Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Creatively Named Calvin-Ferris Recap

The inflatable bulldog thing is very intimidating.
Ferris State 63, Calvin 62 (box score)

This is going to be a decidedly more fun (funner?) recap to write than I thought it would be at halftime. When the teams were going through the layup lines prior to the second half, I declared: “Calvin’s going to make a run, and it will begin right now.” I actually did declare that, with the score 43-23 in favor of the Bulldogs, but I didn’t declare it because I believed it, I was intentionally lying to myself. I needed something that would get me through the remainder of the game and to my post-game Taco Bell. My thinking was that if Calvin could get the deficit down to single digits by the end of the game, then there would be enough positives to take away to keep myself from jumping off the proverbial bridge.

 But Calvin didn’t just whittle it down to single digits, the whittled it down to a single point – and had a couple of chances to win it at the end. At that point basket in or basket out didn’t really matter to me. The win/loss wasn’t all that importing seeing as this was an exhibition game, but what was important was the fact that the Knights ended up going toe-to-toe with an average-or-better Division II team for 40 minutes.


Aside: before I left to travel the Rapids from Grand to Big, I had a conversation with my wife that went something like this:

Wife: Do you think [Calvin] will win?
Me: I’m expecting a competitive loss.
Wife: But you want them to win because Ferris is D2 and it would mean Calvin’s pretty good.
Me: *blank stare*
Wife: But it doesn’t really mean anything because it’s just one game.
Me: You’d be smarter than 99% of sports commentators if that’s all you said after a game.
Wife: Because there are a lot of random variables that can affect a game.

SHE SAID THAT! I could have married her all over again. One game doesn’t tell much at all. Last year, Calvin beat Ferris in their one-off exhibition matchup, but, even though Ferris ended up being as good as a Top-10 Division 3 team, Calvin was only an average Division 3 team. At the end of the season, Massey said that Calvin would have a 13% chance to beat Ferris at home. We tend to think of these events as binary win/lose, better/worse, but that’s not really how game outcomes fall. Last year’s Ferris State team would have been strong favorites in a re-match with the Knights, but Calvin would still be expected to win 13% of the time. That’s like flipping three heads in a row. It’s not extremely likely, but it happens all the time.

And that’s what we don’t know right now. We observed Calvin playing evenly with Ferris State – a team likely as good as, or better than, anyone on the schedule – but that’s just one data point. The game’s efficiency margin (-1.5 for Calvin) suggests a 53%-47% advantage for the Bulldogs in a rematch (probably closer to 50-50 if you adjust for home court), but the error bars are large here. Calvin needs to be this good in order to be a strong NCAA tournament team, but we don’t know they are this good any more than we knew last year’s team was this good (they weren’t). Of course, they also could be better than we observed on Tuesday night.

The starters were again David Rietema, Jordan Brink, Tom Snikkers, Tyler Dykstra, and Tyler Kruis, but Mickey DeVries actually received more minutes (24) off the bench than Dykstra got out of the starting lineup (18). After watching the scrimmage against GRCC and now this exhibition game, it appears that Mickey should be the starter – he’s Calvin’s best offensive rebounder, has developed quite a nice scoring tough, and is active on defense – but if he’s to receive starter’s minutes off the bench the distinction may not matter. He was incredibly effective on the offensive glass and received six of his points courtesy of an offensive rebound – four via put-back and two via foul shots (he was fouled while nearly slamming home a Jordan Brink miss).

I posted these words in the preview:

Be nervous if: Calvin loses the rebound battle.
Laugh with glee if: Calvin turns the ball over fewer than 12 times.

Calvin was successful on both fronts – winning the rebounding battle and limiting turnovers to 11 – and that kept them in the game at the end.

Overall efficiency was an issue. Calvin effectively shot only 37.9% which resulted in a poor 91.5 offensive efficiency rating (average being about 100), but there was a big turnaround from the first half (62.5) to the second half (126.0). I’m not even sure how that big of a turnaround is possible, but that’s what you get in small sample size sports.

Along the same lines, Calvin’s defensive efficiency in the first half was 116.9 (really bad), but they turned it around big time in the second half to hold the Bulldogs to 64.6. For the game Calvin posted a 93.0 defensive efficiency rating which is very good (especially considering the opposition).

In order to win 20 games (in a 27 game schedule, so through the MIAA tournament), Calvin will need to post an efficiency margin (offensive efficiency minus defensive efficiency) of (approximately) 13.2. Now that mark would come against the entire schedule, so being nearly even with a quality team bodes well for being able to pull something like that off.

After all was said and done last night, the biggest weakness for the Knights was shot selection. They were too quick to settle for jump shots – the type that could be had at almost any point in the shot clock – instead of working the ball around to find a better look.

Shot Chart
Close
Mid-range
Three
Player
FG
FGA
eFG%
FG
FGA
eFG%
FG
FGA
eFG%
Brink
0
1
0.000
2
4
0.500
2
7
0.429
Snikkers
0
3
0.000
1
6
0.167
1
3
0.500
Powell
2
6
0.333
1
4
0.250
0
1
0.000
Kruis
4
5
0.800
1
2
0.500
0
0
0.000
DeVries
3
4
0.750
0
1
0.000
1
1
1.500
DeBoer
0
2
0.000
1
3
0.333
0
0
0.000
Dykstra
0
0
0.000
1
1
1.000
0
1
0.000
Vallie
0
0
0.000
0
0
0.000
0
2
0.000
Stout
0
1
0.000
0
0
0.000
0
0
0.000
Rietema
0
0
0.000
0
0
0.000
0
0
0.000
Totals
9
22
0.409
7
21
0.333
4
15
0.400

Not terribly effective as a team from anywhere on the floor but, as is always the case with every team everywhere, the mid-range numbers are poor. An early-shot clock pull-up jumper from a step or two inside the three point line should (almost) never happen.

Game Chart
Player
%Min
%Shots
eFG%
PPWS
FTr
Ar
TOr
ORb%
DRb%
Eff
Rietema
0.65
0.00
0.000
0.00
0.00
0.23
0.37
0.00
0.10
-
Brink
0.58
0.36
0.417
0.83
0.00
0.27
0.17
0.04
0.04
-
Snikkers
0.60
0.34
0.208
0.63
0.67
0.30
0.09
0.08
0.22
-
Dykstra
0.45
0.08
0.500
1.00
0.00
0.13
0.25
0.00
0.05
-
Kruis
0.53
0.23
0.714
1.45
1.00
0.00
0.00
0.05
0.17
-
Vallie
0.28
0.13
0.000
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.33
0.00
0.24
-
Powell
0.53
0.36
0.273
0.78
0.36
0.13
0.06
0.05
0.21
-
DeVries
0.60
0.17
0.750
1.48
0.50
0.00
0.00
0.12
0.19
-
Stout
0.45
0.04
0.000
0.69
4.00
0.00
0.17
0.11
0.15
-
DeBoer
0.35
0.25
0.200
0.40
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.07
0.13
-
Calvin
1.00
1.00
0.379
0.88
0.47
0.50
0.16
0.32
0.76
91.5
Ferris State
1.00
1.00
0.422
0.89
0.22
0.42
0.10
0.24
0.68
93.0

Calvin clearly didn’t shoot well, but they got to the free throw line an excellent rate (FTr), took care of the ball quite well (a TOr of 0.20 is about average), and cleaned up on the defensive glass (DRb%).

Offensive rebounding was solid, though a few percentage points lower than one would like, and, again, shooting/scoring efficiency was not good at all, but both of these concerns (along with a boost across the board) were fixed in the second half.

Player
eFG%
PPWS
FTr
Ar
TOr
ORb%
DRb%
eff
1st Half
0.283
0.65
0.37
0.50
0.19
0.25
0.78
62.5
2nd Half
0.482
1.10
0.57
0.50
0.13
0.41
0.74
126.0

If the second half team is the real team, then hang the banner now because all of our wildest dreams will come true. If the first half team is the real team, then we’re in for a repeat of last year. If it’s somewhere in between, then we’re at least in for a solid an entertaining season.

The second half was evidence that Calvin can be a good quality offense even if they’re not a great shooting team. Strong offensive rebounding extends possessions, defensive rebounding ends your opponents’ possessions, and limiting turnovers keeps the ball in your possession. This is all quite obvious, but “little things” like this increase efficiency, and efficiency is the key to winning games. Calvin was incredibly efficient in the second half while still shooting rather poorly.

Calvin Box Score
##
Name
FG
FGA
3FG
FGA
FT
FTA
OF
DE
TOT
PF
TP
A
TO
BLK
S
MIN
10
Rietema
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
3
3
2
0
3
2
0
1
26
12
Brink
4
12
2
7
0
0
1
1
2
0
10
2
3
0
0
23
30
Snikkers
2
12
1
3
5
8
2
6
8
1
10
3
2
0
1
24
32
Dykstra
1
2
0
1
0
0
0
1
1
3
2
1
1
3
0
18
42
Kruis
5
7
0
0
5
7
1
4
5
2
15
0
0
0
0
21
14
Vallie
0
2
0
2
0
0
0
3
3
0
0
0
1
1
0
11
20
Powell
3
11
0
1
4
4
1
5
6
1
10
1
1
0
1
21
24
DeVries
4
6
1
1
2
3
3
5
8
3
11
0
0
0
0
24
40
Stout
0
1
0
0
2
4
2
3
5
1
2
0
1
1
0
18
44
DeBoer
1
5
0
0
0
0
1
2
3
3
2
0
0
0
0
14
Totals
20
58
4
15
18
27
13
34
47
16
62
10
11
5
3
200


Tyler Kruis only played in 53% of the available minutes (21 minutes in this regulation 40-minute game). That’s not enough for him. He’s probably the single most important player to Calvin’s success this year, and should be playing 28+ minutes. He got into foul trouble in the first half and sat the bench for the final 9:45 of the half. This is something pretty much all coaches do – sitting a player after picking up their second personal foul in the first half – but it’s a horribly destructive move. Because what purpose did it serve? Kruis played 14 second half minutes and didn’t pick up another foul, so the only thing that resulted was Kruis playing 21 total minutes instead of a possible 27 or 28 (or whatever was initially planned by the coaching staff).

Yeah, but he could have fouled out.

Sure, it would have sucked to not have him available in the late stages of the game, but the only way to maximize a player’s minutes is to allow him to foul out. By sitting him, you're enforcing the foul-out penalty upon yourself prematurely. That was 6-7 minutes of Kruis (clearly Calvin's most important player) lost for no reason. Would those extra minutes have turned the loss into a win? It’s hard to say, but a strong case could be made. Perhaps you take a “foul troubled” player out of the game for a minute or two to allow him to catch his breath and re-focus, but there’s absolutely nothing to be gained by extended trips to the bench – especially since this strategy often leads to leaving fouls on the table at the end of the game.

What would you rather have: 28 minutes of Tyler Kruis (but possibly not have him for the final two), or 21 minutes of Tyler Kruis with him on the floor when the final buzzer sounds? The final two minutes often feel like the most important, but you’d be much better off risking a sub-optimal lineup in that situation to gain even a few more minutes total from one of your star players.

Removing the final 9:45 of the second half (when Kruis was on the bench with two fouls), Calvin finished the game with a 114.5 offensive efficiency rating and an 87.2 defensive efficiency rating. Those are insane numbers. For the 31:15 that Calvin employed their standard rotation, the Knights outscored Ferris by 18. For the 9:45 in which they were self-limited, they were outscored by 19. Small sample size caveat for sure, but wow.

Bullets
  • It’s nice to have Jordan Brink back in the lineup. He appeared out of sync in the first half, but had a nice second half including a couple of good looks from long range that simply didn’t fall. He’ll need to play better than he did on this night, but it’s easy to see what he can contribute, and what was missed last year.
  • I’ve already pretty much said this, but Mickey DeVries is going to have an outstanding year. He’s much grittier and more athletic than he probably appears, is excellent on the glass, takes charges, and can score in a variety of ways – even knocking down an open three.
  • I would like to see Tom Snikkers turn more of his focus toward distributing the ball and setting up his teammates and away from trying to score on every possession. He’s an incredibly gifted passer – he assisted on 30% of his teammate’s baskets on Tuesday – and focusing more on this aspect would likely serve to open up higher percentage scoring opportunities for his teammates and himself. Calvin needs Snikkers to score 10+ points per game, but they need him to do it on seven or eight shots, not twelve.
  • Pretty much the same thing goes for Bryan Powell.
  • The Ferris State players ran onto the floor (through the inflatable Bulldog) to the musical stylings of Justin Bieber. This needed to be mentioned.
  • This post is already way too long.
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