Saturday, April 10, 2010

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: Notes About the Title Games

by Ray Floriani

LYNDHURST, NJ - It’s in the books. The championship games contested earlier this week gave us a new and defending titlist and in effect brought another outstanding season to a close.

The scores:

Men's Championship
Women's Championship

To deviate, instead of ‘ladies first’ let’s look at the games in chronological order beginning wthe men. In a 62 possession game (Duke 61 Butler 63) the Four Factors.


Duke was a little high on the turnover rate but made up with effective field goal shooting and a points per possession mark over 1.00. A priority for Butler was offensive rebounding. The Bulldogs did a good job in the first half but were gradually worn down the final twenty minutes.

Efficiency, the Martin Manley formula, adds points , made shots, rebounds, steals and blocks while subtracting missed shots and turnovers. A breakdown of Duke and Bulter follows.

Pts.Rtg.Per Min
K. Singler19250.625
B. Zoubek8170.548
J. Scheyer15200.541
N. Smith1340.100

Wanted to focus on the double figure scorers only but had to include Brian Zoubek, The Duke center did not hit doubles but was a major factor inside. Zoubek had 10 rebounds (6 on the offensive end) and rejected two shots. Nolan Smith hit a few big three throws late and provided inspiration to his teammates not measurable by a calculator. A 5 of 15 mark from the field and 3 turnovers definitely hindered his efficiency mark. Kyle Singler shot 7 of 13 but added 9 boards and blocked 2 shots which went a long way toward his very high efficiency grades.

Pts.Rtg.Per Min
A. Jukes10100.556
S. Mack12100.323
G. Hayward12120.300
M. Howard1150.263

Butler did not have anyone outstanding from the efficiency metric. True to form given their balance. Avery Jukes posted a high per minute mark thanks to 4 of 6 shooting, 4 rebounds in 18 minutes.

Physics. With degrees in the humanities yours truly did not enroll in a physics course. Not in high school. Not in college. The day after the final a few officiating friends called to tell me how close Gordon Haywood’s last shot, Terms as trajectory velocity and force were used to prove how incredibly close Butler came to cutting down the nets on that last shot.

Chances. And related to that last shot is the debate shout Brian Zoubek intentionally missed that last shot or tried to hit it. Butler was out of time outs so hitting the shot allows them to inbound the ball with about three seconds left and set up a better look. On the other hand Duke would have a three point lead so a trey at the buzzer means overtime.

Zoubek’s miss (with no time outs left to use) forced the Bulldogs to get the rebound and try to get a decent look. If they buried the last shot, game over. Analysts have been going back and forth on this in recent days. Players trying to miss often throw it hard off the rim. Not hitting the rim is a violation. What often happens, as did on Monday, the opponent gets a longer rebound that a shot that misses normally and falls to the first opponent in position. That long rebound gave Butler a split second or so to get a closer shot than if they rebounded 80 something feet from their basket. In the final analysis it all comes down to trust. If you are worthy of the national championship put the trust in your defense to get that final necessary stop.

On to the Women….

In a 68 possession contest (UConn 69 Stanford 67) focused on the Four Factors.


How do you post a 77 for offensive efficiency and win? Simple, play the lockdown defense, a trademark of your program and what you have done all year. UConn’s defensive effort as displayed by Stanford’s offensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage. The turnover rate was not high for the Cardinal as UConn showed little full court pressure. This defensive effort, like so many others by UConn was simple contesting shots and forcing the opponent to settle for shots they may not have wanted.

In an incredibly poor offensive performance UConn had 12 points (trailing 20-12) at the half. The Huskies did not even hit double figures until just before the four minute media time out. They went scoreless one ten minute stretch that first half. Credit Stanford’s defense which doubled the low post, eliminated transition and forced UConn to beat them from outside. While UConn defended well on their own behalf, Stanford did miss some good looks and Geno Auriemma’s club was fortunate to be down only eight at the half.

The efficiency numbers and efficiency divided by minutes of the marquee players, Nnemkadi Ogwumike of Stanford and UConn’s Maya Moore.

Pts.Rtg.Per Min
N. Ogwunike11130.342
M. Moore23230.622

Ogwumike had a game high 13 rebounds but shot only 5 of 14 from the floor. Moore started slowly but finished with a game high 23 points on 9 of 18 shooting. She tied teammate Tina Charles for rebounding honors with 11.

Early in the second half. Moore came out, finished a penetration then hit a few jumpers and the Huskies were revitalized. Ogwumike , an outstanding inside threat, struggled for the most part as the UCONN defense was more attentive of her presence. Jayne Appel, an excellent ‘interior decorator; in her own right shot 0 for 12, primarily due to a very bad ankle. With Appel ineffective the Huskies simply converge on Ogwumike.

FT rate had a disparity. As noted the Cardinal struggled to get an inside game going. Once UConn regained the lead the second half they pushed it to double digits forcing Stanford to shoot from beyond the arc. Late in the game, Stanford was in a fouling mode trying to extend with a three possession affair.

A repeat winner UConn coach Geno Auriemma is on a "wizardesque" streak (78 and counting). Even if the Huskies eclipse UCLA’s 88 game winning streak next season Auriemma defers any talk that he should be grouped with the legendary John Wooden. As the Huskies cut down the nets in San Antonio Auriemma said, “John Wooden is just in a class by himself.”


stan said...

Regarding that last second shot by Butler--it's hard to argue with the decision coach K made because of the ultimate outcome-- he and his team won.

Just a thought though Ray--maybe he remembered that '92 Grant Hill 80' pass to Christian Laettner who turned and made a shot that went in to beat Kentucky in the East regional at the Spectrum, with 2.1 seconds left. Maybe he had visions of Butler doing that to Duke this time.

I wonder how many D1 coaches would have done it his way? Then again, there are not many 4 time National Championship coaches out there.

Anyway, it was a great ending and a great game.

greyCat said...

One of the best Championship games this decade Stan. Ken Pomeroy developed a running winning probability formula and tried it for the first time on that game. He commented later that the game was too closely contested to test the algorithm properly. I think Coach K's strategy was correct (miss the second FT), but I think it would have worked better had Zoubek thrown the ball against the backboard a bit more softly. Had the ball dropped a foot or two in front of the backboard, instead of bouncing out 30-35 feet (probably nerves?), there would have been more court to cover.

stan said...

All noted and thanks for the comment and link greyCat.

Just a final comment, I found the comments in this link pretty interesting.(particularly regarding coach K pulling one guy off the lane on that second shot AND not calling a timeout before that second shot to make sure his guys knew what and what not to do.)

I would also add that Duke had 9 fouls. There was somewhat of a chance that on a contested rebound off that missed second shot Duke could have fouled and put Butler on the line to tie the game. At that point, coach K is playing OT--something he ostensibly didn't want to do.

I think I might have opted to at least call a timeout before the second shot to get everybody on the same page. And more than likely I would have played to make the second shot and not to lose- and put either Singler or Zoubek on the in bounder if the shot was made. And Zoubek's FT% this year was only 55% so there's a chance he'd miss anyway.

But as I stated before, there's not too many 4 time national championship coaches out there. And I wonder if Coach K was doing all kinds of calcs in his head.