"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, January 02, 2008

MU hosts Providence as Big East Play begins

Ah the joys of rising expectations. In just two Big East seasons, the Marquette Golden Eagles have firmly established themselves as an upper echelon program in the nation's toughest conference. After back to back 10-win conference seasons, Tom Crean welcomes the conference gauntlet with a seasoned crew of athletic performers sporting an impressive 10-1 record, highlighted by what is arguably the league's signature out of conference road win (Wisconsin).

Folks around the country are taking notice, and the delightful Rick Pitino put a target on MU's back last week by claiming Crean's crew was the league's best as conference play begins. ESPN's Andy Glockner rates MU as the co-favorite along with Georgetown. Thanks to injury (Pitt losing Cook and Fields), headcases and injury (Ville), and sloppy play (Georgetown is not rolling, yet), Slick Rick and Glockner might be correct.

Still, while 10-1 looks gaudy on the game notes the Golden Eagles have only played one game of consequence in the last six weeks -- the win at Wisconsin. In the interim, Crean's bunch beat a series of lesser opponents in predictably impressive fashion and managed to remain injury-free, even regaining the services of a productive Dan Fitzgerald in the final cupcake matchup last week. With Fitzgerald back in the mix, MU is as healthy as they've been all season -- and just in time.

The real season begins when the Providence Friars visit the Bradley Center on Thursday night in the Big East opener for both programs. The Friars enter the contest at 9-3, and the trip to Milwaukee will be just their second road game of the season (five neutral site contests notwithstanding). PC is led by junior guard Weyinmi Efejuku who leads four Friars averaging in double figures with 13ppg. Forward Geoff McDermott stuffs the box score like few others, averaging 12 ppg, and a team leading 8 boards and four assists.

Junior guard Jeff Xavier has stepped in admirably for the Friars' injury depleted backcourt averaging nearly 13ppg highlighted by 41% shooting from deep. The status for starting point guard Shaurad Curry, out with an injured foot for several weeks, is unknown. In addition, backup point guard Dwain Williams is also hobbled by injury. An injury-riddled backcourt is no way to begin conference play, particularly on the road at MU. A quick return to health for Curry would pay dividends for the Friars.

Tipoff is scheduled for 8:00pm CST on Thursday.

Now, here are the Top Five Numbers to Know about Providence. As always, information comes from Pomeroy's Scouting Report and Game Plan .

15 - Providence's National Rating for Offensive Rebounding Percentage (OR%)

  • That's 15 out of 341 Division 1 Schools
  • Providence manages to pull down 40.9% of all available offensive rebounds
  • Marquette averages to hold opponents to an OR% of 32.5%
  • PS - Marquette is rated #8 out of D1 schoos for OR% (42.2%)
  • Offensive Rebounds are the matchup of the game

24.3 - The Turnover Rate that Providence forces on opponents

  • Turnover Rate is Turnovers / Possessions, so Providence forces a turnover roughly 1 of every four possessions
  • This turnover rate is good for number 68 out of 341 D1 schools
  • For the win against Arkansas, Providence forced a Turnover Rate of 44%
  • Marquette only turns the ball over 20% of the time

95% - Pomeroy's computer prediction for a Marquette win

  • Seem high to you? Remember that Pomeroy currently tracks us as their Number 3 overall team!
  • The prediction is a nineteen point margin of victory
  • It's nice to see, but games aren't played via computer simulation

231 - Providence's National Rating at effective Field Goal % (eFG%) Defense

  • Remember that eFG% is Field Goal Percentage adjusted to account for the extra value of a three point shot
  • If you're looking for a weak spot on Providence, they allow a high effective Field Goal percentage
  • Opponents are averaging eFG% of 51.8. A lot of this comes from opponents hitting 38.4% of three pointers against Providence
  • Considering that Marquette is averaging eFG% of 56.0 (#18 overall), this is a strength vs. weakness matchup

32 - The jersey number of Randall Hanke

  • Hanke is Providence's 6'11", 240# Center
  • He has the highest Offensive Rating (ORtg) for Providence (136.8), which is well above the ORtg for any Marquette player
  • Hanke has only begun to log substantial minutes in the last four games, and only had minimal minutes in Providence's three losses
In summary, look to see which team does a better job on the Offensive Boards and how well Marquette is able to protect the ball. Providence will throw a lot of 2-3 zone against Marquette, so another big question is how well Marquette will do at finding and making open shots.


GoMarquette.com's Preview of the Providence Game

Game Notes

Rosiak's Big East Preview, with a headline that Marquette is looking for a Big East Title

Five Things to Watch in the Big East by the Journal Sentinel

Rosiak's Blog entry focusing on Providence, with particular note of Geoff McDermott and Randall Hanke

Kevin McNamara has a preview article focusing on Providence Guard Weyinmi Efejuku. Efejuku is the Friar's leading scorer and is even compared to Dwyane Wade, but needs to be more consistent.

Providence Journal's Capsule Preview

Above post is a contribution from both NYWarrior and Henry Sugar

Edit: Added links from JSOnline and Providence Journal


Anonymous said...

Great post. Sugar was a great addition to the blog! I'll be cheering on the Warriors from Seattle.


Anonymous said...

rumor has it they'll be wearing the baby blues tomorrow night.

Anonymous said...

Sugar -

In reading your posts, I'm still trying to learn to digest the data.

Your post indicates that Mr Hankey is a real offesive threat (I do remember him taking us to town last year). My question is whether he is truly that strong of a player or are his numbers inflated by having weak teammates?

Rob Lowe said...

Thank you for reading the posts. If you have questions about the stats quoted, please don't hesitate to ask. For your question, tt's really more a view that Hanke is a very efficient offensive player.

The role of his teammates doesn't really impact how efficient he would be. Generally, stronger teammates will actually help make a player more efficient. A good example of this was Derek Fisher, who was very efficient when he played on the Lakers with Shaq/Kobe. Cubillan is a good example on MU's team.

If anything, Hanke probably benefits by a relatively reduced number of minutes. The basic concept is that players become less efficient the more they dominate the ball (think Iverson). Someone like Jordan, who had a very high efficiency with a very high usage, is a superstar.

The point was that he had only begun to log major minutes but had the highest offensive rating for the Friars. We'll see if he maintains the rating, but I'm certainly going to be watching him to see what role he plays in tonight's game.

Gene Frenkle said...

This is the most giddy I've been for a conference season to start maybe ever.

Although MU did beat up on bad competition in December, the one thing that I did like about is that they did so in dominant fashion.

There've been many times in Crean's tenure (and especially the "big three") that they played down to the level of the competition and didn't put people away by 20+ points.

This season, they've put the hammer down on people. Again, they should be doing this anyway, but they've never done it this consistently.

Anonymous said...

Great point Gene. The other good news is that Providence has gone the other way. Their spreads against cupcakes were much larger last year when they upset us versus this year.