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Can Traci Carter Become An Even Truer Point Guard?

Carter showed promise in his freshman campaign, but he also had plenty to work on this off-season.

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Traci Carter quickly carved out a role as Marquette’s true point guard in 2015-16. He was a vocal leader on the floor, had a “pass-first” mentality, was a good perimeter defender, and had strong court vision. The freshman from Philadelphia finished the year averaging 5.4 points per game, 4.6 assists (5th in the Big East), and 1.4 steals (6th). He finished 3rd among Marquette freshmen all-time in total assists (153) and 4th in total steals (48). He earned 19 starts: a 15-game mid-season stretch and the final 4 games of the season.

In a video posted on the athletic department’s YouTube channel, Head Coach Steve Wojciehowski stated that the team was better when Traci was playing well. This bears out in the statistics. The Golden Eagles were 5-1 when he scored double-digits, were 10-3 in games where Traci had 6 or more assists, and were 7-1 when he had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.0 or higher.

His first year didn’t come without growing pains. His biggest deficiency was scoring. As a floor general he looks to set up others to score. Yet he had a hard time when his own number was called. Despite his solid shooting form, there were instances where he would hesitate to take an open shot when the opportunity presented itself. As a result, teams tended to sag off of him on defense. On the year he shot 34.4% from the field: 36.8% from inside the arc and 31.4% beyond it.

With Andrew Rowsey becoming eligible to play and freshman Markus Howard joining the fold this year, Traci has to improve his shooting in order to help his long-term prospects with the Golden Eagles. He will always be a pass-first guard, but having the ability to deploy a quick bucket when the regular scorers are cold or being heavily guarded goes a long way towards aiding Marquette’s offense.

Traci also tended to fall into foul trouble. Carter finished 20 of his 33 games with 3 or more fouls, including three foul-outs. This problem could be partly why the lone true point on the roster averaged only 23.9 minutes per game. Being able to better discern when to go for a steal and how to challenge ball-handlers on defense will go a long way towards keeping him on the court.

The last problem for Traci was his turnovers. While he had the 7th highest assist-to-turnover-ratio in the Big East at 4.6-to-2.3, he also had the 6th most total turnovers in the conference with 77. He was a great distributor, but had as much a hand in the team’s turnover problem - Marquette was 334th nationally in total turnovers - as any other player. Carter’s 2.7 turnovers a game were the 3rd most on the team. He also had the highest turnover percentage in the 8-man rotation, giving it up on 29.1% of his possessions. Decreasing his turnovers will make this great passer even better.

Traci’s skill set makes him a huge asset to the post-Henry Ellenson Golden Eagles. However, as a freshman, there were still a number of facets in his game that needed improvement. Chances are we won’t know just how much he has improved until the season gets well underway. But at his best, Traci Carter is certainly capable of being the on-court leader that helps Marquette to the postseason.