Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Three-happy Appy

There will be something familiar about Appalachain State when we see them this weekend. ASU is a POT. A very serious POT. Through seven games this season, 46% of ASU's field goal attempts have been three-point attempts. They even rely on the triple more than the Wolfpack...

With their shooting, the Mountaineers put a scare into Tennessee, but they couldn't handle Wake Forest. They attempted 37 threes against the Deacs.

ASU's statistical profile smacks of perimeter-oriented team as much as its 3PA/FGA ratio does...

ASU Offense 2004-05
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Adj FG%50.4113
Turnover Rate20.6153
Off Reb Rate30.2230

ASU Offense 2005-06
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Adj FG%49.2151
Turnover Rate22.1158
Off Reb Rate28.1262

Decent at shooting the ball and avoiding turnovers, not so much good at rebounding and getting to the free throw line.

I included '04-'05 because this season is still young, but the Mountaineers haven't changed much over the summer. Not that I should be surprised: five guys who played big minutes in '05 are back this season.

The probable starters:

DJ Thompson (5'8") -- The team's leading scorer. Averages 21.6 pts/40 min and is lauded for his defense because he averaged nearly three steals per game last season. I'm sure he'll pick a few pockets on Saturday, but I'm also sure that Wolfpack guards will be enjoying their unobstructed view of the basket. Thompson's the one guy on the team who can draw some fouls, and he already has 40 FTAs this season.

Nathan Cranford (6'2") -- Cranford doesn't bother with two-pointers: 87% of his field goal attempts this season are threes. But why should he venture inside of the arc? He's 20-46 from outside (43.5%). He contributes nothing aside from three-pointers, so if he's cold, he's liable to disappear.

Demetrius Scott (6'2") -- Averaging 10.5 pts/40. Not as interested in the three-pointer as his teammates are.

Doug McLaughlin-Williams (6'8", 220) -- Third scoring option, will definitely shoot threes, grabs rebounds prolifically by ASU standards (7.1/40 min).

PL Henderson (6'7", 210) -- I'm guessing here. Since Jeremy Clayton got hurt, three different guys have started games in his place. Henderson is one of 'em. Henderson has zero 3FGA in 119 minutes, and averages better than 9 rebs/40.

Off the bench, Tyler Webb (6'9" 225) is probably the only other forward who will get playing time, unless Clayton is back.

NC State will no doubt try to get the ball to Cedric Simmons in the post as much as possible...that is, if App decides it doesn't want to play zone defense all night.

Limiting Thompson is important not just because he's their best player, but also because--judging from the statistics--he doesn't have much help. Cranford is utterly one-dimensional, while McLaughlin-Williams averages a modest 12.5 pts/40. And their inability to rebound should limit their second chances.

I think we'll see a lot of Jarvis Jackson off the bench. ASU doesn't have a problem with playing four guards, and Jackson has been good in limited minutes. He's also coming off a game in which he played 25 minutes. Jackson has a scoring punch that I think the Mountaineers need.

App's defense:

ASU Defense 2004-05
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Adj FG%48.9144
Turnover Rate22.558
Off Reb Rate33.9231
ASU Defense 2005-06
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Adj FG%53.0274
Turnover Rate22.1167
Off Reb Rate39.1288

Wake Forest used its low post offense and its rebounding to help generate 37 free throw attempts against Appalachian State. Hopefully the Wolfpack can do the same.