MILWAUKEE — As Marquette struggled to one of the worst seasons in program history a year ago, a nationally ranked incoming recruiting class represented hope for the future.
Coach Steve Wojciechowski has much more talent to work with in his second season at Marquette, but the Golden Eagles enter 2015-16 as one of the most inexperienced teams in the nation.
Marquette enters Friday's season opener against Belmont with no scholarship seniors and five freshmen, including one touted newcomer likely to start in his college debut — forward Henry Ellenson.
"We don't have experience dust we can rub over our heads between now and Friday to know what is like to be a junior player," Wojciechowski said Wednesday. "We're going to have to figure out ways to win."
All five freshmen are expected to play significant roles a year after the 13-19 season. The 6-foot-11 Ellenson is the most important addition with the capability to play on the perimeter and with his back to the basket.
Ellenson finished with 16 points, 17 rebounds and five assists in Marquette's 98-57 victory over Valley City State in an exhibition game on Monday. Wojciechowski started Ellenson along with sophomore Duane Wilson, junior Jajuan Johnson, sophomore Sandy Cohen III and junior Luke Fischer against Valley City State.
"His focus is completely on just getting better and putting our team in the best position possible to win," Wojciechowski said of Ellenson. "He can put the blinders on and focus on the task at hand.
"You let everybody else talk about what you are doing, what you are not doing, where you are going, when you are going."
A fear for Wojciechowski in facing a more experienced team, such as Belmont, comes on the defensive end. Communication will be paramount.
"I think any of the really good defenses throughout college basketball most of the time are the best talking teams too. A lot of times to younger guys that doesn't come as natural," he said.