"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

Saturday, November 29, 2014

History Suggests Opponents’ Shooting Drops 10% when Fischer Arrives Dec. 16

Marquette opponents are hitting 57.1% of their two-pointers, but the arrival of shot-blocker Luke Fischer December 16 will drop that figure by 10% if history holds. Fischer blocked 8.8% of opponents’ two-pointers last season at Indiana, and when Marquette has had at least one player average blocking more than 4% of opponents’ two-pointers they have held opponents to 48% or less every season.

Here is the breakdown of opponents' 2-point percentage in relation to MU's top shot-blocker each season:

  • Top shot-blocker below 4% since 2003 (4 times) – every season at least 49.3% allowed for average of 51.7% opponents' 2-point shots made
  • Top shot-blocker above 4% since 2003 (9 seasons) – every season 48% or less for average of 45.7% opponents' field goals made
  • When Jim McIlvaine was 1994 National Defensive Player of the Year he blocked 14.4% and MU allowed a record low 36.8% of opponents' 2-point shots to go in
Despite Marquette’s terrible field goal percentage allowed (the 57.1% allowed ranks MU 328th of 351 defenses), the pressure is so good (force turnovers 25.9% of trips down the court for 20th best of 351 defenses) that the overall defense is almost exactly average (99.5 points per 100 trips).  That’s only the ninth best defense in the Big East, but if the team can keep turning the ball over and Fischer’s presence at the rim lowers the field goal percentage allowed as has always been the case, Marquette could easily move up to about 6th in defense in the Big East.

Marquette is battling Seton Hall to have the 6th best offense, so if they finish 6th in both offense and defense they logically would finish around 6th in the conference instead of 9th - where they are currently projected.

This year Deonte Burton has led the team by blocking 3.5% of opponents’ two-point shots. Marquette also lacked a shot-blocker in 2004 (Terry Sanders 3.4%), 2009 (Jimmy Butler 2.5%) and 2010 (Joe Fulce 2.9%), and opponents’ have averaged making 51.7% of their two-points shots in those years.
In the other seasons since the state has been kept at www.kenpom.com, Dwyane Wade, Marcus Jackson, Jamil Lott, Ousmane Barro (twice), Jamil Wilson, or Chris Otule (three times) have averaged blocking more than 4% of all opponents two-pointers, and in those seasons opponents’ have shot 45.7% on two-pointers.

I went back and did the math myself for the historic 1994 season by Jim McIlvaine, the current Marquette TV announcer who was national defensive player of the year that year.

If Luke Fischer improves at all on his 8.8% of shots blocked at Indiana last year, then he will be the greatest shot-blocker Marquette has had since McIlvaine.

Here is the actual table, which I kept at the bottom of this post since the code is impossible to read for MUScoop readers.

Year2-pt DefRankBlockerBlk%4%+?
199436.81Jim McIlvaine14.4Yes
200345.976Dwyane Wade4.2Yes
200449.3212Terry Sanders3.4No
200544.745Marcus Jackson5.4Yes
200645.987Jamil Lott6.5Yes
200745.252Ousmane Barro4.2Yes
200846.798Ousmane Barro6.4Yes
200950.3265Jimmy Butler2.5No
201050263Joe Fulce2.9No
201148179Chris Otule8.9Yes
201244.448Jamil Wilson5.8Yes
201344.976Chris Otule6.7Yes
201445.768Chris Otule6.4Yes
201557.1328Deonte Burton3.5No
2015??Luke Fischer8.8Yes
2003-51.7Ave less than 4% Block since 20033.1No
2003-45.7Ave more than 4% block since 20036.1Yes

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving for Great Start to Hoops Season

No, I'm not being sarcastic. Obviously the guys had to fight hard to avoid a second embarrassing loss, and they now have to face a much tougher than expected Georgia Tech team tonight.

However, the keys to Marquette basketball long-term were the recruiting class and the success of the Big East. Doug McDermott single-handedly kept the Big East afloat as a major conference last year, and going into the season I had the conference ranked 6th and teetering on being classified as a "Mid-Major" with the Power Conferences consolidating power.

When I visited campus for the opener I told one person, "I hate to admit this, but it is much more important that the Big East has a good season than that Marquette has a good season this year."

A bad season and recruits go elsewhere to play in major match-ups. Yes, Fox Sports 1 is locked in for a long time, but a bad year and they start to wonder if they really should have broadcast more Big East games last year than ESPN broadcast NBA games. A bad year and we are battling the Atlantic 10 and others for conference bragging rights, and we lose any chance to strategically decide to lure in VCU or some other team if it makes sense.

With that in mind, I wrote the folowing last night (before the Thanksgiving games). I had ranked the Big East as the 6th best conference based on preseason www.valueaddbasketball.com, but the top 8 teams starting 35-0 has the conference up to 4th my ratings which are coming out on Breitbart Sports (but have not been posted as of this writing).

Big East (improves from 6th to 4th rank)

Thanksgiving came a day early for Fox Sports 1 when the Big East moved up to fourth in the ranking of conferences with a stunning trio of upsets. After Fox Sports 1 made a half-billion dollar investment in the Big East made up of the "Catholic 7," ESPN used a Catholic term to declare the conference dead by releasing Requiem for the Big East, but Wednesday's stunning upsets of Florida, Minnesota, and UNC have the Big East surging into the rankings for the top conferences (see below).

Except for Marquette and DePaul, the Big East is now 35-0 after St. John's upset Minnesota (Big Ten), Georgetown upset Florida (SEC), and Butler shocked UNC (ACC) Wednesday to move the conference ahead of conferences in which ESPN has invested billions.
The Fox Sports 1 play to break into the New York sports market included the purchase of the Big East and Yankees TV rights, while ESPN has gone after the Big East brand much as they have attacked the Redskins brand with a steady campaign.

The Big East was made up of the "Catholic 7" schools that broke away from football members of the conference last year and signed with the new Fox Sports 1, but struggled in its initial NCAA tournament and started this year ranked as the sixth best conference based on www.valueaddbasketball.com as reported by Breitbart. However, with every team except Marquette and DePaul undefeated entering the holiday weekend, the conference passed the Pac-12 and SEC in the rankings released below.

Wins to date have included tournament-bound teams with Butler stunning UNC, Georgetown over Florida, Creighton over Oklahoma, St. John’s over Minnesota, Providence over Notre Dame, and Villanova beating both VCU and Michigan to put Fox Sports 1’s station in the top four with the ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten.

Conference Rankings (4th through 1st)
The ratings below indicate which teams in each conference are substantially above or below their preseason Value Add ranking (see separate post in which each team's season to date is rated from a "10" for far exceeding expectations to a "0" for falling far short).

Kris Dunn's emergence at Providence gives the Big East seven teams that would make the NCAA tournament based on the www.kenpom.com ratings. Butler and Creighton have played well above expectations to join Georgetown, Villanova, Providence, St. John's and Xavier in the top 50 in those ratings. Seton Hall is a near miss, while DePaul and a disappointing Marquette are not in the top 100. Typically a team must be in the top 50 to make the NCAA tournament.

Above Expectations (4 teams): 42. Butler, 44. Creighton, 27. Georgetown, 7. Villanova.

Disappointments (1): 122. Marquette.

Other Tourney Teams (3): 34. Providence, 46. St. John's, 36. Xavier.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Now where did I put that darn panic button?

We tried to tell you this team would struggle against even bad teams at times, we are going to say the recent loss to Nebraska Omaha counts as a bad team and a very bad loss. Is it a disaster? There seems to be some debate about that and the core to some of our discussion. We do want to remind those on the ledges across the global that this isn't the worst loss MU has had and that it's early, the team can and should improve. So we talk generically about the last couple of games, the little bit that went right(offense generally, Derrick Wilson, and Juan Anderson) and what definitely went wrong and needs to change. Also, we were in the same room together for a podcast for once and the sound quality turned out just slightly better than the Omaha game. Here's to hoping we see significant improvement Monday night against NJIT and in the Orlando Classic or it could be a VERY rough November. Download this episode (right click and save)