With the 2019-20 season long since in the books, let’s take a few moments to look back at the performance of each member of YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles this year. While we’re at it, we’ll also take a look back at our player previews and see how our preseason prognostications stack up with how things actually played out. We’ll run through the roster in order of total minutes played going from lowest to highest, which means we move on to the guard with an injury shortened season..........
Redshirt Sophomore - #5 - Guard - 6’3” - 185 pounds - Detroit, Michigan
Greg Elliott Traditional Stats
Greg Elliott Fancy Stats
So, let’s be honest here. He wasn’t an elite offensive weapon as a freshman. He hit his fair share of shots, yes, but he wasn’t a go-to guy. This year, at one point or another, he’ll be playing alongside arguably the best go-to guy in the country in Markus Howard, another usage monster in Koby McEwen, and more polished scorers like Brendan Bailey and Sacar Anim. Spare me the eye rolls, both of them are more established than Greg at this point. He was much better defensively, which was great considering he was usually spelling one of Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey, both notably not defensive stalwarts. If he continues to grow as a defender, he’ll demand minutes to shut down top-level perimeter competition, whether as a backup to Sacar Anim or as a stopper in his own right.
If he develops offensively as an extra option for the go-to guys, I could see 6-7 points a night being reasonable to go along with 2-3 rebounds and 1-2 assists. I think the offense will come with more time and notably less Markus Howard (NOT THAT IT’S A BAD THING TO HAVE MARKUS HOWARD, HE JUST TENDS TO SHOOT AND SCORE A LOT AND THAT’S GOOD, I JUST MEAN MARKUS ONLY HAS ONE YEAR LEFT), so I’m not too concerned with it this year. I’m much more excited to see how he grows on defense.
Why You Should Get Excited
Well, in his healthy year, Greg shot 55% from 2 and 37% from 3, proving that he isn’t a black hole on offense. In the totally secret nobody knows about it scrimmage against Indiana, he went 2-for-5 from three-point range. I think that all of the smoke is hiding an offensive fire waiting to happen. He’s whacky athletic and I’m excited to see if he can get to the rim more and generally open up the floor by slashing or driving. While he can make the three, I don’t think his offensive role should be limited to spot up shooter. Opportunistic shooter? Sure, big fan of that. If the bigs can work the pick and roll with him, I’m very ready for him to be moving towards the basket.
But, as mentioned above, Greg was one of the only players to be in the top 300 in both block and steal percentage according to KenPom. He will be a defender first. With the evolution of the Marquette defense last year into something to not pointedly stare away from, I’m ready to see how a top perimeter defender with elite length and quickness slots in. Due to the Hauser departures, we will see better defenders in Brendan and Jamal on the wings, leaving Sacar, Greg, and Dexter to take on the elite perimeter players. Greg is a matchup nightmare, and I’m so very ready to see him steal people’s lunch from them night in and night out. At his best, if he develops, he’s a competitor for Defensive Player of the Year in the Big East.
Well, I’m going to start with the obvious. Greg played his entire first season basically one-handed due to a lingering hand injury on his non-dominant hand. Then he redshirted a full year due to a torn ligament in his thumb, and again, that was the same hand/thumb that was injured during his freshman year, just not the exact same injury. He spent time injured this past summer, suffering an ankle injury that was projected to be healed right around now. While recent video highlights and box scores from the totally secret scrimmage that people definitely don’t know about indicate that he’s playing (15 minutes in the secret scrimmage), we still haven’t seen Greg at the peak of his health. I don’t mean “for a whole season,” I mean “not even for one second of a regular season game.” Furthermore, we have a long injury history and thus, until he proves us wrong and stays healthy for an extended period of time, that will always be a nagging thought. I’m worried that he will suffer some other injury.
The Marquette backcourt also seems a bit.....crowded. I am assuming that Markus Howard and Koby McEwen will be the two starters at the 1 and 2, however you want to officially designate them in whichever role. That gives us some combination of Elliott, Symir Torrence, and Dexter Akanno to fill in the backup roles, in addition to the possibility that Sacar Anim, Brendan Bailey, and Jamal Cain may also slide into the 2 spot here and there based upon the matchup. Yes, I know that they will be on the wing 95+% of the time. But I could see a game where we need to bring in, say, Bailey or Cain to handle a long, lanky lineup (that is, if Elliott or Akanno can’t handle their matchup at the 2, but I do have confidence that they can do that). The point is that if you include the 3 as a “backcourt” position, we’re talking about Elliott being part of an eight man group trying to split 120 minutes per game. Or, if you prefer, because Markus Howard will obviously play 30 minutes a night, it’s seven guys splitting 90 minutes. If Greg can’t stay healthy, he might struggle to get game time or establish a definite place on the depth chart. In his one year of playing, he also didn’t flash much in the way of assists and also had a turnover rate just shy of 20%, which is not optimal but not the worst thing known to mankind.
Well, I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news.
The good news is that when writing Greg Elliott’s preview back in the fall, our very own Sam Newberry pretty much nailed the reasonable expectation for the redshirt sophomore. The bad news is that I meant that Sam nailed it for pre-injury Elliott.
In the 15 games that Elliott played before suffering the injury recurrence in his right ankle against Providence on January 7th, he was averaging 5.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game. That was in 21.1 minutes per outing, and Elliott was throwing together a shooting splits compilation of 43% from the field, 45% from behind the arc, and 64% from the free throw line.
In the nine games after he missed six in a row due to the ankle injury?
In 15.2 minutes per game, he averaged 4.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, 0.8 assists. The shooting splits shifted to 45% from the field, just 33% from the arc, but 100% from the charity stripe.
Pre-injury Greg was exactly the Greg that we thought we were going to get this season. He was even averaging just short of a steal per game, too, and thus was holding up to the defensive prowess that we had seen from him in 2017-18. Post-injury Greg wasn’t bad. 4/2/1 in 15 minutes with shooting numbers of 45/33/100 is a very quality reserve role. But it’s a clearly hampered Greg Elliott — he ultimately needed surgery on that ankle when the season was over — and thus, as a whole, we didn’t quite get the full package that we were hoping to see from him in 2019-20.
I feel like we need to accentuate the point that Elliott wasn’t bad when he returned from injury, merely limited. May I point you to his T-Rank player page? Right below his career stats is a statistical trends graph. For me, it defaults to Offensive Rating, and it should for you as well. This is what Elliott’s Offensive Rating graph for the 2019-20 season, where the dots are his individual game ratings, the yellow line his the constantly adjusting season average, and the dotted line is a rolling five game average.
If you toss out the essentially non-existent rating gathered in Elliott’s first game back from injury where he played just seven minutes, his remaining eight games of the year accounted for half of his best 16 games of the season in terms of Offensive Rating. Six of his 10 best games of the year came in Marquette’s final six games of the season.
In other words: Greg Elliott was playing hyper-efficient basketball while Marquette’s entire season was going down the drain. And he was playing hyper-efficient basketball while on a busted ankle. On one hand, we have to tip our cap to the Michigan native for doing everything he was capable of doing in order to try to help the team in that situation. On the other hand, we have to regret that he didn’t get more of a chance to contribute something while he was being hyper-efficient. On Zaphod Beeblebrox’s third hand, we can’t fault head coach Steve Wojciechowski and his assistants for erring on the side of caution when it came to Elliott’s damaged ankle. They assuredly knew that he needed end of the season surgery. While he could play on it after a month off, Elliott most likely wasn’t going to be his hyper-efficient self if he played long stretches on it, either.
It’s a bit of a bummer all around. A guy who is giving it everything he has at the moment is prevented from doing more because he might not actually be helpful if he’s allowed to help out more. In fact, it’s possible that the limitation put on him by the coaching staff is what helped his absurdly efficient numbers to close out the year.
Then again, he also had an Offensive Rating of 166.8 per T-Rank in MU’s final game of the season. You know, the game against St. John’s where Marquette went into a 12-0 hole to start the game and Wojciechowski abandoned half of his roster for the majority of the second half. Elliott played 26 minutes in that one because he was one of the few guys that Wojciechowski trusted and he still put up that nutso ORtg. But again, we don’t know if he could have actually pulled that off night in and night out over the final stretch of the season.
Best Game: In fact, I think we have to call that St. John’s game Elliott’s best of the year. He tied his season high in points with 11, and seeing as the other 11 came in the USC Trojans game where that was largely decided by Markus Howard absolutely microwaving the Trojans, I feel it’s misrepresentative of the accomplishment. Elliott also had five rebounds, one short of his season high, which came against Robert Morris, and he chipped in two assists, too. The only drawback to this one as his best is that Elliott did foul out, but that was more a product of Wojciechowski refusing to make any substitutions for most of the second half and MU’s need to foul at the very end to extend the game.
Season Grade, on a scale of 1-10: So here’s the thing: Elliott wasn’t quite the same guy when he returned from the ankle injury for obvious ankle injury related reasons. However, he was kiiiiind of close to the expectations that we laid out at the start of the season and only a minutes limitation seems to have really put a cap on his statistical production. He was very clearly getting as much accomplished as he possibly could in his playing time as evidenced by that ORtg spike. Further example: Elliott committed just two turnovers in the final nine games of the season, and seeing as MU’s turnover rate wasn’t exactly a picture of health in 2019-20, that’s a nice thing to see.
So, he met the expectations that we had for him, but he didn’t really exceed them. He wasn’t really exceeding them before he got hurt, either. It is reasonable to wonder if Elliott ends up playing a bigger role if he’s healthy, and then ultimately wonder if we think of his season and also Marquette’s season as a result. However, that’s not the case, and we have to judge things based on what actually happened. I have to give Elliott a 6 for this season. He did what we thought he would do, and I’ll give him a bonus point for being pretty efficient at the end of the year on a bum ankle.