Sunday, November 23, 2008


Ray's recap/analysis came with a note of apology that the game was not Big East-related, but he thought the outcome and circumstances worth noting. As I followed the game ticker online I smiled thinking of how Ben Howland was tearing out what little hair he had left trying to decode John Beilein's variation of 4 Out 1 In motion offense. Nova Nation faithful, along with every Big East fan not a Mountaineer, knows that feeling. Beilein coached teams are the very definition of a POT. As defined by John Gasaway, a POT (Perimeter Oriented Team -- a team that takes a higher percentage of their field goal attempts as 3s...) exhibits it's behaviors by....
1. Turning the ball over less.
2. Gathering fewer rebounds.
3. Getting to the line less.

And the Four Factors permutation of the box score shows the Michigan team hits all three points...


...well, almost. The stats shown are for the whole game, Michigan showed it's POTness in full form in the second half as it took 38.1% of it's FGAs as 3s. Which is actually a bit low for Beilein teams. Another, not often mentioned behavior of a POT is pace. West Virginia teams under Beilein were often among the lowest possession teams in the Big East, second only to the Princeton Offense Georgetown teams of John Thompson III. The pace, as calculated by Ray was about 59 possessions (average of Michigan and UCLA), fully 10 possessions lower than the current average for D1 this season. That's very deliberate.

The Wolverines did not fare as well against the Blue Devils on Friday night. But taking down the #4 ranked is a good sign that Beilein's system is taking hold in Ann Arbor. The Michigan -- Northwestern game should be...interesting.

The Texas Tech -- East Central (Oklahoma) game over at the Legends Classic also caught my attention. By way of explanation, East Central is a D2 member of the Lone Star Conference, and like a number of D2 teams, invited to fill out the field for a number of early season invitational tournaments. A basketball game where the combined point total is over 280 is bound to get a lot of attention. Texas Tech won that game 167-115, and a fellow Big East fan asked rhetorically "Does anyone play defense anymore?" It turns out Texas Tech does play defense, but in a game in which 280 points are scored, it is easy to lose perspective. Possession-based stats come in pretty handy for these situations. It turns out that the teams played each half for just under 60 possessions -- about 119 for the whole game. That means the Red Raiders held the Tigers to 0.96 points per possession, or a Defensive Rating (per Dean Oliver) of 96.3 for the entire game. That's a bit below the D1 average for this season of about 98.5. Texas Tech's Offensive Rating was 140.6, accounting for the large margin of victory (52 points).

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