"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

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Improved Guard Play Will Be Key To Reversing Trends

Tonight, Marquette begins a difficult two-game stretch of road games.  Unfortunately, despite the recent conference opening win over Villanova, the Warriors have been slumping.  This chart shows the cumulative total of how many points Marquette has been winning (or losing) by since the second Norfolk State game.

However, that chart just shows Marquette plateauing, mostly due to two rough losses.  There is a definite slump on the current efficiency trends.  Below is a five-game moving average of Marquette's efficiency (offensive and defensive) since the NFSU #2.

Both our offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency are getting worse as the season goes along.  Part of this can be chalked up to poor recent outings.  However, consider that Marquette hasn't been strong offensively almost the entire month of December (Northern Colorado is the exception).  That the defensive efficiency is getting worse is not really a surprise (unfortunately), but the offensive trend is a real concern.  After all, offense has never been an issue under Buzz.

When we look at the same trends of the top three players on Marquette (Jae, DJO, and Gardner), their net contributions are still continuing to trend mostly upwards.  DJO has also had a stretch of slumping/plateauing.  However, it is the play of the remaining guards that tells a different story.
Junior's contributions float along sideways and are fairly varied.  Lately, his net contributions have been either  really good or really bad on the court.  It is the current trends of Vander Blue and Todd Mayo that are concerning.  After a very strong start to the season for both players, their net contributions on the court are both trending negative, somewhat in mirror to the overall team trends.

After the year that Vander had last year, this is especially reason to worry.  He likewise started the year strong and struggled mightily at the end.  Mayo was sensational to open the season, but he remains a freshman.  It would be the exception for Todd to not have struggles this year.  Regardless of what happens, we will almost certainly need their overall contributions to improve for Marquette to get better.  Improved guard play tonight and this weekend appears to be the key.

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