Think of this as Point/Counterpoint, although it's going to be less funny than when The Onion does it.
I want to make this perfectly clear off the top: I like Patrick Leary. We've exchanged friendly tweets on occasion, and I recommend that you go read his stuff both in the Marquette Tribune, but more importantly, over on the all-Big East SB Nation site Big East Coast Bias, where he's the Marquette beat reporter.
I just happen to completely disagree with something he wrote for Tuesday's Tribune regarding starting shooting guard Jake Thomas.
My name is Patrick Leary. You probably wouldn’t remember this, but we had statistics together last fall. Wasn’t that class boring?
Oh, you're going to want to brew a pot of coffee for this, then.
Marquette fans don’t hate you, even though they sometimes make it seem that way. However, because you were touted as the best shooter Marquette has had since Steve Novak, fans have high expectations.
This is weirdly and completely true, and I don't know why. Well, no, that's not right. I don't understand why. I suppose it's because of that 44.1% from behind the arc in his freshman year. There's three problems with that, though: 1) Jake Thomas shot 34.7% from behind the arc his sophomore year at South Dakota, 2) those numbers are inflated by contests against non-Division 1 opponents, and 3) those numbers are further inflated by South Dakota being in the Great West Conference, where with the exception of Utah Valley in 2010-2011, every other team in the conference was a sub-300 KenPom.com team.
Let me explain further: when you wipe out the four non-D1 games that South Dakota played in Thomas' freshman year, his three point shooting percentage falls to 41.8%. Do the same for the four non-D1 games in Thomas' sophomore year, and that year's number drops to 33.5%. The upside to these numbers is that they would have both been better than anyone not named Jamil Wilson on last year's Marquette team. The downside is the level of opposition. When you look at only the games against top 100 KenPom.com teams - like every team in the Big East this year is right now - things get very, very ugly. In eight games in his two years at South Dakota against teams that finished in the KenPom top 100 that season, Thomas shot 16 of 54, or 29.6% from behind the arc.
This is probably why Buzz Williams didn't extend a scholarship to Thomas in the first place.
But, anyway, back to what Mr. Leary was saying.
If you started heating up and shooting 40 percent from three-point range, all would be forgiven.
True. But it doesn't appear to be likely. As Rubie pointed out in the recap of the Ohio State game, Thomas is shooting 11.7% against KenPom.com top 100 teams while wearing a Marquette uniform. That's a crazy regression from his numbers at South Dakota, so you can see how I don't think that he's going to find a way out of this nose dive.
Remember in 2010-11, when you played for South Dakota, and you scored 40 points and shot 10-for-16 from three against Chicago State. That’s the real Jake Thomas.
Yeah, that's a thing that happened. But here's the problem with that. 1) As I've already shown here, it's virtually impossible to refer to a 62.5% shooting performance by any player as the "real" player, much less a guy who has shown an inability to shoot against the competition that Marquette will face this year, and 2) in a game at Chicago State just 16 days earlier, Thomas shot 2 of 10 from distance. Same guys playing defense, much worse shooting. Now which Jake Thomas is the real one?
We know you’re capable.
We really don't.
I can say that I want to see nothing more from an individual Marquette player than to see you succeed this season.
I'll admit that my wildest dream for Thomas in his Player Preview was to see him turn into "a prolific shooter." But "nothing more?" Jake as awesome shooter guy doesn't crack my top seven things I want to see from individual players this season.
- Jamil Wilson turns into the Destroyer Of Worlds that he can be
- Davante Gardner wins Big East Player of the Year without starting a game
- Chris Otule turns into the offensive force he was in the middle of the Big East season last year
- Derrick Wilson gives Marquette just enough offense to make defenses respect him
- Duane Wilson provides significant and important minutes
- Deonte Burton does Bane Things
- Chelsie Butler and Lauren Tibbs develop 12 inches of vertical leap ability. Oh, this has to be men's players only? Well, never mind this one, then.
Tuesday, you showed us you could, in fact, make shots.
No, no, no, no, no, don't say it.
You sank three shots from beyond the arc in the first 10 minutes of the second half against Grambling State.
Literally the worst team in the country right now, and it's not close. Grambling hasn't been ranked above #300 in the KenPom system since the 2004-2005 season, and they finished that year #299. This is what Thomas did in the Great West Conference: Made shots against teams that are in the bottom seventh of any kind of national ranking system you want to use. You can't use it as a relevant example of what he's capable of, and you DEFINITELY can't use it as an example when he missed the next eight shots he took, with six of them coming from behind the arc.
Marquette fans may say bad things about you on Twitter, but really, they want nothing more than to see you live up to your potential.
I'm afraid he already is.