With the 2013-2014 season now in the books, we take a moment to look back at the performance that 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 roster in order of total minutes played (lowest to highest).
#30 - Freshman - 6'4" - 230 lb.
Minimum Expectation: Do something - ANYTHING - during the season that makes him worthy of the Bane nickname. As I wrote earlier this fall, newcomers do not perform statistically well under Buzz Williams, even if they do actually get a chance to play if they deserve it. While he is uniquely talented, I don't expect a breakthrough season from him. So I'll settle for merely being worth of his pre-season nickname.
In My Worst Nightmare: What else would it be? He gets hurt and never gets a chance to get into the rotation or he figures out that he actually doesn't like going to college in his hometown and decides to transfer. It's hard to pick something out for the freshmen as they have no collegiate baseline to measure against, so this is pretty much the worst possible angle for any freshman's season.
In My Wildest Dream: Burton's athleticism at his size allows him to defend against a variety of players both in and out of conference play and turns into a reliable switchable cog in Buzz's mad scientist machine. His flair for the flamboyant dunk leads his teammates to look for him on the break and he causes more timeouts than you can shake a stick at.
Welcome to the most frustrating Player Review.
If you add up Burton's points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks, you get a total of 357. He only played 402 minutes. It's not how you tend to think about basketball, but stick with me here: there were only 45 minutes of Burton's season where he didn't contribute something positive to Marquette on the floor.
And here he is, with the fourth fewest minutes played.
You need 40% of your team's minutes played to qualify for the national leaders on KenPom.com, and Burton only played 30.5% of Marquette's minutes this season. If he had played just 110 more minutes, and maintained his rates, he would have had the 69th highest usage rate in the country, the 22nd highest percentage of shots taken, the fifth highest steals rate, and those are just the top 100 numbers I can tell you for sure. The freshman from Milwaukee grabbed 9.5% of the possible offensive rebounds while he was on the floor, just a shade lower than the 9.6% that Davante Gardner got to, and Ox ranked #334th in the country. Burton had the second highest block rate on the team, with his 4.1% of opponents' shots blocked only trailing Chris Otule's 6.4%, and Otule ranked #122 in the country. Burton's rate of 5.5 fouls drawn per 40 minutes is nearly the same as Todd Mayo's 5.6, and Mayo ranked #227 in the country.
And yet, there he was, nailed to the bench for 70% of Marquette's season.
After the Xavier game that ended Marquette's season in the Big East tournament, Buzz Williams said that Burton didn't play for most of the second half because he believed that Marquette needed to play better defense. When a guy has 23 points and three rebounds in 24 minutes played while starting and only committing two personal fouls, it's hard to take that kind of talk seriously. So I didn't.
I don't like plus/minus as a basketball statistic, because your numbers can be bad because one of your other four teammates is doing his best turnstile impression. But it's really the only statistic you can look at to try to say that "MU needed better defense so Burton had to sit." Following the Xavier game, I went through the play-by-play and figured it out. Marquette was +3 with Burton on the floor in that game and -6 without him. Burton started playing more minutes towards the end of the season, and his rise in minutes coincided with a turnaround in Marquette's very shoddy effective field goal defense in the second half of the Big East schedule.
He a freshman making freshman mistakes on occasion, sure. But sometimes the positives outweigh the negatives. Sometimes the negatives diminish through experience. We never really got a chance to see if experience could help any of the three active freshmen this season, and Burton's brief dynamic moments on the court can both give Marquette promise for the next three seasons and make fans look back and say what if?
Best Game: His highest minute total of the year in games not against 300+ KenPom.com teams, his highest point total of the season, relatively foul free, strong from the free throw line... I have to give it to the last time we saw him: the 23 point, 4 rebound outing against Xavier in the Big East tournament.
Season Grade (1 = Worst Nightmare, 10 = Wildest Dream): Anything worthy of the Bane nickname, huh? CHECK.
Believe it or not, Burton's first year statistics are somewhat comparable to those of Vander Blue, Jimmy Butler, and Davante Gardner. Those guys seemed to turn out okay, right? Burton never turned into a reliable piece for Buzz Williams, at least according to how Williams deployed him, so I guess we can't go full bore Wildest Dream here. I'll give young Mr. Burton an 8 for his freshman campaign.