Thursday, January 20, 2011

Too Close For Comfort? Yeah, But Not Really

Calvin 73, Alma 64

There was a point in the second half, as the clock was beginning to wind down (not sure if it was with two minutes, five minutes, or even ten minutes remaining), that radio play-by-play man Doug "E. Fresh" Wentworth said something to the effect of "Well, the Knights are leading by six in a game that they should be winning by twenty!"

Should be winning by twenty? Really Doug? Twenty?

I'll agree that the game got a little (OK, a lot) closer near the end than I would have liked, but it wasn't ever a game that they should have won by twenty. More like 11 or 12 or 13 or something.

No one will mistake Alma for a good team this year, they're almost certainly a "bottom half" type Division III team, but they're not the bottom of the bottom. They're not Oberlin bad. According to the Massey ratings, there are some 120 D3 teams that are worse than Alma (#291).

It takes a lot for a game, especially a road game, to have a 20 point expected differential.

Let's take a look at the upcoming schedule for The College of Wooster. They're currently the #1 in the poll, and they're #4 in the Massey ratings. Undoubtedly one of the best teams in the country.

Wooster has a game upcoming at Kenyon (#264) in which Massey gives the Wooster Scots a 94% chance of winning. The 'expected' point differential? 14 points.

20 point differentials are only expected when it's the best of the best versus the worst of the worst. Sometimes that describes Calvin versus Alma, but Calvin's certainly not "the best" this year, and I wouldn't describe Alma as "the worst". Bad, certainly, but not worst.

Team Chart

Alma came into the game shooting .488 (eFG%) on the season, so the Knights held them below their average. Alma came in with a total rebounding rate of 47%, so Calvin limited them a bit there as well.

Really, the only thing that it looks like Calvin didn't do very well was force turnovers. You would like to see the other team turn the ball over 20% of the time or more. That's probably the only reason that Alma was allowed to end up with a pretty average 100.9 offensive efficiency rating (points per 100 possessions).

Forcing more turnovers would have pushed Alma's efficiency rating (and point total) down to where we probably would have liked it to be.

Player Chart

The Knights performed pretty well on offense. They shot a smidgen above their season average, they didn't turn it over too frequently, and they rebounded fairly well. I would have like to see more trips to the free throw line perhaps, but it's difficult to complain about a 115.1 offensive efficiency rating.

It was nice to see the bench shoot well in a game that Schuster, Powell, and Salo struggled from the floor. It often seems to me like the Knights get in trouble when Schuster's shots, especially, don't fall.

The name of the game going forward is limiting turnovers. Giving the other team the ball is like giving them two points. You're basically taking one point off the board for your team (OEff divided by 100) and giving one point to the opponent (DEff divided by 100).

The Knights did well in the turnover category on offense on Wednesday, but that needs to continue for the rest of the season.

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