"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, June 16, 2022

Coming Soon: Who Will Score?

Marquette loses four of their top seven scorers from 2021-22

Photo from Marquette Athletic Department

In a move that goes against what many collegiate basketball prospects did over the past few weeks but wasn't much of a surprise to Marquette fans, Justin Lewis will be staying in the NBA Draft. The departure of Lewis (16.8 points per game), coupled with the departures of Darryl Morsell (13.4 ppg), Greg Elliott (7.0 ppg), and Kur Kuath (5.6 ppg) means that Marquette has lost four of their top seven players in terms of per game scoring.

Unsurprisingly, Marquette Twitter and forums have lit up with concerns about how next year's team will score without these players returning, particularly Lewis who figured to be a Big East Player of the Year favorite if he returned. But while it seems logical that losing scoring will have a negative impact on the offense, is that really true?

While the answer might seem obvious in that losing good offensive players would hurt the offense, what we are looking at here is if losing volume scoring (which Marquette did) has an impact on offensive efficiency. I would remind readers that Marquette had the 21st most efficient offense nationally in the year AFTER Jerel McNeal, Wes Matthews, and Dominic James graduated and the offensive efficiency actually improved in the season after Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom graduated.

Cracked Sidewalks is going to look at this in four parts. The first is whether or not losing volume scoring has had an impact on offensive efficiency at Marquette historically. We will look at the statistics over the kenpom era in terms of losing volume points and whether there is any clear trend on the next year in terms of offensive efficiency.

The next thing we will look at will be how Shaka Smart has fared when it comes to replacing volume scoring. This will essentially mimic the first part but will do so through the lens of Marquette's current head coach, while also reviewing the seasons before he took over to give better context to how his debut seasons tend to go.

The final thing we will look at will be the contenders to take the scoring load. We know that Lewis and Morsell won't be pouring in points, so which returning players are the best bets to fill that void and step up in clutch moments? Cracked Sidewalks will identify the three most likely Marquette scoring leaders for 2022-23.

Finally, we will look at the dark horses to have a major scoring impact, examining not just who those wild cards are, but why we don't have them in that "leading contender" category. These will be the players who could play a role in 2022-23 and in terms of scoring might get there some day, but don't expect them to be offensive leaders in the coming season.

To put a bow on this introduction, we will leave you today with a trivia question that will be answered later in this series. Which player on a Shaka Smart-coached team has the highest single-season points per game average? Keep reading Cracked Sidewalks for the answer.

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