So, now to review and sort out what we saw out there. We will start with the defense...and here is why. When Coach Orr arrived here, he did it talking about defense. (for that matter, when Coach Dakich left here, he was talking about defense). Anyway, there was a lot of "don't let your shooting percentage determine your winning percentage" talk. My contention has been that for most of his five seasons here, we have, in fact, been more talk than anything else on defense. So, we start with a kind of historic review, and then in another post we will break down the most recent system specifically.
The data for all these charts was gleaned from statsheet.com, and use conference games only. The data in the charts show our relative rank to other MAC teams, because I contend it is the only thing that truly matters....how is BG in relative relation to the other MAC teams?
The first, and most over-arching defensive measure is listed above...defensive efficiency, or points per possession. As you can see, BG has been above average only twice during Orr's time here. Those are also the only times BG had a winning season, and the only times that BG had a significant number of seniors. (This trend will run throughout the stats). Anyway, for whatever it is worth, this year's team was the best defensive team of the Orr Era.)
Next, let's look at the numbers that make up this number, starting with effective field goal %, the most important.
As you can see, BG has been generally pretty poor at defending the shot. The '08-09 season was the best, and this year's team is the second best, though pretty average in the MAC. (We will see in a second how this year's team went from being not so good against the shot to having the efficiency they had).
The next most important factor is taking care of the ball. Every turnover a team makes is a possession where there is no chance of scoring and there is often a transition opportunity going the other way. If a defense causes turnover, they can get away with being a little worse against the shot. If a team doesn't force turnovers, they have to be stronger against the shot. If they do both or neither, well, you can follow all that.
And here is the key to BG's defensive efficiency. In 08-09 we were better against the shot, but didn't force many turnovers. In 11-12, BG was 3rd in the MAC in forcing turnovers (again, using turnover %) and that combined with decent FG% was enough to be effective on defense. (There is one other factor--FTs, which we will cover in a second). BG has steadily improved in forcing turnovers each year, despite playing a zone defense.
The next factor is offensive rebounding....or, in this case, preventing offensive rebounds...
This story continue to get worse as you can see, after steadily improving over Coach Orr's first three years. We use rebounding percentage so that we can eliminate the effect of allowing fewer offensive rebounds by just allowing fewer missed shots. This percentage is the best measure of rebounding Again, you an see that this was the second worst season for BG in preventing offensive boards, and that's with at least four pretty good rebounders on the team.
Finally, one last stat to review...free throw rate.
Free throw rate is free throw attempts per field goal attempt. This is a tempo free method of expressing the stat while rewarding a team for the trade off to creating turnovers, preventing shots but committing fouls. Anyway, this has been BG's strongest part of the 4 factors during the Orr Era. It came on the heels of the Dakich teams, which were routinely whistled for two fouls while the starting lineups were being introduced. Of course, at that time BG also went from a man defense to a zone defense, but I don't think that completely accounts for it. I have felt that BG's teams have played better position defense under Orr. Who knows. Maybe it is mostly the zone.
OK, one last thing. In past years, these post-season reviews have focused on teams torching us from beyond the arc because we are in the zone. Coach Orr says you can play the 2-3 and guard the perimeter, but we never seemed to do it. In fact, when you look at the effective FG% above, a lot of the struggles are based on teams hitting 3s against us.
Anyway, we did play the zone (and these are conference only stats, and we played mostly zone during the conference season) and we did cover the perimeter much, much better than we did last year and the year before.
A few points...
BG has played good defense off and on, but is hardly a defensive powerhouse. Certainly, you can't look at these numbers and think that defense is the identity of this program.
It isn't the system. EMU started playing the same system we did with a bunch of players who had lost a lot of games the year before, and they were good at it right away.
We aren't good on defense year in and year out. Twice, on senior dominated teams we have gotten the job done. Now, I know you're going to be better with seniors, but a team that is committed to playing defense should be better year in and year out than this one is.
It will be interesting to see if next year's team will be able to continue our upward defensive trend as Thomas, Brown and Oglesby move on.
Next, we'll take a closer look at the defense for the 11-12 season.