Friday, February 8, 2013

The Rule Breakers

Brandon Ashley officially logged 13 minutes against Stanford before fouling out.  He picked up one foul for every 2:36 he was on the floor.  Part of this was surely bad luck.  I have a lot of sympathy for referees who have to make instinctual calls in a fast-paced game and for players who are on the receiving end of bad calls.  That's inevitably part of this game, and it's one of the many reasons why basketball is an interesting thing to study.

Today I want to look at the Arizona roster and fouling trends.  Ashley's ridiculous fast paced ejection from the game for fouling was unusual, but Brandon has been foul-prone. Of course, in the prior game, Kevin Parrom fouled out after seven minutes with one ill conceived blow to DaVonte Lacey's face, but Brandon has led the team in fouling:

The graph above shows the number of fouls each player has committed per 40 minutes of playing time.  Ashley leads the team in fouls committed with 58, Tarczewski is second with 53, and Lyons is third with 50.  When things are standardized to playing time, Angelo Chol is 2nd in line, averaging 4.9 fouls per 40 minutes, followed by Tarczewski.  It's not surprising that big buys pick up a lot of fouls since they are constantly fighting with other big guys in the paint, both contesting shots and battling for position.  Grant Jerrett is one exception to this rule.  He ranks seventh on the list.  Compare that graph to last year's team:

In the 11-12 season, Angelo was the undisputed king of the foul, averaging over seven per 40 minutes played.  Kyryl was also very foul prone with six.  It would have been difficult for either guy to play 40 minutes in a game without fouling out.  While Angelo is also foul prone this year, he has reduced his foul rate dramatically.  This would suggest that his defensive positioning is improving, although the Stanford game helped his numbers dramatically.  He played 24 minutes and only picked up one personal.

Another thing to note is that every returning player but one is committing fewer fouls.  Solomon has dropped from 3.2 per 40 minutes to 2.5.  Nick Johnson is down to 2.6 from 3.2.  Jordin Mayes was at 3.4 last year and 3.1 this season.  The only player to move in the opposite direction is Kevin Parrom.  Although Kevin has improved his game in many ways, this is not one of them.  How do the two teams compare as a whole?  This year's squad fouls at a slightly lower rate.  The Cats are whistled for an infraction about every 2:27.  Last year, it was every 2:24.  That's a difference of about 0.3 fouls per game.

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