[Editor's note: This post was written in its entirety on Tuesday morning before the Deonte Burton/John Dawson news broke. The contents are about how the coaching staff has impacted the team since April and not about the future, so nothing has been changed.]
Over the summer, I asked the Marquette men's basketball team very nicely to work on three point shooting in the offseason. As it turns out, that seemed to be a focus of the coaching staff as well, and we even had Derrick Wilson coming forward to say that he had attempted more than 20,000 shots in the off-season.
Now we've got eight games of competition to look at, so I think we can start to take a look at how all of that shooting practice is working out for the team. For various reasons, we only have five players from last season that have played significant minutes this season, so our sample size here is slightly limited, but such is life. It's hard to take shooting percentages for this kind of comparison, because it doesn't take what kind of shots that the players are attempting (in transition, catch and shoot, rushed shot to beat the shot clock, contested, etc.). But, if we look at the number of three point attempts per 40 minutes, we start to get a picture of how comfortable players are at shooting from long distance.
Here's the three point attempts per 40 minutes numbers for Marquette's five returning players from last season:
|Steve Taylor, Jr.||237||13||2.19|
First thing that jumps out at you: That's a whole lot of chucking from long distance for a bunch of dudes who honestly did not play all that much. Is there a connection somewhere in the twisted confines of Buzz Williams' mind? Maybe.
Anyway, here's the same numbers from this season so far:
|Steve Taylor, Jr.||235||5||0.85|
How wild is it to consider that Deonte Burton has already attempted more three-pointers than he did all of last season? Of course, he's also made the exact same number, so his shooting percentage is down from 50% to 40%.
Anywho. I don't think we can really divine any solid information about the off-season shooting training from these numbers. Taylor is way down, more as a result of where he's being positioned on the court. Anderson is slightly down, but he also seems much more comfortable taking the ball to the rim. Johnson is down ever so slightly, but so is his shooting percentage. Burton and Wilson have shown dramatic upticks in their attempts, which might be the best sign of players being more comfortable shooting three pointers and thus the training paying off for Marquette.
There is one more player with previous Division 1 experience that has played significant minutes this season: Matt Carlino. I left Carlino out of the original charts because it felt unfair to include him as he wasn't part of the teams that were coached by Buzz Williams. As it turns out, though, it's kind of pointless to include Carlino. He's averaging 7.42 three point attempts per 40 minutes this season, which is the exact same amount he averaged in 2013-14 with BYU. His confidence in shooting the long ball is completely the same, even though he was on Marquette's campus for at least part of the summer.
Here's the thing, though: Carlino's suddenly a very, very good three point shooter. Here's his three seasons at BYU:
Carlino put up 124 attempts his freshman year, and jumped that to 167 and then 177 last season, so that's a strong sample size to consider what he was hitting.
This season, through eight games, Matt Carlino is hitting on 43.5% of his three point attempts.
That's a far cry from the guy that caused BYU fans to write in to tell us that we would alternate between loving Carlino and tearing our hair out because of his on court decisions. Maybe it's more a function of Carlino not having to be the point guard on the team and can focus on getting ready to shoot in better situations. Maybe it's Steve Wojciechowski and staff figuring out where Carlino hits more threes from and getting him the ball in those situations. And maybe it's the shooting training paying off.