Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Falcon Men's Basketball....Review of Offense

So, we continue our review of the Men's Basketball season with a look at the offense.  I think it is safe to say that this is the part of the team that most would point to as being responsible for BG's struggles this year, and they'd be pretty much right.

A couple "housekeeping matters."  I use tempo free stats here....when we talk tempo-free, we talk about the Four Factors....and you can check this out if you want a basic explanation of how it works.

To get the cleanest measure, when I look at stats I look only at regular season conference games.  We play teams out of conference that we should beat and we plays teams we can't beat.  The teams in the MAC are the teams we should be able to compete with.

Here is the telling stat.  BG was 11-1 (overall) when it held opponents to .93 points per possession or less, and 2-18 when it allowed teams above .93 points per possession.  Remember, the average in the MAC is right about 1 point per possession.  Essentially, that means that BG's defense (which was pretty good) would need to hold opponents to .93 points per possession to have a shot at winning, and that's just not going to happen.

If you did average holding your opponents to .93, you'd be one of the top 40 defenses in the country and that would just be your average--you might still finish .500.

While we are looking at this, there is an odd number in here as well.  BG was 8-1 when they scored 1.06 points per possession or more, which you would expect.  But, BG was 1-7 between .97 and 1.05 including 5 road losses.  That's tough to believe...you are scoring enough to win some of those games.  It boils down to an inability in those games to match good offensive and defensive performances--and it calls into question the idea that good defense will promote good offense.

Moving to the numbers, BG finished 9th in the MAC in offensive efficiency (conference games only) with .959 ppp.  The interesting thing is that the 8th ranked team was Ball State, and they were at 1 point per possession, which means that there were 8 teams in the MAC that managed to get 1 point per possession and four that were simply much worse...BG, Miami, EMU and NIU.  (At .85, NIU isn't just bad, its REALLY bad--334th in D1.)

So, there was a cohort of four teams in the MAC that were really poor offensively...and BG was one of them.  Breaking it down, BG was 10th in the MAC in Effective FG%, the most important component in offensive efficiency.  (EFG% is just field goal % with credit for 1.5 for a made 3FG, so teams are compensated for the risk of taking the lower percentage but higher reward shot.)

Now, it is no great secret that BG likes to play inside out...and in fact, BG got 62% of its points on 2-point FGS, which was the highest in the MAC and 8th in all of D1 basketball.  As we all know by now, however, the question isn't just how many points you scored, but how many shots you had to take to get there...how many possessions did you invest in getting 62% of your points?

We find that BG took 74% of its FG attempts from inside the arc, also the highest in the MAC.  In fact, BG shot only 48% from inside the arc, which was tied for 7th in the MAC.  OU shot 54% and Buffalo shot 53%...for the conference lead.

In other words, BG was committed to scoring 2FGs...and did score them...just too inefficiently to have an effective offense.  If you are going to commit 74% of your shots to 2FG, you need to make them at a good percentage to have a shot at winning.

I think we all know where the rest of the shooting story leads.  BG focused on the 2FG and was very poor on the 3FG.  BG was 11th in 3FG and 12th in 3FGA...10th in 3FG%.  BG tied for last getting 21% of its points on the 3FG...the average MAC team got 27%.

Though separated here, these two kinds of shooting are interrelated.  BG's lack of a 3FG threat allowed defenses to focus on the inside game and made it more difficult for BG to make those shots.  What matters is how the two combine to form a result, and the result in this case was among the worst in the MAC.

After shooting, we move onto turnovers, the second most important factor.   If you turn the ball over less often, you get more shooting possessions and can score more points.  It is one of the way poor shooting teams can compensate.  BG was stronger here, with the 6th ranked turnover % in the MAC (21.4%).  This is still slightly worse than the MAC average.

The next most important factor is offensive rebounding %.  BG was not a good team on the offensive boards, ranked 10th in the MAC with 30.8% of the available rebounds.

Finally, the 4th factor is getting to the line.  BG was last in the MAC in Free Throw Rate by a very healthy margin.

I don't suspect any of this is very surprising.  In capsule form, you had a team with a one-dimensional scoring attack that did only an average job of taking care of the ball (and therefore creating shooting possessions) and did not compensate for those weaknesses by getting offensive rebounds and second chances or by getting fouled and to the line.

That's the anatomy of how you get the 9th best offense in the MAC and need your defense to provide top-40 ranked efficiency to have a shot at winning consistently.

The amazing thing is that as bleak as these numbers are, BG was 7-9 in the MAC.  We will see how that works out when we look at the defense.....

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