A big part of the frustration with the team is that, while they have looked so good against some teams, the team has looked equally poor against WVU,
In our opinion, there are two basic reasons. The team has not been maintaining their early-season strengths, and they play a fundamentally risky strategy dictated by personnel.
Not dancing with the one what brought ya
In addition, our offensive eFG% and our defensive eFG% are both suffering some terrible trends. Even against Duke and
Of course, the team’s recent poor performance isn’t news. Neither does it explain the high variability of our recent wins and losses.
Inconsistency Means Higher Risk
The graph below takes a look at the point spread standard deviation for
As you can see, early in the season, the team was definitely more around the NCAA average, but lately we have been very inconsistent. This inconsistency is a sign that our risk has been exposed. In other words, if the team wasn’t using risky strategies, we’d be losing or winning by less.
Risk and Reward
As most people know, there’s a fundamental principle in investing. Lower risk investments have lower potential returns, and higher risk investments have higher potential returns. Well, it turns out that this principle applies to other things beyond just investments… such as basketball!
If a team is an underdog to an opponent, they can shift the game plan to account for more risk. It gives the underdog a chance to win over a favored opponent, but also a chance to get crushed.
So what is a “risky” strategy that can shift a game? Again, referencing Dean Oliver’s "Basketball on Paper"
- Pressing – points off of the defense or gives up easy baskets
- Shooting Lots of Threes – lower percentage shots that are worth more
- Slowing the pace down – limits the opportunities a better team has to prove itself
- Playing a zone – which causes opponents to shoot threes and slows down the game
- Fronting the post
- Releasing your guards
- Sending your guards to the offensive boards
- Playing particularly oversized or undersized lineups
A well-known example is Dick Bennett’s old UWGB teams that would slow the pace down in the NCAA tournament and shoot threes in an attempt to keep the game close and beat a more talented team.
Recognize any of those risky strategies above? Pretty much the only strategies that the team doesn’t adopt regularly are a full press, slowing the pace down, and playing a zone.
However, when opponents shut down the transition game and/or play zone and/or slow down the pace,
We are almost certainly a high-risk stock.
How do we add some bonds to this portfolio?
Big men, duh! Think of big men like the nice, safe part of your portfolio.
It’s never any fun to watch
If you’re a glass-half-empty sort of person, just recognize that the team plays some high risk strategies and try not to get too frustrated if we get blown out again. If you’re a glass-half-full type, hope we get hot at the right time and get better performance from our bonds (last one, I promise). The team does have a lot of talent, and can certainly go a long way given the proper circumstances and effort.