Marquette Year in Review: Derrick Wilson

(USA Today)

(USA Today)

We apologize for these player reviews being so late into the offseason — Marquette played its last game nearly two months ago — but that pesky thing called the real world got in the way. That, and the coaching chance made us put these bad boys on the back burner. We’ll try and give you some good information while also linking back to the stellar work Anonymous Eagle did on its respective player reviews. We’ll have a dab of Synergy, a touch of KenPom and our own eye-test analysis to break down exactly what each player did well, where he struggled and how he can improve for next season. For the seniors, that final part will be replaced with where he’s headed post-Marquette.

Past player reviews

4/28: Deonte Burton
4/29: Juan Anderson
4/30: Steve Taylor
5/1: Todd Mayo

5/2: John Dawson
5/5: Jamil Wilson
5/6: Jajuan Johnson

5/7: Chris Otule

Derrick Wilson, 6-foot-1, PG

In 2013-14, Marquette won 17 games, the fewest number of wins in more than a decade. It also lost 15 games, and from a quick browse of the #mubb hashtag or @PaintTouches’ mentions on Twitter one can deduce that each loss — and none of the wins — was the fault of Derrick Wilson, who quickly became the Golden Eagles punching bag as the losses piled up. The stocky point guard was expected to enter the season with a sense of confidence, holding the keys to the Marquette car once Junior Cadougan, his mentor the past two seasons, graduated. And though Wilson struggled mightily on offense, far too much of the blame was tossed on him because of it. In reality, Marquette’s minutes leader provided stellar defense for a third straight season and stability at a position where the Golden Eagles lacked any real experience and depth.

So grit your teeth, fight the urge to scream and read on as we explain.

Per Synergy, Wilson logged the most individual defensive possessions (263) and allowed the fewest points per possession (0.791) of any player. Opponents scored on just 34 percent of those possessions, also the best mark on the team, and his 1.4 Defensive Win Shares trailed only Jamil Wilson (1.5) for the team lead.

For the third straight season Wilson cut down on his fouls committed per 40 minutes (7.0 as a freshman; 3.6 as a sophomore; 3.2 this past season as a junior) and though his steals per 40 minutes were also down for the third straight season, it was a fair trade-off for a player who averaged more than 30 minutes per game, most on the team.

For whatever reason stellar offensive performances can directly correlate to wins, but great defense only plays a role in it, at best, unless it comes in the final possession of a game. Three different times this season Wilson logged four or more steals, and in each of those games Marquette came up with important Big East wins.

– He grabbed four steals against Providence, in a game in which Marquette held the Friars to 50 points on 33 percent shooting. Bryce Cotton scored 20 points but needed 18 shots to do it, and he turned the ball over five times

– Against Butler he logged five steals, all in the second half, including four in the final 5 1/2 minutes as Marquette staged a late comeback to beat the Bulldogs.

– Wilson had a career-high six steals against Xavier which led to 11 of Marquette’s 81 points, and he also scored nine points, handed out four assists and did not turn the ball over in 39 minutes.

[MORE: Derrick Wilson transforming into trusted leader]

Wilson was not without flaw this season (we’ll get to that later) but he was Marquette’s best defender this season and came up in crucial spots in crucial games. That accounts for something, a big something, that went largely unnoticed because he shot 39 percent from the field and made one more 3-pointer than Chris Otule.

Wilson’s 0.668 points per possession on offense were far and away the worst on the team of core players and the 13th percentile nationally (this is where we stoke the fire and tell you that John Dawson’s PPP were 0.667). But in basketball there are poor offensive players and dumb ones; Wilson was certainly not the latter.

He only attempted 156 shots, fewest of core rotation players other than Chris Otule (110) and in eight games where he attempted more than six field goals he shot 47 percent from the field (33-for-70). Now, that’s playing with numbers just a bit and somewhat arbitrary, but it’s still evidence that Wilson picked his spots well. And it wasn’t just cupcakes he did this against; five of those games came against Big East opponents.

One could argue that Marquette needed another scorer, especially at the point, and Wilson didn’t provide it. But on a team with four core seniors — two of which were second and third on the team in scoring in 2013 — it’s hard to put the onus on a player who entered the season averaging 0.88 points in 68 career games.

It’s also worth noting here that Wilson’s 2.81 assist-to-turnover ratio was 26th best in the country. In the country. That’s elite status, and it was also second in the Big East (Butler’s Alex Barlow, 3.1). He didn’t show up on any national ranks among assist leaders, but taking care of the ball was important for a Marquette team that touted its best turnover rate since 2010. He was also fourth in the Big East among guards in rebounds per game (3.8).

[MORE: Derrick Wilson not to blame for Marquette’s struggles]

Derrick Wilson couldn’t score. He scored in double-figures just six times and in he scored three or fewer points 17 times, including a two-point effort in 47 minutes against St. John’s. That’s hard to do. But aside from a lack of scoring output, Wilson was far better than advertised in 2013-14. He was a stout defender, took care of the ball and picked his spots.

Next year he’ll likely revert back to his role as a freshman and sophomore thanks to the arrival of Matt Carlino. The senior graduate student didn’t transfer to sit on the bench, and since he was the first hand-picked player by Steve Wojciechowski he’s going to be a play a large role in the backcourt. But every good team has a player like Wilson, who can lock down defensively and take care of the ball on the second unit (he may even start, but for now we’ll project Carlino as the starter).

Wilson didn’t live up to the hype he set for himself when he told Paint Touches in October he needed to take more chances, shoot more and attack like Cadougan did. It was the one thing he wanted to improve on, and he didn’t do it. It just so happened that Marquette also lost 15 games and missed the NCAA Tournament, which somehow meant there was a correlation between the two. But Wilson did plenty of things well, including earning the trust of Buzz Williams to play 30 minutes per game. John Dawson had his moments, but there was no way Marquette was going to be better off over the course of a season with a raw freshman at the helm. Regardless of one’s feelings on Williams, he knew when Dawson could excel and played him in those spots.

Keep the tweets coming, keep arguing on forums and keep justifying Marquette’s nightmare of a season for Wilson’s scoring struggles. But keep this post bookmarked and read up whenever you feel the urge to do those three things. Wilson wasn’t great in his junior season, but he wasn’t the problem. Now let the comments begin.

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Categories: Analysis, Player Review

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2 Comments on “Marquette Year in Review: Derrick Wilson”

  1. May 9, 2014 at 9:12 am #

    Let’s hope Derrick is ok with a reduces role as the primary backup at the 1. Even if he doubled all his numbers in senior year, it’s highly unlikely that would make him an NBA prospect– and so he should just enjoy the ride, the degree, and hopefully the winning– this team could win 20 games next year for sure

  2. Tom
    May 12, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    I agree he wasn’t completely to blame. Buzz wasn’t comfortable with anyone else handling the ball so he he decided to look for scoring elsewhere, and to be ok with the fact that Derrick cannot score, does not score, and does not try to score. The assist to turnover ratio is definitely impressive. although I would guess that many decently athletic point guards without the slightest inclination to score could pull that off as well. I understand that might be impossible to prove but it’s worth a thought.

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