Thursday, February 02, 2006

Duke 83, Boston College 81

Here's the table from last night's game...

Player

Off. Poss.

Off. PPP

Def. Poss.

Def. PPP

Paulus-on

61

1.23

60.5

1.17

Paulus-off

14

.57

14.5

.69

Redick-on

75

1.11

75

1.08

Redick-off

0

0

0

0

Dockery-on

60

1.12

57.5

1.17

Dockery-off

15

1.07

17.5

.80

McRoberts-on

42

1.24

43

1.21

McRoberts-off

33

.94

32

.91

Williams-on

69.5

1.09

70

1.06

Williams-off

5.5

1.27

5

1.40

Melchionni-on

34.5

.99

35

.89

Melchionni-off

40.5

1.21

40

1.25

Nelson-on

30.5

.79

34

.85

Nelson-off

44.5

1.33

41

1.27

Team Totals

75

1.107

75

1.08



A couple interesting points from this - first, the defense was substantially better when we had Nelson and Melchionni on the floor. The former doesn't surprise me, but the latter always does. This isn't the first time the defense has been quite a bit better with Lee on the floor as opposed to off. In fact, we've been better defensively when he's on the court in every game I've charted except Maryland (and we sported a .79 ppp when he was on the floor in that game). To me, this defies visual observation - Lee always seems a step slow on defense, which by extension would put more pressure on the other four players to cover his weaknesses, which would create more offensive opportunities. If anyone has any thoughts on why we seem to be better when Lee's on the floor, I'd love to hear them. Here's one idea, backed by zero empirical research - when he comes off the bench, he comes into the game when the other team has their bench players in as well. These players, on the whole, do not execute as well offensively as the starters, hence it's "easier" defense against those players. Like I said, this is pure speculation (though supported by that statistics from our end in this game - the team had a ppp below 1 when they were on the court, and above it for the other five players), but I'm really confused as to why the person who appears to be one of our worst defenders is continually on court when Duke plays its best defense.
Also, the trend I pointed out last time (offensive discrepancy when Paulus is on and off court) continued again - 75 points in 61 possessions while on the court, and only 8 in 14 possessions while off. The margin tonight was an astounding .66 points per possession, and on the season it's now .38 ppp - so when he's on the bench, we score slightly more than one point fewer every three possessions. Even though he wasn't very visible in the scorebook (1 point, 3 assists), his presence on the court was once again important in the end result.

A couple general thoughts on the game. This should have been an absolute blowout. From my best recollection, we lost no fewer than 6, and probably closer to 10 very easy assisted baskets because players either missed wide open shots (Lee, Dock) or failed to catch the ball (Shelden, at least twice). The box score says BC played good field goal defense, but the tape says that, at least for the first 30 minutes, it wasn't because they were pressuring shooters into bad looks. Now, once we went into the spread, BC's defense got a lot better. This is no surprise - when the offense becomes less aggressive, it becomes easier for a defense to maintain their position. Here's my comment on the spread - it becomes very difficult to maintain intensity when a team changes its pace from frenetic to very slow. We did well for the first 30 minutes because we played aggressive, high energy basketball. When your offense is applying constant pressure, it's easier to apply that same pressure on the defensive end - it's just maintaining a steady energy level on both sides of the ball. Once the spread is called for, the energy level naturally drops - it's tough to play a high-energy, intense four corners. When the energy and intensity drop on the offensive side, it's tough to just turn it back on down at the defensive end of the court. I think that's why it looked like we were back on our heels on defense at the end of the game - we were deliberately trying to take the intensity out of the game on the offensive side, and it allowed BC to seize control of the energy, and thus the momentum. Now, we win more often than we lose when we go into the spread, and lots of times its because the opponents are deflated by the time we get there, and can't ratchet the energy back up. But BC did last night, bolstered by the crowd and some big shots, and if the game had gone 60 seconds longer, we probably lose.

4 comments:

mod6A said...

not one word about the officiating?


very exciting game. would be fun to meet again.

MulletMan said...

Dude,

Dig the blog. First time I've seen it. Enjoy the analysis. Well written and nicely thought out. Keep up the good work... I'll most certainley be checking back in.

Oh, and mod6a... why talk about the officiating? Everyone else is. Besides, there is no scenario in which people don't say the refs gave Duke this game, so why debate it? The lack of continuity in officiating crews and conference assignments is effecting well played games like last night, but its just a matter of fact now.

mehmattski said...

I too am baffled that the statistics support Lee's defense despite massive anectdotal evidence to the contrary. My theory would be this, at least for the BC game: my feeling was that every time Lee was in the game, so was Nelson (they do appear to both be in for 40 some defensive possesions). And when those two were in, McRoberts and Dockery usually took a seat. So Duke's best position defender, both anecdotally and statistically was on the floor when our two worst defenders statistically were off the floor.. and Lee just came along for the ride. Personally, watching Lee play defense makes me want to cry sometimes; the only thing worse is when he tries to dribble and create his own shot.

Anonymous said...

One quick comment about Lee and defense. Perhaps the reason the statistics show that our defense is better when Lee is in the game is because of the fact that Lee is not as woefully awful as some make him out to be. Sure, I've seen Lee make mistakes on both ends of the court. However, what I also see is an amazing amount of heart and determination whenever he steps on the court. He really reminds me of Wojo in that respect.