Milwaukee, WI – If it’s possible for a 6-8 big to get overlooked occasionally, it happens to Marquette’s Sam Hauser, a sophomore with a sweet shooting stroke who at times takes a backseat role to teammates Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey, the top two scorers in the Big East Conference and the second highest scoring duo on any one team in the country.
But in Marquette’s 92-51 victory over American on Tuesday night in the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Hauser played the headlining role. Needing only a remarkable ten shots to score 29 points, Hauser was the epitome of efficiency in leading the Golden Eagles to a lopsided win in their final tune-up before the start of Big East play next week.
“I thought his (Hauser’s) teammates did a terrific job of finding him when he was open, and Sam did a great job finding openings in their defense,” said Marquette Coach Steve Wojciechowski. “Sam had a terrific game.” Entering the game shooting a team-best 46 percent from behind the arc, Hauser connected on seven of nine three-point shots. He heated up in a hurry in a two-minute stretch late in the first half to connect on three straight triples to extend the Marquette lead to a commanding 38-23.
Hauser shoots mostly from distance off the catch. He separates quickly from perimeter screens and he’s quick to square his feet to the basket in his pre-shot preparation. There’s little wasted movement taking the ball from the catch to his release point and by incorporating a high release point in his shot, Hauser beats most closeouts and would-be shot blockers.
Hauser’s 29 points were one short of his career high that he established earlier this season against Eastern Illinois. Whereas Hauser played 40 minutes in Marquette’s overtime victory over Eastern Illinois, he logged only 29 minutes against American. Hauser lacks the elite athleticism of a true stat-stuffing player, but his skill set expands beyond just shooting. On Thursday night, he touched a number of different areas of the game tying Howard for team honors with five assists and leading Marquette with three steals. His 5.5 per game rebounding average entering the game was tops on the team.
Marquette fans breathed a collective sigh of relief when Rowsey was introduced in his normal spot in the starting line-up. The fifth-year senior took a hard fall in Marquette’s last game against Northern Illinois on December 18 and had to be helped off the court with what looked to be a left knee injury. “Andrew practiced yesterday (Wednesday) and we obviously got the tests done,” said Wojciechowski. “A lot of it was how he felt. The kid’s a competitor. He saw his teammates practicing and he wanted to get out there with them.”
With both Rowsey and Howard both standing short of six feet and both fitting the physical blueprint of a point guard, it’s usually Rowsey who takes on the majority of the playmaking responsibilities for the Golden Eagles. His 51 assists entering the game were nearly twice the amount of any teammate. Rowsey, who started his career at North Carolina-Asheville, plays with a chip on his shoulder and a flair to his game. He elicited “ahs” from many fans in the announced crowd of over 12,000 when he whipped a well-placed, behind-the-back pass to the shooting pocket of Howard standing open behind the three-point line.
But Rowsey is a scorer at heart. Scoring the basketball is what he did in two years at NC-Asheville (19-plus ppg) and what he really wants to do with the ball in his hands. His range extends beyond the NBA arc. He shoots from distance off the dribble and pass and his jump shot has high arch and textbook rotation. While his decision making comes into question at times and his assist-to-turnover ratio sits outside the league’s top ten, Rowsey is a crafty player who understands angles and knows how to use shot fakes to draw contact and get to the free throw line. He knocked down all five of his free throw attempts against American and finished the game shooting 87 percent for the season from the free throw stripe. Like Hauser, Rowsey scored in a highly efficient way against American needing only six shots to score 19 points. He connected on four of five triples with his only misfire from distance coming on a shot that rimmed out as the first half buzzer sounded. “For him (Rowsey) to have 19 points on six shots and play a really good floor game is pretty positive,” said Wojciechowski.
The game served as a coming out party of sorts for Harry Froling, a 6-11 sophomore who transferred to Marquette from SMU and who gained eligibility in Marquette’s previous game against Northern Illinois. He played just three minutes in that game in two different shifts. But against American, Wojciechowski ran Froling out there for 21 minutes and the native of Australia responded with nine points, four assists and a team-high seven rebounds. Coming to Marquette with a reputation as a stretch big, Froling knocked down his first shot from behind the arc, but misfired on his next four attempts. One of his four assists came on a well-placed, big-to-big pass that 6-9 teammate Theo John finished with a two-handed dunk.
Wojciechowski said he was pleased with the focus his players played with in their last game before breaking for Christmas. “I thought we showed a great deal of competitive maturity tonight,” he said. “It would have been easy for them (players) to start thinking about candy canes and Christmas trees when they should be thinking about defense and sharing the ball.”
American was led by wing Larry Motuzis and point Sa’eed Nelson. Motuzis scored nine of his 12 points in the first half scoring mostly at the rim in the American set offense and in transition. Nelson, who finished with 11 points, eight below his average, also did most of his scoring at the rim. A strong, 6-1 sophomore named on all the preseason publications’ first All-Patriot League teams, Nelson led American with four assists, but he struggled to protect the ball at times and his five turnovers were a team high. American’s most famous basketball-playing alum is Kermit Washington, who played ten years in the NBA and made one all-star team. Three times in his career Washington posted double-digit rebounding averages and finished his career averaging over eight rebounds per game. As a team, American could only pull down 20 rebounds for the game, 16 fewer than the 36 collected by Marquette.
Marquette begins its trek through the Big East schedule with a December 27th home game against Xavier, a team currently ranked in the top ten in the country in both major polls. “Xavier returns everyone from an Elite Eight team from last year,” said Wojciechowski. “(Trevon) Bluiett is a national player of the year candidate. They rebound, play defense and they’re an elite shooting team. Other than that, probably not very good. Our league is old, talented and extremely well-coached. It’s a man’s league and it’s heavyweight fights from here on out.”
American returns to action on December 29 when it travels to Bucknell to start Patriot League play.
We are looking for those interested in our basketball scout certification program. For information contact us and forward your resume.