The 2021-22 college basketball season is just around the corner, so let’s get into the Royal Eagles Marquette basketball team and take a look at what to expect from each player this season. We’ll go through the players one by one: first MU’s freshmen in alphabetical order, then the two transfers from the underclassmen, then the two super-seniors on their extra year of eligibility, and finally the three. returning players, in order of average minutes per game last season, from lowest to highest.
We’re going to organize our thoughts on the coming season as it relates to each player into categories, as we always do:
- Reasonable expectations
- Why you should be excited
- Potential pitfalls
With that settled, it’s time to talk about the transfer from Oklahoma who should probably go straight into the Golden Eagles’ starting XI ……..
Graduate Student – # 35 – Forward – 6’10 “- 215 lbs – Biemnon, South Sudan
If there’s one thing Kur Kuath brings to the locker room, it’s his experience as a veteran. After two years at Salt Lake Community College and three years with the Sooners thanks to a back injury in 2018-19, the 6’10 “tall man comes to Marquette for his 6th season of college basketball.
With 63 Division 1 basketball games under his belt, Kuath is looking to make one final round and make a significant impact under Shaka Smart. It’s a pretty smart move on Kuath’s part, given his new head coach’s well-established reputation for bringing in great men.
Last season at OU, Kuath started 15 of 27 games and saw an average of 17.1 minutes per night. He averaged 5.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. With Lon Kruger now retired and Marquette’s coach candidate Porter Moser taking charge of this program, Kuath decided his best option was to move on with his Oklahoma degree in hand. He will likely find starting minutes and an increased role in both the overall vision and the attacking game plan.
For a Shaka Smart coach who likes to prioritize defense and especially man-to-man defensive responsibilities, Kuath is perfectly suited as a big man to plug in and play in this kind of system. He’s sporty, mobile, energetic and most importantly, he’s 6’10 “. He can be that anchor rim protector that a defensive center needs to be.
Coming out of college, the South Sudanese forward was once considered one of the best JUCO products in that year’s class, but never quite reached the heights you’d expect from a player. of its potential. While he proved to be a legitimate defensive force and a significant help for Oklahoma to reach the second round of last year’s NCAA tournament, he also stood out defensively in the loss. otherwise brutal against Gonzaga. While the Sooners lost the game by 16, Kuath recorded five blocks in that game and distributed four assists on the other end.
Kuath initially indicated in February 2021 that he would be leaving OU at the end of the season to pursue a career as a professional basketball player. He said leaving Oklahoma was best for him and his family. He even declared himself for the NBA draft. But somewhere along the line that changed, and in April he signed up with Marquette, less than a month after Shaka Smart was hired.
Shaka Smart has shown a real talent to prepare NBA great men. In Texas, he had seven NBA draft picks, all forwards or crosses. At VCU he had two more. He had nine draft picks in his eleven seasons as the NCAA Division 1 head coach, eight of which have a relatively similar physical profile to Kuath’s. Does this mean that Kuath is the next pick produced by Shaka Smart? No, probably not. But it does indicate an ability to accelerate a great man’s overall career, and if Kuath was serious about doing what was best for a professional career… then this decision makes a lot of sense.
At the bare minimum, Kur Kuath will be the defensive anchor for the Golden Eagles. The man can completely block the basketball and is one of the elite rim protectors in the country. His 1.5 blocks per game was the third best in the Big 12, and his block rate led the conference and was among the top 30 in the country.
Defensively you can do a lot of exciting things with Kuath, he’s athletic and long enough to shift onto more nimble wings, and you don’t have to feel terrified if he ends up keeping the perimeter. It’s clearly best suited when acting as a deterrent on the rim, but it has enough flexibility to perform more creative spins and looks.
In attack, his game is more limited. Thanks to a slimmer frame, he struggles to create his own shot and he doesn’t have much of the traditional post-game return to the basket. But it’s a great weapon to have when paired with a guard who can find it. He handles the rim well, is a prime target for lobs, and when allowed to go straight to the rim he has the reach, leap and strength to attack the rim with power.
All in all, if all you ask of Kuath is to be a defensive presence, a window cleaner and the occasional opportunistic point shooter, he’s going to do just that and has done it very well historically. . His limitations only become a problem if the rest of the training does not complement him. It can be frustrating, but as a forward / center of rotation, who probably won’t lead the team in a matter of minutes in a game this season… it’s hardly overwhelming.
Kuath is a great gaming freak. His highlight tapes show a player doing things at high energy, and his stats indicate that he is a player who is good at things that turn the crowd on. Dunks, blocks, offensive pushbacks, especially the dunk genre, and things of that nature. He showed a touch of shooting but didn’t do enough to prove that it’s an integral part of his game, so you hope he shows it more. But at this point, you can reasonably expect a player that is very punchy on defense and moderately punchy on offense in the right situations.
Another tool in his utility belt is that he is an above average offensive rebounder. He has a knack for finding the ball off the rim and putting it back in style. His 9.8% offensive rebound rate last season was good for the 208th in the nation last year, and he’s only gotten better over the year, improving that rate to 11% in conference. , 10th best in the Big 12. While we’re going to find out that his offensive play is limited, his ability to extend play and create a second chance is a mitigating skill set.
There are also a lot of little things that make him a big one that you feel comfortable having on the ground, even with a small ball or more guard / wing oriented lineups. It’s mobile, versatile, and better when given the opportunity to use its agility rather than when planted in place. More than anything, its rim protection ability makes you feel less worried about small queues being exposed on the rim discs, it will force teams to think twice before getting inside. .
He also has an idea of the ability to be a marksman. While he only went 2 for 7 last season in depth, he steadily took some elbow jumpers and hit an encouraging clip. At OU, it wasn’t really his job to be that kind of player, but it’s interesting that there can be that skill set waiting in his back pocket if he’s called in just in case. .
Kuath is a veteran player with a ton of experience and playing minutes to draw on. The only problem is, in all of that playing time and experience, he hasn’t exactly become a player that you really feel confident in being your ‘guy’. At the JUCO level, he was that guy, but he just never broke through in his three years as a Sooner.
Now, that takes a lot of a guy, and honestly, that’s just a reason to be concerned if you exceed your expectations. It will mainly be a question of managing expectations with this player. He’s really good at what he does, but what Kuath does is somewhat limited, and now in his sixth season of college basketball, it’s not productive to imagine he’s growing so significantly. changes in no time.
He’s not a good rebounder for a big player, especially on the defensive side who, unfortunately, due to volume outweighs his talent for grabbing the offensive boards. He needs the help of other playmakers to create attacking opportunities for him, and there’s a chance he’ll be intimidated by bigger, more physical ones.
It stands to reason that he could be up to the task if he had the time and an expanded role, which he is likely to achieve at Marquette. Considering how young this team is, you might need him to stay competitive for long stretches if the young players aren’t as consistent. It might not be expected or expected, but pleasantly surprisingly, this is great middle ground here.
There are plenty of little whispers of things that could increase his game tenfold. If he clears the defensive glass more consistently, it takes a lot of pressure off. If he reintroduces a mid-distance or away jump shot as even a moderate threat, it takes a ton of pressure off his offensive play.
Kuath will only be in Milwaukee for one season, but it could be exciting depending on his style of play and the role he is placed in. It will be easy to encourage, that’s for sure.