Karhoff. JUCO All-American Randy Reed (21.2 ppg/7.4 rpg) will compete for immediate minutes while freshman wing Jalen Jones is a versatile player with excellent athleticism.
    On The Court: The Mavericks will play very fast. In three D1 seasons, they have never ranked outside the top-11 in possessions per game. Unlike many teams that play up-tempo, Hansen’s teams succeed at limiting turnovers, ranking in the top-100 in two of their three seasons. One key to beating Omaha is keeping them off the line, where they converted 76.5% of their attempts last season. Defensively, they run primarily a man defense that attempts to harry the opposition into turnovers. They aren’t particularly big & Rostampour is not much of a shot-blocking threat.
    Season Projection: The Mavericks exceeded expectations by finishing 6th in the Summit each of the past two years. To out-do their projected 6th place league finish this year, they need Reed, White, & the other newcomers to quickly step into the large voids left by Karhoff & Simmons. Hansen has adjusted to other big losses before & come back with improved results. Having a preseason all-league pick in Carter will certainly help. The Mavs play a solid non-conference as well, with Nebraska & Kansas State joining Marquette & only two opponents with sub-300 Pomeroy rankings.

    New Jersey Institute of Technology

    The Coach: It took Jim Engles 5 seasons to pull down a winning record at NJIT, but the combination of losing three senior starters & the dissolution of the Great West Conference saw the Highlanders fall to 13-16 last year. He’s a defense-first coach & his teams often live & die by the three.
    Projected Starters: G Ky Howard (Jr), G Damon Lynn (So), G Winfield Willis (Jr), F Tim Coleman (So), C Terrence Smith (Jr)
    Key Returning Players: Damon Lynn (17.2 ppg/2.8 rpg/37.9 3P%) put up Diaper Dandy numbers last year but was forgotten by the likes of Dick Vitale, largely because of the Highlanders’ record. He went for double-digits in all but 4 of NJIT’s contests & scored 20+ in 11 games. He is one of five returning starters & NJIT brings back 9 of their top 10 players in terms of minutes played.
    Key Newcomers: 6’10” redshirt freshman Vlad Shustov is the only new face. He is the only player on the roster taller than 6’8” so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get some time. Like many European big men, the Siberian has a highly-developed outside game.
    On The Court: Last year, the Highlanders simply weren’t very good. Lynn & Smith were the only two players with over 100 Offensive ratings, while starting point guard Ky Howard made Derrick Wilson look like an efficient offensive option. That said, this team returns virtually everyone that played a major role. It’s difficult to think they won’t be better. It took Jim Engles 5 years to finally get a team that played the type of efficient defense he likes. The Highlanders mix up zone & man defense & it’s clear that their youth didn’t grasp it last season.
    Season Projection: The focus for NJIT will be getting back into a conference, with the America East the most likely landing spot. They went 4-3 against the AE last year & play another 7 games against their teams this year. Engles has a very young team that should improve on last season’s results. Despite that, assembling a schedule without a conference has proven difficult. The Highlanders play 9 sub-300 Pomeroy opponents & only 9 of their 25 DI contests are at home. Having anything resembling a decent RPI will be a tough battle for this team.