Sunday, August 3, 2008

2008-09 Returning Minutes: Experience Counts?

After I compiled and published the table Friday I paused, and decided I had a few more questions. True Villanova was returning the highest percentage of minutes in the conference (by a fairly wide margin too), but how did those minutes compare (to others for example) when experience was taken into consideration? How could I "calculate" the depth (or quality?) of the returning minutes? Ken Pomeroy developed a metric he called "experience", for his Scout Page feature (see his Villanova Scout Page for an example -- Nova had an experience of 1.0 years, ranked #324 in D1 last season. Extremely inexperienced), but never gave an explanation on how he developed it. I decided to go back and see if I could determine not only what percentage of the 2007-08 minutes were returning for each team, but how "experienced" (by pecentage) those minutes would be. After developing the table I sorted by experience level (3 years first...) and came up with this table...

Experience LevelRet.
Notre Dame0.5430.4290.0280.858
West Virginia0.2830.5690.1480.610
St. John's0.2150.0000.7850.753
Seton Hall0.1030.5360.3610.519
South Florida0.0230.5480.4290.551

Note the last column is the percentage of returning minutes (from the 2007-08 team). This yields an altogether different perspective on the teams than the one presented in my previous post. If the numbers are any indication, the last four teams in this list -- Seton Hall, Syracuse, South Florida and Cincinnati may be in for letdowns. The Pirates for example, will have to replace all-purpose handyman Brian Laing, a team player who may not have had a specialty skill, but managed to do quite a few things very well. The Bulls likewise will have to replace Big Kentrell Gransberry, a transfer #5 who formed a strong offensive tandem with outside shooter (and freshman) Dominique Jones. The transition from Coach Huggins to Coach Cronin (via Coach Andy Kennedy...) is reflected in the absence of any 3 year starters or significant contributors in Cincinnati's returning players. Virtually the entire rotation from 2005-06 has transferred or graduated. Coach Cronin stressed in 2997-08 previews how he intended to use JUCOs and transfers to bring the Bearcats back into the hunt quickly. Returning less than 40% of the minutes from the 2007-08 squad is one marker of this policy (Cronin's first group of JUCOs cycled out at the end of last season), but also note that there are virtually no 3 year players and less than half of the returning minutes will be provided by 2 year players (basically Deonta Vaughn). Anthony McClain, Cashmere Wright and Yancy Gates provide evidence Cronin has begun to refocus program recruitment for the longer term. But Mike Williams and Steven Toyloy suggest he has not abandoned transfer/JUCO recruitment entirely. The effect for Syracuse may be overstated. The calculation does not consider the return of Eric Devendorf (2L) nor of Andy Rautins (1L). Devendorf, sidelined with an ACL injury less than 3 weeks into the season nevertheless logged 24.3% of the minutes at the off guard spot. The season before (2006-07) he logged 77.2% of the minutes (second on the team behind Demetris Nichols). His numbers next season (assuming he has recovered and remains healthy) will more likely look like his 2008-07 minutes, rather than his 2007-08 minutes. Rautins tore his ACL in internatioal play well before the season began (even before school recturned) and was also lost for the season. Andy, a wing with a talent for hitting the 3, logged 52.9% of the minutes in the 2006-07 season (while hitting 35.6% of his 3s).

The shakeup at the top of the list however really out does the one at the bottom. Marquette leaps from #6 to #1. Marquette's 3 senior guards (who among the Marquette faithful thought Dominic James and Jerel McNeal would exhaust their eligibility?) return to again form the best guard tandem in the conference. Pittsburgh's donut is the result (in part) of reshirting Gilbert Brown. If Mike Cook's waiver is granted (I believe that has not yet been adjudicated...and it could happen, the NCAA appears to have become a good deal more generous with that particular wiaver the past year or so) that 2L void will be a little less obvious. Cook played 11 games before his injury, and when his minutes are balanced against the entire season he still logged 18.4% of the available minutes. At the time of his injury he accounted for about 63% of the minutes at the Panther #3 spot. Notre Dame, Providence and Rutgers all remain very close to the top of the list. I was a little surprised to see how upper classmen-heavy Notre Dame in particular proved to be. Certainly having over 97% of the minutes allocated to rising junior and rising sophomores reflects not only the quality of those two classes (Kyle McAlarney, Luke Harangody) but also the lack of an impact player in the next (rising freshman) class Brey recruited. Note that this season Coach Brey has no new players (freshmen nor transfers) at all. The two transfer players (Scott Martin and Ben Hansbrough) recruited this past spring will become eligible to play in 2009-10.

While Villanova and Georgetown both appear to have fairly balanced classes, note they come with very different levels of returning players. The Wildcats will bring in a single freshman (Maurice Sutton) this year who may redshirt depending on the state of the Wildcat low post. The Hoyas by contrast bring in a class of four (freshmen Henry Sims, Jason Clark and Greg Monroe and, the beneficiary of a granted waiver, transfer Julian Vaughn) and redshirt Nikita Mesheriakou. Sims, Monroe and Vaughn will be pressed into service immediately to replace the minutes departed with Roy Hibbert and Vernon Macklin. And then there is St. John's. More than a few observers have commented on the revolving door in Queens. Coach Roberts seems to have a tremendous difficulty keeping a balanced (upper and lower classmen) squad from year-to-year. The 2006-07 squad may have shown more balance between the experience-levels, but still favored the underclassmen (though not as heavily unbalanced as this season's squad).


Rob Lowe said...

Hey GreyCat! I loved the way you pulled this data together. I took a bit of a different spin on it by adding in the Senior and Junior returning minutes...

Worked your info into a Cracked Sidewalks post along with some other stats.

greyCat said...

Good to hear from you Henry. I looked at your post earlier, and will probably post a comment over on Cracked Sidewalks in just a bit. Had a few other things to contribute, but I realize I don't have your email. Could you drop me a note at the email in my profile? Thanks.