Bumped. A must read post. GO BRUINS. -N
Warning: extremely long post ahead filled with numbers!
To preface this, I've been wanting to post this for a while because I'm a big guy on stats (it's my baseball roots I swear!) and analysis. I've been compling statistics of our team through 19 games so far to get a feel of how we are doing as a team essentially mid-way through our season. I'll have a more in depth analysis of what I found later. But during the course of research, I found some startling statistics I thought I would share and perhaps illuminate some of the concerns we've raised, and perhaps quell some myths and perceptions. I haven't had the time to do a full in-depth analysis on each player, and the small sample size can certainly skew perception, but I'd thought some statistical stats are in order.
Offensive & Defensive Efficiency and Success
Much has been made about our offensive woes in the media. They say that we can't score like UNC and can't win it all without an offense. Now, a lot know about Ken Pom's efficiency statistics. Let's apply this data to the last few final four teams, shall we?
Championship team is bolded:
Team, Adjusted Offensive Efficiency Rank, Adjusted Defensive Efficiency Rank, Adjusted Tempo Rank
Kansas: 2, 1, 136
Memphis: 4, 4, 87
UCLA: 7, 3, 217
UNC: 1, 19. 8
Florida: 1. 12. 167
Ohio St: 4, 15, 218
Georgetown: 2, 20, 328
UCLA: 23, 2, 266
Florida: 2, 5, 114
UCLA: 28, 3, 300
LSU: 50, 4, 95
George Mason: 49, 18, 286
UNC: 1, 5, 8
Illinois: 3, 11, 251
Louisville: 7, 14, 122
Michigan St: 6, 25, 142
UConn: 4, 5, 86
Georgia Tech: 25, 3, 64
Duke: 2, 4, 82
Oklahoma State: 5, 12, 218
KenPom stats only go back to 2004. And 2003, Syracuse was a great team but Carmelo, a once in a lifetime type of talent, largely put them over the top. But what do all these fancy numbers mean in terms of getting to the Final 4? Besides cinderella George Mason, the teams were all in the top 10 in either adjusted offense or defense, or in both. Besides Florida's repeat year, the champion has been in the top 5 in both adjusted offense and defense. Who say's that the tournament is completely a crapshoot? The best all-around team on both ends have won since 2004.
As far as tempo goes, there is a huge variation in the tempo of teams that make it to the Final 4. Georgetown's 328th rank in 2007 was even slower than ours! George Mason's 286th rank along with a top 20 adjusted defense (and some March Madness) gave them a cinderella run for the ages. 2007 saw 3/4 teams play way below the average tempo.
Yes, it's true that all the champions have played at near average tempo (Kansas, Florida 2007), slightly faster than average (Florida 2006, UConn 2004), or way faster (UNC) but all these champions had the same things in common: they were in the top 5 in adjusted offense AND defense (cept Florida 2007 at #12 defensively, but no other team in the final 4 was top 10 in both). But again, the correlation has by and large been to be in the top 5 in each and not tempo (at least, there aren't enough statistics done to correlate tempo to success). 2008 was our closest shot but we lost to the better team.
First Half-Second Half Splits
Unfortunately, college basketball doesn't offer too much in depth on statistical splits like baseball does, but we have some data we can use on this.
Compiled through our game with Washington, this is the total of what we scored in each half:
UCLA First Half: 709 points
UCLA Second Half: 707 points
UCLA OT: 4 points
And here's how our opponents are faring:
Opponents First Half: 497 points
Opponents Second Half: 637 points
Opponents OT: 7 points
That's right, no typo there. We have let opponents score a total of 637 points in the second half, or a grand total of 140 more points overall in the second half than in the first half.
Now make no mistake about it - a lot of the cupcakes we played, we had such a large lead by halftime that we didn't play defense at our full capacity in the second half.
However, it is quite clear that our problem throughout this season, and in particular the recent woes, have stemmed from poor second half defense. By statistics, through a course of a season, a team's first and second half on offense will be statistically equal, and it is: 709 points vs. 707 points for us. Our offense in the 2nd half of this season has matched our offense in the 1st half for the most part.
But that giant +140 points differential in favor of an opponent's second half is absolutely startling, and brings me to a few thoughts on what might cause our problems:
- Is it fatigue? Statistically speaking, over the course of the season, we have been giving our bench a lot more playtime than in previous years. And against UW, we substituted the bench pretty well. However, a part of this that might go unnoticed is that CBH often plays the starters for longer stretches during the 2nd half. In other words, bench players get more time in the 1st half than the 2nd.
- Opponent half-time adjustments are certainly a thing to notice. Coach Bennet up in WSU is certainly a brilliant coach IMO, having brought a ton of success to a team that wasn't known for having great talent. WSU scored a whole 13 more points in the 2nd half than the 1st half against us, and we scored 11 fewer points in the 2nd half than in the 1st in that game. We certainly can't ignore half-time adjustments by opposing coaches.
- How about fouls? This year, we are averaging around 17.5 fouls per game. In contrast, the previous three years, we averaged 14.2, 16.4, and 16.2 fouls per game. We certainly have more depth than in previous years, but fouls can lead to multiple free throw opportunities as well as and-ones. Averaging 3 more fouls per game this year, compared to last year, can easily account for 3-4 more points per game for the opponent. On top of that, it also cuts down the number of minutes that impact players can get time on the floor, which probably costs us more.
- Starters vs Bench. Now this is where I wish college basketball had a +/- stat (or better yet, statistical splits by half). This way we can get a gauge for how much a player's impact is on the course of the game. However, what has been troubling a lot of posters from what I've read is that this is very un-Ben Ball like to watch our starters cough up leads. Against ASU and WSU, our starters were the primary players on the floor in the 2nd half when we blew leads. Early in the season, when our freshmen hit the floor and opposing teams climbed back, CBH would pull the freshmen/bench and reinsert starters to get some stability. In the couple of weeks though, we've seen a much more stable bench and freshman play (a testament to CBH's ability to develop players).However, we've also seen our starting line up give up big leads in the 2nd half which has been very uncharacteristic. I'm not sure if its the lineup we're throwing out there, if it's fatigue, or a combination of a lot of things, but that's the fact.
Now those are just 4 possible factors that might cue in on our troubles this year, particularly recently. However, the point remains: over the course of the year, our defense in the 2nd half has been much worse than in our first half and that is going to need to change.
As Collison Goes, So We Go?
Many posters have noticed that Collison has been off recently in Pac-10 play since that game against USC. Here are his statistics over the last 4 games:
Minutes Played, FGM-FGA, 3FGM-3FGA, FTM-FTA, Points, Assists, Turnovers, Steals, Personal Fouls
vs AZ: 28 Mins, 2-5 (.400), 0-2 (.000), 2-2 (1.000), 12 Pts, 6 Ast, 2 TO, 3 Stl, 3 PF
vs ASU: 42 Mins, 4-14 (0.286), 0-4 (.000), 6-6 (1.000), 14 Pts, 3 Ast, 3 TO, 0 Stl, 2 PF
vs WSU: 35 Mins, 3-8 (0.375), 0-2 (.000), 2-2 (1.000), 8 Pts, 6 Ast, 3 TO, 1 Stl, 0 PF
vs UW: 36 Mins, 5-14 (0.357), 0-4 (.000), 2-2 (1.000), 12 Pts, 5 Ast, 2 TO, 1 Stl, 5 PF
Total: 35.25 mins/game, 14-41 (0.341), 0-12 (.000), 12-12 (1.000), 11.5 ppg, 5 apg, 2.5 to/g, 2.5 foul/g
Assist and turnover-wise, Collison has more or less been in line with the rest of his season. His free throw shooting is brilliant. However, after shooting most of the season around .500 on 3 pointers, he has gone 0 for his last 12. Obviously, its damn hard for anyone to maintain .500 on field goals, let alone 3-pt field goals, and his career 3 point shooting is in the .400's. That 0-12, however, reminds me of Shipp last year who couldn't hit a 3 for his life. Whether Collison is pressing, injured, or what not, it's clear that his jumper has left him recently. Sure, some shots are rimming out and others are desperation shots at the last second, but going 0-12 over 4 games is very unlike Collison.
Also, 14-41 for a .341 FG% is way below the rest of his seasons numbers. Yes, the competition is much tougher now, but missing that much is again, very unlike him. I know that many posters as well as CBH have said Collison should shoot more, so I'd have to wonder how much of this is him pressing vs. simply being in a slump.
Finally, for a guy who has been nearly perfect at the charity line this year, he doesn't get to the basket often enough. Besides the 6 free throws he shot against ASU, he's gone to the line twice in each of the rest of the games. I'm not sure if he's trying to shoot too much rather than driving, if he's not being aggressive enough, or whatever it is, but I'd love to see him go for more shots that give him free throws, because he is an absolute wizard at the line.
Just How Much the Opponent Stars are Hurting Us
The last couple of years, we've had some lockdown defenders we've assigned to defend the opposing team's star. Afflalo of course. Westbrook last year made Mayo and Bayless look like absolute fools. This year, however, I've noticed some startling statistics on some of the stars that have lit us up.
Let me first say that in basketball, there's always a teammate that can pick up someone's slack. And you can't always stop a great player. Last year, Brazelton of WKU dropped 31 on us in the tournament. And of course, D. Rose was just plain unstoppable all tournament (except free throws that is).
And of course, not shutting down the opponent's star player usually isn't conducive to success. However, in the losses we've suffered, we've been unable to stop their best offensive players: Harden dropped 24 on us (Pendergraph added 18 as well), AJ Abrams put up 31, I. Thomas put 24 up as well. Against Michigan, Sims put up 18 (and Manny Harris added 15).
Obviously, you can't possibly expect to slow every player down as there are 5 people on the court for each team at once. And some of these guys are just plain stars (like Harden, Abrams, etc.) But some of these are players that we actually have had size advantages on. And then you look at some other teams:
Tajuan Porter put 24 on us in Oregon. DeRozan had 15 points and was a big reason USC took the lead until Holiday shut him down. Taj Gibson had 13 in 23 minutes (thank goodness he was ridin the pine most of the night). Jordan Hill had 22 (and Budinger 14).
Again, we can't possibly expect to stop every player on every team, much less their stars. However, what is troubling is that we've given many players big nights and won despite not having shut them down. Usually, it's because of our depth and talent advantage. But, when we play against teams with equal depth or talent (such as Texas or UW), letting stars consistently put up big numbers has resulted in losses or games that were way closer than they should have been.
It's true we don't have the defensive stoppers of the past (when Luc or AA or Westbrook could be assigned to take on their best guy), but defense is also a team effort and its troubling when teams are consistently seeing their star player (and often times, as the list above shows, their 2nd best player) put up numbers better than their season averages against us. Yes, last year we had games where opposing players had big games on us, but we also saw plenty of games where their stars were better off on the bench (Mayo's 4 point clunker, Bayless, etc.) at times.
We're only 7 games into the Pac-10 season, so we have plenty of games left to see some progress on the defensive end. But needless to say, with so much of our offense coming from our defensive ability, struggling on defense has been a big issue and without defensive stoppers as in years past, we need to play better team D as a whole now.
Final thought of this long post is on the UW game: As in last year, at UW, we ended up playing on a tempo dictated by them, which was also a loss. I hope we clobber these guys when they come down to Pauley.