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, at least for the first few games of the season, is last year’s season long average for the Golden Eagles, and the next is where they ranked across the country on KenPom.com. Once we get a few games in, we’ll change that to Marquette’s current season average and rank.
Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)
Marquette: 58.8% (2015-16: 52.0%, #76)
Howard: 33.9% (2015-16: 48.7%, #107)
A perfectly acceptable first half was partnered up with a completely absurd second half to give MU a very shiny eFG% in the game. The Golden Eagles hit half of their 14 long range attempts after halftime, with Katin Reinhardt (2-2), Markus Howard (2-3), and Sam Hauser (2-3) doing the majority of the damage. The 9-for-21 overall three point shooting will be what gets the attention in terms of “OMG MU CAN SHOOT IT,” but you can’t ignore the 20-for-36 (55.6%) on two point baskets, either.
With that good of a defensive eFG%, there was an outstanding effort made across the board by the MU defenders. However, they really did a number on James Miller. He was a perfectly acceptable long range shooter (33.6%) in his first two years of college, but Marquette forced him into six long range misses on his way to a 4-for-15 shooting night overall. The frustration leeched into his free throw shooting, too, as the North Carolina native missed both of his attempts from the charity stripe.
As much as Marquette’s offense is what caused them to pull away in the second half, their defense played a part as well. If MU had finished the game by holding Howard to the 37% eFG% that they had in the first 20 minutes, no one would complain in the slightest. However, the Bison shot just 31% eFG%, which really helped Marquette blow the game open.
Turnover Rate (TO%)
Marquette: 17.3% (2015-16: 20.0%, #292)
Howard: 25.0% (2015-16: 19.1%, #108)
First things first: Marquette took a shot clock violation on their final possession of the game, which unfortunately gets charged as a team turnover. Sure, it’s the more sporting thing to do, particularly when the shot clock runs out with one second left to play, but it means that the 15.8% TO% that MU would have had if they had launched a shot on that possession went up to the 17.3% that was their actual final mark. I am probably making way too much out of this in a game that Marquette won by 32, and I readily admit that. However, this is how the margins in TO% work: 15.8% would have been top 40 in the country, while 17.3% is only top 120.
Marquette might have solved their turnover issues as a team, but the notion of freshmen struggling with turnovers continues to haunt them. Markus Howard and Sam Hauser combined for seven of MU’s 12 turnovers, with no other player having more than one. Six of those seven came in the first half, and in the case of Hauser, he committed his three first half miscues in a 79 second span after checking into the game. No joke: Checked in at 15:56, turnovers at 15:43, 15:25, and 14:37, at which point he was firmly deposited back on the bench.
Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)
Marquette: 26.7% (2015-16: 28.1%, #229)
Howard: 27.9% (2015-16: 30.7%, #225)
Whenever you want to panic about Marquette’s offensive rebounding, just let me know. They’ve played two games and both have resulted in OR% numbers that were worse than last year’s already pretty terrible number. Even worse, MU has been better than last year in the second halves of those games when they held gigantic leads and didn’t really need to worry about getting second chances.
You can make the argument that defensive rebounding is more important since it ends possessions, and if that’s the case, Marquette’s looking pretty good. The Golden Eagles have held both of their opponents to sub-28% OR%, and as a season long number, that would have been in the top 100 in the country last year. Eight players recorded at least two defensive boards against the Bison, which might have to be MU’s game plan to be successful this season.
Free Throw Rate (FTR)
Marquette: 31.6% (2015-16: 40.5%, #82)
Howard: 37.5% (2015-16: 28.0%, #25)
Marquette’s inability to avoid fouling in the second half continues to befuddle me. They were fine in the first half (29.6%), but completely over their skis in the second half (44.8%). After MU pushed the lead to more than 20 points for good with 10:40 left in the game, Howard attempted 11 of their 21 free throws in the game. To put it another way: First 29 minutes, 20 seconds: 10 free throws. Final 10 minutes, 40 seconds: 11 free throws.
That’s really no good, particularly since something like that has happened in both of Marquette’s games this season.
The offensive FTR number continues to be a bit down from last year, but that can most likely be blamed on Marquette’s attitudes towards taking three pointers. 30% of the shots last year were from long range, right now it’s just short of 40% this year. Rule #1 is Never Foul A Jumpshooter, so we might have to just get used to a lower FTR as Marquette ends up taking more and more threes than on average than they did last season.