This is part of Paint Touches’ series breaking down each players’s 2011-2012 campaign and looking forward to next year. A big thank you to assistant coach Aki Collins, who provided exclusive, in-depth analysis on each player.
What he did well: Known as the brother of NBA guard O.J. Mayo when he arrived on campus, Todd Mayo made a name for himself in 2011. Through a combination of lethal outside shooting and stellar defense, Mayo was a vital part of the offense as a spark off the bench. He went through a dry spell midway through the Big East season, but his defense kept him on the court and he regained his stroke just in time for the NCAA Tournament.
Sporting one of the prettiest jump shot forms in the country, Mayo shot 33.3 percent from beyond the arc and scored in double figures 16 times. He had the poise of an upperclassmen, showing aggressiveness and confidence taking the ball to the basket and taking open jumpers.
Defensively, Mayo used quick feet and even quicker decision making to become arguably Marquette’s best perimeter defender. He showed maturity to stay after it on the defensive end when his jump shot was not falling, and was touted by Buzz Williams as the Golden Eagles’ best defender at denying passes to his assigned matchup. And like Vander Blue, Mayo was an above average rebounder, given his size.
What he could have done better: For someone who rarely had the ball in his hands, Mayo’s turnover rate was high. Most of the time his turnovers came from trying to do too much instead of staying within the offense.
While the coaching staff was pleased that he rarely forced shots during his shooting dry spell, he seemed to lose all confidence in his reliable jump shot. He would pass up open looks on occasion and lost some of his aggressiveness attacking the basket. That being said, he turned it into a positive by finding open teammates and staying strong defensively.
Aki’s analysis: “I think Todd had a little bit of the same thing happen to him that happened to Derrick (Wilson). He realized that there were guys around him that could score. He takes great pride in his defense, but offensively, when he started struggling shooting the jumper, I think he wanted to focus on defense solely and not worry about his offense,” Collins said. “It was a great thing because it kept him on the floor, and the only way you can start making shots is if you’re on the floor. And as you see, when we got to the Tournament he started knocking down shots, and his defense stayed on par with what he had been doing all year.”
“He has a bright future in the game, still doesn’t realize how good he can be. He takes it really seriously, but he has to take the next step in his development,” Collins said. “And now people are going to be focusing on him. So you still have to play defense the way you are, but now some of those shots that Darius took, you’re going to have to take up some of them. Not all of them, but two or three more of those shots are coming to you and you have to be able to knock them down at a high rate.”
“He shoots the ball the same way every time. He has a stepback jumper that is really high-level basketball. But I think what gets overlooked at times is he has a really good mid-range game. He can make shots from different angles. The shot he made against Wisconsin, we talked about Derrick going into the game at a really high level, Todd had some huge plays in that game,” Collins said. “Todd has a chance to be really good.”
Best performance: at Wisconsin (14 points, 5 rebounds, 24 minutes)
Mayo had more impressive box scores this year, but his performance at Wisconsin was outstanding. With Jae Crowder battling foul trouble for most of the afternoon, Marquette desperately needed a second scorer after Darius Johnson-Odom. Mayo delivered, scoring 14 points in the 61-54 win over the Badgers. His most impressive shot came inside two minutes, when he hit a tough floater to give Marquette a five-point lead and end a 6-0 Wisconsin run. Fittingly, he broke away in the game’s final seconds and slammed home a dunk in front of the Badger student section to seal the victory.
Worst performance: at Notre Dame (2 points, 2 rebounds, 0-3 3-pointers)
Without Davante Gardner, Marquette needed a third scorer in South Bend. Mayo missed all four of his shots, marking the third game he was held without a field goal. His defense had been solid in those prior two games, but he struggled to contain the Notre Dame back court, which made made 11-of-23 3-pointers. However, the entire Marquette back court struggled, so Mayo was not alone.
2012 outlook: There’s reason to believe Mayo will be Marquette’s leading scorer next year. He will essentially take over for Darius Johnson-Odom at shooting guard, and should see close to 25 minutes per game, or more. With his freshman season out of the way and an off-season to improve, Mayo could step in and average close to 16 points per game.
Playing alongside Vander Blue, Mayo should also help give Marquette one of the best defensive back courts in the conference. Much of Buzz Williams’ defense is based on effort, beating players to spots and denying passing lanes. Mayo does all three very well and should continue to improve on his already-impressive defensive skill set.
The challenge for Mayo will be continuing to produce with teams keying in on him. He will no longer have the luxury of open looks because of mismatches created by Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder, but he has shown the ability to create his own shot by beating defenders off the dribble and a pure mid-range game. Having Junior Cadougan will help. If he continues to improve, All-Big East accolades could be in his near future.