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Marquette Basketball: How Has Luke Fischer Changed This Team?

Get ready for some Fancy Math to look at the two different Golden Eagles teams during the 2014-15 season.

The Big Man, Luke Fischer.
The Big Man, Luke Fischer.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, Marquette played their ninth game with Luke Fischer in the lineup.  That officially gives the Golden Eagles one more game with Fischer than they played without him this season.  That, of course, means it's time to compare how Marquette has been playing on both sides of his debut!

Obvious disclaimers: This is also Marquette's performance with and without Deonte Burton in the lineup.  However, Burton was averaging 16 minutes and coming off the bench, while Fischer is playing 27 minutes a game and starting in the last four games.  It seems to me that Fischer's addition is much more significant that Burton's departure, but your mileage may vary.  Also, Marquette played five top 100 KenPom teams without Fischer, and no one below #273.  With Fischer, they've played four top 100 teams, and three teams ranked waaaaaay up in the 300s.  That's why I wanted to get at least one more Big East game in on the "With Fischer" side of things to help balance things out.

In any case, we'll assess the difference in the way the Golden Eagles have played by looking at the KenPom.com Four Factors, and adding on the points per possession as well.  That adds a little bit extra information of MU's efficiency on both ends of the court.  We'll start with how MU does on the offensive end.

Marquette On Offense
Without Fischer With Fischer
eFG% 49.9% 56.3%
TO% 17.4% 20.2%
OR% 27.9% 29.8%
FTR 41.8% 38.5%
Pts/Poss 1.04 1.05

If you had asked me ahead of time to pick one category that was going to get worse, it wasn't going to be Free Throw Rate.  I mean, with a guy as skilled as Fischer in the post, I would have expected him to rack up a few more fouls and thus a few more free throws.  I'm also slightly surprised to see the turnovers getting a little worse.  I suppose that can be attributed to MU attempting more entry passes than in the first half of the season, and thus, more are going astray.

Luckily for Steve Wojciechowski, the increased turnovers and fewer free throws are being balanced out by much better shooting and slightly improved offensive rebounding, thus leading to a slight uptick in production per possession.  As a nice bit of evidence towards the improved shooting, according to KenPom.com, Marquette has four players in the top 22 in effective field goal percentage in just conference games.  The leader in this department? Mr. Fischer himself, topping the charts at 68% without even attempting a three-pointer.

Let's switch ends, and look at the Golden Eagles' efforts on defense.

Marquette On Defense
Without Fischer With Fischer
eFG% 53.9% 44.6%
TO% 25.3% 21.4%
OR% 40.1% 31.1%
FTR 29.0% 27.2%
Pts/Poss 1.06 0.91

Now THIS I can get behind!  Much lower shooting, much lower offensive rebounding, slightly lower free throw rate, and all of that leads to a much, much lower points per possession.

As of right now, Fischer ranks seventh in the Big East in both block rate and steal rate, which helps explain the lower shooting, but does not explain how MU's lower in turnover rate.  Marquette has used a lot of that 1-3-1 defense as of late to help force turnovers, but I'm surprised that the turnovers are actually down with that happening.  In any case, it's hard to bemoan fewer turnovers when the teams are having a harder time throwing the ball through the rim.

A nine point swing in offensive rebounding rate is no joke, either.  This one's an odd one, though.  Fischer's only accumulated 36 defensive rebounds during his tenure in blue and gold for a nice, clean average of four per game.  That's not really a game changing kind of output, but somehow Marquette's doing better at that category anyway.  Perhaps it's just Fischer using his body to clear out the opponent's best rebounder more often, or perhaps Fischer merely having a bigger interest in trying to rebound than Burton did is causing the about face in the numbers.