"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

Friday, April 03, 2009

McNeal ranks as 9th best player in Marquette history

I know everyone is ready to move onto recruiting news and the next era, but the publisher is not reissuing the Ultimate Hoops Guide – Marquette University, so I wanted to post the new calculations after the 2008-09 season here so anyone who has the book can stick this in the back cover.

I know I have been an unabashed Pollyanna on this class, but rather than give my opinions on where these players rank, this column is just the result of the final number-crunching after the 2008-09 season. On January 15th, I posted that Jerel McNeal was on pace to finish as the 19th best player in MU history while Dominic James and Wesley Matthews were on pace to finish just outside the Top 20.

While the latter two stayed on that pace, McNeal then exploded to put up amazing numbers through most of the Big East season and become only the second player since Butch Lee in 1978 to be selected as one of the top 10 players in the country by the AP (2nd Team All-American).

Statistically one of the thinnest teams in history: The first calculation estimates each players’ “Win Credits,” which is a measure of how many wins he was worth to the team based purely on statistics. The formula gives McNeal 7.4 Win Credits, Wesley Matthews 6.6, Lazar Hayward 6.3, Dominic James 3.4, Jimmy Butler 1.3 and Dwight Burke 0.1. Based purely on statistics, 81% of the teams wins came from the top three players. The only other time that’s happened since 1931 was in 1960 when Don Kojis, Walt Mangham and Jim Kollar were the only three left from the previous year's Sweet 16 team, and accounted for 84% of the team's wins. Tony Smith, Trevor Powell and Tyrone Baldwin were just under 80%, but had some help from Mark Anglavar.

McNeal had best season since Wade. The best seasons in history are calculated by how many Win Credits the player was on pace for per 100 games played. By that measure, McNeal had the best season (21.1 wins per 100 games, 21st best ever), since 2003 when Wade had the best season ever (28.0, 1st). Both Wes and Lazar put up one of the best 50 seasons in history this year - Matthews (18.7, 37th), Hayward (17.9, 48th). The other three statistical contributors were Dominic James (9.8, 232nd), Jimmy Butler (3.8, 477th), Dwight Burke (0.2, 643rd). The rest of the team didn’t register any Win Credits, though Acker would have broken through with another game or two. In history, most player seasons (877 of 1,529) have not included enough contributions to merit Win Credits.

After combining each players' seasons into a “Career Statistical Rating” (0 to 31.2 scale with Bo Ellis ranking 31.2), each player gets an “Impact Rating” of 0-10 based on how far he takes the team, and a 0-15 “Dominance Rating” which gives points for All-American and All-Conference honors and NBA credentials (how high was he drafted and how long did he play).

These calculations were developed a year ago, so they are not tailored to the current players.

1st Calculation - Career Statistical Ratings: The Career Statistical Rating is the biggest factor in a player's rating in this system, and without going into a long explanation here, the highest career statistical ranking is a 31.2 for Ellis. McNeal is the 8th best statistical player in MU history with a 25.7 rating, followed by Matthews (20th at 21.8), James (24th at 21.4) and Hayward (27th at 19.7 with one year to play).

2nd Calculation - Impact: The second factor in my rankings is the Impact Rating – and this is where the Three Amigos are hurt by never cracking the Sweet 16. A table referencing how far each team went and how key the player was to that year's success determines the ranking. A “tier 1” team is a Final Four team, a “tier 2” team is a team that made the Elite 8 or was ranked in the top 8 at the end of the season. Therefore, the Three Amigos never ranked higher than a “tier 3” team – a ranked team but not one that made a deep run.

On this count, McNeal and company will always rank behind the likes of Ellis, who was a key part of two National Championship games, and Maurice Lucas and Dwyane Wade, who were each clearly the best player on a Final Four team. However, as the only class outside of the McGuire years that has finished three straight seasons ranked, the formula gives James and McNeal each an “8,” Matthews a “7” and Hayward a “6.”

3rd Calculation - Dominance: The third factor is based on the accolades the player received by being selected as an All-American or All-Conference player, and where they were picked in the NBA draft (which used to go 10 rounds deep). There are always unselfish players like Doc Rivers who don’t rank quite at the top statistically, but still calculate as elite players because writers and coaches name them All-Americans and NBA scouts get them drafted.

On this front, McNeal’s selection as a 2nd team All-American gives him a “13” on a scale of 1-15, while James gets a “10” for having been an Honorable Mention All-American in 2005, and Matthews will likewise get a “10” assuming projections are correct, and he is a 2nd round draft pick in the upcoming NBA draft. If not, he would slip to a “9” based on being selected 2nd team Big East this year. Hayward already is an “8” for his previous conference accolades.

McNeal 2nd player since Rivers to be picked as one of the best 10 in the country: While it is true that Marquette has had six All-Americans since Doc Rivers, four of those have been Honorable Mentions, meaning they were among the 50 or so best players in the country. Only Wade (1st team in 2003) and McNeal (2nd team this year), were selected by national sports writers as among the 10 best players in the country.

Since the AP started selecting All-American teams in 1948, only four other Marquette players have been likewise among the 10 best players in the US by their measure – Dean Meminger (1971), Jim Chones (1972), Butch Lee (1977 & 1978) and Dwyane Wade (2003). Converse picked two other Marquette players among the five best in the country; Ed Mullins (1934) and Don Kojis (1961), and a total of 26 Marquette players have been listed on other All-American teams or received at least an honorable mention from the AP.

Where do they rank all-time?

So after compiling a 94-41 record in four years, where do the Three Amigos rank all-time?

McNeal’s All-American final season propelled him from No. 26 all-time, to the 9th best player in the history of Marquette basketball based on crunching these numbers. Matthews actually made a bigger jump, as he was ranked only as the 70th best player before this season, but moved all the way to No. 22 on the list – virtually tied with James (21st). Meanwhile Hayward is currently at 35th all-time with a season left to play. The following lists the Top 50, followed by the records their teams had and the years they played:

1, Dwyane Wade, (53-13 in 2002, 03); 2, Maurice (Bo) Ellis, (101-18 in 1974, 75, 76, 77); 3, Alfred (Butch) Lee, (99-17 in 1975, 76, 77, 78); 4, George Thompson, (68-20 in 1967, 68, 69); 5, Dean Meminger, (78-9 in 1969, 70, 71); 6, Jim Chones, (53-5 in 1971, 72); 7, Maurice Lucas, (51-9 in 1973, 74); 8, Don Kojis, (52-29 in 1959, 60, 61); 9, Jerel McNeal, (94-41 in 2006, 07, 08, 09); 10, Earl Tatum, (101-15 in 1973, 74, 75, 76).

11, Terry Rand, (48-29 in 1954, 55, 56); 12, Dave Quabius, (26-10 in 1938, 39); 13, Jerome Whitehead, (76-13 in 1976, 77, 78); 14, Tony Smith, (54-60 in 1987, 88, 89, 90); 15, Larry McNeil, (50-8 in 1972, 73); 16, Travis Diener, (91-37 in 2002, 03, 04, 05); 17, Jim McIlvaine, (71-48 in 1991, 92, 93, 94); 18, Lloyd Walton, (76-11 in 1974, 75, 76); 19, Glen (Doc) Rivers, (62-30 in 1981, 82, 83); 20, Bernard Toone, (98-20 in 1976, 77, 78, 79).

21, Dominic James, (44-21 in 2006, 07, 08, 09); 22, Wesley Matthews, (44-21 in 2006, 07, 08, 09); 22, Ed Mullen, (40-14 in 1933, 34, 35); 23, Gary Brell, (54-4 in 1970, 71); 24, Michael Wilson, (83-36 in 1979, 80, 81, 82); 26, Bob Lackey, (53-5 in 1971, 72); 27, Sam Worthen, (40-16 in 1979, 80); 28, Joe Thomas, (73-14 in 1968, 69, 70); 29, Gene Berce, (25-39 in 1945, 47, 48); 30, Steve Novak, (85-41 in 2003, 04, 05, 06).

31, Joseph (Red) Dunn, (52-28 in 1922, 23, 24, 25); 32, Richard Quinn, (52-28 in 1922, 23, 24, 25); 33, Aaron Hutchins, (86-40 in 1995, 96, 97, 98); 34, Allie McGuire, (78-9 in 1971, 72, 73); 35, Lazar Hayward, (74-30 in 2007, 08, 09); 36, Tony Miller, (81-42 in 1992, 93, 94, 95); 37, Walt Mangham, (47-29 in 1958, 59, 60); 38, Amal McCaskill, (84-42 in 1992, 94, 95, 96); 39, Chris Crawford, (90-38 in 1994, 95, 96, 97); 40, Ric Cobb, (50-8 in 1969, 70).

41, Ron Curry, (47-39 in 1991, 92, 93); 42, Marcus Washington, (76-13 in 1972, 73, 74); 43, Cordell Henry, (70-50 in 1999, 2000, 01, 02); 44, Brian Wardle, (64-54 in 1998, 1999, 2000, 01); 45, Damon Key, (71-48 in 1991, 92, 93, 94); 46, Russ Wittberger, (60-43 in 1952, 53, 54, 55); 47, Robert Jackson, (27-6 in 2003); 48, Kerry Trotter, (75-45 in 1983, 84, 85, 86); 49, Roney Eford, (88-37 in 1993, 94, 95, 96); 50, Oliver Lee, (84-31 in 1978, 79, 80, 81).

While Dwight Burke obviously did not focus on stats, he went out with 10 rebounds against Missouri and finishes his career ranked as the 238th best among the 671 all-time players. Jimmy Butler cracked the Top 200 at 198th, with two seasons left to go. If anyone wants a list past the Top 50, just email me at jpudner@concentricgrasstops.com and I'll email it right back to you - I don't want to eat up too much space on this post.


Unknown said...

In the all-time rank, why are DJ and Wes' records 44-21? That's only 2 seasons worth of records. Why are they not the same as Jerel?

JohnPudner said...

They are the same as Jerel - computer glitch in the dump that I thought I'd fixed. Thanks for the catch.