"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, October 20, 2019

About that Pomeroy Ranking...

The new kenpom.com rankings are out and Marquette fans should be pleasantly surprised to see their team checking in at #17 in the country. Considering other rankings we've seen include T-Rank having them at #33, Three Man Weave slotting them in at #32, and most of the poll voters having them anywhere from the mid-20s to unranked, this is something many didn't see coming.

First of all, Pistol Brad at Anonymous Eagle did a nice job of breaking down the individual players that likely contributed to the improvement. If you want to check out my Twitter feed, I posted a response to that article, but I felt it deserved a full article, so here we are.

When considering Pomeroy's rankings, we have to remember virtually everything is based on the Four Factors. The factors are effective field goal percent, turnover rate, offensive rebounding, and free throw rate. Let's look at each one individually and determine how they will likely change with Sam and Joey Hauser gone and Koby McEwen, Jayce Johnson, and Greg Elliott in.

Effective Field Goal Percentage: This is a mathematical calculation of how many points a player gets per shot they take. If you need a formula explanation, scroll down to eFG% here. The Hausers take with them 133 made threes and combined to make 40.9% from beyond the arc. The team three point percentage will likely decline and their overall combined eFG% last year was an impressive 56.3%. For comparison sake, if the Hausers were a team, that number would rank 7th in the nation. So what about the replacements? If we consider the most recent seasons for Johnson & Elliott, as well as Koby's first season (when his usage was lower, which it likely will be this year) the three combined for an eFG% of 56.7%. This definitely cherry picks McEwen's stats a bit, but I think it is safe to say that while this number may decline slightly, it won't fall off a cliff as much as some might expect because Marquette should have better interior finishing.

Turnover Rate: While Sam Hauser had an excellent 11.9% turnover rate, Joey was a fairly abysmal 22.3%. Elliott (19.9%), McEwen (19.2%), and Johnson (17.0%) are all significant improvements on Joey's numbers. But the real factor to consider is how much we are hearing about Brenden Bailey being a projected starter. Bailey's stunning 6.3% turnover rate, had he played enough minutes to qualify, would have been 4th in the country. More ballhandlers and better ballhandlers should lead to an improvement in turnover rate.

Offensive Rebounding: For front court players, the Hausers were not good offensive rebounders. Sam pulled down just 3.7% and Joey 3.6% of available offensive rebounds. For comparison, Brendan Bailey pulled down 6.5% of available offensive rebounds, nearly double what either Hauser did. But of players that will replace their minutes, Bailey is on the low end. Jamal Cain got to 7.2% of offensive rebounds, Theo John got to 11.1%, Jayce Johnson got to 14.1% (27th in the country), and Ed Morrow got to 15.5% (he would've ranked 11th had he played just 1.6 more mpg). Even Greg Elliott got to 4.5% of offensive rebounds as a freshman. Quite simply, the departure of the Hausers should VASTLY improve Marquette's offensive rebounding. Last year, Marquette improved 80 spots in the rankings from #211 to #131 in offensive rebounding. I expect a similar improvement this year with the Hauser minutes going to players that are much, much better at crashing the offensive glass.

Free Throw Rate: Sam's 92.4% free throw percentage was a stellar 4th in the nation, but it would've meant far more if he actually got to the line. His 20.9% free throw rate was lower than anyone on the team except Jamal Cain. Joey had a respectable 38.4%, but even that won't be hard to replace. Of the newcomers, McEwen had a 37.4% free throw rate, Elliott had 44.9%, and Jayce Johnson had 59.0%. Marquette should be much better at getting to the line. They may not convert at the same rate, but free throw rate is far more important than percentage because of the dual effect of the raw attempts generating points and the fouls on the defense making it easier to attack offensively.

So on offense, the eFG% should roughly be a wash because interior scoring will be better while the team should be better at turnover rate, free throw rate, and significantly better at offensive rebounding. In terms of overall efficiency, this team actually projects to be better in 2019-20 without the Hausers than it was with them in 2018-19. That said, I think the team would be even higher had they stayed. McEwen and Elliott would still be here and as much as Jayce adds certain qualities the brothers don't have, the improved shooting from deep and the expected improvements from what the brothers actually did in 2018-19 versus them being expected to be better in 2019-20 would've likely led to a top-10 offensive ranking. Still, it's understandable why MU should be better on the offensive end this upcoming season.

Defensively, it's just as easy to see why this team will project to be better without them. When it comes to challenging shots and limiting eFG%, the team will have more athleticism and shot blocking/challenging ability without them. Neither of them excelled at creating turnovers. They were decent but not exceptional defensive rebounders and the addition of Johnson (23rd in the country and 5th among high major players) and particularly Koby McEwen (19th in the country for players 6'4" and under, one of the elite rebounding guards) should more than offset the Hausers. Sam was excellent and Joey average at defending without fouling, so that aspect may get worse, but it is the least important of the four factors and if the other three are all better, it's easy to see why this team should be better overall on the defensive end.

No comments: