Sunday, April 15, 2018

BG MBB: Defensive review

So last week we looked at the BG MBB offense.  Now's a chance to go back and look at the defense.  This is a far more interesting case...and partly confounding at first.

Here's the thing.  Based on the AVERAGE stats, BG was in the middle of the pack on defense.  BG was 7th in defensive efficiency.  And yet, anyone who watched the team live would have to think that BG was often just awful on defense.  How can that be?

So, I went digging into the numbers a little bit.  I would suggest to you that the actual issue is not the average but how the average was arrived at and therefore, really, consistency.

There are multiple ways to arrive at an average.  The normal way is to have a bunch of results right around the average and fewer as you get away from the average.  You could also have a bunch of good results and a bunch of bad results and then that would average to the middle.

Let's test that on BG.  The MAC average points per possession was 1.057.  BG was 1.064.  For comparison, we will also look at Kent at 1.059, the nearest team to BG.

So, what you'd expect is a team averaging where BG and Kent did to have games around the average, say from 1.0 to 1.1.  Kent had 7 of their 19 games in this middle range.  BG had 3.

Meanwhile, BG had 8 of their 19 games at 1.13 or more.  Kent had 5.  BG had five games over 1.24 and Kent had 1.

And that's how you can be an extremely inconsistent defensive team and still end up in the middle of the pack on average.

BG had some good games, too.  BG had 8 games under 1 point per possession and Kent had 6.

Now, does that all matter.  The answer is, obviously, it does.

BG had 8 games under a point and went 6-2 in those games.
BG also had 8 games over 1.13. (1-7)
BG had five games over 1.24 (1-4)

For the curious, the outlier is the 2/13 WMU game, the only one where BG played dreadful D and then outshot it.  The games where BG played good D and still lost were the @Kent and @BSU.

There was a narrative for much of the season that BG needed to get stops to get in transition to help their offense.  I just can't see how this can be the whole story.  When playing better than average defense (when you'd expect that all to kick in) BG was only 6-4.  As I noted in the offensive review last week, BG simply also has to get better as a shooting team.  You should win when playing above average defense.

Having said that, you can see that in a staggering 20% of the games BG's defense gave them virtually no chance to win.

A few more points.

Going back to averages....

BG was the best team in the MAC on the defensive boards.  This is vital to the transition concept.  BG was also 10th in steals.  It seems like you don't see teams do well in both.  There's a trade-off in spacing.

Anyway, beyond that BG was average against the shot, at forcing turnovers and keeping teams off the line.

BG was 11th defending the 3FG.

So, as with much of the program, there's major work to be done here, especially as the personnel continues to evolve.  My understanding is that Laster is a strong defender.  From an observation standpoint, BG seemed to give up a lot of PGs driving straight at the basket which I suspect played into late-season PT allocation.  

Last point.  You don't have to be a great defensive team to be in the top ranges of the MAC.  UT was in the middle of the pack as well.  But you will never reach any of your goals--regular season title, 20 wins, MAC tourney title--without playing more consistent defense and being a multi-dimensional team.

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