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 today we wrap up this year’s reviews with a name I did not expect to see as the top minutes guy on the squad this year.........
Redshirt Senior - #2 - Guard/Forward - 6’5” - 210 pounds - Minneapolis, MN
Sacar Anim Traditional Stats
Sacar Anim Fancy Stats
*** - denotes a top 500 national ranking per KenPom.com
I think we could go ahead and say that Anim’s line last year of 8.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game while shooting 39% from long range is a perfectly acceptable baseline for 2019-20. He’s a bit like Quint in Jaws: “Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’.” While he’s a perfect example of how guys can develop and improve under the guidance of the coaching staff, I don’t think that anyone is expecting anything more from Anim that what we’ve seen the last two years.
In fact, being that reliable cog that you know what you’re getting every night on both ends of the floor is a perfect role for someone on a roster with Markus Howard. When you have an Atlas V rocket ready to launch every single night, you need to have a stable platform from which to launch in the first place. Sacar Anim doing Sacar Anim things is a major part of that platform for the Golden Eagles. If Howard’s shot isn’t falling, then Anim’s ready to knock down a few jumpers and get a few drives to the rim to help open up the rest of the floor for everyone else. If Howard is connecting, then the reliable threat of Anim somewhere on the floor helps keep defenses honest when they deal with the All-American. On the other end of the court, Anim’s physicality and agility help backstop whatever weakness or flaw is in the defensive structure due to Howard’s lack of imposing stature. It all works hand in hand. Robin Hood is capable of doing stuff on his own, but he’s not truly great unless Little John is out there with him.
Why You Should Get Excited
With the roster changes that have happened since the end of last season (look, I didn’t mention the Hauser brothers! Wait. Dammit.), there’s space within the construct of this Marquette roster for someone to step forward and make a big noise. That someone could be Sacar Anim.
FUN FACT: Sacar Anim shot 42.5% from behind the arc in Marquette’s Big East regular season games last year, making him the third most accurate long range sniper in the entire conference.
LESS FUN FACT: He did this on just 40 attempts, which is barely more than two per game.
MORE FUN FACT: That leaves a lot of room for growth! After all, there are 182 threes in Big East play that need to be made up somehow in 2019-20, and if Anim is gonna knock down 40+% of them, why shouldn’t it be him? If he’s going to become that kind of an outside threat, it just makes his drives to the rim even more dangerous, because defenders will have no idea what to do with him.
Mix in a little bit of “this is my last year” motivation to do a little bit more all over the place, and that’s a recipe for a big time performance all year long from Anim. Maybe it works out, maybe it doesn’t, but I think there’s a pretty high ceiling on what’s possible from him.
I mean, what’s the worst case scenario? Sacar Anim is just the same dude that we’ve seen for the last two years? Uh, okay, sign me up! Do a little of this, do a little of that, come up big when your number is called, play your role when it’s not. Cool, fine by me. I mean, it might be a little bit of a bummer to not get to see him shine a little brighter, but if the season ends up as a success, one way or another, well, that’s okay.
Sacar Anim was the one guy not named Markus Howard that I actually trusted to step up to the challenge when his number was called. Before the season, Andy laid out his expectations for Sacar in the above preview section which were essentially this: Keep doing what you’re doing and we’ll be happy.
Let’s start with the obvious: Sacar improved in nearly every major category from last season. He was second on the team with 13.1 points per game. He averaged 4.1 rebounds with an uptick in both his offensive and defensive rebounding rate. He also increased his assist rate to 8.9% from 7.5% last season. In the intangibles department he led the Golden Eagles in steals averaging one per contest. Sacar stepped up when his team needed him time and again this season. Let’s take a look at what aspects of his game improved.
Last season Sacar was a versatile offensive threat having the ability to cut into the lane and finish at the rim while also registering seismic improvements in his sharpshooting from long range. Let’s flash back to 2018 when Sacar rarely shot the three ball and when he did he only made it about 24% of the time. Fast forward to 2019 where he doubled his attempts from behind the arc and shot 39% for the year with a staggering 42.5% during conference play which ranked 3rd in the Big East. Talk about a change in identity? Some of my friends (not naming any names) would make fun of Sacar during his sophomore season for taking threes calling him Sacarbage among other insults. In direct response to my foolish friends, he worked hard in the offseason on his 3-point shooting and it paid off.
This season he again doubled his long range attempts from last year while maintaining his 39% accuracy, which as denoted above, is top 500 in KenPom.com. Sacar shot just as efficiently while taking double the shots from deep which is a clear sign that he got very comfortable shooting from behind the arc. Aside from Markus, he was the player I was most confident to make a clutch 3-pointer with the game on the line. That’s not a statement I would have uttered two years ago.
Not many players are able to be trustworthy from three point range, while also having the ability to aggressively finish at the rim. Sacar was able to do both fairly consistently. His two-point field goal percentage was 44.4% which is good enough for third in the Big East behind Myles Powell and Kamar Baldwin for guards that attempted 200 or more 2-point field goals. It felt like Sacar was more aggressive this season when attacking the rim and he was responsible for 22.8% of Marquette’s shots, which was second most behind Markus Howard. Another improvement worth mentioning is his focus at the charity stripe. He not only took more free throws than last season (92 compared to 65) but also improved his free throw shooting to a more reasonable 67.4% compared to the rough 58.5% he shot last season. Sacar was even more consistent from the stripe during conference play raising his average up to 74.1%.
Considering how poor the rest of team performed this year, Sacar did a commendable job of embracing the role as the secondary offensive option. He also stood his ground defensively and did what was expected of him as Marquette’s best on-ball defender. It’s a bit more difficult to measure how well a player plays defensively because there aren't as many tangible categories other than rebounding, steals, and blocks.
That’s why we came up with the Marquette Crowdsourcing Project for Defensive attributes. Take a look at the results for Sacar Anim’s attributes. Each of Sacar’s attributes (including length, strength, shot contesting, effective quickness, intelligence, and hustle) received a majority above average rating on a 1-10 scale. I want to highlight three skills in particular: shot contesting, effective quickness, and intelligence. These three might not be obvious to the naked eye but are important qualities that Sacar excelled in defensively. For shot contesting, nearly 60% of the voters gave Sacar a 6 or 7 rating. Similarly, 56% of the voters gave Sacar a 6 or 7 on his effective quickness, while 52% of the voters thought Sacar had a high IQ defensively rating him a 7 or 8 in intelligence. Most of you thought he was above average to pretty good on some important defensive skills and I would agree.
Although Marquette’s defensive efforts waned as the season neared its conclusion, Anim was the one guy you could typically point towards to not screw things up. He didn’t do anything spectacular defensively, but he was the most consistent at playing solid on-ball defense. He did exactly what was expected of him defensively. Thank you for not disappointing us.
With Markus Howard knocked out of the game, Sacar Anim took matters into his own hands against Xavier in late January. He stepped up BIG TIME and showed us his entire arsenal of skills dropping a career high 28 points on 5-for-9 shooting from three, pulling down five rebounds, dishing two assists, and registering four steals. He sank 7 of 10 freebies from the line for good measure to come up huge in a much-needed win after a tough overtime defeat to Butler just five days prior. Sacar played his best game in a Marquette uniform on this day. We got to see what a game (at least in part) without Markus looked like. It was hectic and wild and nail biting, but in the end we found a way to win, in large part thanks to Sacar’s efforts, and that’s all that matters.
Sacar was consistently the second best player for the Golden Eagles this season. His defensive game was also on par with what we were accustomed to seeing from the Minneapolis native. He simply did not screw up as much as some of his teammates did. His turnover rate was down (14.7%) while his usage was relatively high (19.7% of possessions). He also kept his fouls to a minimum registering a mere 2.2 per 40 minutes which KenPom tells me is very good. Although chaos ensued around him, Sacar was the guy the Golden Eagles could count on to be the Little John to Markus’ Robin Hood as Andy so eloquently put it in Sacar’s preseason preview. He made improvements to basically every aspect of his game while also embracing the role as Marquette’s secondary scorer. Since I’m feeling a bit generous today I’m giving Sacar an 8 out of 10 final season grade. Thank you for all you did for the Marquette Golden Eagles and best of luck wherever your future takes you.