Theo John shows improvement from freshman season

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Theo John shows improvement from freshman season

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

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In a matter of one week, Marquette has seen a different level of production from sophomore center Theo John.

Against Xavier Jan. 6, John played 16 minutes and had no points. But Wednesday against DePaul, John put up a monster game of 16 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks.

“He’s a year older, a year stronger, (has spent) a year in the weight room, (and) most importantly, he’s probably a year advanced in his confidence,” DePaul head coach Dave Leitao said. “He’s playing a lot more minutes than he did last year. So there is a belief that he has in himself, and what that means is that everyone else can believe in him too.”

Last year, John averaged 11.8 minutes per game. This year, he is averaging 19.6. Similar to his minute count, John’s points have almost doubled, while his blocks and rebound numbers have more than doubled.

John has been able to play more because of more disciplined defense. John consistently fell into foul trouble last year, but his fouls per 40 minutes have decreased this year from 8.5 to 7.1.

“I’m just trying to bring the same energy every game,” John said. “I have to obviously play smarter, so that’s been a step for me, and these last few games, I’ve been doing that.”

His defensive presence has allowed John to play more minutes this year.

John leads the BIG EAST in block shots per game at 2.2. He also is tied at 17th in the nation for total blocks.

“I thought (John) gave us an unbelievable physical presence on both ends of the court,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said after Wednesday’s win. “Defensively that’s becoming a consistent theme with him. He’s a rim protector, he’s physical, he rebounds, he covers a lot of our mistakes. That’s a big-time thing.”

While John may not always get a block in the box score for every defensive possession, his presence often changes how offenses attack the paint.

With a year and a half of play under his belt, the sophomore forward’s comfort is rising.

“It just comes with being out on the floor,” John said. “The more time you get the more comfortable you get, you get used to everything, (like) the flow of the game. That just helps your confidence tremendously.”

In a year’s span, John went from playing 11.8 minutes per game to becoming the BIG EAST’s leader in blocks per game.

John still has the occasional hiccup. Against Xavier Jan. 26, he was in foul trouble for most of the game and fouled out after 12 minutes in the game. He had no points and only two rebounds.

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