Monday, November 26, 2012

A Beautiful Offense, A Questionable Defense

One very simple measure of the efficiency of a basketball team or player is the number of points scored per shot (PPS).  On the offensive side, if you hit every shot, your PPS would be at least 2.0.  There is no limit to the maximum possible value.  High numbers indicate a team that has a high field goal percentage, makes a lot of threes, and/or gets to the line a lot.  Low numbers mean that the ball is constantly clanking off the rim.  At this point in the season, the average offensive PPS for Division I is around 1.2.  You may recall that a couple of years ago (the 10-11 season),  Derrick Williams was off the charts with a PPS of 1.95 because he went to the line so often and shot the ball so well.

On offense, a high PPS is a good thing.  On defense, a high PPS is a bad thing.  A few days ago, Bruce Pascoe wrote a story in part pointing out that the Cats' three point defense has not been particularly impressive, and it's true.  If there is a point of concern this early in the season, it's on the defensive side.  The two graphs below are histograms of PPS on offense and defense for all 347 teams in D-I hoops showing where the Cats fall.

Let's start with the bad news (on the right).  On defense, the Cats have been giving up 1.3 points per shot, which equates to a national rank of 260.  This is below average for all of college hoops.  The D-I average is 1.22.  This is in large part explained by our opponents shooting the ball well from deep.  It makes you miss Kyle Fogg's pesky in your face defense.

The good news is that this offense is a thing of beauty, scoring so far 1.54 points per shot,  good enough for a rank of No. 4 in the country, only trailing Indiana (1.63), Cal State Fullerton (1.62), and Creighton (1.56).

Let's hope that the poor defensive numbers are a bit of a fluke.  With a sample of only three games, it's difficult to know either way with certainty.  

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