Symir Torrence sets the table for what’s to come

Symir 2

With 3 kids under 6, seeing a 9 PM (ET) tip time for Marquette any given day gives me a quick jolt of life. Not only will I be able to watch the game on the big TV, I’ll get to watch it uninterrupted without bedtime duties or any other of the 3,000 distractions the little ones can think up.

That is, of course, unless you have to hang some drywall to cover the basement stairs so said children don’t fall off and hurt themselves, because they tend to do that quite a bit. Seeing as I’m about as good with with my hands as Jayce is from the line, even getting a big helping hand from the in laws didn’t make the process any quicker.

So long story short, I didn’t watch anything but the last minute or so of the game in real time.

Scrolling Twitter, I saw plenty of praise for Jamal Cain and another big helping for Symir Torrence, so I got the gist of it, but until watching it this morning in its entirety, I didn’t feel comfortable commenting much about it.

And while we will get to Cain in another post, I am still marveling at the display from Symir in his first real extended run of the season against a decent opponent.

(If you just want to get to the good stuff, keep scrolling until you get to the videos.)

When Torrence committed to Marquette, he was ranked No. 46 in the 2020 class. He ended up reclassifying to 2019 and finished ranked No. 75 in the 247 Sports combined ratings, closely mirroring the drop Markus Howard experienced after his reclass in 2016.

Obviously no one thinks (or thought) he’d have the impact Howard had his freshman year, but he was coming in as one of the most highly regarded PG pickups at Marquette in the last 20 years, with only Travis Diener (40) and Dominic James (36) clearly ahead in the RSCI rankings.

In fact, the fact that he graded about exactly where Junior Cadougan ended up (47) made the redshirt discussion quite intriguing, with what little we saw from Junior his freshman year when he came back from injury.

Here’s the discussion I had with myself in June.

Obviously, the coaching staff believed it did, and we’ve seen a smattering of just what they saw in him to believe he could play an impact role now. But what I really like is that they have brought him into the fold slowly, so as to minimize the in-game growing pains and not kill his spirit.

Symir played 17 minutes in the opener against Loyola (MD), committing 4 turnovers and generally looking like a timid freshman that had skipped a year of prep school. He played a combined 16 minutes the following six games, with two DNP-CDs and two 7 minute stints (Robert Morris and USC).

He finally played double-digit minutes again against Jacksonville, dishing out 4 assists with no turnovers before breaking out on the road on Saturday against Kansas State with another 4 assist, 0 turnover performance in 16 minutes of action.

I don’t think Symir sees that much burn if Koby doesn’t pick up those 2 quick fouls, so it’s not like he’s ready for the deep end just yet, but given the situation, Symir more than showed he could handle it.

For the season, using Hoop-Explorer’s data, Marquette has a +24.8 adjusted net rating with Symir on the floor. (For those unfamiliar, a net rating basically measures how many points better the team is than the opposition per 100 possessions using offensive and defensive efficiency, rather than points scored.) Granted, this is on a very small number of overall minutes and possessions, so one good or bad outing can look much better or worse than it actually is once the sample is larger.

But the thing that interested me most was how Marquette’s offense changed with him on the court. When he’s in, 28% of MU’s shots come at the rim, and MU is hitting at 61.5%. When he’s off, only 18% of MU’s shots come at the rim, and the percentage drops to 44.7%.

Symir isn’t doing much scoring himself, so it isn’t that he is changing the offense himself, rather, when he’s on, Marquette has done a better job of getting good looks down low.

I think this video is the perfect example of that.

Symir’s drive is stalled at the baseline, with the defender doing a great job of sealing any angle off to either get to the rim or dump it off to someone at the rim.

And yet, Torrence somehow is able to see Anim cutting to the rim from the opposite end of the floor, and even more impressively, able to blindly extend his arm around the defender and deliver a pinpoint bounce pass. That bit of magic should have been rewarded with an assist even without Sacar flushing it.

Watch it again. When Symir begins his passing motion, he does not have visual contact with anything but No. 34’s chest. Yer a wizard, Symir.

Of course, there were passes that were converted, and those deserve plaudits as well.

The amount of zip he’s able to get on the pass, and the perfect shooting pocket he drops it in is the kind of thing we haven’t seen since Dominic James. This will never go on a highlight reel, but being able to drop it so quickly and so well placed gives shooters much more room to launch from.

This Tweet from Anonymous Eagle further encapsulates why Symir’s vision is special.

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But it’s not just isolated moments of brilliance. This was the very next offensive possession.

Watch it again, but this time focus on Symir’s right leg. He doesn’t have the ball in his hands, and he’s already preparing to pass it to Cain in the corner. If Symir catches and holds and then passes, he would have missed the window to hit Cain in before the defender recovered. Instead, he drops the bounce in on the fly, and Cain is able to stay en fuego.

Of the 4 unguarded catch and shoots Marquette had in the first half, 2 were created by Markus and 2 by Symir. Only one of those players is a returning All-American, with the defensive attention that brings. Just goes to show what Symir can bring to the table going forward.

And speaking of Howard, he’s only been on the floor with Symir for 27 offensive possessions, tied for the fewest with Jayce. If anyone can benefit from the extra beat Symir’s passes provide, it would be the top scorer in the country.

I do get the hesitation, as Symir isn’t respected as a shooter and collapses the spacing for Markus to drive. I also understand that Symir is still learning on the defensive end, and Wojo wants to pair stronger, longer defenders with Markus. So I don’t think we’ll see Symir enter the starting lineup any time soon.

But with the 3 easiest games remaining on the schedule coming up, I would like to see more run for Symir with Markus just to be able to see how they mesh in extended minutes, and if the defensive tradeoff would be made up on the offensive end.

Symir Torrence has the vision and ability to create good shots for others in all parts of the court. Here’s to hoping this is the first of many laudatory posts.

 

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