Friday, January 3, 2014

Badger Beatdown

Wisconsin 76 (1.31 PPP) – NU 49 (0.84 PPP), 58 possessions

The Badgers exposed NU’s supposedly-improved defense in much the same way as NU’s other KenPom top-100 opponents have. You can check out the graphs on the new Grouped Efficiency and Four Factors page and read my initial rationale for breaking down NU’s performance into the groups. In spite of the non-stop barrage of stories about changing the culture of NU hoops, what I’ve been seeing is a poorly-coached, poorly-prepared team. Last season’s active roster had an average star rating of 2.41 (this includes Swopshire but not Crawford); this season’s average is 2.59. So far, this team looks worse than last year’s team did AFTER Swop went down. The talent level is at worst a wash (and at best favors this season), so the major difference is the quality of the coaching. What we saw last night was one exceptionally well-coached team kicking the ass of a lost team all over the court. (To be fair, Bo Ryan pretty much owned Bill Carmody the past three seasons, too.)

If you’re inclined to find a silver lining, look no further than Alex Olah. The sophomore big man scored at will, posting a team-high 144 ORtg on 10-12 2P shooting. Olah has been arguably NU’s most-consistently efficient player this season. He now posts the team’s highest ORtg over the season and has the second-highest OR% and DR% (to Drew Crawford). At 70.3%, he’s an above-average foul shooter, too. The fact that he isn’t featured more in the offense is baffling.

Opponent
Min
ORtg
%Ps
Pts
2PM
2PA
Eastern Illinois
23
128
18
8
3
5
Stanford
18
116
13
4
2
3
Illinois St.
12
66
16
2
1
4
Illinois Chicago
21
123
22
10
3
5
IUPUI
29
152
12
8
4
6
Gardner Webb
29
130
20
18
8
11
Missouri
19
127
11
3
1
1
UCLA
36
123
16
11
3
4
North Carolina St.
29
31
21
2
1
8
Western Michigan
27
105
19
10
4
6
Mississippi Valley St.
26
117
30
18
6
10
Brown
28
102
19
10
3
7
DePaul
29
12
7
0
0
2
Wisconsin
29
144
32
23
10
12

Going forward, Collins should make it an emphasis to get Alex 10+ FGAs per game. He should never use fewer than 25% of his possessions in a game. I say this not only because he’s been remarkably effective on offense when featured, but also because he projects to be the only legitimate big on the roster next season, too. The more usage he gets this year, the more likely he is to be a top-notch center next year. (FWIW, I think that the probability of one more player getting Creaned to create room of a PF/C transfer is extremely high, so Alex likely will have some help next year.)

3PT Defense

I saw this tweet this morning.



Aside from the ridiculous cherry-picking (hey, if you take out the worst performance, we’ve been great!), this is a decent observation. I say it’s a decent observation, because NU’s opponents ARE averaging just 30.1 3P% per game (including UCLA). That’s 49th-best in D1. I say the cherry-picking is ridiculous, because if I exclude Eastern Illinois, Western Michigan, and DePaul (NU’s three-best 3P% defensive games) then NU’s average defensive 3P% is just 35.6% (or 220nd in D1).

3PT defense has been intriguing to me for a while, due largely in part to the multi-year work Ken Pomeroy has done on the topic (see the section in the right navigation devoted solely to his work on 3PT D). The short story is that defense has its greatest impact on the 3PA/FGA ratio with minimal impact on 3P%. In other words, most defenses CAN influence the number of 3PAs an opponent gets but DO NOT discernably influence the opponent’s 3P%. In that light, it’s hard to view NU’s defensive 3P% as much more than lucky. When you look at the numbers on a game-by-game basis, you see a lot of variation as well.

Opponent
3P% v. NU
Avg. 3P%
3PA/FGA v. NU
Avg. 3PA/FGA
3P% Diff
3PA/FGA Diff
Eastern Illinois
11.11%
28.80%
33.96
31.50
-17.69%
2.46
Stanford
50.00%
42.10%
21.28
28.50
7.90%
-7.22
Illinois St.
31.58%
31.30%
32.20
41.00
0.28%
-8.80
Illinois Chicago
38.89%
33.80%
29.03
33.10
5.09%
-4.07
IUPUI
37.50%
30.80%
17.02
25.00
6.70%
-7.98
Gardner Webb
14.29%
28.60%
24.56
27.60
-14.31%
-3.04
Missouri
28.57%
37.10%
30.43
33.90
-8.53%
-3.47
UCLA
76.47%
39.90%
30.91
26.40
36.57%
4.51
North Carolina St.
22.22%
30.10%
29.51
24.70
-7.88%
4.81
Western Michigan
6.67%
30.00%
36.59
37.60
-23.33%
-1.01
Mississippi Valley St.
41.18%
36.00%
29.31
33.70
5.18%
-4.39
Brown
20.00%
38.70%
23.81
29.90
-18.70%
-6.09
DePaul
10.00%
34.20%
29.31
27.40
-24.20%
1.91
Wisconsin
31.25%
39.20%
27.59
39.30
-7.95%
-11.71

On top of the variation, there’s no correlation between NU’s defensive 3P% and it’s PPP efficiency margin. NU has won games in which its opponent shot better than its average in 3P% (UIC, IUPUI, MVSU) and lost games in which the opposite was true (Missouri, NC State, DePaul, Wisconsin). If there were a correlation, the data in the below chart would tend to form a line from the upper-left quadrant to the lower-right, but what we have there is pretty random.



NU has limited most opponents to a lower ratio of 3PA/FGA, but again that hasn’t had a connection to winning, either. This could be due to the fact that the teams that have beaten the ‘Cats have for the most part shot exceptionally well from 2Pt range, often getting to the lane with minimal resistance from NU’s poor on-ball defense. For example, 44.8% of Wisconsin’s shots came at the rim, and the Badgers buried 73.1% of them (source: Hoop-Math.com). When you can do that, why bother shooting threes?

What I’m interested in seeing is if NU can repeat it’s 3P% defensive performances against B1G teams it plays twice this year. If NU holds the same opponent to below-average 3P% in multiple games, then there’s a case for NU’s 3P defense being one of those rare defenses that actual does affect the opponent’s shooting.

6 comments:

  1. If the season continues as it has, Kale Abrahamson has got to be champing at the bit to transfer, no? Either him or Chier Ajou, I would think.

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    Replies
    1. I find almost impossible to think that Chier will be on the team next season. Two minutes all season, on a team with next to zero depth inside? Either he's really unhealthy or he's never going to see the floor. My guess is he'll be "medically retired" which I think allows him to transition from an athletic to academic scholarship. This would obviously be the best PR move for NU, since the kid has had a ridiculously difficult life and for NU to crap on him in anyway would both be horribly wrong and disastrous publicity.

      As for Kale, I certainly wouldn't blame him for looking elsewhere. He's shown me more than enough to justify a lot more PT, and I'm sure he'd have plenty of options with major and high-quality mid-major programs. I wouldn't be surprised to see either Kale or Taphorn jumping ship. With Law and Skelly coming aboard, not to mention the staff's obvious interest in getting a big transfer, it's gonna be even harder for those dudes to see the floor.

      I also wonder if Sobo is on track to graduate early. He's obviously a good student (academic all-B1G), so I suppose it's a possibility. With Collins getting commits from two PGs, Dave's looking at a senior season perhaps spent on the bench. If I were him, I'd definitely be exploring my options.

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    2. Pretty telling was Liberman getting the garbage time minute over Ajou in the blowout to Michigan.

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  2. Guess we got our answer on Ajou. NU announced his Creaning today.

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  3. You, sirs, are quite prescient. ;) www.insidenu.com/2014/01/07/chier-ajou-to-transfer/

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