Wednesday, August 29, 2007

U19 Team: A Four Factors Look at the Team

The team selected for this competition contained a mix of D1 brand-names (Michael Beaseley, Patrick Beverly, Jonny Flynn, Donte` Greene, David Lighty...) and solid, if not All American-level talent (Matt Bouldin, Stephen Curry, Damanian Hollis, Raymar Morgan, Tajuan Porter and Deon Thompson). I have compiled a summary of the tournament data and divided it into two tables (below). The first contains mostly offensive data -- field goals & free throws (attempts & scored), PPWS and points.The second table contains the nuts and bolts...rebounds, assists, steals & blocks.

Team USA
Standard Dev6.337.651.694.277.639.670.1416.47
Standard Dev4.

The news reports (and box scores...) told a story of a roller coaster ride, a couple of laffers followed by a nail biter. The stories and box scores conveyed a some level of inconsistency in Team USA's performance, I decided to apply averages and standard deviations to get some insight.I have included those totals, averages and standard deviations for each category, both for the USA team and their opponents.

Team USA
Standard Dev4.484.
Standard Dev5.295.294.844.185.325.031.694.4

One of the first things that drew my attention was the relatively large standard deviation for both the USA and opposing teams. Team USA scored an average of 93.7 points, but that standard deviation of 16.47 suggests the USA scored well above and below that average. The same inconsistency is noted in Assists and Blocks. For the opposing teams, rebounds (especially offensive rebounds), steals and blocks seemed particularly inconsistent. The average of points scored 93.7 (USA) versus 74.9 for (opponents) had me wondering how the US team lost the gold medal. In reviewing the box scores I decided to break down the opposing teams into a "European" and "non-European" group. The Americans were able to dominate the non-European competition easily due to the large gap in skills (ie offensive rebounding, assists, steals and blocked shots) combined with US athleticism. The American logged whopping 38.3 average margin of victory (MoV) over the non-Europeans (Mali, China, Brazil and Argentina) en route to a 4-0 record versus that competition. The Europeans were a different matter. The USA team did manage a 4-1 mark versus France (2-0), Lithuania and Serbia (1-1), but the MoV was a far most modest 5.3 points. The loss to Serbia ironically was also by 5 points. I divided the games into European and non-European below and use Dean Oliver's Four Factors (plus a few other stats) to decipher Team USA's play.


The differences in eFG% are huge, representing a nearly 18 point swing against the Americans when playing the Europeans (versus the non-Europeans). The Americans were able to pound the ball inside against their non-European competition (71.9% of their FGAs were 2 pointers; their 2FGM was 61.3%) and score consistently (eFG% of 60.3), if not on the first FGA, then surely the second or third...note the American's OReb% was 49.5% -- they rebounded nearly one in two of their misses. The non-Europeans had far less success shooting (64.7% of FGAs were 2FGAs; their 2FGM was 44.1%) and were not especially strong when rebounding their misses. Note the Europeans were only marginally better than their non-European counterparts when rebounding their missed FGs, but considerably better when rebounding defensively -- the American suffered a steep decline in their OReb% to match their decline in eFG% (49.5 to 33.7 and 63.3 to 51.0 respectively). The Europeans took 42.2% of their FGAs as 3s. And though they hit a modest 33.3% (still better than the Brazilians, Chinese, et. al.), the additional points produced, coupled with their significantly better field goal defense and defensive rebounding, degraded Team USA's offensive efficiency. Coach Wainwright, no doubt in an effort to counter/compensate, sat several here-to-fore successful inside players for wings. Michael Beaseley for example had worked himself into a starting job by the medal round, but after falling behind early to the French and then the Serbs, Wainwright significantly reduced Beaseley's PT in search of a 3 point shooter. Beaseley himself shot 1-10 (0.100) for 3s during the tournament. Wainwright needed a sniper and Beaseley, as versatile as he had been to that point, could not fill that role.

It has been eight years since the USA earned a silver or gold medal in the U19s competition. The achievement cannot be understated. And Jerry Wainwright should be commended for bringing this team through the tournament so well.

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