Jack Salt says this taking more shots than your opponent stuff really works. (Matt Riley/UVA Media Relations)
There are exciting developments afoot in the fast-paced, glamorous, and paparazzi-laden world of shot-volume studies.
Ever since the appearance of the shot volume index (SVI) a couple years back, the metric’s been dominated by one team: North Carolina. This hegemony has led casual fans and, yes, even texting coaches to infer something like the following:
Great. Want to put up a lot of shots? Be a storied program with six national titles and incredible athletes who form possibly the best offensive rebounding collective in the history of the sport. Hey, thanks, John! I’ll be sure to put that on my whiteboard tomorrow!
O, how the mighty have fallen….
Shot volume index (SVI)
Turnover percentage, offensive rebound percentage, and shot volume
Major-conference games only, through January 27
TO% OR% SVI
1. Virginia 13.0 30.0 101.6
2. Purdue 16.0 35.3 100.6
3. Tennessee 15.5 31.9 99.6
4. Arizona 15.3 31.1 99.5
5. Alabama 17.2 34.7 98.9
6. Duke 17.3 34.2 98.6
7. Baylor 19.4 39.9 98.6
The UNC legacy notwithstanding, getting more shots is about way more than just second chances. Actually, it’s mostly about first chances. You can’t get an offensive board if you’ve already committed a turnover. Continue reading
We’ve reached the time of year when good teams are being praised on the basis of showing up “in the top-[highest applicable number divisible by five] for both offensive and defensive efficiency at KenPom.” Specifically, Michigan State’s getting a lot of this variety of love at present.
(Virginia qualifies for this treatment too, surely, but the Cavaliers in 2019 are destined to be a special case. There’s a lingering UMBC effect 10 months after the fact that seems to be inhibiting a more full-throated chorus of bedazzlement.)
The Spartans are indeed destroying opponents, of course. Tom Izzo’s guys could well win the national title. (Heck, I’ve sung their praises too.) Not to mention it’s a clear basketball benefit to be one of the best teams in the country at offense at the same time that you’re also one of the best teams in the country at defense.
There’s no searing indictment to be filed against such common-sense notions, goodness knows, but a warning label may still be in order. “Top-X in both offensive and defensive efficiency at KenPom” isn’t as predictive of tournament success as you probably think it is, and, in particular, dual-efficiency essentialism can’t shed much light on whether a team so blessed — even if it’s a top seed — will reach the Final Four. Continue reading
In its 95-71 trouncing of Illinois in Iowa City this weekend, Iowa shot 34-of-50 from the floor and 15-of-21 from beyond the arc.
That nets out to an 83.0 effective FG percentage, which ranks No. 2 for accuracy from the field out of over 8,400 major-conference games played since 2006.
Effective FG percentages: 80 and above
Major-conference games only, 2006-19
opponent H/A eFG%
Clemson 12-Jan-11 Georgia Tech H 83.3
Iowa 20-Jan-19 Illinois H 83.0
Ohio State 6-Mar-11 Wisconsin H 83.0
Oregon 4-Feb-17 Arizona H 82.6
Providence 23-Feb-14 Butler A 82.1
Pitt 9-Mar-13 DePaul A 81.5
Illinois 6-Jan-11 Northwestern H 80.7
Virginia Tech 25-Feb-17 Boston College A 80.4
West Virginia 31-Jan-07 Rutgers A 80.4
Illinois 9-Dec-10 Iowa A 80.2
Arizona 7-Mar-09 Stanford H 80.0
Yes, you’re reading that correctly. Two of the best shooting performances of the entire decade have occurred when Iowa has played the Illini at Carver Hawkeye Arena. Go figure. Continue reading
Disqualifying players for committing too many fouls is a really old practice, but not quite as old as basketball itself.
The idea of removing players from the game after they commit their fourth or fifth or sixth personal foul has been in place for over 100 years. Indeed, disqualification of individual players is today, rather incredibly, the primary and virtually unchallenged method for penalizing fouls all over the world and at all levels of basketball. Yet you and I will likely never learn the name of the person or persons that first came up with the idea.
This is curious. After all, the shot clock had Danny Biasone and Leo Farris, and even the rather more murky-at-the-creation three-point line has multiple named aspirants for Founder status. But who will come forward and claim parenthood for, by far, the oldest feature of them all, the foul-out?
We do know the name in question wasn’t Naismith. In the good doctor’s 13 original rules, a player picking up their second foul was removed from the game, but only until the next basket was scored. That was actually more punitive than it sounds (scoring was infrequent at the dawn of “basket ball”), but the essential point is a player could still come back into the game after he or she had served their penalty.
That idea turned out to be surprisingly short-lived. By 1910, at the latest, officials in some college games were disqualifying players for committing too many fouls. The foul limit has been tweaked over the ensuing 100-plus years, and, when the upstart NBA rolled out in 1946, player disqualifications were part of that league’s original equipment.
The foul-out has been with us ever since. Continue reading
Those were the days. Sort of.
Every time my colleague Dick Vitale sees Zion Williamson take a seat on the bench after picking up two first-half fouls, he launches into an impassioned and loquacious plea (it’s true!) for increasing the number of personal fouls allowed per player to six.
And every time that happens, Twitter reacts to Dickie V with arch and snarky dismissiveness (it’s true!) and says it would never work.
Young turks on social media say, hey, great, just what we need, more fouls. Old geezers say, hey, I remember the old six-foul Big East from the 1990s, and it was awful.
Well, score one for the old geezers. Six fouls is not the answer, at least not now, and the Big East proved it between 1990 and 1992. (For the record, the Trans America Athletic Conference, the forerunner of today’s Atlantic Sun, joined the Big East in taking the six-foul rule out for a spin at that same time.) Continue reading
The last push notification of 2018 told me Steve Alford had been let go by UCLA, and it got me to thinking about just how unique his career has been. The ex-Bruin head coach has been nothing if not innovative in his comings and goings.
If you’re looking at college basketball fixtures that have been as famous for as long as Alford, you’re working from a really short list. Jim Boeheim, of course. Plus Mike Krzyzewski, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, and Danny Manning, certainly, but not too many others. Relative newcomers like Roy Williams and Bill Self, for example, were still anonymous assistants at North Carolina and Oklahoma State, respectively, when Alford won a national title as a player at Indiana.
What’s interesting about Alford in stark contrast to other hoary holdovers from the ’80s is that, to an extent that’s unusual and that far outstrips mere maturation, he seemed to change before our eyes. Continue reading
National title? It’s a possibility. (Jeffrey A. Camarati)
Every year since 2004, the eventual national champion has been ranked no lower than No. 12 in that season’s week six AP poll. Naturally, the eventual national champion tends to be highly ranked in any given week, but the week six poll in particular has, over the last 14 years, proven to be better than the rest all the way to Selection Sunday.
This bears mentioning because the 2018-19 week six AP poll was just released today. Here are its top 12 teams:
9. Michigan State
10. Florida State
11. Texas Tech
12. North Carolina
Coaches love to say that rankings don’t matter, and, strictly speaking, they’re right. Teams don’t win games in the NCAA tournament just because they earned a nice ranking in week six.
Instead, it tends to be the case that AP pollsters have learned a good deal by week six but aren’t yet too caught up in regular-season noise. Their rankings of eventual champions therefore tend to be a bit more accurate by this point than they are in the preseason. Continue reading