Sunday, January 13, 2013

Shooting Yourself in the Foot

Now that we've finally lost a game, I think we can all rest a little easier.  The worst thing about the Oregon game was its appearance and by that I mean the red, blue, yellow, and green uniforms on top of the crazy Oregon floor (which I actually like).  It was kind of a cacophony for the eyes.  It's interesting that all four of the remaining unbeatens fell within a five day period.  I'm sure they were happy over at ESPN when the Cats finally lost, since they never seemed to be believers in the first place.  That is why it gave me great pleasure to see Duke and Michigan also go down this weekend.

Last Tuesday, I put forth a cautionary note about defense, which was either very prophetic or a jinx. The Cats had one of their worst defensive performances in Eugene on Thursday night.   The graph below shows our opponents' field goal percentage for all games this season.  The game against the Ducks was our worst, when we allowed them to shoot 48%, and a ridiculous 63.6% from three.   That latter number is probably just bad luck.  If you gave those guys the same shots one hundred times, I'd be surprised if they went 7 for 11 more than 5% of the time.   Of course, as I previously noted, the poor defensive outing against Oregon continued the streak of bad defensive games that started back on Christmas against SDSU.

Thankfully, the Cats rebounded a bit against the Beavs, but I would not call last night's defensive performance "strong".  Let's just call it average.  Arizona kept Oregon State below 40%, which is a good rule of thumb number for a good defensive outing or team.  To date, 64 of the 347 teams in D-I hoops have allowed their opponents to shoot less than 40%.  Unfortunately, the Cats are not one of those teams.  Back in early December, I wrote about how the Cats had finally slipped beneath that 40% threshold, and they remained below it for quite some time:

That's our opponents' cumulative FG% for the entire season.  This stat bottomed out on December 22 after the Miami game, when we held the Canes to 36.5%.  Since then, it has been slowly rising.  Our best shooting defense was against East Tennessee State.  After the Oregon game, we crossed back over to the wrong side of the line.  If the Cats are going to have a strong showing in the Pac and beyond, they are going to have dramatically improve their shooting defense.  The Oregon State game was a good start.  Let's go up to Tempe next weekend and smother the Devils.  Most likely during the USC game on January 26, our foes will have taken their 1000th field goal attempt.  When that happens, I would like to see that fewer than 400 of them have fallen through the net.

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