"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, February 13, 2011

Does MU need Blue and Otule to turn up pressure?

Final thoughts before tip-off at Georgetown on MUs chances to pull the big upset …

If we are going to press today and/or the rest of the season, the Big East's best shot-blocker (Otule) and MUs top steals defender (Blue) may have to play more minutes.

With MUs success pressing Nova and USF, many hope that MU will press hard at Georgetown today to speed the game up. In looking at www.kenpom.com in conference games only, there are two unbelievable mismatches on the court today.

Georgetown hits 54.9% of their 2-pointers in Big East play, while MU is next to last in defending 2-point shots (53.7%) because we are next-to-late in blocking shots (only 7.6% of opponents shots).

Marquette is the best at forcing turnovers and Georgetown is next to worst (S. Florida) at protecting the ball – both over 20% of trips in Big East play, so MU could easily force turnovers in 25% of trips.

So, if you throw in a press to increase turnovers EVEN MORE but allow EVEN MORE easily looks at shots near the basket, I suppose MU could force 20 turnovers and pull the upset, or allow 65% shooting from the floor and lose by double digits.

Otule and Blue key?

I realize many may be envisioning a line-up of DJO, Butler, Crowder, Buycks and either Junior or Fulce harassing the Hoyas, but I actually think the press may require more minutes out of Chris Otule and Vander Blue.

The moment a press is broken, the players look at the hoop and it’s nice to have a 6-11 shot blocker waiting there to make them pull it out. And here is a news flash that shocked me when I pulled up the numbers. While MU has been one of the worst shot blocking teams in the country for years, that is no longer the case when Chris Otule is on the court, because OTULE IS THE BEST SHOT-BLOCKER IN THE BIG EAST.

While Otule has only played 36.5% of our minutes, when he is on the court, he blocks 9.7% of opponents shots, the best total in the Big East:

Best blocked shot percentage in BE
1. Chris Otule Marquette 6-11 260 So 9.70%
2. Terrence Jennings Louisville 6-9 220 Jr 9.55
3. Julian Vaughn Georgetown 6-9 247 Sr 9.12
4. Baye Moussa Keita Syracuse 6-10 220 Fr 8.87
5. John Flowers West Virginia 6-7 215 Sr 8.70
6. Dane Miller Rutgers 6-7 215 So 8.29
7. Rick Jackson Syracuse 6-9 240 Sr 7.72
8. Bilal Dixon Providence 6-8 228 So 7.49
9. Alex Oriakhi Connecticut 6-9 240 So 7.40
10. Gary McGhee Pittsburgh 6-10 250 Sr 7.21

MU can go after steals much more aggressively when Otule has their back. Could we have a Jim McIlvaine emerging here?

Obviously the biggest key to pressing is steals and turnovers, so it seems to me we also need our best ball hawk on the court, and that is Vander Blue, who is one of only 14 players in the Big East who personally steals the ball on 3% or more of opponent’s possessions.

MUs best at steals
14. Blue 3.0%
19. Crowder 2.9
37. Buycks 2.2
40. Butler 2.2
49. Cadougan 2.1
80. DJO 1.3

Obviously it’s nice to have two front line players that are so good at stealing the ball, as Crowder ranks 5th in the Big East and Butler 10th in the Big East among front line players in steals.

But with Blue on the court, MU probably becomes the top team in the conference at forcing turnovers, and when he sits down MU drops to just above average.

I don’t know if Blue will be on the court today or not, but if MU is going to take on the extra fatigue and fouls to press and change the dynamics the rest of the year, these two emerging defensive stars are going to have to be part of an 8-man rotation.

No comments: