Revisiting Marquette’s 2016-17 Preseason Projections

Revisiting Marquette’s 2016-17 Preseason Projections

Before last season began, we shared thoughts on Marquette’s projected four factor differentials for the 2016-17 season, comparing them to 2015-16. The key in reaching the NCAA tournament for the Warriors was going to be effective field goal percentage differential.

We said, “A net improvement of 2.5% in eFG% differential means a +5.8% and places Marquette in or around the top 35 of eFG% differential, by far the most important of the four factors. Do that, and they are in business even without improvement in rebounding.”

As of Selection Sunday, Marquette’s actual eFG% differential was 5.7% (57.6% on offense, 51.9% on defense) and they were selected to the tourney’s field.

MU simply had to shoot the ball better than their opponents to have a chance at being a tourney team. Our target mark of 5.8% proved to be a reasonable estimate of the differential needed to make the tournament.

How they got there was a bit different than we anticipated as the defense was even worse than we projected, but that was offset by one of the best shooting percentages in the nation.

A look at the other Four Factors…

Free Throw Rate

We said, “Overall, we’d expect the free throw rate differential to trend unfavorably for Marquette in 2016-17; however, it’s not a significant factor.”

Indeed, Marquette had a positive 12.5% free throw rate differential in 2015-16, but saw that flip to a negative 4.8% in 2016-17.

We also said, “One player to keep an eye on is Andrew Rowsey. He’s going against very different competition, but in his final year at UNC Asheville, the guard registered 5.1 fouls drawn per 40 minutes and a 36.6 FTR.”

Displaying an uncanny knack for drawing fouls using a pump fake on 3-point attempts, Rowsey got the line at a healthy rate of 41.3%, drawing 4.7 fouls per 40 minutes per KenPom.com.

Turnover Rate

We said, “Marquette’s negative 0.9% differential needs improvement. They ranked #218 in the nation for the season… To think that MU could move from #218 in the nation to something closer to #75 (around a +2.0% differential) isn’t a crazy thought. Such a favorable change year over year won’t save the team’s season, but we believe it’s an important piece on the path to a potential NCAA tournament bid.”

As of Selection Sunday, Marquette’s turnover rate differential was a positive 1.4%, a healthy improvement from the 2015-16 campaign. On offense, the rate went from 20.0% to a pre-tourney mark of just 17.1%.

We said, “On offense, a repeat of the turnover rates from then-freshmen Traci Carter and Haanif Cheatham won’t be acceptable. Largely thanks to experience and to a lesser degree, player roles, Marquette should/must see a decline in their turnover rate.”

Traci Carter left the team (29.1% turnover rate as a freshman; 26.8% and still too high as a sophomore before leaving). Cheatham struggled as a sophomore, especially in Big East play, but his full season turnover rate did improve nicely from 24.4% as a freshman down to 18.5%.

Rebounding

We said, “Marquette, at negative 2.6%, was #240 in the nation for the season…We anticipate a difficult year on the boards for Marquette, but the hope is some improvement. Minimal rebounding improvement will require significant turnover differential improvement and/or a hefty boost in eFG% differential.”

Pre-tourney, MU had shown minimal rebounding improvement as expected, coming in at a negative 1.6%.

As to individual expectations, we said, “The hopes include… Luke Fischer shows significant DR% improvement compared to past years; Katin Reinhardt proves that he’s not truly allergic to rebounding; someone else steps up as a consistent, solid rebounder (Cohen was a solid 15% in conference and perhaps Cheatham – 11% a year ago – can elevate with a partial change in role).”

Fischer did up his DR% a bit, though it was still only 16.3%. As a junior, Luke was only at 11.8%, so the improvement was significant.

Reinhardt had a low 9.1% DR% (tied for lowest on the team with Andrew Rowsey), but it did set a career-high mark.

Like his turnover rate, Cheatham did improve in the area of DR%, growing from 10.8% to 14.5%.

Looking Ahead

Marquette’s shooting comparables (2017-18 vs. 2016-17) are very difficult. They should again be a very strong shooting team, but last year’s performance – particularly from long-range – was truly special and it’s difficult to feel strong about improvement or even matching the same mark in 2017-18. That said, the team’s defensive eFG% and DR% both have plenty of room for improvement.

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