Sacar Anim is the model for Marquette

Sacar Anim

(Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches)

I’m sure you’ve read plenty of Tweets and posts and articles on Sacar Anim’s career game, hitting numerous clutch shots and helping to carry Marquette to a critical road win without Markus Howard.

(For real, this is as clutch as clutch gets, and was worth 27% in win probability, the second biggest numbers for a Marquette shot this season.)

But I’ve been Tweeting positively about Sacar’s play much more often lately, and it’s not just about this game or a run of games. This Tweet in particular keeps bouncing around my head.

The fact that Anim can be the offensive focus of a team, hit clutch treys, and generally be relied on to deliver in any situation is surprising, even as well as he played last year. But when you think about what he looked like as a freshman in 2016, it’s downright unfathomable.

He was a barely used scrub off the bench who missed 5 of the 6 free throws he took and generally played like a kid who could one day be a useful end of the bench type. His ORtg was 83.1, turned it over on 22% of possessions, and only assisted on 2%.

The news of him taking a redshirt year the next season surprised no one and made perfect sense for the team and player. Still, no one really thought he’d be more than a bench player with the Treys Amigos coming back.

And yet, I still remember reading MU Scoop after an open practice, with multiple posters raving about Sacar’s play and his increased ability to finish. It didn’t mean that anyone saw that Sacar would morph into this, but fans went from thinking he could have a bench role, to possibly being a part of the main rotation.

Boy did he ever. Flanked by 3 ridiculously good shooters, Anim made the most of the space provided, hitting 52% of his 2s, en route to a 104.5 ORtg on the season, and finishing 4th on the team in % of minuets played. Still, his shot was nowhere near money, and he only sank 23.5% of threes. He had value as a glue guy and cutter, but he wasn’t really a scorer, per se.

Going into the 2019 season, there were still doubters about his impact and playing time, with Joey Hauser, Joseph Chartouny and Brendan Bailey joining the squad, but he not only quieted those doubters by logging the 3rd most minutes on the team, his shot started to come around toward the start of conference play. From here:

Although Sacar did show more willingness to pull the trigger, he shot a true to form 25% from distance on 20 attempts. Of those 20, 9 came off unguarded catch and shoot situations where he hit an ok 33% of attempts. It’s well below average nationally, but within the range where teams will have to start thinking about it.

Big East teams probably saw this data, then saw the havoc Howard and the Hausers were causing and decided it was worth the risk.

Boy has Sacar made them pay.

Sacar has shot 40% from three in Big East play on 20 attempts, well above his percentage and 3-point shot rate for his career. But of those 20 shots, a whopping 12 of them have been unguarded catch and shoots and Sacar has hit a robust 46% of those. We are talking about small sample sizes, sure, but Sacar had never shown this kind of accuracy in any kind of sample size.

Anim finished conference play shooting 42% from 3, the 3rd best mark in Big East play. Sure, the volume was low, but this was Anim taking his biggest weakness, something teams game-planned around, and making it a strength.

After a tumultuous summer led to the transfer of the 2nd and 3rd options offensively, Sacar’s time to don the batman cape had come. This was it, he could prove he could run the offense if needed, and make a play when Markus or Koby couldn’t.

And he stunk.

I’ll go ahead and take the credit for his turnaround, because his stats since that Tweet have been phenomenal.

Sacar run.JPG

Simply put, that’s an All-Big East team type of resume. All while still handling some of the toughest defensive assignments.

And I’m not kidding about the All-Big East team thing, either.

Sacar Chart.JPG

These are the numbers for Big East players with 80% of minutes or more played in conference games this season. Anim’s usage is on the lower end, but pretty close to players like Ty-Shon Alexander, Paul Reed and Saddiq Bey who will be no doubters on at least the 2nd team.

There’s lots of season to play, of course, but if Anim can maintain this level, it will have completed on of the most remarkable player progressions I’ve seen in the 15 years I’ve followed Marquette basketball.

And that’s why he should be the model for Marquette going forward. Yes, Markus Howard has been better and more important every season, but Markus is a historic talent with a shooting ability in the top .0001% of all people to have ever shot a basketball. You can’t replicate that, and as much as you can showcase to recruits that you will let them run and shoot and score in your system, I don’t think we’ll ever see anyone come close to producing on Howard’s level.

But Sacar is a different story. Ranked in the 190s of his class, according to the 247 composite, he was a prospect that many future recruits will be able to relate to. He didn’t play on the national team, wasn’t featured in national profiles and generally didn’t have a ton of expectations.

He came in, failed, and instead of drooping his head or dropping to a different level, he started working.

He took the redshirt the coaching staff suggested and came back a whole new player.

He took the disrespect defenses showed him, worked nonstop on his shot for years and started pouring in 3s.

He took every ounce of his talent, multiplied it by dedication to it on and off the court, and has transformed into one of the best players in one of the best leagues.

If I’m Wojo and the coaching staff, that’s who I’m using as a reference point. We can take you, mold you, and turn you into the best possible version of yourself. If you’re willing to put in the work, that is.

I’m having trouble locating it, but a few weeks ago, one of the onscreen bubbles that asked Anim what his future plans were showed it was something like working for Nike. I laughed because we’re so used to seeing college athletes dream about the NBA or playing professionally overseas. And here you have Sacar, trying to get his foot in the corporate world.

I’m no professional scout, and while the NBA is still a ways away for him, Anim could have a tremendous professional basketball career before trying to curry favor with the suits.

But that’s Sacar for you. Always thinking, always working. A model for all Marquette players to come.

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3 Comments on “Sacar Anim is the model for Marquette”

  1. Jim
    January 30, 2020 at 7:23 pm #

    Great story about a kid who has made the most of his talent. He was fabulous against Xavier. Now if we can just get Markus (another great young man) to defer more often to his support cast, this team could surprise people down the stretch in the Big East and hopefully in the dance. Let’s hope Dexter Akanno reaps a similar benefit from sitting out a year. From what I hear he could be the “next” Sacar.

  2. James
    January 31, 2020 at 1:29 pm #

    Keep being a shooter and a leader.

  3. February 1, 2020 at 2:13 pm #

    Sacar reminds me of Jimmy in some ways, which is why I like him

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