"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Monday, November 24, 2008

Numbers for the Start of the Season

Good times are here in Marquette-land. The team is scoring lots of points, averaging just over 100 points per game. As noted by John Pudner, this is a historic start to the season.

However, Marquette is also pressing the pace much more than in previous years. In fact, if you look at the Raw Tempo stats on Pomeroy's site, Marquette is at the fifth fastest pace in the nation so far at 82.5 possessions per game. Considering Marquette averaged 68 possessions per game last year, that's a big difference.

Clearly a team that is averaging more possessions per game will score more points as well as allow more points. While there's been some rejoicing regarding the offensive capabilities, there's also been some consternation about the defense. After all, the team is giving up a decent amount of points.

Hooray Tempo-Free Stats!

This is exactly why we use tempo-free stats. The big question becomes how efficient Marquette has been with their eighty-two possessions per game. There's good news.
  • 2008 - ORtg (121.4) ; DRtg (92.7)
  • 2007 - ORtg (113.2) ; DRtg (90.9)
Just in comparison to the first three games of the season last year, the team is better offensively and a little worse defensively. However, the difference in defensive efficiency from last year to this year is not that significant. Let's say that hypothetically, last year's team also played at 82.5 possessions per game.
  • Offense - 2008 team (100.3 ppg) vs 2007 team (93.4 ppg)
  • Defense - 2008 team (76.5 ppg) vs 2007 team (75.0 ppg)
While it may be concerning that the team is giving up as many points as they are, they're still about as efficient. Again, hooray for tempo-free stats.

However, there is some bad news so far. If you go back to the Pomeroy Scouting Report, his adjusted Offensive and Defensive numbers are much worse than the raw numbers. That's because we've played the number 296, 175, and 218 pomeroy teams in the nation. It's also why we're only ranked #84. Theoretically, against teams ranked that low, our defensive efficiency should be a lot better. For example, last year Marquette held UWM to a DRtg of 82.4 (instead of 94.3), and Coppin State (Pomeroy #310) was held to an efficiency of 67.0. The perceived issues with the defense may be entirely valid.

If I were to point any fingers at the reason, it's the three-point defense. Last year the team was #9 in the nation at 3-point defense. This year the team is a lowly #224 at defending the three-point line. It's impacting our defensive eFG% and putting us middle of the road comparatively.

Of course, this is all a snapshot based on three games. Is this just kinks with the personnel, or a change in defensive strategy? Beats me, but we'll see as the season unfolds.

1 comment:

Oliver said...

It's just a thought, but our weaknesses down low may be contributing to our poor defense of the three. The guards may be looking to help in the post more than in the past and, as a result, are giving up more space on the perimeter.

When we play a big team, this mindset is probably the only chance we have, so I am not overly concerned about the perimeter defense at this point.