"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

Monday, May 20, 2019

Nothing for #mubb, but we do close out the Sports Movie Bracket

Breathe, there is absolutely nothing to talk about when it comes to #mubb, so we're going to take advantage of the opportunity to spend 90 minutes closing out the Sports Movie Bracket. We name a champion, but not without controversy and debate along the way. Let us know if you think we got it right or wrong (@joemccann3 @mooof23). Enjoy! https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/mz344s/scrambledeggs_edit_051919.mp3

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Results of Marquette 2003 vs. Georgetown 2007 and Cincy 2002; Nova 2018 Dominates

The scoresheet below was supposed to be of the Georgetown 2007 vs. Marquette 2003 team which brought back so many memories of going to my first Marquette game in 20 years. However, let's just say I'd forgotten just how bad our Final Four team's defense was at keeping opponents away from the hoop and off the glass and Roy Hibbert took full advantage. However, MU did manage to survive the second game despite 24 points by Cincinnati's Steve Logan and Coach Huggins great defense, so here are the early standings of my replay and the full game scoresheet further down.

Of course, Cincy, Butler and MU were really not in the Big East yet and Louisville has since left, but I've shuffled to make six 7-team conferences.

Big EastWonLostScoredAllowed
Villanova 2018108960
Louisville 2013107461
Georgetown 2007107462
Marquette 200311135136
Cincinnati 2002016273
UConn 2004016174
Butler 2010016089
(I am playing Syracuse 2003 and Pitt in the ACC, keeping all 6 conferences with 7 teams)

I never went to the Bradley Center until March 1, 2008, and decided if I was going to pay for a trip form Alabama I was buying seats three rows behind Tom Crean to see Georgetown - a year off a Final Four - come to town. It was my first time in the lower bowl of a college game, and I was stunned at how impossible the it seemed to even complete a pass against the speed and length you could only appreciate from this close to the action.

The heart break of fellow Alabama native Jonathan Wallace fouled by Dominic James on a 3-pointers in the final second to send the game into overtime where the Hoyas won was still exciting enough to start me on my 11 year streak of season tickets and making all March Madness games. I thought starting my Value Add Basketball game Big East play with the 2007 Georgetown team against the team that started making me watch Marquette on TV again - the 2003 Marquette seemed fitting.

Wallace even repeated being fouled on a three and hitting them all. Let's move on from that game and instead present the scoresheet from Marquette's second game.

Until late, it looked similar to the five games played between the two teams during Dwyane Wade's two years - during which the average score was Marquette 70, Cincinnati 67 as MU ended the Bearcats 20-game winning street as one of three wins.

Here is the scoresheet Cincinnati and the running score for the final 6:14 and 10 possessions of the first half, and then possessions 33 to 22 to start the second half. The numbers to the left show which possessions each player will play unless someone fouls out or a strategic change is made. The 5 "starters" are really "finishers," so Logan (who I ranked as the best player in 2002) can play "all" 44 possessions we play in the game, while McElroy can play possessions 39-1 (his card lets him play 39 possessions without being tired). You can see on the backups, Barker is down to play possessions "44-40." We start the game assuming all players have played about 11 of the first 22 possessions and the score is tied 22, so a player with a 39 really averaged 50 possessions that year, etc.

While we show total points for each player, we only record "contested" rebounds each player gets - since every other possession the rebound simply goes to the defense to keep the game moving - but the cards give all players the ranges to average the correct number of rebounds overall by giving offensive players twice as good a chance as they would really have of getting a rebound every other possession.

You may notice I choose to "start/finish" Steve Novak even though that just means he plays the final 14 possessions (14 to 1).  This is not because I am judging him better than Townsend, which he was not yet as a freshman, but if MU is down late in the game I'd rather have him as the best 3-point shooter of all 42 great teams in the game, and if MU is holding a lead late, I'd rather have him as the best free throw shooter in the game. However, you will notice Townsend had 9 points, 2 steals and a blocked shot to help key the win.

Logan cut the lead to 66-62 on yet another poor defensive play by Marquette, but Cincinnati could get no closer as they missed five straight shots after grabbing 4 straight offensive rebounds as well as Wade stealing the ball twice on plays that would have otherwise been made 3-pointers (which we only know in the game because we roll all the dice at once).

Cincy then had to foul Diener who hit both, and Novak hit a three with 1:15 left and MU scored on its final possession to end on a 7-0 run.

In the other games:

I was curious if Louisville's insane defensive pressure or UConn's dominant big man play would win out, but in this game Louisville stole the ball on 7 of UConn's first 11 possessions I played and Dieng gave Louisville enough rebounding to prevent a comeback for the 74-61 win. Siva, Smith and Hancock all had 3 steals - more like 4 or 5 since we don't track the first third of the game through the 20-20 tie. Eight of 9 Cardinals had steals, and the only one who didn't was the games leading rebounder Dieng who won 6 contested rebounds to offset UConn's size inside. Behenan fouled out trying to guard Okafor and then Harrell game back in and came within one foul of fouling out as well, but Okafor hit his average 50% of free throws (1-10 on 20-sided die) with 7 of 14 from the line.

Villanova appears the most dominant team in the conference, but Butler hung around to stay within 58-48 with Bridges picking up his 4th foul. However, between then and the 6:05 mark Nova went on one of their crazy 17-4 runs with a 3-pointer by DiVincenzo, 3 by Spellman, Brunson dunk, Bridges rebound and score, Pascall 4-point play and another 3 by DiVincenzo. Bridges never fouled out and finished with 26 points with a game-high 6 contested rebounds (we don't include the half of the misses that just go to the defense or those in the first 22 possessions) and Brunson added 19. Hayward scored 15, Mack 17 and Howard 18 for Butler in the 89-60 blowout win.

Finally, Green was dominant for Georgetown, getting past Marquette's defense early and often for a game high 28 points and 4 blocked shots (really like 6 blocks over all 66 possessions). Roy Hibbert started hot by blocking Jackson's first three shots and grabbing a game-high 5 rebounds, however Jackson turned it on in the second half to finish with a game-high 22 points to help Marquette make the final reasonable at 74-62.

No surprisingly, Kentucky is 2-0 in my SEC conference, and I have not started the Big 12, Big Ten, ACC or Pac-12 seasons yet.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Would you rather have MU's defense - blind comparison

I've been surprised at the number of people who believe MU did not have a good defense in 2019, and turning it into one of the "unfair" attacks against Wojo. I lined up a comparison of Marquette's defense against a mystery team so you can do a blind test.

I know the table is not that easy to read, but the overall top number is Ken Pomeroy's master calculation - adjusting how many points are allowed per 100 trips adjusted for the opposing offenses.

Clearly from the outset MU was much better than the other team, and in fact the mystery team played in an era in which fewer points were scored, so MU was the 45th best defense in the land compared to a very mediocre 109th.

MU was elite on the most important stat, holding opponents to only 46 percent eFG% (effective Field Goal percentage, which gives teams and extra half  "shot made" for 3-pointers) - so Wojo had excellent defense. MU was also a very good defensive rebounding team at 81st in the country while the mystery team was one of the worst. MU was the better shot blocking team.

The only place the mystery team was better was at steals due to one player being very good at steals, though other than that both teams had very few steals (often the trade off when you shut down opponents' shooting like MU did this year or Wisconsin does many years).

So anyone going into a game would much rather have Wojo's excellent defense than the very poor defense of Team A. And Team A is ... (go below chart)

CategoryTeam AMU
Adj. Efficiency99.2 10996.7 45Team a much worse than MU at overall defense, adjusted for opponents.
Four Factors
Effective FG%:47.3 7546.3 18MU much better at denying opponents shots.
Turnover %:18.1 30616.6 297Both teams terrible at forcing turnovers, MU a few spots better.
Off. Reb. %:34.3 25126.1 81MU way above average on defensive glass, while Team A much worse than average when they played.
FTA/FGA:32.5 7535.9 252Only thing Team A better at is not fouling, and slightly better at steals.
3P%:33.2 8532.4 65MU slightly better at denying 3-pointers.
2P%:45.9 7645.1 19MU much better (19th) at stopping 2 pointers, though Team A played when 2-pt % much lower.
FT%:69.2 14667.9 38The one we joke about - FT defense - teams shot terrible free throw percentage against MU :-)
Block%:9.1 12611.2 81MU much better at blocking shots.
Steal%:8.8 2496.9 325Both terrible at steals, though Team A better due to one player who was great at steals.

... the awful defensive unit of the 2003 Final Four Marquette team.

I realized just how bad that defense was when playing the game I invented with 42 great teams, and realizing how bad MU's 2003 defense was compared to other great teams and then realizing they were just bad compared to most major conference teams.

Obviously having the No. 2 offense in the country and the most dominant player in the tournament in Dwyane Wade covered up a very poor defensive team, but to those who keep pretending Wojo did not put a very good defensive unit on the floor are simply deniers.

Those who say watching Ja Morant, the likely No. 2 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, destroy MU's defense proves the former National Defensive Player of the Year Wojo is not a good defensive coach should go back and look at Kansas running a first half track meet against MU in the Final 4. Did that one game prove that MU 2003 really wasn't a great team and that the wins over three of the top 6 teams in the country culminating with the win over No. 1 Kentucky did not really mean anything.

If you are willing to look at facts, Wojo put the most improved defensive unit in the country on the floor last year, and this is a sign of good things to come.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Value Add Basketball Game: Marquette 2003 vs. Auburn 2019

We calculated and compiled these 42 great teams from the 21st Century, and set up this scoresheet to play games between them. The only other item you need is four dice. In this case the yellow 8-sided die of 3 indicates the small forward gets the ball, the roll of 32 on the two 6-sided dice in the middle column number is used to see if the defender stops the player in the 11-36 range, or if the player with the ball turns it over or dunks in the 41-66 range. Finally if nothing happens on those dice, then the 20-sided (green) die determines if the player with the ball can score or draw a shooting foul using the right column.

We added this video of how to set up the game to make sure it all made sense.

The following is Dwyane Wade's 2003 card, the more of an explanation under each column. Below that we show the other cards for the Marquette 2003 and Auburn 2019 Final Four teams to give my friends from both places the chance to play - but you can find those teams and 40 others on the link above. They are divided into seven great teams from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Big East, Pac-12 and SEC, but great teams from other conferences were placed in one of the other conferences to set up a season.

The following is the team card and one possible line-up for Marquette 2003 - which puts Steve Novak into the starting line-up as the best 3-pointer shooter and free throw shooter on any of the 42 great teams in the game.

We filled in a score sheet with the Auburn 2019 Final Four team as the visitor and the 2003 Marquette Final Four team as the home team. The blue ink indicates items we would have written into the score sheet to start the game, as well as notes on when players would enter the game to avoid anyone becoming tired. We have steadily simplified the game without losing any of the key components, and we are finding it takes us 25 minutes to play a game.

The following is a starting line-up for Auburn. You could certainly play starters against starters to try to game, but the reserves on both teams and all 40 other great teams are available on the link at the top of this post.

Feedback is always welcome at pudnerjohn@gmail.com. Yes a few rough edges still and will continue to cleanup the goofy decimals etc.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

A little bit of #mubb talk and a lot bit of sports movie talk

Well it's finally here, the first pod of the sports movie bracket but first we have some shade to throw at the #mubb social media team. The first 27 minutes of the pod we talk: Hauser transfer revisit, Zapruder MU videos, Wojo extension, and Jayce Johnson commit. Once that #mubb business is out of the way, we move to the heart of the early off season, the 76 team Sports Movie Bracket. We establish the ground rules and then dive in picking winners and losers in the play-in and opening round games. We have a good time recording, we hope you enjoy listening to it! https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/em4vkr/scrambledeggs_edit_050819.mp3 The movie bracket was generated via S-Curve which in turn was generated by 3 key metrics: IMDB ranking, Rotten Tomatoes Fan Ranking, and Domestic Box Office adjusted to 2019. The movies were then slotted into the 76 team bracket with movement so that sequels don't face each other until the 3rd round and with the last 24 movies in participating in a 12 game play-in bracket.

 Below is the S-Curve:

 And here is the bracket itself:

Friday, April 26, 2019

Turnovers of the Non-Transfer Kind

I've given a lot of thought recently to Marquette & turnovers. I believe turnovers are a key to Marquette's 2019-20 success, not just on offense but also on defense. I'll acknowledge immediately that using Synergy, Paint Touches could probably do an even deeper dive, but I'm writing this to at least start the conversation. If anyone else wants to run with the idea, please do.

In 5 years under Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette's offense has been woeful in both offensive turnover rate & opponent steal percentage. The result of these turnovers is empty possessions at best & easy run-outs for the opponents at worst. Considering this has been an issue for 5 years, this seems like a system problem more than just a player problem.

Year Off TO% Nat. Rank BE Rank Off Stl% Nat. Rank BE Rank
2015 19.3 189 10 9.6 206 7
2016 20 292 9 9.5 277 7
2017 17.3 86 4 9.2 245 5
2018 17.3 99 7 8.3 121 5
2019 19.3 239 7 9.7 278 7

Looking at last year, a big part of the problem was Joey Hauser. Replacing his 22.3% TO rate with Brenden Bailey's 6.3% is a big step in the right direction. With 2.1 more minutes per game, Bailey would've ranked in the top-10 nationally. On the other end, if Sam Hauser's 11.9% rate is replaced primarily by Koby McEwen's 19.2% (at Utah State) it will largely offset this, especially as McEwen's expected higher usage rate will amplify his raw turnover numbers.

To illustrate that last point, consider that Markus Howard was hounded by Marquette fans for his turnovers last year with an 18.4% TO rate. Then think back to Derrick Wilson, who was was lauded for not turning the ball over. In 4 years, Wilson NEVER had a TO rate below 20%. His best was 20.1% as a junior.

Again, Derrick Wilson NEVER had as good a TO rate as Markus Howard did last year. The only reason we consider Howard's turnovers to be a deficit while Wilson's lack thereof were a strength were because of usage. In 4 years, Wilson (127) had less than half the turnovers Howard (282) has had in 3 years, but it seemed like less of a problem because Wilson rarely had the ball in his hands at the end of a possession, unlike Howard.

Wojo's offenses have with few exceptions been in the bottom half of both the nation & the league in both overall turnovers & live-ball turnovers. Even in their best seasons, 2017 & 2018, the chart above illustrates that top-150 nationally is at best pretty pedestrian when you are talking about a high-major league like the Big East.

The hope would be that moving to a three-guard offense would help, but of Marquette's returning guards that are expected to take on primary ballhandler roles, Markus Howard's 18.4% TO rate last year is better than any individual season posted by either Koby McEwen or Greg Elliott. If the ball is going to be in the hands of ball-handlers like Howard or worse, why would this be expected to improve? Frankly, I don't have an answer to this, but I do believe it needs to improve next year.

One way to change this is on the defensive end. As bad as Marquette has been on the offensive end, the defensive end is even worse. The reason isn't because the numbers have never been good, but because they have trended consistently down.

Year Def TO% Nat. Rank BE Rank Def Stl% Nat. Rank BE Rank
2015 21 59 1 11.6 29 2
2016 19.1 108 5 10.6 35 1
2017 18.3 186 7 10.1 59 6
2018 18.1 197 7 8.6 180 7
2019 16.6 297 7 6.9 325 10

Let's start with the system. In Wojo's first year, playing zone instead of man created more turnovers. In general, systems that play high pressure & defend space rather than individuals are going to create more turnovers. That's why teams like Washington, VCU, Auburn, & Syracuse will routinely have great defensive turnover rates. Wojo obviously favors man-to-man. Players are asked to stick to their assignment & challenge every shot. If a team defends well & boxes out, that should limit scoring, but it won't create turnovers & won't create the easy run-outs at the other end.

Ultimately, that's what this article is about. Losing the Hausers will almost certainly reduce Marquette's eFG% next year. The loss of their three-point shooting means the easiest way for Marquette to replace that scoring is by getting high percentage looks at the rim. The easiest way to do that is by creating turnovers that lead to run-outs, dunks, & layups. Further, those quick possessions are less likely to result in a turnover. Creating more turnovers on defense will lead to easier scoring opportunities & a lower turnover rate on offense. It's all connected.

I digress. Back to the system. The other thing Wojo had in his first season was long, quick athletes like Jajuan Johnson, Juan Anderson, & Duane Wilson. In addition, the grad transfer Matt Carlino was a good ballhawk going back to his BYU days. Playing a zone with players that excelled in creating turnovers led to the best defensive turnover rate of Wojo's career by far.

In the following years, Wojo moved back to man-to-man & we began to see roster turnover. Guys like Carlino & Wilson who had more length were replaced by Andrew Rowsey & Markus Howard, who lacked the length to get into passing lanes. In the frontcourt, guys like Johnson & Anderson were replaced by Sam Hauser & Matt Heldt, who lacked the quickness to create steals & transition offense. In 2017, when Wojo made the NCAA Tournament for the first time, Johnson & Wilson played just 20% of the total available minutes but accounted for 38% of the team's steals. They were 1 & 2 on the team in total steals. With their departure, we see that Wojo's system & recruiting has not prioritized live ball turnovers.

What really started me thinking about this was watching Joseph Chartouny. At Fordham, Chartouny played for a coach whose teams have ranked in the top-50 of DTO% in 9 of 14 years & top-10 5 times. Chartouny thrived in a high-pressure defense in which he was the tip of a spear specifically designed to create live ball turnovers. This led to him being ranked in the top-2 in the country in steal percentage as both a sophomore & junior & created the on-paper appearance that he was the perfect fix for a team that struggled to create turnovers.

However in Wojo's defense, he was asked to stay home. He looked hesitant, he didn't gamble, & being forced to focus on his defensive assignment muted his best attribute. Despite that, he still led the team in steal percentage. I fully acknowledge Chartouny didn't meet expectations. That said, had he played at Marquette in 2015, MU fans would remember him far more fondly.

While Wojo hasn't prioritized steals in his system, the distribution of minutes is also telling. Over the years we have seen a marked decline in defensive turnover numbers. A big part of that is who is on the court. The best players in terms of steal percentage are not getting the most minutes. In 2019, Chartouny (2.8%) & Jamal Cain (2.5) led the way but ranked 6th & 9th in minutes played. In 2018, it was Cain (2.7%) & Greg Elliott (2.7) but ranked 6th & 7th in minutes. In 2017, Johnson (4.1) & Wilson (3.3) led the way while ranking 3rd & 7th in minutes. In 2016, it was Johnson (3.7), Traci Carter (3.5), & Wilson (2.5) who ranked 5th, 7th, & 3rd in minutes.

This is not to suggest that Wojo shouldn't get his best players on the court. In this most recent season, I understand why Markus Howard & Joey Hauser got more minutes than Joseph Chartouny & Jamal Cain. But I definitely think Joey Hauser, who turned it over too often & created turnovers too seldom while hitting an obvious freshman wall in February, could've used more time on the bench.

Going into next year, it will be interesting to see the minutes given to players like Jamal Cain & Greg Elliott. It will also be interesting to see if the team is allowed to gamble a little bit more to create turnovers. With more long, quick athletes than Wojo has ever had at his disposal, allowing the players more flexibility to create turnovers & score in transition could help offset the loss of the Hausers while simultaneously playing into the strengths of the roster as constructed.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

We interupt your scheduled Sports Movie Bracket with this Breaking News

We are shocked to say the least. As reported all over the interwebs on Monday, April 15th, the Hauser brothers have announced their intention to transfer from Marquette. Instead of the general odds and ends plus the first rounds of the Sports Movie Bracket, we get together to talk about this program altering and unexpected news. https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/hrjvu9/scrambledeggs_edit_041519.mp3