"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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

RPI is killing MU - Schedule tougher Cream Puffs!

At this point in the season, MU is so far ahead of my expectations coming in and DJO is such a better player than I could have hoped for to give us a third threat, that I can’t believe I am contemplating that we could get an NCAA bid this year. In addition, even if we sneak in as a 12-seed, I think this is the kind of team that could shock a 5-seed in the opening round.

Unfortunately this leads me to my one criticism of the program – scheduling. If we continue to play this well, we could head into Selection Sunday on the bubble, and if that is the case then the fact that we played Presbyterian, Centenary, MD Eastern Shore and Grambling should cost us the bid.

Remember that the biggest frame of reference for the selection committee is the RPI, which doesn’t care about margins of victory. There are two things that make you drop in the RPI – losing a game OR playing a team not in the Top 200 (give or take a few spots) at home regardless of the result. Pomeroy (www.kenpom.com) is a much truer measure of how good a team is because it accounts for victory margins, so beating Presbyterian by 40 or losing at West Virginia by 1 point both make you move up in the standings. But for the RPI, both make you move down.

So in short, Marquette has the worst possible schedule for the RPI. Playing in the Big East every year we play a ton of games we could lose (the first way to drop) and then we schedule six home games against teams nowhere near the Top 200 that will make us drop substantially even if we beat them 100-0.

As a result, MU is the 22nd best team in the US according to Pomeroy, but only the 81st best team in the land according to RPI, which is about 31 spots below where you typically need to be to get an at-large bid.

I know I harped on this last year, but I want to walk through the numbers once from my RPI spreadsheet in an urgent plea to stop scheduling these bottom 100 teams and just move the cupcake schedule up one notch so we are scheduling the teams that are in the top 200.

For arguments sake, let’s say the Pomeroy projects play out for everybody and MU finishes a strong 20-10.

The first thing you need to understand is that the RPI calculation only gives us credit for 0.6 wins for a home win (and likewise we only are given 0.6 losses for the games at WVU and Wisconsin, but get 1.4 losses for NC State and will get 1.4 wins for each road victory). Therefore, despite beating up on the four previously mentioned cupcakes at home, the 20-10 projection would have us going 13-4 at home, 2-1 on neutral courts, and 5-5 on the road, which once adjusted for home court means the RPI formula just considers us a 17-10 team.

If that were to play out, then the RPI calculation works like this (ignoring the Big East tourney for the moment):
MU real record 20-10
RPI record 16.8-9.6 (25% of formula)
Opponents record 550-350 (50% of formula)
Opponents’ opponents’ record 15,000-12,000 (25% of formula)
Final RPI: .5694, 68th best, about 18 spots out of tourney

Now, to make my point, let’s pretend we didn’t play Presbyterian, Centenary, MD Eastern Shore and Grambling so I drop all their projections out of the equation. Even though we give up four wins (or 2.4 wins on RPIs scale), look what happens to our RPI calculation once we get all of their losses plus the losses of all their opponents out of the equation. Now this is what the NCAA selection committee is reviewing.

MU real record 16-10
RPI record 14.4-9.6 (25% of formula)
Opponents record 513-272 (50% of formula)
Opponents’ opponents’ record 14,000-10,000 (25% of formula)
Final RPI: .5976, 44th best, easily in the tourney

Just by NOT PLAYING those four games we would move up about 24 spots in the RPI and clearly be in the tournament. Now I realize it isn’t really practical to just play 26 games. But let’s say we upgraded just a little – not to the Top 200 which I advocate, but added four more games against teams just as good as South Dakota and North Florida. At that point the end of year RPI equation – getting our four wins back but against slightly better competition, looks like this:

MU real record 20-10
RPI record 16.8-9.6 (25% of formula)
Opponents record 579-324 (50% of formula)
Opponents’ opponents’ record 14,500-11,000 (25% of formula)
Final RPI: .5877, 50th best, on the bubble but 20 wins and in Big East should pull us through.

Obviously realistically we need to schedule six creampuffs that we know we will go 6-0 against, particularly in a year like this where Buzz needs to experiment with new players.

How risky would playing Top 200 creampuffs be? Since 2005, MU has gone 27-2 when playing a home game against a team ranked between 101st and 200th in the land in Pomeroy, with the only two losses being to St. Louis after Travis Diener broke his hand and we had no point guard, and to a North Dakota State team that went on to go 20-8 and was ranked 127th.

Going 6-0 against Top 200 creampuffs instead of teams ranked from 250th to 347th will typically move us up 30 spots in the RPI each Selection Sunday, and even if we get tripped up and go 5-1 against Top 200 Creampuffs, we will be much higher than being dragged down by six wins against bottom 100 teams.

That being said I really am hopeful that we will be in the NCAA tourney with this team ahead of schedule, but for future years we will make tournaments and get much better seeds if we upgrade our Creampuff schedule even a little bit.

We aren’t the only team. Here are the 10 teams most hurt by scheduling based on comparing how good they really are by their Pomeroy ranking to how many spots lower they are in the RPI due to bad scheduling:

Team, Pomeroy rank, RPI rank, difference due to scheduling weak opponents:
UTEP 38, 155, -117
Utah State 50, 146, -96
Arizona St. 21, 114, -93
Missouri 12, 104, -92
Wright St. 40, 125, -85
Memphis St. 20, 94, -74
Ohio State 18, 89, -71
Georgia Tech 24, 92, -68
Marquette 22, 81, -59
Minnesota 7, 61, -54

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

MU plays WVU brilliantly for 38 minutes and then Greg Norman shows up

Buzz Williams had Marquette playing brilliantly tonight at #6 West Virginia. Despite being outsized at every position, the Golden Eagles took it to the Mountaineers the entire game. Using their quickness, pressure defense and outstanding 3 point shooting, MU led the Mountaineers by 4 points with just over 1 minute to play AND THE BALL.

That's when Greg Norman showed up and the gag was on.

With 1:04 to play, DJO took the ball to the rim and missed, but got a rebound. He had the option of taking it back out with a new clock or go back up for the shot. He chose the latter. DJO was fouled...two shots from the line. The first free throw rimmed in and out. The second one was true, MU now up 5 points with a minute to play.

Buzz Williams instructed his team to foul WVU as the Golden Eagles only had committed 4 fouls at this point. Mo Acker was the first to oblige, fouling with :56 seconds remaining. Nine seconds later, Acker did it again, forcing WVU to again take the ball out of bounds. Six seconds later, WVU was down 3 points after a Kevin Jones layup.

MU now up three with the ball, moved the ball to the front court and DJO was fouled again with 24 seconds on the clock. This time, his free throw wasn't close, barely touching the front of the rim. WVU rebounded with a chance to tie or cut the lead to one point. It took all of 6 seconds for Ebanks to go to the hoop and get an uncontested slam dunk. MU running the OLE defense apparently.

MU now up 1 point with 18 seconds left and everyone in the building knowing that this is going to end like the Florida State game....we didn't disappoint. The ball was inbounded to Jimmy Butler who drove up the sideline and was fouled Joe Mazulla. Butler to the line for a 1 and 1.

Butler managed to miss the free throw and WVU, with no timeouts, took the ball down the court and made a turn around jumper with 2 seconds left. MU attempted a desperation pass and shot to win the game that never had a chance.

MU managed to lose a 5 point lead in the final minute, three times having the ball, making 1 point at the line out of a potential 6 points, and allowing WVU to score at will.

A shame, MU played well for 38+ minutes and deserved to win....something we've seen and heard several times before this year. MU slips to 0-1 in the Big East and 9-4 overall. The Golden Eagles were led by senior sensation Lazar Hayward who posted another 20+ point performance and seems to have found his offensive touch from the outside.

Can WVU get the ball up the court against relentless MU pressure?

Yeah, we may get killed tonight, but ...

One of the first things we preach in political campaigns is, “the other side has problems too.” It’s easy when working until 2 a.m. every night as an election approaches to see everything wrong with your campaign and panic. However, you don’t see the problems in the other campaign headquarters, where things are just as frantic.

Well, we have some real problems tonight, but I really think the 6th ranked Mountaineers do too.

WVUs "guards" face a nightmare against MU

I just can’t get the image out of my mind from last year of DJ simply applying a one-man press against Darryl Bryant, the only West Virginia player who even resembles a point guard, and taking his dribble 88-feet from the basket and laying it in, then taking a charge from him 87-feet from the basket to get the ball back again. I honestly felt sorry for Bryant as Huggins called him to the bench time and time again to tell him to stop handing DJ the ball.

Well, the news flash is that WVU’s guards, if you can really say they have any, has been much shakier this year handling pressure, and MU is even better at stealing the ball from opponents. In fact, only five major conference teams (Syracuse, Missouri, Clemson, Minnesota and Oregon State) steal the ball more often than MU does this year. Last year MU was not nearly as good at swipes, ranking as only the 17th best major conference team at stealing the ball.

Marquette repeatedly picked WVU clean last year despite the fact that WVU was actually a respectable 42nd best in the land at not turning the ball over (17.9% of all trips down the court resulted in turnovers). This year they are already having much more trouble handling pressure, turning the ball over 19.4% of their trips down the court, only the 95th best total.

So to summarize, MU used the quickness advantage at guard to pick WVU of the ball at will last year, and this year MU is much better at stealing the ball and WVU is much worse at protecting the ball.

More important is how many of the turnovers tonight are on steals, which lead to fast break baskets at the other end while WVU big guys try to get back up the court.

If Bryant was that rattled last year, he could have even more trouble handling MUs pressure this year. His turnover rate of 23.4% is already a bit high (even the somewhat wild DJO is only 20.6%, and Cube and Mo are below 20%). But at least last year if he got rattled Alex Ruoff could come move over to point guard and run a steady, albeit slow, point. This year if Bryant is rattled then Huggins option at point is Joe Mazzula, whose turnover rate of 39.2% makes him one of the “generous” guards in the country. Huggins may need to play one of his 6-7 guys at the point, and I’ll take our guards matching up against them 25 feet from the basket over our front line having to stop them at the rim any day.

In short, the #6 team in the land is bringing a very shaky ball-handling team into a game against one of the best six teams in the country at stealing the ball. If this game is played within 20 feet of the hoop, WVU wins big. But if they get rattled a long way from the hoop like last year, MU could pull the shocker.

The obvious issues

While a lot of things point to a WVU blowout, here is the hope I hold out on each.

1. We can’t win because www.kenpom.com selects this as one of only two virtually unwinnable games for MU, predicting a 10-point WVU win and only a 15% chance of an MU upset. Yes, but … www.kenpom.com’s biggest miss on MU last year was picking WVU to come into the Bradley Center and win by 6 points – actually a 22-point win for MU.

2. We can’t win because our guards will finally be exposed since WVU dwarfs MU as the 1 through 3 position, with an average edge of 6 inches, 3.5 inches and 4 inches respectively at those spots. Yes, but … while WVU is one of only four teams to be in the top 25 in height at all three of those positions, the other three are Duke, Syracuse and Florida State, the latter of which MU destroyed for 30 minutes before running out of gas at the end of a three-day tournament in Florida. If MU was good enough to whip FSU for that long, which then went into Atlanta and beat Georgia Tech, then the same type matchup against WVU gives us a chance.

3. Morgantown has been home jobbing visiting teams for decades, even setting "a record for phantom fouls," according to one TV announcer when VCU went there years ago. Yeah, but ... just be happy the game is on TV so the refs know they are being watched. Just kidding on that last one guys, I love all referees!

Yes, we are going to see a lot of dunks between stars Da’Sean Butler (6-7) and Kevin Jones (6-8), as well as the other three big guys all getting at least 50% of the minutes in Devin Ebanks (6-9), Willington Smith (6-7) and John Flowers (6-7). It will be a blowout if played within 20-feet of the basket on both ends, but if we rattle them a long way from the basket, we will have a chance at the biggest Big East season opening upset since UConn came to Milwaukee on January 3, 2006.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Non-Conference season is over....what have we learned?

The non-conference season is over and with the BIG EAST opener at West Virginia coming up on Tuesday night what have we learned? Honestly, it's hard to tell. By most measures, this team seems to be who we all thought they were going to be. We stand at 9-3, a record that 4 of the 6 contributors to this blog pegged (the other two had us at 8-4).

So let's break down what we do know, what we think we know, what we don't know, and what we hope to know.

Here's what we do know.

This team is short on height and depth. The loss of Otule and the transfer of Maymon has shrunk this team down in both areas. MU on average is 75" tall, 334th in the nation...or darn near dead last in DI.

This is a good shooting team. MU shoots at nearly a 52% clip from the field and almost 73% from the line, ranking in the top 70 in both categories. This team shoots better from beyond the arc than anticipated. MU is shooting 41% from trey land....good for 23rd in the nation. Yet despite the stellar shooting, MU 3 point attempts as a percentage of Field Goal attempts ranks 234th in the country.

Here's what else we know...we have played one of the softest schedules in recent memory. The Marquette non conference schedule was ranked 309th in the country (total of 347 DI schools).

Jimmy Butler....continues to impress. Though he's a junior on paper, he's a "sophomore" in terms of playing experience for Marquette...it's his second year at MU. No sophomore slump for Butler. The young man continues to play hard, smooth as silk and a joy to watch.

Here's what we don't know but think we know.

How will these guys hold up in conference play against bigger, quicker players? The conventional wisdom is that our lack of size and depth is going to be exploited now that the conference season has arrived. Hard to argue against the CW on this. MU has been beaten by NC State, Wisconsin and FSU, all BCS schools with bigger and\or quicker players. On the other hand, MU should have beaten both FSU and NC State so there is hope.

Will Lazar Hayward be worthy of his preseason All Big East 1st team honors? Tough call He's played pretty well so far this year, but his long distance stroke is off from last year. He's shooting only 26% from beyond the arc this year compared to 36% last year. His scoring average is up to 18.7 this year, about 2 points higher than last season. Against the better teams this year, at least on paper, he's had solid games. He scored 19 or more points against Xavier, Michigan, Wisconsin-Madison, and Florida State. He struggled against NC State, scoring 15 points, and shot poorly in that contest. How Hayward does will dictate how MU does.

Can Mo Acker survive the Big East? Mo Acker may not be a stud or a world beater, but statistically he is doing just fine. He has a 2.2:1 Assist to turnover ratio, only bettered on the team by David Cubillan (3:1 ratio). But will he have the same success against the bigger and quicker teams in conference play? What kind of defensive liability will he be on the other end of the court?

What we didn't know but now know

DJO can play ball. This kid is very good. 12 points a game, a pure shooter from deep, and he's courageous enough to take it to the hole. Nice, nice player.

Mbao, despite being granted God's gift of height, is not ready to do much of anything this year. He needs to add weight and muscle along with much schooling in the arts and crafts of the big man position.

Joseph Fulce, it appears will be very much of a role player for Buzz Williams squad this year. After last year's injuries, it was hard to say exactly where Fulce would fit, but he's played well enough in spots to be counted on for 15 to 20 minutes a game and 6 to 8 points along with some precious boards.

What we still don't know and may not this year

Erik Williams. Had some injuries late in his high school career which kept him sidelined. Has a nice college basketball body, but at times looks lost....not atypical for a freshman. Unfortunately, with the loss of players due to injuries, he may be pressed into critical playing time more quickly than originally planned. Hard to say what the rest of the year looks like for Williams.

Dwight Buycks is going to earn the Jerel McNeal imitation award. That's the award where one game you will say this guy is unbelievable and the next game you'll say "I can't believe he is doing that." A ton of talent with this young man, a bit out of control (like McNeal). Seems to be a great lack of consistency (not in effort, but with output) in what to expect statistically each night.

David Cubillan...we hope he's back to his playing ways of his Freshman year. He has shown signs this year, including today, of having his stroke back. Unfortunately, for a senior, he sometimes disappears at critical times. Need his senior leadership to show through if this team is going to have a chance this year at a successful season.


We had MU slotted (in aggregate) for 17 wins, 8 of them in conference. Currently, KenPomeroy.com has MU slotted to finish at 20-10 and 11-7 in the Big East. If that holds true, MU would be going dancing for the 5th straight year to the NCAAs. It seems a bit far fetched, especially since the Big East has performed better than expected this year, but we'll see how things shake out.

The first four games in conference are tough, with many expecting a 1-3 or 0-4 start. If MU can go 2-2, and KenPom predicts, than this could be a better than expected season for the Warriors of Marquette under Buzz Williams.


The sixth-ranked Mountaineers are 10-0 this season and won their BIG EAST opener against Seton Hall 90-84 in overtime.

Tipoff is scheduled for 6pm Marquette Standard Time tonight -- the game will be broadcast on the BIG EAST network.

Dog Bites Man: MU beats Presbyterian 102-62

The toughest aspect of today's game is to decide what the headline should be.

  • MU played a game, and nobody cared. .
  • MU scores 102 . . . with a defense that proves they'll need every point they can get in Big East play
  • Dog Bites Man: MU Beats Presbyterian.

I'll go with the third option.

First, the good. After a somewhat shaky start (the Blue Hose actually held a 12-10 lead with 14 minutes to go in the first half), MU shook off the rust, the cobwebs, and the remainder of their Christmas dinner and took care of business with an impressive offensive outburst, beating the out-manned Blue Hose by a final score of 102-62. The point total was the most for MU this season, and fell just short of the 106 point Bradley Center record set just over a year ago against Chicago State.

As impressive as the point total was, the real story was playmaking, with a season high 24 assists (compared with just 8 versus North Florida), helped by 60.9% shooting from the floor and 57% on treys. As a team MU protected the ball extremely well posting just 4 turnovers.

MU showed nice balance, with six players in double figures, paced by 23 from Lazar Hayward. Dwight Buycks added an MU career high 14 points, Jimmy Butler chipped in 16 points, DJO with 15, Acker with 15, and Cubillan with 10. MU's scoring was rounded out with 6 form starter Joe Fulce, and 4 from Erik Williams off the bench.

The bad: The opponent. Let's dispense with the usual comparisons--RPI (275), Sagarin (315), Pomeroy (320), etc, and simply point out that the Blue Hose have just one win over a D1 opponent this year--Southern. Southern's only win? New Orleans. Presbyterian has been tagged with a 43 point loss to Clemson, a 46 point loss to Illinois, 30 points to Ohio State, 39 to North Carolina--and now 40 to Marquette.

Also bad: MU's Defense. The Blue Hose shot 47.8% overall, and 47.1% on 3 point attempts (compared to 43% overall/33% treys on the season). At one point, Buzz Williams instituted a reverse version of the Scrambled Eggs to find some way to improve a defense that managed to allow the Blue Hose to slice through MU's defense like a hot knife through butter.

The disappointing: Despite 15 minutes of playing time, Youssoupha Mbao did not score and managed just a single rebound. He did have an assist, a block and a steal.

The Ugly: We knew it would be bad. Between the Packers game, MU's Christmas break, and the quality (sic) of the opponent, nobody expected this game to break the record books. They should have held an '80's day promotion, because the crowd (sic) could have easily reminded one of a Bob Dukiet game in the early days of the Bradley Center. When the head coach and the radio broadcast team can hold conversations over the roar (sic) of the crowd, audible over the radio, you know the fans just aren't into it, sounding nothing like the reported 14,321.

Next up: a road trip to 6th ranked West Virginia for a game on Tuesday. WVU is coming off an overtime win over Seton Hall--which was noted for its impressive play by both teams. Given that nobody expects MU to win this game (actually, Pomeroy gives us a 14% shot at winning), MU enters the game with nothing to lose, and possibly a chance to steal one.

Gomarquette.com's coverage

MU/Presbyterian Game Box:

ESPN Coverage Here

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's MU/Presbyterian Report.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

MU returns from Christmas to grab one more cupcake

The Marquette Warriors return from an eight-day Christmas hiatus on Sunday as they wrap-up the non-conference season against the Presbyterian Blue Hose. Tipoff is scheduled for 1pm Marquette Standard Time. The game will only be broadcast on the Interwebs via the clever folks at GoMarquette.com.

Here are the Presbyterian College game notes. Last time out the Blue Hose lost 71-52 to the Dayton Flyers falling to 2-10 on the season.

For more on MU here the official game notes. Enjoy the cupcake!

Friday, December 25, 2009



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Catching up on a few things

OK, so we took a collective break on the blog.....thanks for bearing with us and we hope you are all enjoying the Christmas season. Here are few items of note --

2010 signee Jamail Jones had a great tournament at the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers recently. ESPN said the 6'6" Jones "understands how to spot up from his teammates' dribble drives or free himself by reading his defender, using the screen and cutting to open spots on the floor". One of the guys on MUScoop saw Jones and had this to offer. Flagrant Fouls evaluated Jones' fine play as well.

Fellow 2010 signee Vander Blue dominated late in Madison Memorial's 56-43 win over Milwaukee King. Blue scored 22 points including 10 in the final period to seal the win. According to Slam Magazine, Blue was the most outstanding prospect at the recent Converse/Eastbay Classic held at the Al McGuire Center. The Journal-Sentinel adds a bit more here.

By the way, MU's upcoming game against Presbyterian on December 27th will not include a television broadcast. To view the game, click on GoMarquette -- they'll stream the game live on the interwebs. Tipoff is scheduled for 1pm on Sunday. Last time out the Warriors shellacked the North Florida Ospreys 78-51.

Look for lineup changes for MU. Rosiak reports that Buzz is likely to move away from starting Acker and Cubillan in the backcourt when BIG EAST play begins. Finally.

The guys over at LostLetterman.com sent along a terrific podcast and interview with former Marquette Warriors star, Butch Lee. Lee talks about his new life down in Puerto Rico playing basketball and owning his own sign business. Great stuff, fellas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Butler 2nd best offensive player in country by one count

I wanted to focus on the players still on the MU roster, and hand out some accolades after seeing Pomeroy (www.kenpom.com) publish his first individual rankings of the season. For those of you who don’t following Pomeroy, he basically calculates every trip down the floor for every player, and breaks down the percentage of trips that he steals the ball, rebounds, etc.

Of the 4,000 or so Division 1 players in the country, Pomeroy now ranks Jimmy Butler as the second best offensive player in the country who does something at least one of every five trips down the court.

The only player who is more efficient is Notre Dame’s Tim Abromaitis. To oversimplify somewhat, there are eight individual factors and Butler is among the best in the country in six of the eight - getting to the line (FTRate), overall shooting (eFG%), offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding, blocks and steals. The only two he does not make the leaders board on is assist rate and avoiding fouling, though he just misses on the latter. Once the offensive factors are added together, Butler calculates as the second best player in the country.

Obviously he has been helped by the defensive attention that has to go to Lazar, who Pomeroy clearly identifies as one of the top “Go-to” guys in the country. Hayward has shouldered the burden by taking 40.6% of the team’s shots, the third highest total of any player in the country, and registering as one of the top defensive rebounders in the country by clearing the defensive board 21.9% of the time opponents shoot.

DJO combines with Butler for one of top 11 shooting duos

The one area in which MU has clearly improved this year is overall shooting, thanks to the ability to hit treys. Pomeroy ranks overall shooting by crediting a player for 1.5 shots made if he makes a three-pointer, since of course they are 50% more valuable by giving the team 3 points instead of 2. Only 70 players in Division 1 shoot better than 64% by this calculation, or in other words average scoring 1.28 points per shot taken.

Syracuse, the best shooting team in the country, has three of the top 70 shooters, but MU is one of only 10 Division 1 teams with two players hitting over 64% with DJO joining Butler to accomplish the feat. DJO has hit 16 of 38 two-pointers (42.1%), but an incredible 24 of 43 treys (56%) to combine for a 64.2% effective field goal percentage. By this measure, DJO has put up 81 shots and they’ve resulted in 104 points, or 1.28 points per shot (twice the eFG%). Obviously Butler focuses on higher percentage two-pointers, hitting 43-73 (59% on two-pointers), but he has also added 7 of 10 on treys to keep opponents honest. That puts him slightly ahead of DJO with 1.29 points per shot taken, or 64.4% eFG%.

Syracuse’s three marksmen are Rick Jackson, Andy Rautins and Wesley Johnson. MU has actually already seen the best combo in the country in South Dakota’s Tyler Cain (69.9%) and Jake Thomas (65.5%), and Arizona State, Eastern Kentucky, Maryland, Miami of Ohio, Mississippi State, Notre Dame (Abromaitis and Ben Hansbrough) and Green Bay are the others with two players over 64%.

All four guards making mark

What can’t be missed this year though is the fact that in addition to two clear stars in Butler and Hayward, all four of MUs guards are very good. One player was not going to replace what we lost when Junior Cadougan went down, but all four guards stepped up.

In addition to DJO’s offensive shooting, Mo Acker has led the defensive pressure. Mo is the 31st best player in the country at picking opponent’s pockets. He steals the ball 5.1% of the opponent’s trips down the floor, and leads an MU team that is the 13th best of 347 teams at stealing the ball. MU steals the ball 14.3%, exactly one out of every seven of the opponent’s trips down the floor. This is an incredible number, though as in shooting Syracuse leads the nation with an even more incredible 18.7%.

While they don’t shoot nearly as much as Butler and DJO, it should also be noted that both Cube and Mo are hitting better than 55% eFG%, well above the national average of 48.8%. To give a comparison, they are both better than Lazar’s team high 53% last year. This is particularly encouraging for Mo, who actually was an even better shooter than Lazar at 55% eFG% in 2007, so it appears he is simply returning to form at 57% this year. For comparison, in 2006, none of the guards were anywhere near 50%.

Mo Acker is playing the perfect point guard, as in addition to being one of the top steals guys in the country and being selective in hitting shots when open, he is also ranked among the leaders in assists. When he is on the court, 27.5% of MUs baskets are the result of an assist from Mo, one of the best totals in the country.
In addition to his 55.1% eFG%, David Cubillan is also ranked among the best in the country at never fouling. Per time on the court, DJO, Acker and Cube all rank nationally for their overall offensive performance.

Like Acker, Dwight Buycks is putting up more of point guard stats, being ranked in steals (3.2% of opponents trips) and assists (20.6% of MU buckets).

What we clearly have – and need

The great news is Acker and Cube are clearly improved, and Buycks and DJO hit the ground running as JC transfers. Add to that Jimmy Butler’s amazing play, and this team has two stars (Hayward and Butler) and four very good guards. That makes for a very good six man rotation. Comparing that to the top 6 on the other Big East teams, and MUs top six can clearly finish in the upper part of the Big East.

Obviously the question is whether or not we can possibly have enough depth after losing our starting point guard, center and a back-up but potentially promising forward. It seems to me the key is to (obviously) avoid any injuries among those six, but also Joe Fulce, Youssoupha Mbao, and/or Erik Williams will need to jump on the opportunity for minutes created by Maymon’s departure the same way all four guards jumped on their opportunity when Junior went down.

If two of those three step up I believe MU will be in the upper part of the Big East again. If none of the three step up, then I just don’t think the strong six we have can be expected to do much better than .500 for the season. I am already very confident the next two years will be amazing, but here is to hoping that this year can be special too with Fulce, Mbao and/or Williams developing to a point that we look back and say, “what a surprisingly good year, and Maymon’s departure was the big turning point.”

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Did something happen this week?

Vander Blue was unwittingly dragged into the news a bit this week, but thankfully in a few days he'll hit the court at The Al and forget about the madness. On December 19, Converse and Eastbay will host the 2nd Annual Converse Eastbay Classic the Al McGuire Center. Blue's Madison Memorial squad will play the marquee game at the event against Rufus King.

The classic is an all-day, seven game exhibition. All proceeds from this event will go to the JG Scholarship Fund. Tickets are $7 each.

Here is the schedule:
9:00 a.m. – Valders (Valders , WI ) vs. Shorewood (Shorewood, WI )
10:30 a.m. – South Division (Milwaukee, WI) vs. Waukesha West (Waukesha , WI)
12:00 p.m. – Logan (La Crosse, WI ) vs. Appleton East ( Appleton, WI)
1:30 p.m. – Richards (Oak Lawn, IL) vs. Hamilton ( Sussex, WI)

4:00 p.m. – Girls: Divine Savior Holy Angels (Milwaukee) vs. Muskego (Muskego , WI)
5:45 p.m. – Waupun ( Waupun, WI) vs. Port Washington (Port Washington, WI)
7:30 p.m. – Rufus King (Milwaukee, WI) vs. Madison Memorial (Madison, WI)

Other notes:
How about a look at an MU All-Decade Team? David Kay over at The Sports Bank wrote up a fine post analyzing the best Warriors from the decade.

Mark your calendar for January 30, 2010.
The Nicole Ellis Foundation will sponsor its inaugural Nicole Ellis Shoot Out. The WIAA sanctioned tournament will be held on Saturday, January 30 at South Division High School. All proceeds will go the Nicole Ellis Foundation.

Here is the current schedule:
8:30am King vs. Pius (Fr)
10:00am South vs. Cedarburg (JV)
11:30am King vs. Pius (JV)
1:00pm Washington vs. Beloit Memorial (JV)
2:45pm Washington vs. Beloit Memorial (Varsity)
4:30pm South vs. Cedarburg (Varsity)
6:15pm King vs. Pius (Varsity)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Was Maymon promised a starting spot at Marquette?

In the last 24 hours, plenty of opinions on why J. Maymon has left the Marquette basketball team. One that seems to have some momentum is the notion that Maymon was offered a starting position on the Marquette men's team but is currently not starting. Was this the case?

Only a few people know but there seems little doubt that the Maymons believe that to be the case. In a May 28th article in the Wisconsin State Journal authored by Rob Hernandez, Jeronne Maymon is quoted as saying:

"I chose (Marquette) because I like their style of play and I trust the coach," Maymon said. "I think he's going to push me to become a better player and a better person as a whole. ... They guaranteed me a starting spot. But I know I'm going to have to work just as hard to keep my starting spot when I get there. I know other players are going to want to start and want to be in the spotlight."

Whether you believe a starting spot was actually offered or not, HE BELIEVED IT. He believed it so much that he felt it was necessary to state at his press conference.

In the Madison Times, further comments from Maymon speaks of his trust with Buzz:

"Even though he's a new coach, I trust in him. I think he's going to push me to become a better player and a better person as a whole." "He seemed trustworthy when I talked to him," Maymon added. "I didn't think he was telling me the things I wanted to hear but rather the things I needed to know. He wasn't just talking basketball, he was telling me things about dealing with academics, media, getting to class on time. He was pushing me to stay focused on what I will do."

Look for some interesting potential comments in the coming days about who said what, who promised what. One thing is for sure, on May 28th, Jeronne Maymon thought he was promised a starting position. I can't imagine a head coach promising any player a starting position, those should be earned and not promised. Whether it was a misunderstanding we may never know, but certainly Mr. Maymon felt that position was his at that time.

So, other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Here's the current MU BBall Weekly from MUTV:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jeronne Maymon quits Marquette Men's Basketball Team

News out of Milwaukee is that Jeronne Maymon has quit the Marquette University men's basketball team.

Not much information at this point, only what's on Rosiak's blog


The beat goes on for Buzz and the boys. One has to wonder if Tom Crean were the coach how many cackles among the MU faithful this would bring?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tourney prospects - MU needs to win 3 of 7 swing games to go 9-9, 18-12, make NCAA

This year I expected to simply cheer Marquette through a rebuilding season. I hoped MU could simply stay out of the bottom four in the Big East and have a good showing in the NIT while waiting for Junior and Vander to lead us back to NCAA Tourney wins next year.

However, not only has MU shown flashes of potential to possibly make the tournament THIS year, but there are also indications that the top half of the Big East is a possibility.

Based on Pomeroy (www.kenpom.com) MU should rank as the 6th best team in the Big East tomorrow behind only Syracuse, West Virginia, Georgetown, UConn and Nova. Certainly Seton Hall, Pitt and St. John’s are right behind MU and could push us out of the top half, but Cincinnati’s loss today to an Xavier team that MU handled easily and Louisville’s three losses despite not playing a top 80 team yet indicate MU could finish in the top half of the Big East once again.

Can MU make the NCAA THIS year?

Basically MU likely makes the NCAA if we finish in the top half of the Big East AND are considered one of the top 50 teams in the country at year end. Right now, Pomeroy ranks MU as the 47th best team in the country, right on the bubble.

Obviously the downside is that is largely due to the 6-0 start, and we are heading in the wrong direction after losing three of the first four.

Which performances so far point to an NCAA bid, an NIT or other bid, or staying home after the Big East tournament? The basic rule of thumb I’ve discovered in studying Pomeroy’s rankings (which predicted both the Temple win over Nova and the Xavier win over Cincy today) is that much of the Top 10 is way ahead of everyone else, but after that if you compare two teams’ rankings there is about a 2 point difference for every 15 spots. So if you beat the 100th best team in the country by 2 points, that would indicate you were about the 85th best team that day. Beat them by 4 points, and you were as good as the 70th best team in the country that night, etc., to where if you beat the 100th best team by 12 points then you played like a Top 10 team that night.

So, let’s look at the season so far to see how impressive MU was, based on their margin of victory defeat and the ranking of the opponent so far this season:

MU 1-night national rank based on each game this year

Centenary: 85-62 minus 4 for home court = +19 vs. 276th best team which calculates MU as 134th best team that night

Maryland Eastern Shore: 86-60 minus 4 = +22 vs. 318th best team calculates MU as 153rd best

Grambling: 87-41 minus 4 = +42 vs. 341st best team calculates MU as 26th best

South Dakota: 93-68 minus 4 = +21 vs. 268th best team calculates MU as 111th best

Xavier: 71-61 = +10 vs. 31st best team calculates MU as Top 10 team

Michigan: 79-65 = +14 vs. 152nd best team calculates MU as 47th best

Florida St.: 56-57 plus 2 = +1 vs. 28th best team calculates MU as 21st beat

North Carolina St.: 73-77 minus 4 = -8 vs. 73rd best team calculates MU as 133rd best

UWM: 71-51 minus 4 = +16 vs. 209th best team calculates MU as 89th best

Wisconsin: 63-72 plus 4 = -5 vs. 39th best team calculates MU as 77th best

So to sum up, if MUs post season bid was based only on one game this year, their fate would be:

NCAA tournament based on – Gambling, Xavier, Michigan or Florida State

NIT or other bid – UWM or Wisconsin

No bid at all – Centenary, MD-Eastern Shore, South Dakota or NC State.

The glass half empty is that the last three games have not indicated we are an NCAA team. However, the good news is that an inexperienced team typically improves throughout the season, and the three impressive performances on a neutral court give MU a couple of early season resume builders. With only two creampuffs left before Big East play I believe the path is clear.

Barring any big upsets, MU needs to win just three of the following seven games - Nova, at Providence, Pitt, at Cincy, at St. John's, at Seton Hall and Louisville - to finish 9-9, 18-12 and I believe that makes the tournament by making MU a top 50 team in the top half of the Big East.

This assumes MU takes care of business against N. Florida, Presbyterian, Providence, at DePaul, Rutgers, DePaul, S. Florida, Notre Dame, and does not pull a stunning upset at West Virginia, at Nova, Gtown, at Syracuse or at UConn.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Marquette takes on greatest team ever assembled and coached by Darth Sidious

Marquette is in a position to shock the world today. They will attempt to sling the stone at the evil Philistine, Goliath, in an effort to destroy the evil that is the University of Wisconsin @ Madison basketball team. This will be a challenge unlike any other, for the Marquette Golden Eagles today take on the greatest team ever assembled. The Badgers are led into battle by Darth Sidious himself...manifested here on earth in many shapes (the Grinch, Jimmy Hoffa, Dracula, the dad on Empty Nest) who is often referred to by the name of William "Bo" Francis Ryan, God, his holiness, St. Bo, or just Bo.

Don't ever call him Francis....he'll kill you. He's from Philly, you know.

Marquette has won the last two meetings against the Madison extension of the University of Wisconsin system, despite having lesser men at the helm in Tom Crean and Brent "Buzz" Williams. With the Golden Eagles severely limited by injuries and youth, the prospects for today against the greatest coach to ever walk the sidelines in the state (not named McGuire, Lombardi, Holmgren, Antrim, Cobb, Dukiet or Dunleavy) are slim to none.

Wisconsin brings to the table the vaunted Swing, a system so revolutionary, so precise, so complex and simple at the same time, that only a rare breed from the upper midwest is usually able to execute it. The Swing has resulted in the State Capital extension of UW to zero Final Fours during his tenure, but many wins in a decade where the Big Ten has been hitting on at least 3 of 8 cylinders. Today should be no exception. The Badgers are favored to win this game and coming off a stinging loss to the Green Bay extension of the University of Wisconsin, they will be ready to swing like they've never swung before.

If Marquette were to win, an impossibility but we'll throw it out there just for giggles, it would mark a three game winning streak in the series for the first time since 1984. The last 8 meetings have been split 4 games a piece.

We look for an entertaining game today and some serious home cooking by the zebras, a Bo Ryan special. No one enjoys a glass of whine like Bo Ryan enjoys whine.

Final score is likely to be 42 to 38 unless Bo really gets the turntables pushed forward and we might see both teams break 50.

As a reminder, Bo would like to remind everyone to read. On that note, we would like to thank you for reading our blog. Let's hope David can sling that rock just right today as MU is the decided underdog. Go Marquette!

Can you imagine this promo with the football team at the Madison extension? What grade level of book would have to be used for the visual? Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

NCAA exploring the expansion of bids to NCAA tournament

The NCAA has begun to meet with television executives about possibly expanding the NCAA tournament field. I, for one, have been a proponent of this for a long time. There are now 347 Division 1 teams for 65 NCAA spots. This basically means that 18.7% of schools make the tournament and that number decreases each year. It has become harder and harder to get into the tournament, especially for some schools depending on their conference affiliation. In years past, the percentage of teams making the NCAA tournament was signficantly higher. For example, in 1985 when the field expanded from 48 to 64 teams, almost 25% of schools made the NCAA tournament.

The NCAA has the option to escape from their CBS 11-year, $6 billion deal if they wish. Talks ongoing now are preliminary in nature, but could lead to the tournament going partly (or fully) to cable (i.e. ESPN or FOX). At the end of the 2010 tournament, the NCAA can bolt the current deal.

The proposals being viewed would be to expand the tournament to 96 teams and eliminate the NIT all together. As we all know, the current field does not put the "best 65" into the tournament, but rather the best 40 to 45 plus a lot of conference tournament winners from smaller conferences. This has caused many smaller conference teams from being rejected because they lost in their conference tourney despite having a great season. This has also led to lopsided dominance for the 1, 2 and 3 seeds over the years in the NCAA tournament itself. The expanded field would bring more money to the NCAA and add one week of additional competition for some schools (top seeds would get a bye).

Of course, not everyone agrees. Many fans don't want the change and feel 65 is the correct number. In the end, this is about money. It's going to happen, the question is when. The tournament will expand to 72, 80 or 96 or even larger.

History of changes over the years:

1939 - 1950: eight teams
1951 - 1952: 16 teams
1953 - 1974: between 22 and 25 teams
1975 - 1978: 32 teams
1979: 40 teams
1980 - 1982: 48 teams
1983: 52 teams (four play-in games before the tournament)
1984: 53 teams (five play-in games before the tournament)
1985 - 2000: 64 teams
2001 - present: 65 teams

37-0? Wait, UWM claims win 108 years ago against MU Dental School

Forgive us for the late update, apparently there was a game last night against a huge rival and 19,000 screaming fans were expected to pack the joint. The Brew City Battle, the easties vs the westies, the Cream City Civil War, the Miltown Scrum, the pubes vs the privates......

Unfortunately it didn't happen. 14,400 fans, many taking on the Halloween disguise of blue Bradley Center seats, showed up to watch a rebuilding Marquette Golden Eagles squad defeat UWM (apparently they prefer to be called just Milwaukee but the memo hadn't reached us yet) for the 37th time in a row. MU has never lost in this series, making it the longest winning streak in NCAA history against one opponent without a loss. Syracuse has beaten Colgate 44 straight times, but has lost least once in that series.

Final score was Marquette 71, UWM 51.

Scuttlebutt in the local papers indicates MU will bend over even more in this series and go to a 2 for 1 deal in which MU plays 2 games at home and 1 game at UWM. Compared to a UW-Madison deal where 4 games are played in Madison and 1 game at UWM. The love fest that now exists between MU and UWM is at such levels we feel obligated to help out another school build up their program with no tangible benefit to ours. I'm sure somewhere, someone, has convinced themselves that traveling to UWM (and now UWGB) every other year will endear us in the hearts and minds of fans across the state of Wisconsin. Count me as highly skeptical. MU is a private, national university that has always been viewed with contempt by many of the other basketball programs (and fans) in the state. I don't see that changing one bit, but it certainly provides additional heft to their programs.

There's a reason why UCLA doesn't play AT Loyola Marymount, AT Long Beach State, AT UC Riverside, or why Georgetown doesn't play AT American University. Others will point to Xavier vs Cincinnati as an example where it works. Well yes, because Xavier and Cincinnati are both high quality basketball programs that go back decades. Maybe we want to adopt the DePaul & St. John's model of playing at Fordham or at UIC every so often....those are certainly two programs to emulate (that last line should be in teal).

37-0 officially now.....though for some comedic reading there are some UWM fans that claim the official records provided by BOTH institutions are wrong and that MU actually lost to UWM sometime between the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras. They actually believe that a win against the MU Dental School prior to us even having a team is supposed to count. What's next, intramural victories? Pickup games with 3 UWM guys plus a MSOE grad student defeating a few MU guys and benchy from MATC? It's fun when they don't believe their own athletic department or the NCAA official record book. Must be a huge conspiracy.

A few articles from the "game" last night, including a nice article on George Koonce who is going through some trying times of late with the passing of his wife.

MU downs UWM 71-51 (Journal Sentinel)

MU - UWM series to be extended and more given to UWM \ George Koonce finds comfort

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Marquette hosts mid-major in The Bud Haidet Classic

The Marquette Warriors host the UW-Milwaukee Panthers tonight at the Bradley Center. From what I'm told, the town is positively buzzing about tonight's epic tilt as the demand for this match-up of cross-town programs is at an all-time high. Yeah, right.

Remember "this is clearly an important issue to our fans and our students and fans of college basketball in the city of Milwaukee."

Welcome to The Bud Haidet Classic!!

Are the specifics of the contract still in effect? MU sure hopes so. Marquette is 36-0 against the Panthers. MU hung a hundred on the Panthers last year.

Tipoff for tonight's game is set for 7pm Marquette Standard Time.

Here are the official game notes from MU.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

MU blows another double digit lead to ACC team in 2nd half

For the second time in less than a week, Marquette had a double digit lead in the second half against an ACC team but could not bring home the victory. Last Sunday, MU led Florida State by 17 points in the second half and lost by 1 in the final seconds. Today, in front of the home town crowd at the Bradley Center, MU led by 11 entering the second half only to watch the North Carolina State Wolfpack steam roll them. A somewhat surprising development at North Carolina State was routed at home earlier this week by Northwestern.

Coach Buzz Williams again went with a 7 man lineup, this time hampered by a hip pointer injury to Jeronne Maymon which caused him to miss the game.

MU dominated the first half as they held NC State to just 25 points and cruised to a 36-25 halftime lead. Solid defense on Tracy Smith kept him to only 2 first half points. In the second half, however, NC State scored more than 50 points as MU turned the ball over continuously. Dwight Buycks, DJO and Lazar Hayward had 13 turnovers between themselves, stalling MU's offense and leading to some easy baskets for NC State.

Compounding problems for MU, Smith finally found his offense and torched the Golden Eagles for 17 second half points. NC State also found their stroke from deep as they missed only 1 long range bomb in the second frame and shot nearly 60% from behind the arc. Before MU knew what hit them, they were down by 13 points....a 24 point swing from the end of the first half. A furious comeback at the end failed to get Buzz's squad back over the top.

The final score was NC State 77, MU 73.

Jimmy Butler led the Golden Eagles with 19 points. Lazar Hayward finished with 15, a few points below his season average. DJO and Mo Acker chipped in double digits each for the game. Acker also finished with a team high 7 assists. For the game, MU shot a frigid 38% from the field.

MU's 24 game home court winning streak against non-conference teams comes to an end. Marquette moves to 6-2 on the season and on a 2 game losing streak.

Erik Williams did not play....coach's decision. Former Kentucky coach Billy Gillespie was in attendance. Buzz Williams was an assistant for Gillespie at Texas A&M.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Marquette blows 17 point second half lead to lose Old Spice Classic

Marquette had a golden opportunity to secure the Old Spice Classic in Orlando tonight as they faced the 5-1 Seminoles of Florida State. MU dominated much of the game leading by 12 at halftime and as many as 17 points in the second half.

With under 10 minutes to play, MU still held a double digit lead when the wheels began coming off. Over the course of the next 8 minutes, MU would score just 6 points while bricking free throws, layups, and 3 point shots. FSU tied the game at 48-48 with 3:51 remaining.

Lazar Hayward gave the Golden Eagles a lead again with a jump shot near the free throw line only to have FSU tie it with a tip in. MU surged ahead again with under two minutes to play on a Darius Johnson-Odom layup....the lead was short lived as an FSU three pointer gave the Seminoles their first lead since the early minutes of the first half.

The last minute became a back and forth affair with both teams hitting shots to put their clubs ahead. Senior Mo Acker drove for a layup putting MU up 54-53 with just over a minute to play. FSU answered with a 2 point jumper with 56 seconds to go. After a Buzz Williams timeout, Mo Acker found senior Lazar Hayward for another jumper giving MU a 1 point lead with 32 seconds remaining.

FSU decided to go down low again to Solomon Alabi for a third straight possession while MU chose not to double the post. Alabi spun toward the baseline and hit a short jumper to put FSU up for good at 57-56 with 12 seconds remaining.

After a FSU timeout, MU had a chance to go for the winning shot. Acker brought the ball up and passed to Johnson-Odom who came across the lane and threw an errant pass to high which went out of bounds.

With 3 seconds left, Buzz put Mbao on the inbound passer and it almost worked. Johnson-Odom stole the ball but fell out of bounds. FSU then threw a home run ball that MU also stole with 1 second left but Buzz Williams request for a timeout was not granted while Hayward threw up a desperation shot.

MU lost 57-56. A missed golden opportunity with the game well in hand. Tough to get greedy since very few expected MU to even be playing for the championship tonight, but this is a game they should have won.

The Golden Eagles shot poorly everywhere tonight. Only 52.6% from the free throw line, less than 40% from the field and only 22% from beyond the arc. Fatigue looked to play an important part of MU's shooting woes. The last 10 minutes of the game, MU looked beat. Buzz went with basically a 6 man lineup plus a few token minutes for Maymon and Fulce.

ESPN Recap


Warriors face Seminoles for Old Spice Classic title

Following a pair of surprising wins over Xavier and Michigan, Buzz Williams' crew will go for its third upset in as many outings when Marquette takes on Florida State tonight at 6:30pm on ESPN2.

FSU is 5-1 and advanced to the Old Spice Classic title game by beating Iona and Alabama. The Seminoles rely on a deep, balanced attack, with four players averaging between 9 and 11 points per outing. Nine Seminoles average at least 19 minutes per outing, highlighted by a deep frontline that enables the 'Noles to dominate the glass and to block nearly 9 shots per game.

Leonard Hamilton's bunch is paced by 6'9" sophomore forward Chris Singleton who leads the team with 11 points and 8 rebounds per outing. Former MU recruit Michael Snaer is contributing six points per outing and nailing 67% of his three point attempts.

Marquette will rely on the terrific tandem of Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler to set the pace in tonight's game. The prolific duo averages a combined 36 points and 13 rebounds per outing. While Hayward's consistent production is no surprise to Marquette fans, Butler has been a revelation in the season's early stages. The Texas native is hitting a remarkable 65% from the field and is one of the nation's premier offensive rebounders. A full 45% of Butler's rebounds are secured on the offensive glass.

Of course Hayward and Butler are the beneficiaries of improved guard play from David Cubillan and Maurice Acker. In addition the official Marquette game notes point out that newcomers Dwight Buycks and Darius Johnson-Odom are combining to contribute 19 points and nearly 8 rebounds per game. The pair is shooting nearly 46 percent from the field and 47 percent from behind the 3-point line.

Media links
GoMarquette.com official game notes
Rosiak blogs his preview for the title game
The Talahassee Democrat profiles Solomon Alabi, the 'Noles 7'1" big man. Their biggest fella is good for 10 points and 6 rebounds per game so far this season.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sagarin ranks MU #9 in country - Acker and Butler furthest ahead of projections

Wow, what a start! Looking strictly at the numbers, Jeff Sagarin’s computer rankings have Marquette as the 9th best team out of 347 Division 1 teams, though still an underdog playing in Florida against #20 Florida State tomorrow. Marquette is #33 according to Ken Pomeroy but a clear underdog against #17 Florida State in his rankings.

No one believes we are really a top 10 team, and few would put us in the Top 25. It’s only six games into the season, and MU is very inexperienced and our starting center and point guard already are out for the season, but I wanted to take a quick look at who gets statistical credit for the fast start.

On October 22, I laid out the projected Win Credits for each player on the team, which pointed to a 19-win season. That still may be correct, but I wanted to look back at those projections player-by-player through the fast start.

Who gets credit for the wins?

First a very brief review of how the Win Credits system calculates how many wins a player has been worth to the team statistically, using Jimmy Butler as the example. The formula for Butler through six games shows:

STEP 1 = 100 points + 42 rebounds + 13 assists + 11 steals doubled + 7 blocks doubled – 357 opponents points/10 = 155 contributions

STEP 2 = 155 contributions / 638 team contributions X 6 wins = 1.5 Win Credits

Going back to my October 22 preview post, a typical junior coming off the 1.3 Win Credits Butler had as a sophomore, would improve to 2.0 Win Credits as a junior.

Based purely on stats, we would have expected Butler to be almost dead even with Dwight Buycks as a distant 2nd best player behind preseason All-Big East selection Lazar Hayward. However, his yearly statistics last year don’t measure his incredible finish late in the year, and the fact that he is the hardest working player Buzz has ever coached.

Who besides Butler is ahead of pace?

Therefore it is really no surprise Butler is way ahead of his projected pace. Here is a review of how valuable each player was expected to be in the October 22 post, and which players have been most responsible for the team being 6-0 instead of 4-2 at this pace. In short, Acker is also way ahead of his projected pace, and Cubillan and Buycks are also producing much more than expected.

(Listed in the order of how much they were PROJECTED to contribute, so Mo Acker is listed 9th based on expectations, even though he has actually been the 3rd best player through six games.)

1. Lazar Hayward (Oct. 22 projected 6.4 Win Credits, 1.4 so far) – The only reason Hayward is slightly off his projected pace and just behind Butler to date is the fact that he has only played 25 minutes a game due to 20 fouls and resting with the South Dakota game well in hand. His 12 assists show his continued unselfish play as he gets his young teammates involved and once again takes on the tough task of guarding opposing centers with Otule out.

2. Dwight Buycks (2.1, 0.8) – Many were surprised when I said the 3-star junior JC transfer projected to have more impact than the 4-star freshman. However, 3-star juniors are usually better than 4-star freshman, and at only 6-foot-3, the Milwaukee native is just behind Lazar and Jimmy with 33 REBOUNDS, and actually leads the team with 24 assists to get a solid 0.8 Win Credits, ahead of even the high projection I gave him.

3. Jimmy Butler (2.0, 1.5) – As mentioned above, Butler is actually slightly ahead of Hayward statistically as MU’s top player.

4. Jeronne Maymon (1.7, 0.3) – I really don’t understand some of the bloggers impatience on Maymon, asking why he isn’t “producing” more. As I pointed out October 22, the typical 4-star freshman in the Big East produces a moderate 1.7 Win Credits his freshman year, and clearly most of that is later in the year as they mature. I believe his 0.3 Win Credits are about what you would expect, and he clearly looks like a man among boys at times when he rips the ball away from people. He is already the best rebounder on the team, grabbing 30 rebounds in only 101 minutes for an average of a rebound every 3.4 minutes for tops on the team. Lazar is next at one rebound every 3.9 minutes, Butler and Fulce are at one per 4.4 minutes.

5. Erik Williams (1.7, 0.0) – His 22 minutes are disappointing, but really 11 points and 5 rebounds in half a game is a nice outing. If he and Maymon play a typical 4-star freshman season, MU has at least a great eight-man rotation.

6. David Cubillan (1.3, 0.6) – What a start! We’ve already gotten half of what we’d expect from Cubillan based on his first three years, but the biggest relief is to see his shooting touch finally back (8 for 20 on 3-pointers). However, the most impressive thing is that running the point, where Crean decided he simply couldn’t play, he has 22 assists to only 8 turnovers, almost 3-to-1.

7. Darius Johnson-Odom (1.2, 0.6) – Another player who is ahead of pace out-of-the-gates. His fearless drives and willingness to gun up the 3-pointer at the slightest opening (12 for 24 on treys, are you kidding me?) make defending him a nightmare. I think we are going to occasionally be screaming at him for charges and out-of-control turnovers, but we screamed at Wade for them too.

8. Joseph Fulce (0.9, 0.1) – While the dunk contest got the excitement up of a full return, Otule’s injury really puts some pressure on him to improve his defense. His four blocked shots in limited play are a good start, and he looks comfortable with the mid-range jumper.

9. Maurice Acker (0.8, 0.8) – Mo already has produced as much in six games as he was projected to contribute all year. Typically seniors improve a good bit, but based on his first two years here Mo Acker projected to be our 9th best player this season, and until Junior went down I thought it was good he was going out on a high note. WOW, WAS I WRONG! Based purely on the Win Credits stats, Mo has been MUs third best player behind Hayward and Lazar so far, and has already been worth the 0.8 Wins we would have expected him to contribute the whole season. Leading the team with 14 steals and completely disrupting opposing guards, just behind DJO for third in points, one behind Buycks in assists, and stroking half of his treys (9 of 18).

10. Chris Otule (0.6, injured) – I don’t know how many teams could go 6-0 after losing their starting point guard and center, so this one really stinks. Didn’t expect a huge contribution based on last year, but obviously at 6-foot-10 and improved, he finally gave us the options against big opponents.

11. Youssoupha Mbao (0.3, 0.0) – With Otule out, it would really be nice to get some minutes out of the 7-foot-2 Mbao. However, 3-star freshman usually produce almost nothing (0.3 Win Credits) their freshman season, so we just have to see.

12. Robert Frozena (0.0, 0.0) – You’ve got to love a walk-on who has already hit a three-pointers AND produced a traditional 3-point play with the bucket “and-one!”

While no one believes MU is really the 9th best team in the land, we are playing with the House’s money at this point. This is fun, and if the pattern of inexperienced teams improving throughout the season plays out, we may get to skip the NIT year I was anticipating. The seniors sure deserve it, Lazar for four straight years and Cube and Mo for sticking it out and improving their games so dramatically.

Post-game presser videos

Hat tip to downtown85 for finding these videos from the post-game presser.

Dear Cameraman .. any chance you could invest in some anti-shake technology?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Warriors upset #15 Michigan 76-65

Uh oh. Remember the dire predictions for Marquette's season? Time to recalculate.

Marquette is pretty good. After knocking off Xavier the day before, Marquette dismissed Michigan, who, oh by the way, was ranked #15 in the country.

It's early, but .. get excited Marquette fans. It's on like Donkey Kong. This season isn't going to be the whitewash, (I for one), estimated.

After snacking on 4 of the worst teams in D1, not much could be known. MU is now 2-0 versus quality opponents. When Cracked Sidewalks did their preseason predictions .. all of us predicted a loss to Xavier and most a loss to whoever we played next. Wrong.

Man, what a great Thanksgiving!

Rosiak's Recap
Rosiak's Other Recap
Official Box
Marquette recap

ESPN Video Highlights

Rob Lowe, our Vice President of Statisticology adds:

This was a fairly offensive game for Marquette, as they averaged almost 1.27 points per possession compared to Michigan's 1.04 ppp. Marquette did great at effective field goal percentage (58.5%) today, which was the key for the game. However, MU also won the offensive rebounding (39% vs 31%) and free throw rate (40% vs 33%) battles. And even though Michigan did better on turnover rate (their 14% vs our 16%), both teams protected the ball at a better than average rate. Just like in the Xavier game, MU won three of the Four Factors to earn the "W".

In the quick MUScoop preview, the two early matchups were the ability to force turnovers and get to the free throw line. Marquette did a good job of getting to the free throw line at a rate of almost 40%, but only harassed Michigan into a turnover rate of 14%.
Video from MU:

Marquette foils Xavier in Old Spice Classic

Athos, Porthos and Aramis were no match for Hayward, Butler and Acker as the Marquette Warriors (5-0) raced to a surprising and convincing 71-61 win over the Xavier Musketeers (3-1) in the opening round of the Old Spice Classic. Hayward led MU with 27 points, while Bulter finished with 15 and Acker chipped in with 11.

With the win MU advances to play the Michigan Wolverines today at 11am Marquette Standard Time on ESPN. The 15th-ranked Wolverines topped Creighton 83-76 in overtime on Thursday.

Rob is warming up on the evaluating the Four Factors -- check out his quick assessment of the game and a look ahead to today's tilt over on MUScoop.

Media update
Rosiak recaps the win
gomarquette.com recap (AP)
Rosiak blog recap
MU fans are happy
Xavier fans are not happy

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Warriors battle the Musketeers in Orlando

Now that Marquette (4-0) is done with cupcakes, the season truly begins with the 2009 Old Spice Classic. MU's opening round matchup against Xavier (3-0) is set for 1pm on Thanksgiving Day. The game will be MU's first national broadcast on the season, shown on ESPN2 with Lou Canellis and Len Elmore (yay) calling the action.

Here is the Marquette Official Release, including their Game Notes. Did you know that Xavier is one of our longest-running rivalries? Marquette owns a 42-16 advantage in the series (***though I must admit that Xavier's 98-93 overtime win over MU in 1991 was the most disappointing loss of my undergraduate days at MU....Jamie Gladden and Jamal Walker were a helluva backcourt. MU should have won that game.).

Let's get back to the topic at-hand.

Marquette has cruised to a 4-0 record against a group of teams that can charitably be called 'weak'. Still, winning games against the likes of Little Debbie, Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines is good for the ego and likely the right call for a team so heavily reliant on newcomers.

Among MU's positives this season has been the consistent scoring of Jimmy Butler. The 6'6" junior came into his own late last season, excelling as a role player in March. So far this season Butler has been extraordinarily efficient on the offensive end and continues to be one of MU's most reliable rebounders. It is still very early but Butler's Offensive Rating is 160 at a usage of just 14%. Keep in mind that 100 is average and 120 is very, very good. For the season Butler is averaging 17 points and nearly 7 rebounds per game.

Seniors David Cubillan and Maurice Acker, oft-maligned by yours truly, are both enjoying a renaissance during their last collegiate season. The tough-minded Cubillan is displaying the shooting form he demonstrated early in his career. The Venezuelan native is connecting on 50% of his shots from the floor and better than 38% from deep, marked improvements from his abysmal performance last season (27% from the floor and 29% from behind the arc). Meanwhile Acker is sizzling from the field in the early going, hitting on 50% of his shots including 50% from deep. Perhaps Acker's little sleeve thingy is somewhat of a good luck charm.

From a stats-perspective, Xavier has also been playing a bit of a cupcake schedule, and they've been crushing it. After three games, Pomeroy considers them the tenth best team in the country, but honestly, it's way too early. However, here are some things to look at for Xavier.

  • They have been hitting an eFG% of almost 67%. The Musketeers are making 60% of their two-point shots and 54% of their threes. IU transfer Jordan Crawford is pouring in 21 points per game and shooting better than 61% from the floor through the season's first 3 outings.
  • Xavier is suffocating the interior defense, and limiting opponents to 36% inside. 6'9" forward Jason Love is a big reason why with nearly twelve boards per game (not to mention the 13 points per game he's averaging).
  • They've also been stopping opponents from hitting the boards (only allowing an OR% of 21%)
  • Their one weakness is that they don't force a lot of turnovers (14.1% forced). So one of the areas that is a real Marquette strength (protecting the ball) won't really matter against XU....... sweet
Based on Thursday’s result, Marquette will compete against either Michigan or Creighton Friday afternoon.

PS - Rosiak had another chat two nights ago. More good stuff from Todd.

Want to see what the Musketeer fans think about today's game? Visit their board for more.

**Joint post by Rob Lowe and Tim Blair

Marquette Early Season Tea Leaves

Before we kick into the preview of Xavier later, it's worthwhile to look at Marquette and how Marquette has been performing. This ended up being just a little more information than would fit in the Xavier preview. Let us state up-front, this is all just early returns based on four games, and there are almost no conclusions that can be drawn from the data. That said, we found it interesting to look at some of the early clues.

From the Pomeroy Scouting report:

Consistent with Last Year
Yet again, Marquette is doing a great job protecting the ball (TO% of 16%). If you recall, Marquette was #11 in the country last year at protecting the ball. Granted, this is early in the season, but the cross-season consistency with protecting the ball is great.

In addition, Marquette has also done a good job of scoring 2-point baskets this season, which was also a strength last year.

Inconsistent with Last Year
Marquette has also done a good job of effective field goal percentage (57.5%; #19 overall), forcing turnovers (27.3%, #16 overall) and limiting offensive rebounds by opponents (21.8%, #6 overall). The Warriors did not do any of these things particularly well last year (#85, #122, and #97, respectively), so it remains to be seen if that trend will continue this season.

What has been a big difference from last year is the Free Throw Rate disparity. Last year, Marquette tried (and often succeeded) at making more free throws than their opponent attempted. This has not been the same situation so far, as Marquette has been getting to the line less than their opponents early. Some of this can be chalked up to the zone defenses, and some of this can be attributed to the different mix of players. In addition, the results both offensively and defensively have been pretty variable, so I expect the results to smooth themselves out over time.

What has also been somewhat concerning is how well opponents have been able to score. In comparison to how well other BE teams are playing, opponents have been able to hit a higher percentage of field goals against MU. Part of this is also because opponents are getting to the line more often against Marquette than they are against other BE teams.

As Buzz likes to say, the team's character will be revealed over the entire season, but especially starting tomorrow. Check back later for our Xavier preview.