Saturday, May 23, 2009

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: Big East Floor Efficiency

by Ray Floriani

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ:  In the late Nineties, David Claerbaut wrote a book "The NBA Analyst" (Taylor Publishing). At the time I hoped it would be an annual publication along the lines of what we have for major league baseball (Baseball Prospectus and others). It was not to be Claerbaut was "one and done" but not without giving some interesting insight. One area he touched upon was floor efficiency which dealt with steals, assists and turnovers. Claerbaut felt this statistic or number, "...reflects the overall floor game, offense and defense".f Claerbaut found the top nine teams in floor efficiency for 1998 had winning records. The Chicago Bulls, the '98 NBA champions, were fourth with a .692 mark. Claerbaut in fact found floor efficiency had an .822 correlation rate to winning.

The formula:

Floor EFF = (steals + assists)/ (steals + assists + turnovers)

We decided to look at the floor efficiency of the Big East. Only the conference regular season games were utilized in computations.

2.Notre Dame.6738-10
4.West Virginia.64510-8
5.Seton Hall.6427-11
12.South Florida.5994-14
15.St. John's.5456-12

A few notes and comments:
* Notre Dame. Not a huge surprise but a succinct reminder, floor efficiency is desirable but that alone doesn't guarantee a winning campaign.
* Rutgers. Again not a surprise. It was just a long hard Winter in Piscataway for Fred Hill 7 company.
* What about Villanova? This is a ?Nova site after all. The Wildcats finished mid-pack in the ratings. Jay Wright?s club had 147 steals (tied with Seton Hall for second best in conference behind Louisville). The turnovers (14 per outing) were the area that kept their floor efficiency from being better.
* Marquette led the way in floor efficiency with a perimeter oriented group. But it wasn't simply their style of play. Marquette was not just perimeter oriented in philosophy but very good in execution. They had a strong cast that had nearly five more assists than turnovers (15.1 assists, 10.6 turnovers) per game. Defensively they weren?t too shabby, finishing just a steal behind Villanova for fourth in the Big East.
* Surprise? Seton Hall. Maybe it shouldn?t be that much of an eye opener. Hall was very perimeter oriented and did record seven conference wins. Defensive thefts, as noted tied for second in conference, and a favorable assist/turnover mark (233 to 212) greatly aided Bobby Gonzalez's club.
* Disappointing? UConn. Huskies were fourth from the bottom in conference steals with just 96. That went a long way toward a floor efficiency rating that trailed several teams sub .500 in Big East play. UConn?s situation serves as an example: a favorable floor efficiency is something all coaches certainly covet, but it is not a definitive guarantee to winning. You need an inside game featuring rebounders, interior defenders and shot blockers. UConn had just that and was strong enough to overcome and shortcoming provided by not generating a great deal of steals.

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