Monday, January 31, 2011

89.7% is not 100%

Hope 76, Calvin 70

I had been having some conversations with a friend of of mine about win probability charts last week. He asked me to print one out to take to the game so we could estimate Calvin's chances of winning the game as it progressed.

The basic idea of a win probability is this: someone looks through loads of games (D-I college games in this case), records the score differential at several intervals (five minutes in this case), and records whether or not the team leading at each interval ended up winning the game. The result is a table full of percentages for how often a team won given the time and a specific lead.

Obviously it can't be perfect for any single game situation, but it's probably still pretty accurate.

So we were faithfully checking the chart throughout the game. This was an extremely fun endeavor for the first 25 minutes, but the practice lost some of it's luster over the last 15 minutes or so.

Anyway, the chart said (with some interpolation) that Calvin had an 89.7%(ish) chance of winning the game when they mounted an 18 point lead with just over 2:00 to play in the first half. Unfortunately, that left 10.3% for the Dutchmen.



Let's all repeat this together: HANG ON TO THE DANG BALL!

The first half was excellent. The Knights turned the ball over only 4 times (13%), and consequently scored 42 points (in about 32 possessions). In the second half, they turned it over 13 times (36%!) and consequently scored only 28 points (in about 36 possessions).

If Calvin had been able to keep their turnover rate below 20% for the second half, they would have saved themselves about eight possessions. If they had scored at their season average pace over those 'extra' eight possesions, they would have added eight or nine points to their total (turning 28 second half points into 36 or 37).

I would have liked that.

I'm very excited about the development of Tyler Kruis, especially on the defensive end. He hasn't contributed to the offense much yet, outside of the occasional open three (which he can knock down very well) and a few tip-ins, but I have to believe that this will come. The offensive scheme this year is designed to allow Snikkers, Schnyders, and others to get to the basket without a big man in the way.

He's going to be the best interior defender in the MIAA in the very near future. He probably already leads the league in blocked shots per minute for the conference season.

I don't think we can say enough about Brent Schuster's play this year. He's been a very steady force, and a much better player than I anticipated. He had a tendancy to disappear last year, but everytime he's on the bench I'm looking for him to check back in.

Additional Rant
Can we figure out how to break a press? This is one area that I think Calvin has been very poor for some time. I'm surprised Hope didn't press more becuase Calvin never burned them on it.

Up Next
Six big games. Pool C chances may hinge on Calvin finishing up the conference slate 6-0. There's a slim possibility that they could get an at-large tournament bid with an additional loss before the MIAA Tournament, but they'd probably be on the wrong side of the bubble.

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