Monday, December 11, 2006

A Few Thoughts on the Last Two Games

Defense was the story of the day against Holy Cross, while offense was the story of the day against George Mason. Let's look at defense first: Holy Cross was held to just .402 efg%, including just .188 on 3's. Holy Cross was held to just .73 ppp, and Duke forced 20 turnovers in just over 60 possessions. Holy Cross is actually a little lucky the final score looks as good as it did - Duke was an uncharacteristically-poor free throw shooting day away from making that a real blowout. Player kudos go to Gerald Henderson, who hit two big threes in the second half, and was also on the court for much of the team's shut-down D - I don't have my numbers in front of me, but I recall him being on the court for around 28 possessions, during which the Crusaders scored only 14 points. On a related note, all the tempo-free stats will be updated tonight, where you can see that the team's best defensive efficiency comes when Henderson and McClure on the court.

Against Mason, it looked like the offense finally started to click. Spacing was better, leading to better passes resulting in better shots. Nelson and Scheyer had a field day from the outside - 42 points on 22 shots combined, with a joint efg% of .795 and a joint PPWS of 1.63. Nelson has been a very reliable outside shooter all year - easily the most improved aspect of his game - and Scheyer has a reputation as a good shooter, so it was nice to see them both get hot at the same time. Of course, it's a lot easier to make shots when passes are setting you up for open looks, and the Devils shared extremely well Saturday, with 21 assists on 25 buckets. Also, the turnovers came down (11 in 61 possessions, only 18%) and the efficiency went up (113.11 ORtg). I pointed out earlier this week that our points per non-turnover possession (the cumbersomely abbreviated PPNTOP) were 1.39 for the season - on Saturday Duke scored 69 points in 50 NTOPs for a PPNTOP number of... 1.38, right there with the season average. Kudos go to McRoberts, who had a 7 point, 8 rebound, 8 assist performance. As you will see when the tempo-free stats are updated tonight, McRoberts has assisted over 1/5 of all field goals made while he's on the court, and he has more assists (35) than baskets (34) on the season. It's a pleasure to watch a point-forward as talented as he is.

Bonus Coverage!: I attended UCLA-Texas A&M this weekend at the Wooden Classic. These are two very good teams, especially on the defensive end. There were only a handful of uncontested shots on both sides, and most times the offense was left with little option but to try to create one-on-one. UCLA is weak in the post - Mata, Mbah a Moute, and Aboya are more athletic than strong, and they're certainly raw in terms of offensive post fundamentals. But Afflalo, Collison, and Shipp are very good on the perimeter, and the Bruins also feature Michael Roll in the Keith Freel Memorial Frat-Boy Who Comes Off the Bench and Hits 3s Role. Their guards will do a lot of damage all year, but they'll still be vulnerable to teams like Florida, Kansas, OSU, and UNC who have strength, size, and talent in the post. As for A&M, their defense is much more polished than their offense, which in the last 6-10 minutes was "Give Acie Law the ball and hope he scores." That offense worked alright when Collison was guarding Law, but when Afflalo switched on to him later in the game, he was able to shut him down much better.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great insight on the PPNTOP. Please keep tracking that as well as the turnover percentages during the season. I think those two components will tell as much about this team as any stats will tell about any other Duke team. Thanks!