Tuesday, November 28, 2006

IU Preview (slightly more in depth)

IU has a relatively old team in the world of college basketball these days. All 5 of their starters are juniors and seniors, and no freshman or sophomore is currently getting 20 minutes/game. However, the Hoosiers aren't the most experienced of teams, and lost a healthy amount of talent last year (in Killingsworth, Vaden, and Strickland they lost over 43 points per game, as well as a lot of leadership). The starting lineup features AJ Ratliff, Earl Calloway, Rodrick Wilmont, Lance Stemler, and DJ White. White is a defensive threat down low - he blocks lots of shots and rebounds well (7.5/game in only 24.5 minutes/game), but he also gets in a lot of foul trouble. Ben Allen, a 6'11" sophomore, is his backup, but the talent difference between Allen and White is significant. Getting DJ into foul trouble should be a point of emphasis - look for Duke to go inside early, not just in post entry passes, but also sending Henderson and Nelson slashing to the basket to try to draw contact from White as he comes over to block shots. The other four starters are all essentially perimeter players - Stemler, ostensibly the other forward, has taken 24 of his 33 FGAs from beyond the arc (that's 73%, for those scoring at home). Of course, he shoots 50% from 3, joining Wilmont (46% from 3 on 26 attempts) as serious outside threats. Closing out on these two will be important. Look especially for Stemler to stay outside when Duke has both McRoberts and Zoubek in the game together. The other two guards are not outside threats - Ratliff is only a 27% shooter, and Calloway has only 1 3pt attempt on the year. Calloway, however, is remarkable at converting his twos - he's been 18 of 25 on the year for a .720 field goal percentage. The lesson here is that when Ratliff and Calloway have the ball, Duke's guards should play off a little bit and force them to take outside shots. The same goes when backup point guard Armon Bassett is in the game - he's a fine distributor (leading the team in assists despite playing only 18 minutes/game) but a lousy shooter - 30% overall and 0 for 9 from 3. The keys to containing IU will be to neutralize the outside shooting of Stemler and Wilmont.

When Duke is on offense, the Devils should have a distinct size advantage, regardless of the front court lineup - IU's starting backcourt is all around 6'3", Stemler is 6'8" (and he plays smaller), and even White is only 6'9" (though he plays bigger). With DJ White as really the only viable interior defender, look for Duke to try to hammer it inside early, both to draw fouls on White and to prompt the rest of the Hoosiers to collapse for help, resulting in some open outside looks. Wilmont and Calloway are both superb perimeter defenders (over 4 steals a game between them), and will put a lot of pressure on Paulus and Scheyer when they handle the ball. Sticking both Paulus and Scheyer in the backcourt with Nelson on the floor at the same time will either create a mismatch with Ratliff covering Nelson, or force Calloway onto Nelson, giving whichever guard Wilmont isn't covering a little more room to operate. IU has made a lot of its offense on the result of forcing turnovers on the defensive end, and we all know Duke hasn't been great at holding on to the ball. Keeping turnovers down (and accordingly keeping IU from getting easy transition buckets) will be a big key tonight. This looks like a game Duke should win by 7-10 points, but if the TO rate is up over 25%, it could stay very close all the way to the end.

ACC-Big Ten

First, stats - after tonight, stats will be updated through Indiana (although possibly without the Air Force game included - I'm hoping to watch it tonight after the IU game to track the substitutions).

Second, Indiana game preview. Indiana has really struggled on offense so far this season, though their struggles have been the result of two primary problems - lots of turnovers, and poor ball movement. Indiana turns the ball over on well over a quarter of their possessions, and they don't record a lot of assists (only 40% of made baskets). Duke has done a fine job this year forcing turnovers, so look for that to be a key in the game. Of course, on the other shoe, Duke has been dreadful turning the ball over on offense, and IU has also done well forcing turnovers - this could be a TO filled affair. One other stat of note - Indiana's opponents have a 42.2 free throw rate (meaning they shoot 42 free throws for every 100 field goal attempts), and Duke has been good at getting to the stripe. A high conversion rate from the line could be another key to victory.

Third, ACC/BigTeleven in general. Here, in no particular order, and with no particular explanation, are picks: NC State (ok, that doesn't really count), Duke, Georgia Tech (by a lot), Maryland, Miami, Purdue, UNC, Wisconsin, Michigan St, Virginia Tech, Clemson, for a grand total of 8-3 ACC.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Brief update/recap

So I ran into the first hitch with the game tracking, since GoDuke doesn't have substitutions listed on the play-by-play from last night, and I think they won't for tonight's game, either. All that means is that I have to go back over the game tape to track subs, which probably won't get done until the weekend (complicated a little by the fact that I'm going out of town for the holiday). So new stats update is put off until after the Davidson game.

As for the brief recap, last night was a perfect illustrations of why tempo-free is essential for hoops understanding. Ordinarily, 71-56 wouldn't look like a model of offensive efficiency. However, in a game that was almost glacially slow, Duke's 71 points represented an ORating of 124.6, which is exceptional (even Air Force's 56 points came in just 57 possessions - at slightly under 100, their ORating was only slightly below average for the night, though obviously well below their previous averages). There were two primary reasons for this - first half shooting (a ridiculous .826 EFG%) and rebounding (52.9% of all Duke misses came back to the Devils for second chance opportunities). This was probably the best overall rebounding game Duke has had in years - they got 75% of all misses, including the aforementioned 52.9% offensive and an unreal 91.3% defensive. Duke played a very disciplined game against a very disciplined team, and executed well enough to win.

Tonight's game could look a lot different. Marquette has some very athletic guards who will want to push the pace a little. Watch to see if Duke tries to run with them - it would be a great sign if, on back-to-back nights, the Devils could play two opponents who play two different styles of basketball and win each game by adapting to the opponent's style. Those are the things that teams need to do to win championships.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Air Force Preview

Just a note to start, all the Duke tempo-free stats (team stats, team stats by player, and player stats) are updated through the UNCG game. Next update will follow Tuesday's game.

Air Force has been very, very good so far this year, with the exception of a 1 point squeaker over Long Beach St. Their shooting has been lights out - 62% on 2s, 44% on 3s, for a 64.5% efg. One sign that this may not continue - the FT% is only 69.4. They're a perimeter-oriented team that shares the ball very well - nearly 45% of all shots are 3s, and 66% of all made baskets are assisted. Air Force holds onto the ball well (under 20% turnover rate), but doesn't crash the offensive glass (28%). Their close game against Long Beach St. was the result of poorer shooting (only 8 of 23 on 3s) and high turnovers (19 in a 73 possession game).

Duke's hallmarks so far in this young season have been field goal defense and forcing turnovers. Teams are shooting 27% on 3s and a remarkably low 31% on 2s. Duke is also blocking nearly 1 in every 5 opponent shots, and forcing turnovers on almost 30% of opponent possessions. It's safe to say that Duke is likely more athletic on the perimeter than any team Air Force has played so far. Air Force runs the updated Princeton offense, a system Duke has struggled against in recent years (games with NC St. are always close, Georgetown loss last year). It should be a good test for Duke's perimeter defense - they have to stay disciplined and stay active, trying to force turnovers and really get in the face of Air Force's shooters. Don't be surprised if Nelson, Henderson, McClure, and Thomas are all on the floor at the same time quite a bit.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Tale of Two Box Scores

On a busy day in college basketball that saw Ken Tutt, Caleb Green, and the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles upset much-hyped KU, and Torrell Martin turn in a Jekyll and Hyde like performance between the first half and second half of a near Winthrop miss against much-hyped UNC, my gaze is still stuck on two games between two mediocre (at best) D-I programs against non-DI opponents on opposite coasts. The games I'm referring to are VMI vs. Virginia Intermont, and Cal-State Northridge vs. Redlands. Why my interest in these games? Because both were played at a pace so fast that frenetic doesn't do it justice. VMI won 156-95 (not a misprint). They took 118 shots, and 61 threes. They forced 47! Intermont turnovers, while only giving up 8 themselves (which would translate to slightly under 5 in an average game). All in all, there were 228 total possessions in the game, meaning that, on average, each team had the ball for approximately 10.5 seconds every possession - that's nearly six possessions per minute, every minute, for 40 minutes! Keep an eye on VMI - they've posted over 100 in 4 of their 6 games (counting exhibitions) and look determined to play a very up-tempo style.

Over on the left coast of the country, Northridge was forced into a frenetic game by Redlands (which is famous, along with Grinnell in Iowa, for playing this style of game). Northridge won 159-97 (not a misprint). They took 87 shots from the field, making an astonishing 62 (or 72%). Redlands played the chuckers in this matchup, shooting 62 threes (making only 16) out of 82 shots. The game featured 65 assists, 63 turnovers, and 88 rebounds. This game was played even faster than VMI-Intermont, with 239 total possessions. My favorite stat, though, reflects why some coaches like to play this style - 32 players recorded minutes in the game, with 24 of those players getting double figures, and no one playing more than 19 minutes. These frenetic styles may be wacky, and may not appeal to the idea of traditional basketball, but they're as egalitarian as it gets, and for that, they should be lauded.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

CBE Classic - Durham Regional

Not surprisingly, Duke's advance out of the first two rounds of the CBE Classic was relatively easy. There's a lot to like about the team's performance, particularly on the defensive end. Any time you hold two opponents under 50 points and win by margins of 24 and 43, you've done well. Our defensive rating for the games was in the neighborhood of 65, which is ridiculous, even if it is what you'd expect against inferior foes. And Brian Zoubek's rebounding is still unreal - he's grabbing, by himself, 30% of all misses while he's on the court, and has 11 rebounds in around 25 minutes of PT. Also nice to see was his conversion from the FT line against Columbia - 10 out of 13 from a center is always a plus. However, there were still some evident concerns from the games (caveat - I was not able to watch either due to United Airlines - they cancelled a flight on Sunday which left me unable to watch Sunday's game and unable to set the TIVO for Monday's, as my Monday flight took me straight from the airport to work - boo, United Airlines! - so these observations are gleaned from the numbers only).

Offensive execution struggled a lot against G. Southern. Duke's efficiency was less than a point per possession, and they turned the ball over an astonishing 20 times in 77 possessions. Also, to trot out an old concern with the Devils, the rebounding is still problematic. Against smaller opponents, they were still giving up around 35% offensive rebounds to the other team - a number that isn't bad in and of itself, but doesn't bode well for games against bigger, tougher opponents. Also, I'll voice two early concerns about freshmen - Gerald Henderson is not scoring very efficiently, taking the lion's share of shots while he's on the court but not having that reflected in the scoring column, and Lance Thomas is still a turnover machine, losing the ball on 6-8% of Duke's offensive possessions (average is in the neighborhood of 3-3.5%). Hopefully, those things will all improve as the season goes along (and it's definitely small potatoes when the team is winning by 30+ points a game).

Sunday, November 12, 2006

New Stats Preview - Exhibition Games

So after a long week of creating spreadsheets after work, I managed to get everything set up for easy data entry. Here, shortly after the conclusion of Duke/Columbia, are the stats (see links in the handy bar to the right and series of posts below). There are 3 categories - team stats as a whole, team stats by player (i.e., the stats posted by the team while that particular player is on the court), and player stats. All player stats that are percentages are measured only by what happens while that player is on the floor, and ignores the stats posted while he's on the bench.

A couple thoughts about the exhibition numbers (warning, warning, small sample size alert!):

Brian Zoubek is a monster offensive rebounder - he pulled in better than 3 out of every 10 Duke misses all by himself. The team rebounded over half its misses in the 76 possessions he played.
Lance Thomas, turnover machine - Thomas was both exceptional forcing turnovers (9 steals per 100 opponent possessions) and guilty of giving the ball away a lot (7.5 per 100 possessions). His defensive contribution was valuable, but the team posted its lowest O Rating (among the regulars) while he was on the floor.
We have efficient scorers - Zoubek (1.36), Pocius (1.38), McRoberts (1.39), and Scheyer (an unreal 1.62). The wings struggled a little bit, particularly Henderson and McClure.
Marty Pocius, distributor - he assisted a full 1/4 of Duke's made baskets while he was on the court, and posted a nice 8-1 assist-turnover ratio.

Again, not only is this a small sample size, but it's against overmatched opponents. It'll be interesting to see how these numbers change, develop, continue, etc. as the season wears on. I'll post the first regular season update to these after the UNCG game.


Here's an explanation of the statistics featured on this site. A brief note about player stats - all reflect only how a player does while he's on the floor. So, for example, say Duke has 20 offensive rebounds, 10 of which it gets while Brian Zoubek is on the floor. The opponent has 20 defensive rebounds, also 10 of which it gets while Brian Zoubek is on the floor. If Zoubek gets 5 offensive rebounds, his ORB% is 25% (5/20), not 12.5% (5/40), because he got 5 of the 20 rebounds actually available to him. This is also why the scoring % and % shots taken add up to more than 100%. If you multiply those percentages by the percentage of possessions played by each player, then added them up, it would equal 100% (give or take a tenth or so due to rounding).

O Rating/D Rating:
This number indicates the number of points the team would score per every 100 possessions (the average game has around 70-75 possessions). O Rating is the amount the offense would score, and D Rating is the amount the opposition would score. For offense, anything over 105 is pretty good, and for defense, anything in the 90s is pretty good. 2005-06's best offense scored a 119, and the best defense had an 88.

Efficiency Margin:
The difference between a team's O Rating and D Rating. In a 100 possession game, if the team played to its Ratings, this would be the margin of victory.

PPWS (points per weighted shot):
A point per shot measure that also accounts for free throws (measured as .475 shots per free throw attempt). 1.00 is about average, anything over 1.15 for guards and 1.25 for bigs is excellent. This measures a scorer's efficiency (the fewer shots required for the same number of points, the more efficient the player).

Effective Field Goal % (EFG%):
Based on the Rick Pitino adage that a 40% 3pt shooter is as valuable as a 60% 2pt shooter. Since made 3s are worth 1.5 times made 2s, this field goal% reflects that. This doesn't measure efficiency as much as equalized shooting percentage - it helps make an accurate comparison for the actual shooting percentage value of, say, a JJ Redick (whose traditional fg% would be lower) against a Shelden Williams (whose traditional fg% is "inflated" on account of a lack of 3pt attempts).

A/B% (Assisted Basket percentage):
Indicates the percentage of made field goals that are the result of assists. As a player stat, it shows the percentage of made field goals that are the result of assists by that individual player.

ORB% (Offensive rebound percentage):
The rate at which a team gathers its own misses. The rate is derived by taking the number of team offensive rebounds and dividing by the sum of team offensive rebound and opponent defensive rebounds. As a player stat, it shows the rate at which an individual gathers misses by his own team.

DRB% (Defensive rebound percentage):
The rate at which a team gathers its opponent's misses. The rate is derived by taking the number of team defensive rebounds and dividing by the sum of team defensive rebound and opponent offensive rebounds. As a player stat, it shows the rate at which an individual gathers misses by the other team.

Block %:
The rate at which a team's field goal attempts are blocked. Measured as total blocks divided by opponent field goal attempts. As a player stat, it's the rate at which an individual blocks all opponent field goal attempts.

Steal %:
The rate at which an opponent's possessions end in a steal. Measured as total steals divided by opponent possessions. As a player stat, it's the rate per 100 opponent possessions that an individual makes a steal.

The rate at which a team's possessions end in a turnover. Measured as turnovers divided by possessions. As a player stat, it's the rate per 100 possessions that an individual turns the ball over.

Assist/Turnover Ratio:
Exactly what it says - assists divided by turnovers.

Scoring %:
Individual stat only - measures an individual's total points as a percentage of the points scored by the team as a whole.

% Shots Taken:
Individual stat only - measures the number of shots taken by a player as a percentage of the total shots taken by the team (note, I haven't figured out how to factor in FTAs for this yet, so it just looks at FGAs).

FT Rate:
Individual stat only - measures the player's ability to get to the line. The stat is free throw attempts divided by total field goal attempts (times 100).

Duke Player Stats

'07-'08 Tempo-free Player Stats (through Michigan):

Scoring %
King 30.70
Henderson 26.35
Singler 24.16
Pocius 21.62
Nelson 19.41
Smith 18.24
Scheyer 18.01
Paulus 16.10
Zoubek 15.25
Thomas 12.83
Davidson 7.41
McClure 4.65

% Shots Taken
King 32.23
Henderson 30.56
Pocius 24.53
Nelson 21.16
Singler 19.78
Smith 19.21
Scheyer 16.57
Paulus 16.48
Davidson 15.38
Zoubek 14.63
Thomas 10.45
McClure 3.33

Singler 1.37
Scheyer 1.33
King 1.30
Paulus 1.27
Thomas 1.23
Zoubek 1.22
Smith 1.17
Pocius 1.07
Nelson 1.06
Henderson 1.06
McClure 1.03
Davidson 0.81

McClure 1.000
King 0.669
Singler 0.639
Zoubek 0.625
Paulus 0.621
Scheyer 0.600
Thomas 0.571
Smith 0.538
Nelson 0.512
Davidson 0.500
Henderson 0.500
Pocius 0.462

Paulus 25.00
Pocius 21.05
Henderson 16.96
Nelson 16.56
Scheyer 14.56
Davidson 10.00
King 9.59
Zoubek 9.23
Singler 6.90
McClure 6.25
Thomas 2.65
Smith 0.13

Pocius 16.13
Zoubek 15.96
Singler 12.24
Thomas 8.81
King 7.56
McClure 6.25
Nelson 6.22
Henderson 4.30
Scheyer 3.96
Paulus 1.97
Smith 0.93
Davidson 0.00

McClure 22.22
Henderson 18.88
Pocius 17.39
Singler 17.31
Nelson 17.30
King 15.08
Zoubek 14.55
Scheyer 13.92
Paulus 7.11
Thomas 5.68
Smith 5.11
Davidson 0.00

Zoubek 4.43
King 3.76
Henderson 3.68
Singler 2.41
Nelson 1.32
Scheyer 0.83
Thomas 0.73
Smith 0.49
McClure 0.00
Pocius 0.00
Davidson 0.00
Paulus 0.00

A/T Ratio
Paulus 2.12
Scheyer 2.09
Nelson 1.56
Pocius 1.33
King 1.17
Henderson 1.06
Smith 0.88
Zoubek 0.60
Singler 0.48
Thomas 0.30
McClure #DIV/0!
Davidson #DIV/0!

Steal Rate
Paulus 3.86
Pocius 3.28
Smith 2.75
King 2.49
Nelson 2.34
McClure 2.33
Zoubek 2.04
Thomas 1.78
Scheyer 1.57
Singler 1.17
Henderson 0.76
Davidson 0.00

Turnover Rate
Davidson 0.00
McClure 0.00
Scheyer 2.48
King 2.49
Thomas 2.94
Nelson 3.37
Paulus 4.04
Henderson 4.48
Singler 4.86
Pocius 5.00
Zoubek 5.18
Smith 6.40

Team Stats by Player

These stats indicate the performance by Duke while the particular player is on the court. Through Michigan:

Off. Poss.

Def. Poss.
Nelson 475.00
Nelson 471.00
Scheyer 444.00
Scheyer 445.00
Singler 432.00
Singler 428.00
Paulus 421.00
Paulus 415.00
Henderson 402.00
Henderson 394.00
Thomas 340.00
Thomas 338.00
Smith 250.00
Smith 255.00
King 241.00
King 241.00
Zoubek 193.00
Zoubek 196.00
Pocius 60.00
Pocius 61.00
McClure 38.00
McClure 43.00
Davidson 16.00
Davidson 19.00

O Rating

D Rating
Davidson 168.75
King 77.18
King 131.12
Henderson 77.41
Pocius 123.33
Paulus 82.41
Scheyer 122.52
Zoubek 82.65
Smith 118.40
Singler 84.11
Paulus 118.05
Thomas 85.50
Singler 116.90
Nelson 86.84
Zoubek 115.54
Scheyer 87.64
Henderson 115.17
Smith 87.84
Nelson 113.89
Pocius 90.16
McClure 113.16
Davidson 94.74
Thomas 110.00
McClure 116.28


Davidson 1.61
Davidson 0.81
King 1.26
Zoubek 0.88
Scheyer 1.25
King 0.89
Smith 1.24
Henderson 0.91
Singler 1.21
Paulus 0.93
Henderson 1.19
Thomas 0.95
Pocius 1.19
Scheyer 0.95
Paulus 1.19
Smith 0.96
McClure 1.19
Singler 0.97
Nelson 1.17
Nelson 0.97
Thomas 1.17
Pocius 1.18
Zoubek 1.16
McClure 1.24


Opp. EFG%
Davidson 0.923
Davidson 0.342
King 0.616
Zoubek 0.389
Scheyer 0.606
King 0.419
Smith 0.606
Henderson 0.428
McClure 0.600
Paulus 0.437
Singler 0.580
Smith 0.451
Pocius 0.566
Scheyer 0.453
Paulus 0.563
Thomas 0.460
Zoubek 0.558
Singler 0.461
Henderson 0.557
Nelson 0.462
Nelson 0.554
Pocius 0.561
Thomas 0.552
McClure 0.571


Opp. A/B%
Davidson 70.00
McClure 41.18
Pocius 66.67
Pocius 42.11
King 60.75
Zoubek 43.64
Scheyer 57.22
Smith 47.50
Smith 56.07
Nelson 49.06
Henderson 54.43
Singler 49.28
Paulus 53.80
Davidson 50.00
Nelson 53.68
Scheyer 50.68
Zoubek 52.50
Paulus 53.38
Thomas 51.94
King 56.34
Singler 50.54
Thomas 56.76
McClure 47.06
Henderson 57.39


Opp. ORB%
Pocius 51.61
Pocius 21.74
Zoubek 43.62
Singler 25.96
King 39.50
Paulus 27.01
Smith 38.32
Henderson 27.04
Nelson 37.78
Thomas 28.98
Singler 36.73
King 29.37
Scheyer 36.14
Nelson 30.38
Paulus 35.96
Scheyer 31.22
Henderson 34.41
Smith 32.85
Thomas 32.70
Zoubek 33.64
Davidson 28.57
McClure 50.00
McClure 25.00
Davidson 53.85


Opp. DRB%
Pocius 78.26
Pocius 48.39
Singler 74.04
Zoubek 56.38
Paulus 72.99
King 60.50
Henderson 72.96
Smith 61.68
Thomas 71.02
Nelson 62.22
King 70.63
Singler 63.27
Nelson 69.62
Scheyer 63.86
Scheyer 68.78
Paulus 64.04
Smith 67.15
Henderson 65.59
Zoubek 66.36
Thomas 67.30
McClure 50.00
Davidson 71.43
Davidson 46.15
McClure 75.00


Opp. Block%
King 10.22
Davidson 0.00
Henderson 10.03
Paulus 5.11
Pocius 9.76
Singler 5.22
Zoubek 9.49
Thomas 5.22
Scheyer 9.14
Henderson 5.56
Thomas 8.39
Pocius 5.66
Smith 8.33
Nelson 5.79
Paulus 7.81
King 6.16
Singler 7.53
Scheyer 6.35
Nelson 6.58
Smith 6.90
McClure 5.71
Zoubek 7.32
Davidson 5.26
McClure 10.00

A/T Ratio

Opp. A/T Ratio
Davidson 3.50
Pocius 0.40
King 1.76
Zoubek 0.50
McClure 1.33
Smith 0.58
Scheyer 1.30
McClure 0.58
Pocius 1.23
Henderson 0.58
Paulus 1.21
King 0.59
Smith 1.11
Singler 0.61
Singler 1.09
Nelson 0.64
Henderson 1.08
Scheyer 0.69
Nelson 1.06
Paulus 0.69
Zoubek 0.98
Thomas 0.73
Thomas 0.94
Davidson 1.00

Turnover %

Turnover %
Davidson 12.50
Pocius 32.79
King 15.35
Henderson 28.68
McClure 15.79
King 28.22
Paulus 18.05
McClure 27.91
Scheyer 18.47
Singler 26.17
Henderson 19.90
Smith 25.88
Singler 19.91
Nelson 25.69
Nelson 20.21
Thomas 25.44
Thomas 20.88
Paulus 24.82
Smith 21.60
Zoubek 24.49
Pocius 21.67
Scheyer 24.27
Zoubek 22.28
Davidson 15.79

Eff. Margin

Davidson 74.01

King 53.94

Henderson 37.76

Paulus 35.64

Scheyer 34.88

Pocius 33.17

Zoubek 32.89

Singler 32.79

Smith 30.56

Nelson 27.06

Thomas 24.50

McClure -3.12