Basketball is a team sport. Not exactly breaking news.
When teammates create offensive opportunities for one another and turn over their opposition, that’s typically a recipe for success.
But the No. 25/24 Marquette Golden Eagles have struggled to grasp the concept and properly execute it over their previous six contests, including during Saturday’s 62-57 victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Marquette lost the first half to the Pittsburgh Panthers 29-24. During that half Marquette’s assist to turnover ratio was 6:9. The style of play was sloppy and not enjoyable to watch.
Then in the second half Marquette gave fans a glimpse of the team they had cheered to a 10-0 start. Marquette won the second half 38-28 and had an assist to turnover ratio of 11:6.
And that’s been a Marquette trend over the previous six games (minus the Villanova contest): outscore the opposition in one half with an assist to turnover ratio of greater than one and losing the other half and having an assist to turnover ratio of less than one.
In the halves the Golden Eagles struggled they relied upon individuals to create offensive opportunities for themselves rather than create offense through ball movement and fast breaks off of turnovers. And the numbers back it up.
In the halves Marquette outscored its opponent, its assist to turnover ratio was 55:26 (2.12).
In halves the Golden Eagles’ opposition outscores them, Marquette’s assist to turnover ratio is 26:50 (.52).
Now the turnover disparity can largely explain Marquette’s struggles. When a team increases its turnovers it means it has fewer offensive possessions to score while the opposition increases its opportunities.
And more assists mean better opportunities to score since assists are created by ball movement and ball movement is a great way to get a defense out of position.
“Coach just said that before I came out here, ‘when the ball is sticking and everybody is stationary we don’t get to show the gifts we have, the talents we have,’” Wilson said after the Pittsburgh game. “Assisted baskets is really what we play off of. I think Junior finished the game with like nine assists, eight in the second half. That’s because we got to run and do the things we’re used to doing. Sometimes when the ball sticks we’re not really used to that so we’re kind of like a deer in headlights. But once we get the tempo going and things like that then we’re fine.”
Prior to this 3-3 stretch, the Golden Eagles were 11-1 and earning high praise throughout the country. They were a well-oiled machine.
Part of the reason for that?
The assist to turnover ratio during that stretch was 214:154, or 1.39:1. The Golden Eagles moved the ball well. They looked for one another. They created good looks. And they converted on those opportunities. They weren’t the deer in the headlights like Wilson said they have been at times.
The assist to turnover ratio during Marquette’s past six games is 98:89, or 1:10.1 (which would place Marquette tied for 65th in the country).
Despite the dropoff over the past six games, Marquette is still tied for 20th in the country in the statistic – which shows how well these players moved the ball, converted opportunities and turned over their opposition.
“I think that when you look at our offensive numbers, we’re in the top-20 nationally in assist to turnover ratio. Sixty-five percent of our baskets are assisted – that’s outstanding. All of our offensive numbers are really good,” coach Buzz Williams said.
Yes Coach, your offensive numbers are still top-notch. But that’s because of your strong start to the year. Your team cannot continue to play the way it has the previous six games. It’s not a recipe for long-term success in the Big East or come the postseason.