Is Marquette any good in ATO situations?

Following the loss to Providence a a couple weeks back, I went on an weeks long Twitter rant dismissing Wojo’s ability to draw up a good play coming after timeouts, or ATOs, as the cool kids call it. 

I still stand by my original sentiment that the final play in the Providence game, an ISO for a cold Katin, was a poor design. And it wasn’t the first time I publicly voiced displeasure at some of the sets Wojo has drawn up in ATO situations with little time left on the clock. 

This was from the end of the first half against Seton Hall at the Bradley Center.

These were from the end of the first game at Seton Hall.

I note all these Tweets to give you a sense of where I’m coming from. It wasn’t just one play that set off my “Wojo isn’t good in ATO situations,” it was an accumulation of poor results over the span of a number of games. 

But as I was watching over some highlights of the most recent Butler game (which I didn’t get to see), I saw a nice baseline play out of a timeout that led to a Fischer slam direct off the inbounds pass. Sure, the defense didn’t cover themselves in glory, but that was a great setup from Wojo in an aspect I have been particularly critical of. So I decided to put my priors behind me and ask for some data from Synergy to see if I had been barking up the wrong tree this whole time. 

And yup, I’m a fool.

Not only has Marquette been good in ATO situations this season, it has been “Excellent,” as deemed by Synergy. It is scoring  .944 PPP and scoring on 40% of the 288 possessions, better than 83% of all teams. And while the ATO situations from the end line aren’t quite as impressive, they are still ranked as “Very Good.” MU has scored .947 PPP, scoring on 39.8% of possessions and doing better than 81% of all teams.

Foot meet mouth. 

In fact, not only has Wojo been Excellent in comparison to other teams this season, he has been downright amazing compared to Buzz Williams, who is frequently lauded for his plays out of timeouts. 

2017: .944 PPP (83 percentile)
2016: .966 PPP (91 percentile)
2014: .798 PPP (25 percentile)
2013: .736 PPP (18 percentile)

I included the 2013 team so as not to cherry pick Buzz’s most unsuccessful team. Any way you slice it, Wojo has been head and shoulders better in this regard. So while there are plenty of nits to pick with a coach heading a talented team that is squarely in the bubble, ATOs shouldn’t be one of them.

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