Monday, March 10, 2008

The Miami Turnaround

Two years ago, it was North Carolina--after starting 3-3, the Heels rolled to a 9-1 finish. Last season, it was Maryland; after a 3-6 start, the Terps found their offense and finished 7-0. In both cases, the change in performance was massive. The Heels and Terps had negative efficiency margins while they struggled, and when they put things together, both saw their margins soar into the positive double-digits.

This season's Miami team did something similar--at least in terms of results--bouncing back from a 2-6 start to go 6-2 during the second half of the conference slate. It turns out, though, that the margins in Miami's case are much slimmer; unlike UNC '06 and Maryland '07, the Hurricanes have not become a vastly superior version of their former selves.

                     Off_Eff     Def_Eff    Margin
First Half (2-6) 102.4 109.3 -6.9
Second Half (6-2) 109.1 105.2 +3.9

The offense:

                     eFG%    2FG%    3FG%   3FGA/FGA   FTA/FGA   FTM/FGA   FT%   TO%    OR%
First Half (2-6) 46.2 45.6 31.7 29.2 31.1 23.4 74.8 19.3 38.3
Second Half (6-2) 51.8 48.1 39.7 32.0 41.7 32.9 78.9 19.3 31.6

As you can see, the Hurricanes shot the ball considerably better during the second half of the conference schedule, especially from outside. They both took and made more three-pointers, and they also started getting to the line more frequently, which was coupled with increased accuracy from the stripe.

The numbers allowed by the defense:

                     eFG%    2FG%    3FG%   3FGA/FGA   FTA/FGA   FTM/FGA   FT%   TO%    OR%
First Half (2-6) 49.8 44.9 40.1 31.9 39.6 28.9 73.0 17.7 35.0
Second Half (6-2) 51.0 47.9 37.7 36.0 43.1 31.3 72.7 21.2 33.5

The change on this side of the ball is less significant. While opponents shot the ball better overall during the second half, they took a lot more threes while also making fewer of them. Miami also began forcing more turnovers and improved on the defensive glass, giving opponents fewer opportunities from the field to help offset the improved shooting.

Throughout the year, Miami's 2FG% defense anchored this unit. What a difference a healthy front line can make; in 2007, the Hurricanes allowed conference foes to shoot better than 55% from inside the arc.