"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

Sunday, January 15, 2012

1st for Buzz – MU defense now ranked higher than offense, and team is playing well except against big offensive rebounders

For the first time since Buzz Williams took over, Marquette’s defense is better than its offense. As of now MU has the 31st best offense in the country (1.112 points per trip) and the 28th best defense (0.906 points allowed per trip), and while this may not last, it’s never even been close under Buzz:

YearOffensive RankDefensive Rank
20099th 51st

For all the complaining about the aggressive style, MUs ability to be the 19th best team at turning opponent’s over (25.0% of opponents’ possessions end in a turnover), has offset the fact that MU is one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the country (258th of 345 for allowing 34.7% offensive rebounding by opponents).

While every MU starter steals the ball at least 2% of opponents’ trips (Crowder 3.9%, GARDNER 3.2%, Blue 3.1%, Junior/D. Wilson 2.4%/2.6% and DJO 2.0%), once the opponents’ shot is up Crowder is the only strong rebounder –grabbing 19.6% of misses to rank among www.kenpom.com national leaders.

Davante has to be one of the only guys in the country who is more likely to grab a rebound when his team misses than when the opponent misses, and his game sealing rebound against Pitt made him the 15th best offensive rebounder in the country at 16.1% of all MU misses grabbed (to 15.6% of opponents’ misses).

This Achilles Heel showed itself again Saturday when Marquette barely beat a Pitt team that, while having a terrible year, is the best offensive rebounding team in the country.

Since Chris Otule was injured, GAME SCORES calculate that Marquette has played like a ranked team 6 times and like an unranked team 5 times. As this table shows, in almost every case the poor performances have been against great offensive rebounding teams and the good performances have been against poor offensive rebounding teams:

Poor PerformancesOff Reb Rnk
Louisiana St.39
Good PerformancesOff Reb Rnk
Northern Colorado139
St. John's105
Wisconsin Green Bay150
Wisconsin Milwaukee170

What does this mean for the rest of the season? While Pomeroy’s predicted scores have proven very accurate, it appears likely that MU will not do as well as predicted when up against a strong offensive rebounding team, and vice versa.

Therefore I have laid out the rest of the season with the score Pomeroy currently predicts, followed by the opponents’ rank on the offensive glass. Marquette really needs to go at least 5-2 in the next seven games including a road game against an excellent offensive rebounding team in Villanova, because the five games after that are all against very good offensive rebounding teams that could send MU into a tail spin late.

OpponentsPomeroyOff Reb%Gut on game
LouisvilleW, 73-6559Slight favorite
at ProvidenceW, 77-7042Slight favorite
South FloridaW, 70-5899Double digit favorite
at VillanovaW, 76-7235Toss-up
Seton HallW, 73-66114Solid favorite
at Notre DameW, 72-69266Solid favorite
at DePaulW, 89-77190Solid favorite
CincinnatiW, 73-6543Slight favorite
at ConnecticutL, 72-719Big underdog
RutgersW, 76-6314Solid favorite
at West VirginiaL, 74-7119Big underdog
at CincinnatiW, 70-6943Slight underdog
GeorgetownW, 70-67112Solid favorite

(So Louisville is the 59th best offensive rebounding team in the country, etc., down to Georgetown, who is only the 112th best offensive rebounding team in the country.)
This is not to say that every team can dominate MU on the offensive boards. In fact, the past couple of years MU has struggled to stop opponents’ offensive rebounds early in the season but then been right in the middle of the pack at defensive rebounding in conference play.

After Pitt grabbed 6 of their first 7 misses to start the game for an Offensive Rebounding percentage of 86%, MU adjusted and allowed them to get only 5 of their last 27 misses. However, it appears that when facing a strong offensive rebounding team, MU has to make adjustments to stop them at some level that hurt their overall performance.

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