Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pace in Pittsburgh

When I calculated the pace for the Pittsburgh-Houston Baptist game I did a double take. Over 82.7 possessions -- was this an exhibition game? I tracked the two following games and observed that the pace is decelerating (though the second game was a -- for the Panthers anyway -- scorching 68.9 possessions). My linear regression equation on the game pace has determined that at some point in the Pitt-Ducquesne game on 12/05 those teams will approach the D1 equivalent of a pace event horizon. With a calculated pace of just below 2 possessions for each team, that would mean rounded, that the Dukes and Panthers would have one possession apiece per half. I am not sure they could do that even on purpose, though it does remind me of a few pre-shot clock games in the Big 5. When Sam Young proclaimed a new, high paced era in Pittsburgh basketball after the North Carolina A&T win, I was skeptical.

Last season, Pitt's raw pace (per Ken Pomeroy) started out around 65.2 (high -- see the chart above) it quickly fell into the 63.0 range and dipped as low as 62.7 before coming to rest at 62.9 at season's end. Consider that from January 7 to the end of the season Pitt's raw pace migrated in a range just below 64 down to 62.7 That's about 1 possession over 22 games (and 12 weeks)...not much movement at all. The "new look" Panthers look a lot like the "old look" Panthers -- a big center (Troutman, Demetris & Gray, Blair & Diggs), mobile Euro-style 4s (DeGroat & Kendall, Young, Brown) lots of interchangable wings and off guards (McCarroll, Graves, Ramon, Benjamin, Cook...) and heady point guards (Knight, Krauser, Fields, Wanamaker?). These Howland and Dixon teams assume personality of the city itself, substantial, steady and methodical, plow straight forward, right over you if necessary...maybe even predictable and plodding at times. So the probability that the Panthers will not settle into a pace in the 62.5-64.0 range are about as good as a black hole developing over the city of Pittsburgh.

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