Don’t fall into the trap that Texas A&M is led by their defense. The story with the Aggies is how incredible its offense is, especially considering how far it has come.
For the moment let’s ignore history and look at the facts in efficiency terms. A&M’s offense is just as good as its defense, but it’s not enough to say Texas A&M ranks 6th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency and 11th in adjusted defensive efficiency. So let’s take the semi-secret adjusted part of the formula out of it and look at some raw data.
Games below national average (102.1) offensively
3/9 Oklahoma St. (neutral) 92.4
1/9 Baylor (road) 97.1
12/9 UCLA (road) 97.8
12/5 LSU (road) 84.9
Just four times has Texas A&M had what could be called a bad offensive game. I’m not going to list all of their below-average defensive games, because there are 10 of them.
Let’s look at how many times a Texas A&M opponent experienced one its five worst defensive games against the Aggies. Again, these are raw figures, and include only conference games and at-large worthy non-conference opponents.
Oklahoma State (5th)
On the opposite side, A&M had fewer standout defensive performances this season. Here are the opponents that experienced one of their five worst offensive games at the hands of the Aggies.
Oklahoma State (1st, 3rd)
Iowa State (1st)
So whether you believe in my schedule adjustments or not, it’s pretty clear that the A&M offense deserves a little more attention. The other part of the story is that while the defense has been steady under Gillispie, the offense has made huge strides from last season.
2007 2006 adjOE 120.4 (6) 107.3 (80) eFG% 55.9 (5) 50.8(104) TO% 18.3 (36) 20.2(108) OR% 33.7(159) 29.8(247) FTR 30.3 (40) 29.3 (40)
While Acie Law gets much of the credit for the improvement, this is not a one-man show. Figures represent offensive rating and percent of possessions used.
2007 2006 Law4 115.5/27.4 104.7/25.6 Kirk 109.9/12.8 105.6/12.9 Jones 121.1/23.4 110.1/27.0 Kava 111.1/22.1 105.0/20.3 Carter 132.9/17.3 106.6/20.9
Law is better, but he’s not the only one. The front line tandem of Kavaliauskas and Jones is much more dangerous than last season. And Josh Carter is the tourney’s best remaining pure shooter (sorry, Lee Humphrey). But the interesting thing about Law is he is taking fewer 3’s. Only 19% of his shots this season are from 3, compared to 29% last season, and his free throw rate (ratio of free throw attempts to field goal attempts) is up to 44.6 from 32.7. All of that explains this…
2007 2006 2-point FG% 52.8(32) 49.1(129) 3-point FG% 42.4 (2) 36.1(100) 3PA/FGA 28.3(290) 34.6(129) A/FGM 65.6(11) 70.2 (2)
The offense is still no thing of beauty. No, wait a minute. It is a thing of beauty. A&M doesn’t shoot 3’s nearly as often any more, but when they do, they are deadly. And when they don’t, they are deadly. I put the assist rate up there also, because while you might interpret that as “not sharing the ball as well,” I interpret that as being able to score off the dribble more frequently. Which all gets back to Law, whose personal stats say is scoring off the dribble more frequently.
Not only is Texas A&M’s offense the foundation of this year’s team, but it’s the kind of offense that will cram the ball down the opponents throat over and over given the choice. Memphis is going to be the ultimate test, as opponents take few 3’s against the Tigers and shoot 2’s horribly (5th worst in the country). The Aggies haven’t faced an offensive test quite like this one, but if they pass, you’d have to put this offense in the elite category.