Luke Fischer ran down the floor, grimacing in pain after just hitting the deck with authority. The Marquette big man, sporting a knee brace, slowly took his time to get set during overtime of the Golden Eagles’ 72-68 loss to the Butler Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon.
Fatigue started to set in for Fischer as he was on his way to accumulating 41 minutes of playing time. He appeared slow boxing out to grab a rebound and was beat off the ball countless times late in the game.
Nobody was going to blame the sophomore transfer for having the wear-and-tear of a grueling game take it’s toll on his body. In his first season in the Big East, Fischer has been slow to adjust to the physicality of the conference.
Fischer’s late lapses in judgment, which resulted in Andrew Chrabascz recording a career-high 30 minutes for Butler, was not the only story-line that involved a Marquette big man.
Steve Taylor Jr. was once again non-existent in a game that the Golden Eagles suffered from a clear height disadvantage.
When talking about Taylor not making his presence felt during games, the discussion usually centers around him not making the most out of the minutes he is given. He gets tossed around in the post and fails to consistently execute the array of post moves in his arsenal.
Taylor has recorded double digits only on four occasions this season; a year in which he was expected to finally get over the metaphorical hump thanks in part because of the changing of the guard at the upper levels of the basketball program.
It was well-publicized how much Taylor and former Marquette head coach Buzz Williams did not get along. To say their relationship was toxic would be an understatement.
Taylor clearly did not like the limited playing time he was given his first two seasons—especially after all the strenuous rehab he has had to endure—and he made his opinion known on countless occasions.
Fast forward to this season and Taylor expressed the confidence he had that head coach Steve Wojciechowski would give him the chance he believed he rightfully deserved. On media day Taylor ran out of adjectives to use to describe the promising relationship he had with his new head coach.
On Saturday, with Fischer obviously hurting and in desperate need of a breath, Taylor played a total of four minutes. Four minutes.
This Marquette team prides itself on being #eightstrong. In games against rugged opponents like Butler, Wojo has to utilize every single scholarship body on his bench. No excuses. Marquette does not stand a chance against Nebraska-Omaha let alone Butler when they have to rely on a six or seven man rotation.
Now there could be a reason for Taylor’s lack of minutes that Wojo is failing to disclose.
Maybe his legs have completely given out on him. Maybe he has not been competing in practice the way in which Wojo wants to see—similar to Jajuan Johnson a couple weeks ago.
Taylor has gone from one of the key fixtures on a Golden Eagle team to a player getting lost in the shuffle. Especially with Henry Ellenson projected to start right away next season, Taylor will see his minutes cut even more next year.
The junior believed he could be the go-to post presence when he came to Milwaukee three years ago. Now, Taylor will probably end his Marquette career next year, the same place he started it, coming off the bench.
Time will tell why the Steve Taylor Jr era never was what many thought it would be. This is not a personal knock on the man. His upbeat personality and candor with the media is a welcome change from what many have to experience in the industry. He has played through devastating injuries that would have sidelined most athletes. If personality and work ethic were the only factors of success than Tim Tebow would be a future Hall of Fame quarterback. As it relates to Taylor, the cards were never stacked in his favor.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Taylor moving forward. Is enough finally enough? Will he seek out a different school for his senior year; maybe one that he will finally receive steady minutes?
Even with impressive games such as the one against Ohio State earlier this year, those performances are few and far between. The overall consensus on Taylor is that he has never been able to thrive in situations he has had no control over. If he cannot receive ample playing time on a height depleted lineup, when will he ever get his chance in Milwaukee?
It is time to realistically think that he might look elsewhere for a chance to showcase his talents. Marquette was just not the right fit from the start.