Five games in, a look at pace and efficiency

  • 11/25/2009 3:02 pm in

On Monday, Matt touched on where we are mentally with this team right now. It’s summed up quite nicely with this sentence: “Despite the influx of talent, IU basketball might not live up to the hopes some optimists placed on them before the season.” (For another great take on where the Hoosiers are right now, I recommend Jeff Goodman’s piece from Puerto Rico.)

Anyway, I’m looking mostly to stay away from expectations and results and take a peek at on-court numbers. With a nod to stats lord Ken Pomeroy, here’s where the Hoosiers stack up through five games, as opposed to their entire body of work last season.

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency:

  • 2008-09: 97.7 (228th in the country last year)
  • 2009-10: 92.7 (currently ranks IU 248th in the country)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency:

  • 2008-09: 101.8 (178th in the country last year)
  • 2009-10: 97.6 (currently ranks IU 150th in the country)

A quick refresher on how Pomery defines adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency:

Raw offensive efficiency is points scored per 100 offensive possessions. The adjusted version adjusts for the quality of opposing defenses, the site of each game, and when each game was played (recent games get more weight). Defensive efficiency is points allowed per 100 defensive possessions, adjusted for the same things.

So what we’ve seen so far from IU  is that it’s holding the opposition to less points per 100 possessions, but the offensive is currently outputting five less points per 100 possessions, which is a somewhat sizable difference. Of course, the sample size of data is pretty small, as the Hoosiers have only  had 366 possessions this year, according to StatSheet.

The Hoosiers’ defense has been a bit poor this season — especially against George Mason — but it’s interesting to see it’s not as woeful as we might think, as 150th out of 347 DI teams puts IU into the top 43 percent of the country. Not great. But not horrible either.

Offensively, I would surmise the problems lie in Tom Crean running a new up-tempo, get-out-in-transition style now that he has the horses to run with. Not only is it an adjustment for the new freshman, but none of the returnees — Devan Dumes, Tom Pritchard, Daniel Moore and Jeremiah Rivers, to an extent — are familiar with it either. So there’s really no comfort factor for anyone on the floor in these first five games. There’s an adjustment period for everyone, and it’s led to worse offensive efficiency so far this year as opposed to last.

And that takes us to our next topic: IU’s adjusted tempo. The Hoosiers are averaging 74.6 possessions per game, which ranks them 41st among all DI teams. (For a frame of reference, VMI leads the country with a whopping 87.6 possessions per game. IU is the fastest Big Ten team, thought Illinois (74.6), Purdue (74.5) and Minnesota (74.2) are all right behind IU.)

Last year, they averaged 66.5 possessions per game, which ranked them as the 164th fastest-paced team in the country. So putting two and two together, it’s clear IU is playing at a faster clip this season, it’s just they haven’t quite figured it out on court, and it’s leaving them rather inefficient on the offensive end.

The takeaway here is that once IU becomes more comfortable with this new up-tempo style, having more possessions per game should lead to more points per 40 minutes, and eventually lead to an increased offensive efficiency.

I’m not as sure on the defense, but it would be nice to see them improve on that 150th ranking by season’s end.

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