Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking back in anger, individually

Brian's been looking at last year's meltdown and how likely it is to repeat. I thought I might see something at the player level that could shed some illumination.

To be honest, I didn't expect much. The sample I had time to gather is incredibly small, and team stats are more or less aggregations of individual stats, so how much could I learn?

Well, at first blush, maybe the great collapse of 2008-09 could have been predicted.

Let's look at the year before and at % change of Offensive Rating from non-conference to conference play. In addition to a positive % change, a small negative change would actually imply relative improvement, as unlike the team stats, these aren't adjusted for competition.

Here's the year before the meltdown:
Player             % Change   Class/Left?
Crawford, Tyler       16%     Sr/Graduated
Sapp, Jessie          -1%     Jr
Hibbert, Roy          -2%     Sr/Graduated
Wallace, Jonathan     -6%     Sr/Graduated
Ewing, Patrick        -7%     Sr/Graduated
Freeman, Austin      -16%     Fr
Summers, DaJuan      -21%     So
Macklin, Vernon      -23%     So/Transferred
Rivers, Jeremiah     -46%     So/Transferred

See any incredibly obvious trends? There's a small sample here so I'm loathe to commit to anything until I get a bigger sample, but man, it seems to me that you could take this a few directions:
  • Do upperclassmen retain their offensive value better? Should this have been a warning sign?
  • Are there style issues at hand? The "halfcourt" players seem to maintain more of their offensive value.
  • Lastly, we could have seen it coming in that of the four players who played often and retained most of their effectiveness into conference play, three were graduating.

And now last year:
Player                  % Change   Class/Left?
Mescheriakov, Nikita       89%     Fr/Transferred
Sims, Henry                30%     Fr
Freeman, Austin            -5%     So
Clark, Jason               -9%     Fr
Wattad, Omar              -11%     So/Transferred
Wright, Chris             -13%     So
Sapp, Jessie              -14%     Sr/Graduated
Monroe, Greg              -14%     Fr
Summers, DaJuan           -18%     Jr/NBA
Vaughn, Julian            -22%     So

I'm not sure this helps my theories much, except maybe style of play. There certainly needs to be a bit more work done here, but there's little doubt that when only one starter -- Freeman -- maintains their level into conference play -- you have an issue.

Over the next few days, I'll try to look at a bigger sample as well as what elements of these players' play created a drop.

Just off of this, I'd be a bit worried about Vaughn (can he bully the BE?) and Monroe (lack of go to low post moves) more than anyone. Given how mediocre the offense has been so far this year, we need to see improvement in conference play, not regression.

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