Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Inside-Outside in the Big East

The percentage of 3s is down a bit this season (see Ken Pomeroy) -- the pace is up (is there a relationship between the 2?). I wanted to take a look at the Big East teams to see who has moved "inside" and who has moved "outside". The table, using stats from the entire regular season has a few surprises...

St. John's6625186445369212.823.61
South Florida622516605285803.130.84
Seton Hall647519426086532.320.69
West Virginia640019136446761.670.50
Notre Dame64252051709535-8.48-2.71

Note -- I have shown both Pomeroy's and Pelton's Inside/Outside statistic. The team's ranking is the same irrespective of the formula used. Difference between the two is more an expression of magnitude of the tendency to use the three point shot.

Mr. Inside/Mr. Outside
Remember the team(s) that show no predisposition will be 0 (zero -- or near zero) on the scale. The more "inside oriented" the greater the non-negative number; the more negative the number, the more predisposed the team is to be "outside oriented". Connecticut and St. John's as the "inside" teams was no surprise. Connecticut was ranked "most inside" last season, with ratings, 23.4/6.62, much like this season. Notre Dame as an the "outside" team was a mild surprise given the presence of Luke Harangody in the paint. The Irish were ranked #11 in the conference (#1 is most inside, #16 is most outside) last season, with (Pomeroy/Pelton) ratings of 0.50/0.15 (respectively -- like the 2008 season, only 5 teams had ratings <0.0), with most outside team (Georgetown) rated at -6.19/-1.98 (not quite the same magnitude as Notre Dame this season). Villanova's move to the inside was a surprise. I suspected Cunningham's growth as an inside force this season (both points scored and percentage of shots taken) had "focused" the offense to look more often for points in the paint, but finding the Wildcats ranked #3 in the conference with numbers, 11.26/3.20, clearly multiples of last season's (ranked #7) 3.97/1.14 was a more significant shift to the inside than I expected.

1. Pittsburgh continues it's slow but steady shift to the outside. The Panthers of Ben Howland's tenure remain by reputation an inside team, but Jamie Dixon has recruited perimeter guards and developed a more balanced attack. Ranked #9 this season, the Panthers quietly dropped down from a #6 ranking last season.
2. With well publicized inside threats in Mike Williams, Yancy Gates, Steven Toyloy, Darnell Wilkes and Anthony McClain, I was surprised to see Cincinnati with an outside orientation second only to Notre Dame. Deonta Vaughn may well have taken a good many shots (especially from the outside it seems...), but he was hardly alone. Dion Dixon, Larry Davis and even Alvin Mitchell were also predisposed to take the 3 point shot. The predisposition to shoot 3FGAs, coupled with the team's not particularly high percentage of makes (about 33.3%), may well explain their sinking offensive efficiency at the end of the season. The Bearcats were a bubble team largely on the strength of a fast start in conference play. They stumbled a bit at the end of the season (4-6 in their last 10), but losing the 1st round of the BET to DePaul definitely knocked them off the bubble.
3. The conference continues to be inside-oriented. Of the 16 members, only 5 are outside-oriented, the same number (though not the same teams) as last season. The conference "average" using Pomeroy's calculation is 3.93.


PB at BON said...

Interesting, as always. Thanks for providing the numbers in one place...

Villanova Viewpoint Publisher said...

Hello, greyCat-

Once I had learned the jargon, I was very surprised to see that (at least according to this metric) that we have the third-most inside-based attack in the Big East. This seems highly unusual, given that we have no true center and it is always remarked upon (accurately) that we rely on speed, quickness, outside shooting as our primary weapons. I agree that Cunningham - whom I think is our most important weapon - has, by his stunning performances this season, given the impression that we are more of an "inside" team than we actually are...


greyCat said...

Thanks for the note Peter...

Villanova's movement from "outside" to "inside" is something I have written/noted several times over the last 1+ seasons Publisher. Finding a single statistic that can function as a metric to compare several teams (or one season's edition of a team to another season's edition...) is elusive. John Gasaway looked at the percentage of 3s to 2s, the FTRate (the rate per 100 FGAs that a team drew an FTA) and rebounding to identify what he called a perimeter oriented team (POT). The staff tried to do with Sheridan (with mixed results) what it has been able to do with Cunningham. A good inside game sets up the outside offense.