Thursday, April 25, 2013

Men's Basketball Review: The Defense

Earlier this week we looked at the Falcon offense.  We documented what I think we all knew--that our team struggled greatly on the offense end and ranked near the bottom of the conference is most of the measures. And yet, the Falcons finished did that happen?

The answer is that it happened on defense.  I was surprised when I began looking into these numbers. I had expected our defense to be kind of middle of the pack, but in fact, BG had a pretty good season on the defensive end of the ball.

That's significant because this is really the first year that the team went to a man-man defense for most of the season.  We did play zone here and there, but mostly we played man.  In previous years, we played almost exclusively a 2-3 zone.  Coach always said he wanted to be able to play both, but seemed to only be effective in the zone...this year he delivered.

Looking at the numbers....remember that we are using only conference games and tempo-free stats.

In overall defensive efficiency, BG was third in the conference at .971 points per possession.  That's behind Akron and WMU, and just ahead of OU.

For the record, last year BG finished 4th in the MAC with a slightly better result at .966 points per possession.

Now, let's look at the components of what went into that number.  The most important is shooting--specifically, Effective Field Goal%.  In fact, BG did not do a great job defending the shot.  BG was 6th allowing 46.9%.

In the past (up until last season) BG has really struggled defending the 3FG.  We did well last year and this year on that measure.  In fact, this season BG was 3rd in the MAC in allowed 3FG% and 4th in the MAC in raw numbers of 3 FGs allowed.  BG allowed 85 last year and 82 this year, and in the four years before that it was 114, 120, 93, and 105.

BG allowed opponents to shoot 47.6% on 2FGs, which is almost exactly what BG shot and which we indicated was good but not great.  So, for defense, it would translate into bad but not awful.

The next most important factor is turning the ball over--preventing a shooting possession from ever occurring.  This was not a strong point at all for BG--the Falcons were 10th in the MAC in turnover percentage.

Next is rebounding.  BG was 5th at keeping opponents off the offensive boards.

Finally, free throw shooting.  This was definitely BG's strong point.  The Falcons led the MAC in free throw rate allowed.

So, that all adds up to being the 3rd most efficient defensive team in the conference.  It is kind of interesting, in fact.  The sum is greater than the whole of the parts.  BG wasn't great against the shot or at forcing turnovers or at offensive rebounding, but kept teams off the line and ended up 3rd in the conference.

So for the second straight year, BG has played pretty good defense in the MAC.  The issue on 3FGs has been stabilized, we don't foul and we are pretty good against the shot.  The bottom line is that the defense did its job and is responsible for our team at least ending up 7-9.  The pity is that the offense didn't score even a little more effectively, because the defense was giving them something to work with.

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