Saturday, June 26, 2010

Big East Efficiciencies -- An Aerial View of 2010

The Bird's Eye View
The early preseason Roundtable moderated by Pico over at East Coast Bias piqued my curiousity about offensive/defensive efficiencies in the conference last season. Pico suggested that conference offense improved over the past 2+ seasons and a second looks backs up his observation -- since the 2008 season, the (confernce-only) efficiency has jumped from 102.7 to 105.8. The conference aerial view for last season's conference-only games looks like...

The pattern looks a lot like the 2008 Aerial view. That aerial also had 10 of the conference's 16 teams (62.5%) distributed between the "Good Offense/Good Defense" and "Bad Offense/Bad Defense" quandrants. As in 2008, the distribution was also 6:4 (good/good:bad/bad) and 2:4 (bad offense/good defense:good offense/bad defense)...Louisville's defensive difference of 0.0 notwithstanding. The breakdown for each team...

Notre Dame113.5109.77.7-3.9
Seton Hall106.0107.80.2-2.0
St. John's98.2103.5-7.62.3
South Florida103.5109.2-2.3-3.4
West Virginia112.4100.36.65.5
Std. Dev.5.944.79

13 of the conference's 16 schools participated in post season invitational tournaments. Eight schools, including all of those in the "Good Offense/Good Defense" quadrant plus Louisville and Notre Dame (from the "Good Offense/Bad Defense" quadrant) played in the NCAA Tournament. While only two survived the first weekend, five were seeded #1, #2 or #3. Five schools -- those closest to the intersection of the X and Y axis (for those who have difficulty with spatial relations, Connecticut, St. John's, Seton Hall, South Florida and Cincinnati) -- participated in the NIT, none advancing beyond their second round matches.

Some Things Never Seem to Change
Cincinnati, Syracuse, West Virginia, Marquette, Notre Dame and St. John's, through three consecutive aerials, did not move out of their original (2008) quadrants. For the Orange, the Mountaineers and Warriors that constitutes a tribute to their programs (and staff). Buzz Williams, promoted to the first chair after Tom Crean moved over to Indiana before the 2009 season, has made the Marquette administration look very good. St. John's inability to cure a chronically anemic offense cost head coach Norm Roberts his job. Notre Dame under Coach Mike Brey's Notre Dame teams are consistently ranked among the best offensive units in the Big East, but defense has been a challenge. The more successful Irish teams manage to get close to the X-axis (though none has managed to rank better than "average" in the past 4 - 5 seasons). A quick cross-check of the 2008 and 2010 aerials shows Cincinnati in nearly the same spot in both, an almost-respectable defense coupled with a clearly struggling offense. The Bearcats' stable of bigs have allowed them to consistently control the boards and limit lane penetration on defense, but even with the triple-threat of Deonta Vaughn, Lance Stephenson and Yancy Gates, Coach Cronin's teams were unable to consistently convert possessions into points. Dan Hanner's The State of Coaching post last weekend (6/20) suggested Coach Cronin may find himself on the hot seat this season. Given the Bearcats' Loss of both Vaughn and Stephenson (winner of the Big East Rookie of the Year) at season's end, prospects for a stronger offensive showing in 2011 are dim.

Other Notes & Observations
1. As Marquette managed to negotiate the transition from one coach to another, so too did West Virginia. While Coach Huggins' resume, as long as it is impressive, suggests (many) fewer uncertainties with his hire, he nevertheless came with some risks. Huggins' success in keeping West Virginia in the "Good Offense/Good Defense" quadrant reaffirms his reputation as an outstanding recruiter, strategist and developer of talent.
2. South Florida's 9-9 conference record seems inconsistent with the Bulls' placement in the "Bad/Bad" quadrant. So too Louisville's record (11-7) and placement, especially when compared to Georgetown's 10-8 record (and "Good/Good" placement). Are these quirks the product of unbalanced schedules or untimely games? For Georgetown, who went 4-5 over the second half of their conference season, some very "uncharacteristic outcomes" (losses at home to South Florida & on the road to Rutgers; a double-digit road win at Louisville) are the culprits. That Georgetown can be applied to South Florida as well. Louisville used the early part of February to put together a strong 5-1 run, but closed out their regular season slate with a 2-2 record. Both losses, a 10 point home loss to Georgetown (the Hoyas again) and an embarrassing 21 point road loss to Marquette were only partly offset by a 10 point win over conference leader Syracuse. The Cardinals then dropped their next two games, each of which halted tournament runs in their first rounds. Four of their last five losses (going back to February 11's loss to St. John's) were by 10 or more points, suggesting very untimely (and persistent?) defensive lapses.
3. From 2008 to 2010 Connecticut has drifted across the "Good/Good" quadrant, boasting solid defense, into the "Bad Offense/Good Defense" quadrant this past season. True Jerome Dyson had disastrous senior season, accounting for 31% of the Huskies' possessions while converting those possessions at a disappointing 0.951 (points per possession) rate, but Connecticut's decline lay more with the unreplenished out flow of offensive talent over the past three seasons, most notably AJ Price, Craig Austrie, Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien.
4. Villanova has matched Connecticut's three season "drift", but in the opposite direction. The Wildcats have seen their offensive efficiency improve in each of the last three seasons, even as their defensive efficiency has settled closer to the conference "average". If the 2011 season hints at an improved defense, the fans will no doubt hope that nothing is lost on offense.


Villanova Ed '77 said...

Nice analysis, GreyCat. I am going to post a summary in my weekly post, "The Week in Review" with a link over to your site.

All the best, Ed'77

greyCat said...

Thanks Ed'77. Look for a July roundtable over at the East Coast Bias later this week. A few of us will exchange recruiting news and "State of Our Team" opinions/perspectives.