"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, September 24, 2010

Guest Post: Efficiency, Schmeffiency?

Sometimes a post or two comes along and we say, "I wish I had thought of that". This is the first of two such posts. A few months ago, MUScoop poster Dr. Blackheart wrote an excellent post on Efficiency, Schmeffiency? and used it to look deeper into Marquette's turnovers.

With his permission, we are republishing a few posts, because some ideas need a wider distribution.

Efficiency, Schmeffiency?

Entering his third year at the helm, Buzz Williams, for the first time, has an entire roster of his recruits in place (including three he recruited as an assistant). Inherited from his days as an assistant were two separate groups of experienced and accomplished guards and a NBA first round forward who have moved on. In are two straight nationally ranked recruiting classes.

What have we learned about Buzz Williams compared to other recent MU seasons that will shed light on who will be seeing the most minutes in the upcoming season? One, we know from Pomeroy that the Warriors were one of the smallest teams (341st in average height) last year, and Buzz has moved to remedy that. Two, he has balanced his classes by bringing in experienced and decorated JUCO’s over his first two classes. Three, he has brought in quickness and length with his athletically gifted freshman class. So, who starts?

Offensive Efficiency

MU ranked 22nd in Pomeroy’s adjusted efficiency ranking last season and ninth the prior year. Clearly, as Buzz has stated, he values every possession. To provide context, in the top 100 MU games in offensive efficiency since the 1996-97 season, Buzz’s two teams own 23 of those games, or 11.5 games per season of a rating in a game over 118.5. In contrast, teams coached by Tom Crean averaged 7.7 games per season over that level while Mike Deane’s teams averaged 2.7 games. Why does efficiency matter? MU won 95% of these 100 games!

Low Turnovers Despite High Turnover

So, how has Buzz accomplished this with the Three Amigos graduating and two severely undersized guards replacing them? While MU had a great eFG% year, and Jimmy got to the line at a high rate, the simple answer is a low number of turnovers. Consider this, in the lowest 100 turnover games since the 1996-97 season, a Buzz team owns 36 of these games—or 18 per season. Both Mo (3:1 A/TO, 1st in BE and 4th nationally) and Cubes (2.7:1 A/TO 2nd in the BE and 12th nationally) will be hard to replace from last year as were the Three Amigos. Again in contrast, Crean’s teams own 55 of these games, or 6.1 per season. And, Deane’s teams own nine or 3 per season. Startling! Even more amazing, Buzz’s teams own the lowest six turnover games in the past 14 MU seasons:

Who Starts?

Jimmy Butler led the BE in offensive rating last year and was 6th nationally (editor's note - JFB for POY). Joe Fulce is second among returnees with a ORating of 112.3. DJO equaled Lazar’s 108.1. Who else will step up to fill the backcourt gap of Mo (118.4) and Cubes (120.2) then? Junior seems like he fits Buzz’s “MO”, but he had an Orating of 54.1 and a A/TO ratio of 1.3 in an injury impacted season. Dwight (95.3 OR with a lot of minutes) and EWill (88.8 under limited minutes) were inefficient, as was Otule, in very limited action (87.2). The JUCO POY Crowder, a great passer, perimeter player, and who can go inside to earn a shot at the foul line looks like a good bet over those three—but he is a late arrival as he finishes up his JUCO classes. And, “the best thing about freshman are that they become sophomores”.

Whoever gets the starting call will get a quick hook if he turns it over, that is for Buzz sure.
Thanks, Dr. Blackheart.

Want to dig in deeper? (Go visit the thread on MUScoop)

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