"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

Friday, November 04, 2011

Last Year's Backcourt: Reasons for Optimism

Plus some media links below

A few weeks ago, Tim looked at the backcourt beyond DJO.  Two of the most important players stand to be Junior Cadougan and Vander Blue.  Certainly, Cadougan has been handed the reins to run the offense, and Vander is largely expected to take the sophomore leap.  Even just recently, Jeff Goodman tweeted that Vander Blue was extremely impressive in Marquette's scrimmage against Kansas State.

And yet... both players were some of the least productive players on the team last year.  Therefore, I wanted to take a more in-depth look at how the two players improved (or didn't) last year.  I took a look at how averages over the first five games of the BE and the last five games, and then compared it to the entire season.



Cadougan's story from last year is one where he really did improve over the course of the season.  He went from seeing limited minutes to being on the court almost 60% of the time.  In addition, his usage went from a limited player of 7% to an almost average usage of 19%.  Most importantly, his turnover percentages dropped from 60% of possessions to 22%.  That's still not good for a point guard, but in all situations, his end of year numbers were better than his season averages.

A quick point on Cadougan's offensive rating.  One may wonder why his beginning of season number is about the same as his end of season number, but his entire season Offensive Rating is terrible. The answer for this lies in Cadougan's consistency.  Junior had a lot of games last year where his time on the court resulted in a terrible ORtg, including an ORtg of ZERO in more than one game.  However, there is definitely potential there for Cadougan's offensive efficiency to improve significantly over last year if his consistency improves.  Based upon how he continued to get better over the course of last year, there is a lot of reason for optimism.


If the story with Cadougan last year was that he improved by the end of the year, Vander's story is that he was shipwrecked by the end of the season.  The numbers back that up. As poor as Blue's numbers were for the entire season, they were astronomically worse by the final five games of the year.  He was on the court less than a third of the time, his usage was down to role player status, and he was coughing the ball up almost 50% of the time.  And suffice it to say... an Offensive Rating of 24 is not so good.

Where's the optimism?  It comes in two parts.  First, before the implosion, Vander's numbers were not that bad.  He was basically an average player across the board, including ORtg, Usage, and turnovers. Given a year to refocus and train, and it's reasonable to reframe his on-court performance with a starting point of those first five games.  It's certainly plausible that Blue would improve on those numbers.

Second, I took a look at the key areas impacting Vander's offensive efficiency for the entire season.  He suffered in three primary areas:  he only shot 39% for the year, he was only 16% from behind the arc, and his turnover rate was 22%.  Even just a modest improvement in all areas (46% shooting, 30% from behind the arc, and 18% turnovers) would improve his offensive efficiency to above 102.  Connecting on 70-75% of his attempts from the charity stripe and his ORtg jumps to 104-106.  None of those are crazy expectations for the uber-athletic guard.


In our BE Preview, I said that I am drinking the Kool-Aid by the gallon and handing it out.  Despite the many unknowns, I believe that Cadougan and Vander are both well positioned for key improvement over last year's performance.

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