MILWAUKEE (AP) Rebuilding Marquette is getting a big lift from its new, 6-foot-11 center.
Sophomore Luke Fischer has actually been at Marquette since December 2013, though NCAA rules required him to sit out a year after transferring from Indiana. Now the Milwaukee-area native is back home as a large and important piece for the new-look program under first-year coach Steve Wojciechowski.
Fischer is averaging 11.2 points and five rebounds over nine games heading into Wednesday's contest at St. John's. He is shooting an astonishing 76 percent from the field.
''I think he'll continue to get better. You have to remember he went through a whole year when he didn't play in any game competition,'' Wojciechowski said. ''And so he's really a freshman ... for him to do what he's done, I commend him.''
Fischer knew he would be a little rusty at first. But he is a needed presence in the low post for what had been a perimeter-oriented team. Marquette had no player taller than 6-foot-7 forward Steve Taylor, Jr. before Fischer became eligible on Dec. 16 against Arizona State.
He went 9 of 11 for 19 points while also grabbing nine rebounds.
Not a bad debut at all.
But Fischer wasn't worried about keeping up with his teammates. With the roster in flux at Marquette all season because of transfers, Fischer said he was ''getting as many reps as anyone else.
''With all the work I was putting in outside practice because I couldn't play, I felt very comfortable with my stamina,'' Fischer said.
Marquette, like Fischer, is a work in progress. The Golden Eagles are 10-7, including four losses away from home. It is the first experience in the rough-and-tumble Big East for both Fischer and Wojciechowski, the former lead assistant at Duke.
''It's a great league and it's a very physical league. The importance of every possession - those are the two things I would say that we have to handle better,'' Wojciechowski said. ''There's not a possession that's not important, and you have to play and fight through the physical nature of the game.''
While the rest of this season might be challenging for Marquette, there are glimmers of hope.
Marquette has received a verbal commitment from elite in-state prospect Henry Ellenson, a 6-foot-10 high school senior. Ellenson's older brother, Wally, a 6-foot-6 forward who transferred from Minnesota, is sitting out this basketball season as a redshirt but setting records on the Marquette track and field team.
Wally Ellenson set a school record with a high jump of 7 feet, 5 3/4 inches last week at meet last week, which is also third-best mark in the world this year.