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A Recap Of The Great Marquette Defense Scouting Project Of 2018

Folks,,, we got a lot to unpack

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Villanova vs Marquette Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

I’m really on a mission with this article. This is the type of thing that happens when I get a boatload of data that I have to make sense of. I know a lot of you don’t get excited to develop spreadsheets, so I’ll say this feeling is like when a Half Price Books opens in your neighborhood or something. I just assume people that don’t like math are Matilda.

I generally try to keep things light at the beginning. It’s kind of my #brand. Usually it’s just because I’m thinking of something dumb and need a way to externalize it, so I use this blog as my outlet. Your interests don’t mean much to me. So as part of my #brand, here’s a power ranking of...I don’t know...Milwaukee highways. You guys like Milwaukee, right?

4. 794

What a trash “highway”. You guys know bypass highways are allowed to go more than like a mile, right? It just kind of buzzes through downtown and that’s it. Aren’t interstate highways supposed to go through multiple states, too? That’s like in the name I did take both a transportation engineering class and an urban planning one so I should be the most qualified to know this, but here we are.

Not only that, but the exits are on the LEFT SIDE. Two thirds of the damn traffic is merging from 43 on the right side and if they’re exiting somewhere downtown you immediately have to hop over multiples lanes of 94 traffic. It’s not even intuitive and equally unnecessary in doing so. The only decently positive thing about it is the Hoan Bridge, and even that almost collapsed.

3. 41

I might be biased since I never lived in Milwaukee at a time without construction being done on the zoo interchange. What a trash fire of a project. Removing that, though, it does the same thing as 43 except go to Beloit. Go Snappers. No matter what direction you’re coming from in the greater Milwaukee area, even the west side, it won’t even get you to Green Bay as quick as 43 because 41 has to backtrack because of Lake Winnebago.

2. 43

Greenfield could stand to have better signage, but that’s not the highway’s fault. 43 gets the job done well.

1. 94

A nearly perfect highway. Madison->MKE->Chicago. Bam. No unnecessary curvature. It handles the Marquette Interchange better than the other 2 highways. The only thing I’d change is the 27th Street exit.

Heading That Verbalizes My Internal Reminder To Stay On Track

This is uncharted territory for everyone here, so I’ll explain how I plan on doing this. I’ll give out some awards for the players/things that I randomly noticed, then I’ll make an attempt to put this all in the context of college basketball in order to attempt how they would be expected to perform vs how they actually did perform, then recap the project as a whole.

Best Attribute (Player)

This one really wasn’t close. At a whopping average of 9.31/10, Theo John’s strength wins this one. I really can’t say I disagree here. I had him at a 10, which I may have given out one or two other times. Just a mammoth down low when he isn’t benched for setting 7 illegal screens in the first 5 minutes.

There were a few categories north of 8 also. Jamal Cain’s vertical leap got an 8.58 average and Greg Elliott, Matt Heldt and Sam Hauser all got 8s in Hustle. There are a couple more which I found interesting that I’ll mention later.

Best Attribute (Team)

You folks like the hustle of these players, with a 7.37/10 average for everyone.

“Jesus Christ How Did you Make It This Far Without Reading Anything About This?” Award

A comment on Sam Hauser’s voting page:

It’s called Scout The Marquette Def...nevermind.

Worst Attribute (Player)

Again, no surprises here. Andrew Rowsey got a 1.81/10 for length and Markus Howard got a 2.08. A few other sub-4s included Elliott’s strength, Matt Heldt’s vertical leap and his lateral quickness.

Worst Attribute (Team)

At a 5.40/10, you think this team could be quicker. They could also stand to hit the weight room, as strength got a 5.51/10 average.

Weird Pattern That Has Nothing To Do With Anything

27% of you thought Jamal Cain has 8/10 length, 27% thought 9/10, and 27% had 10/10. *hits blunt*

You All Could Not Agree On

...how smart Andrew Rowsey was. This kind of shocked me. No score got more than 15% of your votes. This was the only category I gave a 1/10 for tbh, but you all watched just as much as I did.

Best Defender

Sacar Anim at a 7.18/10 average. Congrats! Your prize is validation from dipshits on the internet.

Worst Defender

Andrew Rowsey at a 3.72/10 average. Oh no! Your punishment is that you’re going to probably make millions of dollars playing basketball somewhere while everyone reading this makes just a couple more edits on the “Angry Letter To Boss” word document that they’re never going to send.

Putting This All Together

First, I’ll give you the Google Sheet for all this. It’s here. I’ve checked like 8 times to make sure it’s on view only. Go to the “Filter Liars” tab, because I had to remove all the ratings from people that find my suffering funny and say that Matt Heldt has 1/10 length, por ejemplo. (It is).

Scroll down to the “Average” row for a sec. There’s all the players individually (weighted each category equally) and then there’s the team averages off to the right. There’s “Weighted”, which weighs the team’s average by percentage of minutes played by each player, and “Normal”, which just slops them all together in a raw average.

The first thing we can notice is that maybe the defensive lineups weren’t so great. How do we know that? Well the lineup that was put on the court performed much worse than how they performed had every player received equal playing time. We know this intuitively, based on the fact that you all seemed to observe that Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey were the two worst defenders and also got the lion’s share of the minutes, but now we got some numbers for it.

The next column over just shows the raw average taking out Rowsey. That’s just the starting point for next year’s projection, since he won’t be playing.

The next columns I think are neat. You can play with this all you want. Just give an average score out of 10 for what you think Joseph Chartouny, Ed Morrow and Joey Hauser will be and it’ll spit out next year’s weighted average based on T-Rank’s projected minutes for the current roster. You can input projections for everyone else if you want as well in the “Next Year Projection” row. Ike Eke and Brendan Bailey don’t have projected minutes on T-Rank, so I didn’t include them. I don’t think they’ll be major pieces for next year at this point anyway.

What I will suggest, especially for the incoming sophomores, is to go through the categories and think about which ones can reasonably change. Yes, Theo John is going to be a lot smarter next year. That’s probably not going to bump him from a 6.62 to an 8 just like that since there are other aspects to consider.

I’m Not Thinking Of A Clever Title For This Heading But I’m Going To Tie This All Into Team Performance

Cool. Putting everything together puts Marquette’s defenders at a 5.57 out of 10 overall. That inherently means nothing to you. I wish 150+ fans of every single team did this so I could show you where Marquette falls in the context of D-1, but I can’t. I can only make a rough guess.

In that spreadsheet I put the greatest adjusted defense of the KenPom era (since 2002. Go Terps.) and the worst adjusted defense in that timeframe. That’s roughly the range of possible outcomes for a team. I tried assuming that, based on the team’s 5.57/10 weighted rating. Marquette’s players fell in the 55.7th percentile, but 2013 Louisville’s individual players aren’t going to be a 10/10 in every single category. Russ Smith is 6’. Luke Hancock couldn’t get rebounds. Gorgui Dieng got lost behind stop signs.

It works on the other side, too. I don’t think every single player on USC Upstate’s team last year was a 1/10 in every category. I guess, then, we can assume it evens out and that the 55.7th percentile actually is where these players lie. That would put Marquette’s “expected” adjusted defense at 102.61 points allowed/100 possessions, based on their percentile rank within the aforementioned range of possibilities. That’d put them at about 125th in the country. Their actual result was 105.6 and 182nd in the nation. Big difference. Hold off on reactions.

Before I go onto conclusions, I want to bring up the length category. This category definitely matters, but it’s also something you can easily look up. I also told you to not actively look anything up. It stands to reason that I used this category as a bit of a proxy for how optimistic you were overall. This is correct. My thought was that if you over/under-estimated the team’s length against the team’s tabulated average height, maybe the same pattern followed for the others.

You have the team at a 6.22/10 average. That’d put them as the 133rd tallest team in the nation. Marquette was the 219th tallest team in the country. Yes, I know Greg Elliott and Jamal Cain have Slender Man arms and that does add to the overall length. No, that doesn’t add a half inch to the team’s average. I don’t want to discount your individual viewing experiences, but I think the fanbase as a whole might be a bit optimistic to the team’s true talent.

So the players probably weren’t quite at a 102.6 AdjDE level last year. I’ll be honest, I was really rooting for you all to be on the nose with the length category so I wouldn’t have to think about how to adjust this. I don’t want to move every single category down because then the votes end up not meaning much. Really the only downright false conclusions you had were that Elliott and Cain were the two lengthiest guys on the team, so maybe the effect isn’t as dramatic as I initially thought. I’m going to go with that and say that a huge adjustment isn’t necessary.

Either way, the point of all this is to give a rough estimate of how these players should be expected to perform under the tutelage of an average defensive coach. The specific number doesn’t matter as much as the area it falls in. Using the results you gave, they performed worse than expected, and that’s after adjusting for all the minutes Howard and Rowsey played together. That’s probably the biggest takeaway you can get from this.

Determining how that difference came to be is up to you. My personal opinion is that practice time is limited and you don’t become a top 15 offense by making things up on gameday. I think Wojo has addressed the ceiling of the defense by adding Chartouny and Morrow, but the difference between true talent level and actual performance is something I don’t see changing much next year.

So You’re Going To Do This Next Year?

Yes, my child. I want to do this next year. My goal originally was for every player to get 100 votes and everyone got at least 115. With a better team more people, presumably, will follow this dumb website, so I expect that number to grow so we can make some fun comparisons to this past year.

I genuinely want your review on the project as a whole and all the categories, but I think I’m going to get rid of “Vertical Leap” next time. My thinking for that is that bigs who are expected to block more shots and grab more boards don’t need to jump higher than everyone else because they’re already big and it comes down to timing more than anything. For smaller players it also doesn’t matter much because they’re not expected to do those things anyway. I’ll probably do “Shot Contesting” instead, so that guards who close out well and bigs who don’t allow easy post ups are accounted for better.

I fully invite everyone to play with that Google Sheet that I linked and come up with your own conclusions. This isn’t my idea, so be my guest if you want to put in the work for it.