Marquette allowed 53 points in 72 trips today, or 0.736 points per trip down the court. In the past decade Marquette has only allowed fewer points per trip in 18 games, but this is only the third time Marquette’s defense has been that dominant against a team ranked in the top 150. Most have been against the likes of Mt. St. Mary’s. The following are the top three defensive performances beginning with the 2003 season:
|Date||Opponent||Pomeroy||Pts All||Poss||Pts per trip|
|Jan 3 2006||Illinois State||122||32||59||0.542|
|Nov 28 2008||N. Iowa||81||43||61||0.705|
|March 17 2012||Murray State||44||53||72||0.736|
With all respect to the outstanding defensive stands against Illinois State and Northern Iowa, those were nice early season wins. To hold perhaps the best backcourt in the country – featuring an All-American shooting guard and dominant senior point guard – to these numbers is simply the best defensive performance for Marquette in the past decade – and that includes the 2003 Final Four season.
In Murray State’s 72 trips down the court, Marquette ended:
16 trips by forcing a turnover,
31 trips by forcing a miss and defensive rebound,
4 trips with a made 3-pointer,
16 trips with a made 2-pointer, and
5 trips with a made free throw.
I watched the game again last night and recorded the two stats I’ve been advocating need to be added; 1) STOPS for times at which a player contests a shots or forces a bad shot by defending until near the end of the shot clock or trapping, and 2) TURNOVERS FORCED for times when a player forces a turnover without getting an actual steal. After viewing the entire game, and rewinding through stats, there were also 5 “team stops’ when a Murray State just missed a shot without being tightly guarded, and 2 “team turnovers” – so I divided credit for these 7 trips based on minutes played and ended up with the following defensive box score:
|Jae Crowder, F||39||3||3||1||0.4||2||6||1.0||11||17|
|Jamil Wilson, F||29||0||0||2||0.3||2||7||0.7||6||11|
|Todd Mayo, G||25||2||0||0||0.3||0||3||0.6||5||6|
|Junior Cadougan, G||37||1||1||0||0.4||0||3||0.9||3||6|
|Darius Johnson-Odom, G||38||1||0||0||0.4||0||2||1.0||2||4|
|Vander Blue, G||18||0||0||0||0.2||0||2||0.5||2||2|
|Davante Gardner, F||12||0||0||0||0.1||0||0||0.3||2||1|
|Juan Anderson, F||1||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0.0||0||0|
|Derrick Wilson, G||1||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0.0||0||0|
What caught my attention was that Jamil had 7 stops – contesting shots everywhere from the rim to the arc. He also forced 2 turnovers, blocked 2 shots and grabbed 6 defensive rebounds, and when you add the value of each of those things (see category value line) – Jamil took 11 points off the board in just 29 minutes. This is virtually the same ration as Crowder taking away 17 points in 39 minutes.
While the guards don’t show as many points taken off – they contained perhaps the best backcourt in the country.
So to use Crowder’s line to explain the table:
Crowder forced 7 turnovers total with 3 steals, 3 charges drawn, 1 other turnover forced, plus he gets 0.4 credit for his share of the team turnovers, so his first four lines add up to 7.4 turnovers forced – worth 7.4 points taken off the board.
As for forcing missed shots, Crowder blocked two shots, forced six misses, and gets 1.0 credit for his share of team misses to a total of 9, which takes a total of 6 points off the board.
And finally he grabbed 11 defensive rebounds, which takes 3.66 points off the board.
Mayo and Cadougan took 6 points off the board with their tough play against a phenomenal backcourt.
After Chris Otule was injured, MU struggled for several games and dropped to around the 50th best defense in the country. Since then they have climbed in Pomeroy and now calculate as the 16th best defense as a team that would give up an average of 0.895 points per trip to an average offense. Murray State is very well above average at 1.057 points per trip if they played an average defense, so put them together and you would have expected Murray State to score 0.939 points per trip down the court.
|Murray St Offense||1.057|
As Rob has documented, it almost always takes a top 20 defense to make a Final Four run, and the fact is Marquette has the 16th best defense in the country but played yesterday like by far the best defense in the country.
Gardner part of 5-player offense against rugged Murray State defense
I did not track the specific turnovers forced and stops for Murray State’s defense, but they obviously played fantastic as well. Murray State is just behind Marquette with the 22nd best defense in the land, and help MU to 0.849 points per trip. Blue and J. Wilson really struggled on offense against the tough defense, but if we look at the NBA Efficiency model just for offensive figures from the game we see that the offense/defense substitutions netted solid efforts from Mayo and Gardner to provide a lot of support.
|Jae Crowder, F||39||6||13||1||5||4||7||2||2||1||17||10|
|Darius Johnson-Odom, G||38||6||14||1||6||4||6||0||1||0||17||8|
|Junior Cadougan, G||37||3||7||-||-||2||2||0||4||1||8||7|
|Todd Mayo, G||25||2||7||2||3||2||2||1||3||3||8||4|
|Davante Gardner, F||12||2||4||-||-||2||2||0||0||1||6||3|
|Juan Anderson, F||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|Derrick Wilson, G||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|Vander Blue, G||18||1||5||-||-||2||2||1||1||4||4||(2)|
|Jamil Wilson, F||29||1||5||-||1||-||-||1||0||2||2||(3)|
Marquette is going to need a third offensive threat in Sweet 16 play, and while Crowder and DJO both had strong offensive performances – MU had the options.
Juniors 4-to-1 assist-to-turnovers against such a talented backcourt is phenomenal, and his ability to drive to the hoop for some baskets and hit the two clutch free throws to wrap up the win cannot be overestimated. While no one shot over 50% from the floor, our three upper classman were very solid offensively.
But Gardner and Mayo may have been the two most clutch offensive players when you look at when they made their big contributions. Mayo hit the two early treys when MU could have fallen way behind, and then he came back to draw the crucial foul to stop the bleeding.
Davante was overpowering as always in getting his 6 points playing on one leg and for just 12 minutes.
To have five players fight through a very tough defense to all contribute, on the same day as we turn in what I would argue is the best defensive performance since Pomeroy started tracking numbers in 2003 is a very good place to be heading out to Phoenix for the Sweet 16 to play the Florida-Norfolk State winner and then perhaps Michigan State for a chance at the Final Four.
The fact that we now know that Marquette spent the last couple of months finishing second place in a Big East Conference that is now 10-3 in the NCAA tournament and will have between three and six Sweet 16 teams is a good sign indeed. It may be a good time to dream big.