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StatWatch: Marquette vs Eastern Illinois

We’re going to focus on two things here.

Marquette men’s basketball
Greg Elliott: Fun To Watch
Facebook.com/MarquetteMensBB

Welcome back to StatWatch, the best ongoing feature in the country that talks about whatever random Marquette stats that we want to talk about.

Here’s the Four Factors from the game against Eastern Illinois.

Eastern Illinois Four Factors

Marquette Category Eastern Illinois
Marquette Category Eastern Illinois
56.0% eFG% 54.8%
18.7% TO Rate 21.3%
37.5% Off. Reb. Rate 36.4%
48.3% FT Rate 33.9%
1.15 Points/poss. 1.11

Let’s talk about the defense

We’re not going to talk about the defense in this game specifically, although you can see from the stats and from, y’know, actually watching the game that the defense wasn’t exactly super great here. We knew that defense was going to be a key focus for this season after Marquette slipped into the NCAA tournament last season with one of the best offenses in the country and a barely functional defense. Something somewhere was going to need to improve.

If we’re being fair, something has improved. Last year, Marquette allowed opponents to shoot 36.8% from behind the three-point line, which was ranked #274 in the country according to KenPom. That was in the bottom 25% of the country. Through six games this season, teams are shooting just 31.7% against Marquette, and that ranks #103 in the country. This is great news!

The problem is MU’s two-point defense.

Against Eastern Illinois on Monday night, MU allowed the Panthers to shoot 58.1% on shots inside the arc. It breaks down as 12-for-20 (60%) in the first half, 11-for-19 (57.9%) in the second half, and 2-for-4 (50%) in overtime. That 58.1% shifted MU’s season long two-point defense to ....... wait for it..... 59.8%. That ranks #343 in the country according to KenPom.

That is out of 351 teams in the country so yes, that means that Marquette has the ninth worst two-point defense in the country.

Ninth. Worst.

Now, yes, it’s early in the season. Six games into the season can cause a situation where one outing can be dragging down your entire average until you get more games to balance it out. The problem here is that it’s not one outing that’s wrecking Marquette’s average.

Two point defense through six games

The blue line is the game by game two-point defense. The red line is last year’s two point defense, which was 50.6% and ranked a not-good #225 in the country. I’d throw in the current national average, but it’s 49.7%, and that would just be a green line right on the other side of 50% from the red line. You get the idea.

The good news, I suppose, is that if you drew a trend line through this graph, it would be going downwards as the season progresses, and that is what we want to see. The bad news is that the trend line is still obviously a long ways off from getting out of “bad” territory and merely approaching “well, they can survive this.”

It’s not a secret that the defensive improvement this season was going to have to be largely carried by the performances of Marquette’s newcomers. The three active roster freshmen are still adjusting to college basketball, so perhaps as they acclimate, the trend line will start heading downwards a little bit faster.

Speaking of the performances of the freshmen....

Let’s praise Greg Elliott

On Monday night, Greg Elliott was the recipient of 28 minutes of playing time, which is a season high for the freshman from Detroit. It’s clear that he was the biggest beneficiary from the departure of Haanif Cheatham, as Elliott had previously maxed out at 18 minutes in the season opener against Mount St. Mary’s.

Elliott returned the favor to head coach Steve Wojciechowski by assembling a very tantalizing stat line. Seven points on 3-of-8 shooting, three rebounds, four blocks, and four steals, with just one turnover. The long-limbed Michigan native is still figuring out what the hell he’s doing on the court at the collegiate level to some degree and he still managed to find a way to jam the stat sheet with crooked numbers all over the place. This is made even more impressive by the fact that it came in a game where Marquette needed a big performance from someone outside of Sam Hauser, Markus Howard, and Andrew Rowsey in order to pull out the overtime win.

7-3-0-4-4, and I don’t even blame the kid for not dishing an assist. However, looking at those numbers does raise an interesting point.

Greg Elliott may be a walking talking opportunity for the fabled 5 by 5 every time he steps on the court.

I want to make this clear before I go further: I am not predicting he’s going to pull this off and I am not expecting him to ever accomplish it.

BUT.

When you look at 7-3-0-4-4, you can’t help but think that Elliott has the skill set and the physical ability to post five or more in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals each in a game at some point. It’s rare! It’s hard to do! College Basketball Reference has single game data from the 2010-11 season forward, and they only show ONE 5 by 5 game in that timespan: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi‘s Rashawn Thomas went for 10-6-5-5-5 last November against Texas-Rio Grande Valley. That’s seven full seasons of games, and only ONE guy did it! There’s only been 19 games where a guy got to at least four in each department.

Again, I’m not expecting Elliott to ever pull it off. You have to admit that it’s at least within the realm of possibility, though, especially as he gains more and more playing time and more confidence as his still very young collegiate career continues to progress.