Sunday, October 26, 2008

Welcome to the 2008-2009 Season

Hi all! It's been 7 months since last I checked in, taking the customary summer holiday, ignoring the recruiting hype (largely), and focusing on baseball. But before I knew it, the Angels were getting knocked out of the playoffs, my Blue Ribbon Yearbook was showing up in the mailbox, and college basketball season was once again upon us. So, it's time to dust off the old, um, spreadsheets and get back in the game.

A few changes for this year. First, I'm going to attempt to be more present this season than last (given my often extended absences, that shouldn't be too tough. Second, in an effort to cover for the inevitable times when work (and other obligations) gets the better of me, I've asked a second author to come on board as a contributor. Mark, a roommate from college and a similarly devoted fan, will be chipping in with additional commentary this season. Third, we're trying to transition all the stats to a web-based interface, which will produce all the tempo-free stats you've come to know and love, plus lineup based stats, HD box scores, etc. Fourth, I spent some quality time this summer with Dean Oliver's Basketball on Paper. It's really a seminal read for anyone interested in more in depth statistical analysis of the game. I pulled his formulas for offensive rating and things like usage and floor percentage (to be explained), and will be featuring those statistics as well this season.

Now, what brought me back (aside from the general start of the season) is that Duke's season of competitive basketball began yesterday, with an exhibition game against Virginia Union. As is the case with most exhibition games, it was more of a chance to learn about Duke than anything else - who has grown over the off-season, how will the freshmen be integrated, what style of play will the team feature, etc. Right off the bat, it offered some intrigue. The game featured a starting lineup that may have surprised some - Smith over Paulus, Plumlee in the post. The team got off to a bit of a slow start offensively - missing 9 of the first 10 threes, 7 turnovers in the first 24 possessions, not hitting the point-per-possession mark until very late in the first half. But once the offense clicked, it clicked for good - after scoring just 31 points in the first 32 possessions, the Devils poured in 83 in the last 48, finishing with an offensive rating of 142.50 (the kind of numbers one would expect against an exhibition opponent). The defense, on the other hand, was solid throughout. Duke harassed Virginia Union into an atrocious shooting day and forced 24 turnovers. There was some concern with the defensive rebounding, although a lot of VUU's offensive boards came after Duke blocks (there were 10), which are easier opportunities for the offense to corral.

On the whole, Coach K got to see a lot of different looks - no one played more the 20 minutes and 11 guys saw at least 12 minutes of playing time (only Czyz and Johnson did not). The team distributed the offensive load as well - six scored in double figures (plus 2 more with 8). Here's the HD Box:

In the next couple of weeks, I'll go over what the new ratings mean. For now, welcome back one and all.