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StatWatch: Marquette vs Mount St. Mary’s

We’re changing things up from our traditional Four Factors from the past few years.

Haanif Cheatham, Matt Heldt, Sam Hauser
Matt Heldt seems excited about winning.
Facebook.com/MarquetteMensBB

Over the past few seasons, we’ve done a Four Factors fancy math breakdown of every (well, mostly every) Marquette Golden Eagles men’s basketball game. The fact of the matter is that the format is a little tired at this point, so we’re going to change it up. We’ll still give you the Four Factors from each game in these StatWatch articles, but we’ll try to keep it to discussing things that are actually interesting about what happened in the game as opposed to being forced to find something fun to say about Free Throw Rate.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about MU’s 80-59 win over Mount St. Mary’s.

Mount St. Mary’s StatWatch

Marquette Category Mount St. Mary's
Marquette Category Mount St. Mary's
56.1% eFG% 52.0%
16.2% Turnover % 23.5%
33.3% Off. Reb. % 13.8%
36.8% FT Rate 21.6%
1.18 Points/Poss 0.86

GOOD NEWS

#1 - Offensive turnovers were low.

Last year, Marquette was fine when it came to turnovers, ranking #86 in the country while turning it over a bit more than 17% of the time. The nature of Turnover Rate is that a little bit of a change means a big move in the rankings, and 16.2% would have been good enough for the top 40 last year. Haanif Cheatham and Theo John both coughed it up three times, but they accounted for more than half of the team turnovers.

#2 - Defensive turnovers were high.

Even though Jajuan Johnson was one of the best steals guys in the country last year, Marquette didn’t force a lot of turnovers last season. They did here, and that’s good. There’s a certain amount of “Mount St. Mary’s played five freshmen for at least 10 minutes a game” involved in this number, though, so don’t expect to see a 23%+ number all season long.

#3 - Rebounding was pretty good across the board.

Marquette was a mediocre to bad rebounding team last season, depending on whether you were talking about the defensive or offensive end of the court. MU’s 33% Offensive Rebounding Rate here was WAY better than their very bad number last year, so that’s a good sign. Marquette’s defensive rebounding was fair to middling last year, but it was REALLY GREAT in this game, so that’s good. It’s important to note that MSM played just three guys taller than 6’6”, and they combined for seven rebounds in 49 minutes. The Mount was an atrocious rebounding team last year, and this year’s squad is mostly newcomers to the team.

BAD NEWS

This was a tale of two halves.

The first half output is really carrying Marquette’s overall performance in the game.

Here’s the splits.

Mount St. Mary’s 1st Half StatWatch

Marquette Category Mount St. Mary's
Marquette Category Mount St. Mary's
64.8% eFG% 52.3%
11.4% Turnover % 35.4%
33.3% Off. Reb. % 15.4%
63.0% FT Rate 18.2%
1.37 Points/Poss 0.80

Mount St. Mary’s 2nd Half StatWatch

Marquette Category Mount St. Mary's
Marquette Category Mount St. Mary's
48.3% eFG% 51.7%
21.3% Turnover % 11.7%
33.3% Off. Reb. % 12.5%
13.3% FT Rate 24.1%
0.97 Points/Poss 0.97

Marquette’s shooting came way down, the shooting defense was roughly the same, the turnovers nearly completely flipped around, and the two teams ended up tied at 32 points scored after the break.

There’s two things to point out about the difference between before and after halftime. First of all, Mount St. Mary’s outscored Marquette by 16 in the final 10 minutes of the game. That is going to end up tilting things back in MSM’s direction, and given that Marquette was up 37 at the 10 minute mark of the game, the tilt didn’t have any real effect on the game.

The second thing is the reason why it’s important to point this out. From 9:22 remaining (MU up 34) to 3:22 remaining (MU up 21), Marquette’s lineup was Jamal Cain, Greg Elliott, Theo John, Sacar Anim, and Haanif Cheatham. The three eligible freshmen, the redshirt sophomore who barely played two years ago, and the junior who was essentially benched for the final seven games of last season. It is not an exaggeration to claim that Marquette’s ceiling this season is 100% dependent on what those five players contribute to the team.

They got outscored 17-4 in six minutes.

Are we ever going to see that group on the floor in meaningful minutes this season? Probably not. Were they taking defense particularly seriously while up 30-something to start the run? Probably not. Was Wojo pissed enough to sub all five of them off the floor with three minutes left, re-inserting three starters and Markus Howard into the game to stem the tide? Yep.

It’s not like this is a fatal flaw in the Golden Eagles roster construction, nor is it a coaching failure. The unavoidable fact of the matter is that MU’s four least experienced players are going to have to play a role for MU this season, and they’re going to have to play much better than they did in that six minute stretch in order to play those roles.