"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A new recruit and a valiant effort on Marquette Day

Within the span of a week Marquette has lost a recruit and gained a recruit. Welcome to Sacar Amin, the newest Warrior in the fold! With Sacar's announcement, we do a quick, uneducated evaluation of his talent based on media reports, short youtube clips and rampant speculation. We also discuss the impact of this announcement on the direction Wojo takes the last 3 scholarships. We then turn to National Marquette Day and the results against Villanova. The game, while a losing effort, was a lot better than we expected and we saw some positive take-ways. We talk about JjJ's transformation from scrapper to legitimate scorer as well as a bold prediction about Duane Wilson at Marquette. We also talk injuries and whether we expect Matt Carlino back at all this season. It's a relatively short pod but we've got a lot packed in there. Enjoy Download this episode (right click and save)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The podcast suffered a concussion and had to sit out, but we're back now

We haven't podded in a couple of weeks, but we're back to raise your spirits. The team has struggled the last couple of weeks, especially with Matt Carlino out with a concussion, but we have to talk through it. We talk about what's been going wrong and what, if anything, has been going right. We also have a difference of opinion as to what the team should do for the last 5 games of the regular season. As we talk about the rest of the season, we transition to recruiting news. We briefly tap dance around the Nick Noskowiak news before moving on what needs to be done with the 4 scholarships now available to Wojo. Last we talk about National Marquette day and why it's actually a cool day. Enjoy the podcast, hopefully its a positive moment from the season. *Note, we know one of the mikes has echo, its an environmental issue we'll try to fix. Download this episode (right click and save)

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

James was greatest freshman since Wade; but Wilson and Cohen very good

While Dr. Blackheart has incredible insights, I would have to differ with his MU Scoop entry asking if Sandy Cohen is the best freshman Marquette has had since Steve Novak. Dr. Blackheart legitimately notes that Cohen's efficiency at www.kenpom.com is exceptional and along with Davante Gardner puts him in the discussion.

The problem I would have is that the more players have to play and possess the ball the more their actual per possession efficiency drops (more tired, more defensive attention etc.). That was really the entire basis of the Value Add database which measures the overall impact of a player per game.

Very few freshman accelerate because even the good ones make so many mistakes (turnovers, bad shots etc) until they get a year under their belt. However, 15 Marquette freshman have made the top quarter of all players (top 1000) and here is where they ranked nationally their freshman year through my update on Value Add I will post tonight.

National Rank of MU Freshmen

76, Dominic James, 5.69, 2006

299, David Cubillan, 3.44, 2007

306, Steve Novak, 2.85, 2003

528, Jerel McNeal, 2.47, 2006

555, Duane Wilson, 2.93, 2015

687, Deonte Burton, 1.66, 2014

775, Wesley Matthews, 1.67, 2006

858, Steve Taylor, 1.47, 2013

868, Ryan Amoroso, 1.43, 2005

888, Lazar Hayward, 1.39, 2007

897, Todd Mayo, 1.44, 2012

926, Sandy Cohen, 1.94, 2015

981, Davante Gardner, 1.3, 2011
Duane Wilson is actually the 5th most valuable freshman Marquette has had since Wade because he has to do it with a lot more defensive attention and when tired - but Cohen has had a very valuable campaign. The biggest surprise to most will be David Cubillan, but many forget he had to step in and be the three-point shooter after Novak had left and while clearly no Novak - he hit 43% of his threes that first year while playing over half the minutes and having a very high kenpom rating of 119.

It is sad that James, Cubillan and this year Burton just didn't progress like most freshman do - since a freshman that starts that high often becomes a true superstar. While James was GREAT, he really did look like he would develop into an NBA player to many that freshman year and almost left for the draft.

So while Sandy and Davante's actual per possession numbers are fantastic, they were doing it without having to draw a lot of attention or pay tired to really impact a game. While Steve Novak was incredible with the ball, he had it easier because the defense was obviously focused on Wade to free him up - so he did not need to force offense and could wait for open shots etc.

Novak's overall offensive rating of 141.6 was probably the best in the country, so when he had the ball and had to do something he was the best. But of course he only played 38.5% of the minutes, and even when on the court only had 14.5% of the possessions, so obviously his www.kenpom.com rating dropped a good bit the next three years when he was a go-to guy - but his Value Add ranking improved from 306th that freshman year, to 286th, 153rd and finally 17th in his senior season with the Three Amigos in the Big East.

To answer Dr. Blackheart's question, Dominic James was by far the best freshman at Marquette since Wade. As the 76th best player in the country, he was the 7th best freshman that season:

Top freshman in 2006

1. Williams, Shelden Duke

2. Brewer, Ronnie Arkansas

3. Hansbrough, Tyler North Carolina

4. Johnson, Carldell UAB

5. Mbah a Moute, Luc Richard UCLA

6. Stuckey, Rodney Eastern Washington

7. James, Dominic Marquette

Monday, January 26, 2015

Carlino Top 100; Derrick vs. Paige/Harrison/Staten

In a piece on Coach K on Breitbart this morning, I noted that Duke players had dominated the Value Add rankings (see 2003-2015 players here) with 35 top 100 players and eight top 10 players - but the table also noted that Marquette had the 10th most top 100 players (18) and the third most top 10 players (Butler, Crowder, Diener, Wade).

The weekly run of the www.valueaddbasketball.com numbers tonight (database not updated yet) showed Marquette now has their 19th top 100 player in Matt Carlino, and Derrick Wilson is one of the most improved players in jumping from a 0,00 Value Add last season to 3.42 - the 27th best total in the tough Big East.

Carlino's recent impersonation of Steve Novak (19 of 33 treys for 58% and 18-19 free throws for 95% in last four games) has shot him all the way to 94th. I know "top 100" does not sound great - but it is phenomenal when you consider the 4000+ players in the country. In fact, I get lots of complaints from around the country in disbelief that a local star is not in the top 100.

The fact that Carlino did this against defenses that were were very good: one average (Creighton100.6 points per 100 trips just better than average), one good (Xavier 98.3) and two excellent (St. John's 92.9 and Georgetown 94.3) shoots him way up the list. Carlino is worth 6.30 extra points a game to MU according to Value Add - the 8th best total in the Big East.

But Derrick's surge is the more surprising and really makes the case for a potential quiet most improved player of the year. Wilson never hit even 1.00 in his first three seasons, and last year collapsed to a 0.00 only because we do not give negative numbers.

The thing that Value Add measures that most do not see are players who do not make mistakes - and Derrick has turned into one of the best at not COSTING MU points:

The thing that makes Derrick so much more valuable this year is not that he suddenly doesn't mind going to the hoop to slam twice in a short span (once while being mauled), or that his three-pointer has become just enough of a threat that you cannot leave him alone.

Ken Pomeroy measures Derrick as one of the best at avoiding fouls. He takes so few bad shots, that Derrick IS AN ABOVE AVERAGE SHOOTER THIS SEASON (jumped from 40.9 eFG% last year to 49.0% this season). Yes, the free throw percentage overall is dreadful, but his 58% since Thanksgiving is not that bad - so all the offseason shooting has paid off.

The fun starts when you compare Derrick to three point guards that some considered the best three in the country coming into this year; UNC's Marcus Paige, Kentucky's Andrew Harrison and West Virginia's Juwan Staten.

Obviously those three are light years ahead of Derrick on offense, and may make take over games on the way to title runs. But ignore the differences in shooting for a minute. Derrick's on-ball defense is excellent, so lets go through the other numbers:

Derrick has come up with 23 steals, the exact average of Paige/Harrison/Staten

Derrick has done this while committing only 31 fouls - an incredible ratio and just one more foul than the average of the Big Three - and with Derrick having to commit a few late fouls to stop the clock really no difference there.

Here is where it gets fun - Derrick has come up with those steals on one end of the court while only turning the ball over 25 times at the other end -meaning he has turned the ball over A DOZEN TIMES FEWER than the average of the Big 3 (37 turnovers). Remember, there are over twice as many turnovers as steals due to balls thrown out of bounds, travels, etc.

The big three have only a slight edge over Derrick in assists - 78 to 70 - despite MU playing at a slow tempo. But that is more than made up for by Derrick ripping down 15 more rebounds that the average of the other three (62 to 47 edge).

Of course once you add in the offensive explosiveness of those three they are all still in the top 5% of all players and average a 5.71 Value Add, while Derrick comes in at 437th with a 3.42 Value Add, but he has worked very hard to do the things he can do very well and be a strong contributor.

With advanced apologies to MUScoop readers who of course can never read the Top 100 when the code is jumped when these Cracked Sidewalks posts are pulled over to the scoop - here are the top 100 players in the Big East.

PlayerNatlBETeamValue add
15 Sir'Dominic Pointer141St. John's8.42
4 D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera172Georgetown8.31
23 LaDontae Henton483Providence7.19
40 Matt Stainbrook624Xavier6.89
3 Kris Dunn665Providence6.82
4 Sterling Gibbs806Seton Hall6.50
11 D'Angelo Harrison837St. John's6.43
13 Matt Carlino948Marquette6.30
4 Darrun Hilliard999Villanova6.21
23 Daniel Ochefu13610Villanova5.70
31 Kameron Woods14511Butler5.58
3 Josh Hart15512Villanova5.44
24 Joshua Smith16813Georgetown5.31
3 Alex Barlow17614Butler5.24
2 Brandon Mobley18715Seton Hall5.05
31 Angel Delgado19416Seton Hall4.94
15 Ryan Arcidiacono20817Villanova4.80
24 Kellen Dunham21818Butler4.74
12 Chris Obekpa25619St. John's4.45
5 Trevon Bluiett26920Xavier4.37
31 Dylan Ennis28921Villanova4.20
21 Roosevelt Jones33222Butler3.97
55 Jabril Trawick35523Georgetown3.84
1 Jalen Reynolds37824Xavier3.71
11 Dee Davis38125Xavier3.68
5 Billy Garrett38826DePaul3.66
12 Derrick Wilson43727Marquette3.42
15 Myles Davis44528Xavier3.38
22 JayVaughn Pinkston45929Villanova3.31
1 Duane Wilson46730Marquette3.28
0 Khadeen Carrington46931Seton Hall3.27
4 Myke Henry47632DePaul3.24
33 Carson Desrosiers47933Providence3.24
25 Durrell McDonald48534DePaul3.23
2 Kris Jenkins48735Villanova3.21
21 Isaiah Zierden50036Creighton3.16
23 Rysheed Jordan50737St. John's3.14
20 Desi Rodriguez55238Seton Hall3.00
25 Tyler Harris56339Providence2.98
10 Remy Abell59040Xavier2.87
10 Juan Anderson59341Marquette2.86
21 Jamee Crockett65742DePaul2.67
15 Isaiah Whitehead68543Seton Hall2.57
1 Austin Chatman68944Creighton2.56
45 Andrew Chrabascz70245Butler2.53
13 Paul White76946Georgetown2.37
23 Aaron Bowen83447Georgetown2.22
3 Mikael Hopkins84648Georgetown2.18
0 Jamal Branch86149St. John's2.16
40 Luke Fischer88350Marquette2.11
5 Sandy Cohen88851Marquette2.10
23 JaJuan Johnson89252Marquette2.09
11 Forrest Robinson97253DePaul1.96
55 J.P. Macura99854Xavier1.92
32 Toby Hegner101355Creighton1.89
11 Isaac Copeland103556Georgetown1.86
5 Phil Booth109557Villanova1.75
1 Phil Greene110058St. John's1.74
2 Tommy Hamilton111159DePaul1.72
31 Will Artino119760Creighton1.60
23 James Milliken127661Creighton1.51
3 Brandon Randolph129262Xavier1.50
1 Tre Campbell130963Georgetown1.48
25 Steve Taylor131264Marquette1.47
24 Kyron Cartwright133065Providence1.46
0 L.J. Peak133766Georgetown1.45
5 Devin Brooks139167Creighton1.39
2 James Farr148368Xavier1.28
0 Austin Etherington157769Butler1.17
15 Ricky Kreklow163170Creighton1.12
30 Jaren Sina178271Seton Hall1.00
4 Tyler Wideman179372Butler0.99
15 Aaron Simpson179973DePaul0.98
13 Paschal Chukwu180674Providence0.97
21 Jalen Lindsey192675Providence0.83
30 Deonte Burton213876Marquette0.64
30 Kelan Martin220477Butler0.58
22 Ted Bancroft226178Providence0.53
45 Stephane Manga232079Seton Hall0.49
41 Geoffrey Groselle235080Creighton0.47
33 Joe Hanel245181DePaul0.39
24 Felix Balamou248482St. John's0.38
13 Jackson Davis252183Butler0.36
14 Amar Alibegovic252584St. John's0.36
32 Junior Lomomba257885Providence0.33
11 Jackson Aldridge260686Butler0.32
4 Edmond Sumner263687Xavier0.30
0 Larry Austin263788Xavier0.30
1 Darrick Wood263889DePaul0.30
22 Avery Dingman272690Creighton0.24
0 R.J. Curington273891DePaul0.23
13 Haralds Karlis273992Seton Hall0.23
25 Rashed Anthony274493Seton Hall0.23
42 Chier Ajou275694Seton Hall0.23
14 Darryl Reynolds280295Villanova0.20
0 Leon Gilmore285896Creighton0.16
20 Patrick Farrell287597Villanova0.15
2 Myles Stewart288498St. John's0.15
4 Christian Jones289999St. John's0.13
14 Ismael Sanogo2900100Seton Hall0.13

Coach 1000K Rules Analytics Era, but MU One of the Top Producers

Well finally getting up for my second game of the year put me in the basketball writing spirit despite the heartbreak.

I have two pieces running at www.breitbart.com tomorrow – one on how high www.valueaddbasketball.com had Hassan Whiteside rated (9th best freshman in 2010) five years before his 12 blocked shot for you analytics critics. Second and more relevant is the breakdown of which schools produce the most talent from the 13-year of Value Add rankings. While Coach K’s Duke teams have dominated, Wisconsin and Marquette are the only other two schools in the country with even four top 10 players (Wade, Diener, Butler and Crowder) and our 18 top 100 players puts us in the top 20.

Here is the breakdown of the only 20 schools with at least 10 top 100 players and more than one top 10 player, when you go to the full 13-year database at http://valueaddbasketball.com/ballall.html

1, Duke, Eight top 10: Plumlee, Redick (2), Scheyer, Singler, Smith, Williams (2), Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 35

2, Wisconsin, Five top 10: Harris, Kaminsky, Taylor (2), Wilkinson, Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 19

3, Marquette, Four top 10: Butler, Crowder, Diener, Wade, Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 18

4, Kentucky, Three top 10: Davis, Cauley-Stein, Towns, Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 33

5, Kansas, Three top 10: Aldrich, Chalmers, Robinson, Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 30

6, Georgetown, Three top 10: Hibbert, Porter, Sweetney, Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 21

7, Ohio St., Three top 10: Conley, Sullinger (2), Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 21

8, Connecticut, Three top 10: Napier (2), Walker, Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 17

9, West Virginia, Three top 10: Butler, Gansey, Jones, Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 15

10, Boston College, Three top 10: Bell, Dudley (2), Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 13

11, Indiana, Three top 10: Oladipo, Zeller (2), Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 12

12, UCLA, Three top 10: Adams, Collison, Love, Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 12

13, North Carolina, Two top 10: Hansbrough, Lawson, Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 26

14, Syracuse, Two top 10: Anthony, Johnson, Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 26

15, Oklahoma St., Two top 10: Anderson, Smart, Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 20

16, Texas, Two top 10: Durant, James, Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 18

17, Michigan St., Two top 10: Green, Neitzel, Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 16

18, Oregon, Two top 10: Jackson, Leunen, Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 12

19, Purdue, Two top 10: Johnson, Laundry, Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 12

20, North Carolina St., Two top 10: Hodge, Warren, Total top 100 players 2003-15 = 10

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and global thermonuclear weapons

Another week and another couple of tough, well fought loses. The Georgetown loss was especially tough to take given some pretty questionable calls. We spend time talking about the officiating and the team's performance in the game. We analyze this weeks performance in total and talk about what's good and what's bad. We spend some time talking about JaJaun Johnson and where his game is. We also carry on for a while about Derrick Wilson's best play as a Marquette Warrior....posterizing Paul White. We wrap up the pod talking about the next couple of games and determine if Marquette will actually get over the hump and record a win or two. Download this episode (right click and save)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Which missing MU Player Could Have Made Us 6-0?

The combination of a narrow bench and four road losses by six points or less made we wonder which “almost” Marquette player could have given the team just enough help to be 6-0 in the Big East heading into the showdown with Georgetown.

Luckily www.valueaddbasketball.com, which was the subject of my interview with Fox Sports yesterday, gives a measurement of how many points each player would improve a team. With only eight scholarship players – and seven for the Xavier game with JJJ not practicing hard - here is the countdown of the players that ended up NOT being at Marquette from worst to best:

1. Neither player that left with Buzz would have given MU another win

Satchel Pierce (0.49 Value Add) and Ahmed Hill (0.24) are worth less than one point per game to Virginia Tech, so even the presence of both players on MUs roster still leaves us 2-4 in the Big East.

2. Surprisingly, we are probably still 2-4 with Jameel McKay.

I projected McKay as our best player last year, and was heartbroken when he transferred to Iowa State. His immediate impact swatting shots and hitting 60% of his field goals had Marquette fans wondering what a difference he would have made. I was surprised to see that his Value Add only calculated to 1.17, and even doubling to 2.34 to account for him becoming eligible halfway through, his presents would not calculate to change any of MU’s Big East results – leaving us 2-4 with him.

When I looked closer, I realized his average Big 12 performance is a 3-5 game from the floor (no three-point attempts) and 3-5 from the line, with an impressive 3 blocked shots, 5 rebounds, 0 assists and 2 turnovers. A solid player so far, but it is easier to keep the shooting percentage high when you only take the easiest of shots, so McKay has not been a game changer.

3. UVa’s Marial Shayok would likely have MU 3-3

There is some satisfaction in the fact that the player that left for Buzz’s rival, UVa, has been much better than the two that actually followed Buzz. Marial Shayok has hit 45% of his 3-pointers and has an excellent steal ratio for a 2.67 Value Add. If he was there to give the team one more body, that means you are basically looking at a tie game with DePaul (58-61 loss) and St. John’s (57-60 loss) so figure MU wins one of the two with Shayok. We still fall one point short on Xavier, and three points short on Georgetown.

4. MU could be 6-0 with DJ Newbill

Which leads us to the nation’s fifth leading scorer DJ Newbill, who Buzz let go to open a spot for Jamil Wilson (understandable), keeping Jamail Jones (ouch). Yes, it could be that Newbill’s eligibility could have run out last year as he is playing this year because of a transfer from Southern Miss to Penn State.

But if he were to be the one addition to MU’s team this year, his 6.09 Value Add calculates to give MU wins over DePaul, St. John’s, Xavier (58-62) and a dead even game with Georgetown (59-65). Jamail Jones looked like the much better prospect out of high school, but this year he is still at a 0.91 Value Add.

With Marquette boasting the No. 1 defense in the Big East according to www.kenpom.com, but the last ranked offense, the team could literally be 6-0 if Newbill had come and was still playing due to a redshirt year along the way, or even coming back after the year at Southern Miss when we had a spot.

He is nationally ranked at www.kenpom.com in shooting, assists and getting to the line as he competes for the national scoring title with a 21.9 point per game average. Further, he is being wasted at Penn State where the team started 12-1 but has since gone 0-6 in the Big Ten.

His 29 points on 11 of 18 shooting against Wisconsin was not enough for Penn State but certainly looks like it might have been enough for MU – so how would 6-0 in Big East with a win over Wisconsin look?

His last two games including 37 points against Purdue and 27 against Michigan State in two more losses.

I am thrilled with how competitive the team has been, but if there was one more guy we could give them for help, Newbill would be very nice. That's my only spilled milk comment for this season.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A mediocre week and big? changes for the NCAA

Another week and another couple of games with late game fades, one a win another a tough road loss. We discuss the Creighton and Xavier results, what’s the deal with Luke Fischer as well as Matt Carlino – “villain” to hero. We also spend some time talking about JaJuan Johnson’s DNP-CD, impact on the team, and #8strong AKA great marketing/difficult basketball strategy. We then transition to an overview of the upcoming games and what our mediocre opinion of Marquette basketball is. Spoiler alert – wins are going to be tough to come by for the next two weeks. So we don’t fade late in the podcast, we finish by discussing the substantial changes in NCAA policy that were voted on last weekend. We speculate about what the changes mean, how it impacts the Big East and Marquette as well as what the long term consequences might be. Download this episode (right click and save)