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: 66.9% (This Season: 54.9%, #44)
Maine: 38.9% (This Season: 44.8%, #51)
In the game against Grambling, Marquette finished with an eFG% of just barely short of 70%. I had figured that this was a unique situation against a team that has been positioned as the worst team in the country for years now and that we wouldn't see that again.
And then Marquette fell less than three percentage points short of their Grambling number against Maine. I don't know whether this tells us more about Maine than it tells us about how the MU offense is operating, but it's definitely what happened. After three straight games with a sub-50% eFG% to start the season, Marquette has now eclipsed 50% in four of their last five games. That's, uh, pretty good, kids.
The important thing to note is Marquette's move away from the three pointer. They shot just 13 triples in the game, and thankfully for the ol' season average, they made seven of them. For comparison purposes, Marquette shot 26 threes against Belmont, making just six of them. Mmmmmmm, improvement flavored.
Maine, though, they like jacking some threes, going 8-29, including a disasterous (for them) 2-11 in the first half. More than a few of them were hurriedly jacked up early in the shot clock, which leads a guy to wonder what they were thinking since they were down 22-0 before they could even blink.
Turnover Rate (TO%)
Marquette: 16.8% (This Season: 20.7%, #272)
Maine: 19.9% (This Season: 18.9%, #148)
Any time Marquette goes below their season average on turnovers, I'm not going to complain. I know putting the ball through the net is the more important of the Four Factors, but keeping control of the ball is very important for a young team like Marquette. The Golden Eagles had 14 turnovers in an 80+ possession game, which is just fine. You can have more turnovers when the game is going fast without affecting you. I wanted to bring that up because Henry Ellenson (3) and Jajuan Johnson (4) combined for half of the MU turnovers in this game.
The defensive number is pretty solid, and 20% or better is a top 100 type of number. Four of Maine's 16 turnovers aka 25% of them were entirely credited to Traci Carter in the steals column.
Offensive Rebound Rate (OR%)
Marquette: 27.6% (This Season: 27.7%, #243)
Maine: 30.2% (This Season: 29.6%, #151)
This is Marquette's best offensive rebounding outing since the first two games of the season. They opened the season with two outstanding efforts of 38.5% and 34.4%. It's been (almost) all downhill since then, but definitely trending downwards all the time. This is a slight turnaround from that trend, so I have to wonder if there's something else at work here. 1) It's possible that Wojo is directing the troops to not try hard at offensive rebounding in order to get back on defense instead. 2) It's also possible that Marquette just hasn't been trying very hard on the offensive glass in the last three games because the shooting has been so outstanding. When shots are going in at a ferocious rate, it tends to take the edge off of the need to chase after potential misses.
The defensive number is not good, though. Yes, it's not that far off the season average, and yes, being ranked #151 in the country is fine. But Wojo said defensive rebounding was a priority for the Golden Eagles this season, and this is the fourth time this season that an opponent has cracked the 30% mark. Of course, this may just be a statistical anomaly. Four of Maine's offensive rebounds are credited as "team" rebounds, meaning Marquette knocked a Maine shot out of bounds, and five of their offensive rebounds came in the final 10:15 when the game was clearly out of reach and Wojo had dipped deep into the bench for the remainder. I know it's probably shocking to hear, but it's generally harder to get rebounds when neither of your 6'11" star players are on the court.
Free Throw Rate (FTR)
Marquette: 40.0% (This Season: 40.6%, #114)
Maine: 25.0% (This Season: 22.7%, #9)
I don't really have anything to say about this. Marquette was right about where they have been all season on offense, and when you're as good as MU has been on defense, you're going to have games where you slide down a bit. Whatever.