Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hitting the Boards

At this point in the season, little has come into focus.  The team is undefeated, but that's par for the course. The past three seasons, the Cats have also started 2-0, so we probably shouldn't make much of it.

The most interesting aspect of Thursday's game against the Miners was rebounding.  The prior game, the Cats put up huge numbers of assists.  This game, the rebounding differential was ridiculous.  Arizona outrebounded UTEP by 21.  Last year, the Cats averaged 2.3 rebounds more than their opponent.  The largest differential on the plus side was on December 22 against Bryant when we had a 19 board advantage.  On the negative side, against the Zags, the Cats were outrebounded by 14.

The simplest way to assess rebounding efficiency is to compare the number of rebounds grabbed to the number of opportunities to get rebounds.  So, the defensive rebounding percentage is the number of defensive rebounds divided by the number of shots missed by your opponent.  This leaves out rebounds associated with missed free throws, so the calculation is not perfect.  Still, it gives a decent measure of how the team rebounds when the opponent misses a shot.

The graph below shows the defensive rebounding percentage for all 35 games last season and the first two games of this one.  What should be clear is that defensive rebounding year over year is largely unchanged.  Last year, for the entire season, the Cats had a defensive rebounding percentage of 70.9%.  This year, that number is pretty much the same, currently at 71.4%.  Against UTEP, the Cats grabbed the rebound on 78.6% of missed shots.  So, on the defensive side, rebounding was good but not great. We did give up five offensive boards.

What was off the charts was offensive rebounding, which can be assessed the same way... offensive boards divided by missed shots on offense.  As you can see from the graph below, Thursday's offensive rebounding percentage exceeded that of every game last year.  Against UTEP, the Cats grabbed the offensive board on 57% of their missed shots.  In other words, when we missed a shot, we were more likely to get the rebound than the Miners.  Last year, the Cats hit the 50% mark one time, and that was on the road in a loss to the Huskies.

Given that this year's team has a lot more size, I expect to see improved rebounding over the long run, but that remains to be seen.  So far, Brandon Ashley has been leading the team in rebounds.  When standardized to minutes played, the top rebounders are Ashley, Tarczewski, and Parrom with Jerrett a close fourth.

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