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A Tale of Two Games, the Missing Shot and the Challenge Ahead

November 19, 2015

Marquette (1-1-0) vs Iowa (2-0-0)
8 p.m. Thursday, November 19
BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee
Radio: Marquette Radio Network

Since our last post, Marquette has played two very close games and has emerged 1-1. Tonight will bring another challenge for Marquette, playing in its first Gavitt Tipoff game. Without further ado, let’s dig into what we saw in those two games and the upcoming challenge that is Iowa.


In our last post, we provided a short preview of what to expect for Marquette’s home opener against Belmont. Unfortunately, things went mostly as expected. We knew Belmont would take a lot of threes and would make a solid percentage of them. However, they took the quantity aspect a bit further than we might have guessed, launching 34 shots from behind the arc, making 12 (35.3%) of them. While some might complain that one of the 12 was a bank, it should be noted it was not Craig Bradshaw’s first, although we can’t be sure he called the one against Marquette on Friday.

In the previous post, we also mentioned that Marquette could counteract Belmont’s great shooting ability by taking advantage of their weak three-point defense and creating turnovers. Marquette managed to barely win the turnover battle, 11 to 12, but failed to take advantage of open looks from behind the arc, only hitting six of their 26 attempted (23.1%). In the end, Marquette was just one more made three away from taking the game to overtime, and was handed their first loss of the year.


If you had read the IUPUI game preview we never wrote, you would have learned about a team that returned just 40.4% of their scoring from a team that was in the bottom 100 programs for Effg%, PPG and TO%. You would have also learned that IUPUI ranked 269th in opponent Effg%. All of this would likely make you believe Marquette should have had a relatively easy task on Monday night, and they likely should have. However, we would have also mentioned that the one area in which IUPUI could cause Marquette trouble would be through their ability to create turnovers. IUPUI had the 61st best opponent turnover percentage in the nation last year and forced an average of 16.5 turnovers a game.

While poor long shooting and an inability to keep Darell Combs out of the lane certainly helped keep the game close throughout, turnovers ended up being the story of the night. Marquette committed a whopping 20 of them. To put this in perspective, last year Marquette averaged 12.3 turnovers a game and only breached the 20 mark once. That was in their final game of the season in which they committed 22 turnovers and lost by 35 points to a Villanova team that was about to become a number one seed in the NCAA tournament. Luckily, Marquette was able to make a few key plays to close out the game and came away with their first win of the 2015-16 campaign.

Before we move on to take a look at what our next opponent brings to the table, we are nearly obligated to discuss the poor three-point shooting from Marquette so far this year. Why is this so important? Luke Fischer and Henry Ellenson are Marquette’s two best players and are most dangerous in the paint. Without respectable three-point shooting, Marquette’s opponents are able to pack the paint and limit Marquette’s ability to get the ball to its most valuable assets.

Before the regular season began, Marquette fans had reason to think that Marquette would be able to improve upon last year’s pedestrian 33.6% from behind the arc. Jajuan Johnson looked to have made major improvements to his form over the summer, stats from Italy suggested Marquette had a number of threats from the European three range, and Sandy Cohen and Duane Wilson had shown they could be a threat in the previous season. While two games hardly supply enough data to draw clear conclusions, so far Marquette’s three-point shooting has been… well, just look at the numbers.

Marquette Three-Point Shooting


Three Point Shooting by Player

Sandy Cohen III4850.0%
Traci Carter1425.0%
Henry Ellenson2922.2%
Duane Wilson21414.3%
Haanif Cheatham030.0%
JaJuan Johnson050.0%

Sandy Cohen is the only player who has posted even somewhat respectable numbers from three. Marquette faithful will have to hope that these numbers represent the bottom range for these players and that things will soon revert to a much higher mean.


This evening Marquette will face the Iowa Hawkeyes in the inaugural year of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, an eight year series pitting the Big East against the Big Ten. This year’s Iowa team should present another tough game for Marquette for a number of reasons.

  • Seniority
    • Iowa is an upperclassmen heavy team and will almost certainly have a starting lineup with four seniors and a junior.
    • Of the top six players by minutes played last year, five are returning from a team that received a seventh seed in the NCAA tournament.
      • We normally don’t mention unquantifiable attributes, but given the youth of this Marquette team and the experience of this Iowa team, it seemed like as good of an excuse as any.
    • Improved three-point shooting
      • Last year Iowa was 247th in attempted threes per game at 16.9, and for good reason, as they were 209th in 3pt% at 33.3%.
        • This also led to them being 210th in Effg%.
      • In Iowa’s first two games this season, they took 24 and 28 threes, making 36.5% of them.
    • They protect the ball
      • Last year Iowa had the 42nd best TO% in the nation at 14.3%.
      • So far this year they have averaged 14.2%.
    • Rebounding
      • Iowa was 39th in offensive rebounding last year, and while losing their top rebounder in Aaron White, they return a majority of their rebounding.

For Marquette to pull off its second win of the season, they will likely need to improve upon their previous two performances in at least a few areas. Notably, three-point shooting will have to improve to keep Iowa’s defense honest and they cannot have another 20 turnover game.

While we find it hard to compare efficiency stats after just two games against opponents of relatively unknown quality, we will not stop you from attempting to draw your own conclusions.

Marquette Efficiency Statistics


Iowa Efficiency Statistics



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