"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

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Marquette aims to take the fight to the Irish

Saturday afternoon. Big game. Rivalry game. .......how fantastic is this!

Matt from the ND blog did a great job on previewing the Irish, now let's get specific with the Top Five Numbers to Know about Notre Dame. Tipoff is scheduled for 1pm CST. As always, information comes from Pomeroy's Scouting Report and Game Plan.

17 - Notre Dame's Pomeroy Ranking

  • Notre Dame is a top 20 team according to Pomeroy (RPI of 52)
  • Marquette is ranked #6 according to Pomeroy (RPI of 23)
0 - Number of Away games that Notre Dame has played

  • The Irish have played four games at neutral sites, but none on an opponent's home court
27.1% - Offensive Rebounding Percentage (OR%) that Notre Dame allows on defense

  • As a reminder, OR% is the number of offensive rebounds out of total possible rebounds. The equation is Team OR / (Team OR + Opponent DR). Each defensive rebound by the opponent is a potential offensive rebound.
  • The OR% allowed by Notre Dame is 15th best in the country.
  • They've only allowed five opponents to crack 30%, and only one opponent has hit 40%.
  • Marquette is averaging 40.1% on offense, but has been shut down in their last two games by West Virginia (25%) and Seton Hall (30.6%)
  • In both of the Domer's losses, their opponent grabbed over 35% on offensive rebound percentage
  • Offensive Rebounding Percentage is the matchup of the game
18.4% - Notre Dame's Turnover Rate while on offense

  • ND turns the ball over less than one in five possessions
  • This places them in the top 10% of all Division 1 teams
  • Marquette is facing their third straight opponent that protects the ball very well
  • However, we are forcing opponents into a turnover rate of 23.7%, and we pushed both WV and SHU into more turnovers than they usually commit
35.8% - Marquette's average Free Throw Rate on defense

  • Free Throw Rate is Free Throws Attempted / Field Goals Attempted
  • When our opponents are held under 35%, Marquette wins
  • In the two losses, our opponents have gone over 50% on Free Throw Rate, meaning that the opponent was shooting a free throw every other time they took a shot
Notre Dame is a very good team, and we should feel concerned about this game. However, they have yet to face a rabid home crowd such as the Bradley Center. Notre Dame's success depends on how they do at securing and preventing offensive rebounds, as well as protecting the ball. Marquette needs to return to their previous offensive rebounding prowess and to limit the amount of times that ND gets to the line.

Should be a great game. Pomeroy forecasts a 79% chance of a Marquette win. Look for the team to play inspired basketball and perform like Warriors.

Let's rock the Bradley Center on Saturday, because Marquette's gonna roll!


EDIT: Added additional links


Anonymous said...

the video of Matthews & Crean over at IWB's sportsbubbler is pretty slick.

TB said...

thanks for the tip....we've added that link -- SportsBubbler. Nice work, IWB

Anonymous said...

Chicago Tribune story on the game:

Small fries staple of Marquette diet
But 4 solid guards in for a fight against Notre Dame's beef
By Brian Hamilton
Tribune staff reporter

January 11, 2008, 9:14 PM CST

On Sunday afternoon, Milwaukee's Bradley Center really goes small, what with a horde of diminutive, shrieking "tweens" arriving for a Hannah Montana concert.

Marquette's basketball team, then, offers a bit of an appetizer under the same roof Saturday.

The No. 15 Golden Eagles are not as pint-sized, at least on an inch-for-inch basis, as the next day's crowd. But they are relatively tiny at some spots, by Big East standards, and they compensate by moving faster than a Miley Cyrus devotee races to a mall clearance sale.

It's yet another version of a four-guard offense perpetrated most recently and effectively by Villanova, but it is a risk-reward proposition.

It's perfectly fine when the perimeter quartet performs with efficient haste, but some challenges arise when the other side can keep up.

"We did a lot with it in the preseason, and we want to do that right now," Marquette coach Tom Crean said as his team prepared to host streaking Notre Dame.

"More than anything, the defensive matchup is going to allow that to happen or not allow that to happen.

"Right now, especially early in the Big East, we're seeing so many good and big-sized 4 men. If the 4 man is going to be really good in the block, and you're not going to play a ton of zone, you've got to be very careful how you're going to do it."

Nevertheless, the Golden Eagles on offense are perimeter-oriented in the way Dubai is sand-oriented. The team's top five shot-takers are four guards and 6-foot-6-inch Lazar Hayward (speaking of 'tweeners).

So far, this has not been a detriment. The Golden Eagles' only losses have been to now-No. 9 Duke on Nov. 21 in Maui and Sunday at West Virginia.

"The reason they're so good, the three or four guys we're talking about, three of them are all-league players — Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wes Matthews," Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez said. "It's not just the style and playing four quick guys. It's the actual players who are doing it.

"When [Villanova coach] Jay Wright had Randy Foye and those guys — those players, they're all in the NBA. Those kids at Marquette are special that way."

But the losses, and even a five-point home win against Gonzalez's team Tuesday night, reveal the one potential matchup issue: when there is no matchup issue.

Duke, Seton Hall and West Virginia can manage against a more athletic 4 man like Hayward. They also can run, and they have the wherewithal to assert a deliberate tempo.

Enter Notre Dame, its 10-game winning streak and its versatile 4 men. Forward Rob Kurz is a burly 6-9 but can run and step out to the perimeter. Reserve Zach Hillesland, at 6-8, can guard at least three spots.

"Even in last year's games, we've not been a team that's had to make crazy subs because maybe a team is smaller," Irish coach Mike Brey said. "Our big guys move pretty good. They're able to stay in front of guys. Certainly when Hillesland is playing as a big guy, it's like having another guard on floor. You don't want to overreact to a smaller lineup."

There is a reason Marquette is ranked and a winner of 12 games: Opponents' reactions to the mismatches often haven't been effective enough.

In a way, Marquette must let teams worry about any lineup contortions while the Golden Eagles worry about themselves.

"It's more approach than it is the toughness," Crean said. "What hurt us in West Virginia, our game plan wasn't executed. We had more missed assignments and mental errors than we've had in a long time.

"As far as toughness, as far as wanting to win, as far as desire to compete, I have no questions on that with our team at all."