Carousel speed as social-media artifact

Martin

With job changes in 2008, 2011, 2014, and 2017, Cuonzo Martin is a one-man (cyclical) carousel. (kansascity.com)

It started with NC State. The Wolfpack let Mark Gottfried go way back in mid-February. Then came news of openings at Missouri, LSU, Illinois, Indiana, Washington, and, finally, Georgetown.

Cuonzo Martin took the job at Missouri, creating an opening at Cal, and Brad Underwood elected to take the helm at Illinois, leaving behind a vacant chair at Oklahoma State.

That makes nine major-conference head coaches who will be rookies in their positions next season. Naturally, that number could go higher still if one or more of the remaining openings (Indiana, Cal, Oklahoma State, Georgetown) were to be filled by a candidate who’s presently a major-conference coach somewhere else.

It feels like an unusually active carousel this season, and by “feels like” I refer not to any silly conventional wisdom out there in the world at large but to my own real-time reactions. The past 10 days it’s felt like I can’t write two paragraphs without my phone chirping at me about yet another coaching move.

Well, it turns out my real-time reactions are slightly misleading. This isn’t even close to the most active carousel season we’ve seen this century.  Continue reading

These are the teams that can generate shots

Va Tech

Virginia Tech ranked No. 74 out of 75 major-conference teams for shot volume, and the Hokies’ offense was above-average anyway. What is this voodoo that you do, Buzz Williams?

Basketball’s a contest to see who can put the ball in the basket the most times, and for whatever reason fans, media, and, especially, coaches (at least when they speak for public consumption) have always chosen to focus on whether a particular attempt is a make or a miss. We go into exceptional and occasionally tedious detail on the importance of creating one’s own shot, the finer points of pick-and-roll kabuki (particularly on D), proper defensive stance and hand position and such.

All of which is self-evidently important, but all of which also assumes implicitly that the number of times you get to attempt a shot is more or less constant across teams and games. That assumption doesn’t hold up.

In addition to in-play success or failure, the volume of plays is the other 50 percent of the matter that’s getting perhaps five or 10 percent of the words and attention. To redress this imbalance, I’ve been using a shot volume index this season to try to measure which teams generate the most shots. I’ve listed the final results on that metric for 75 major-conference teams below. Continue reading

A viewer’s guide to Selection Sunday

URI

Stanford Robinson, Jeff Dowtin and Hassan Martin straddle the ridge between 67 happy teams and 283 benighted programs who will blame the coach, refs, the committee, East Coast bias, or all of the above. Welcome to Selection Sunday.

There are three broad areas of suspense in play for Selection Sunday 2017. Two of these areas are inherent to the endeavor itself and therefore venerable. The third’s arisen just within the past few years as a result of the committee’s unstated and perhaps unconscious but nevertheless unmistakable moments of Cal Trask-like rage against the unbidden and unwelcome KenPom dad figure.

The three areas of suspense to watch are:

1. The No. 1 seeds
I’ve suggested from time to time that No. 1 seeds don’t really matter. Villanova did pretty well without one last year, and, anyway, the magic numero uno is purely an artifact of how many quote-unquote regions there are. If the committee someday decides we should have 72 teams and eight regions with nine teams each, are we really going to obsess over the cut line on the S-curve between team Nos. 8 and 9? That answer would be yes. Admit it. Continue reading

Tuesday Truths: Final reality

Welcome to this season’s final installment of Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 120 teams in the nation’s top 10 conferences did against their league opponents on a per-possession basis.

A shot volume dynasty

bradley

UNC’s dominance on the offensive glass is made even more effective by the Tar Heels’ low turnover rate. (Jeffrey A. Camarati)

Through games of March 5, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession   Opp. PPP: opponent PPP
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

ACC                       W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  North Carolina       14-4   70.2    1.16    1.03    +0.13
2.  Louisville           12-6   67.9    1.13    1.01    +0.12
3.  Virginia             11-7   60.6    1.05    0.95    +0.10
4.  Florida State        12-6   71.1    1.12    1.03    +0.09
5.  Duke                 11-7   68.7    1.14    1.08    +0.06
6.  Notre Dame           12-6   67.9    1.10    1.05    +0.05
7.  Wake Forest           9-9   71.7    1.14    1.12    +0.02
8.  Syracuse             10-8   67.0    1.12    1.12    +0.01
9.  Miami                10-8   63.6    1.05    1.04    +0.01
10. Virginia Tech        10-8   67.7    1.10    1.14    -0.04
11. Clemson              6-12   66.8    1.09    1.14    -0.05
12. Georgia Tech         8-10   69.0    0.94    1.00    -0.06
13. Pitt                 4-14   64.7    1.02    1.14    -0.12
14. Boston College       2-16   71.6    1.00    1.15    -0.15
15. NC State             4-14   70.9    1.03    1.18    -0.15

AVG.                            68.0    1.08
Acceleration since 2015:        7.6%
KenPom rank: 2

In winning the 2017 ACC regular-season title outright, North Carolina came close but could not quite capture still another banner of sorts. This group was very nearly the best offensive rebounding team Roy Williams has ever had in Chapel Hill. Alas, the Tar Heels in 2008 rebounded 43.0 percent of their misses in ACC play, while this season Carolina posted a 42.1. Continue reading

Tuesday Truths: Penultimate edition

Welcome to Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 120 teams in the nation’s top 10 conferences are doing against their league opponents on a per-possession basis.

A theory of Duke

tatum2

One of the better looks Jayson Tatum and the Blue Devils got against Miami. (Lance King)

Through games of February 27, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession   Opp. PPP: opponent PPP
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

ACC                       W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Louisville           11-5   67.9    1.13    0.99    +0.14
2.  North Carolina       13-4   70.1    1.15    1.02    +0.13
3.  Florida State        11-5   71.8    1.13    1.03    +0.10
4.  Virginia             10-7   60.7    1.04    0.96    +0.08
5.  Duke                 10-6   68.5    1.14    1.08    +0.06
6.  Notre Dame           11-5   68.0    1.10    1.06    +0.04
7.  Miami                10-7   63.7    1.06    1.04    +0.02
8.  Wake Forest           7-9   71.9    1.12    1.11    +0.01
9.  Syracuse              9-8   66.8    1.11    1.12    -0.01
10. Virginia Tech        10-7   67.6    1.10    1.13    -0.03
11. Georgia Tech          7-9   69.1    0.95    0.99    -0.04
12. Clemson              4-12   66.8    1.07    1.15    -0.08
13. Pitt                 4-12   65.1    1.06    1.15    -0.09
14. Boston College       2-14   72.0    1.01    1.15    -0.14
15. NC State             4-13   71.2    1.02    1.18    -0.16

AVG.                            68.1    1.08
Acceleration since 2015:        7.8%
KenPom rank: 2
% of games played: 91

For all we know Duke could yet win the 2017 national championship — way stranger things have happened — but invoking those trusty Stranger Things is surely not a good sign. Besides, everyone and I do mean (almost) everyone thought the Blue Devils would look much better by now than they do in the numbers shown above. What has happened so far? Continue reading

Tuesday Truths: Presidential edition

Welcome to Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 120 teams in the nation’s top 10 conferences are doing against their league opponents on a per-possession basis.

Josh Pastner is doing a very good Tony Bennett impersonation

lammers2

Ask Syracuse: Ben Lammers is good at what he does. (USA Today)

Through games of February 20, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession   Opp. PPP: opponent PPP
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

ACC                       W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Louisville           10-4   67.3    1.14    1.00    +0.14
2.  North Carolina       11-3   71.4    1.17    1.03    +0.14
3.  Florida State        10-5   72.3    1.12    1.02    +0.10
4.  Duke                 10-4   69.3    1.16    1.08    +0.08
5.  Virginia              8-7   61.0    1.04    0.98    +0.06
6.  Notre Dame           10-5   68.0    1.11    1.07    +0.04
7.  Miami                 9-6   64.1    1.07    1.05    +0.02
8.  Wake Forest           6-9   72.0    1.14    1.13    +0.01
9.  Syracuse              8-7   66.7    1.11    1.11     0.00
10. Georgia Tech          7-7   69.1    0.95    0.99    -0.04
11. Virginia Tech         7-7   68.4    1.08    1.14    -0.06
12. Clemson              4-10   67.4    1.06    1.14    -0.08
13. Pitt                 4-10   64.8    1.07    1.16    -0.09
14. Boston College       2-13   72.1    1.00    1.14    -0.14
15. NC State             3-12   71.8    1.03    1.20    -0.17

AVG.                            68.4    1.08
Acceleration since 2015:        8.2%
KenPom rank: 2
% of games played: 81

Enough of this vaporous and imprecise “Josh Pastner has done a great job” stuff. Actually if we were judging this ACC coach of the year contest on offense alone, Pastner would stand a fair chance of coming in No. 15 in the balloting. (See numbers above.) Let us instead pay the head coach the compliment of attentive praise: Pastner, incredibly, may have the ACC’s best defense. (See numbers above.) Continue reading

Why freshmen may dominate the draft more than they did the college season

rw

Robert Williams.

The 2017 NBA draft is likely to be the league’s most freshman-dominant selection, well, ever. Since the one-and-done rule was enacted over a decade ago, the record for most freshmen taken as lottery picks is eight.

That occurred just two years ago in 2015. Sing along with me: Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Jahlil Okafor, Stanley Johnson, Justise Winslow, Myles Turner, Trey Lyles, and Devin Booker.

However this freshman class we currently have before us looks like it’s going to beat that record with ease. Right now on the mock draft boards, one of the few people on earth who’s not currently a college freshman but who stands an excellent chance of being taken in the lottery is Belgium’s own Frank Ntilikina. Another potential gate-crasher here could be Cal sophomore Ivan Rabb.

Other than those guys and their ilk, however, the top of the draft may be thick with freshmen, to wit:

Markell Fultz
Lonzo Ball
Josh Jackson
Dennis Smith
Jonathan Isaac
Jayson Tatum
Malik Monk
Lauri Markkanen
De’Aaron Fox
Miles Bridges
Justin Patton
Robert Williams
T.J. Leaf

Continue reading