"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

Monday, September 23, 2019

Jacksonville Preview

Jacksonville Dolphins
December 4, fiserv.forum

Coach: Tony Jasick (70-92 at Jacksonville, 122-139 overall)
3-Year NCAA Rank Average: 287.3
3-Year kenpom Average: 280.7
2019-20 T-Rank Projection: 299

Projected Starters: PG Aamahne Santos (5'10" Sr), SG DeAnthony McCallum (6'4" Sr), SF Kevin Norman (6'4" Jr), PF Tyreese Davis (6'6" So), C Dave Bell (6'9" Sr)

The Dolphins had an up and down season last year with the downs generally lasting longer than the ups. When they were good, it was largely down to two players: star guard J.D. Notae, who led the team in scoring, rebounding, and assists and forward Jace Hogan. Any momentum the Dolphins hoped to build was largely hurt with the graduation of Hogan and the transfer of Notae to Arkansas, one of four guards to leave the program this past offseason.

If there's reason for optimism, it's the return of three starters. Santos slides to the point from the SG position, Davis flashed potential before missing the final few games of the season, and Bell anchored the middle after transferring in from Ohio State. In addition, McCallum was a spot-starter and Norman was a JUCO All-American so there is experience in this team.

In Tony Jasick's first three years at Jacksonville, the Dolphins progressively shot more and more threes and did so at a highly effective rate, which was a continuation of what he had taught at IPFW. They seemed to be embracing pace and space, and then the previous coach's players graduated and those numbers fell off a cliff. The one positive adjustment they made was pounding inside, which they have done effectively as Bell, McCallum, and Davis were all over 54% on 2PFGs. But defensively they were one of the worst teams in the country at stopping the three. When you play really fast and let other teams make a lot of threes, it generally doesn't end well.

Jacksonville is one of the two teams on the schedule that are effectively duds. They are a bottom-half of the Atlantic Sun team and will almost certainly be fighting to stay in the top-300 of NET. Losing Notae, Hogan, and another promising guard in Jalyn Hinton hurt their outlook significantly. This is a game Marquette should win comfortably and a game in which Markus Howard in particular could feast. But considering they are the worst T-Rank projected team on the schedule and still in the top-300, that's a good thing. While the Dolphins won't be good, they are a significant upgrade from the teams we've seen in that "bottom of the schedule" classification in past years.

Marquette Connection: The first time Jacksonville played Marquette was a different type of occasion. The Dolphins, less than two years removed from a NCAA title game appearance, already had a top-10 road win over Florida State three weeks earlier. Marquette came in ranked #2 in the nation and undefeated. It was a back-and-forth affair, but ultimately Marquette's All-American center Jim Chones would lead the way to an 88-79 victory, tallying 23 points and 14 rebounds on the night. It would be Chones' final game in a Marquette uniform. Chones left the team in the middle of the season for the ABA at the recommendation of Al McGuire. Marquette would go 4-4 the rest of the way, dropping from #2 in the country down to #7 as they finished the season 24-4.

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