Sunday, March 8, 2009

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: More Converts to Tempo Free Stats

by Ray Floriani

ALBANY, NY - For years fans would peruse NCAA statistics and assume the teams allowing the fewest points played the best defense. It wasn’t until recently, with the tempo free emphasis and studies, that observers looked past the raw numbers, and took a good hard look at how teams played. A team surrendering 75 points per game must not be playing defense, or so we thought. Well, if their games go for 80 something possessions, maybe they do play good defense. Sixty points allowed per game means solid D, right? Not if the teams play for 55 possessions.

Following the first semifinal at the MAAC women’s tournament on Saturday, Canisius coach Terry Zeh praised his team’s defense. "We give up 57 points per game," Zeh said. "So we play some great defense." Zeh’s quote immediately sent yours truly to the calculator and statistics. The tempo free defensive breakdown bears Zeh’s assessment out.
RecordPoss.Def. Eff.TO%
Canisius (overall)23-768.8528
Canisius (MAAC)14-467.8527

A major part of Canisius’ defensive package is forcing turnovers as the TO% implies.

Iona and Marist were warming up for the second semi at the Times Union Arena. The Canisus assistants Beth O’Boyle, Tara Fleming and Jen Gwin took their seats to scout. I had the figures jotted down on notebook paper and explained them. They found the breakdowns interesting and were thrilled to hear tempo free stats backed up the quality of their team’s defensive work. Zeh came out to join his assistants. I went over the notes with him and he was as proud and eager to share the findings with his team. "Offensively you are .97 PPP" I noted. Not great but a good figure. "Anything 1.00 or over is excellent," he said. Seems the Canisius mentor was doing a little tempo free studying of his own and utilizing it to monitor his team.

The final however had Marist cut down the nets as Canisius saw stifling defense from the other perspective.


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