On cusp of Fiserv farewell, Markus marks his masterpiece

Howard yell

(Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches)

Of the 100 or so posts I’ve put up over the last 4 years, I’d hazard a guess that Markus Howard was prominently involved in at least half of them. There are no shortage of words on him, and when we’re talking about the most prolific scorer in Marquette history, I think it’s safe to say it has been warranted.

And with that caveat, I want to make a rather outlandish, maybe hyperbolic comment. Howard’s performance against Georgetown on Wednesday was his masterpiece in a Marquette uniform.

I get it, we’re talking about a guy that’s topped 50 points 3 times and once scored 40 points in a half. A guy that set the school record for 3s made in a game and then matched it the following year. I can easily understand if you’re more inclined to go with more historic outputs, something that literally no other player in Marquette history could match.

But as awe-inspiring as those performances were, they are all of a similar tone. Hot Markus, blistering shooting, buckets on buckets on buckets. Of Howard’s 5 games of 45+ in his career, only one had more than 5 assists, against Creighton, and that was somewhat negated by the 9 TOs accumulated.

That’s not to say those performances weren’t fun or impressive or whatever adjective you want to use. I came away needing a cigarette after them and undeniably grateful that I had been given the privilege to watch this historical human play for the team I love.

What made last night different is that Markus had complete command of the game from the tip, dominating pace and punishing the Hoyas’ lax defense, and did so with only 7 points and 4 shots in the first half.

Here’s the first assist of the night, a cross court snipe in transition leading Sacar to a wide open dunk.

Capture.JPG

And that wasn’t an outlier, either. Of Howard’s 7 assists, 3 led to dunks and 2 more led to unguarded catch and shoot 3s. And that’s also not counting Sacar’s missed bunny at the rim from this distance (and two more unguarded catch and shoot misses from teammates.)

Capture.JPG

As a table setter, he was not just passing the ball around the perimeter and getting credit for his teammate’s makes. He was creating the action, even on plays he didn’t get credited with an assist.

But he still dropped 30, on only 15 shots too. And the timing of his scoring burst was impeccable. With the Hoyas just hanging close enough to not feel comfortable, and the press creating just enough frustration, Markus put the cape on for a few minutes and reminded us just what the arsenal looks like.

Up 12 with 14:30 to go in the game, here are Marquette’s next 6 possessions.

Markus fastbreak 3
Markus assist on fasbreak 3
Markus layup after Markus OBoard
Markus 3FT makes
Cain 2 pt jumper
Markus 2 pt jumper

He subbed out at the 11:03 mark having personally engineered a 15-3 run to push Marquette’s lead from secure to lock status. It’s no coincidence he led all players in +/- yesterday, posting a season-best +31 in 34 minutes.

Oh and he also added 5 rebounds for good measure. The highlights are worth watching again.

Here’s the full list of Marquette players this decade to put up a 30 point, 7 assist, 5 rebound (or better) performance this decade:

Markus Howard

That’s it, that’s the list.

If we look nationally, and add the caveat that it came with 2 or fewer turnovers, only 10 players this season have put up that stat line, and only one other has come from a high-major team.

Even if we just stick to the basic box, Markus was magical. But since when have you known me to just stop there.

Capture.JPG

If you look under the KenPom hood, Markus recorded  an outrageous 160 ORtg on 30% usage. We’re used to seeing him finish with 40%+ usage numbers, so the 30% may feel kind of low, but those two numbers together are absurdly impressive.

Capture.JPG

Of the 10 Ken Pom player of the year contenders, here’s the list of games that each of them has put up an ORtg of 160 on at least 30% usage:

Markus Howard vs Georgetown.

Myles Powell hasn’t done it this season. Saddiq Bey neither. Or Kamar, or Collin, or Zegs or Ty-Shon or Naji or any of the coterie of Big East First Team players you’ll be hearing from in a few weeks.

In fact, that stat combo has only been accomplished once this season by a Big East player, and that was Alpha Diallo on Feb 15 (ORtg 161, 32% usage). And even then, Diallo only finished with 2 assists and 4 boards.

In his career, Markus has only once put up a 160/30 KP line, and that was against Bethune Cookman last season in the nonconference. Still impressive, but much less important.

And that’s the final piece of the puzzle. Georgetown isn’t a Tourney team at the moment, and without it’s two best players in McClung and Yurtseven, it probably isn’t an NIT team. They are playing walkons and driftoffs heavy minutes because they only have a handful of healthy bodies. The opponent quality wasn’t stupendous.

But Marquette can’t control the health of the Hoyas and came in needing to make a statement. It did in the first half, let the foot off the gas a bit to close the half, and then closed the case for good with Howard’s run.

The way Koby McEwen was handling the press, it was not out of the question to see Georgetown cut it to withing single digits in the second half had Markus not been in ether mode. The stats may seem padded, but they turned out to be crucial.

Markus is a game-breaking, genre defying scorer. What he showed us against Georgetown was another level up from his usual self.

Whether you agree or not, and with only 1 more home game remaining, savor it. Drink it in. Watch it again. It was special. He was special.

We won’t see another like him.

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