Advanced statistics: Breaking down Marquette

Sometimes box scores can’t tell the whole story. Advanced statistics can be a more indicative measure of a team’s successes and failures than simply per-game numbers. Ken Pomeroy’s website ( looks at these statistics and ranks them both individually and as a team.

Pomeroy currently predicts Marquette (11-3, 2-0) will finish 17-13, while going 8-10 in Big East play. He has the Golden Eagles falling at Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Villanova and Rutgers, and at home to Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame.

NOTE: **When looking at individual numbers, assume roughly 11.5 players on 347 teams. This means each player’s rank is out of roughly 4,000 players.**

Two-point field goal percentage: 52.4% (33th in the nation)
Percentage of points coming from 2-pointers: 60.2% (28th)
Percentage of attempted shots blocked: 6.6% (21st) 

Buzz Williams has his tallest and longest rotation in five years at the helm, and while the 3-point numbers leave room for improvement (see below), the Golden Eagles are finishing extremely well around the rim. In fact, their 65 percent mark from shots “around the rim” ranks just outside the top-20 in the country. Thanks to Davante Gardner, an improved Vander Blue and Jamil Wilson’s heating-up jumper, Marquette is dominating inside the arc.

A quick note, as well: Just 6.6 percent of Marquette’s shots have been blocked, a major improvement from Williams’ first four seasons. In Williams’ first four years, Marquette’s best mark was 8.3 in 2010-’11. The 6.6 mark may increase (get worse) into Big East season, but it’s still an impressive mark and a direct result of a taller and more athletic lineup.

Junior Cadoguan’s assist rate: 35.2% (38th)
Assists-per-made field goals: 61.4% (36th)

Cadougan’s biggest improvement from his junior to senior year has been his scoring, which has gone up more than 3.0 points per game and up more than four percentage points from the field. But he’s still distributing at a phenomenal rate, assisting on more than 35 percent of Marquette’s made baskets while he’s in the game. His assist totals are down per game from last year, but he’s still one of the better system point guards in the country. With Marquette assisting on more than 61 percent of its made baskets, it helps to have a stellar passer at the point.

3-point field goal percentage: 29.6% (292nd)
3-pointers attempted per field goals attempted: 25.2% (314th)
Percentage of points coming from 3-pointers: 17.2% (331st)

Juan Anderson's defensive rebounding rate is the best on the team.

Juan Anderson’s defensive rebounding rate is the best on the team.

Nine times this year Marquette has connected on four or less 3-pointers in a game, whereas it happened 13 times all of last season. Todd Mayo’s return should improve these numbers, but the below-average percentage from the field only tells part of the story. The combination of an inside-oriented offense and no true outside threats has forced Marquette to abandon the 3-point shot. That’s worked for now as 11 wins would show, but all three of these numbers must improve for Marquette to succeed in March.

Davante Gardner’s fouls drawn per 40 minutes: 6.6 (36th)

There are plenty of advanced numbers we could have used for Gardner, who ranks nationally in six different offensive categories. But the best number is that Gardner is drawing more than six fouls per 40 minutes, up from last year’s 6.0 mark. He’s averaging just 21 minutes per game, which certainly helps his per-40 minute numbers, but it’s impossible not to marvel at what Gardner does in his limited action.

Davante Gardner’s block percentage: 3.9% (331st)
Davante Gardner’s steal percentage: 2.9 (466th)

For a (listed) 290-pounder with superb feet and even better hands, Gardner has improved his defensive game as much as he has offensively. Once considered a liability on high screen-and-rolls, Gardner has showed more athleticism and quickness guarding the ball and in the post. He’s rarely going to contest shots on the low block, but Gardner is learning to use his size and quickness where it counts. Gardner’s 10 blocks this season match his combined number from his freshman and sophomore seasons, and his 14 steals in 13 games leave him seven swipes off his sophomore total of 21. For Williams to no longer have to sub in Chris Otule in late-game situations has been a major bonus down the stretch.

Juan Anderson’s defensive rebound rate: 17.5% (first on Marquette)

Though he’s playing just 15.0 minutes per game, Anderson has hit the glass well in his limited action. His 2.3 defensive rebounds per game are fourth on the team, but Anderson’s calling card coming out of Castro Valley was his length will help on the boards, and that’s coming to fruition in his second season. He still needs to add some muscle to his frame before he’s a consistent contributor, but Marquette could be doing a lot worse than Anderson as the first switchable off the bench.

Turnover rate on offense: 20.4 (162nd)
Turnover rate on defense: 20.7 (168th)
(The percentage of possessions that result in a turnover)

These marks aren’t all that radical one way or the other, but compared to Buzz Williams’ four other teams the two numbers are the worst they’ve been in half a decade. Marquette has slowed its pace down (playing three forwards more often than not) this year, yet the team’s turnover rate is the worst its been since Williams took over. Defensively, the bigger lineups aren’t forcing turnovers the same way the three-guard looks did each of the last four years. Todd Mayo’s return gives Marquette another ball handler and pesky defender in the lineup, but these numbers must improve to have a shot at competing in the Big East.

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