"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

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Grading each aspect of MU's defense; and table comparing it to all opponents' defenses

Will Buzz continue to apply pressure to try to increase turnovers at the risk of allowing some easier baskets this year? The table below shows that MU is projected to have the 17th best offense in the land this year simply based on the stats on who is returning – while the defense is projected to be a solid but not dominant 51st of 345 teams (Nebraska-Omaha replaced Centenary to keep D1 at 345).

DJO’s shot, Jae’s ability to score inside or out, and Davante getting fit, and Junior being back to 100% speed to run the offense all point to a high powered team.
Based on the table below, MU will have a better offense than all but five opponents this year; Wisconsin (3rd, yes it’s point per trip not total points), Vandy (4th), Pitt (5th), Syracuse (6th) and Notre Dame (7th). Only eight opponents are projected to have better defenses than MU, but teams do it different ways.

One key note on the table is that the overall projected defensive (column 1) and offensive (column 4) ARE adjusted for level of opponents faced, while the four columns breaking down the defense are simply the raw totals. So looking at how MU does in the four factors that determine defense, in order of importance:

1. Forcing opponents to miss shots (eFG%) = C. MU’s only true weakness last year on defense was the field goal percentage allowed. While they certainly were better than the 214th ranking this shows, they were 13th in Big East play, allowing a 51.3% eFG. This is the defensive stat that is hard to break down by player, however in conference play 2-point shots (50.8%, 14th) were a slightly bigger problem than 3-point defense (34.8%, 11th), but neither was good. Chris Otule’s emergence as one of the top 2 shot blockers in the league will be the key, and Jae Crowder was one of the top forwards in the country at blocking shots. If 6-7 Jamil Wilson can provide the same type of harassing defense that Jimmy did down the stretch, that could be a key. Vander Blue returns as the best defensive guard, so if he can give at least enough offense to get minutes, that will help on the perimeter. As the team continues to get size and length to go along with their speed, shooting defense should improve.

2. Grabbing Defensive Rebounds = B-. The overall ranking of 200th is deceiving here since the Big East teams kill each other by having to place each other. For the first time in years, MU was above average in defensive rebounds, finishing 8th in Big East play. The great news is that MU has one of the top returning defensive rebounders in the country in Jae Crowder (grabbed 18.7% of all opponents misses last year).

3. Not fouling = A-. MU was one of the best in the country at NOT putting opponents on the line, which actually is slightly more important than forcing turnovers. While some complain, I really thought MU did a great job of not yielding the “and-ones” when someone was going to score anyway, and forcing turnovers without fouling. However, Butler and Buycks were two of the top players in the country at NOT fouling, so fouls could increase with them gone, thus I lowered to an A-.

4. Forcing turnovers A. While MU was 133rd in forcing turnovers, and 6th in Big East play – forcing opposing conference teams to turn the ball over on 19.2% of all trips. Crowder was the tops at stealing the ball, followed closely by Blue, so MU should truly be one of the top steals teams in the conference and country this year. Perhaps more important is that MU can up the tempo and win a depth war this year with Todd Mayo and Derrick Wilson (who Buzz has called the best defensive freshman he has ever had) rotating in for DJO and a faster Cadougan, Blue and DJO (remember UConn steal) on the perimeter. The quickness on the front line should back them up.

In summary, if MU can just hold their tough opponents below 50% on two-pointers and 33% on three-pointers then the defense could be much better this year. And a “pretty good” defense could equal a “great” overall team with this offense.

As the table below shows, the toughest defenses MU will face this year stop teams in different ways; UConn is awesome at not fouling AND forcing missed shots, but the next best four defense we face have one dominant strength. Syracuse (not fouling), Louisville (forcing turnovers), possible Paradise Jam opponent Drexel (defensive rebounding) and Pitt (forcing missed shots).

1Florida St. (DNP)ACC107110613767
2Kentucky (DNP)SEC296338293
3North Carolina (DNP)ACC944732195
4Duke (DNP)ACC81119332112
7Purdue (DNP)B105336664188
9Ohio St. (DNP)B10112626127
10Temple (DNP)A103249459172
14Drexel (PJ?)CAA16371168339
42West VirginiaBE2132273130258
52Seton HallBE10852166184110
56Virginia (PJ?)ACC1372274124192
79South FloridaBE99103227193328
85St. John'sBE13825122223013
88Louisiana St.SEC22354280227174
99Notre DameBE764433337
116Mississippi (PJ?)SEC60120130206229
132Mount St. Mary'sNEC27392316187125
141Wisconsin MilwaukeeHorz14624910571222
144Drake (PJ?)MVC120224151133164
170Wisconsin Green BayHorz15829110230761
176Texas Christian (PJ?)MWC16728720198207
193Northern ColoradoBSky19615155271168
281Norfolk St.MEAC260135221325275

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