"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 04, 2015

James was greatest freshman since Wade; but Wilson and Cohen very good

While Dr. Blackheart has incredible insights, I would have to differ with his MU Scoop entry asking if Sandy Cohen is the best freshman Marquette has had since Steve Novak. Dr. Blackheart legitimately notes that Cohen's efficiency at www.kenpom.com is exceptional and along with Davante Gardner puts him in the discussion.

The problem I would have is that the more players have to play and possess the ball the more their actual per possession efficiency drops (more tired, more defensive attention etc.). That was really the entire basis of the Value Add database which measures the overall impact of a player per game.

Very few freshman accelerate because even the good ones make so many mistakes (turnovers, bad shots etc) until they get a year under their belt. However, 15 Marquette freshman have made the top quarter of all players (top 1000) and here is where they ranked nationally their freshman year through my update on Value Add I will post tonight.

National Rank of MU Freshmen

76, Dominic James, 5.69, 2006

299, David Cubillan, 3.44, 2007

306, Steve Novak, 2.85, 2003

528, Jerel McNeal, 2.47, 2006

555, Duane Wilson, 2.93, 2015

687, Deonte Burton, 1.66, 2014

775, Wesley Matthews, 1.67, 2006

858, Steve Taylor, 1.47, 2013

868, Ryan Amoroso, 1.43, 2005

888, Lazar Hayward, 1.39, 2007

897, Todd Mayo, 1.44, 2012

926, Sandy Cohen, 1.94, 2015

981, Davante Gardner, 1.3, 2011
Duane Wilson is actually the 5th most valuable freshman Marquette has had since Wade because he has to do it with a lot more defensive attention and when tired - but Cohen has had a very valuable campaign. The biggest surprise to most will be David Cubillan, but many forget he had to step in and be the three-point shooter after Novak had left and while clearly no Novak - he hit 43% of his threes that first year while playing over half the minutes and having a very high kenpom rating of 119.

It is sad that James, Cubillan and this year Burton just didn't progress like most freshman do - since a freshman that starts that high often becomes a true superstar. While James was GREAT, he really did look like he would develop into an NBA player to many that freshman year and almost left for the draft.

So while Sandy and Davante's actual per possession numbers are fantastic, they were doing it without having to draw a lot of attention or pay tired to really impact a game. While Steve Novak was incredible with the ball, he had it easier because the defense was obviously focused on Wade to free him up - so he did not need to force offense and could wait for open shots etc.

Novak's overall offensive rating of 141.6 was probably the best in the country, so when he had the ball and had to do something he was the best. But of course he only played 38.5% of the minutes, and even when on the court only had 14.5% of the possessions, so obviously his www.kenpom.com rating dropped a good bit the next three years when he was a go-to guy - but his Value Add ranking improved from 306th that freshman year, to 286th, 153rd and finally 17th in his senior season with the Three Amigos in the Big East.

To answer Dr. Blackheart's question, Dominic James was by far the best freshman at Marquette since Wade. As the 76th best player in the country, he was the 7th best freshman that season:

Top freshman in 2006

1. Williams, Shelden Duke

2. Brewer, Ronnie Arkansas

3. Hansbrough, Tyler North Carolina

4. Johnson, Carldell UAB

5. Mbah a Moute, Luc Richard UCLA

6. Stuckey, Rodney Eastern Washington

7. James, Dominic Marquette

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