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Marquette 2015-16 Preview & A Little On Belmont

November 13, 2015

Marquette (0-0-0) at Belmont (0-0-0)
8 p.m. Friday, November 13
BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee
TV: Fox Sports Wisconsin
Radio: Marquette Radio Network

The long wait is over, and we data nerds at Misix couldn’t be more excited to get back to overwhelming our readers with in-depth analysis of Marquette basketball data. Given our obsession with numbers, we will begin with a real one (math joke):

  • 0

This number applies to a couple key stats as we prepare to enter the 2015-16 season:

  • The number of regular season minutes played in a Marquette jersey by 6 of the 10 eligible scholarship players.
  • The number of seniors that make up the 10 scholarship players.

This paints a picture of a young and inexperienced team, which is exactly what this Marquette team is. Despite this, Marquette is widely expected to outperform the dismal 13-19 season that the fan base is looking to put behind them.

To understand why a team with zero seniors and six newcomers is expected to be a step up from last year, we first need to take a look at what we lost. In short, we lost three players to graduation and three to the ever-increasing transfer market, including one to Marquette South (maybe West). These players made up 56.9% of total minutes played and 54.2% of total points scored in the 2014-15 season: a chart to prove it.

 

Lost Players Points and Minutes

PlayerTotal Points% of Team PointsTotal Minutes% of Team Minutes
Matt Carlino41919.4%92414.5%
Juan Anderson25711.9%88313.9%
Steve Taylor1888.7%70711.1%
Derrick Wilson1798.3%105316.5%
Deonte Burton1296.0%510.8%
John Dawson00.0%40.1%
Sum of Lost117254.2%362256.9%

Returning Players Points and Minutes

PlayerTotal Points% of Team PointsTotal Minutes% of Team Minutes
Duane Wilson38017.6%89914.1%
Luke Fischer26512.3%70411.1%
Jajuan Johnson22510.4%67310.6%
Sandy Cohen1175.4%4657.3%
Michael Mache20.1%60.1%
Sum of Returning98945.8%274743.1%

A few things jumped out to us in this table:

  • Matt Carlino made up nearly 20% of our points this past season, even though he missed 4 games due to a concussion, and will surely be missed on the offensive end.
  • Duane Wilson’s totals were not all that far off of Matt’s, and it was Duane’s first year of college basketball.
  • Luke Fischer posted the highest total points while missing the first eight games and only playing the 6th most minutes.

A picture of a potentially improving team is already starting to take shape, especially under the assumption that players improve with each year.

As we will attempt to drill into your brain as the season progresses, it’s one thing to score the most points (raw stats like the table above) and it’s a completely different thing to do so in an efficient manner (the tables below). Here at Misix, we prefer efficiency:

 

Average Efficiency Stats of Leaving Players

PlayerEffg%TO%FTROR%
Matt Carlino53.3%14.9%29.7%2.1%
Juan Anderson53.0%21.2%42.9%9.4%
Deonte Burton52.8%20.0%47.2%4.7%
Steve Taylor50.6%13.6%24.1%10.7%
Derrick Wilson43.9%20.4%43.6%3.4%

Average Efficiency Stats of Returning Players

PlayerEffg%TO%FTROR%
Luke Fischer60.9%16.5%52.3%6.8%
Sandy Cohen47.6%15.7%26.7%1.3%
Duane Wilson47.4%13.9%40.7%1.8%
JaJuan Johnson40.9%16.3%24.4%2.7%

If you are unfamiliar with these stats, check out our post that explains our ranking system and the famous Four Factors.  From the effective field goal percentage values, we can see that Marquette lost three relatively efficient scorers in Carlino, Anderson and Burton. While most Marquette fans would not have considered Juan Anderson an offensive threat last year, he did make solid use of his few attempts. Outside of the dominant effective field goal percentage, we lost some of the team’s most efficient rebounders, but also lost some of the team’s most turnover-prone players.

So what players are returning? They are bringing back the 50th most efficient shooter in the nation, the most efficient shooter on last year’s team and the player with the team’s best free throw rate in Luke Fischer. Feels like we should just stop there, but that’s unlike us. Marquette is also returning two relatively efficient shooters in Duane Wilson and Sandy Cohen, who put up solid efficiency numbers for their freshman seasons.

While it’s good to know what Marquette lost and what they are returning, it’s important to look at what they gained, especially since at this point we still need one more player to have a full line-up on the court. And while time will do a better job of explaining what we actually gained, current evidence suggests we gained a whole bunch.

Five freshmen (that according to ESPN make up the 10th best recruiting class in the nation) and two transfers makes for seven new scholarship players in the Marquette program. Because UNC-Asheville transfer Andrew Rouwsey has to sit out a year, we will focus on the other six newcomers. Luckily we have stats from four games in Italy and a home exhibition game to help get a little bit of an idea of what to expect. For more than just the stats on each newcomer and returner, check out these player reviews by the talented Anonymous Eagle.

While the competition in Italy is tough to judge, we will attempt to draw some cautious conclusions about our newcomers from what information we do have. Haanif Cheatham had yet to be cleared by the NCAA, so we can only work with stats from the exhibition game against Valley City State.

 

Newcomers In Italy

PlayerFG%3%FT%RPGA/TOPPG
Wally Ellenson50.0%37.5%50.0%1.31.56
Henry Ellenson56.5%30.8%64.7%7.50.521
Traci Carter60.0%53.8%85.7%5.81.514
Sacar Anim75.0%50.0%64.7%3.33.09
Matt Heldt46.2%-50.0%6.30.74
Average57.5%43.0%63.0%4.81.410.8

Newcomers In Exhibition

PlayerFG%3%FT%TOTRASTTOPTS
Wally Ellenson50.0%33.3%50.0%3218
Henry Ellenson46.2%25.0%75.0%175016
Traci Carter50.0%0.0%66.6%3336
Sacar Anim100.0%--4108
Matt Heldt100.0%--4212
Haanif Cheatham60.0%50.0%66.6%22215
Average67.7%27.1%64.6%62.51.29.2

What we took away about each newcomer:

  • The newcomers as a whole could bring improved shooting to Marquette.
    • While the defenses they faced were likely below the quality of most regular season opponents they will see, even a slight fall off from these levels would be an improvement upon last year’s averages (FG% of 43.7% and 3pt% of 34.4%).
      • Three-point shooting in the exhibition game was poor all around.
    • Henry Ellenson nearly averaged a double-double in Italy and continued with this form in the exhibition game.
      • 17 rebounds is a lot, and anything near that moving forward would surely help fill the void of rebounds Marquette experienced last year.
      • Double-digit scoring will be the norm and the necessity if Marquette wants to garner an invite come March.
    • Haanif Cheatham could be quite productive for Marquette.
      • With just one game against an NAIA program it’s tough to put much weight to these numbers, but Marquette fans have reason to be hopeful.
    • Traci Carter deserved to acquire the nickname “The Engine” from his play in Italy, and can bring scoring back to the point guard position for Marquette.
      • Averaging almost six rebounds per game in Italy is impressive for a player listed at six feet tall.
      • Averaging 14 points a game in Italy and hitting more than 50% of the shots he has taken thus far, while likely unsustainable, suggests he can get it done on the offensive end.
    • Matt Heldt looks like a strong rebounder.
      • As a player that received a relatively small amount of minutes in Italy, he was able to average 6.3 rebounds per game. Only Henry and Luke averaged more.
    • Wally Ellenson will be a walking highlight reel.
      • Some things don’t show up in the stats…
      • Sacar Anim made the most of his chances.
        • While receiving relatively limited time, Sacar made all four of his attempts against Valley City State and had a field goal percentage of 75% in Italy while hitting 50% of his attempted threes.
          • One of the four.

Alright…extraordinarily long story short, Marquette fans have good reason to believe this year will be a vast improvement upon last year’s forgettable season. However, this hypothesis will be tested and tested Night One of the regular season against Belmont.

While Belmont might not jump out at you as a household NCAA basketball name, this is a team that has made it to the NCAA tournament seven times in the in the past ten seasons under a great coach in Rick Byrd. This is also the team that gave an elite Virginia team a run for its money last year in Round One of the tournament. And when we say “this is the team” we mean it, as they return about 82% of last year’s scoring. Among those returning are the top-three scorers from their previous season in Craig Bradshaw, Evan Bradds and Taylor Barnette. A few stats on them:

 

Top Belmont Players in 2014-15 Season

PlayerPPGEffg%3P%
Craig Bradshaw18.359.4%42.3%
Evan Bradds14.269.7%38.5%
Taylor Barnette10.658.8%39.1%

Those are some shooters. Evan Bradds’ 69.7% Effg% made him the second most efficient shooter in the nation, and Craig Bradshaw came in at number 95 on that list, according to TeamRankings.com. And it’s not just these three players; Belmont as a whole is full of shooters. Last year they were the fifth most efficient shooting team in the nation behind only Duke, UC Davis, Gonzaga and Notre Dame.

You can’t achieve these numbers without shooting the three ball a lot and doing it well. Belmont did both of these things last year, attempting the seventh most threes in the nation at 26 per game and making the sixth most at almost 10 per game. This could spell trouble for Marquette, as last season they ranked 293rd in opponent threes made per game and 275th in opponent threes attempted per game.

The good news for Marquette is that as good as Belmont was on the offensive end, they were equally poor on the defensive end, ranking 271st in opponent Effg%, 267th in opponent points per game and 284th in opponent threes made per game. Another bright spot could present itself in Marquette’s ability to create turnovers and Belmont’s trouble with keeping teams from doing so. Last season, Belmont ranked 286th in turnover percentage, while Marquette ranked 89th in opponent turnover percentage.

If Marquette wants to win Friday, they will have to improve on last year’s lack of defense around the arc, force turnovers and take advantage of a potentially weak defense. All of this will have to be achieved with zero seniors and only four players to ever wear blue and gold in an NCAA D1 regular season game. The good news is that Marquette just might have the talent to do so.

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