What he did well: Coming off a promising freshman year where Todd Mayo showed his scoring acumen, a lot was expected from the sophomore. However, his season was derailed before the team would get on the court as he was academically ineligible the first semester of the season, and forcing him to not only miss the first ten games, but not be allowed to practice with the team. To his credit though, he got his academic situation in order and remained relatively in shape on his own. It was taken for granted that he would return but it was not a given, and his hard work off the court merits a mention.
On the court his play wasn’t nearly up to the level he displayed last year, but we’ll get to that. True to form, Todd was able to do something that most of the Golden Eagles’ players couldn’t do and that was create his own shot. He has a beautiful stroke that is lightning quick in its release, making him a threat to shoot at any point and forcing defenses to play him tightly. Yes, the shots didn’t go in very often, but we’re getting there.
Mayo did raise his free throw percentage this season by three points to 79 percent and made a few more hustle plays that had Buzz giving him a standing ovation during the season. Finally, the West Virginia native took better care of the ball, committing 0.6 fewer turnovers a game compared to last year, posting better turnover rates than perimeter players Junior Cadougan, Derrick Wilson and Trent Lockett.
What he could have done better: Do you know that scene in “Along Came Polly” where Philip Seymore-Hoffman is shooting hoops at the park, bricking shots left and right with absolutely no conscience? (This one.) That was Mayo in a nutshell this season. Hot or cold, a shot was going up and it usually wasn’t just one. The sophomore took a shot in every single game he played in, hitting one or less shots in 12 of 23 contests. He was never supposed to be an offensive savior, as some mistakenly mused, but he wasn’t expected to be an anchor either.
The numbers, both traditional and advanced, showed the slide Mayo experienced on the offensive end. His field goal percentage dropped by six points (35.6%), his 3-point percentage dropped by five points (27.9%), his assists, rebounds and steals were all down and his free throw attempts were down as well, from 2.4 to 1.9 a game.
That shows the biggest reason for Mayo’s regression. He settled way too often for long threes and only rarely attacked the basket. According to hoop-math.com, only 18 percent of Mayo’s shots came at the rim (second lowest on the team) while 60, yes six-zero, percent came from beyond the arc (second highest on the team). It would be one thing if he was only a long-range specialist, but Mayo has a very good dribble-drive game, making it that much more frustrating to see him chucking without a conscience. Compare that to last season’s numbers (30 percent at the rim, 43 percent from 3-point land) and you see his regression makes perfect sense.
Not to keep piling on, but Mayo completely lost his confidence at the end of the season, making his mediocre numbers look downright ugly. He didn’t score a point in the NCAA Tournament and only made four field goals in the eight games in March. He was a liability and saw his minutes vanish.
Lest we forget the other side of the ball, Mayo wasn’t much of a factor defensively and might have taken a step back there as well. Synergy data notes he was a below average defender, allowing 1 point per possession. He had moments where he could use his speed to get over screens, but often didn’t put that extra effort in, going under or getting lost in the pick. He needs to increase his awareness on the defensive end.
Best performance: This has been a very negative breakdown thus far, but that’s not to say Mayo didn’t have his moments. His second half scoring outburst against Seton Hall was crucial in sparking Marquette just when the Pirates had made a game of it.
As good as that was to see, Mayo’s best performance was easily the first half clinic he put on at South Florida. He hit his five first shots, including two threes, and showed exactly why so many were high on his potential. That surge put the game away before the halftime whistle had even blown. He finished the game with a season-high 13 points in just 21 minutes.
Worst performance: Without getting too deep, as there are many candidates for this spot, his performance against Syracuse in the Elite Eight was easily the worst of the season. In a game where no Marquette players could buy a bucket, it was a perfect spot for Mayo to come in and restore Buzz’ faith in him after having been benched the entire 40 minutes against Miami.
No dice. Instead he laid brick after brick after 3-point brick to add to the frustration of Buzz and the gold-clad faithful. Down only 21-18, Mayo twice missed open looks from three that would have tied it up and may have given the offense some life. Instead, Syracuse pushed its lead to six at the half and was never really threatened again. Mayo’s final statline read: 0 Pts, 0-5 FG, 0-4 3-FG, 4 Reb, 1 TO.
2013-’14 outlook: As we revealed on Tuesday, a source with knowledge of the situation expects Mayo to be back next season. Barring an offseason suspension like last year, Mayo should come into the season much better prepared and with a leg up on the incoming freshman.
If Vander Blue decides to go pro, Mayo would most likely get the starting nod early on and would be relied on heavily as Jajuan Johnson and Duane Wilson caught up to speed. Should Vander return, Mayo’s role will see a little hit and he would be in direct competition with the freshman for playing time.
Twice in two seasons has he had long offensive funks, so expecting any different is foolish. He is a streaky player with a good-looking shot that misses more often than not. There is no point in hyping him up to unreasonable levels. He’s a better shooter than what he displayed this season but getting back to at least his freshman numbers is a must.
More responsibility, less expectation and a longer leash should all work in his favor come October.