"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

Friday, December 12, 2014

Carlino 12th MU Player in Top 100? MU one of 15 that can put 5 strong starters on floor? Bid possible?

In putting together the early www.valueaddbasketball.com All-Big East team for Breitbart Sports, I started to believe the ingredients might be there for a 2010-like shocking run to an NCAA bid. Even before the huge defensive upgrade from Deonte Burton to Luke Fischer next game, Marquette is the only Big East team besides Villanova to have five of the top 32 players in the conference.

Matt Carlino is on pace to be the 2nd team all-Big East point guard and the 12th Marquette player to finish in the Top 100 at www.valueaddbasketball.com, and Juan Anderson isn’t far behind as the 3rd team All-Big East power forward. If Luke Fischer proves to be an above-average center OR JaJuan Johnson plays at the level he did in the first four games (11 steals, 9 rebounds), then Marquette would become one of only 15 teams who could put five above average players on the court at once.

Carlino has improved Marquette by an average of 5.98 points per game, making it likely he will join Gardner, Hayward, James, DJO, Mathews, McNeal and Novak as a Top 100 player (for ratings from 2003 to 2014 click here). He is ranked 120th right now of 4000 players, but players in major conferences usually move up once conference play begins because their Strength of Defense faced factor improves.

For a quick historical detour, I discovered for the first time when writing this that the only two teams with FOUR Top 10 players have been MU (Butler, Crowder, Diener and Wade) and Steve Wojciechowski’s former team Duke. Wisconsin would become the third team to do it if Frank Kaminisky finishes in the Top 10.

But back to the present …

In addition to Carlino and Anderson, the team also boasts two other players who measure as strong major college starters (above 3.0 Value Add means you should be starting for a major team) in Duane Wilson and Steve Taylor. Taylor has been forced to match up against bigger centers all year pending Fischer’s return in the next game (Arizona State), so it will be interesting to see if he is even better when being able to slide over to Power Forward in some games.

The only 14 teams that currently have five above-average starters (3.0 or higher) are Arkansas, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Miami FL, Michigan St., North Carolina, Ohio St., San Diego St., Texas, Villanova and Virginia.

With this potential balance, the high level of play from Carlino and Anderson, and two neutral site wins over major conference opponents, Marquette could pull off a few upsets in their seven road games against teams in the top 60 at www.kenpom.com. Do that, and we could suddenly be hoping for a repeat of the astonishing 2010 bid during which MU suddenly went 11-2 in a stretch to get to the Big East title game and make the NCAA.

As for the competition, the following is the All-Big East team based on www.valueaddbasketball.com ratings but with an attempt to balance for positions on each of the three squads.

I featured Seton Hall’s Sterling Gibbs in a Breitbart Sports piece today. He has been the best player in the country while having an offensive rating of more than 100 in ten straight games going back to his upset of Villanova.

1st Team All-Big East

All five first teamers have turned in dominant performances to give the Big East a great start, though Henton and Providence have fallen off dramatically including an embarrassing home loss to Brown.

PG, 4 D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown, 6.11

SG, 4 Sterling Gibbs, Seton Hall, 11.82

SF, 23 LaDontae Henton, Providence, 8.93

PF, 40 Matt Stainbrook, Xavier, 8.09

PF, 15 Sir'Dominic Pointer, St. John's, 9.47

2nd Team All-Big East
As noted, Carlino would run the offense for the 2nd team.

PG, 13 Matt Carlino, Marquette, 5.98

SG, 21 Isaiah Zierden, Creighton, 5.93

SF, 5 Trevon Bluiett, Xavier, 7.83

PF, 4 Myke Henry, DePaul, 5.48

C, 23 Daniel Ochefu, Villanova, 5.11

3rd Team All-Big East
Anderson would practically be playing for Villanova on the third team if center Daniel Ochefu just fell off a little to drop from second to third team.

PG, 15 Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova, 3.3

SG, 31 Dylan Ennis, Villanova, 5.44

SF, 3 Josh Hart, Villanova, 5.36

PF, 10 Juan Anderson, Marquette, 5.36

C, 31 Kameron Woods, Butler, 4.73

Best of the Rest (3.0+ equals solid starter)

Obviously the team cannot afford injuries with Burton (only 57th best player in conference with a 1.47) and Dawson departed, but if these eight stay healthy Fischer, Sandy Cohen and Derrick Wilson certainly provide enough defense. If the season ended today MU would not get an invite anywhere, but for the first time we now have a shot to do more than just dream about next season’s class.

16, SF, 2 Kris Jenkins, Villanova, 4.51

17, PF, 2 Brandon Mobley, Seton Hall, 4.41

18, C, 24 Joshua Smith, Georgetown, 4.29

19, PF, 20 Desi Rodriguez, Seton Hall, 4.23

20, C, 1 Jalen Reynolds, Xavier, 4.04

25, SF, 1 Duane Wilson, Marquette, 3.34

27, C, 25 Steve Taylor, Marquette, 3.06

32, SF, 23 JaJuan Johnson, Marquette, 2.69

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