Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Value of Jerome Dyson

I intended to write a following post to the Eye Candy 02/14/09 post that reviewed Pittsburgh's offensive numbers. I reviewed the box score of Monday night's Connecticut-Pittsburgh game, wondering how dominant the Pitt offense was coming off of their weekend game with Cincinnati (possession-based stats below). The first number that caught my eye however was UConn's own offensive efficiency (ORtg) -- 97.4 was awfully low for the Huskies...the lowest this season possibly? Checking back through their previous games I realized they have registered an ORtg <100.0 in each of the last three games. Last night was not a fluke. Setting a baseline for Dyson & the Huskies, I have reproduced a portion of Ken Pomeroy's stats for the Connecticut team. The snapshot is a summary of the principle contributors on the Husky squad through Sunday Feb. 8, after the last full game Dyson played (versus Michigan on 2/7).

Jerome Dyson75.5107.
A.J. Price69.6108.823.023.753.328.422.21.1
Jeff Adrien84.2116.620.621.253.08.913.21.1
Kemba Walker58.6109.620.517.653.420.824.32.5
Hasheem Thabeet76.4121.319.317.465.12.516.41.1
Stanley Robinson31.1100.917.517.249.313.022.12.0
Gavin Edwards28.6127.115.915.763.83.515.42.0
Craig Austrie58.3122.015.817.749.213.510.31.3

The table is sorted by Poss% and Shot%, clearly showing Dyson's leadership and role in the Husky offense. Using Pomeroy's classification system, Dyson is the only Husky classified as a "Major Contributor" -- a player who takes >=25% of the shots and possessions. While Dyson may be (may have been...) 3rd on the team for FGAs (behind Adrien and Thabeet) and 3FGAs (behind Price and Austrie), he also logged minutes marginally behind Adrien, Thabeet and Price. When calculated on possessions, and controlled for playing time, Dyson was clearly an extremely important part of Connecticut's offense. He was not the most efficient player offensively, but Major Contributors rarely are. They draw the opposing team's attention defensively, giving other members of the rotation relatively better opportunities. Note also he led the team in Stl% (steals based on possessions) by a fairly wide margin (again, controlled for minutes played). The impact of Dyson's loss is certainly suggested by Connecticut's offensive and defensive ratings in the 3 games he missed (note Dyson left the 2/11/09 Connecticut-Syracuse game having logged 5 minutes of PT, with no shots and a single steal).

All thru 2/10/09115.190.1
BE thru 2/2/09113.690.9
Seton Hall96.483.9

Dyson cannot bear the load for the squad's rather large drop in offensive efficiency (something on the order of 15-20%) for the past three games, but his injury certainly has had an impact on the team's rotation and offensive rhythm.

Who fills Dyson's role?
UConn's staff and the team will adjust over time, but who stepped in over the last three games? To date Coach Calhoun's Big East rotation has been (especially for him) very focused on a nucleus of 9 players (Dysona included), opening up to 10-11 when UConn has been able to control the game early. For the most competitive games Coach Calhoun has used 8-9 players, allocating 10 or more minutes to 7-8 of them. Dyson's absence has reduced that number by about one. Who has taken Dyson's minutes and possessions?


Through this first set of games it appears as if AJ Price, Jeff Adrien, Stanley Robinson and Craig Austrie are spreading Dyson's time and offense around. Price's minutes (as a percentage of time available for that position) have increased dramatically, as have his possessions and shots versus Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Adrien's minutes, possessions and shots picked up in the Hall and Pitt games. Against the Hall, the matchups favored Adrien, while it appears to have been more need in the Pitt game. Thabeet picked up the offense versus the Hall; most appropriate considering the Pirates have a reputation as a guard-oriented squad (see Ray Floriani's post on the Thabeet - Garcia matchup as Ray goes into an indepth comparison of the two centers). I was surprised that Walker did not see more court time versus Syracuse and Seton Hall, two games where (I would have thought...) his speed would have been useful against those two (faster) squads. Walker did become more involved in the offense versus Pittsburgh, but like Adrien and Edwards, that may have been more a product of Thabeet's reduced time and offensive role. Going forward I suspect Stanley Robinson will be called on to step up a bit more. Robinson's time has increased as he has re-integrated after rejoining the team at the end of the fall semester.

If the Huskies are going to make a deep run into the NCAAs, they will need to replace Dyson's offense. Stepping up the defense against Syracuse and Seton Hall was a good sign, no doubt evidence of Thabeet's more active role coming with the increase in minutes. Pittsburgh however, exposed the need for UConn to find a way to more consistently put points on the board.

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