Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Oh Canada! Part 2: Team Defense

Villanova's team defense has fallen down a bit over the past two seasons. From a high ranking of #4 (per Ken Pomeroy's possession-based stats) in the 2004-05 season the Wildcat's defensive rating has drifted downward to #18 last season. The culprit (as many fans who watched the games know...) has been field goal defense, principally on the perimeter. Numbers for rebounding (OR% -- opponent's offensive rebounding rate) and turnovers (TORate) have been fair to good, but fouling (FTRate) has been weak -- the 'Cats have been known to foul a good deal, a byproduct of the aggressive style of defensive play. Like perimeter field goal defense, Villanova's defensive free throw rate (free throws per 100 field goal attempts) has regressed over the past 3 seasons. Last year's 42.0 earned the 'Cats a rank of #262 (out of 338 in D1). The overall stats look very good for the defense on this tour:


Of particular interest is the eFG%, which at 36.3, is extremely low (the Canadians weren't hitting), well below Connecticut's #1 defensive eFG% of 41.9 last season. The FTRate (41.4) appears to be a bit high, possibly reflecting the style of Canadian (international) officiating, but along with an uncharacteristically low DR% of 30.4, something to watch. Individual game breakdowns, given the different levels of competition and team composition, should provide better insight on some of these numbers:

Carleton All-Stars38.320.036.634.488.60.83

Keeping all 4 Canadian teams' eFG% in the 30s is a good sign the shot defense might be back. That the Golden Gaels registered the lowest eFG% is not surprising. The percentages given by the two Carleton squads however are especially encouraging. The Wildcats were able to force a turnover rate of about 23.1 last season, so the overall exhibition result (22.8), while statistically insignificant, is not particularly good. This may rise as the rotation is settled. The opponent's OR% of 30.4 was an improvement over last year's 32.1, which was surprising given the larger front line offered by the 'Cats. The poorer showing against the Carleton All-Stars (36.6) however, raises concerns. Losing Sumpter and Sheridan, combined with less than dominating rebounding on this tour suggests this may be an area of concern. Ottawa's surprisingly high FTRate (71.2) is obviously a anomaly, something which might be said about their OR% and eFG% from that game as well. The higher paced game may have developed the characteristics of an AAU type game -- note the DRtg% of 96.1 for example. Not high as a result of a D1 game, but about 15.1% higher than the next nearest game (the Carleton All-Stars) and suggesting an inconsistency in the defensive effort game-to-game (note the Queens game). Is the higher pace responsible for the apparent degraded defense? The overall raw DRtg% of 81.1 may again be consistent with the level of the competition, but is nevertheless encouraging. Hopefully these numbers will serve as predictors for a strong defensive presence next season.

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