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  1. #1
    Sophomore MHettel's Avatar
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    Career Wrap: Naji Marshall

    I realize that a lot of XU fans hold out hope that Marshall will come back as a Senior. But lets be honest..that's HIS Plan D. He's a potential NBA guy, a probable D-League guy, and a lock to play overseas.

    He's gone...and with that we look back at his career in context of those that came before him.

    Question: Can a guy that is average at everything, be an above average player? I'm leaning to YES on this after looking at Naji's stats. My eyes tell me he was a good player. My memories tell me that he was part of a great team early on, but then couldn't extend that success when the weight was upon him. Polarizing is what I'm left with. A guy that could take over, but couldn't win the game...

    Naji as a SHOOTER / SCORER
    First and Foremost, Naji was a VOLUME scorer. This means he scored a lot of points by taking a lot of shots. His Field Goal Attempt per minute ranked 7th of 59 former players. Hi shooting % from 2 ranked 30th of 80 players. So from 2, you have an above average shooter taking an above average number of shots. That's a plus right? Now look a little deeper into who he played with as a Freshman, he played with Kanter (#2) Bluiett (#3) and Macura (#14) who ranked near the top of 59 players in Shots per minute. So Naji REALLY ramped up the attempts as a sophomore and Junior. As a Junior, Naji took the exact same number of shots (15.4) per 40 minutes as Trevon did as a Senior, but Trevon was shooting more 3's at a higher rate and getting to the line more often although he was taking less 2's. Result was that Trevon averaged 22.5 points per 40, vs. Naji's 18.9. So now, I'm zeroing in on 2 things to explain why the high volume of shot attempts with a solid 2pt% didn't translate into more efficient scoring. Free Throws and 3 Pointers...

    Shooting from deep was NOT Naji's strong suit. He had to take some 3's just to keep the defense honest, right? His 3 pt attempts per minute ranked him 19th of 33 former players that are considered "shooters." So, he's in the bottom half for frequency of threes. And in terms of 3pt attempts as a % of his total shot attempts, he ranked 36 out of 48. So he didn't really take too many of them....And he certainly didn't MAKE too many of them. His 28.9% shooting from 3 ranked him 42 out of 48. (The 6 players below him in the rankings are: Goodin, Moore, Sumner, David Young, Lloyd Price, and Kevin Frey. -Yes, 3 of our bottom 7 (out of 48) 3 point shooter on the same team this year). Overall, the cumulative 3pt% of our 48 "shooters" in the population is .362%. If Naji JUST would have been average, that means an additional 27 made threes (81 pts) over his career. This stat could literally change the outcome of a season.

    When it comes to Free Throws, Naji was average at making them (37th out of 80), and average at getting to the line on a per minute basis (26th out of 59). But what hurts Naji in the FT department is the low rate in getting to the line relative to the number of shots he took. Remember, he was 7th in shot attempts per minute and 26th in FT attempts per minute. Here is a look at the guys above him in attempts per minute and their corresponding FTA per minute rank: Tandy (6th/56th) (NEED TO KEEP AN EYE ON THIS!), Myles (5th/32nd), Christon (4th/4th), Bluiett (3rd/16th), Kanter (2nd/9th), and Crawford (1st/18th). I look past Tandy on this, as he was CLEARLY a gunner sent in to jack up 3's for this crappy team. I cant explain Myles. But the other 4 certainly used their shooting frequency to also get them to the line pretty often. I'll spare you the math, but using the FTA rate of Christon, Bluiett, Kanter and Crawford and Naji's FT%, I estimate he left about 83 points on the table. Remember, these aren't the guys that got to the line most often. These are the guys that took a lot of shots. I think you have to make some considerations about late foul shots when you are closing out close wins, so some of these guys who had more wins might have benefitted some.....

    Anyway, I'm concluding that Naji took a lot of shots, put up some numbers, wasn't efficient, and as a result if was tough for us to win. BUT, I'm not sure we had many alternatives given the other players we had over the last 2 years.

    If Naji WERE to come back and improve that deep shooting a little bit and have a few more weapons around him, I think there is a good chance that this chapter could be re-written.

    Naji doing EVERYTHING else
    By everything else, what I really mean is EVERYTHING else. He did it all. 27th out of 59 in Rebounds per minute. Of the 13 players that are noted as "swing" players (and I had minutes played for) he ranked 3rd. He was a particularly effective defensive rebounder, coming in 13th of 55, and #1 among the "swing" players. His offensive rebounding was 34th of 55, but hey he was taking all the shots so you cant expect him to get all the rebounds too. Naji was 11th of 59 in assists per minute. This is more than HammerTime, Dante, Crawford, Myles Davis, Lyons, Macura, and (notable passing Big Man) StainTrain. He's a shade behind Scruggs, Chalmers, and Semaj. In steals he was 27 of 59. In Blocks he was 37 of 59 (a little low), for (least) fouls he was 15th of 58. And in Turnovers, he was 57th of 58....hey, I said he did everything. Defending those turnovers a little bit, his assist to TO ratio was 27th out of 60. Solid all around.

    Well I'll wrap up with an answer to my question. Yes, a guy that is average at everything (for the most part) can be an above average player. My outlook on Naji's future is pretty simple. Work on the deep shot and I'll be watching him on TV again in the near future.

  2. #2
    Administrator XUOHTX's Avatar
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    I always thought of Naji has the worst best player we've had.
    I have a podcast. Sometimes we talk about Xavier: You. Me. Cincy.
    I put the X in Texas. @fleckd.

  3. #3
    Supporting Member bobbiemcgee's Avatar
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    He was consistently inconsistent.
    This space for rent.

  4. #4
    Sophomore Lloyd Braun's Avatar
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    I always thought he could be ridiculous glue guy- justin cage on steroids. I think he would be ideal in that position as he is an above average ball handler for his size. Unfortunately Naji had another mindset.

  5. #5
    Supporting Member xu82's Avatar
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    He’s got some great ability, and will hopefully learn to rein it in and make the most of it. I wish that had happened sooner, but I wish him all the best.

  6. #6
    Sophomore IM4X's Avatar
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    Expectations for Naji were sky high for good reason: his potential level of greatness was off the chart and we all got to see more than a few glimpses of it. Unfortunately, his lack of leadership and discipline and drive for self improvement (together with the limited supply of surrounding talent) kept him and the team at times from shining more often.

    I would love to see him come back and get it right next year.
    Last edited by IM4X; 04-03-2020 at 05:35 PM.

  7. #7
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    Naji would greatly benefit from more shooters around him. I think his volume shooting largely came from "who else is going to shoot the damn ball?" He would be much more effective with a lower usage.

  8. #8
    Sophomore MHettel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smileyy View Post
    Naji would greatly benefit from more shooters around him. I think his volume shooting largely came from "who else is going to shoot the damn ball?" He would be much more effective with a lower usage.
    I WANT to agree with you. But I cannot help but wonder if Naji wouldn't have just taken over anyway, for the sake of his own stats and the perception that he's impressing the NBA. Remember, 4 of these guys played on a 1 seed, and then never made the dance after that. Naji's ability to take over a game was apparent. What wasn't always apparent was a reason to do so...

  9. #9
    Supporting Member XU 87's Avatar
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    Per Kenpom, Naji was a little below average offensive player this year.

  10. #10
    Junior sirthought's Avatar
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    I see him as a guy we expected too much from, because he was basically the only player on the team that showed he might have the potential to do it. But I'm not sure it was the best role for him.

    I think everything about his game would have evened out if he just took the time to become a better ball handler. He had enough of a first step to hurt a lot of defenders if only he didn't lose the ball.

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