What he did well: Junior Cadougan took on a larger offensive role in his senior season, increasing his usage from 17.9 to 21.7 percent, while managing to become even more efficient in the process, raising his KenPom offensive rating by 6.1 points. His points per game (8.5), rebounds per game (2.9) and overall shooting percentage (43.1) went up, even as he saw a slight decrease in minutes from last season, from 28.6 to 28.1. It was expected he would be a bigger contributor, and he met those expectations.
More impressively, Junior became an absolute terror around the rim. When he faced guards that couldn’t contain him, he was very aggressive and finished the season shooting 70 percent from around the rim. That number is 16 points better than last season, a pretty drastic improvement, and something that I didn’t see mentioned very often. He learned to use the glass more efficiently, finishing plays that he may have not even attempted earlier in his career.
The offense ran its best when Junior was on his game, as he was one of the only Marquette players with the ability to consistently attack the paint off the dribble. And while his overall assist numbers were down, from 5.4 a game last year to 3.8 this year, much of that blame can go to the weak outside shooting of this squad. An average 3-point shooting team would have given him an extra assist or two per game, and likely matching last year’s assist output.
His turnover rate also went down by four points, from 29.1 to 25.8, though he struggled at times against full-court pressure and tight defenses high in the half court.
What he could have done better: For as proficient as Junior was around the rim, his free throw numbers actually decreased from a year ago. He took two less free throws this season, a number that wouldn’t be significant if it was high to begin with, but 86 freebies during the course of a season for a tough guard who attacks the rim is simply not enough. The problem wasn’t that he wasn’t getting many calls to go his way, but rather he settled for jumpers and floaters way too often. Look at the shot chart above, he abused the middle of the paint but instead of continuing his drive to get a more favorable shot, he settled for trying to go over the defense. The numbers back up this assertion as well. Only 30 percent of Junior’s shots came at the rim this season, down a full 9 percent from last year. He was tremendous at the bucket, but didn’t do a good enough job getting there.
Part of the problem was the scouting report was out on him. It read: can’t shoot and doesn’t go left. The can’t shoot is a bit of hyperbole which will be addressed shortly, but the doesn’t go left is completely accurate. Again, the shot chart speaks for itself. He was a 60 percent shooter from the right side of the near baseline, but only a 30 percent finisher from the left baseline. The difference in number of attempts is yet another glaring signal, with over three times as many shots from the right side over the left. At this point, it should surprise no one that in the Synergy video available, Cadougan only finished with his left hand three times all season. With such clear evidence, teams knew exactly how to play him and limited his aggressiveness.
One thing that made it easier was Junior’s poor shooting from long distance. It’s tough to regress from being a 23.7 percent shooter, but the Canadian was worse this season. Without the threat of the 3-point shot, defenses could play off him and deny him driving lanes where he could really make them pay. Shooting is what kept Junior from taking the next step from a good point guard to a great one.
Best performance: There is no doubt that the single biggest shot Cadougan took this year, and in his career if we’re being honest, was the buzzer-beating 3-pointer to send the Connecticut game to overtime on New Year’s Day. The ramifications were enormous, transforming a sure loss to a possible win, one that would ultimately start Marquette on its path to a Big East title. Despite the transcendent shot and all-around great performance, his heroics against the Huskies weren’t enough to garner it a best performance status.
Quoted from our previous article of Junior’s top five games of his career, here is what supersedes it :
He had only played against Wisconsin once in is career. He had as many turnovers as he did points in the previous two games combined (2). He had a motivated Derrick Wilson cutting into his playing time. In fact, at halftime against the Badgers, Wilson and Cadougan each had played 10 minutes and had three assists.
Junior was up against it and responded with the half of his life.
With the lead cut to three points and Wisconsin gaining momentum, Cadougan scored seven points in a little under two minutes, attacking the basket at will. He ended up scored 14 of his career-high 18 points in the second half, including 13 in the final 10 minutes.
The impressive part is not just the point totals, which definitely are impressive, but the manner in which he imposed his will on the game in a manner not seen in over a year and a half. Wisconsin’s defense is known for forcing bad shots and thwarting penetration, yet Cadougan seemed to slip past the defense at will.
He saved his best for last, in one of the most meaningful games of the year, carrying Marquette to the finish line and finally getting to experience a win over the Badgers. Without a doubt, Junior’s most impressive performance in the blue and gold.
Worst performance: There are a few clunkers that could make this list (Louisville and Georgetown road losses come to mind), but one game sticks out above (or below) the rest.
Coming off a good game against Pitt, Cadougan and Marquette traveled to Seton Hall for what seemingly would be a rout. While the Golden Eagles did finish up looting the Pirates in the second half, most of the damage was done with Cadougan on the bench. His scoring was nonexistent, his defense was lazy and he just seemed to be going through the motions. It would end up being his second worst offensive rating of the season as he finished with 0 points, 4 assists, and 2 turnovers.
That line itself isn’t terrible, it’s not good, but during the course of a season, games like this one happen. What made it stick out was the fact that Buzz made Cadougan stay on the floor long past when the game was decided and after he had cleared the bench of Jake Thomas, Jamal Ferguson and Dylan Flood. Buzz was sending a clear message to Junior that his effort was lacking. That is why, despite winning the game, this was Cadougan’s worst performance of the season.
2013-14 outlook: Junior’s time in Milwaukee has come to an end with a likely decent pro career in Europe awaiting him.