"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

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Guest Post: Raining Threes Again?

This is the second of two guest posts from Dr. Blackheart. The first one looked at turnovers. This one digs into how much MU will continue to launch the three, and guesses at the starting lineup.

Raining Threes Again?

Previously, we discussed how Buzz puts players on the floor who simply do not commit turnovers — with the 2009-10 team committing the least amount of turnovers in Marquette’s recorded history (since 1979-80 when official negative stats started to be collected) . And, how that should be a lead indicator of who will earn playing time. When Buzz talks “toughness”, he really is not talking just about physical toughness, but also mental toughness…which may also provide a strong clue as to why he has a low patience quotient for some recruits (Roseboro, Newbill) or enrolled student athletes in his reign (Acker, JMay, Cubes). Certainly, Buzz shares that philosophy with Tom Crean, and it is why when players like Wes and Lazar make it to “The League”--pro scouts are starting to notice and appreciate the “toughness trait”.

Successful programs build on year to year success. Back to back nationally rated recruiting classes are an important sign in Buzz’s two years. A third in a row would be something MU has not seen in decades. Yet, success also is dependent on the system which is implemented. While Buzz runs the motion offense, he has been adaptable to the talent he can employ and who earn floor time. By stressing efficiency and patience on shot selection based on his talent on the floor, he has been able to keep MU in games where they simply did not have the physical match-ups. Lowering the tempo last season kept MU out of foul trouble, and stressed working the motion offense for shots MU’s talent could make.

We had the low turnover discussion which is a direct offshoot of Buzz’s efficiency obsession, but let’s now talk three pointers. The 2009-10 Archers made the most treys in MU’s basketball history. MU also shot the 2nd highest trey percentage last year at 41.3% next to the 1988-89 Bob Dukiet team of 45.3%. Let’s remember that the trey line has been moved back, however. Based on national statistics, the arc change in 2008 dropped shooting percents 0.9% clicks, for the record. (Of course, how a losing Dukiet team could achieve such record is another discussion.)

MU had an incredible four starters over 40% on treys: Mo jumped from 28.8% to 49.5%, Cubes jumped from 29.5% to 41.2%, JFB jumped from 0.0% to 50% and DJO was lights out at 47.4%. Zar was at a respectable 34.9% from 35.8% with three defenders hanging onto him on the inside. Even Joe on a few attempts was long-range accurate at 36.4%.

The likelihood that this will be repeated is low. Why? Buycks was not particularly accurate at 27.3% from behind the line. Junior didn’t even make a field goal last season—a two or three. Erik was 0 for 1 in garbage time minutes. The rest of the roster is made up of MU rookies or relative rookies due to injuries. Yes, they all have considerable athletic talent—and give us match-up depth for the first time in years--but are they or will they be “talented” enough in Buzz’s systems to see significant playing time?

From JUCO, we know that Jae will be good, although his orientation into D1 will take some time. Otule will see playing time—but it will be because of defensive purposes instead of fitting into Buzz’s offense. Since Junior is a distributor PG, those two’s playing time may be linked. I can see an energy three guard set of Reggie, Dwight and Vander. I can also see a three forward set of Joe, Jimmy and Jae that will see a lot of minutes with Junior/Dwight and DJO at the guards. I can even see a four guard set see lots of minutes. How about this line-up? Junior at PG, JFB at 2, Jae at the 3, Joe/Erik at the 4 and Otule at the 5?

So, based on Buzz’s penchant for mistake free basketball, including turnovers and shot selection, here is my starting five: Jimmy, Junior, Joe, Jae, and DJO. The name “The 4 Js and DJ” is fitting. Dwight will be the 6th man because of his energy. Hard to see the rookies replicating the offensive efficiency—and a 14-4 BE record seems like a long shot based on roster continuity versus the promise of potential.
Thanks, Dr. Blackheart.

Again, want to go deeper into the conversation? Join the thread at MUScoop.

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