If you're not familiar with the Four Factors as featured on KenPom.com, the concept is very simple: There are four main parts of a basketball game that contribute to a team's success. They are:
- effective field goal percentage, or FG% with a bonus for made three pointers
- turnover rate, or the % of possessions that end in a turnover
- offensive rebound rate, or the % of possible offensive rebounds that the team grabbed
- and free throw rate, or the ratio of free throws attempted to field goals attempted expressed as a percentage
We'll look at the numbers for Marquette and their opponent in both categories for each game. The opponent number doubles as Marquette's defensive numbers, since it's what they're allowing. Along side each of the individual game numbers, you'll see two numbers after that. Normally, the first one would be Marquette's season long average, but until we get a few games into the season, we'll be using the final stats from last year as recorded on KenPom.com. The second is MU's ranking in that category and again, that'll be the 2014-15 final ranking, not this year's current numbers.
Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)
Marquette: 47.7% (Last Season: 49.8%, #129)
Belmont: 54.5% (Last Season: 49.2%, #173)
Big picture: I can't really get all annoyed about a slightly more than two percentage point dip in shooting percentage. It's an average for a reason, y'know?
But. SIX FOR TWENTY-SIX BEHIND THE ARC. Henry Ellenson, Duane Wilson, Haanif Cheatham, and Jajuan Johnson went a combined 2-18, with one hit each going to Wilson and Ellenson. Don't get me wrong, Wilson's one make of the game was huge by itself, cutting Belmont's lead from four to just one with 3:17 to play, and Ellenson's was almost important, turning a nine point margin to six with 14 minutes left. But they came along with eleven misses, most notably Wilson's miss with 47 seconds left with Marquette up 1 and Craig Bradshaw laying in a heap on the opposite baseline. (Aside: I can kind of defend this, as it meant MU had a chance to have the final possession if Belmont scored.)
Yes, Belmont shot the ball very well. I really don't care. That's what they do. Fifth best eFG in the country last season, 3rd best two-point shooting team. I give everyone a thumbs up for holding them to an eFG of 48.3% in the second half and we can all move on from here. I should point out that after Craig Bradshaw went 4-7 from long range in the first half, Marquette held him to just one make on three attempts in the second half.
Turnover Rate (TO%)
Marquette: 14.9% (Last Season: 19.3%, #189)
Belmont: 16.0% (Last Season: 21.0%, #59)
Traci Carter shuffling it out of bounds with seven seconds left and Marquette down two is going to stick in everyone's head. But it was just the 11th turnover of the game for the Golden Eagles, and Henry Ellenson's offensive foul seven seconds earlier was the 10th. That is one hell of a performance for any team in the country, and definitely a great night for a team that just had freshmen in their first ever collegiate game playing 43% of the team's minutes.
My instinct is to not be worried about such a big drop in defensive TO%, because Belmont's so ridiculously veteran and disciplined. BUT they were craptastic at protecting the ball a year ago, coughing it up more than 20% of the time. We will have to monitor this going forward.
Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)
Marquette: 38.5% (Last Season: 29.0%, #247)
Belmont: 27.5% (Last Season: 36.4%, #339)
I wrote on Friday how Marquette desperately needed to be a better rebounding team this season. It's just one game, but that was in full effect on Friday night at the Bradley Center. Obviously, the biggest contributor to this turnaround was Henry Ellenson. The big man had 16 total rebounds, with six coming on the offensive end. Luke Fischer was no slouch either, grabbing five rebounds on both ends of the court. Together, Fischer and Ellenson combined for the same number of offensive rebounds as Belmont did as a team.
Belmont did most of their offensive rebounding in the first half, grabbing nearly 43% of their misses in the opening frame. While that's completely horrifying, MU did balance it out in the second half by allowing them just two opportunities for a second chance. This is made slightly more impressive by the fact that MU was also holding Belmont's shooting down, so the chances for them to grab a miss had also gone up.
Free Throw Rate (FTR)
Marquette: 41.5% (Last Season: 35.8%, #205)
Belmont: 25.8% (Last Season: 30.3%, #38)
Unsurprisingly, with two guys over 6'10" in height snagging a combined 26 rebounds in the game, Marquette got to the line a bunch. While a six percentage point boost may not seem like much in terms of ratio of free throws to field goals, 41.5% would have been a top 70 average a year ago. Fischer and Ellenson combined for 20 free throws in the game, three more than Belmont managed as a team.
Marquette was already really good at avoiding fouls last year, and that was the case again on Friday night. Credit where credit is due to head coach Steve Wojciechowski and his staff for preparing the team to play in an environment where offensive freedom of movement is a key issue this season. Had this defensive number been elevated this season, it would have been completely understandable, but instead, Wojo coached the guys up to eliminate fouls as much as possible.
It also doesn't hurt that Belmont is jumpshot-tastic and everyone knows you shouldn't foul a jump shooter. Right, Haanif Cheatham, Mr. "I fouled a guy shooting a triple who made the shot and the ensuing free throw?" We