# Senior Day

Now that every school (except two Ivy Leaguers) has had a chance to honor their seniors, I thought I would recognize five seniors that made a difference during their career. This got me to thinking, why isn’t there some award for the best seniors in the nation? With so many people wringing their hands over the recent increase in early departures, it only seems logical that someone produce an all-senior team.

Here’s my list of top seniors – with some qualifications. First, I’m doing this to spotlight the career progression of each player, so I decided to eliminate transfers from consideration (sorry John Lucas, Lawrence Roberts, and Danny Granger). Second, I needed detailed player and team stats from all four years to do this analysis, and my lazy research department was unable to find them for Wayne Simien and Salim Stoudamire.

So the result is five players that may not be the best seniors in the nation, but they left their mark on the game by playing four years at one institution.

Here is an explanation of each column used below:

Off. Rtg. – Developed by the omniscient Dean Oliver, an individual’s offensive rating attempts to measure a player’s offensive contribution to his team’s offensive efficiency. Producing a lot of points without using a lot of possesions will generate a high offensive rating. Points produced is measured by scoring them directly, dishing assists, and grabbing offensive rebounds. Kudos to Ryan for providing the inspiration that the complex calculations could be made by mere mortals [Update: Additional thanks to Ryan for correcting my initial math on these figures.]

%Poss – The percentage of his team’s possession that a player uses while he is on the floor. Made shots, turnovers, and missed shots rebounded by the defense are the main examples of how a player uses possessions. Considering there are five players on the court, Average Joe will score 20% in this column. Players with less than 20% in this category are typically role players. The more possessions a player uses, the harder it is to have a high offensive rating. A player with a 120 offensive rating while using 30% of his team’s possessions is more valuable than one with a 120 (or even 125) rating with 15% possession usage. It’s rare for a player on a decent team to get over 30% in this category. For reference, Michael Jordan in his early years with the Bulls was around 35%, but as talent filled in around him, he settled in at around 30% on the championship teams.

%Shots – The percentage of his team’s shots that a player takes while he is in the game. Again, 20% is the average figure for this stat.

%Min – The percentage of possible minutes a player plays. Is some cases this is artificially low due to injuries (Coppenrath’s junior season).

PPG,RPG,APG – The standard media stats for those of you that insist on living in the mesozoic era.

TmOE – The team’s offensive efficiency. Points scored per possession times 100.

TmDE – The team’s defensive efficiency. Points allowed per possession times 100.

One more concept I’d like to propose is that of the "sophomore jump." We hear about the sophomore jinx a lot, but the average college player improves most from this freshman to this sophomore season. Keep that in mind as you look at these players’ careers.

Oh yeah, all data is before last weekend’s play.

Chris Thomas, Notre Dame

```    Off
Yr  Rtg  %Poss  %Shots  %Min  PPG   APG  TmOE  TmDE  W-L  Season ended...
Sr  101   25.4   24.6   93.0  14.1  6.5   106  100  17-10
Jr  111   28.4   31.4   95.7  19.7  4.7   110  105  19-13 NIT Quarterfinals
So  107   29.1   28.1   90.7  18.7  6.9   110   99  24-10 NCAA Sweet 16
Fr  116   22.9   21.6   93.7  15.6  7.6   112   97  22-11 NCAA 2nd Round
```

Chris Thomas has played as much college basketball over this career as any of this year’s senior crop, having played over 90% of the possible minutes each season. Thomas was picked by many publications as the freshman of the year in 2002.  He showed steady improvement through his junior season. But his senior year has been a disappointment, with his share of the offense decreasing. He’s been less involved in the offense out of necessity – his shooting percentage has hovered around the 35% mark all season – down from 40% last year. His turnovers are way up after his stellar junior season. His own decrease in production has been mirrored by his team.

Taylor Coppenrath, Vermont

```    Off
Yr  Rtg  %Poss  %Shots  %Min  PPG   RPG  TmOE  TmDE  W-L  Season ended...
Sr  127   30.9   31.3   87.0  24.7  8.9   111   95  21-6
Jr  117   30.9   32.6   70.2  24.1  7.2   102   97  22-9  NCAA 1st Round
So  114   28.8   32.5   75.1  20.1  6.2   104   96  21-12 NCAA 1st Round
Fr  122   22.7   22.1   85.4  16.6  7.0   111  100  21-8  AE Semifinals
```

Coppenrath has come through with his best season in his senior year, simply dominating his America East competitors. He’s shown steady improvement every year, with the exception of his sophomore campaign. But that was the only season in which he didn’t play with do-it-all point guard TJ Sorrentine. He won’t get consideration for player of the year, but if you believe in an MVP-type concept, no player is more valuable to his team than this guy. He’s taken his game to the next level this season, and that is reflected in an increase in free throw attempts. He’s third in the nation in FTs made. Notice his offensive rating is approaching 130, while his team is 111. There’s a lot more room for Coppenrath to be selfish, and if he gets the right match-up I pity Vermont’s first-round NCAA opponent.

Hakim Warrick, Syracuse

`Year Off Rtg.  %Poss  %Shots  %Min    PPG RPG  TmOE TmDE   W-L   Season ended… Sr.    122     25.3    24.9   93.3  21.1 8.3   114  97   24-6 Jr.    112     27.5    25.6   92.9  19.8 8.6   109  101  23-8   NCAA Sweet 16 So.    111     22.4    20.8   81.6  14.8 8.5   112  98   30-5   National Champions Fr.    102     18.9    18.5   42.1   6.1 4.8   103  95   23-13  NIT 4th place`

Warrick was a role player his freshman year, but became an indispensable offensive and defensive force on the national championship team his sophomore year. In his junior season, he picked up the slack that Carmelo Anthony left behind. He has shown a similar leap his senior season, although it’s interesting that his role in the offense has decreased slightly from his junior year. If I am an NBA guy, I would love the constant progression Warrick has made.

Ronny Turiaf, Gonzaga

`Year  Off Rtg.  %Poss  %Shots %Min   PPG RPG TmOE TmDE  W-L  Sason ended... Sr.    118     25.7    24.3  78.2  16.6 9.3  118  104  23-4 Jr.    115     27.8    25.4  66.7  15.5 6.4  119  97   28-3 NCAA 2nd Round So.    120     28.7    26.1  60.5  15.6 6.2  113  101  24-9 NCAA 2nd Round Fr.    107     19.7    15.3  46.9   7.3 5.0  115  94   29-4 NCAA 1st Round`

Turiaf exemplifies the sophomore jump concept, improving greatly over this freshman season and earning more playing time even though there wasn’t much change in the ‘Zags frontcourt personnel between those two seasons. Turiaf has maintained that high level of play, although he hasn’t been spectacular. Some of his role in the offense this season has been taken by the sophomore jump of Adam Morrison.

Eddie Basden, Charlotte

`Year  Off Rtg.  %Poss %Shots %Min  PPG  RPG TmOE TmDE   W-L  Season ended… Sr.    118     21.9   20.3  88.5  15.6 8.5  112  101  22-5 Jr.    116     19.5   15.6  69.4  10.4 6.4  110  100  21-9  NCAA 1st Round So.    107     17.2   12.2  62.6  6.3  6.9  101  103  13-16 CUSA 1st Round Fr.    100     16.2   11.8  47.0  4.3  4.3  109  102  18-12 NCAA 1st Round`

Basden has never been the go-to guy for Charlotte, and while having impressive numbers this year he is best known around CUSA for his defensive work. But Basden has shown a steady offensive progression – each year he has taken more of a role in the offense, and each year he has been more effective. Despite the fact that he’s taken roughly 25% more shots relative to his teammates, his shooting percentage has not dropped much from last season (53% to 50%).

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