"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, May 25, 2011

Top transfers coming in 2011-12; Jamil Wilson ranks 23rd and best in Big East

Jamil Wilson is one of just 34 incoming transfers that already produced for their former team in 2010.

Jamil was the 16th most efficient offensive player on the list, accounting for 101.3 points per possession that he was part of the play. Due to his minutes falling off later in the season, Jamil’s overall Offensive Value add was 0.5%, meaning his presence in 2010 increased Oregon’s scoring by half a percent over the course of the season. Not a huge impact that year, but plenty of reason for hope after a year of getting stronger and working out.

The fact is most transfers leave their first schools without having added any value to the team, so Jamil already beginning to produce points as a freshman puts him ahead of schedule.

David Singleton’s was the top defensive player for High Point with a Defensive Efficiency Rating of 1.07. Unfortunately, despite being one of the top steals guys in the country, the fact that High Point was allowing almost 1.10 points per opponents trips down the court made it hard for any of their players - even the best defender, to get a good rating or show Defensive Value. Hopefully, his talents will complement Marquette’s defensive scheme.

Overall, Jamil’s contribution is the 23rd best of any incoming transfer in the country.

The two big catches of the transfer season are Dominique Sutton, who was the defensive specialist for the Elite 8 K-State team and was a very solid offensive contributor as well (21, 10 against Wagner) but transferred to a very poor NC Central team to be near his daughters.

The second best incoming transfer this year is 6-foot-11 Arnett Moultrie, who was not a strong offensive player at UTEP but gives Mississippi State yet another dominant defensive shot-blocker and rebounder.

Here is the list of the top 34 transfers this year based on the Total Value formula for their overall contribution to their last team in 2010. The only other Big East transfer to maket the list was Lamont Jones, who made a small contribution at Arizona before transferring to St. John’s.

NameHeight2010This yearValueAddValueSubTotal Value
Dominique Sutton6-f-5Kansas St. NC Central1.8%-4.0%5.7%
Arnett Moultrie6-f-11Texas El Paso Mississippi State0.2%-4.7%4.9%
Sam Maniscalco6-f-0BradleyIllinois4.2% 4.2%
Brandon Wood6-f-3ValparaisoMichigan State3.5% 3.5%
Chris Babb6-f-5Penn St.Iowa State2.9% 2.9%
Chris Allen6-f-3Michigan St. Iowa State2.1%-0.7%2.8%
Devoe Joseph6-f-3Minnesota Oregon1.5%-1.2%2.7%
Kevin Dillard6-f-0Southern IllinoisDayton2.7% 2.7%
Justin Hamilton6-f-11Iowa St.LSU2.2%-0.2%2.4%
Elston Turner6-f-4Washington Texas A&M1.2%-1.2%2.4%
Jeff Jones6-f-4VirginiaRider2.4% 2.4%
Miguel Paul6-f-1MissouriEast Carolina0.9%-1.2%2.1%
Aaron Fuller6-f-6IowaUSC1.9% 1.9%
Jon Smith6-f-5St. LouisOhio0.7%-1.0%1.7%
Marshall Henderson6-f-2UtahTexas Tech1.1% 1.1%
Ben Boggs6-f-4Virginia TechValpo0.1%-0.9%1.0%
Ramon Galloway6-f-2South CarolinaLaSalle0.9% 0.9%
Michael Bizoukas6-f-1DePaulMissouri State0.7% 0.7%
Drew Gordon6-f-1UCLANew Mexico0.6% 0.6%
Travis Wear6-f-10North CarolinaUCLA0.1%-0.4%0.6%
Mike Rosario6-f-3RutgersFlorida0.6% 0.6%
Evan Ravenel6-f-8Boston CollegeOhio State0.5% 0.5%
Jamil Wilson6-f-7OregonMarquette0.5% 0.5%
David Wear6-f-10North CarolinaUCLA0.1%-0.4%0.5%
Rakim Sanders6-f-5Boston CollegeFairfield0.5% 0.5%
Rian Pearson6-f-3Wisconsin Green BayToledo0.4% 0.4%
Justin Cobbs6-f-3Minnesota California -0.3%0.3%
Chauncey Gilliam6-f-5MD Baltimore CountyAkron0.3% 0.3%
Demetrius Walker6-f-4Arizona St.New Mexico -0.3%0.3%
Xavier Thames6-f-3Washington St.San Diego State0.2% 0.2%
Chaz Williams5-f-9HofstraMassachusetts0.2% 0.2%
Carlon Brown6-f-5UtahColorado0.2% 0.2%
Curtis Dennis6-f-5New Mexico Toledo0.1% 0.1%
Lamont Jones5-f-11ArizonaSt. Johns0.1% 0.1%

Erik Williams Returns to Texas

Former Marquette forward Erik Williams is transferring to Sam Houston State, according to Jim Hicks of RCS Sports. He will be joining the Southland Conference team in the 2012-13 season, as he has to sit out a year per NCAA transfer rules. Williams played two years at Marquette and averaged 1.9 ppg and 1.5 rpg in 43 games. He earned time as a starter late in the 2010-11 season, though it was thought to be largely a strategic move to keep Jae Crowder from getting into early foul trouble.

Williams arrived at Marquette as one of Buzz Williams' first recruiting victories. He was rated #67 in the RSCI in 2009. He never reached the heights expected of him, however. Erik initially seemed to struggle a bit adapting to D1 play. He showed improvement and flashes of quality as a sophomore, but was hampered by a shoulder injury throughout the season.

Despite some struggles that led to this transfer, Erik Williams always came across as a quality individual and represented Marquette well. On behalf of the rest of the Cracked Sidewalks staff, I would like to wish Erik the best in the continuation of his career. While it would have been great to see him continue it at Marquette, hopefully the year off to completely rehab his shoulder and the familiar surroundings of being closer to his Houston, TX home will help him rejuvenate his once-promising collegiate career.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Butler 18th best college player eligible for NBA draft

Based on the Value Add system, Jimmy Butler is the 18th best offensive college player eligible for the draft this year. Since high school players were ruled ineligible, the NBA has picked between 44 and 52 college players every draft, so hopefully there won't be too many international players this year and Jimmy's name is called.

I ran the best 2500 returning players based on the system in an earlier post, but there were almost 1000 players who did not return (seniors, transferred, declared for draft). Of these, only 17 were more valuable to their teams than Jimmy Butler was. Here is the list of the top 20 departing college players with where they rank among draft prospects according to Draft Express:

KembaWalkerConnecticut 14
JimmerFredetteBrigham Young 215
NoahDahlmanWofford 4ND
ReggieJacksonBoston College516
DerrickWilliamsArizona 62
BenHansbroughNotre Dame 736
MickeyMcConnellSt. Mary's895
JonLeuerWisconsin 938
TalorBattlePenn St. 1090
JonDieblerOhio St. 1153
NolanSmithDuke 1323
DevonBeitzelN. Colorado 14ND
AustinFreemanGeorgetown 1575
JimmyButlerMarquette 1831
JaJuanJohnsonPurdue 1928
MarcusMorrisKansas 205

NBA Potential vs. College Value Add
Now obviously NBA scouts are focused on the potential to play in the NBA, which often but not always coincides with how much a player has helped his college team. For example, Purdue obviously had a lot of great college players in the 1990s when they were the 8th best team of the decade (Sagarin) but they only had one 1st round draft pick. Alabama had 7 first rounders play in the 1990s, but were only the 36th best team.

AP Writers said Jerel McNeal was one of the 10 best college players in America his senior year, but NBA scouts picked 44 college players ahead of him in the draft.

Still, in 17 of 20 cases the top college players are also among the 10% of departing D1 players with a shot at being picked, which is a pretty good correlation, and the three exceptions are pretty easy to explain as great college players who just don't have the size or speed to play in the NBA.

Chris Warren of Mississippi is measured in at less than 5-10, Devon Beitzel of N. Colorado is a slow 6-foot-1 despite being dubbed as “Little Jimmer” en route to Big Sky MVP titles, and Wofford’s Noah Dahlman would have to join Lazar Hayward as the only frontline player in the NBA under 6-foot-6.

On the flip side, when we look at the 31 players Draft Express has solidly in the draft who were NOT in the Top 20 on the Value Add system, they break into 3 categories:
- 22 of these 31 were in the Top 100
- 7 of the 9 that weren't were a combination of great defensive players and/or underclassmen who would be great college players if they played another year
- only 2 of the 31 just seemed to be underperformers

Here is the list of the players who should go in the draft but were not one of the best 20 offensive college players last year:

KyrieIrvingDu1901Top 3 for the 10 games he played
BrandonKnightKY613Top 5% of defenders
KawhiLeonardSDSt676#1 defender in country
MarkieffMorrisKS628Top 2% of defenders
KlayThompsonWASt7610Top 10% of defenders
TristanThompsonTX13611Top 1% of defenders
KennethFariedMorSt4612Top 10% of defenders
JordanHamiltonTX3913Top 1% of defenders
ChrisSingletonFLSt32114Top 1% of defenders
KyleSinglerDu4417Top 2% of defenders
TylerHoneycuttUCLA 44619Sophomore, Top 10% of defenders
JoshSelbyKS66320Freshman, Top 10% defenders
DariusMorrisMich3222Top 10% of defenders
ImanShumpertGATe9325Top 5% of defenders
JeremeRichmondIL35926Freshman, Top 10% defenders
TreyThompkinsGA28527Athletic, Top 10% defenders
NikolaVucevicUSC2429Top 3% of defenders
E'TwaunMoorePur3132Top 3% of defenders
MalcolmLeeUCLA 14734college underperformer?
JordanWilliamsMD9437Top 3% of defenders
DavidLightyOSU5039Top 1% of defenders
DemetriMcCameyIL4040Top 10% of defenders
JustinHolidayWA10744college underperformer?

The easiest to explain is Kyrie Irving, who was in the top 3 in Value Add for the 10 games he played, but slips to 190th for all the games missed.

Note that 20 of 30 were among the Top 10% of all defenders in the Value Subtract defensive rating.

Hopefully Jimmy Butler’s standing as the 18th best college player in the draft and the 31st best college prospect according to Draft Express results in us being able to add him to this list next year:

Dwyane Wade $14.2 million
Wesley Mathews $5.8 million
Lazar Hayward $1.0 million
Steve Novak $0.7 million

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Evaluating Marquette's 2011-12 Non-Conference Schedule

When I saw the news of Marquette's latest non-conference opponent this morning, I wanted to jump for joy. Right after the 2011 NCAA bracket came out, I evaluated Marquette's non-conference schedule in relation to their seed and found a direct correlation between the number of sub-200 opponents and a team's seed. After this morning's revelation, it's safe to say that Marquette's scheduling department recognized the problem and has addressed it. Here's a look at the 10 known non-conference opponents, as well as a brief look at the Paradise Jam potential opponents. It looks like 12 of 13 opponents are set, with one buy game still likely. Rumors of Florida Atlantic would be fantastic, as they project to be a top-100 RPI team. If you want the short version, just skip to the end of the article.

LSU (Road, High-Major)
Last Year's RPI: 224
Three-Year RPI Average: 160.3
Key Returning Players: G Ralston Turner (So), G Andre Stringer (So), F Storm Warren (Sr)
Key Losses: None
Expected RPI: 150

After two bad seasons, expect the Tigers to be much better next year. They return everyone, including three top-100 players from 2010, and RSCI #27 PF Johnny O'Bryant will likely be an immediate starter. Frankly, 150 may be conservative for this team. They could challenge for the NIT if Turner and Stringer make noticeable improvements, and this could easily be a tourney team when they visit the BC in 2012. I'd much rather play them on the road this year. LSU is on their way back, and we're better catching them there before all the kids mature.

Mount St. Mary's (Home, Mid-Major)
Last Year's RPI: 232
Three-Year RPI Average: 176.3
Key Returning Players: G Lamar Trice (Sr), G Julian Norfleet (So), F Danny Thompson (Sr)
Key Losses: F Shawn Atupem
Expected RPI: 175

The Mountaineers dipped to their worst RPI in the past three years last year, but they return five of their top six scorers. After a 9-9 season in the Northeast conference, this team should finish in the top half next year. The worst case scenario for them is probably around 200 in the RPI, which would be much better than teams like Longwood or Prairie View A&M from last year.

Norfolk State (Home, Low-Major)
Last Year's RPI: 269
Three-Year RPI Average: 275
Key Returning Players: F Kyle O'Quinn (Sr), G Chris McEachin (Sr), G Pendarvis Williams (So)
Key Losses: G Rob Hampton, G Aleek Pauline
Expected RPI: 275

Kyle O'Quinn is a beast. The 6'10" center averaged 16.4 ppg and 11.1 rpg last year, but this team needs help as they lose their top two assist guys in Hampton and Pauline. We probably got the worst of the Paradise Jam teams for our home game, but it's not unthinkable that Norfolk State could crack the top-250 in RPI if someone can emerge at the point, but the Spartans haven't done that since 2001, so it may be asking too much. This will probably be the worst team we play in non-conference, which is an upgrade over last year when we played 5 teams with RPI rankings below 275.

Northern Colorado (Home, Mid-Major)
Last Year's RPI: 98
Three-Year RPI Average: 165.3
Key Returning Players: G Elliot Lloyd (Jr), F Emmanuel Addo (So), G Paul Garnica (So)
Key Losses: G Devon Beitzel, F Neal Kingman, F Chris Kaba
Expected RPI: 150

This was the team announced on Twitter today when incoming freshman James Davis mentioned he'd be playing Juan Anderson next year. After making the NCAAs last year, Northern Colorado will almost certainly take a step back. They'll need youth to lead the way, and incoming freshman center Brendan Keane will likely need to produce right away to offset the losses of Kingman and Kaba. But even with a likely drop-off, this team will still be better than half the teams we had on the home slate last season, and could be an excellent opponent to start setting up games with for the next 2-3 years.

UW-Green Bay (Home, Mid-Major)
Last Year's RPI: 168
Three-Year RPI Average: 117
Key Returning Players: C Alec Brown (So), F Jarvis Williams (Jr), G Steve Baker (Sr)
Key Losses: G Rahmon Fletcher, G Bryquis Perine
Expected RPI: 200

The Phoenix have slipped in recent years and losing Fletcher and Perine will make for a tough 2011-12 season. They need Steve Baker to take over at the point from day one, and 7-foot center Alec Brown will be heavily relied on to develop. The good news is that even if Green Bay is awful, no Horizon team has been a sub-300 RPI team for the past three years. They play in a good league, and even in a down season shouldn't be a heavy RPI drain.

UW-Milwaukee (Home, Mid-Major)
Last Year's RPI: 94
Three-Year RPI Average: 119.7
Key Returning Players: F Tony Meier (Sr), G Kaylon Williams (Sr), G Ja'Rob McCallum (So)
Key Losses: F Anthony Hill, G Tone Boyle
Expected RPI: 100

The Panthers lose their top two scorers, but with Kaylon Williams running the show, they should stay in the mix of the Horizon. Ja'Rob McCallum showed flashes of stardom last year, while Tony Meier should pick up some of the scoring loss. Rob Jeter has consistently kept this team in the top-135 the past few years, and should do so again in 2011-12.

Vanderbilt (Home, High-Major)
Last Year's RPI: 26
Three-Year RPI Average: 49.7
Key Returning Players: G John Jenkins (Jr), F Jeffrey Taylor (Sr), C Festus Ezeli (Sr)
Key Losses: None
Expected RPI: Top-20

Vandy returns virtually everyone. Their only two graduating seniors combined for 5.4 mpg. Most publications have them as a preseason top-10 team, and along with Florida and Kentucky they will be among the favorites to win the SEC. This is a dangerous game, but after losing by 1 to virtually the same team last year on their court, Marquette should be optimistic about their chances at the BC. Definitely the highlight game of the non-con schedule for season ticket holders.

Washington (Neutral, High-Major)
Last Year's RPI: 30
Three-Year RPI Average: 25.7
Key Returning Players: G Abdul Gaddy (Jr), G C.J. Wilcox (So), F Darrell Gant (Sr)
Key Losses: G Isaiah Thomas, F Matthew Bryan-Amaning, F Justin Holiday
Expected RPI: 30

The Huskies lose their top three scorers, but a healthy Adbul Gaddy and incoming super-frosh Tony Wroten will likely have them near the top of the PAC-12. I like this game being on a neutral court, for RPI purposes it's better than a home-and-home where you likely end up winning one and losing one. At MSG, Marquette will find more friendly confines than a game in Seattle or elsewhere out West and by catching Washington early in the year, this fairly young team may not yet have jelled.

Wisconsin (Road, High-Major)
Last Year's RPI: 16
Three-Year RPI Average: 26.3
Key Returning Players: G Jordan Taylor (Sr), G Josh Gasser (So), F Mike Bruesewitz (Jr)
Key Losses: F Jon Leuer, F Keaton Nankivil,
Expected RPI: 25

The losses of Leuer and Nankivil will be felt heavily, and the Badgers will either need Jared Berggren to step up or instant contributions from freshmen Evan Anderson (redshirt), Jarred Uthoff, and Frank Kaminski to compete on the boards. Their size is largely unexperienced, but Taylor will likely be a first-team preseason All-American, so expect him to keep the Badgers in the top-25 both in rankings and in RPI. This team is always tough at the Kohl Center and next season will be no different.

Winthrop (Neutral, Mid-Major)
Last Year's RPI: 220
Three-Year RPI Average: 216
Key Returning Players: G Robbie Dreher (Jr), G Reggie Middleton (Sr), F George Valentine (Sr)
Key Losses: F Charles Corbin
Expected RPI: 200

The Eagles have made the NCAA Tournament 9 of the last 13 years. While their RPI isn't likely to be impressive, they return six of their top seven scorers and will likely be one of the better teams in the Big South. At worst, they won't hurt us in the RPI, and could very well count as a tourney team defeated come March.

Paradise Jam (Neutral)
I have to assume we'll beat Norfolk State and Winthrop. That pits us against the winner of Drake/Ole Miss. The Bulldogs return all but one player, and could very well be a contender in the Missouri Valley, one of the better mid-majors in the country, behind star guard Rayvonte Rice. The Rebels lose the top two scorers from last year's NIT team and will need big seasons from sophomores Dundrecous Nelson and Demarco Cox. Postseason play is possible, but Mississippi will probably not be as good as last year's team. If we reach the final, we will likely see Virginia or Drexel. We have scrimmaged the Cavs the past two years, and I recall Tony Bennett saying last year that the scrimmage with Marquette showed him just how far his team had to go. After losing Mike Scott and Mustapha Farrakhan, the Cavs need big seasons from the four top-100 players they've inked the past two seasons if they want to keep playing into the second half of March. I think it's more likely Drexel will reach the final. They return six of seven players that played in all 31 games including their top two scorers. The Dragons lost in the CAA tournament by 2 to VCU and may have been an NIT team had they won that game. They will be a contender in the Colonial next season.

The Short Version

Marquette faces two high-majors on the road, LSU and Wisconsin, that could both be in contention for postseason play. Each would be a good resume-building win, but not destructive if we lost.

At home, Vandy is the clear highlight and will be tough as they return virtually everyone. UW-Milwaukee has a chance to be a top-100 RPI team and should count as quality win at home. Mount St. Mary's, Northern Colorado, and UW-Green Bay all project as top-200 teams at worst and while they won't be quality wins, also won't be RPI drags come March. Only Norfolk State really looks like a home downer, but they still will probably be better than 5 (possibly 6) of our home opponents last year. With one home game left, I'm confident Marquette can find another solid buy game.

The neutral site games we know of include Washington and Winthrop. The Huskies will probably be an NCAA team, but lose more significant pieces than we do and should be beatable in the heart of Big East country. Winthrop is definitely beatable and has a history of making the Big Dance, so they could be a modest feather in the cap. After that, I expect Drake and Drexel in the Paradise Jam, but any combination of those two, Mississippi, or Virginia will probably result in top-150 wins. We should win the Paradise Jam, and while it won't give us the big boosts that beating a Duke or Kansas would, it still offers solid wins with little chance for RPI drags.

All in all, this is a great non-conference schedule. Fewer (3) projected top-25 teams, but still plenty of opportunities for quality wins, and only one team that will likely be below 200 in the RPI. The bonus that none of these teams look like sub-300 RPI teams right now is fantastic. I heartily invite Buzz Williams, Mike Broeker and everyone involved in the scheduling department to take a bow. This, along with a typical Big East schedule, is what Marquette needs to finish with a top-20 RPI and SOS next year. Well done, Marquette.