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Marquette Basketball Four Factors: at St. John's

Hooboy, that was a bit of an escape, wasn't it?

Benefits of the double round robin schedule: When there's a blizzard and no photog at the game, I can go to the first game of the year for a picture.
Benefits of the double round robin schedule: When there's a blizzard and no photog at the game, I can go to the first game of the year for a picture.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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: 53.8% (This Season: 51.0%, #115)
St. John's: 41.3% (This Season: 45.6%, #27)

I know, I know, you're staring at this, thinking, "How in the HELL did Marquette only win this game by five points?"  Well, I'd like to remind you that Marquette was leading by 20 with 16 minutes to play and then turned the ball over 12 times for the rest of the game.  Can't miss shots if you don't take them!  I guess the upside is that the turnovers helped give Marquette some incentive to take really good shots when they got around to actually taking them, because MU finished with an eFG% of 57% in the second half.  And that's without even making a three pointer after intermission!

To be clear here: that is not an indictment of Marquette's long range shooting.  They went 2-6 in the first half, for a totally acceptable 33%, and then missed their only triple attempts in the second half.  How crazy is it that they only shot seven three pointers in a game where they were going up against Kassoum Yakwe, who recorded six blocks in the first meeting between these two teams, and then another SEVEN in this game!?!?

I know Luke Fischer only played 10 minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, but Marquette's got to get him the ball in advantageous spots more.  He went 4-5 in this game and as of right now, he's top 60 in the country in eFG%.  FEED HIM MORE.  FEED HIM MORE.

As far as defense goes, this was one of the better performances of the year for MU.  It was the second best defensive eFG% in league play and the second straight game where Marquette held their opponent under 45%.  Shoutouts to Ron Mvouika, Felix Balamou, and Christian Jones for their combined 3-16 performance.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 26.3% (This Season: 20.4%, #294)
St. John's: 16.1% (This Season: 20.1%, #74)

Ah, the double whammy of being nightmarishly bad on offense and coming nowhere close to balancing it out on defense.  This is the third worst possession game of the year for Marquette, and SOMEHOW they figured out how to win this game. It defies all semblance of logic.  Three guys on the team committed four turnovers each: Luke Fischer, Duane Wilson, and Haanif Cheatham.  You can't even necessarily pin this one on freshmen being freshmen!  I brushed up against this when talking about eFG%, but I want to spell it out in full effect for you here: Marquette turned the ball over 28% - TWENTY EIGHT PERCENT - of the time in the second half.  Essentially, three out of 10 possessions in the second half ended with MU handing the ball to St. John's.

While all of that was going on, Marquette's usually great defense wasn't so great.  Even though St. John's is in the bottom end of the Big East when it comes to keeping track of the ball, and even though that MU was carving them up in Milwaukee earlier this season, SJU stayed nice and snug with the ball all day here.  They were kind of tipping towards shaky in the first half with a TO% of just under 20%, but after intermission, when SJU was poking all kinds of balls free from Marquette, they were a running can of Stick-Um on their own offensive end, coughing it up just 13% of the time.  Malik Ellison did have four turnovers by himself, so we (and by we, I mean Wojo) will have to make a note of that for next season.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 13.3% (This Season: 28.3%, #228)
St. John's: 24.0% (This Season: 30.9%, #210)

Hey, here's some good news, because I gotta find something to prevent us all from crying: This was not MU's worst offensive rebounding performance of the season.  Oddly, that game - 8.7% - was also a Big East road game, and it was also a win.  Yup, Marquette blew offensive rebounding completely to pieces against Providence but still won.  This may lend a bit of creedence to the idea that Steve Wojciechowski is occasionally ordering everybody to get back on defense after that first shot goes up.

Then again, Marquette didn't get any offensive rebounds at all in this game until Luke Fischer wrapped up a missed layup from Haanif Cheatham on MU's second possession of the second half.  I don't think you're abandoning second chance points in the first half of a lot of games.  Up 20 in the second half?  I can see that, especially with how Marquette was shooting.  But MU had a 27% OR% after the break, so while that's bad, that's still not Full Retreat Mode.

At least the defensive rebounding was stout, right?  It's just the third time this season that MU has held their opponent to fewer than 25% of their missed shots, and just the first time in Big East play.  Generally speaking, and especially compared to last season, I would be happy to settle for just under 30% OR%.  Kassoum Yakwe was a nightmare for Marquette to deal with in this game, as his four offensive rebounds matched Marquette's team total, and one of MU's four was a deadball offensive rebound.  Yakwe should really not be grabbing more offensive rebounds than Luke Fischer and Henry Ellenson combined.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 55.8% (This Season: 39.4%, #115)
St. John's: 33.3% (This Season: 25.6%, #10)

Yet another absurdly high defensive FTR for a Marquette team that was lights out at avoiding allowing free throws before league play started.

On top of that, it was yet another game where the free throws got completely out of control in the second half.  First half total free throws: 12.  Second half total free throws: 40.  I honestly do not care about how loose or tight that the game is called.  Players gotta play better than the refs ref.  I do, however, really care when it appears that the game is called completely different in each half.

If this was one of those games where free throws get totally out of control in the final minute because someone's fouling constantly to extend the game, I'd be willing to overlook an elevation of fouls shots.  That's not what this was.  Marquette led by seven with two minutes to play and they were up four with 60 seconds left.  There were just two free throws lofted by either team in the final 120 seconds of the game, and those were by Henry Ellenson with just one second remaining on the clock.  That gave MU a little extra padding on their already outstanding outing in this game.