This week one of the top 20 BCS point guards went up against the team that is now the top pressure defense in the country – and a few fans concluded the point guard should no longer be a starting point guard.
The defense in question is Louisville, which even with Peyton Siva playing hurt most of the year boasted the 4th best defense in the country, 2nd best steals percentage of any BCS team, and the No. 2 steal percentage player in Russ Smith. Until this week Siva’s nagging injuries dropped him from 31st in the country in steals to 118th. With him clearly back at 100% this week, Louisville simply blitzed all four (excellent) point guards they faced:
|PG vs. Louisville||Pts||Trips||Per Trip||Asst||TO||Ratio|
|Eric Atkins (to 58-37 w/7:30 left)||37||44||0.84||4||3||1.33|
Certainly Juniors 8 turnovers were a terrible performance for him, but that was 8 turnovers in a game in which Marquette had 83 trips down the court, so that’s virtually the same as the 6 turnovers in 69 trips for All-Big East Point Guard Jordan Theodore, and 5 in 59 trips for Cashmere Wright. Atkins was slightly better for the game as a whole, but that game was virtually over when Atkins went 25 minutes with 0 assists and 3 turnovers during a 22-47 run that in essence ended the game at 60-41.
Of course, the point guards biggest job is to get his team to score on as many trips as possible. Again, you can see that while Cadougan’s efforts to direct Marquette to 0.86 points per trip is not great, it was better than Louisville’s other three opponents managed this week except for a few meaningless buckets at the end of the game by Notre Dame.
Clearly MU was surprised by the full court pressure from the outset and Junior had four turnovers in the opening minutes, and then was charged with two more in a back-and-forth he started by stealing the ball himself, but beyond that he stayed in the game for 5 assists and 2 turnovers the rest of the way and did get Marquette at least back in the game for a stretch.
So in summary, a very good point guard (Cadougan) was bettered by an even better defense, which in turn did an even better job of shutting down three other very good point guards.
For anyone to charge that this week proves Junior is not an excellent point guard, ignores the fact that of the 74 point guards starting for a BCS team, Junior is in the top 20 in assists to turnover (better than 2-to-1), percent of teammates points set up and overall team offensive efficiency.
In fact, Pomeroy says that the five players who have been the most similar to Junior Cadougan since 2005 are Josh Wright while leading Syracuse to 24-11 in 2007, Travis Walton while leading Michigan State to 27-9 in 2008, Malik Booth while leading St. John’s to 21-12 in 2010, Biko Paris for Boston College in 2010, and an admittedly less than 100% Peyton Siva himself prior to him taking it to another level this week.
Sometimes you don’t appreciate what you have until he is on another team. Well, it’s no accident Marquette is 25-7 with Junior at the helm – a guy like him at the point is one of the biggest factors in making a team successful, and remember he is doing it with a freshman backing him up with 8 minutes a game.