"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, February 08, 2012

Underclassmen’s dominant performances Monday could indicate a great present (March Madness) and future (winning new Big East)

The support class that emerged Monday night to turn a 12-point deficit into a 13-point win gives great hope for March Madness this year, and even more for just how far the program could go in the future Big East that we learned yesterday would include Memphis.

Junior Cadougan had 8 more assists Monday to make Marquette the 3rd best assist team in the country (65.7% of all baskets off of assists), while the ESPN crew discussed whether Jae Crowder OR DJO had the better shot at being player of the year in the Big East. DJO is on the Wooden List as one of the Top 25 candidates for national Player of the Year, while Crowder is statistically superior to everyone else in the conference except perhaps Kevin Jones.

But with no other junior or senior on the team, Monday’s performance may have shown the true potential for a run this year, as well as brimming optimism over the future of the program in the new Big East. Even if you drop the great performances by Junior, DJO and Crowder Monday and just look at the stats from four other players – then throw in Davante Gardner’s stats from his last game before the injury, you end up with an incredible box score:

Jamil Wilson, F39 8 11 2 2 1018
Vander Blue, G23 5 10 6 6 316
Todd Mayo, G17 2 4 2 2 06
Derrick Wilson, G7 1 1 - - 02
Davante Gardner, F24 5 7 5 9 715
Total110 21 33 15 19 2057

When you run the math on all of the stats for these five (including turnovers, etc.) the math suggests that they would have used 38 possessions to scored their 57, thus averaging about 1.5 points per trip on their 64% shooting from the floor and 79% from the line.

On the defensive end, Jamil added two blocked shots and two steals, and all three guards played phenomenal defense. Granted, Gardner is still weak overall on the defensive end, but with the other four playing that kind of defense, just having the big body to put on someone and grab some rebounds could make this a very strong defensive team.

That’s in 110 minutes, folks, with those five only using 38 possessions out of the typical 70 trips a game MU takes down the court. That means you could have DJO, Crowder and Junior average an easy 30 minutes between them and even if they were all off a little and just scored 32 points in the 32 trips that one of the three of them used the possession, that’s 89 points and an awfully impressive defensive performance. If the three of them play just average games with the five above doing that, and MU may score 100.

While a tournament foe would be tougher than DePaul and hold these numbers down some, there would only be a couple of teams in the country who would have a chance against MU with that kind of performance.

MU could run up future Big East titles

And with the announcement today that Memphis will be joining the Big East, that paints an even better picture for life in the future Big East.

Most of the time, players get substantially better every year, so if those five put up numbers at least that good in two years, then any combination of contributions from potential superstar Deonte Burton, Aaron Durley, Steve Taylor, Jamal Ferguson, TJ Taylor, Juan Anderson, Jake Thomas, Jamail Jones and possibly even a medical red shirt Chris Otule could easily have Marquette atop the Big East in two years.

At which point you may ask, “yes, but will winning the Big East be a big deal in two years?” For argument’s sake, let’s say that now that Rick Pitino has gotten his first wish and Memphis is joining, that he gets his other wish and Temple is the final addition.

If we look at the new conferences in two years under those scenarios using Pomeroy’s current ratings, the Big East still looks great. As the Table below shows, the Big East and the Big Ten would be the only two conferences with eight Top 50 teams. Taking the best 12 teams in each conference, the Big East and Big Ten would easily be the top two conferences, with an average projected winning percentage of 0.817 and 0.812 respectively.

2014 ConfTop 10 teamsTop 50Ave. best 12
Big 10OSU, Wis, MSU, Ind80.817
Big EastNone-Gtown 13th80.812
SECKent, Missouri50.785
ACCSyr., UNC50.798
Big 12Kan, Bayl60.759
MWCNone-N. Mex 11th20.713
MVCNone-Wich St 16th20.653
A10None-St. L 12th20.652
Pac 12None-Cal 21st20.647
CUSANone-S.Miss 44th10.639

Yes, the conference would lack a Top 10 program, and some would criticize the size and some weak teams at the bottom, but overall I believe the Big East has done a very good job with the very poor hand they were dealt, and I believe there is an outstanding chance that Marquette will be an excellent program competing for the top of a very good conference for years to come.

SMU and Houston will need to really step up their basketball programs, which they may do with the move, but the conference would be strong. The following are the current ratings of 18 conference members in two years if Temple were to join, and there were no other changes by then:

2014 Conference MemberPomeroy Rnk
Notre Dame47
Seton Hall69
Central Florida97
South Florida113
St. John's140
Southern Methodist203


JP said...

not taking into account the developing programs in Rutgers and especially Depual where Melvin and Young will be seniors that first season and easily a top 50 team

thetree22 said...

UCONN bball is a top 10 program. They have won championships . Let's hope Marquette can get to that level.