With the 2021-22 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, and today we move along to the first guy that we’ll review that won’t be on the team next season.......
Redshirt Senior - #5 - Guard - 6’3” - 180 pounds - Detroit, Michigan
Greg Elliott Traditional Stats
Greg Elliott Fancy Stats
Thanks to the coaching change, I’m not 100% sure exactly how Greg Elliott fits into this roster and scheme. That’s honestly good news after last season when we were treated to a 46% three-point shooter playing being lucky to play 20 minutes a night for much of the season. I talked about it Elliott’s review last season, but it certainly seemed like he was woefully misused or at the very least underused by last year’s staff.
This year can’t be worse than that. It would seem that Shaka Smart is going to rely on a system that requires a high level of physical conditioning from his players. With that said, they’re going to need breaks regularly, and that means pretty much anyone on the bench who can contribute is going to be asked to do something to help this team out. I don’t know if that means a starting role for Elliott (I would lean towards the answer on that being no) or if he’s going to be a super sub for any of the guard/wing spots in the lineup. We’ll have to wait and see how it works, but I’m not particularly worried about Elliott getting lost in the shuffle at the very least.
Last year, in what amounts to his only really healthy year of college hoops, Elliott went for 6.2 points and 1.6 rebounds per game in 18.1 minutes on average. He was an incredibly efficient player, ending up ranking #33 in the country and #2 in the Big East in three-point shooting percentage amongst qualifying players. His rebounding took a downturn from previous seasons, but I suspect that has more to do with the existence of Dawson Garcia and the ascension of Jamal Cain than it has to do with “Greg was suddenly bad at this.”
I’d wager to guess that his minutes are going to go up this season as Shaka Smart makes use of of a system that requires minutes from everyone. I don’t want to say he’s going to score more than he did, not until I see what kind of tempo that means for the Golden Eagles, but 6 points and change is a pretty solid average and I’d be okay with that again. T-Rank seems to be very excited about Elliott, projecting him at 10.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. I don’t know how much of that is potential system or lack of experienced players on the roster or what, but I’d be thrilled for that kind of production from him.
Why You Should Get Excited
Shaka Smart has said repeatedly that he doesn’t think he can play his old VCU Havoc defense at Marquette. Part of doing that at VCU was being in the CAA and the A-10, leagues where you can sometimes cause massive disruption merely by playing harder than the other guy. That wasn’t the case at Texas and it’s probably not going to be the case in the Big East.
But he has definitely shown interest in returning to a more high pressure style of defense. Smart has talked about it for sure and on Sunday, at Haunted Hoops, they ran drills to practice that defense and regularly made use of it in the scrimmage.
Why does that all matter here while talking about Greg Elliott’s season?
Last year, according to KenPom.com, Greg Elliott just barely missed out on the top 250 in the country in steal rate and he finished #381 in the country in the fewest fouls called per 40 minutes of action. These are two incredibly important things if Marquette is going to play a defensive style oriented towards pressure and deflections. Elliott still managed that steal rate while playing in a defensive structure that had absolutely no interest in creating turnovers (#296 as a team in steal rate), so that’s just natural ability and instinct from him. Even better, Elliott has shown this before, as he had an ever so slightly lower (but somehow better ranked) steal rate back in 2017-18, and yes, that’s the season when he was really only playing with one good hand. Combine that instinct with an ability to avoid fouls, and you’ve really got something as a defender in a system that’s trying to create dysfunction.
Oh, and there’s the three-point shooting. Elliott is a career 42% shooter from downtown, so yeah, I think the coaching staff might be interested in letting him launch a few every game.
It’s the “I” word. It’s always the “I” word with Greg Elliott at this point.
In fact, the “I” word reared its head again this past Sunday when it seemed that Greg Elliott was not a full participant in the drills before the Haunted Hoops scrimmage started. In fact, I’m going to turn this over to Ben Steele from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for further clarification.....
Smart and his staff have been closely monitoring the 6-3 guard during the preseason, having him sit out some drills during practices. Off the court, he wears a protective walking boot for his right ankle.
“It’s just something they want me to do to manage the load,” Elliott said. “But this is the best my body has felt since I been in college.”
Elliott said there wouldn’t be any minutes restrictions for games.
So, uh, yeah, that absolutely was Elliott being a part-time participant in drills. And, it appears that Elliott is just running around campus all the time in a walking boot to “manage” things. He feels great, there’s no restrictions on the court for him, but it’s clear that someone in either strength and conditioning or athletic training thinks this is the best thing for his surgically reconstructed ankle.
That’s... not... great.
Maybe this is nothing to be worried about. Maybe Elliott plays over 700 minutes this season — he’s never cleared 650, Sacar Anim led 2019-20’s team with over 1,000 — and we all sit back at the end of the year and marvel at all of his good works. Or maybe the injuries have finally sapped Elliott of the ability to be the athletic marvel (albeit with one hand) that we saw in his freshman year and this season is going to be a chore for him to finish. That would not be fun, but it is just going to keep looming in the background for him until March.
This season did not start out well for Greg Elliott. Quite literally the day we published his player preview in November, Shaka Smart announced that Elliott would miss MU’s preseason exhibition and the first four games of the regular season on a “lapse in judgment” suspension. From there, it did not look like things were going to go his way, either because of how much the coaching staff trusted him or because his ankle in that walking boot in the preseason just wasn’t cooperating with him or maybe just because Smart got into something of a rotation in the first four games and he wanted to keep with it. Either way, Elliott was limited to no more than 13 minutes in any of his first five appearances of the season, and when you’re a fifth year player in college on a high major team and you’re only playing three minutes against Jackson State, things aren’t going your way.
But eventually, things did turn around for the Michigan native. Elliott turned into the same old Greg Elliott that we’ve been seeing the past few years. Spark off the bench, knocking down outside shots, staying out of foul trouble, getting a few rebounds, getting to the line extremely well, so on and so forth. It was a Greg Elliott season. You’ve seen it. This was his best one statistically speaking as he set career bests in points at 7.0 per game. Kind of impressive, honestly, given that he played a career low minutes per game and watched his three-point shooting percentage drop below 41% for the first time since his freshman year. Good on him for finding a way to make it work.
The only problem with Greg’s season is, well, he wasn’t a good defensive player, at least not any more, or at least not at this level. Ever checked out Hoop Explorer? They allow you to poke around and see what a team looks like with a player on and off the court. In Greg Elliott’s case, MU’s offense was pretty much the same whether or not he was out there.... but the defense was better without him. It was pretty good when he was out there, any time you’re below 100 points per 100 possessions, that’s good, and MU was at 98.1 adjusted for opponent. Marquette was only about three points per 100 possessions better with Elliot on the bench, so it’s not a massive change. However, when you consider that Marquette’s biggest problem coming down the stretch was an inability to get stops..... it’s not great.
I wish I had more to say about Elliott’s final season in blue and gold. It is what it was, and what it was ended up being pretty much exactly what we’ve always seen from him. I’ll take “reliably the same” over “erratic and disjointed,” that’s for sure.
I think there’s only one real candidate here. FUN FACT: Greg Elliott has been named Game MVP by the KenPom algorithm for just one game in his entire collegiate career. It came this season when he popped off the bench at home against DePaul for 23 minutes. He went 4-for-6 from long range and a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe to propel him to a career high 25 points. Elliott also chipped in two rebounds, five assists, and two steals in MU’s 87-76 victory. Here’s what I wrote about him in the recap of that game:
Somehow we have gotten through all of this without mentioning Greg Elliott, which actually makes sense. At one point in this game, he converted all three free throws after being fouled on a long range attempt to bring his scoring total in the game to 20. My reaction to this? WHEN DID HE SCORE 17 OTHER POINTS? I was literally shocked to find out that he had 20, it just did not compute. One of the quieter career high 25 point games that you’ll ever see, especially since he was nearly unstoppable with a 7-for-11 shooting performance and 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. He also added two rebounds, five assists, and two steals, so he was all over the place.
It was about what we expected from Greg, with pretty much no worries about his health as the season went along. It wasn’t as nice as T-Rank projected, but maybe we just chalk that up to Elliott “only” hitting 38% of his threes instead of 46% like the year before. It was a quality campaign and I refuse to ding him for being exactly what we expected and that’s it, so I give his final season at Marquette a 7. I also say THANK YOU for everything he’s done for the program, especially all the rehab that he had to go through just to get back out on the court, and I wish him the best in whatever stop he decided to make with his bonus season of eligibility.