Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Men's Basketball...a report on fouls

One of the things I was interested was seeing how fouls play into the production of teams in MAC Men's Basketball.  I wanted to see, on a tempo-free basis, which teams drew the most fouls and which teams fouled the most.  These are MAC games only.  A caveat.  I understand that there are offensive fouls but most fouls are on the defensive end and this analysis treats them all as defensive fouls.

Below is how you do at getting fouled.  It will not surprise anyone that BG is last in this measure.  BG simply does not have the playmakers that you need to get fouled a lot.  If we had one it was Calhoun, and he was normally double or triple teamed.  Anyway, the MAC average is for a team to have its opponents commit a foul a on 28% of its offensive possessions and BG was at 23%.

There is not a lot of variation here.  Seven of the 12 teams are one percentage point above or below the league average.  Ball State was led by Majok Majok, a virtual free throw machine who shot more FTs in MAC play than FGs and led the nation in free throw rate.  (See below).

The other thing I was interested in was what kind of fouls they were.  Not all fouls are equal.  A shooting foul nets 2 FTs which is better than a foul away from the basket.  (A stat that kept track of +1s would be great).  There's also the issue of teams earning their bonus shot, but we can't really factor that out.

Anyway, to measure this I took the number of free throws a team took and divided it by their opponent's fouls.  The average MAC team got 1.14 free throws per foul.  There is a little more variance here.  Kent was clearly the best and I would say they were earning a lot of 2-shot fouls.  WMU I suspect benefits from being in the bonus a lot.  I was surprirsed to see NIU and CMU this high.  Once again, BG not only had the fewest fouls but the least productive ones.

Flipping around now, we can take a look at what teams did with their own fouls.  The Falcons were good at not fouling.  Remember, the average is 28% of possessions, so BG was well below that.  If you recall, this was the strongest part of BG's defensive game--and a defensive game that was actually pretty good.

NIU committed a lot of fouls, probably both because they are bad and because they were losing a lot. WMU plays physical.  The remainder of the teams were all clustered right around the average.  One other note...if you are in the conspiracy theory school of refereeing, this should clear it up.  Foul calls are pretty much well distributed.  Now, you can get philosophical and say that Akron (just to make up an example) fouled A LOT more but didn't get called.  I don't see it that way.

Finally, how unproductive are your fouls?  Here is the one chink in BG's armor as they are just a click below league average.  Beyond that, you can see that the MAC's two worst teams gave up the most shots per foul, but OU and Toledo are the next ones down.  As with the other side of the ledger, there is more disparity here than there is on the pure number of fouls.

Finally, to look at individual free throw rates, which is free throws made per offensive possession.  Courtesy of statsheet.com, you can see the players who got to the line a lot based on the number of times they had the ball.  Majok Majok led the nation in this category.  Note three BSU guys in the top 10.  Chris Evans had a monster conference season.  Finally, only 4 of these guys will return to the MAC next year.

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