Bryce Watch 2014

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Bumped. GO BRUINS. - BN Eds.

Since Alford has been talking up Bryce recently, I decided it would be worth examining the merit of some of his statements. As Ajax reported here, proud papa Alford has been touting Bryce's performance as a point guard. Specifically, Alford says that "Bryce is somebody who's really controlled our offense" and "he's been top-5 in the Pac-12 in overall games in assist-to-turnover ratio." The latter claim comes with an important caveat, though: Bryce is in the top-5 in assist-to-turnover ratio (A/T) for those players averaging at least 3 assists per game (APG). Since Bryce's average is just 3.0 APG, he has the bare minimum qualification for the list. This is an important fact because a quick look at the top-15 list shows that all of these players average more assists per game than Bryce and most average more assists per minute too. Also, all the players above Bryce in A/T (and some below) have APG averages that are 173% - 220% higher . For example, Kyle Anderson is eighth on the list but averages more than twice as many assists per game (6.6) as Bryce. Therefore, Alford's implication that Bryce is a top-5 Pac-12 point guard is absolutely preposterous. Moreover, considering the fact that Bryce is on a team with fantastic scorers yet still doesn't produce an impressive assists per minute figure means that it's not very accurate to say that Bryce controls the offense.

It seems to me that there's another deception embedded in Alford's boast about his son. Most of the Pac-12 teams didn't use their nonconference schedule to feast on cupcakes, or at least not to the extent that the Bruins did. Most of the Pac-12 point guards didn't have the opportunity to pad their statistics against teams like powerhouses Prairie View, Weber State, Sacramento State, and Chattanooga. So although we're not very far into the Pac-12 conference schedule, it's interesting to compare Bryce's season stats with his conference stats. Since Alford is keen to compare his son with other Pac-12 players, let's see how the comparison looks when the cupcakes are filtered out:

Bryce Alford (all games) 22.7 7.4 5.4 42.3 45.1 67.4 3.0 1.2 1.9 0.1 1.1
Bryce Alford (conference) 23.4 9.0 6.4 34.4 43.8 76.2 2.0 1.6 2.2 0.0 0.8

The first thing to note is that Bryce no longer qualifies for the Pac-12 A/T list since his assists per game (APG) average has dropped to 2.0. The second thing to note is that Bryce's A/T in Pac-12 games is just 1.25, which is poor compared to the top-5 on the A/T list for Pac-12 conference games since all of the players in the top-5 have an A/T of 2.0 or more. So when Alford suggested that Bryce is a top-5 Pac-12 point guard based on A/T, the three words "in overall games" was an essential part of his misleading statement.

Although it's admittedly a small sample, it's interesting to see how Bryce's stats have changed in Pac-12 play. His minutes per game (MPG) are up, his field goal attempts per game (FGAPG) is up, his turnovers per game (TOPG) is up, but his shooting percentages from the field are down, his assists per game (APG) is down, and his steals per game (SPG) is down. In fairness to Bryce, his rebounds per game (RPG) is up, his free throw shooting is better, and he's scoring an extra point and a half per game. (His scoring bump is explained by the fact that he's shooting an extra shot from the field per game and by the fact that he's shooting better from the free throw line.) Overall, it's fair to say that in Pac-12 play so far, Bryce is playing noticeably worse but getting a little extra playing time in spite of the drop-off in his performance.

Next, as Nestor reported here, Alford has described Bryce's play as "incredibly steady." Let's see what "incredibly steady" looks like:


Mean = 7.4, Standard Deviation = 5.8

NCAA Basketball


Mean = 3.0, Standard Deviation = 1.7

College Basketball Stats

Looking at the magnitude of the standard deviation compared to the mean for both assists and points, it's a stretch to describe Bryce's performance as "steady," and to describe them as "incredibly steady" involves denial of reality. (As a point of comparison, Kyle Anderson averages 6.6 assists per game with a standard deviation of 2.1.) In fact, the steadiest element of Bryce's statistical line so far this year is his minutes per game, a number that doesn't drop significantly when Bryce plays poorly. Of course, coaches rarely pull their star players just because they're not playing well.

For those in the BN community who believe I'm a Bryce hater and a big meanie for periodically posting his stats and commenting on his defensive deficiencies, let me first say that your absence since the recent road trip has been noted, and I'm looking forward to seeing your comments again as soon as Bryce has a decent game. You've been missed! Secondly, I want to (again) point out that this fanpost is a criticism of Bryce's father, not Bryce. If Steve Alford were to leave UCLA and be replaced by a top-tier coach--the kind of coach that Coach's program deserves--I'd be happy to have Bryce stay and I'd trust a first-rate, objective coach to utilize him properly. In my opinion, that would mean bringing in an elite point guard for 2014-2015. It would be good for Bryce to get the benefit of top-notch coaching and to face the challenge of having to earn playing time, and it would be good for potential recruits to know that the competition to play point guard will be fair.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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