"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

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Which missing MU Player Could Have Made Us 6-0?

The combination of a narrow bench and four road losses by six points or less made we wonder which “almost” Marquette player could have given the team just enough help to be 6-0 in the Big East heading into the showdown with Georgetown.

Luckily www.valueaddbasketball.com, which was the subject of my interview with Fox Sports yesterday, gives a measurement of how many points each player would improve a team. With only eight scholarship players – and seven for the Xavier game with JJJ not practicing hard - here is the countdown of the players that ended up NOT being at Marquette from worst to best:

1. Neither player that left with Buzz would have given MU another win

Satchel Pierce (0.49 Value Add) and Ahmed Hill (0.24) are worth less than one point per game to Virginia Tech, so even the presence of both players on MUs roster still leaves us 2-4 in the Big East.

2. Surprisingly, we are probably still 2-4 with Jameel McKay.

I projected McKay as our best player last year, and was heartbroken when he transferred to Iowa State. His immediate impact swatting shots and hitting 60% of his field goals had Marquette fans wondering what a difference he would have made. I was surprised to see that his Value Add only calculated to 1.17, and even doubling to 2.34 to account for him becoming eligible halfway through, his presents would not calculate to change any of MU’s Big East results – leaving us 2-4 with him.

When I looked closer, I realized his average Big 12 performance is a 3-5 game from the floor (no three-point attempts) and 3-5 from the line, with an impressive 3 blocked shots, 5 rebounds, 0 assists and 2 turnovers. A solid player so far, but it is easier to keep the shooting percentage high when you only take the easiest of shots, so McKay has not been a game changer.

3. UVa’s Marial Shayok would likely have MU 3-3

There is some satisfaction in the fact that the player that left for Buzz’s rival, UVa, has been much better than the two that actually followed Buzz. Marial Shayok has hit 45% of his 3-pointers and has an excellent steal ratio for a 2.67 Value Add. If he was there to give the team one more body, that means you are basically looking at a tie game with DePaul (58-61 loss) and St. John’s (57-60 loss) so figure MU wins one of the two with Shayok. We still fall one point short on Xavier, and three points short on Georgetown.

4. MU could be 6-0 with DJ Newbill

Which leads us to the nation’s fifth leading scorer DJ Newbill, who Buzz let go to open a spot for Jamil Wilson (understandable), keeping Jamail Jones (ouch). Yes, it could be that Newbill’s eligibility could have run out last year as he is playing this year because of a transfer from Southern Miss to Penn State.

But if he were to be the one addition to MU’s team this year, his 6.09 Value Add calculates to give MU wins over DePaul, St. John’s, Xavier (58-62) and a dead even game with Georgetown (59-65). Jamail Jones looked like the much better prospect out of high school, but this year he is still at a 0.91 Value Add.

With Marquette boasting the No. 1 defense in the Big East according to www.kenpom.com, but the last ranked offense, the team could literally be 6-0 if Newbill had come and was still playing due to a redshirt year along the way, or even coming back after the year at Southern Miss when we had a spot.

He is nationally ranked at www.kenpom.com in shooting, assists and getting to the line as he competes for the national scoring title with a 21.9 point per game average. Further, he is being wasted at Penn State where the team started 12-1 but has since gone 0-6 in the Big Ten.

His 29 points on 11 of 18 shooting against Wisconsin was not enough for Penn State but certainly looks like it might have been enough for MU – so how would 6-0 in Big East with a win over Wisconsin look?

His last two games including 37 points against Purdue and 27 against Michigan State in two more losses.

I am thrilled with how competitive the team has been, but if there was one more guy we could give them for help, Newbill would be very nice. That's my only spilled milk comment for this season.

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