It’s all so weird still, typing this article at 7:30 on the Monday of tournament week instead of writing up a region preview. Instead, I’m getting started on offseason content.
Regardless of the timing, this is my favorite thing to do every year, and I finally have a name that I’m going to stick with. This is the Marquette Defensive Crowdsourcing Project, previously referred to as Scouting the Marquette Defenders or the Marquette Defensive Scouting Report.
The basis for everything is written out here, Also here. The concept is that defensive stats for individuals are severely lacking because the stats we do have focus on the end product, while defense as a whole is way more predicated on the process than offense is. Finding a way to quantify that is incredibly tricky. Even sites like Synergy give incomplete data, despite their video-based system. Putting the value on an individual defender ends up being put up to the viewer.
So how do I turn the viewer experience into hard data? A survey.
Enter you, the fan.
Thought-out opinions of 100 observant fans is just as effective as any stat a box score can come up with. For my purposes, I will give you 6 categories for each player. You will rate the player’s ability in each category on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best. The page will look like this. I’ll take your answers, do some fancy (really not that fancy; the phrasing just makes me feel better) spreadsheet stuff and write a recap.
This sounds simple and you may think that you get it now but KEEP READING THERE’S IMPORTANT INFORMATION THAT I WILL MAKE FUN OF YOU FOR IF YOU SCREW UP
Before I get into the categories, there is a very important rule that I need to emphasize.
DO NOT CONSIDER THE PLAYER’S POSITION WHEN RATING THEM.
Don’t do it.
I need a consistent baseline to make this work and I can’t be trying to read your mind on what “strong...for a guard” means to you. If you need an example, consider Udoka Azubuike. He is a 7-foot center for Kansas and the best interior defender in the country. This is partially because he is light on his feet for a center. When I am asking you to rate his quickness, you might be tempted to put it as a 10/10 because he’s probably the quickest seven footer in the country.
Do. Not. Do. That.
Rate him on the spectrum of all college basketball players. If you think he could stay in front of DJ Carton one-on-one, be my guest to give Doke a 10 in quickness, but his overall quickness would probably really be a 3/10. From that point we can determine how good he is compared to other centers.
Here are the categories:
-Length. Pretty self-explanatory. Height and arm length should be the main considerations here.
-Strength. Also self-explanatory. It is a much easier concept when you’re thinking about ratings for Theo John and Jayce Johnson, but do also consider if the guards are able to use their bodies as an intimidation factor while still remembering the golden rule of not considering their position.
-Shot contesting. When the shot is coming, are the defender’s hands up and are they able to cause disruption without fouling? If he’s coming off a help assignment, is he closing out effectively?
-Effective Quickness. This is different wording from the “lateral quickness” phrasing that I’ve used in years past. I did that because I want to discourage the thought that because a player isn’t strong and tall then he must be quick. That’s not necessarily the case. I want this category to encompass how a player stayed with his man in one-on-one assignments, on and off the ball. Is he able to keep up with his man? Can he recover if a driver gets a step on him? Does he look like an antelope in an ice rink if the ball handler does a simple crossover move?
-Intelligence. Here’s where we get into the intangibles. The other categories can be judged with 10 minutes worth of tape, but this requires more of the constant observation that comes with being a fan. Intelligence in a defender mostly comes to play in ball screen or cut situations. In man defense, does the player get caught ball watching and end up losing his man? On screens, will he get confused on whether he needs to switch, go over or come under the screen? Is he anticipating passes before they happen? Is he helping effectively, or is he doing something in between that leads to an easy kickout?
-Hustle. This is the category I’m most interested in this year. I really want you to think about this one, because most fans think of their guys as the ones who work hard because they want to be reminded of themselves when they watch a team they root for.
Everyone in college basketball tries on defense to some extent. In the two years that I’ve done this project, a player has been given a below average Hustle score once, and it was Andrew Rowsey. Barely. He should’ve ended up with a negative effort score somehow. Just try to think about the average college player’s hustle and really ask if the player in question really is trying 20% harder than that. If your determination is yes, that’s fine, but make sure it’s intentional.
So those are the categories, BUT KEEP READING THERE’S MORE STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW
You Don’t Need To Have Watched Every Second Of The Season To Participate
Our memories are limited anyway. As long as you have a few observations of each player that you can point to when filling out these surveys, that’s all I need. Every single viewpoint, no matter how much of the season you watched, is an important piece of the puzzle and I value your input.
You’re Only Considering DEFENSIVE Abilities
Seriously. Every single year one of you turns into a kumquat and makes a dumbass comment about how X player isn’t intelligent because he takes too many shots. If you make that comment this year, I will ensure that every time you walk through a door, your belt loop will get caught on the handle. Don’t ask questions about how I am capable of accomplishing this.
Don’t Read The Numbers
I want this to be about what your eyes tell you. I don’t want you looking at box scores or on/off statistics to be the roots of your opinion. If there’s a stat out there that you’ve seen in the past which contradicts what your eyes have seen, disregard the stat.
Vote On Everyone If You Can
nonsense highly sophisticated evaluation thrives on your participation. Your vote matters, and it matters for every single player. It all results in my wrap-up from your surveys, which paint a much clearer picture on how the defense as a whole performed. Last year things were a little more cut-and-dry because we all agreed that the defense was a major strength of the team, but we’re going to have a lot to talk about in a few weeks, so let your voice be heard. I need just as many votes on Markus Howard as I get on Jayce Johnson as I get on Greg Elliott. When in doubt, vote.