Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It's the (2nd half) defense, stupid

Following up on a point made by SFHoya99 over at Hoyatalk . . .

While I'm sure there is much gnashing of teeth in Hoya Nation, there is also quite a bit of casting about for who or what is to blame for the collapse of the team over the last 6 weeks.

One thing that I've noticed is that Georgetown seems to be losing the 2nd half in most games during this stretch. Taking the 12 games played from at UConn (29-Dec) through vs. Cinci (7-Feb), Georgetown has been outscored by their opponent by 41 points in the second half (or 3.4 points/game). In fact, the Hoyas have outscored their opponent by more than 5 points in only one 2nd half during this stretch - versus Providence.

So I thought I would generate a tempo-free box score for these last 12 games, broken out by half:
.                      Offense                            Defense
. 1st Half 2nd Half Total 1st Half 2nd Half Total
Pace 31.5 33.3 64.8

Eff. 100.7 104.9 102.9 98.6 115.0 107.1
Eff. Margin 2.1 -10.1 -4.2

eFG% 51.4 50.0 50.7 49.2 54.0 51.7
TO% 23.3 19.4 21.3 23.0 18.9 20.9
OR% 36.9 32.1 34.5 33.2 42.9 38.1
FTA/FGA 20.9 54.5 37.3 22.2 43.1 32.9
FTM/FGA 14.2 38.1 25.8 16.4 30.4 23.5

Assist Rate 60.5 58.6 59.6 55.7 54.3 54.9
Block Rate 13.5 10.4 11.9 9.0 7.8 8.4
Steal Rate 10.9 9.8 10.3 12.5 10.8 11.6

2FG% 49.8 51.9 50.8 47.9 54.5 51.4
3FG% 36.4 30.6 33.7 34.5 35.2 34.8
FT% 67.6 69.8 69.2 73.6 70.5 71.6

What can we learn? Well, it becomes clear that the problem for the Hoyas after halftime is the defense, not the offense. In fact, the offense actually becomes slightly more efficient in the 2nd half, largely through increased trips to the FT line and fewer turnovers.

However, the defense is much, much worse in the second half. The problems span the entire gamut - eFG% is worse (due to worse 2FG shooting defense), fewer turnovers are created, more offensive rebounds are allowed and more FTs are allowed (although that last stat may be due to giving fouls at the end of the game).

Interestingly, teams aren't shooting significantly better from outside or at the FT line in the 2nd half, so there is scant evidence to chalk this up to lucky shooting - opponents are simply getting more opportunities to score, and are making more interior shots. The Hoyas' block and steal rate also drop between halves, again indicating that it is G'town that is performing differently in the second half, rather than just their opponents.

What is especially frustrating as a Hoyas fan is that the team is better than their opponent, on average, in the first half. In fact, Georgetown has gone to the locker room down double-digits only twice during this stretch (-11 vs. Notre Dame & Duke); for whatever reason, Georgetown outscored each in the second half.

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