by Patrick Schmitt / Just Play Solutions – Analytics Academy
It’s a different feeling in Milwaukee this college basketball season. Marquette has a whole new look now that the Eagles are without star guard Markus Howard. The now-Denver Nugget averaged 21.6 points per game in his career, including 27.8 during his senior season. Without him, a lot of question marks surrounded their offensive production and where it would come from early this season.
Additionally, Marquette is 4-18 in Steve Wojciechowski’s first six seasons as head coach when playing Top 10 opponents, yet are off to a 2-0 start this season, with wins over then #4 Wisconsin and on the road against #9 Creighton. The surprising success for the Golden Eagles has been a mix of old and new, with a roster full of depth players from last season stepping into bigger shoes, top-recruits playing at a high level, and some transfers finding more playing time at their new home.
The player making the strongest impact from this rebuilt 2020-2021 roster is guard Koby McEwen. The Senior from Toronto played second chair to the likes of Howard in seasons past, only averaging 9.5 points per game in 2019-20. Yet so far this season, he’s been the go-to scorer late in games for Marquette and is leading the team with 15.7 points per game (almost three full points ahead of his next teammate).
As you can see from the above shot chart from Just Play, McEwen has turned one of his biggest weaknesses in 2019-20, shooting the 3 ball (at 29.4% last year) into one of his most efficient scoring options, having increased his clip to 42.8% from beyond the arc through seven games this season.
McEwen, who shot just 33% from the field a season ago, has turned himself into the top scoring option for Coach Wojciechowski, and a super-efficient one at that, now converting on 50.72% of his shots. The Golden Eagles will have plenty of chances in Big East play against ranked opponents, and if they continue to lean on the strong offensive play of McEwen, they should continue to be competitive at the highest levels of college basketball all season long.
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