"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

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Could Lazar Have a Better Senior Season than Novak?

Fresh off of yesterday's Open Gym Report from Rosiak, he has an interview with Lazar. In the interview, they touch on a number of different topics, including a lot of discussion about the World University Games.

The (few) highlights from this offseason have mostly involved Lazar, and with good reason. After all, despite the standard coaching comments about everyone having to earn a spot, Hayward is probably the only player that is guaranteed a starting spot. Given his relatively good performance in the WUG, and some minor consideration for the NBA draft, much is expected of the team leader.

There are some obvious parallels to the 2006 season, as Tim highlighted by looking at the Wayback Machine. After all, both seasons involve a senior leader and then a talented set of incoming players. However, it wasn't until the following thread on MUScoop that really got me thinking. Is it just a crazy notion to think that Lazar could have a similar impact that Novak did?

There's no disputing that Novak is one of the all-time great shooters at Marquette (and maybe ever). After all, he was the #3 most efficient offensive player in 2005 and the #1 most efficient offensive player in 2006. In the country. Plus, Novak was already good enough to be drafted and play in the NBA. Furthermore, Steve had numerous games where he delivered amazing performances, like dropping eight three pointers at #4 Louisville in 2004, going perfect in OT against Missouri in 2003, or even being otherworldly against UConn with 41 points and 16 rebounds. Holy crap... I almost forgot the ND game winning shot! (btw - a bunch of those game links have video recaps if you want to relive the fun). Finally, one can make the argument that because of his singular skill, Steve Novak made everyone else's position on the team easier.

Novak's exploits are legendary, so case closed, right? There is no way that Lazar even measures up. (This is the part where I say not so fast).

First, although he was often overlooked by the Three Amigos last year, Lazar was a pretty good player in his own right. For example, did you know that he finished ranked among the BIG EAST leaders in scoring (10th, 16.3 ppg), rebounding (7th, 8.6 rpg) and free throw percentage (4th, 82.0%)? Or that he had ten double-doubles (TEN!) last year? How about that in one game he had eighteen rebounds? Finally, lost in the disappointment of the NCAA tournament was that Lazar had a game-high 26 points and 8 rebounds vs USU and 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds against Missouri. Too bad the Missouri performance was overshadowed by one step on the line...

Second, I've become convinced that there's a problem with basketball. The game overvalues scorers... but there is a LOT more involved to winning a basketball game than just scoring. A player that is a great shooter (like say Novak) may not be as valuable as conventional wisdom suggests. I've largely been convinced of this logic based on the writings in "The Wages of Wins", and from The Wages of Wins Blog.

(skip if you have no interest in wonkish stuff)

Because I largely started off working with basketball stats based off Pomeroy's website, which itself was largely based on the work of Dean Oliver's "Basketball on Paper", I'd largely shunned the idea of a rating that could effectively handle the value of a single player. Oliver, in particular, was effective in arguing against the notion. However, after having read The Wages of Wins on my own, I feel better with the concept, mostly because I understand how Wins Produced is derived. The basic notion is that one can use regression analysis to figure out what actions on the basketball court lead to wins. Adjust for position, and those are wins produced.

Now, if one doesn't feel like going through the effort in
figuring out Wins Produced vs Win Score, there is a simpler value that can be used to assess a player's productivity or value on the court. It's also based on regression analysis, but it's been simplified because there's not a huge difference between a coefficient of 0.497 and 0.5. That is Berri's Win Score.

Points + Rebounds + Steals + ½Assists + ½Blocked Shots – Field Goal Attempts – Turnovers – ½Free Throw Attempts – ½Personal Fouls

So how do things look when we compare Lazar and Novak using this formula?

What this comparison tells us is that for productivity, Novak was a more productive player than Lazar for Freshman year. However, in Lazar's sophomore and junior years, he was actually a more productive overall player than Novak (despite Novak's scoring ability). In fact, on a per-game basis, Lazar was almost as productive last year as Novak's senior year, and Lazar was just slightly more productive on a per-minute basis than Steve.

Why is this the case? Because Hayward is more than just a scorer. He gets double-doubles, blocks, and steals.

Of course, this does not mean that next year's team will have similar results as the 2005-2006 team that finished 4th in conference with a 10-6 record. It also doesn't mean that Lazar will make the NBA because his overall game is better than Novak's special skill. In conclusion, if we use our crystal ball, it means that it's reasonable to believe that Lazar will have a better senior season than Novak if we look at more than just scoring. If nothing else, that's not a bad place to look for some optimism for 2009-2010.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Links Update

Hey there folks. Just a few updates getting started off the week (and catching up from previous weeks).

Rosiak says, "I'm baaaaaack" from a three week vacation. Right out of the gate, he has delivered some coverage of a recent open gym at the Al McGuire Center. If you want a glimpse of how players are looking, the post is great. Of course, there is still the issue that neither Cadougan nor Mbao are with the program yet as they continue to work through Clearinghouse issues. Might we end up missing Acker more than thought?

Marquette finally released their full non-conference schedule. It is chock full of woofers, with some particularly terrible ratings for opponents like UM Eastern Shore (#341), Grambling (#342), South Dakota (were they even D1 last year?), and North Florida (#335). However, that seems just fine to me. After all, the schedule still includes the Old Spice Classic, as well as games against NC State and UW@Madison. Not to mention that next year's team will be very, very young, so it doesn't necessarily hurt to have some easier games for the team. If the schedule is like this in two years, that's an issue, but does anyone really think it won't get tougher as the team gets better?

That said, I still think it was a silly decision to release the games one by one. After all, if Marquette wanted to drive traffic to their site, they could have just highlighted these two outstanding interviews.

  • First is a Q&A with David Cubillan. Cubillan comes across as yet another classy representative for Marquette, especially considering that he had been speculated as a potential transfer.
  • Next up is a Q&A with Lazar Hayward that even has a video clip segment. It's really worth checking out.
Don't have season tickets yet? Or are you looking for tickets for a few games but are holding out? Consider the $99 season ticket package that is evidently selling like hotcakes. Evidently according to the MU Facebook posts, "We're now up to 832 season tickets sold in the new $99 price level... 167 more to reach our goal of 999."

In the final update for today, Dwyane Wade has moved from Converse to Nike's Jumpman brand. This will have an impact on the uniforms that Marquette wears next year. Marquette moves from being the only school sponsored by Converse to one of a handful of Jumpman schools.

Friday, July 24, 2009

TW Sports .. Summer Videos

Here's a few YouTube videos from Time Warner Sports:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Warrior Day Golf Outing -- Last Call

Don't forget, the 2nd Annual Warrior Day Golf Outing to benefit the Nicole Ellis Foundation will be held at the Grand Geveva on Tuesday, July 21st. There is still time to sign up for the event -- for golf and dinner, or just dinner.

Bo has a great lineup of participating Warrior greats including Tony Smith, Travis Diener, Steve Novak and George Thompson. Coach Hank Raymonds will spend the day on the golf course as well, and the day will close with some unbelievable auction items.

For more information on the outing and visit The Nicole Ellis Foundation or email them at nicoleellisfoundation@yahoo.com. The event promises to be a great time -- last year sure was.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Marquette wades into Non-Conference Schedule Bit by Bit


Evidently, the reason to release the schedule one day at a time is to drive additional traffic to the www.gomarquette.com website. In truth, the folks at Marquette do a pretty good job with their online content. Their video clips are great, so visit the website and click around.

That said, I still think releasing the schedule one day at a time has limited upside and more downside.

I've always been a fan of ripping the band-aid off right away instead of the slow pull. I like to jump straight into the pool instead of wading in slowly. Basically, it's my preference to get the unpleasantness over with as quickly as possible. And let's face it. Almost always, the non-conference schedule is some level of unpleasantness. This portion of the schedule is not the reason that people buy season tickets. In fact, griping about the non-conference schedule is somewhat of an annual ritual amongst Marquette fans.

Therefore, I found it weird (at best) that Marquette has insisted on releasing the schedule one game at a time. Today's announcement is that Marquette is going to open up the season with...


I guess the logic is that we get an entire day to focus on each opponent. Maybe this gives each team on the schedule an opportunity for a further analysis. Perhaps Centenary gets their time in the sun. Who knows? Maybe the non-conference schedule is a treat to be savored slowly and enjoyed, instead of unpleasantness and pain. Neat... their nickname is the Gents.

Or, we can find out that Centenary was 8-23 last season in the Summit League, with a Pomeroy Rating of 246. We could also do a little digging, and find out that their best Pomeroy Rating was back in 2004, at 181. Since then, they've been 316, 317, 248, and 279. Instead of being a savory morsel, Centenary is truly just another bad team Marquette will play because the economics dictate it. Now, for an entire day for two weeks, we get to focus on each portion of the non-conference schedule being bad.

I appreciate the desire of Marquette, or any organization, to experiment. In general, their coverage is outstanding (like last year's video clips). But a good chunk of the schedule is already out there in draft format on the Wiki. Not to mention that Wisconsin has already posted their schedule (by the way, we play them on Dec. 12th). We even provided more info a few weeks ago. Why not just release the whole thing all at once? Is there that much suspense to find out what Friday or Saturday in December we play Seattle?

Like a ritual of late summer, Marquette releases the non-conference schedule, and then the Internet breaks out with complaints. It usually goes as follows:

  • Defender - all major programs play some number of crap teams for non-conference schedules
  • Season Ticket Holder - yeah, but I'm the one shelling out $XXXX(X?) to watch this junk
  • Rinse and repeat as necessary.
One exception to griping was last year, when the comments weren't actually that bad. I attribute this mostly because MU had added another tough opponent in NC State. That was a surprise last year but isn't this year. Plus, the schedule was released and then we moved on. Now, get ready for a solid two weeks (at least) of replaying the above complaints about the non-conference schedule. Maybe tomorrow we can find out when MU plays Presbyterian. Yay?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Monday, July 06, 2009

Star System Predicts MU 5th to 9th in BE

The 5-star system for rating new recruits has become very familiar to even the casual college basketball fan since William Gates went to a 5-star camp in “Hoop Dreams” before landing at Marquette in 1992.

With Buzz Williams landing three 4-star recruits (6-foot-6 Jeronne Maymon and Erik Williams, 6-1 Junior Cadougan), as well as three 3-star recruits (7-2 Youssoupha Mbao, 6-2 Dwight Buycks and Darius Johnson-Odom) and a potential steal in 6-10 Brett Roseboro, the question is how this incredible class will do next year.

I have worked on a system to equate the 5-star system with what returning players have accomplished, to try to give more of an apples-to-apples between new recruits and returning players. The system basically factors in rankings of returning players from www.nbadraft.net and www.kenpom.com to rank each player coming back for another season from 1 to 6 stars in a ratio consistent with how “star” recruits typically progress. I added the “6-star” rating only for players that are projected to go in the NBA draft after next season on www.nbadraft.net. The ratings of 5, 4, 3.5, 3, 2 or no stars are determined for returning players by a formula using ratings in www.kenpom.com. New 3-star recruits who are ranked among the top 150 recruits in www.rivals.com are given 3.5 stars.

Lazar one of eight 6-star players in Conference as projected #29 NBA pick

Lazar Hayward is now one of eight returning Big East players projected to go in next year’s NBA Draft (as the #29 pick), so those are the only players to get a 6-star rating. The formula gives Jimmy Butler 3.5 stars. With the aforementioned three 4-star recruits and three 3-star recruits, that gives Marquette a total of 30.5 stars from it’s top 8 players, which is as deep as the system goes.

The system isn’t perfect. Obviously, we all see potential upside in David Cubillan, and a lot of muscle underneath in Joe Fulce at 6-7 and hopefully healthy, as well as 6-10 players Chris Otule and Brett Roseboro. But for comparison purposes, we compare the top 8 players on each roster based on their stars.

While Marquette is the only team in the Big East with newcomers making up six of its top eight players in this system, the league is much less experience this year – giving MU a shot to do well. Providence is the only other team in the Big East with five of it’s top eight players as newcomers, but UConn, Pitt, Nova and Notre Dame all have four newcomers among their top eight players.

30.5 stars puts MU in 2nd tier – 5th to 9th place in Big East

Even assuming Ater Majok never puts on a uniform for UConn after the recruiting controversy, UConn still tops Nova as the top team in the Big East looking forward to next year, by a total of 36 stars to 33.5 stars. Syracuse and West Virginia are close behind, to seemingly set up a favorite four that comprise the top-tier.

Marquette seems to be in a pretty tight group from 5th place to 9th place, within one star either way of Georgetown and Cincinnati (31 stars), then Marquette (30.5 stars), followed by Pitt (30) and Louisville (29.5).

This is just a raw measure of overall talent, and it does not make any attempt to break down teams’ strengths and weaknesses by position. For example, while Syracuse is just behind Nova in third place, they did lose their backcourt and it appears all their top line talent is on the front line. It’s easy to see why a return of Johnny Flynn might have made them a favorite to go all the way this year – but without him it appears 3.5 star recruit Brandon Triche, a shooting guard, may be the closest thing they have to a new point guard.

Height no longer a disadvantage

The other thing you may notice below is the average height of each team, which is based only on its top 8 players. At 6-foot-5 1/4, the only three teams with more than a half inch advantage on MU during the upcoming year are Georgetown, West Virginia and Cincinnati. This also does not take into account either Otule or Roseboro, who if they excel and are part of an 8-man rotation, would make MU taller than every team but those three after being the 295th tallent team in the country last year.

The ability to match up with height and add another tenacious 6-6 rebounder in addition to Lazar, certianly means MU will no longer go into “David v. Goliath” battles every time out.

Rankings of the teams – and listing of the top 8 players for each

Please do not any corrections you see. Obviously anyone who was a senior or was drafted was taken off a team’s roster, and any new recruits added, but let me know if you see someone listed who has transferred out for any reason. The order of finish in the Big East for the 2009-2010 season based on the Star system outlined above is as follows, with stars, height, and class listed for each of the team’s top 8 players:

1, UConn (36-stars, 6-5.75), Jerome Dyson (6-stars, 6-4, Sr), Kemba Walker (6-stars, 6-1, So), Stanley Robinson (5-stars, 6-9, Sr), Alex Oriakhi (5-stars, 6-9, New), Jamal Coombs-McDaniel (4-stars, 6-7, New), Darius Smith (4-stars, 6-2, New), Gavin Edwards (3-stars, 6-9, Sr), Jamaal Trice (3-stars, 6-5, New).
2, Villanova (33.5-stars, 6-4.75), Mouphtaou Yarou (5-stars, 6-9, New), Scottie Reynolds (5-stars, 6-2, Sr), Isaiah Armwood (4-stars, 6-7, New), Reggie Redding (4-stars, 6-5, Sr), Dominic Cheek (4-stars, 6-5, New), Corey Fisher (4-stars, 6-1, Jr), Maalik Wayns (4-stars, 6-1, New), Antonio Pena (3.5-stars, 6-8, Jr),
3, Syracuse (33-stars, 6-6.75), Arinze Onuaku (6-stars, 6-9, Sr), Rick Jackson (5-stars, 6-9, Jr), Paul Harris (5-stars, 6-4, Sr), Andy Rautins (4-stars, 6-5, Sr), DaShonte Riley (3.5-stars, 6-11, New), Brandon Triche (3.5-stars, 6-3, New), Kris Joseph (3-stars, 6-7, So), James Southerland (3-stars, 6-6, New),
4, West Virginia (32.5-stars, 6-6.875), Devin Ebanks (6-stars, 6-9, So), Da'Sean Butler (6-stars, 6-7, Sr), Darryl Bryant (4-stars, 6-2, So), Kevin Jones (3.5-stars, 6-8, So), Wellington Smith (3.5-stars, 6-7, Sr), Dalton Pepper (3.5-stars, 6-5, New), Deniz Kilicli (3-stars, 6-9, New), Dan Jennings (3-stars, 6-8, New),
5, Georgetown (31-stars, 6-6.75), Greg Monroe (6-stars, 6-11, So), Chris Wright (5-stars, 6-1, Jr), Hollis Thompson (4-stars, 6-6, New), Austin Freeman (4-stars, 6-4, Jr), Henry Sims (3-stars, 6-10, So), Julian Vaughn (3-stars, 6-9, Jr), Nikita Mescheriakov (3-stars, 6-8, Jr), Omar Wattad (3-stars, 6-5, Jr)
6, Cincinnati (31-stars, 6-6.75), Yancy Gates (5-stars, 6-9, So), Lance Stephenson (5-stars, 6-6, New), Deonta Vaughn (5-stars, 6-1, Sr), Rashad Bishop (3.5-stars, 6-6, Jr), Alvin Mitchell (3.5-stars, 6-5, Jr), Anthony McClain (3-stars, 6-12, Jr), Steve Toyloy (3-stars, 6-8, Sr), Darnell Wilks (3-stars, 6-7, Jr)

7, Marquette (30.5-stars, 6-foot-5.25-inches average), Lazar Hayward (6-stars, 6-6, Sr), Jeronne Maymon (4-stars, 6-6, New), Erik Williams (4-stars, 6-6, New), Junior Cadougan (4-stars, 6-1, New), Jimmy Butler (3.5-stars, 6-6, Jr), Youssoupha Mbao (3-stars, 7-2, New), Dwight Buycks (3-stars, 6-2, New), Darius Johnson-Odom (3-stars, 6-2, New) – not factored, but with great upside, Dave Cubillan (2-stars, 6-0), Chris Otule (6-10), Brett Roseboro (6-10) and Joe Fulce (6-7).

8, Pittsburgh (30-stars, 6-5.5, Jr), Dante Taylor (5-stars, 6-8, New), Gilbert Brown (5-stars, 6-6, Jr), Jermaine Dixon (4-stars, 6-3, Sr), Lamar Patterson (3.5-stars, 6-5, New), Brad Wanamaker (3.5-stars, 6-4, Jr), Talib Zanna (3-stars, 6-9, New), J.J. Richardson (3-stars, 6-7, New), Ashton Gibbs (3-stars, 6-2, So),
9, Louisville (29.5-stars, 6-5.75), Samardo Samuels (5-stars, 6-9, So), Rakeem Buckles (4-stars, 6-8, New), Peyton Siva (4-stars, 6-0, New), Terrence Jennings (3.5-stars, 6-9, So), Edgar Sosa (3.5-stars, 6-2, Sr), Preston Knowles (3.5-stars, 6-1, Jr), Stephan Van Treese (3-stars, 6-9, New), Jared Swopshire (3-stars, 6-8, So)
10, Seton Hall (29-stars, 6-5.875), Robert Mitchell (5-stars, 6-6, Sr), Jeremy Hazell (5-stars, 6-5, Jr), John Garcia (4-stars, 6-9, Sr), Eugene Harvey (4-stars, 6-0, Sr), Mike Davis (3-stars, 6-11, Jr), Ferrakohn Hall (3-stars, 6-7, New), Jordan Theodore (3-stars, 6-0, So), Brandon Walters (2-stars, 6-9, Jr)
11, St. John's (29-stars, 6-5.375), Sean Evans (4-stars, 6-8, Jr), Justin Burrell (4-stars, 6-8, Jr), D.J. Kennedy (4-stars, 6-6, Jr), Paris Horne (4-stars, 6-3, Jr), Rob Thomas (3.5-stars, 6-6, Jr), Malik Boothe (3.5-stars, 5-9, Jr), Dele Coker (3-stars, 6-10, Jr), Quincy Roberts (3-stars, 6-5, So)
12, Notre Dame (28-stars, 6-5.875), Luke Harangody (6-stars, 6-8, Sr), Tory Jackson (4-stars, 5-11, Sr), Tyrone Nash (3-stars, 6-8, Jr), Mike Broghammer (3-stars, 6-8, New), Jack Cooley (3-stars, 6-8, New), Tom Knight (3-stars, 6-8, New), Joey Brooks (3-stars, 6-5, New), Jonathan Peoples (3-stars, 6-3, Sr)
13, Rutgers (28-stars, 6-5.25), Gregory Echenique (4-stars, 6-9, So), Dane Miller (4-stars, 6-5, New), Mike Rosario (4-stars, 6-3, So), Hamady N'Diaye (3.5-stars, 6-11, Sr), Corey Chandler (3.5-stars, 6-2, Jr), Austin Johnson (3-stars, 6-7, New), Earl Pettis (3-stars, 6-5, Jr), Mike Coburn (3-stars, 6-0, Jr)
14, DePaul (26.5-stars, 6-5.75), Mac Koshwal (5-stars, 6-10, Jr), Dar Tucker (4-stars, 6-5, Jr), Will Walker (3.5-stars, 6-0, Sr), Devin Hill (3-stars, 6-9, So), Tony Freeland (3-stars, 6-5, New), Mike Stovall (3-stars, 6-5, New), Jeremiah Kelly (3-stars, 6-1, So), Krys Faber (2-stars, 6-11, So)
15, Providence (25-stars, 6-3.125), Marshon Brooks (4-stars, 6-5, Jr), Sharaud Curry (3.5-stars, 5-10, Sr), Johnnie Lacy (3.5-stars, 5-10, New), James Still (3-stars, 6-8, New), Kadeem Batts (3-stars, 6-8, New), Brian McKenzie (3-stars, 6-4, Sr), Vincent Council (3-stars, 6-1, New), Duke Mondy (2-stars, 6-3, New)
16, South Florida (25-stars, 6-6.125), Dominique Jones (5-stars, 6-4, Jr), Augustus Gilchrist (3.5-stars, 6-10, So), Chris Howard (3.5-stars, 6-3, Sr), Alex Rivas Sanchez (3-stars, 6-10, Sr), Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (3-stars, 6-7, New), Shaun Noriega (3-stars, 6-4, New), Eladio Espinosa (2-stars, 6-7, So), Mike Mercer (2-stars, 6-4, Sr)

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Hayward shoots up to 1st round NBA status

Lazar Hayward recently became a member of the US team competiting in the World University Games, and has done quite well. Apparently, his stock is rising among the NBA Scouts as well.

Just days after Marquette fans sat through a 2nd round of the NBA Draft that saw teams ignore Jerel McNeal and Wes Matthews in favor of European players they have no intention of signing, Hayward is suddenly back in the thick of the 2010 mock draft.


I was actually researching for an early preview column of next year's Big East, comparing the incoming freshman's "star" rating at rivals.com with the returning players each team has based on their productivity last year and which ones are good enough to make the NBA.

I went to nbadraftnet to see how the NBA-duos for West Virginia (Devin Ebanks/DeSean Butler) and UConn (Kemba Walker/Jerome Dyson) were faring in the mock draft, when I noticed that Lazar is now forecast to be the 4th Big East Player in the NBA Draft and the 29th player taken overall.

If the reports are true that Lazar is handling the ball more often and well are true (this was theoretically the reason he dropped out of the mock draft last year despite his incredible shooting and rebounding) then this could be quite a key development to help the great recruiting class gel next year.

The comparison of recruiting classes and returning players from each Big East team will be forthcoming, but I wanted to get this out.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

2009-10 Schedule becomes clearer..

The Big East announced the home/away schedule today.

The Warriors will have mirror games versus DePaul, Providence, and Nova.

Home - Bradley Center
Notre Dame

Providence (Mirror)
DePaul (Mirror)
St. John’s
Seton Hall
Villanova (Mirror)
West Virginia

That looks like a really good draw for a young Marquette team. The Any Given Sunday rule applies, but playing DePaul twice (0-18 last year) is a gift.

Lots of great games at the BC: Gtown, UL, ND, Pitt, Nova .. probably all of those are top-half of the BE, so playing them at home is huge.

Plus, we don't have to play @UL, @ND, @Pitt, @Gtown, four very tough venues.

As for the Out of Conference Games at the BC.. here's what we know so far:

  • UWM Dec 8.
  • Presbyterian
  • Centenary Nov 13.
  • Seattle
  • NC State
Marquette will also play UW @ Madison, and participate in the Old Spice Classic (Alabama, Baylor, Creighton, Florida State, Iona, Michigan, Xavier) on Nov 26-29.

As always, you can check the MUScoop wiki for the latest info on the schedule.

Todd Rosiak has more on the schedule.