Well that was a bucket of cold water. After getting me all hot and bothered with a fire start, Marquette laid an egg against Michigan and choked away a 15-point second half lead against Pitt. Party hats have turned to pitchforks as the same issues that plagued Marquette last year rose to the forefront in New York last week, with leadership, composure and efficiency nowhere to be found.
As I still have a real job and two kids under-3, I haven’t had a chance to re-watch or break down the Pitt game, but a quick look at KenPom tells you all you need to know about the offensive issues that arose last week. Take a look at the chart at the top. The wrong people are getting a bulk of the shots.
Theoretically, the idea is to have the most efficient players (the ones who score the most points and commit the fewest turnovers per possession) to have the ball the most. Obviously that won’t always be the case, as end of shot clock situations, foul trouble, and hot hands will alter the results from game to game. But for the most part, your best players should be getting the most opportunities, as that increases the likelihood for point accumulation.
For Marquette, the opposite has been the case. The least efficient player (Katin Reinhardt) has gotten highest percentage of shots up in his time on the court.
I Tweeted this after Katin scored on back to back treys against Howard, and I stand by it. When he gets cooking, the offense should go through him.
However, for six of the eight halves in his Marquette career, he has been as far away from cooking as you can get, and that has not stopped him from launching brick after brick. He went 1-8 against Michigan and 1-8 against Pitt, putting up a few terrible, inopportune, momentum breaking shots in the process.
Let’s use the Pitt game as an example. After a tough first half going 0-3 in 9 minutes, Katin hit two of his first three shots of the second half, scoring 5 points before the first media timeout. Directly out of that timeout, Katin, feeling good about himself, put up two bad shots in one possession, missing both badly and getting subbed out at the next whistle.
Time wasn’t running out, he wasn’t wide open and it wasn’t nearly time for a heat check. That is the epitome of bad shot selection. What makes it most troublesome is that Marquette needs Katin playing well to succeed. Despite the plethora of shooters, his height and ability to hold his own at the 4 spot makes him a vital cog. In fact, Marquette blew a 7-point lead in the five minutes he was on the bench.
With the news that Sandy Cohen is transferring immediately and with Sam Hauser, as surprisingly good as he’s been, still being a freshman, Katin’s role is of even more vital importance. But the issue is what he thinks his role is vs. that of what Wojo thinks it is. Marquette doesn’t need him taking 29% of the shots when he’s on the floor, particularly as he’s currently shooting 26% from 2 and 29% from 3. Those percentages at a high volume are season killers.
For some additional perspective, Matt Carlino, who was labeled a chucker, only took 26.3% of shots. Henry Ellenson, who was definitely a chucker, only took 27.9% of shots. Not only were they using less possessions than Katin, they shot head and shoulders above what he’s putting up (53/48% eFG vs 33% eFG for Katin). There is no excuse for this.
Now, let’s bring it back a bit. I am not saying Katin is the reason Marquette got battered by Michigan or folded against Pitt. The defense is the main culprit of both, and no one player can be blamed for that. I also do realize that percentages after only 4 games of data are pretty useless as the small sample size skews the numbers.
What I am saying is that the offensive priorities are not aligned with reality. This team is too balanced to have any “Major Contributors” as defined by KenPom (24-28% of possessions). Of the “Significant Contributors,” only Jajuan Johnson deserves to be in that section at the moment, while Fischer, Cheatham and Rowsey should be there as well. Reinhardt will be there, just by the nature of his game and the lack of depth at his position, but whether he deserves to be should be assessed on a game by game basis. Duane will probably end up there as well, being a focal point of the back-up unit and playing decently thus far.
The freshmen have the skill to also be significant contributors, but both Howard and Hauser have had issues with turnovers and are still learning the game, as evidenced by their struggles against the better, more athletic competition in New York . If and when they catch up, they might be deserving of more looks on the offensive end.
Again, this is all for naught if the defense doesn’t improve, but even in that case, each possession is that much more valuable. I’m still of the mind this team can get it together and find the proper roles for players. What is certain is that the current direction is untenable. Katin can’t be the highest usage player since DJO. If that’s still the case come December, get ready for a long winter.