The 2021-22 college basketball season is just around the corner, so let’s get into that Marquette Golden Eagles Basketball roster and take a look at what to expect from each player this season. We’ll go through the players one by one: first the newcomers to MU in alphabetical order, then the two subclass transfers, then the two super seniors in their additional year of eligibility, and finally the three returning players in order of average minutes per game from last season’s lowest to highest.
We’re going to categorize our thoughts about the coming season in relation to each player, as we always do:
- Reasonable expectations
- Why you should be upset
- Possible dangers
So it is time to talk about the transfer from Oklahoma, which should probably go straight to the starting XI of the Golden Eagles ……..
Graduate Student – # 35 – Striker – 6’10 “- 215 pounds – Biemnon, South Sudan
If there is anything Oklahoma Transfer Kur Kuath brings in the locker room, it’s veteran experience. 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 is coming to Marquette for his 6th college basketball season.
With 63 Division 1 basketball games under his belt, Kuath wants to take off one last time and have a significant impact under Shaka Smart. This is a pretty smart move by Kuath, given his new head coach’s respected reputation for bringing great men along.
Last season at OU, Kuath started 15 of 27 games and watched an average of 17.1 minutes a night. He averaged 5.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. With Lon Kruger now retired and Marquette coaching candidate Porter Moser taking on this program, Kuath decided that his best option was to graduate from Oklahoma in hand. He will likely find start minutes and a bigger role in both the overall vision and the offensive game plan.
For a trainer in Shaka Smart who loves to prioritize man-to-man defense and especially defensive duties, Kuath fits perfectly as a tall man to fit into this type of system. He’s athletic, mobile, full of energy and above all he’s 6’10 “. He can be the anchoring rim protection that has to be a center of defense.
After graduating from junior college, the South Sudanese striker was once considered one of the best JUCO products in its class, but never reached the heights one hopes for in a player of his potential. Although he proved to be a legitimate defensive force and significant aid to Oklahoma in reaching the second round of the NCAA tournament last year, he was also an outstanding man on the defensive in the otherwise brutal defeat to Gonzaga. While the Sooners lost the game at 16, Kuath recorded five blocks in that game and gave four assists on the other end.
Kuath initially announced in February 2021 that he would be leaving OU at the end of the season in order to pursue a professional basketball career. He said it was best for him and his family to leave Oklahoma. He even declared for that NBA draft. But at some point that changed, and he signed up to Marquette in April, less than a month after Shaka Smart was hired.
Shaka Smart has shown a real talent for preparing great men for the NBA. During his time in Texas, he had seven NBA draft picks, all forward or center. At VCU he still had two. In his eleven seasons as head coach of NCAA Division One, he has had nine draft picks, eight of which have a physical profile relatively similar to Kuath. Does that mean Kuath is the next choice Shaka Smart produces? No, probably not. But it suggests the ability to accelerate a great man’s overall career, and if Kuath was serious about doing the best for a professional career … then this step makes a lot of sense.
As a bare minimum, Kur Kuath will be the Golden Eagles’ defensive anchor. The man can block basketball at full throttle and is one of the nation’s elite rim protectors. His 1.5 blocks per game was the third best in the Big 12, and his block rate led the conference and was the top 30 in the country.
You can do a lot of exciting things defensively with Kuath, he’s athletic and long enough to switch to more agile wings, and you don’t have to be afraid if he’s guarding the edge. It’s clearly best suited to act as an edge deterrent, but it has enough flexibility to do more creative rotations and looks.
His game is more limited on the offensive. A slimmer frame makes it hard for him to create his own shot, and it doesn’t look like much of a traditional back-to-the-basket aftermath. But it’s an excellent weapon when paired with a guard that can find it. He runs the edge well, is a prime target for lobs, and if allowed to walk right on the edge he has the reach, the jump, and the strength to forcefully attack the edge.
All in all, if all you ask Kuath to be a defensive presence and a glass cleaner and an occasional and opportunistic point getter, he’ll do just that and has done it really well historically. Its limitations only become a problem when the rest of the line-up doesn’t complement it. This can be frustrating, but as a rotating striker / center who is unlikely to lead the team in minutes this season, it’s hardly insurmountable.
Kuath is a big game monster. His highlight tapes show a player doing energetic things, and his stats show that he is a player who excels at doing things that excite the audience. Dunks, blocks, offensive putbacks, especially the dunking type, and things like that. He’s shown a shooting touch but hasn’t done enough to prove it’s a regular part of his game so hope he shows it more. But at this point, in the right situations, you can reasonably expect a very effective player on defense and a moderately strong player on offense.
Another tool in his utility belt is that he’s 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 208th place in the country last year, and he only improved over the year, improving that rate to 11% in conference play, 10th best in the Big 12 discover that his offensive play is limited, his ability to extend games and create second chances is a mitigating ability.
There are also lots of little things that make it a big one that will make you feel comfortable on the floor, even with small balls or more guard / wing oriented setups. He is mobile, versatile and better when he can use his agility than when he is in place. Most importantly, its rim protection ability makes you less worried about smaller lineups being exposed to rim rides.
He also has a clue of the ability to be a Sagittarius. While only going 2 to 7 out of depth last season, he regularly took jumpers off his elbow and hit with an encouraging clip. At OU, being such a player wasn’t really his job, but it’s interesting to know that those skills may be waiting in his back pocket if just needed just in case.
Kuath is a seasoned player with a lot of experience and game minutes to rely on. The only problem is, in all that playtime and experience, he hasn’t exactly risen to become a player that you are really sure is your “type”. He was that guy at the JUCO level, but he never caught on in his three years as a Sooner.
Well, that’s a lot from a guy, and honestly, that’s only one reason to worry if you get your expectations off the rails. A lot will be about meeting the expectations of this player. He’s really good at what he does, but what Kuath does is somewhat limited, and now, in his sixth college basketball season, it’s not productive to imagine him growing so much that this will turn into changes in a short time.
He’s not a great rebounder for a tall man, especially on the defensive, which unfortunately outweighs his talent for gripping offensive boards due to the volume. He needs the help of other playmakers to create offensive opportunities for him and there is a possibility that he will be bullied by more physical sizes.
It goes without saying that if he had the time and an expanded role that he is likely to get at Marquette, he would be up to the situation. Given how young this team is, you might need him to stay competitive for a long time when the younger players aren’t as consistent. Perhaps it shouldn’t be expected or expected, but pleasantly surprising is an excellent middle ground here.
There are lots of little whispers of things that could improve his game ten times. If he tidies up the defense jar more consistently, it takes a lot of pressure off. If he reintroduces a medium or outside jump as a still medium threat, it takes a lot of pressure off his offensive play.
Kuath will only be at Milwaukee for one season, but it could be an exciting one given his style of play and the role he’s placed in. He will be easy to cheer for, that much is certain.