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Pros & Cons: Marquette Men’s Basketball vs Rockhurst

It’s an exhibition game, so let’s take everything with a grain of salt here.

Marquette men's basketball
Marquette’s Andrew Rowsey takes to the air with the greatest of ease.
Facebook.com/MarquetteMensBB

Marquette defeated Rockhurst 106-53 in their lone exhibition game before the 2016-17 season. As can be the case with these kinds of things, it was largely out of control early, as Marquette went on a 23-0 run to go up 23-2 and that was pretty much that for the competitive portion of the show.

There’s no point in analyzing things too deeply as a result, but we can look at some overall big picture things to see what MU did well and what still needs some work before Friday’s regular season opener against Vanderbilt.

PROS

Marquette won.

Hey, focus on the important things here. Teams have lost exhibition games in the past. VCU lost to Queens University just the other day. The Hawks might have scored the first bucket of the game, but it was pretty much all Marquette from there on out.

Marquette shot the ball incredibly well.

59.2% overall, 42.9% on three-pointers, an effective field goal percentage of 67.6%. Marquette is unlikely to hit those two overall shooting numbers again this season, but it’s definitely within the range of possibilities for that 43% on threes to pop up again. The offense was pretty spread out, with 10 of the 11 active scholarship players taking somewhere between three and nine shots. The outlier? Freshman Sam Hauser taking 11 shots. He did play the second most minutes, though.

Marquette took extremely good care of the ball.

The Golden Eagles committed just five turnovers in the game, with no player getting tagged for more than one. That’s a turnover rate of just 6.7%, a far cry from last year’s 20%. Sure, there’s a certain amount of “Rockhurst is a Division 2 team” at work here, but one of the biggest keys for MU this season will be fixing that turnover rate from last season, and that was definitely accomplished here.

Marquette’s defensive rebounding went well.

Rockhurst grabbed nine offensive rebounds in the game on 42 possible rebounds, meaning they got to just 21.4% of their misses. Last year, Marquette allowed opponents to snare just over 30% of their missed shots. Without Henry Ellenson cleaning the glass, rebounding will be a critical component for the Golden Eagles, and they ended possessions well on Saturday afternoon.

The new guys are fitting in well.

Katin Reinhardt: eight points, two assists and a steal in 17 minutes. Markus Howard: a game high 17 points, four rebounds (!), two assists, and a block (!) in 18 minutes. Sam Hauser: 12 points, six rebounds, an assist, and three steals in 21 minutes. Andrew Rowsey: 13 points, two rebounds, two assists in 19 minutes.

Cool. Cool cool cool.

CONS

Marquette’s offensive rebounding needs some work

Ok, when I say this, remember that Marquette was leading by 21 after nine minutes and if the game wasn’t pretty much over, the real need to get offensive rebounds at the expense of not getting back on defense was definitely over.

Marquette grabbed nine offensive rebounds on 30 possibilities. That’s a rate of 30%, and a 30% offensive rebounding rate can be qualified as tolerable.

Last year, MU got to 28.1% of their misses overall, which ranked them #229 in the country, according to KenPom.com. Against Big East opponents, that rate drops to just 24.7%, which was the second worst number in the league behind only Creighton. 30% last year would have ranked #161 in the country, which is right around middle of the pack.

If Marquette is going to shoot the ball much better than last year and turn the ball over much less than last year, then that kind of offensive rebounding rate is probably fine. For example: Villanova was barely better at rebounding than MU last year, grabbing 28.2% of their misses for the entire season, and they won the national championship by shooting well (#8 in the country) and not turning it over (#58).

The Golden Eagles probably aren’t going to shoot all that much better (ranked #76 in eFG% last year). On top of that, you would have expected a very good rebounding number against a Division 2 team, and what we got was merely passable. Again, some of this can be explained merely by not trying very hard once the margin passed 30 points, but it’s something to keep an eye on as the season gets started.

Rockhurst got to the line an awful lot.

We’ve only seen two seasons of Steve Wojciechowski as head coach, but one thing we can guarantee is a mantra for him is don’t put the opponent on the free throw line. There’s been struggles all over the court across his two seasons, but the rate at which opponents get to the line has not been one of them. MU ranked #38 in the country (30.3%) at defensive free throw rate his first year, and after flirting with the top spot in the country during his second season, the Golden Eagles finished with a ranking of #25 (28.0%).

Rockhurst had an FTR of 36.8% in this game.

Look, free throw rate is the least important of the four factors. It affects the game only to the tune of a few percentage points. But this is a clear deviation from how Wojo’s teams usually play, and with a need to improve greatly on turnovers and rebounding, the Golden Eagles can’t afford to be handing back a few percentage points of effect on the outcome.

Everyone needs to be willing to share the ball.

This one goes last, because without seeing a supercut of all of his attempts, I can’t even say it’s that bad of a problem.

Sam Hauser went 1-5 from long range in the game.

He’s the only guy to take more than one three-point attempt and not finish at least at the efficiency cut-off of 33.3%. With the number of shooters on this team that will be on the floor at all times, guys have to be willing to share the ball if they don’t have it on a particular night. Saturday afternoon was Hauser’s turn to not have it, it seems, and against a tougher opponent, maybe that ends up biting Marquette in the butt a little bit.

Again, if he was taking open corner threes with five seconds or less on the shot clock and just missing, eh, things happen. It’ll even out across the length of the season. But this team has to counter the lack of size by being quick, being tough, and by sharing the ball when needed. There’s no reason to go 1-5 against an exhibition opponent.