Players saw little shooting improvement under Buzz

In case you missed it, we came out of summer hibernation and posted a story yesterday on Marquette assistant coach Brett Nelson. Out of the 1000 or so words written, the most feedback we heard was on a quote three paragraphs from the end on everyone’s favorite player, Derrick Wilson.

“He’s never shot like that in his life, taken that many shots and worked on his game.”

Wilson himself acknowledged in his blog post for Marquette Athletics this was his most productive summer basketball-wise, putting up over 20,000 shots the last few months.

The questions I’ve been getting is, what took so long? You’d think a guy who who shot 27.3% from the field as a sophomore (and 12.3% from long distance) would have been shooting day-in and day-out the last three years as that was clearly his biggest deficiency.

This led to a Twitter exchange with Anonymous Eagle that piqued my interest:

Was it a systematic flaw in the offense that saw tepid shooting the past two years, or was a lack of player development (from a shooting perspective) evident under Buzz Williams?

I couldn’t leave this untouched so I went ahead and did a crude analysis, charting out field goal percentages for every Buzz recruit at Marquette. I emphasize the simplicity and shallowness of this “study.” All I am measuring is numeric progress which can be misleading. Is shooting 35% from the 3-point line on 150 attempts worse than shooting 40% on 55 attempts? Probably not, but in this case I did treat it as a negative. (I didn’t have the time or energy, so if someone wants to do a better, more in depth analysis, I’d be more than happy to read it and post it here.)

When it comes to overall field goal percentage, only one Buzz recruit showed improvement in consecutive years: Vander Blue.   As you can see below, one giant caveat is that in order to qualify for this, a player had to have been in the program for three years. With the abundance of JUCOs and transfers, that means players like Jae Crowder and Dwight Buycks weren’t eligible.


The black boxes represent not applicable data points (due to eligibility or declaring for the draft). The gray boxes are data points from players at other schools. The white boxes are data points still to come.

One other thing to notice, something that is applicable to a larger section, is that only five players had their best shooting year percentage-wise come in their final season (Cadougan, Crowder, Buycks, Blue and D. Wilson).

When it comes to the Marquette’s bane, no not that one, 3-point percentage, the numbers are very similar.

3FG%Blue and Cadougan were the only players to have consecutive years of improvement, and even that comes with an asterisk. Cadougan increased his long-range shooting from 0% freshman year to a whopping 15.5% then 23.7% before falling back to 22.6% No one would mistake him for a decent, let alone good bomber, but again, that is not what I am measuring. I just simply am looking for improvement.

In this chart, only Buycks, Blue and Mayo had their best seasons come their final year in the program.

Finally, I couldn’t pretend to adhere to advanced metrics even in passing without looking at something with a bit more weight than simple percentages, so I tracked eFG%, which gives added weight to made 3s. Why that measure? Because Cracked Sidewalks anti-paint touch opus notes that eFG% is the most important contributor to overall efficiency, and noted that Marquette had prioritized it under Buzz.


This chart shows four players had consecutive years of eFG% improvement, which was a tad surprising. You can dig a bit deeper, as two of those risers were Fulce and Anderson, both role players without a high usage rate.

What does all this go to show us? This is more of an assumption than a verifiable fact, but combined with Nelson’s comments on Wilson at the top of the page, shooting most likely wasn’t a key focus in the previous regime. That’s not to say it wasn’t worked on, but toughness and grit were more often than not the narratives coming out of Al the last few seasons.

Will this change under Wojo’s reign? We’ll be able to answer that question better in about two years, once we have enough data, but we’ve already seen a clear departure from the last staff, with players getting a specific shooting regimen to work on when they can’t have contact with coaches.

As Al used to say, a team should reflect a coach’s personality. Under Buzz that was a tough bunch of fighters willing to scratch and claw as needed to get the win. Under Wojo, only time will tell.  

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Categories: Analysis, Home, Offseason


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One Comment on “Players saw little shooting improvement under Buzz”

  1. MU Warriors 2003
    August 26, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    While this analysis is interesting, I find it to be a poor indicator of how much the shooting abilities of the MU players improved over the years. As the offensive role of each players evolves, so does the defensive schemes used against these players. Case in point, Davante’s shooting percentage took a dip in his senior year. This was likely due to not having a teammate like Blue who could penetrate, draw the defense off, and distribute the ball. Davante was forced to work even harder to create his own opportunities, in my humble opinion, and this obviously put him at a huge disadvantage.

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