Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stats-and-More versus Anderson

This isn’t going to be a fun game to look at, but we'll press on anyway. We’ll start with a new one. Here’s a look at Calvin’s (approximate) win expectancy graph* for this game.

That looks about as bad as it felt. The chart gave Calvin a 0% chance of winning after Brock Morrison hit a three pointer to give Anderson a 30-16 lead after just about 11 minutes of game time. Of course, their real chances weren't really zero, but close to it. They made a little run early in the second half to get their chances up to 10%, but that's as close as they got in the final 30 minutes.

*Data comes from Brian Burke of

Game Stats

Let’s start with the bottom line. Calvin’s offense was horrid. Their offensive efficiency rating of 86.1 was worse than any single game from last season. It’s really tough to win games when you’re not scoring points. Last year’s average offensive efficiency rating was just north of 107 (that’s also been their average over the last seven years or so). Hitting that mark in this game (about 70 possessions) would have meant an extra 14 or 15 points. It goes without saying that that would have made a difference.

A big culprit on offense was the high turnover rate – 30% of the Calvin possessions ended in a turnover – but poor shooting and a low free throw rate also hurt. Really, the only positive number we see on the team side of things is the good rebound rate. Calvin collected 56% of the rebounds, which is quite good. Last year’s team was 14-4 when rebounding at a rate 54% or better.

The defense wasn’t stellar either, but you should still have a chance to win if you allow a 104.9 defensive efficiency rating. Actually, that seems to be about the cutoff line between “good” and “bad” from last year. They were 13-2 last year when holding their opponents to an OEff below this mark, and 3-10 when allowing an opponent to surpass it.

I’m not sure I 100% love the way I’m calculating individual turnover rates. In this game, Bryan Powell and David Rietema played the same number of minutes, and had the same number of turnovers, but Powell’s turnover rate is only about half that of Rietema’s. The way I’m calculating it now is basically “number of turnovers per appearance in the offensive box score” (TO / FGA + [.475 x FTA] + ORb + A + TO). So a point guard like Rietema, who’s not in the game to be a scorer, could have his numbers “artificially inflated” a little bit due to his relative few shot attempts, but at the same time, if you’re main job is to take care of the ball and distribute, then preventing turnovers should be one if the primary goals. Maybe that’s fair, and maybe it’s not, but either way, it’s important to remember that every number is only as good as the context allows.

A few other thoughts from this table:

  • Mickey DeVries may be the only Knight that had an overall good game. Can’t really point to any of his numbers above and say that it needs to be better. Maybe his points per weighted shot could go a few ticks higher, but that’s about it. And I’m not about to complain about a .500 eFG% and a 1.00 PPWS when the team as a whole was at .455 and 0.97 (ouch).
  • Tom Snikkers’ 0.50 free throw rate was about his only positive for the night. He got to the line pretty often, and then when he was there, he knocked down his freebies. Otherwise it was too many turnovers and too many bad shots from him. Calvin can’t afford for him to have an off night, their offense doesn’t appear to be good enough to survive that. That is a lot of (unfair) pressure, but that’s where we’re at right now. Calvin needs Tommy to step up big each and every night.
  • Tyler Kruis needs to get himself involved in the offense. He only attempted four field goals on Tuesday night, and two of them came on the heels of an offensive rebound. He needs to get himself into position on the block, demand the ball, and use his size and strength to his advantage.
  • We’ve only seen Mitch Vallie for two games this year (the exhibition plus this first real game), but I’m going to call on him to shoot more as well. Even if we go back and throw in his totals from last year (giving him total of 69 minutes of action), his effective field goal percentage is 0.588 and his points per weighted shot is 1.23. Those are pretty much the career numbers of Danny Rodts (who I have as Calvin’s 4th most efficient scorer since 1998). We’re dealing with an extremely small sample here with Mitch, but there shouldn’t be anything stopping him from looking to score more.

It’s actually quite surprising how many lineup combinations can be made out of a ten man rotation (there are 252 to be exact). Coach Vande Streek used 25 in this game.


As you can see from the ‘MIN’ column, the vast majority of these combinations only existed for one small stretch during the game. Quite intuitively, the group with the most minutes was the starting lineup. It’s important not to overreact to any of these numbers just yet; we’re a long way away from any combination having any significant number of minutes.

I think it is a good sign (or at least it’s not a bad one) that the starting lineup was positive (however slightly) in efficiency margin.
All of the lineup combinations that totaled at least 1.5 minutes (11 total lineups for just under 30 total minutes) combined to be +8 in point differential. All lineup combinations that were on the floor for less than a minute and a half (14 in all for just over 10 total minutes) combined to be -21 in point differential.

Player Chart
Again, we don’t want to overanalyze this one yet, because while we’re attributing all of the numbers to each individual, there’s a lot of noise here in small samples. Looking at the chart it would be easy to say “David Rietema was the only Knight that had a positive rating/margin” when we would really mean “the TEAM had a positive rating/margin when David Rietema was on the floor”.

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