Cam Marotta Continues Family Tradition

March 17, 2017

By Chris Jenkins

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- After Marquette beat then-No. 1 Villanova on Jan. 24, Cam Marotta composed a tweet to his dad.

"I know my pops is smiling down at this one," he wrote. "Someday I'll tell him all about it!"

Marotta lost his father, Marc Marotta, to a brain aneurysm in April 2015. A respected lawyer and business leader in Milwaukee, Marc Marotta played for Marquette in the 1980s.

"I really like to think that the whole season, he's been watching us," Marotta said. "He's a big Marquette fan. I think he'd be pretty proud of where we're at right now. I bet you he's hoping we make a little run right now."

When Marquette takes on South Carolina in the NCAA tournament late Friday night, there's very little chance that Marotta will see the court. As a walk-on, Marotta has played a total of 18 minutes in eight games; he did hit a 3-pointer against SIU-Edwardsville in December.

The lack of on-court opportunities doesn't detract from his excitement for the tournament.

"It's a great experience," Marotta said. "I'm really loving it. It's very meaningful. I've been around Marquette my whole life. And being able to come and do this, with the NCAA tournament, has been a great experience."

Even if they don't play regularly, Marotta and his fellow Golden Eagles walk-ons played an invaluable role in getting the team ready to play -- something they do every week.

During Marquette practices, Marotta and other walk-ons help run the scout team, which simulates the core offensive and defensive sets that the Golden Eagles' next opponent runs most frequently. That means spending extra time with an assistant coach before practice learning those plays, so they can run them effectively in practice.

"I had to do that last year when I was siting out," said guard Andrew Rowsey, a transfer from UNC-Asheville. "It's tough having to learn a different offense, on top of our offense."



Said head coach Steve Wojciechowski: "When you talk about unsung heroes in a basketball program, two of the people at the top of the list are student managers and walk-ons. And the walk-ons who serve as scout team guys and have to run every other team's offense and know their defense and all those things, that's very hard work. And we rely on those guys to do a great job at their role. And they do."

This week, assistant Stan Johnson worked with the scout team to prepare for Friday night's game against South Carolina. Marotta and his fellow scout team members learned at least 10 core offensive plays that South Carolina runs. And they spent more time than usual on defense, given the Gamecocks' defensive prowess.

"It's mostly defense, actually, this week," Marotta said.

Then they must execute those plays against Marquette's regular players in practice, as they did in an intense closed practice session Thursday morning. Throughout the season, Marotta and fellow walk-on Deon Franklin also pay attention to when they might need to drive the regular players' energy level up in practice.

"Usually, me and Deon look at each other -- `OK, energy's low right now. Let's pick it up a little bit,'" Marotta said.

Rowsey appreciates the effort: "They play a vital role. We wouldn't be here without them, probably. They give us the best look at the team we're playing against that week, and they do an amazing job at it. They play hard against us. They don't take it easy on us."

Wojciechowski says Marotta's family ties to Marquette make his effort even more meaningful.

"Cam's just a great kid," Wojciechowski said. "Any time you're around really good people who work hard for the team, it's going to make the group better. I think even more so with Cam, it's his ties to Marquette, and his history with Marquette, with his mom and dad both being graduates. His dad was a great player at Marquette. He's got more institutional knowledge than any of our other guys. And at times, when you have a background in what this place has been about for so long, things can mean more. And when it means more to you as a player, you're able to transmit that to guys, I think, even at a higher level."

Marotta's family is coming to Greenville for Friday's game. That's important to Marotta, who learned that ties to family and friends are the best way to get through difficult times.

"Obviously, it's very tough, but it's something that can bring you closer to your other family members," Marotta said. "I've gotten closer with my mom -- we were already close before, but I think to go through something like that, so tough, really brought us together. I would say relying on your family members and your close friends and the people who really mean the most to you is something that's important."


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