With the 2020-21 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 move on to a guy who had absolutely no business playing the second most minutes on the team, and by the end of the season, the coaching staff agreed with that opinion.......
Redshirt Senior - #25 - Guard - 6’4” - 195 pounds - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Koby McEwen Traditional Stats
Koby McEwen Fancy Stats
[stubs out cigarette]
[takes shot of Jack Daniel’s]
[extremely Sam Elliott voice] Look, I don’t know, man. It makes me tired just trying to think about it.
I think we have to approach it from what can not happen with McEwen this season. Shooting 33% from the floor on 7.5 attempts per game can not happen again. Shooting 29% from long range on four attempts per game can not happen again. A turnover rate of 26% can not happen again. This would appear to be generally pretty basic stuff, because this is the kind of thing you’d like to expect from literally anyone who plays about 70% of the time for a college basketball team. Unfortunately, these are all things that came from McEwen last season, and in a year where we have absolutely no idea who is going to end up as the leading scorer on the team, this kind of production can’t happen again.
I don’t want to set McEwen up for failure here by attaching expectations to him that are too lofty. But I think that if we return the thought process back to when he announced that he would be transferring to Marquette, I think we’re starting to approach the right mindset here. If we think that McEwen can replicate what he did in 62 games at Utah State for one last go-round, I think things will be okay for Marquette. Better shooting, better passing, better ballhandling, better everything.
Just please be better than you were last year, Koby. Please don’t make me type very mean things about you on this website. I don’t want to do it.
Why You Should Get Excited
I want to make this 100% clear: I’m not saying that I am expecting this kind of thing to happen, and I am straight up telling you that you should not expect it to happen. We good here? Okay.
In MU’s full team scrimmage at the McGuire Center, McEwen scored 24 points while shooting 6-for-11 from behind the three-point line.
Let’s be clear: Neither of those things are happening on a regular basis this season. Markus Howard is the only player in MU history to ever average over 24 points per game in a season, and Tony Smith is the only other one to clear 23. Koby McEwen ain’t those guys. He’s also not going to shoot 55% from behind the arc. There have only been three seasons in MU history where someone hit more than half of their threes.
If McEwen is healthy. If the coaching staff has figured out how to deploy him successfully and efficiently within the construct of the rest of this roster. If if if if. If this clearly great performance is more indicative of what we will see from McEwen this season than all of last season was, then things are probably going to go pretty well for McEwen, for Marquette as a team, and for you and me in terms of a lack of stress during basketball games.
I think we kind of covered this already. If the 2019-20 Koby McEwen starts poking its head up from underground, Steve Wojciechowski and his staff have to fill in that groundhog warren hole with cement. Maybe throw in some light dynamite before pouring the quick set concrete in there. I am generally filled with optimism for every Marquette player at the start of every season. I want to see each guy succeed in his own role and lane every year, and that goes for McEwen, too. But after last year, after how last year ended in particular, I am filled with dread for McEwen, and he’s the only guy on the team that makes me feel this way. Not only dread that we will not see anything better from McEwen this year, but that the coaching staff will just keep throwing him out there for 20-30 minutes a night while he’s playing in an awful manner, just like they did last year.
ITEM THE FIRST: Shooting 33% from the floor on 7.5 attempts per game can not happen again.
It didn’t! Koby McEwen shot 39% on 8.5 attempts per game this season.
ITEM THE SECOND: Shooting 29% from long range on four attempts per game can not happen again.
It didn’t! Koby McEwen shot 34% on four attempts per game in 2020-21.
ITEM THE THIRD: A turnover rate of 26% can not happen again.
It didn’t! McEwen recorded a turnover rate of 21.5% this past season according to KenPom.com.
This brings to a conclusion a very fun game that I like to call “Barely Clearing A Very Low Bar.”
“aw, Andy, stop being so mean to Koby McEwen, he worked hard for Marquette this year!”
Never said he didn’t work hard! There is, however, a difference between working hard and producing positive results. Let’s put it a different way: You know how KenPom.com provides comparison seasons for every player? Yeah, so, 2020-21 Koby McEwen’s third best comparison in the database dating back to the 2001-02 season is [drumrollllllllllllllll] 2019-20 Koby McEwen, who was objectively bad to the point where he got a 4/10 as a Season Grade, and that was probably too kind.
A guy who was not good even relative to individual expectations for him and only him.... is the third best comparison in the past 20 years to the 2020-21 version of the same player.
You know what the worst part about that is? It took Steve Wojciechowski til Game #23 of a 27 game season to realize that maaaaaaaaybe McEwen shouldn’t be starting and playing 31 minutes a night for the Golden Eagles, even as the team lost six of the final eight games that he started before getting relegated to the bench. Somehow, I can’t think it’s a coincidence that Marquette went 3-2 — 3-1 in the regular season as Marquette as a team and McEwen in specific barely showed up in the Big East tournament — after McEwen started coming off the bench and playing under 25 minutes a game instead.
The biggest difference? Less shots. The shooting percentages didn’t change all that much, but McEwen was suddenly shooting the ball about half as much as he did before the benching. 4.2 attempts per game and 2.0 long range shots in the final few games of the season against 9.5 and 4.4 in the first 22 games of the year. The minutes didn’t change that much but it seems that the message — you’re damaging to this team — got through. That’s something, I guess. It would have been nice if the message got through six weeks earlier, but hey: That coaching staff isn’t in charge any more, so take your victories as they come.
You know what the worst part is about Koby McEwen being vaguely better than he was the year before? He was still intolerable to watch. I didn’t like talking about it in recap after recap after recap because then I’m just constantly bashing an amateur athlete over and over, but McEwen’s body language on the court was just absolutely horrid from Game 1 to Game 27 this past season. Whether it was being shocked that an obvious call didn’t go in his favor or pouting about a bad play that he made, something was happening what felt like at least once a game that made you say “oh, cripes, here he goes again.”
This is not to be confused with all of the times that McEwen got the idea that “dribble drive until my heels are just past the three-point line and then pull up and shoot” was the best possible shot he could possibly take. That’s not poor body language, that’s poor decision making, as pulling up one dribble earlier would have meant that he was shooting a three-pointer and thus a much more valuable shot than the one that he ended up continually shooting.
Oh, by the way: McEwen shot 34.5% on 58 two-point jumpers this past season. 34.5% on threes? Good! 34.5% on very long twos? BAD.
If only there were adults on the bench paying attention to what was happening at a deeper level than “are we currently winning the game” on a regular basis. Alas.
“Intra-Team Scrimmage Koby” showed up exactly once this past season, I think. Against UW-Green Bay, McEwen scored a season high 28 points on 10-for-16 shooting including 5-for-9 on long range attempts. He also tacked on three points and four assists in 37 minutes of action as Marquette won 82-68. Not sure why McEwen really needed to play 37 of 40 minutes in that game, but it worked out for one night. I was tempted to go with his 20/2/4 against Xavier on December 20th, especially because it was a tie game with 25 seconds left because of McEwen’s four point play after MU was trailing by six with a minute to go. But MU did lose the game on Adam Kunkel’s prayer, so I elected to go with the win instead.
We asked Koby McEwen to be better than he was last year. He was. Fractionally, but he was. He was also relegated to a bench role as the season went along and the team got better results with things playing out that way. If you meet your reasonable expectation BUT you’re still so bad that you get benched, I don’t possibly see how we can look at this as anything but a regression from the 2019-20 campaign. Thus, going backwards from the year before means that we have to give McEwen a 3 for the 2020-21 season.