Thursday, March 12, 2009

Season Post-Mortem, Part II: Shooting

For the past few years, the Hoyas' offense has been effective primarily because the team takes good shots and makes them. This makes sense: shooting percentage is by far the most important of the "four factors" in terms of driving a strong offense. You have to make shots.

This should not be news to anyone.

This year, the Hoyas' effective shooting percentage was not strong. It was the worst of the Thompson era, and driven primarily by an awful three point shooting percentage.

Below is a chart of 3Pt% of each player and the number of threes they took, ranked by highest 3 pt % (minimum 50 shots).

Rank   2005%/Shots   2006%/Shots   2007%/Shots  2008%/Shots  2009%/Shots
1 40%/60 44%/119 49%/149 45%/159 39%/124
2 39%/137 41%/120 38%/96 41%/151 36%/89
3 38%/162 38%/132 33%/127 40%/100 33%/79
4 37%/126 32%/92 30%/135 34%/139 33%/89
5 37%/148 29%/91 - - -
Rem. 24%/51 25%/56 35%/121 31%/132 28%/156

Overall, the Hoyas under John Thompson III have done a good job of having their best shooters take the most threes. In the early days with Ashanti Cook, DJ Owens and Jon Wallace, the Hoyas had three consistent three point shooters. Jeff Green and Brandon Bowman added years with nice shooting.

Since then, the level of shooter has declined. In the Final Four year, only Wallace and Green were all that effective as higher volume shooters, but Tyler Crawford and Pat Ewing had nice percentages to buoy the team in the remainder column.

Last year, it was Wallace again, as well as Austin Freeman and Jessie Sapp.

This year, there's been three main problems:

First of all, there's no Jon Wallace. DaJuan Summers has really picked up his shooting, but Wallace's mid to high 40's percentages are hard to replace.

Secondly, the team is giving way too many shots to players who cannot shoot. Jessie Sapp shot 36% and only took 89 shots -- by far the lowest total for the second highest shooting percentage on a team in the last five years. In contrast, we gave 156 shots to a group mostly made of bench players that collectively shot 28%. The rotation was too large for a team with very few shooters.

Lastly, Austin Freeman and Chris Wright didn't shoot well. Both shot over 40% last year. Both shot 33% this year. Wright has always been a streaky shooter and his FT % implied his dropoff might come. But Freeman's key offensive asset is his shot. The team just couldn't sustain an offense with one three point threat on the floor most of the time in Summers.

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