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Yes, But How Good Is Kenzie Hare Really?

The sophomore is burning up the nets, but how much of an impact is she having on the Golden Eagles on both ends?

Marquette’s Kenzie Hare
Kenzie Hare, lining up for a long range attempt.
Marquette University

Have y’all seen what Kenzie Hare is doing for Marquette women’s basketball this season?

Through eight games, the sophomore wing is leading the team in scoring at 16.5 points per game, and she chips in enough elsewhere (2.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.3 steals) that it would wrongheaded to say that she’s just a scorer for the Golden Eagles. The real reason that we’re talking about Hare right now is specifically what she’s doing when she shoots the ball.

As a freshman last year, Hare had her good stretches and her bad stretches, perhaps as you’d expect a freshman to have. Ultimately, in 18 minutes a night all of the bench, she shot 34% from the field overall and 31% from behind the three point line with 5.1 of her 7.0 attempts per game coming from behind the arc. She was up and down to be sure, but since Hare ended the year at 31%, we have to say that it was a sub-par shooting season because anything below 33% is by default sub-par.

She, uh, is not sub-par this season.

Through eight games, Kenzie Hare is firing off 6.8 long range attempts per game, and she is connecting FIFTY-NINE POINT THREE percent of the time. This includes the Illinois game where she was only 1-for-5, and the Arkansas game where 1) Marquette was running away with the thing from the get go so it didn’t really matter that 2) Hare shot 1-for-6.

For context: Remember Markus Howard’s freshman year when he just could not miss? 54.7% from long range Hare is doing better than that through eight games, and she’s doing it on more attempts per game, as Howard was only putting up 4.8 per game as a freshman. As of Wednesday night, Hare is ranked #23 in the country in three-point shooting percentage according to Her Hoop Stats, and #34 in effective field goal percentage, and #3 in the nation in made threes per game.

This led me to wonder: Is head coach Megan Duffy giving Hare nearly 28 minutes of playing time a game this season because she is incandescent when she’s shooting and you can afford to trade off a little bit of defense with that much offense coming in?

Thankfully, Hoop-Explorer exists, and we can answer that question.

Through eight games, filtering out garbage time, Marquette has raw scoring numbers of 120 points for them per 100 possessions when Kenzie Hare is on the floor..... and 73.3 points against. When adjusted for caliber of opponents, that offensive number going up to 121.3 points per 100 possessions...... and the defense somehow gets better, dropping to a near-microscopic 69.8 points per 100 possessions.

Even better than that? Marquette’s better off on both ends when Hare is in the game. You don’t have to be Dr. James Naismith to figure out that Hare’s shooting makes MU’s offense better, as the adjusted offense drops to 100.5 points per 100 possessions without her. The key here though is that Hare is a plus on both ends, as the defense allows 86.6 adjusted points per 100 possessions. To be clear: That’s still a great defensive team without Hare on the floor, but it’s just not as great as what the Golden Eagles are accomplishing with her.

The really big part of this? No one else is having this kind of impact on the team. Marquette’s offense is better with Jordan King, but the defense is mostly the same. Same for Liza Karlen. Marquette’s offense suffers when Rose Nkumu leaves the floor, but their defense gets noticeably better. MU gets better on both ends with Frannie Hottinger on the bench, and the same goes for Abbey Cracknell. The Golden Eagles aren’t particularly better or worse with or without Skylar Forbes. The offense is much better with Lee Volker on the bench.

The key, perhaps, is finding out whether or not Hare can keep this up. Not the fireballing offense, that seems to be destined to tail off a little bit. What needs to keep going is Hare’s ability to impact the game on both ends, especially if her shot stops falling like it currently is. If she goes through a slump — and at 32-for-54, she would currently need to miss her next 26 attempts in a row to fall to a still very effective 40% (32-for-80) on the year — as long as Hare keeps doing the work on the other end, Marquette’s still going to be a very successful basketball team this season. No matter what’s going with the offensive end of the court, it’s going to be hard as hell to beat a team that’s giving up 0.70 points per possession, and that’s what MU’s doing on defense with Hare on the floor.