Thursday, October 7, 2010

2010-11 Preview -- Marquette Golden Eagles

Too Busy for the Details?
Virtually the last Tom Crean-recruited player has moved on, and the Marquette team that takes the court this season will be the product of Coach Buzz Williams' recruiting. The type and mix of players, along with the style of play entirely reflects the preferences and game approach of man who stepped in after Tom Crean left for Indiana in 2008. Marquette will push the tempo, try to score in transition and confuse opponents with multiple sets, ball screens to complement a predilection to penetrate and kick to the perimeter. They should be energetic, enthusiastic and a bit brash, a reflection of their coach's personality. And be in the hunt for conference glory and their sixth straight trip to the NCAAs.  Prognosis -- A 2nd quartile finish.

3 Years At a Glance

[edit -- %Pts for 2011 is 52.6, not 38.6]  Coach Williams starts with more than he had going into 2010, and that should be a comfort, even if none of the returners is named Lazar Hayward. The offensive rebounding number is a bit deceptive -- Marquette was tied at #14 in the conference for offensive rebounding. The rebounding numbers do suggest, however, that the Golden Eagles will improve over last season's numbers.

According to Pomeroy...
BE O Eff108.89112.12106.15
BE D Eff101.44103.7898.83
BE D eFG%50.2T1153.21448.45
BE D TO%21.7120.9523.41
BE D Reb%35.1932.8835.15
BE D FTR%27.5226.5250.015

The Golden Eagles earned the same Big East Tournament seed in 2010 as 2009, and gave back a single win in conference play (11-7 vs 10-8), but they achieved the same result through very different means as the offensive and defensive efficiencies suggest. The 2009 team was an elite offensive unit, ranking 2nd in conference games, but they were merely average defensively, ranking about 8th overall for defense. Check out the efficiencies for 2007-08, Tom Crean's last season. Clearly Coach Williams retooled the offense and defense, developing a more potent offense to be sure, but at the price of an efficient defense perhaps? The defense improved from 2009 to 2010, but note that certain elements of the defense, specifically defensive rebounding, fouls given did not change that much. The improvement came with shot defense, a very ineffective 53.1 (ranked #14 in conference) improved to 50.2% (tied for #11) in 2010. A fairly constant theme throughout Crean's last season and Williams' first two is the defensive turnover rate (very good, suggests an aggressive on-ball defense) and very average (middle of the conference) defensive rebounding. Also note that under Coach Williams, Marquette has not fouled much on defense, normally a good way to minize scoring opportunities when the clock is stopped.

For the Record...
Big East1170.6111260.6671170.611
Post Season?NCAA Rnd #1NCAA Rnd #2NCAA Rnd #2

The Warrior's Nucleus
Coach Buzz Williams' has a great returning group. Though Lazar Hayward is a huge loss, the step-back from losing the Three Amigos was not very far at all, and Marquette might be able to replace much of Hayward's role with a committee of players who are ready to step forward this season.

On Offense
Jimmy Butler84.4128.520.617.555.98.91.2687.5
Darius Johnson-Odom73.1107.022.924.
Dwight Buycks54.894.819.117.845.94.50.9826.6
Joseph Fulce28.8111.317.018.352.012.11.1018.0

Although he did not accumulate enough minutes to show up here, sophomore Junior Cadougan will see a lot of rotations minutes -- if he does not start at the point for the Golden Eagles -- this season. Cadougan tore his achilles tendon a month before Fall Practice and rehabbed for six months. He saw play at the very end of the 2010 season. Between Buycks, Johnson-Odom and Cadougan, Marquette has a great back court nucleus to which a freshman or two can contribute without pressure of expectations. Look for DJO and Butler to "grow" into Hayward's role, as both are positioned to efficiently pickup the additional possessions. The question is where the Golden Eagles will make up the balance of Hayward's offense.

On Defense
Jimmy Butler84.414.511.710.01.92.4
Darius Johnson-Odom73.
Dwight Buycks54.811.517.
Joseph Fulce28.821.

Fourth year walk-on Robert Frozena, sophomore forward Erik Williams and Chris Otule (like Cadougan, an early season casualty), will provide depth in the back and front courts respectively.

Significant Additions
Coach Williams brings in a large class of true freshmen and JUCOs. Two off season transfers (local player Jamil Wilson and Dave Singleton) will sit this season and be available in 2012. Of the entering group, the headliner is Wisconsin All-State Division 1 Team member Vander Blue, a 6-4, 190 pound guard who logged minutes with the USA U18 team that won the America's Cup during the summer of 2010. Blue is a consensus Top 50 recruit, who was slated to go to Wisconsin before Badger fans changed his mind. JUCO Jae Crowder drew comparisons to the departed Lazar Hayward even before the ink was dry on his papers. At 6-6 and 215 pounds Crowder has the same build and skill set as the former Big East All-First Team player. When teamed with Jimmy Butler, the duo should present opponents with the same headaches Hayward and Butler did in 2009 and 2010. True freshman Jamail Jones, another 6-6 'tweener, albeit lighter version of Hayward, Butler and Crowder, out of Montverde Academy in Florida, will probably fit in the wing rotation for small bits of time as he hits the weight room and gets ready for 2012. Reggie Smith is a 6-0 175 pound off guard who scores by penetration and finished after physical contact in high school will add depth to the Golden Eagle back court. 6-8, 285 pound Davante Gardner is a DeJuan Blair-dimensioned bfc with Blair's offensive skill set who, after a year of conditioning additional, should have enough speed and stamina to contribute in the low post.

Explode If...
1. Three of DJO, Cadougan, Buycks, Blue, Crowder and Butler have great seasons. There is enough speed and accuracy in that collection to keep opponents off balance and on their heels. If the Golden Eagles can establish a pattern of being on top of the score wire-to-wire, that can put a lot of pressure on opponents, especially those who prefer a more deliberate tempo to their offense.
2. The frontcourt rotation of some combination of Otule, Fulce and/or Gardner provides a low post defensive and rebounding presence. The Marquette offense does not look to a space eater to post a lot of points, but the offense does look to the defense to force turnovers, keep their opponents off the line and make them just inefficient "enough" when converting shots to points.

Implode If...
1. Injuries are always a problem. Marquette lacks depth in the front court, so a problem there could be very damaging. The backcourt has depth, but experience, should there be an injury would problematic. Acker and Cubillan stepped up their presence in the rotation, which eased Cadougan's absence. There are no senior rotation players in the wings this season.
2. The staff has brought in an interesting mix of highly regarded recruits and JUCO players. Then freshman Jeronne Maymon, a well-regarded local bballer left shortly after the start of the season, apparently miffed that "promised playing time" was not forthcoming. Youssepha Mbao, a center, also transferred out during the season. Similar communication problems this season could bring other unanticipated departures.  [Note -- A foot injury prevented Youssepha Mbao from appearing in the last 17 games of the season. Mbao transferred after the season was over.]

Crucial Run/Bellweather Games
While not a Top 5 SOS schedule for out of conference (OOC) games, the Golden Eagles will get an early test at the CBE Classic in the form of ACC power (and preseason presumtive #1) Duke, followed by a game with either Kansas State or Gonzaga. If the pundits are correct, K State and Duke will...dook it out in the championship game while Marquette and the Zags go at it for the under card. Traditional in state rival Wisconsin, projected at one of the top 3-4 in the Big Ten for 2011 will visit in early December (look for a big game from freshman Vander Blue perhaps?), and the Golden Eagles take a run to Nashville, Tennessee to meet SEC-Big East match-up from last season, Vanderbilt. Run the OOC table and Marquette will be touted as the Surprise Team of the season, but a 12-1 or 11-2 record is probably the ceiling with so many questions in the front court to work through.

Marquette drew three "middling" mirror opponents this season, a schedule that is down a bit from 2010, but a good one for establishing their spot in the pecking order, as Notre Dame and Connecticut do not appear as if they will contend for a conference title this season. Seton Hall would like to improve their standing in the conference, so Marquette has an immediate incentive to come out on top. Going 4-2 versus the mirrors would be good, but 5-1 would definitely put Marquette at the head of any quartile they should have to share with the three others. If Marquette has 10 or more wins going into the last six games, they are probably playing for one of the bye seeds. A split record up or down a win (6-6, 5-7, 7-5) is probably more realistic. The Golden Eagles open the last six games with a two game homestand, first they face St. John's followed by a visit from Seton Hall. A quick out of town trip will take them to Storrs for a game with the Huskies which may be very tired at that point. Marquette returns home for another two game homestand. This time Providence opens the stand, followed by Cincinnati.The last game is a road game with Seton Hall to close out the season. Marquette should have the advantage in that stand, so a 4-2 (or even 5-1?) record could put them on track for a #3 seed, especially if they have gone 7-5 in the first 2/3 of the Big East season.


TB said...

Solid content as always, guys. I'm hoping Fulce's production in a limited role last year bodes well for this season...he's somewhat of an x-factor this year. But for now this team will go where the deeper backcourt/wings takes it.

greyCat said...

Thanks Tim. Fulce's ceiling (for possessions and shots) is somewhere in the low-mid 20s (@20%-24%). If he maintains his offensive efficiency (about 111.3 per Pomeroy), increases his minutes and hits near that ceiling, he could be the engine that drives Marquette a spot or two higher in the standings. But Williams has an eye for guard talent, he has assembled another nightmare for defenses across the conference again this season!

Andrei said...

Great analysis! Only one small qualm, Mbao transfered after the season, not during it. He missed most of the latter parts of the season due to injury. Great work though, very thorough.

greyCat said...

Thanks for the information Andre, I will correct the preview in a bit.

John M. Baker said...

Aside from the comment about Mbao which somebody already mentioned, that was a great analysis. About the best I have ever seen from a rival fan. Great job. You ought to publish this stuff. It is better than most of what is out there

greyCat said...

I have edited the reference to Youssefa Mbao to relect that he left at the end of the season. Thanks to the poster over at who noticed the percentage of returning points was lower than expected. You were correct, I used the percentage of returning 3 point attempts instead. I changed the table to reflect the correct percentage.

Unknown said...

Great stuff. The game at Connecticut though will be played at XL in Hartford though, not Storrs...

teddycoke said...

well written....many Hail Marys that Fulce, Buycks and Cadougan can provide significant minutes....