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. The first one is the season long average for the Golden Eagles, and the next is where they rank across the country on KenPom.com.
Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)
Marquette: 53.2% (This Season: 54.1%, #41)
Chicago State: 57.4% (This Season: 45.1%, #42)
Ok, so the good news first here: This was a high quality shooting performance for MU, even if it was just slightly below average. It was still top 50 in the country good, and you can't really ask for more than that. Duane Wilson continued his hot streak from behind the arc, going 4-7 here. After starting the season 10-45 (22.2%) from long range, Wilson has recovered to shoot 12-21 (57.1%) since then and sit at 33.3% on triples on the season. We also have to acknowledge that Sandy Cohen is turning into a straight assassin from long range, shooting 46% on threes after going 3-4 in this game. Combine that with Jajuan Johnson evolving into a reliable shooter (33%) and Haanif Cheatham being dangerous as all hell (64%), and then add in the focus of Marquette's offense on big men Henry Ellenson and Luke Fischer inside... well... sky's the limit.
That is, sky's the limit as long as the defense holds together. This was not a good effort by Marquette. Part of the problem was the 12 made three pointers from Chicago State. This was over 40% of CSU's made baskets in the game, and they weren't exactly bad inside the arc, either. The Cougars shot 52% on their two point attempts in this game, and given what should be an advantage for Marquette in the paint with Fischer and Ellenson, that's generally speaking pretty bad. The good news on the defense that it got MUCH better in the second half. The bad news is that it kind of didn't really have any choice. Chicago State had an eFG% of 63% before intermission, so they really had nowhere to go but down to the 54% that they hit for the second half.
Turnover Rate (TO%)
Marquette: 21.0% (This Season: 19.8%, #248)
Chicago State: 27.5% (This Season: 19.7%, #108)
This is Marquette's other big issue. The Golden Eagles have the 52nd best Adjusted Defensive Rating in the country, but largely because they turn the ball over way too damn much, their Adjusted Offensive Rating ranks just 142nd. Fueled by three turnovers each from Haanif Cheatham and Traci Carter and another four from Duane Wilson, MU posted one of their worst TO% of the season. The real problem came in the second half when Marquette had a TO% of 25%. Two of Cheatham's turnovers came after the break, as did three of Wilson's. This is a significant problem because Marquette never led by fewer than 13 points in the second half. There was no reason for sloppiness, and yet it happened. CSU scored nearly 25% of their 41 second half points off of Marquette turnovers.
Thankfully, CSU was already in a deep hole because of their own first half turnovers. They coughed it up on 34% of their first half possessions, allowing MU to score 22 points as a result. Kieran Woods and Elliot Cole were the major victims of Marquette's defensive efforts, combining for nine of CSU's 21 turnovers in the game. You're going to win a lot of games when you force turnovers on nearly 28% of your opponent's possessions, but the problem is that it doesn't happen all that much. Marquette might be in the top third in the country at forcing those turnovers, but as long as they're as bad as they are at keeping track of the ball on their own, that's not going to help them all that much.
Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)
Marquette: 48.6% (This Season: 30.5%, #167)
Chicago State: 27.3% (This Season: 30.1%, #168)
This is great. Marquette has struggled to effectively rebound the ball consistently this season, and here they performed admirably on both ends of the court. Luke Fischer was a warrior (get it) on the offensive glass, securing six of his eight rebounds on that end. Henry Ellenson did a hell of a job, too, gathering in four of Marquette's 18 offensive grabs. All told, seven Golden Eagles grabbed at least one offensive rebound.
Defensive rebounding has been a point of emphasis for head coach Steve Wojciechowski all season, and Marquette got a better than average effort on that end against the Cougars. It's still not very good, but we have accept improvement wherever we can get it. Henry Ellenson did the most damage to CSU's offensive rebounding effort, reeling in nine of their misses on his own. In fact, Haanif Cheatham was the only MU player that saw more than five minutes of action to not grab at least one defensive rebound. It should be noted that Marquette was actually really great on the defensive glass in the first half, allowing Chicago State to get to only 8% of their misses. The second half number was 40%, which explains how we ended up at 27% for the game.
Free Throw Rate (FTR)
Marquette: 50.8% (This Season: 39.6%, #107)
Chicago State: 11.5% (This Season: 20.6%, #1)
Yeah, that's right. Marquette now has the smallest free throw to field goal ratio in the country. Wojo's defensive coaching is completely unaffected by the new emphasis on offensive freedom, as MU is the best team in the country at not letting their opponents get to the line. I just want this to soak in for a while, as it's probably not going to last forever. MU has a lead of just two-tenths of a percentage point over Iowa State, the second best team in the country.
Chicago State shot just seven free throws in this game, and all seven of them came in the first half. Meanwhile, Marquette shot 17 freebies in the first half, and then tacked on 15 more in the second. FTR has the smallest impact on your chances of winning, but when you're thrashing another team to the degree that Marquette was here, it has a major impact. It also helps when you make 75% of your 32 free throws, too.