06 December 2010

Filling the lull with kenpom statistics

As most students--including our true student-athletes who are glorified on this blog--are busy cramming for final exams because they did not have the foresight/were too lazy to opt for the final paper option, we at carmody court are here to fill the void with some early statistical analysis. Courtesy of kenpom:

Nu is currently #11 in the nation in offense efficiency and #131 in defense efficiency. Offense is an improvement of 22 spots over last year's impressive #33 offense. So what was already a strength looks to be even stronger.

However pretty much everyone who follows nu basketball knows that the key to making the big dance this year is to improvement on defense. The early returns are a good news/bad news kinda deal. The good news is that nu is improved over last year on the order of 38 spots. The bad news is that this is tempered by the fact that nu has played the 316th easiest schedule (out of 360 some odd programs). So any conclusions are tentative at best and subject to change once the schedule bumps up in degree of difficulty (no duh!).

Since defense is so important we decided to delve a little more deeply into the improvement to date. kenpom uses "four factors" when computing defense efficiency. The area of greatest improvement amongst these factors is offense rebounding percentage (or in this context, nu's defensive rebounding percentage). Last year nu was a subpar #216 in this statistic while this year nu is at a very respectable #41. That kind of improvement is clearly colored by strength of schedule as these kinds of leaps simply don't happen for teams that have really only one major change to the roster (cobb for nash, ok jeff ryan added to the mix is another change). four of the five opponents so far are abysmal at offensive rebounds. only ga tech is good at crashing the offensive boards.

Nearly as great an area of improvement is FTA/FGA which improved from a dismal #256 to a respectable #86. So NU is no longer foul prone. We shall see if that continues as the level of athletes improves. Again ga tech not withstanding.

Turnover percentage has improved slightly from #161 to #130. No big revelation here.

The biggest red flag that we see is that effective field goal percentage has actually grown worse from a so-so #143 ranking to a lowly #213 ranking (50.o% efg%). Against this lowly competition? Not good.

So we have an overall improvement on defense but really can't put much stock in it due to the competition. What's worse is that we are letting bad teams shoot the heck out of the ball. The good news is that there should be some offensive shows at the welsh this year. The bad news is there is reason to think that the defense may once again be this team's Achilles heel.