by Ken Pomeroy on Thursday, July 15, 2004
Wake Forest meets New Mexico on December 22nd. This game won't make any of the pre-season must-see lists but it should.
For one thing, most of the marquee games end up on neutral courts. This game will be at The Pit and almost surely will be a sell-out.
Wake will get first place votes in the preseason polls, while the Lobos probably won't get any votes. But the gap between the two is not as much as it seems. Last year, Wake - at home - failed to put away UNM in winning 70-61. This was a year in which New Mexico didn't win a single game away from Albuquerque.
New Mexico should improve a lot on their 14-14 record from last season. The teams that finished ahead of them in the Mountain West have either changed coaches or lost a top 10 NBA draft pick. The Lobos return…
by Ken Pomeroy on Wednesday, July 7, 2004
It's tough doing statistical analysis of hoops.
In baseball, the sum of the parts equals the whole.
In football, offense and defense are easily separated.
In basketball neither is true, which makes life for a stathead difficult. Especially with respect to my recent rant about how college basketball has seen an offensive decline in offense that is comparable to the mid 1950s. Because while I've claimed that defense is dominating the offense like never before, it's really due to the fact that the wrong kind of defense is prevailing, the passive kind.
The zone defense has come back in college hoops, just like it did in the early 80s - the last time that scoring nosedived. I don't really know this for a fact. But think about it, increased use of a zone is consistent with recent…
by Ken Pomeroy on Thursday, June 17, 2004
My recent post about the effect of the proposed experimental rules on college basketball ignored something important. It ignored the context under which these changes are being considered. After all, if the balance between offense and defense is tilting towards the offense, then making a few changes to help the defense might be appropriate.
The NCAA has been tracking basketball statistics since 1948, and they're published annually in the NCAA Record Book. Turn to pages 37 and 38 to see the data yourself.
Numbers for 2003-04 haven't been published yet, but after doing the calculations I can tell you that scoring averaged 69.3 points per game, continuing a decade-long decrease. There have been only 3 seasons since 1960 that have had less offense. Those years were 1982, 1984, and 1985, back in the pre-shot-clock and no-3-point-shot days. Field goals made dropped to levels not seen since the 1953-54…
by Ken Pomeroy on Sunday, June 6, 2004
About a month ago the NCAA announced the experimental rules that are to be used in exempt games this season. For the second consecutive season, the 3 point line will be moved back 9 inches to 20' 6" and the lane will be widened. (Although the lane won't be the international-style trapezoid used last season, it will be an odd looking six-sided polygon.)
Why make these changes? Basketball rules committee chairman Willis Wilson explains:
Wilson said that the goal of a wider lane is to better spread the floor to reduce rough play near the basket and to allow periphery players easier access on their penetration to the basket. The extension of the three-point line is part of that desire, not an effort to make the shot more difficult. “Our research from past experimental rules shows that moving back the line does not affect the number of three-point shots…
by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, May 10, 2004
Perhaps the most talked about aspect of the 2004 National Chamionship game was Georgia Tech's insistence on forcing a fast pace. It was widely regarded as a mistake for the Jackets to avoid creating a halfcourt game. I'm not exactly sure why, because the Jackets could match the Huskies in both athleticism and depth. But did the Jackets play too fast - and if so, was this a mistake?
Here are the pre-tourney Georgia Tech games that involved the fastest pace, based on calculated possessions, and how the Jackets fared:@ North Carolina (91 possessions) L 103-88 vs. Connecticut @ MSG (84) W 77-61 vs. Duke (81) L 82-74 @ Cornell (81) W 90-69 vs. Maryland (80) W 81-71 vs. UNC (77) W 88-77
Now the slowest paced games...vs. Duke @ Greensboro (64) L 85-71 @ Clemson (66) W 79-60 vs. NC St. (67) L 79-69 @ NC…
by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, May 3, 2004
Check it out, Todd Beck has calculated the effectiveness of various college hoops computer rankings. Actually he did this in real-time during the season. Some observations...
Looking at the second half results, most systems fall on the correct side of the spread 50-52% of the time. This isn't very good in the grand scheme of things, but most systems were not designed with beating the spread in mind. Still, any system advertising itself as predictive might aspire to do a little better (myself included).
Jeff Sagarin's predictive ratings was the worst of his three systems at predicting. I think his intent was that it would be his best system at predicting, hence the name "Sagarin predictive." Actually though, the system was the worst of any system against the betting public, and darn near last in predicting actual winners. So while my system has produced pretty lame results, I don't…
by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, April 26, 2004
Frank Haith recently made the jump from associate head coach at Texas to head coach at Miami Florida. However, his chances for success in his first head coaching job are slim. I think it's safe to say that Miami comes into the ACC at the bottom, having won a combined 25 games over the last 2 years. The problem Haith faces is that the ACC is a conference with a glass ceiling. If you're at the bottom, you're not going up.
Since the 1991-92 season when the ACC last expanded, there have been 30 times that a team has racked up at least 11 conference losses in a season. Three teams account for 22 of those instances - Clemson (9), NC State (7), and Florida State (6). Among the other 6 teams, each has no more than 2 such seasons.
Here's that idea in table form...Wins Expected Expected…
by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, April 19, 2004
During tourney-time, I played with some stats on how efficient teams were on offense and defense. In order to best evaluate this, one should look at how well a team does per possession, as opposed to per game or per minute. For instance Billy Tubbs' Lamar team averaged 79.1 points per game last season, good for 15th nationally. But they used around 80 possessions per 40 minutes, the fastest pace in the nation. They averaged .963 points per possesion, which ranked 242nd nationally and partially exposes why they lost 18 of 29 games this year.
Across college basketball, teams average .994 points per possession. So Lamar's offense was 3% less efficient than the average college team. And the average college team isn't getting close to thinking about getting to the NCAA Tournament with something other than an automatic bid.
So how does one compute possessions?
Before I go any…
by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, April 12, 2004
Hoops season is over, but there are all sorts of things for one to occupy the offseason with. Right now it's coaching changes and early entries. Today, I'll focus on the coaching changes of note, which are less notable than last year.
St. John's (Mike Jarvis out, ??? in)
It's hard to say what the best job available this year is, but I'll give the nod to St. John's. It sounds like Matt Doherty is the frontrunner, and may even get the gig Monday. DePaul's Dave Leitao and Kansas assistant Norm Roberts also got interviews. Personally, I would take Leitao. The job he has done at a similarly urban university has been tremendous. St. John's should feel honored that he would consider taking their job.
UNLV (Charlie Spoonhour out, Lon Kruger in)
UNLV has a lot going for it - great facilities, good tradition, and quality recruits within a…
by Ken Pomeroy on Sunday, April 4, 2004
I don't know exactly how much depth helps a team. But the way things shook out on Semi-final Saturday, having something more than warm bodies on the bench can be the difference between winning and losing. Georgia Tech is headed to the final game after having survived two previous games without any production from its most productive player, BJ Elder.
Two teams that finished ahead of them in the ACC, NC State and Duke, have been eliminated after blowing large leads with their most important player(s) on the bench after picking up a fifth foul.
So now its Jackets vs. Huskies, the sequel.
A lot was made tonight about how Okafor was hurt for that game. However, he played 34 minutes, had 6 blocks and 13 boards! He had a typical Okafor game defensively, but was shut down on offense. I don't…