It'll be weird not seeing Engin on the court next season. Remember his first game?
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Wednesday, February 28, 2007
It'll be weird not seeing Engin on the court next season. Remember his first game?
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
It is kinda soothing.
Taking Another (Very Careful) Look At Wake Forest
Scouting Report / Game Plan
Season Stats (pdf)
-- With memory of the Ralph Mims Incident still fresh, I'm adopting a strict mock-free diet for this post. No jokes at the other team's expense, no kidding about certain individuals' poor numbers. Probably. This is harder than quitting smoking (not that I would know about that; hi, Mom!). The timing couldn't be worse, either.
-- The Deacons have the least efficient offense in the ACC, and by a comfortable margin, which you can see illustrated in Big Ten Wonk's handy visual aid. What makes them so bad? In addition to being the most turnover prone team in the conference, the Deacs are also 11th in eFG% and 10th in offensive rebounding percentage. Can't shoot, can't grab your misses--this is a problem better known as Chronic Brick Fatigue Syndrome.
In seven conference road games, the offense has been nothing short of terrible: 0.89 points/possession, including a delightful 0.62 pts/poss effort in Durham.
What I'm not going to tell you for fear of the consequences is that Wake Forest hasn't managed to score better than a point per possession in any road conference game this season. I'm definitely not pointing that out.
-- Fellas, we're gonna hafta have a chat. In conference games:
FGA/40 %Shots eFG% PPWS ORtgThis isn't the Anthony Gurley Show. Maybe if you passed a little more often you'd be getting more than 15 minutes a game.
-- Ishmael Smith is 30-70 (.429) from the line this season, 8-23 (.348) in conference play--his field goal percentage is higher than those numbers.
Smith continues his trial by fire in ACC play, and it hasn't been easy for him:
ORtg eFG% PPWS TO%Lots of turnovers, but he's feeding his teammates a lot, too. He maintains an assist rate that's among the best in the nation and better than any other ACC point guard's.
-- Pomeroy has the Wolfpack winning 79-73, I've got 77-75.
Monday, February 26, 2007
The Price Of Turnovers
Last week, Big Ten Wonk examined how effective B10 teams are when they don't turn the ball over. Which team scores the most points on possessions that don't end in a turnover? Letting no good idea go unborrowed, I crunched the same numbers for ACC teams.
Possessions are calculated like this: FGA + (0.475 x FTA) - OReb + TO
By just subtracting turnovers from each team's possessions total, then, we're left with turnover-less possessions.
Points per turnover-less possession (conference games only):
Boston College 1.40So every time the Wolfpack turns the ball over, it costs us 1.3 points. Every time Gavin dribbles the ball off his foot and out of bounds, 1.3 points go down the tubes. Every time Gavin has a lazy pass intercepted, that's 1.3 points we can never get back. Every time-- Okay, okay.
(By the way, Gavin, you owe us 66 points for your 51 turnovers in ACC games. You can't really pay us back, though...does anyone know the points/wind sprints exchange rate?)
All of this leads to another question: whose overall offensive efficiency is helped/hurt the most by turnovers?
The next table is sorted by turnover rate in conference play. The second column (TOLeP_Rk) is each team's rank in points per turnover-less possession (TOLeP being my awkward abbreviation for turnover-less possessions). The third column (OE_Rk) is each team's rank in offensive efficiency (points per possession, which includes turnovers).
Conference games only:
TO% TOLeP_Rk OE_RkTake turnovers out of the equation and Virginia Tech's offense is revealed as one that's actually quite pedestrian--relative to the rest of the ACC, anyway. The 1.29 points per turnover-less possession scored by the Hokies is just 9th-best in the league. But because the Hokies take care of the ball better than anyone else, their overall offensive efficiency is very good: 3rd-best in the ACC.
It's a similar story for Miami: nothin' special on turnover-less possessions--Miami is the worst shooting team in the conference--but ball security allows them to have an offense that ranks in the conference's top half.
On the flip side, there's NC State. Turnovers have made what is an otherwise decent offense into one of the worst in the league. And this is only tangentially related, but you want to know how much we suck at the secondary offensive factors--how much they drag us down? We're #1 in effective field goal percentage in conference play...and 10th in offensive efficiency. Thanks to turnovers and anemic offensive rebounding, the best shooting team in the ACC has one of the three worst offenses in the ACC.
Wake Forest and Clemson: well, they aren't any good regardless of whether or not they're turning the ball over. If you want to look at the glass as being half full, you can say that although Wake turns the ball over more than anybody else, it costs them fewer points (per turnover) than anybody else. So there is that.
"Talking out of turn...that's a paddlin'. Looking out the window...that's a paddlin'. Staring at my sandals...that's a paddlin'. Turnin' the ball over...ooh, you better believe that's a paddlin'."
Labels: basketball stats
Saturday, February 24, 2007
JJ Hickson, McDonald's All-American
The rosters for the 2007 McDonald's All-American game were announced earlier this evening, and JJ Hickson made the cut. You can find the rosters here. Also playing in the game: Chris Wright, former member of the Pack's 2007 class, and Jai Lucas, who's been the cause of much recruiting speculation.
High School, State
Allow Me To Refund Your Subscription Fee
Box Score (Unofficial. For some reason the people running FSU's website never post the official box, probably because they know this pisses me off.)
We should be able to score effectively in the paint on them, and I don't think our turnover rate will be too high, either.
And I hope everyone noticed:
FG-A 3FG-A PTS...which looks suspiciously like a productive afternoon.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Previewing Florida State
Scouting Report / Game Plan
Season Stats (pdf)
How much does Toney Douglas matter? Since he broke his shooting hand against Clemson, replacing his production has been a challenge, the FSU offense has averaged less than a point-per-possession, and the Seminoles haven't won a game. Douglas was unquestionably the second scoring option--he was the only Seminole not named Al Thornton using an above-average number of possessions and taking an above-average proportion of shots.
Take a look at how Douglas's conference numbers compare to the man who's replaced him in the starting lineup, Ralph Mims:
ORtg eFG% %Poss %Shots Pts/40 FGA/40 PPWS TO%It's not that Douglas's numbers were especially good (they weren't), but when you have to replace him in your lineup with a role player who isn't good enough to be anything more than a light contributor (and who struggles even at that), you are going to have problems. All the sudden you have a vortex of unproduction in the starting five, and this vortex can sometimes engulf unassuming bystanders like Jason Rich and Isaiah Swann. The suck is the most contagious disease of them all.
There is a baseball stat I like to use called Value Over Replacement Player (VORP). VORP is basically meant to answer this question: how many runs does a player contribute over what his backup (a "replacement-level" player) would? The differential can be huge. A replacement-level player is by definition below average; I'd say Ralph Mims fits that description.
Here's Mims since being thrust into a starting role:
Min/G FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA eFG%Thirty-six minutes per game, this guy! That hurts. It's no wonder Leonard Hamilton gets that incredulous WTF? look on his face eight times a game.
Isaiah Swann (6-1, 203) -- Sports a 1.5:1 assist-turnover ratio and has the best assist rate on the team in conference play. He's scored in double figures in every game since Douglas went down, the only NTN (Non-Thornton Nole) to do so. He shoots a team-best 57.5% in conference games and is the most frequent three-point shooter.
Ralph Mims (6-2, 210) -- Aforementioned vortex of unproduction. Don't get too close.
Jason Rich (6-3, 200) -- As mentioned in that article I linked above, Rich is struggling added pressure to score: 8-32 from the field over the last four games. Still, his overall conference shooting numbers remain good and he's not someone we can overlook defensively.
Al Thornton (6-8, 220) -- No team in the ACC asks more of one player than the Seminoles do of Al Thornton. In conference play, he's using 29.8% of the possessions and taking 33% of the shots when he is on the court--and still has managed to shoot 54.1% and post an offensive rating over 120. He scores efficiently from everywhere on the court, including the free throw line. He doesn't turn the ball over and is an unbelievable offensive rebounder. All of this is why I'd pick Thornton for ACC Player of the Year. No ACC team asks more of one player than the Seminoles do of Thornton.
Uche Echefu (6-9, 220) -- Fancies himself an inside-outside player, and is second on the team in 3FGAs in conference play (but he's only shooting 30.8% from out there). Florida State could use another consistent offensive threat in the front court, as currently there is Al Thornton and Al Thornton, but Echefu isn't there yet.
Expect to see Jerel Allen (6-4, 192), Casaan Breeden (6-8, 200), Ryan Reid (6-8, 232), and Florida State's Trevor Ferguson equivalent, Josue Soto (6-0, 165). Breeden has been the most productive scorer of the bench guys.
The Noles have the 10th-ranked defense in conference play, ahead of NC State and, of course, Miami. Their field goal percentage defense (more specifically, their two-point FG% defense) stinks and they're letting teams grab a lot of offensive rebounds. That defensive turnover rate looks good, but it hasn't translated to conference play, where opponents are turning it over just 18.9% of the time.
We should be able to score effectively in the paint on them, and I don't think our turnover rate will be too high, either.
Predict-O-Meter has Florida State by five, 76-71.
Take her down, Smithers!
"Uh, you're flying the plane, sir..."
The schmoozing must go on, winds be damned.
Due to high winds in the Raleigh area, the pilot of North Carolina State football coach Tom O'Brien and his crew said he was unable to get his airplane up in the air on Thursday afternoon.
"Sorry about the landing, boys. This fog
is so thick I can't even see my own cataracts."
Do you have to scream like that? My ears hurt.
The official Duke basketball page has posted a story about last night's win, and the accompanying photo is...
Thursday, February 22, 2007
UNC 83, NC State 64
-- Through the first half, things couldn't have gone much better for us offensively. We only turned the ball over a handful of times, we shot 51.8%, and we played them to a draw on the glass at both ends. All of which put us easily on pace to post the mose efficient performance by a conference foe in the Dean Dome this season. Then the second half happened.
Pts Poss Off_Eff OR DR OR% DR% TO TO%The difference in rebounding between the two halves is staggering. In the final 20 minutes, the Tar Heels grabbed 12 offensive rebounds in 17 opportunities--over 70%. We had six total rebounds in the entire half. The Heels finished the game +15 in second chance points. Like us, they were turnover prone in the second half (28.6%), but their dominant offensive rebounding sustained them. Carolina shot the ball about the same in both halves (slightly better in the 1st), but scored significantly more points per turnover-less possession in the second half.
1.3 points per turnover-less possession scored in the 1st, when we limited their second opportunities; 1.7 pts per turnover-less possession in the 2nd, when we didn't. If they'd only managed 1.3 in the second half instead of 1.7, they'd have scored 9 fewer points and been under a point/possession overall in the half.
-- Ben McCauley: 3 field goal attempts and 6 turnovers in 38 minutes. It was clear right off the bat that Roy Williams wasn't going to let Ben operate one-on-one in the post. The Heels managed to completely take him out of the game; his possession usage was a paltry 14.2%, well under the 23.4% he averages in conference play.
-- I guess you have to take the small victories in a situation like this. We got an enjoyable half of basketball, a few dunks, some pretty three-pointers by Costner and Atsur, an air-balled jumper by Ginyard, and Tyler Hansbrough was whistled for traveling.
-- Sidney Lowe is out of the hospital.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Feel Better, Sidney!
No post-game updates from WRAL. All we know is he's dehydrated and in the hospital.
Liveblog! NC State @ UNC -- Second Half
[10:00PM] We're in it! Go figure.
eFG% Pts Poss Off_EffWe aren't winning this game without some better defense in the second half. Very encouraging offensive performance, though.
[10:09PM] You know, I just can't get enough Mellencamp. This is our countreeeee. If you hate Mellencamp, you hate America.
[10:11PM] Where's Reyshawn Terry, you ask? Committing a foul somewhere, I'm guessin'.
Sidney Lowe didn't come out of the locker room...apparently he's sick (with glee!).
[10:12PM] Monte Towe is the worst coach this team has ever had! We need the red blazer.
Carolina gets nothing on its first couple of possessions, Hansbrough gets called for a charge (?!).
[10:14PM] Give Monte credit; he does look official. Hope Sidney is okay.
[10:15PM] Three fouls on Big Ben, Heels up by three 43-40.
Great move by Costner in the lane. He's been fabulous. Walk on Hansbrough, mouth agape. Not lacking for oxygen, that guy.
[10:17PM] Second chance points again, dammit. 45-42 Heels.
BC from Winston-Salem, kids. Winston. Salem. 45-45.
Wright scores quickly at the other end.
[10:18PM] Turnovers are killin' us. We've been lucky so far.
Hey, look, Reyshawn finally scored. It only took 25 minutes.
[10:22PM] Gavin makes a bad pass, Frasor gets two more fastbreak points for the Heels. Sidney has been taken to the hospital--it's dehydration.
Pack turns it over again. Crap.
[10:23PM] Thompson gets a put-back, Heels up six. Fells misses a shot, Thompson scores a layup. Timeout Monte Towe with the Tar Heels up 55-47.
[10:26PM] Our mojo left with Sidney Lowe's red jacket. Far too many giveaways this half.
Offensive foul on the Wolfpack, called on Costner--he's got three. We're coming up empty every time. Damn hell ass.
[10:28PM] Holy shit--mark this down: Hansbrough called for traveling in Chapel Hill.
Fells with a three, Wright gets two off an offensive board. 57-50.
Grant right back; gotta box out, boys.
[10:30PM] Wright hits one of two free throws, 58-52. Another NCSU turnover leads to an easy UNC bucket. Goddammit!
Gavin accepts a pass by putting it on his shoe, resulting in a tie up. That's brilliant, Gavin. You know, sometimes I forget how to dribble, too. Of course, I don't have an athletic scholarship. Turnovers have absolutely been the difference this half.
[10:34PM] Down eight... Gavin scores, UNC comes right back.
Fells misses a jumper--stunning! Thompson misses a two, Lawson grabs the board and hits a three. The loose balls are all going to the Heels at this point.
Wolfpack turnover; our ninth of the second half.
[10:35PM] My friend IMs: "Herb never cared enough about UNC to get dehydrated."
[10:36PM] Wow, this sucks.
Heels up 14. "You can call this game over," says Packer. He's right.
[10:38PM] And this is why we drink.
We're under eight, Heels 68-56.
[10:41PM] Man, this is sad. If you're out of town, consider yourself lucky that you can't see this second half.
[10:42PM] Heels up 70-56 with 6:15 to go. We have 16 points in the second half.
[10:43PM] Hee hee. "Coach Boobas."
[10:45PM] "Tar Heels in command." How dare you!
Second chance points. Second chance points. Twenty-two for Wright.
Three from Fells.
[10:46PM] Defense? What's that?
Fells blocked on a layup attempt. Green misses a three, Grant drives and is blocked. Dude, Gavin, what say you pay attention? How 'bout you not drive on Wright?
[10:51PM] Ass. This game now sucks ass.
Hansbrough puts the Heels up 15, Pack turns it over once again. Here, Carolina, have the ball. You're welcome.
Heels score again, courtesy Hansbrough. Ooh, guess what? Another NC State turnover.
[10:52PM] Costner fouls out with a charge. You could give us a break, ref.
[10:54PM] "Wes Miller's in..." I love it when that happens.
We're down 19, less than two minutes to go.
McCauley hits one of two FTs, we're down 18.
[10:56PM] Get bent, Wes Miller. You 27-footer shooting piece of garbage.
[10:56PM] It's final: 83-64 Tar Heels.
Liveblog! NC State @ UNC -- First Half
[8:53PM] As we near the tip, I'm watching Tech finish off its dismantling of Boston College. Think the Hokies were a bit angry?
Last night I had this weird dream about lions that had snakes for tails. I can only assume this portends something for tonight's game, but what? Also, what would you call these mythical creatures? I haven't been able to come up with anything catchy.
[9:03PM] In other news, Georgia Tech is finishing off Wake Forest, while Miami and UVa are tied at 51 with less than eight minutes to go.
[9:04PM] Got my drink and my sarcastic skepticism. Let's go!
[9:06PM] We open with Gavin taking a three, UNC scores quickly at the other end.
McCauley with a turnover...they're doubling him immediately. Hansbrough lobs ball to no one, giving it back to us.
[9:08PM] Crap...two bricks early on. I was hoping for a quick start. And Fells misses a wide open three. Definitely a bad sign there.
Gavin ties it up with a dunk! Pretty up-and-down so far; I'm not comfortable with this. I just really hope we don't shoot like 34% tonight.
[9:09PM] Christ, there's another open three missed; that's two early attempts from three for Gavin. Stop leaving him open, would you, Tar Heels?
Costner with an acrobatic play, and he's fouled. Nails the FT: it's 5-5.
[9:11PM] Hansbrough converts, swallowing three flies in the process. Mmm...crunchy. Turnover by BC and we're under 16:00. Sloppy so far, but we've at least kept them from an early-game spurt.
[9:13PM] Billy says we're playing 5-on-10, but when you include the officials it's 5-on-13.
Sweet rejection by Ben McCauley.
[9:16PM] Lawson drives and turns it over. Fells gets fouled by air at the other end, hits one of two freebies.
More sloppiness leads to a fast break layup for Wayne Ellington. We cannot keep committing these turnovers...
[9:19PM] Horner and Nieman in there for the Pack. Roy says, "I'll see your white boys," inserts Wes Miller and Bobby Frasor.
Branden Wright converts a three point play to put the Heels up four. And there's Engin with our first three! Boy is that good to see.
Hey, what do you know, we were called for a foul.
[9:22PM] Carolina gets an offensive board off of a missed FT, and Marcus Ginyard of all people hits a three. Sidney Lowe calls a quick timeout to nip it. This is one of the things I like about Sidney the most--he's very quick to call a timeout. Not in the middle of a run, not after it, but when he senses one might be coming.
Atsur for three again.
[9:23PM] Offensive foul on Marcus Ginyard, we're under 12:00. Who told him he could dribble? 16-14 Heels.
[9:26PM] Haven't heard from Ben McCauley yet...credit to Carolina. Costner with a good move in the lane to tie it, but Hansbra puts the bad guys back on top quickly.
Costner hits the three and NC State takes the lead! Fells for two, Pack up three. Lovin' it.
[9:28PM] "There's a lot of confidence on that State bench," says Billy.
Atsur takes the worst shot in college hoops, so he at least had the courtesy to make it. UNC comes up dry, Gavin scores at the other end to give the Wolfpack a five point lead. I'm scared.
[9:30PM] Hansbrough hits a pair of free throws. 25-22 State.
Costner swishes a three-ball...man, was that pretty! Lawson scores and is fouled at the other end.
[9:31PM] Fans in Chapel Hill booing; this can only be a good thing. Lawson has two fouls; Atsur has one Oscar nomination. Turnover; our fourth.
[9:32PM] Reyshawn's all like, "what you talkin' bout, ref?" That's a foul, son. Deal with it. We're under 8:00.
[9:34PM] Wow, I went crazy with the semicolons there for a second. Sorry about that.
[9:36PM] Can we please get rid of rebounding margin? It's worthless. Percentages, people. Percentages.
Ellington scores to bring the Heels within two. Quentin Thomas, assist machine!
Costner attempts a hook...not so much. Good rebound on the defensive end, though.
Q fouls Atsur, Pack still up two.
[9:39PM] Quentin Thomas hits a J...someone really should tell him he doesn't have a J. Figures.
Carolina gets a stop, and Costner picks up his second foul at the defensive end.
[9:41PM] McCauley commits an offensive foul, his second. Ugh. He's been invisible at the offensive end.
Billy thought Green got fouled because Green flopped to the ground. Do try to pay attention, Billy.
Horner hits the first of a one-and-one, thanks in no small part to his shitty tattoo. Make that two of two.
[9:43PM] Atsur for three again. "He's seen a big basket lately."
More second chance points for UNC...crap. Have I mentioned lately that I really like Danny Green's game? A scrum on the floor leads to a beautiful dime from Quentin Thomas. I am instinctively disgusted yet appreciative.
[9:45PM] "Here's a situation where you have to understand who your teammates are," says Billy. Quentin Thomas remembers, "oh yeah, my teammates all kick ass," and passes the ball to one of them for a score. We're under four.
[9:47PM] Heels up 37-34 after Frasor hits one of two FTs.
[9:49PM] McCauley FINALLY scores; Horner commits a foul at the other end. Thankfully, it puts Wright on the line.
He gets one of two, Carolina 38-36. Horner misses a three, Gavin rejects the hell out of Wright--it's all ball, and Billy agrees--but gets called for a foul.
[9:52PM] Engin's had a fantastic first half. Sixteen points. Heels up 39-38.
State in the two-three zone. Wow...Ginyard, wide open, air balls a seventeen-footer. Loller.
Grant draws a foul at the other end, one minute to go in the half.
[9:54PM] Gavin hits two FTs, Pack up 40-39.
Wright gets an easy two against the zone, Heels up one.
Wolfpack turns it over on their final possession (Heels are lookin for that pick and roll from Atsur to McCauley); Frasor narrowly misses a long one. Carolina up 41-40 at the half.
Ghost Of Three-Pointers Past
There are few exercises more futile than attempting to affect the outcome of a sporting event with a superstitious act, but we all do it anyway. Once in a while, you're certain it was your actions that allowed your team to come through; for instance, after the White Sox lost game one of the 2005 ALCS, I made a wardrobe change that keyed their subsequent eight-game winning streak. I'm sure of it. But more often than not, you end up being let down by [that thing] you swore was lucky.
Some casualties of mine:
-- Pom pom from NCSU/Texas football game in 1999: killed in action during Carolina game that year.
-- 2002-2003 Student Wolfpack Club T-shirt: as always, the shirt was worn to all football games, but because we were on a huge winning streak, I never washed it. Shirt was discarded after providing no help in the Georgia Tech game.
-- AL Central Champs T-shirt: worn to game two of Hurricanes first round playoff series against Montreal last year, Canes still lost. Shirt banished to recesses of dresser.
One item I'll never toss aside is the C.C. Harrison jersey I like to bust out from time to time. As far as I'm concerned, it'll always bring good fortune, though sometimes in ways less obvious than the final score.
The Harrison jersey is particularly apt this evening, because it was nine years ago today...
eFG% OR% TO% FTM/FGA Pts Poss Off_Eff
MP FG FT OR R A PF Pt 3FG TO BL S
ORtg %Poss %Shots eFG% PPWS TO% OR% DR% %Stls
(With thanks to Charlie Board's ACC stats archive.)
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Warm & Fuzzy With Math
From the San Jose Mercury News:
Armed with spreadsheets and dizzying formulas with names such as WINVAL, ProductivityValue and Player Efficiency Rating, some very smart people are trying to measure an individual's contributions in a complex team game.
Taking Another Look At North Carolina
Scouting Report / Game Plan / Preview of First Meeting
Season Stats (pdf)
What happened last time?
Just, you know, this:
North Carolina's typically tough field goal percentage defense was no where to be seen, as the Wolfpack made 64.3% of its twos and 53.3% of its threes en route to a stunning upset win. Courtney Fells scored 21 points on 8-11 shooting, Ben McCauley didn't miss a shot from the field, and Engin Atsur added 10 assists.
In addition to shooting well, NC State rebounded far better than could have been reasonably expected. From my recap:
Rebounding in ACC games:OR% DR%Getting the better of such a great rebounding team (the Heels are probably the best rebounding team we'll see all year) is no small potatoes. Carolina came into Saturday grabbing about 41% of their misses in conference play but only managed to grab 31.4% against the Pack. And with them not turning the ball over much, limiting their second opportunities was obviously a key to victory.
And it will be again.
What's been goin' on with UNC in the mean time?
The Heels have played four game since our first meeting, winning three times. They struggled with their outside shooting over that span (19-61, 31.1%), though, and their in-conference 3FG% ranks 9th in the league. The Tar Heels with 10+ three point attempts in ACC play:
3FGM-3FGA 3FG%Lawson and Terry have been deadly, while the rest reside in meh territory. It's a minor weakness since the Heels don't rely on the three very much, but it's hopefully something we can take advantage of.
How the hell do you beat Carolina in the Dean Dome?
You've simply got to catch them on an off night (the Heels shot 42.3% and scored 1.01 pts/poss in the loss to Virginia Tech), and even then nothing is assured because the Tar Heels play such excellent defense.
Best home defenses in conference play:
Def_EffAnd for good measure, the best home offenses in conference play...
Off_EffIn today's N&O, Chip Alexander offers up a few things NC State needs to do in order to beat Carolina, but didn't touch on rebounding. In conference home games, the Tar Heels have grabbed 40% of their misses and 72.1% of their opponents' misses. They've dominated the rebounding at both ends and they've done it against some quality rebounding teams like Virginia and Georgia Tech. We have to match that energy. A big factor in Virginia Tech's upset in Chapel Hill was its ability to be competitive on the boards. The rebounding was basically even, and most importantly, the Heels were held to a low offensive rebounding percentage. The Hokies matched Carolina in second chance points, 13-13.
You need only glance at the respective Game Plans to see that defensive rebounding is vital for us. Look at the relationships between OR% and UNC's offensive efficiency, and between opponent OR% and NC State's defensive efficiency.
What else did Virginia Tech do? Protected the ball, for one thing: they committed 10 turnovers in the game, a 12.7% turnover rate. They got to the line a lot, which helped them offset a tough night from the field. They limited the pace: the game had 70-ish possessions in regulation, and that is right where we're gonna want to be.
From the N&O article:
Some wondered why the Heels didn't apply more fullcourt pressure against State, which has had some ball-handling adventures.
In addition to being patient, we'll also need to do a better job avoiding turnovers this time. We turned it over on 30% of our possessions in Raleigh and had a -10 turnover margin. Under normal circumstances, you can't give an extra ten possessions to Carolina and survive. In the Game Plan, you can see that opponent TO% correlates strongly with UNC's defensive efficiency.
Score Predictor says Carolina 89-70 in a game with 75 possessions. Pomeroy's got 91-66.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Livebloggin' the Carolina game on Wednesday.
Now that I am officially on a liveblog winning streak (a one-game winning streak, but still), I think it's a good idea to continue the mojo on Wednesday. I hope you'll join me.
As much of a boost as this will no doubt provide the basketball team, we'll probably need a little more help. Fortunately I have just the thing.
Blimp attack? Yeah, that's what I was thinking.
You go, Herb!
Sun Devils get first conference win. It's always nice to get that first conference win under your belt here in December. What? You said it's the middle of February? Dear god!
Sunday, February 18, 2007
NC State 81, Virginia Tech 56
-- Our five best offensive performances in conference play:
Pts Poss Off_EffNotice who checks in twice. Poor Hokies. Today's win was our offensive pièce de résistance, our most efficient showing in a regular season conference game since at least the 2003-2004 season. Wish I could go back further, but I only have a few seasons worth of data. Our high mark last season was 1.33 pts/poss against Boston College.
-- I didn't think it was possible to shoot better than we did against the Tar Heels, but we did--a lot better, in fact. The run we had coming out of the locker room was shocking; I figured we would get tired, go cold, and end up having to fight with the Hokies down the stretch. Instead we scored 26 points in the first nine minutes, putting us at 71 with 11:00 to go. Imagine if we hadn't slowed down in the last quarter of the game.
-- The individuals:
%Poss ORtg eFG% PPWS-- Before our last meeting with Carolina, Roy Williams said:
State proved to me they are 34 points better than we are, because they beat Virginia Tech by 11, and they were kicking our tails by 23 at one time.
So let's see if I can apply some Roy Williams Math here... Tech has since beaten Carolina again, this time leading by as much as eight, making them a total of 31 points better than the Heels. We beat Tech again, this time by 25, making us a total of 36 points better than the Hokies. But then again, if for the sake of consistency I go with our biggest leads rather than final scores, that makes us...Christ, I'm gonna need a new piece of paper. You know what--forget it. Okay, 31 plus 36 is 67; we are 67 points better than the Tar Heels. If you're really nice, Roy, we might only beat you by 20 on Wednesday. Might.
"Is it the shoes?"
Pts Poss Off_Eff eFG%
Not bad, eh?
Friday, February 16, 2007
Wolfpack Women Knock Off Second-Ranked Tar Heels
Pitchers and catchers, baby.
[Photo: Associated Press]
Players are reporting to their respective spring training destinations this week, and Kerry Wood is injured, so that must mean the baseball season isn't too far off. It can't get here fast enough. Soon, the eternal struggle of Good versus Evil will resume--though the bad guys will probably win again. Those jerks.
I went to high school with three guys who could be everyday players in MLB this season: Brian Anderson (CF, White Sox), Ian Kinsler (2B, Rangers), and Chris Duncan (OF, Cardinals). Two of them already have World Series rings. Me, I have a blog that no one reads. But who's counting?
We weren't much for football or basketball while I was in school, but those Canyon del Oro baseball teams, as you might imagine, were always good. The Anderson/Kinsler/Duncan team won the Arizona state title in 1997; Anderson and Kinsler won another title in 2000, a year after Duncan graduated.
-- TechHoops.com (nice looking website, by the way) has a preview of the VT/NCSU game posted.
And in case you were wondering, nc state is the only team in the ACC that averages fewer offensive rebounds per game than VT. Tech won on the offensive glass 12-7 in the game in January. This is not a very athletic team (other than Fells and Grant), but they are tall.
This provides an opportunity for a brief tempo-free stats public service announcement. Why use rebounding percentages? Because percentages give you context! Virginia Tech only "won" on the offensive glass because it had many more opportunities (17 more) than NC State to grab them (this tends to happen when one team shoots 37% and the other shoots 58%). The Wolfpack had the higher offensive rebounding percentage in the game.
-- Mechelle Voepel profiles Kay Yow for ESPN.com:
"Some people said, 'I think you should just rest, and next year … '" Yow said after practice. "But I have Stage 4 cancer. I'm taking major chemo. There is nothing that assures me that next year I could do it any more than I could now. Or it could be less. I have no assurance. If I had a cold or pneumonia, something that rest will cure …
-- For more on Duke, see Ken Pomeroy's post today.
-- I learned something new thanks to this article about the Kansas Jayhawks:
The origins of the play can be traced back to the mid-1970s. According to www.NBA.com, North Carolina State was the first team to regularly execute the alley-oop.
So there's this, and Everett Case started the tradition of cutting down the nets, and...? Any other hoops legacies I'm missing?
In the wikipedia entry for alley-oop, David Thompson is listed as one of several "Notable Alley-Oopers." Do you think he puts that on his business card? Because I would.
-- Here's an article on Cullen Jones from an Australian newspaper. Cullen's competing at next month's world championships in Melbourne.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Looking At The Adjusted Conference Standings
In the table below, teams are ordered by their expected conference records, which are derived from each team's offensive and defensive efficiency in conference play. Expected W-L records are calculated using the pythagorean theorem, and you can read all about it here.
EFF Margin = OFF EFF - DEF EFF
ExpW-L = Expected Win-Loss Record
ActW-L = Actual Win-Loss Record
(The conference average is about 105 for OFF EFF and DEF EFF.)
You can see the tiers breaking down like so:
Remember that Providence Journal article I mentioned yesterday? Believe it or not, the part I excerpted was actually the least ignorant paragraph in the whole thing.
Memo to Boston College fans who’ll attend tonight’s basketball game against Duke at Conte Forum: When you win, don’t rush the court.
Whoops! I love it when sports columnists go with the BOLD PROCLAMATION.
Duke has been underrated and misunderstood all season. And I can't believe I had to write that sentence. Damn you, mainstream media! I'm going to have to wash my hands after this.
I said it when I previewed Duke and I'll do so again: underestimate the Blue Devils at your bracket's peril!
Maryland 85, NC State 70
-- Everyone can relax--DJ Strawberry found his jumper. It was in the last place he looked. Honestly, I don't know why I even bother writing game previews. "Here is something that Oscar Opponent has been doing all season but will cease doing now that I've pointed it out." Strawberry makin' jump shots, Maryland's offense looking functional...and did Will Bowers shave? That's just kicking me while I'm down, man.
-- Maryland's five best offensive performances in conference play:
Pts Poss OFF_EFF
-- Maryland's defensive rebounding was as bad as advertised. Too bad it didn't matter.
-- In our six conference home games the average score is Visitor 79, Wolfpack 67.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Here is the box score. I think I'll have more later. Maybe.
During the game I was wondering, how many times do you think Gary Williams has said, "Goddammit, Bowers!" during Will Bowers's four years in College Park? I'm thinking at least 500 times.
A round of applause for Georgia Tech.
They finally broke through. Last night's 63-57 win in Tallahassee broke a 14-game conference road losing streak.
Florida State has some work to do; they're 5-7 in the league and finish with three of four on the road. Their offense has been well above average in conference play, but their defense is killin' them.
Why you cotton pickin'...!
The man's talkin' own his fancy typin' machine agin, y'all.
So, BC fans, unless you want to look like the sort of total yokels who’d make fans from N.C. State and Clemson seem sophisticated, then when your Eagles beat the Blue Devils tonight, you’ll give them a well-deserved cheer and then say: Bring on the Tar Heels — a real basketball team.
So we're now getting cheap shots from the Providence Journal of all places. I guess we've really made it as fans.
Brandine: Cletus, what are you beating your gums about?
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Scouting Report / Game Plan
The normal association that goes with "up tempo," at least for me, is "fun to watch," but Gary Williams's team proves that effectiveness is far more important than pace when it comes to aesthetic apeal. Maryland is again one of the 10-15 fastest teams in the country this season, and is, again, one of the most painful teams in the conference to watch. They eschew the three-pointer in favor of a plodding, whistle-heavy, lane-clogging style that is neither attractive nor effective.
They had the ACC's worst offense in conference play last season (96.4 pts/100 poss on dreadful 45.7% shooting) and they're 11th this season (100.4, 48.7%). Their starters in conference games this year:
ORtg %Poss eFG% PPWS %Shots TO%
Aside from James Gist, who has been very good, the numbers are dreadful. If anyone's seen DJ Strawberry's jumpshot, let him know...I'm sure he's looking for it. One thing I applaud the Terps for: they understand that Gist is their most productive player and allow him to take more shots than anyone else.
Greivis Vasquez (6-5, 195) -- Sometimes I think he shoots too much, but then I look at the above table and think, "okay, but who'd you prefer take them?" Vasquez is one of the team's few outside shooters, and I don't think they'd want Jones taking any more threes than he already is. Vasquez's assist rate is a modest 19.9% in ACC games, but this is mainly because he splits the PG role with Strawberry and Eric Hayes. Let me say also that I'm disappointed people aren't taking advantage of the pun opportunities offered by Vasquez's first name.
"And Vasquez throws it away..."
"A grievous error indeed, Jim."
Mike Jones (6-5, 204) -- 41.7% on threes for the year, but only 32.7% in conference games.
DJ Strawberry (6-5, 201) -- As mentioned, the shooting hasn't been there, but he distributes the ball without committing too many turnovers and he has a lot of value at the defensive end.
Ekene Ibekwe (6-9, 220) -- Turning the ball over a ton: you might could live with his 26.6 TO% in conference play if he were, say, the point guard. And if he happened to be the team's primary scoring option and a high-usage player, it might be understandable. But he obviously isn't those things. What he does do well: get to the free throw line, rebound the ball at both ends, block shots.
James Gist (6-8, 223) -- After posting effective field goal percentages around 49.0 in his first two seasons, he's at 55.3% this year, and that's made a big difference for the Terps. He is Maryland's most productive scorer in conference play, averaging 15 PPG and 20.4 pts/40 min. Solid rebounder at both ends and a good shot blocker.
Bambale Osby (6-8, 250), Eric Hayes (6-3, 175), Parrish Brown (6-1, 175), Will Bowers (7-1, 262) should all see some time, with Hayes playing the most. In conference games, Hayes sports a better assist-to-turnover ratio (1.8) than either Vasquez or Strawberry.
In ACC games Osby has, for whatever reason, become more active at the offensive end; if anything, though, he should be taking fewer shots now that the competition is tougher...
FGA/40min eFG%That 44.4% shooting in conference play comes with a turnover rate of 24.3%. Yikes.
I love me some Will Bowers because he looks allergic to both weightlifting and shaving. I'm not sure the Christ-this-hangover-is-killing-me look really works on the basketball court, though it is fitting when you consider that he also plays like he's hungover. He's the foulin'-est, turnoverin'-est tall dude you ever gon' see.
Defensive rebounding has been a huge issue for the Terps, which is strange because it wasn't a problem in 2006 and there hasn't been much change to the roster. Did Travis Garrison make that big a difference?
The problem is even bigger in conference games: opponents are grabbing 41.2% of their misses. Two opponents (FSU, UVA) have managed to grab more than half of their misses against the Terps.
Still, the Terps have an excellent overall defense. They rank 13th nationally in defensive efficiency and only three ACC teams have a better defensive efficiency in conference games. The primary reason is FG% defense, and they also force a lot of turnovers.
If you look in the scouting report, you can see that opponents are struggling to shoot from both inside and outside. Maryland has no shortage of big guards, and its post players are very good shot blockers; that's a nice combination.
Predict-O-Meter has Maryland 81-71, but I expect it to be closer than that. The Terps haven't been a good road team for a while now.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Every time we play Maryland, I'm reminded of this weird poster:
(By the way, you might be wondering what Nik is up to these days. It so happens that he is playing for the illest franchise in the CBA. And here I thought Isiah Thomas killed the CBA.)
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Barbarism Begins At Home
How do we allow Miami to grab 55% of its misses when other, far more proficient offensive rebounding teams haven't come close to that preposterous level of success? How does a 6-5 walk-on who came into the game averaging 4 rebs/40 minutes in conference play grab nine offensive rebounds by himself (while NC State had eight offensive boards as a team)? It's best not to ponder these things.
80 pts allowed / 60 possessions = a defensive efficiency of 133.3. Our worst defensive showing in conference play.
Despite this oh so odious outing, I'm keeping the faith. We're going to get to the NIT.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Friday, February 09, 2007
Scouting Report / Game Plan
Last year it was Lethal Weapon 3. This year it's, what, The Lone Gunman? Anthony Harris no longer has Robert Hite and Guillermo Diaz by his side, and his front court teammates have been dropping like flies. The latest casualty, Ray Hicks, joins Anthony King and Jimmy Graham on the sideline thanks to a suspension.
Despite all the turnover in personnel, Miami's offense hasn't taken a hit. Take a look at their 2006 and 2007 numbers--almost identical.
The Hurricanes continue to maintain a guard-oriented attack, with Jack McClinton playing the (very) poor man's Guillermo Diaz. They don't shoot well, but they protect the basketball and they're pretty good on the offensive glass even with a bunch of forwards missing in action. They've struggled to score on the road in conference play, but they've more than held their own at home--they have the fourth-best home offense in the ACC (112.9 pts/100 poss).
Denis Clemente (6-0, 178) -- Splits the point guard duties with Anthony Harris; in conference play Clemente is fourth on the team in both field goal attempts and scoring. His shooting has improved across the board, and after shooting 38.5% in 2006, he's hitting better than 50% this year.
Anthony Harris (6-2, 187) -- Good ol' Anthony Harris. He remains as high-usage and inefficient as always. He's hitting just 27.4% (20-73) of his threes in 2007, resulting in an ugly 44.2 effective FG%. If this is the last time we see you, Tony, farewell. We'll miss you.
Jack McClinton (6-1, 185) -- McClinton, a transfer from Siena, came right in and asserted himself as Miami's go-to guy, and while he did well in the non-conference portion of the schedule, the ACC slate has exposed him: 41.0 eFG%, 0.93 PPWS. Shooting better from three (36.5%) than he is from two (27.7%). He sports a sub-100 offensive rating in ACC games and provides nothing aside from his inefficient scoring.
Brian Asbury (6-7, 214) -- Outta no where! Asbury played sparingly as a freshman in 2006 (8 min/g) and finished the year 11-55 (2-24 in conference games) from the field. In 2007, he is logging 30 min/g and ranks second on the team in FGAs and PPG. He takes threes as often as Harris and Clemente do but probably shouldn't. Not much of a rebounder.
Dwayne Collins (6-8, 232) -- Here's something odd: Collins has more offensive rebounds this season (75) than he does defensive rebounds (67). He is in fact a brilliant offensive rebounder--one of the best in the country. In that regard at least, he gives the Canes what they're missing with Anthony King injured. The Hurricanes might think about looking to Collins for scoring more often; his 51.5% in-conference eFG% (on 7 FGA/g) is tops among the starters.
This is where it gets ugly.
James Dews (6-3, 198), Keaton Copeland (6-5, 245), Lawrence Gilbert (6-7, 201), Fabio Nass (6-11, 202)--a freshman, a senior walk-on, a freshman, and a juco transfer, respectively--are the reserves. Copeland may start on Saturday depending on how Frank Haith wants to match up. Copeland and Dews have been getting 10+ minutes in conference games, while the other two will play sparingly. Don't expect to see too many shots from any of them.
Copeland's conference-only stats suggest he's in way over his head, but he might just be distracted. Will he be the next forward to go down? He could be attacked by a shark. He could slip in the shower. He could draw the ire of the 7th Floor Crew. Or get trapped under a gas truck--that's the worst.
Raymond Hicks had been the Canes most productive bench player. What little scoring punch they had on the bench went bye bye when he got caught doing whatever he was doing. The starting five plus Hicks account for 90% of Miami's in-conference scoring.
The real impact of the injuries/suspsensions has been felt here at the defensive end. This is where the loss of forwards is showing most clearly. Opponents' interior shooting:
This is fantastic news for NC State since the Pack is an excellent two-point shooting team (57.1% on the year). Their perimeter defense has been suspect from the moment they entered the ACC (in three conference games against the Canes, NC State is 36-69 (.522) from beyond the arc), and now it appears we're in position to kill them inside as well.
The Miami D's in-conference numbers are worse:
It amounts to a defense that allows 120.8 pts/100 poss, one that's not even in the same hemisphere as the 11th-worst defense in the ACC (this gap graphically represented here). Miami: where they play defense like the Washington Generals.
That 57.2% shooting by opponents breaks down to 54.1% on twos and 41.3% (!) on threes. At home, on the road, it doesn't matter. In eight of their ten conference games, opponents have had an offensive efficiency rating above 120, and four times broke 130. At one point, UM opponents shot 60% (eFG) or better in five consecutive games (Duke, BC, FSU, VT, UNC). That there is some stunningly poor defense.
Score Predictor says Pack 77-72 in a game with 67 possessions. Remember, their offense keeps them competitive at home...if you go into Saturday expecting an easy one, I think you'll end up disappointed.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Glancing Back At The 2006 ACC Football Season
Statistically Speaking's Matt Melton takes an interesting look back at the 2006 ACC football season. He takes the points scored and points allowed by each team and compares those numbers to the league average and standard deviation. One of his conclusions:
Teams Likely to Improve: Virginia and NC State
A Few Items
-- Ken Pomeroy has a blurb on the Wolfpack in his latest post:
For five consecutive halves they looked like the best team in the ACC. It can be a challenge to distinguish between an anomaly and a trend. But I’m going to put this one in the anomaly category and say that Engin Atsur cannot possibly mean that much to a team.
I'm sure some of y'all will disagree, but I don't.
-- Big Ten Wonk is talking ACC today and he includes a handy graphical illustration of each team's offensive and defensive efficiency in conference play. I mentioned this in a post earlier in the week, but the graph really hits the point home: Miami's defense is hellacious.
-- A tip of the hat to the excellent DC Sports Bog for alerting me to this piece about beer pong:
If you're anything like me, you spent hours playing beer pong in college. Chasing pingpong balls into the corners of rooms that haven't been cleaned since the Truman administration was a regular weekend occurrence.
Every now and then when I'm playing, I'll pull a ball out of a made cup only to find that there's still a hair on it (this is usually a clue it's time to change out the water cup). Or I'll be drinking a cup, and--what's that?--yep, there's a hair in my mouth. And inevitably, with the ball hitting the gound as much as it does, a pube finds its way onto it...that's always fun. A couple of George Washington students actually ran lab tests to see just what kinds of bacteria (and how much) the game exposes people to.
ClayNation: What were your results?
Duke's New Basketball Stats Website
So I'm at GoDuke.com looking for the box score from tonight's game, and I stumble on this:
The website features in-depth and comprehensive statistics of Duke's men's basketball program. The website currently features every boxscore in Duke history since the 1936-37 season. Two of an anticipated four main sections are now available. The season section looks at each team since 1937 and has rosters, team stats, schedule and results and much more. The player section looks at the statistics from each player who saw action in a game since 1937.
Every box score since 1936...oh man, if NC State had something like this... [/drool]
Kudos to Duke for taking the initiative and putting this stuff out there for the public. You can dig around particular seasons and find things like Danny Ferry's 58-point effort against Miami (23-26 from the field!) in 1988. And you can look for hilarious old-timey names like Cornelius McGillicuddy.
South Carolina's Grady Wallace attempts 40 shots.
Eight Duke players score in double digits, but Duke loses to Wake 122-109.
David Thompson goes for 40 and 14 in Pack's 113-87 win in 1974.
DT gets 31 & 10, Tommy Burleson goes for 13 & 14 on 2-21-73.
Okay, I'm stopping now.