"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, January 20, 2011

MU Offense: Only team in Top 50 of all 4 Factors

As Marquette enters a brutal stretch of Big East play, the defense will have to focus on different strengths for different opponents.

Notre Dame will try to improve to 17-0 in game at home or neutral courts by continuing to protect the ball well and getting to the line – but their weakness is they get very few offensive rebounds. UConn can kill you on the offensive glass, but they are poor at shooting and getting to the line. Georgetown is a great shooting team that doesn’t protect the ball well, while Cincy protects the ball well but doesn’t get to the line.

It seems every team has some offensive weakness – except one.

Marquette is the only team in the country that is in the Top 50 in all Four Offensive Factors(www.kenpom.com). In fact, only six teams are even in the Top 100 in all four offensive categories:

Shooting (32nd best of 345 teams) – Dwight Buycks (61.7% eFG) and Jae Crowder (60.1%) have combined to hit 59% of their 2-pointers and 43% of their 3-pointers to lead a team that is 7th in the country in shooting at just under 50%. Once you calculate Effective Field Goal Percentage (credit 1.5 shots made for every 3-pointer made), MU slips slightly to rank as the 32nd best shooting team in the country at 53.9% eFG. With DJO heating up, watch out. Part of the great shooting percentage is the result of great passes to set up easy shots – and most of the credit there goes to Buycks and Junior Cadougan, who are among the best passers in the country (more than 25% of MU baskets are off assists from them when they are on the floor).

Protecting the ball (31st best) – Because Darius Johnson-Odom handles the ball so often the perception is that he turns it over a lot. Not true statistically as only 13.8 of his contributions are turnovers, a very good mark for a guard. Crowder is the 9th best player in the country at protecting the ball (7.8% turnovers), and overall MU is the 31st best team at protecting the ball with just 17.6% of their trips resulting in turnovers.

Offensive Rebounding (36th best) – Crowder grabs more than 11% of MU misses to lead a team that gets 37.2% of its misses – the 36th best figure in the US. While MU struggled several times on the defensive glass, the offensive rebounding has been strong.

Getting to the line (50th best) – No one wins the free throw exchange like Marquette. MU averages a 9 point advantage from the line each game – hitting 18 of 26 free throws to an opponent’s 9 of 15 on an average night. Jimmy Butler, Vander Blue and DJO are among the national leaders at getting to the line. Once again MU has made more free throws (339) than they have allowed opponents to attempt (288).

While MU has had much more trouble on defense – great at stealing the ball and not allowing free throws but mediocre at defensive rebounding and defending shots – if they continue to defend the way they have the last three games they have a chance to survive this murderous 4-game stretch and set up nicely for a tournament run.

The only other five offenses in the country that are in the top 100 in each of the four categories, with their weakest ranking in any of the Four Factors in parenthesis, are; Colorado (65th getting to line), New Mexico (99th protecting the ball), Texas (96th shooting), Villanova (100th shooting) and West Virginia (91st shooting).

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