Monday, January 31, 2011

Recap: Georgetown 62, Louisville 59

Picture from here.
I believe the expression is "adjustments were made at halftime."

After a defensive battle in the first half, the Hoyas broke the game open early in the second half only to watch the Louisville Cardinals crawl back in, and then take a lead of their own.

But Georgetown was not to be denied tonight, thanks to a Herculean effort by Chris Wright and a clutch 3FG by Hollis Thompson.

The Hoyas pulled it out in the end, 62-59.

Full Recap by Alan to follow.

Let's run the numbers:

.            Home                            Visitor   
.            Georgetown                      Louisville         
.            1st Half  2nd Half   Total      1st Half  2nd Half   Total
Pace            33        31        64 

Points          22        40        62          18        41        59   

Effic.         67.5     127.9      96.9        55.3     131.1      92.2   
eFG%           34.5      82.4      52.2        29.6      53.3      42.1  
TO%            24.6      25.6      25.0        33.8      16.0      25.0  
OR%            30.0      16.7      26.9        31.6      50.0      40.0  
FTA/FGA        13.8      88.2      41.3        11.1      36.7      24.6  

Assist Rate    55.6      46.2      50.0        42.9      76.9      65.0  
Block Rate     21.1       6.7      14.7        10.5       7.1       9.1  
Steal Rate     18.4       9.6      14.1        12.3      12.8      12.5   

2FG%           36.8      78.6      54.5        26.3      46.7      35.3  
3FG%           20.0      66.7      30.8        25.0      40.0      34.8  
FT%            50.0      80.0      73.7        66.7      81.8      78.6

The first half featured some excellent defense. On Louisville's end, they came out in a matchup zone that seemed to confound the Hoyas. Faced with this indeterminate defense that seemed to switch to man at times, the Hoyas became tentative and spent much of their offensive sets passing the ball around the perimeter before jacking up an ill-advised shot. Add in the usual smattering of sloppy turnovers, questionable offensive foul calls and some missed lay-ins and you can see how Georgetown ended up with only 22 points.

On the other side, though, Georgetown was fantastic in the first half. The guards stayed in front of Peyton Siva, who has been unstoppable of late. They were also extremely active in forcing turnovers -- there were a lot of slapped balls. The result was only 18 points for Louisville.

The second half was completely different. Both teams made adjustments; both teams began to shoot a bit better. On the Louisville side, either Pitino saw a weakness in the corner of the defense or the Hoyas got a bit tired. Either way, Louisville came back due to a series of threes, mostly from the corner. They also crashed the boards with impunity.

Georgetown began to jump-start its offense at the end of the first half, and it did it primarily in two ways. One, by getting Chris Wright out on the break, where he repeatedly creating easy points when nothing else was becoming easy. And secondly, by getting the ball into Julian Vaughn. Toss in the free throws down the stretch, and that's enough to overcome a bad set of turnovers at the end. Again.

Interestingly, Georgetown's good defense in the last couple of games has been by forcing jump shots instead of allowing lay-ins. This game, they did force jump shots, but the Hoyas allowed many more close shots than they had in previous games. Much of this seems due to the strong offensive rebounding by Louisville.

Where Louisville may have lost the game is that they couldn't make those close in shots, shooting only 8-16. Georgetown shot 13-19 in similar shots.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Recap: Georgetown 69, Villanova 66

Yeah, he made it.
(image from here)
Whew!  Georgetown went up to the Wachovia Center today, and came away with a three-point win against the Villanova Wildcats, 69-66.

And when I say Georgetown, I really mean Austin Freeman and his friends, as Mr. Freeman's 30 points carried the Hoyas to victory today.  Austin helped Georgetown survive a late run by Villanova - where the home team closed an eight-point deficit to only one three times in the last 3:00 of the game - by scoring 10 of the last 12 points for the Hoyas, and getting the assist on the other two.  Another big plus for Georgetown was that the Hoyas only missed one free throw all game, thanks mainly to Freeman [8/8] and Julian Vaughn [7/7].

The defensive strategy was the same today as the previous game against St. John's: force the opponent to settle for jumpshots, and the Wildcats obliged. Villanova ended up shooting a combined 12-39 on all jumpers [7/26 2FG, 5/13 3FG], and much like last time, that was the biggest story of the game.  Of course, the Wildcats are a somewhat better shooting team then the Johnnies and were playing at home, and their ability to find their range from behind the arc in the second half nearly brought them all the way back.

The play-by-play for the game is severely hosed right now - Villanova's substitution stats are consistently the worst in the Big East - so you'll only get a tempo-free box score for nowI've now mostly corrected the subs for Georgetown. 

Let's run the numbers:

.            Visitor                         Home      
.            Georgetown                      Villanova         
.            1st Half  2nd Half   Total      1st Half  2nd Half   Total
Pace            30        34        63

Points          32        37        69          26        40        66   

Effic.        107.5     110.3     109.4        87.4     119.2     104.6  
eFG%           57.7      57.5      57.6        37.0      53.7      45.4  
TO%            16.8      26.8      22.2        10.1      17.9      14.3  
OR%            23.1      33.3      27.3        16.7      40.0      28.9  
FTA/FGA         7.7      75.0      37.0        29.6      59.3      44.4  
Assist Rate    76.9      81.8      79.2        40.0      66.7      54.5  
Block Rate     20.8       5.9      14.6        11.8      11.8      11.8  
Steal Rate      3.4       8.9       6.3         3.4      11.9       7.9  
2FG%           52.9      58.8      55.9        41.7      41.2      41.5  
3FG%           44.4      33.3      41.7         0.0      50.0      38.5  
FT%           100.0      93.3      94.1        75.0      68.8      70.8

The statement I often lead with after big games is whether the offense or the defense was the big difference in the game.  Today, it was both:  coming into the game, KenPom figured the Hoyas would score about 1.03 ppp and allow 1.12.  Instead it was about the reverse, with Georgetown's defense looking a touch better at the end of the game, thanks to the great Lift-off half.

Now you might be tempted to look at the stats above and say, "Well, if Villanova just hit a few 3FGs in the first half, it'd be a completely different story."  That's true.

But keep in mind that by the end of the game, the Wildcats had shot 3FGs above their season average (35%), and that includes the two wild shots as the clock ran out.  Villanova missed a couple more FTs in the second half than they would have liked, but the real defensive story of the game was the Hoyas 2FG defense.  The Wildcats had shot over 49% on 2FG this season - over 45% in conference - but couldn't get past the 42% line today, thanks to a combination of Hoya blocks in the first half, and a general over-reliance on jumpshots throughout.

The offensive story of the game was Austin Freeman, and Julian Vaughn's touch at the free throw line.  Holding the turnover bugaboo in check for the first half was a great help - no Hoya committed more than one - but you knew it wouldn't last.  Georgetown ended more than a quarter of their possessions in the Vesper half with a giveaway, including consecutive terrible passes by Jason Clark and Chris Wright than did as much as anything to allow Villanova back into the game late.

But they continued to take smart shots, and make enough of them.  Georgetown took only eight jumpshots total in the second half, and 12 attempts as dunks, layups or tips.  Meanwhile, Villanova continued to settle, taking 20 of 27 field goals as jumpers - it just so happened that five of their seven made jumpshot were from behind the arc.

An aside:
Today's game is a good example of why raw rebounding stats really aren't all that useful.  If you look at the box score, you'll see that Villanova grabbed 11 offensive rebounds to Georgetown's 6.  Big advantage for the Wildcats?  Not really, because they missed a ton more shots:  Villanova grabbed those 11 offensive rebounds on 38 opportunites, while Georgetown managed to get their 6 off. boards on only 22 opportunities.  

The end result is nearly a wash:  Nova 29%, G'town 27%.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Recap: Georgetown 77, St. John's 52

Well, when Pico over at Rumble in the Garden answered my five questions yesterday, one point he made emphatically clear was that St. John's is not a good shooting team.

Apparently, Coach Thompson and the Hoyas were also aware of this, as they managed to force the Johnnies into 43 jump shots tonight out of 59 total FG attempts. St. John's didn't make many of them [7/28 2FG jumpers, 4/15 3FG], and the rest was history.  Last time at the Garden, the Redmen managed half of their field goal attempts at the hoop, and made 14/24 on their way to the win.

Georgetown won with the second largest victory of the season tonight, 77-52.  Only the Appalachian State game was more lopsided.

Hollis Thompson is already trying to work out Big East tournament seeding possibilities to ensure that he gets to play against the Johnnies one more time this year.

This was probably a single-elimination game for the two teams, in that the loser tonight is now firmly settled into the 11th position in the Big East pecking order, with probably only 8 or 9 teams making it on to the NCAAs.  With the win, Georgetown has climbed back to 4-4 in the conference heading into a tough Saturday-Monday set at Villanova and vs. Louisville.

Let's run the numbers:

.            Home                            Visitor   
.            Georgetown                      St. John's         
.            1st Half  2nd Half   Total      1st Half  2nd Half   Total
Pace            33        36        68

Points          40        37        77          27        25        52   
Effic.        122.8     104.2     113.0        82.9      70.4      76.3  
eFG%           64.3      54.3      59.8        36.4      38.5      37.3  
TO%            21.5      19.7      20.5        12.3      25.3      19.1  
OR%            30.8      26.7      28.6        25.0      23.8      24.4  
FTA/FGA        14.3      82.6      45.1         9.1      38.5      22.0  

Assist Rate    80.0      81.8      80.8        54.5      33.3      45.0  
Block Rate      7.7      11.1       9.1         5.6       6.7       6.1  
Steal Rate      9.2      14.1      11.7        12.3      14.1      13.2  
2FG%           50.0      53.3      51.5        34.6      38.9      36.4  
3FG%           60.0      37.5      50.0        28.6      25.0      26.7  
FT%           100.0      63.2      69.6       100.0      50.0      61.5

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Five questions with Rumble in the Garden

Pico Dulce over at Rumble in the Garden contacted us to get our answers to five of his questions.  We agreed to do it, so long as he answered five of our own.

The only problem is that we never get to ask questions, so I kinda panicked when it came time to think of what to ask.  There is definitely some overlap here with the always-excellent CasualHoya interrogation, but Pico was very patient, and sent along his responses.

What is the expectation level for the team now, and how does it compare to the start of the season?
I don't know what the true expectation level for the team was early in the season; some people thought that Lavin had a magic wand and the team would be in the top of the Big East.  By "people" I mean Pitino and some insane portion of the Big East coaches who obviously value their specialized skills and seniority more than talent level.

Personally, the team is very much on the track I thought they would be - a bubble team.  (Didn't think they'd lose to Fordham and Bonaventure, though.) I thought they would score a little better, but still, not bad.

Other than two nice games at West Virginia and versus the Hoyas, the Johnnies are struggling to score in conference play [0.98 ppp].  Why?
They can't shoot.

The team has one, maybe two reliable outside shooters, but they don't look to get them shots, preferring to score in the post.  The team's wasn't bad there in the early going, but they're easy to figure out. And not only easy; they're small in the post as well. Justin Brownlee is a very good undersized power forward with touch, but he isn't always able to get good position, since everyone knows where he's going (and his shot can be blocked). Justin Burrell's touch is inconsistent; despite 4 years of basketball, he profiles as a raw rebounder with athleticism. And the other bigs are extremely bad at converting down low.

Coupled with a pair of point guards who are non-scorers and a wing in DJ Kennedy who has struggled to get his shot going... I'm impressed they've scored this well. The team's offensive strength all year has been in not turning the ball over. In the halfcourt, they're as mediocre as they were last year.

By my count, Coach Lavin had started 10 different players this year.  What's up with that?
Really? Huh!

Well, Lavin has wanted to rewards players who do well in practice - so Dele Coker and Sean Evans have gotten some starts even if mostly ceremonial, Stith has gotten a start to see what he can do, Polee and Horne sometimes switch places based on matchups... but 10!?

Speaking of Lavin, now that you've had about 2/3 of a season with him, how has the reality of Steve Lavin as head coach compared to your expectations?
I expected the on-court result - maybe slightly better, but this makes sense.

His recruiting, though, has far exceeded expectations in the first year. I honestly thought he'd struggle to fill out the roster for next year. his ability to schmooze the press is great, and the media coverage has been solid for the program - almost too much! 

There has only been one article that was a little negative - George Dohrmann's from a few weeks ago (rebuttal here); other than that, the media's been tossing roses and hosannas his way.

With a big wave of recruits coming in and a raft of players graduating, are you expecting a step backward or forward next year?  Is the fan base more focused on the seniors coming together for a run in the post-season, or already working out next season's starting line-up?
A step sideways. Maybe slightly backward, when I think logically on it.

After each loss, the fans think about next year, and after each win, they look at this year's team.  A lot of folks just want the stink of the previous 2 regimes wiped away, but me, I like watching these guys.  So do many other fans. 

Next year's team will be all freshmen with one sophomore and one junior who might not play much.  That's a recipe for a lot of mistakes - or to look as loosey-goosey as Memphis. But there is talent coming in - one player mentioned as a possible second round pick if he skips out and goes to the NBA draft from junior college, a top-30 recruit (or two, depending on your source), a lot of height... it could be a good team next year!  But again: all freshmen, and none of them are a lottery pick, top-5 recruit type.

BE Game of the Night: Seton Hall 90, Syracuse 68

Just a quick look at the biggest shocker so far of the Big East season, as Seton Hall blew the doors off of the Syracuse Orange in the Carrier Dome tonight.

I ran the stats mostly because I was curious if Jeremy Hazell had a good a night statistically as he thought he was having. 

He did.

The box score shows that he scored 28 points in the game, but my preferred stat (Net Points) gives him credit for producing 22 points on offense.  What's more impressive to me is that he also lead the Pirates defensively, with a 71 DRating in the game thanks to 9 def. rebounds and 4 steals.  Hard to believe that this guy was literally running for his life a month ago.

While the outcome was a real surprise, I don't think I'd take away too many lessons from this game. 

Seton Hall came into the game as the worst outside shooting team in conference play, at 22% [= 31/147].  That included a 3/26 effort at the Prudential Center just 17 days ago.  I'd expect that the game plan was very much to let the Pirates have at it from behind the arc, and it must have come as a slowly horrifying realization that Hazell and Theodore weren't going to miss many, even if the shot was from 28 feet.

But what should worry Syracuse fans a bit is the Orange offense.  This is the second time in three games that the team hasn't broken 1.0 ppp, and those performances were against Pitt and Seton Hall, neither elite defenses. 

Syracuse now departs on a three-game road trip, and Pomeroy currently pegs them as underdogs for the first two games.  These next two games probably will tell us how good Syracuse really is.

All the goofy stats are below the jump.

Monday, January 24, 2011

BE Game of the Night: Notre Dame 56, Pitt 51

Just a quicky for the BE Game of the Night post today.

Image take from here.
Notre Dame walked into the Peterson Event Center tonight, and walked out even more slowly with a five point win over the Pitt Panthers.

This was a big win for the Irish - Pomeroy pegged them as an 11-point underdog going into the game - and effectively turns the rest of their Big East season from playing for a Big East tournament bye to playing for a double-bye (i.e. a top-4 seed).

The main reason I wanted to look at the game is because of Notre Dame's "burn" offense, which shortens the game by stalling until 10 seconds or so remains on the shot clock for each offensive possession. For the game, the Irish averaged an amazing 29.2 seconds per possession, and they sucked Pitt into this pace: the Panthers averaged more than 20 seconds on their offensive possessions. The end result was a 48(!)-possession game.  Contrast this with the last Pitt game I looked at (vs. Syracuse), when Pitt punished the Orange by getting scores early in the shot clock.

To put that in perspective, the slowest-paced team in college this season, the Wisconsin Badgers, averages 58 possessions per game and hasn't played a game with less than 50 possessions all year.

The Irish were led by a hot shooting night from Carleton Scott (5/6 3FG), and forced a defensive mismatch by isolating Ben Hansbrough. Additionally, the normally sharp-shooting Pitt guards struggled from behind the arc:  Ashton Gibbs leads the team in 3FG%, but was 1-5 tonight, and Gilbert Brown - a 41% shooter himself - was 1-4.  I wonder if Notre Dame's size across the backline [Hansbrough 6'3", Abromitis 6'7", Scott 6'8"] had something to do with that?

The fancy-pants stats package is after the jump.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fouling up three, under seven seconds left

After Georgetown's 5-point win over Seton Hall on Tuesday, there was a bit of doom-and-gloom here and elsewhere about the Hoyas.  Ray Floriani, erstwhile contributor here and still blogging elsewhere, made it to the game, and sent along this missive.

NEWARK, NJ - A confession is in order. I had an officiating assignment of two high school games in Jersey City and got to the Rock at the half. The trip was only eight miles and at that time, there was little traffic to deal with. Our last high school game they turned the heat down, so media room coffee at the Rock hit the spot. At any rate…

Impressed with…Georgetown poise. You lose a seven point halftime lead and are now down seven with twelve to play as the home team is in the midst of a 21-7 run; many would have panicked. During the Seton Hall rally the Hoyas stayed together. No finger pointing or the like. They just maintained focus until they could get out of the slump. On the bench coach John Thompson III also maintained his cool. The only outburst of displeasure would be off a careless unforced turnover [ed. note: that was Nate Lubick's behind-the-back pass in the general direction of Julian Vaughn].

Also impressed with Austin Freeman. How could one not be? He had 28 points, and hit 10 of 13 from the floor including a few big ones at crunch time. Even Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said “Freeman is fun to watch.” Just not too much fun to try and stop.

Correct me if I’m wrong…But I would like to see a few more touches for Julian Vaughn. He has size and a low post presence. Vaughn is attempting 16% of the Hoya shots in conference play. Even utilizing him as a passer wouldn’t hurt. Vaughn has 11 assists, third on the Hoyas in Big East play. More touches and shots could mean more trips to the line where he is a 72% shooter. As noted, just a thought.

Rebounding . . . Read through this site some links and essays on Georgetown rebounding. In raw numbers the Hoyas were 36-35 in favor. The OREB percentage saw them trail the Hall 42-40%. That was largely due to a better second half. The first 20 minutes they had a 41-27% OREB pct deficit, but still led by seven. A 67% eFG mark during that time was largely responsible.

Coach Thompson mentioned in one piece that rebounding was not just on the big men. The guards contributed as Chris Wright and Jason Clark both had 6 (tied with Vaughn for the team lead on the game) and Freeman had 5.

Ray also sent along a link to another post he had on the game, discussing Coach Thompson's late game strategy of fouling when up by three and time for probably one decent look from deep by Seton Hall (link).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Recap: Georgetown 80, Seton Hall 75 - Stephen Goldsmith
After watching a pair of great Big East match-ups yesterday, it makes me a little sad watching the Georgetown Hoyas reduced to scratching and clawing out a win tonight against the Seton Hall Pirates.

It's not that I don't enjoy Austin Freeman pulling a bit of a heat-check with a 26-foot swish as the shot-clock runs down, nor do I dismiss out-of-hand any road win the almighty Big East.

In fact, Pomeroy tells us that the Hoyas were only 4-point favorites coming into the game, and Seton Hall recently got back their big gunner in Jeremy Hazell.  And the Pirates played well against a top BE team just 10 days ago, when they lost to the Syracuse Orange while getting multiple cracks at tying up the game in the last two minutes.

But watching the second half, as Georgetown repeatedly gave up scores against the worst offense in the Big East [0.92 PPP in conference], is enough to let you know that - in spite of the win - it's time to lower expectations for the rest of the year.

For now, let's just run the numbers:

.            Visitor                         Home      
.            Georgetown                      Seton Hall         
.            1st Half  2nd Half   Total      1st Half  2nd Half   Total
Pace            32        37        69

Points          38        42        80          31        44        75   

Effic.        117.3     114.3     116.0        95.7     119.7     108.7  
eFG%           66.7      50.0      58.2        35.9      56.9      47.1  
TO%            21.6      21.8      21.7        15.4       8.2      11.6  
OR%            27.3      47.4      40.0        40.9      42.1      41.5  
FTA/FGA        11.1      71.4      41.8        31.2      22.2      26.5  
Assist Rate    68.8      53.8      62.1        54.5      45.0      48.4  
Block Rate     11.1      10.3      10.7         0.0      20.0      10.5  
Steal Rate      9.3       0.0       4.3         6.2      10.9       8.7  
2FG%           66.7      55.0      60.5        37.0      65.5      51.8  
3FG%           44.4      25.0      35.3        20.0      14.3      16.7  
FT%            66.7      70.0      69.6        80.0      37.5      61.1

Monday, January 17, 2011

BE Game of the Night: Pitt 74, Syracuse 66

In a truly shocking development, I actually got to sit down and watch a couple of non-Georgetown Big East games today.

Image lifted from here
The headliner:  Syracuse at Pittsburgh

Just like the Villanova-UConn game, the visiting team came in a man down; but the Orange were missing one of their big-3 stars, Kris Joseph.  Just as I did for Villanova, I'm willing to give Syracuse some slack in having to go on the road without a player that would have given their opponent some problems.

However, such is life in the Big East.

Just some random thoughts, as it's getting late:
  • Ken Pomeroy expected Pitt to score about 1.11 points per possession tonight, which is about what they did [1.09].  He figured Syracuse to get 1.05 PPP, but they fell a bit short [0.97].  I think James Southerland for Joseph tonight shows up right there.
  • During that 19-0 run to start the game for Pitt, the Panthers shot 9-12 on 2FGs, all of which were dunks, layups or tip-ins. 
  • During the ensuing 17-0 run by the Cuse, the Panthers shot 0-6 on 2FGs, all of which were jump shots.
  • Pitt did a great job on Syracuse's starting guards (Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche).  You can't overstate the athleticism of the Pitt backcourt, which played great tonight.
  • But the backups - C.J. Fair and Dion Waiters - were the best two players for the Orange tonight.
  • Speaking of athleticism, Gilbert Brown's block on Waiters was amazing in real-time speed.  That should be on YouTube any minute now.
  • I think Nasir Robinson and Brown will get the press clippings tonight, but I'm always most impressed by Brad Wanamaker.  As a fan of one of Pitt's competitors, I am so glad he's leaving after this season.

Something else I noticed tonight was how often the Panthers tried to push the ball up-court for a quick shot.  This always seems to make sense against Syracuse, as you want them to scramble and not be able to set up into their 2-3 zone.  But in a game that ended up with a pace about 4 possessions over what Pomeroy expected, I think this was a big part of Jamie Dixon's strategy (it sure is nice to have the guards to pull it off).  Did it work?

Here's a breakdown of Pitt's possessions tonight by time until "first action":
Time     Poss.   Points   Eff.
0-8       18       27     1.50
9-20      17       21     1.24
21-25     16       15     0.94
26+       16       11     0.69
Now some of that effect would be normal - teams are more efficient at scoring on the fast break than in their half-court offense - but I was mostly impressed that more than 1/4 of Pitt's possessions had a scoring chance within 8 seconds of getting the ball.

Full stats breakdown after the jump, if you're into that sort of thing.

BE Game of the Day: UConn 61, Villanova 59

In a truly shocking development, I actually got to sit down and watch a couple of non-Georgetown Big East games today.

Image lifted from here
The undercard:  Villanova at UConn

Vegas had the Huskies as 2-point favorites for the game, and that's just how it turned out.  Ken Pomeroy only had UConn as at -1, but we'll cut Ken some slack tonight since his computer didn't know that Dominick Cheek would have to sit this one out.

I'm not going to spend too much time discussing the basics stats for the game, as VBTN will undoubtedly turn out a massively in-depth recap soon.

I decided to run through the numbers of this game for a couple of reasons - besides the marquee match-up, this was UConn's third try at beating an upper-echelon Big East team (after losses at Pitt and Notre Dame) and I still wasn't convinced they were legit, even after the win at Texas.

Meanwhile, Villanova had lost Cheek in the Maryland game.  He was someone I thought could switch out on Kemba Walker to slow down his outside shot, but would also give Jeremy Lamb fits - I do think it's fair to discount the result tonight a bit, presuming Cheek returns soon.  And I wanted to watch Corey Stokes play, as he's having an amazing senior season (much like Austin Freeman last year, before the diabetes kicked in).

By my estimate, the pivotal sequence in the game started after the under-8:00 timeout in the second half with Maalik Wayns heading to the line to shoot free throws with the Wildcats up four points, 45-41.

He missed the second, and what followed was a terrible stretch for Villanova, as they committed three turnovers and attempted an end-of-the-shot-clock 3FG (to go along with a made dunk) over their next five possessions.  Meanwhile, UConn got in the paint every time down the court, with Alex Oriakhi making a couple of close-in shots, Walker hitting 3/4 FTs and Lamb adding a couple of layups.

Now, at the under-4:00 timeout, UConn lead 52-48 and never trailed the rest of the way.

In the end, it was Jeremy Lamb who was the revelation today, rather than Stokes.  Sure the headlines will be about Walker, who really didn't have a Kemba-Walker-like game until the last few seconds, and Corey Fisher, who had a tremendous game.  But Stokes didn't show up tonight - in fact, by my math only Roscoe Smith was a bigger negative in the game - while Jeremy Lamb did.  Which again make me wonder what would have happened if Cheek could have played.

Full stats package after the jump, for the curious.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Recap: Georgetown 74, Rutgers 65

Georgetown's outside shooting touch returned in a big way in Piscataway this afternoon, as the Hoyas made 11 of 22 shots from behind the arc in a 74-65 win over Rutgers.

It certainly wasn't a showcase win, but at least the Hoyas were able to end a remarkable cold streak on 3FG in conference play. Now if they can figure out how to improve their defensive rebounding, and win the battle of turnover margin, they just might reach their ceiling.

Stats on the Georgetown athletics department website currently lack substitution info, so you'll only get a tempo-free box score for now.

Hopefully Mex Carey can rectify the situation, and a full recap will be forthcoming tonight.

Stats are now complete.

Let's run the numbers:

.            Visitor                         Home      
.            Georgetown                      Rutgers         
.            1st Half  2nd Half   Total      1st Half  2nd Half   Total
Pace            28        32        59

Effic.        112.7     134.8     124.7        90.9     125.4     109.5  
eFG%           51.9      68.2      59.4        44.4      51.6      48.3  
TO%            21.8      25.1      23.6        21.8      18.8      20.2  
OR%            42.9      46.2      44.4        37.5      55.6      47.1  
FTA/FGA        15.4      68.2      39.6         7.4      35.5      22.4  
Assist Rate    41.7      36.4      39.1        81.8      35.7      56.0  
Block Rate     14.3      14.3      14.3         6.2      50.0      23.1  
Steal Rate     10.9       9.4      10.1        10.9      12.5      11.8  
2FG%           56.2      30.0      46.2        42.9      47.6      45.2  
3FG%           30.0      66.7      50.0        33.3      40.0      37.5  
FT%           100.0      86.7      89.5        50.0      72.7      69.2

Sometime, I wonder if my take on the game is at all similar to what others think.

The first half of today's game was encouraging to see, even though Georgetown continued to scuffle from deep [3/10 3FG].  Coming into the game, we'd expect the Hoyas to score about 1.15 point per possession, and they got very close simply by grinding away.  Julian Vaughn and Nate Lubick each grabbed two offensive rebounds while the team as a whole went 8/10 on layups (although Vaughn's missed dunk has been noted).  Georgetown still lost the ball too many times (6 TOs on 28 possessions), but at least forced the Scarlet Knights into as many.  Overall, the defense played well, and the offense did enough to build a lead.

The Vesper half was a bit worrisome for me.  The team scored 43 points, but made only 3/10 on 2FGs (including 3/7 on layups) and committed 8 turnovers on 32 possessions.  Instead, the Hoyas shot out of their (conference) minds in the half, going 8/12 from behind the arc.  Meanwhile, Rutgers started to improve their shooting accuracy as well, but also combined a +2 turnover margin in the half with 10 offensive rebounds (on 18 available misses) to manage nine more shots from the floor than Georgetown, while only attempting 4 fewer free throws.

The outside shooting exhibition in the second half is not likely to happen again this season, and the team can't consider itself cured of what ails it.  But what we saw just may be the best (or only) way for Georgetown to win games the rest of the season:  they scraped and clawed on defense and the boards just long enough for the outside shooting to find its way, and once that got rolling, rode it to the win.

It's not a very satisfying way to win games, but sometimes it's all you've got.

BE Game of the Day: Louisville 71, Marquette 70

While waiting for the Georgetown at Rutgers stats to post, I decided to run the stats for the Marquette and Louisville game.

Besides being a nice rivalry game from the Conference USA days, this game was most notable for the epic collapse/comeback (depending upon your rooting interest) in the last 5 minutes, as the Cardinals came back from 18 points down with 5:40 to play to win the game.

What's really amazing to me is that, while Marquette was outscored 24-5 in the last 11 possessions, the Golden Eagles only turned the ball over once in that stretch (and L'ville did the same). So that means that in the 10 effective possessions each team had, the Cardinals averaged 2.4 points per to Marquette's 0.5 ppp.

Everyone will likely focus on Dwight Buycks blocked layup attempt when Marquette could have held the ball to force a foul and free throws. But the entire endgame is worth recapping.

During that stretch, Louisville forced the Eagles to settle for 7 jump shots (two as 3FGA) out of 9 FGAs, of which 7 were missed and rebounded by the defense. Meanwhile, Louisville's shots from the floor were all layups or behind the arc, five attempts each.

The Cards went 4/5 on each set of those attempts.

But here's the kicker: on their only two misses, Terrence Jennings managed to grab the offensive rebound and draw a foul (whereupon he promptly sank all four free throws).

And it was a combination of all of those events which set up Kyle Kuric for the game-winning layup.

The entire stats package is after the jump, for the curious.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday thoughts

Not really sure where I'm going with today's post, but just sitting here riffing on some stats.

One of the great conceits of being a sports fan is that we all think we know more than ______, and that if the coaching staff only listened to us, our team would be that much better.  Some of us even start blogs to make sure we can get the word out.

But, after a few years of blogging, it starts to become clear that maybe we don't know as much as we'd like to think.

Here's an example:  I can make a simple model using the four factors to estimate Georgetown's offensive efficiency for each game played so far this year, and from this I can give an estimate of how important each factor is to Georgetown's offense.
Factor      Weight
eFG%         0.64
OReb%        0.18
TO%          0.13
FTM/FGA      0.01
Total        0.96
That's to say, about 64% of the variability game to game in Georgetown's offensive efficiency can be explained by how well they shoot (eFG%). Once we account for that, about 18% of the remaining variability is due to how well they offensive rebound, etc.

I can even make a nifty graph to show how well the model works:

 I can also repeat the exercise for the defense (no nifty graph this time), for a slightly surprising result [this table has been revised]:
Factor      Weight
eFG%         0.36
TO%          0.46
DReb%        0.11
FTA/FGA      0.02
Total        0.95

But here's the thing - what can we do with this information?

I can demonstrate that Georgetown's offense is most dependent upon how well the team shoots from the floor, but I can't tell you how the Hoyas can improve their shooting accuracy from this exercise.

More importantly, just because their defense this year is most dependent upon how well they turn over the opponent doesn't mean the team should be running a full-court press all the time.  The law of unintended consequences reminds us that the result could just as easily wind up that teams would end up shooting more layups (and therefore improve their shooting accuracy) as a result, and Georgetown's defense wouldn't improve at all.

But it sure seems tempting.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Recap: Pittsburgh 72, Georgetown 57

Before tip-off tonight, Vegas pegged Georgetown as a favorite, to the shock of most Hoya fans.  In what is becoming a disturbing annual tradition, Georgetown's Big East swoon continued tonight at the Verizon Center with a thorough beat-down at the hands of the Pittsburgh Panthers, 72-57. At this point - barring an amazing turnaround - even 9 wins in conference this year will be a stretch. 

As a preview for tonight's game, Tarik El-Bashir wrote an article that spent ten of the first eleven paragraphs discussing the major purported weakness for Georgetown during the swoon: offensive rebounding. The article seemed a bit strange to me, because outside of the West Virginia game, Georgetown has been about even or ahead on the boards:
Opponent        OR%    1-DR%    TR% 
Notre Dame      29.4    32.4    48.5
DePaul          38.2    43.9    47.2
St. John's      48.1    31.3    58.4
West Virginia   19.0    44.1    37.5
Now I don't want to give TEB too much grief for several reasons:
  • he used a real measure of rebounding (OReb%) in his article
  • Georgetown really did struggle getting offensive rebounds against WVU
  • with Pitt coming in leading the nation in off. rebounding, boards were likely to be the story line again
  • he did bring up turnovers (a very real problem for Georgetown) at the end of the article
But what really worries me about the article is that TEB may not have come up with the idea on his own.  It's possible he's been trolling the depths of HoyaTalk and came across some ill-founded bile (e.g. this beauty), but I'm more worried that the story came from the prompting of the coaching staff, which means that they don't have any idea what's really wrong with the team.

Georgetown is no better than a mediocre defensive team, especially in the Big East.  When they run into a smart team making tough shots inside and open looks from the arc, they're going to give up points.  But more importantly, the Hoyas are simply not making shots - looks that were dropping in OOC play are just not going down, and frustration leads to more misses and poor effort getting back in transition.  Add in missing 10 of 14 free throws in the Lift-off half and the game was mostly over at intermission.

Let's run the numbers:

.            Home                            Visitor   
.            Georgetown                      Pittsburgh         
.            1st Half  2nd Half   Total      1st Half  2nd Half   Total
Pace            29        31        60
Effic.         83.6     105.3      94.4       142.9      98.9     119.2  
eFG%           43.5      42.6      43.0        68.8      34.0      51.0  
TO%            10.5      19.1      14.9         7.0       9.6       8.3  
OR%            23.8      40.0      30.6        27.3      31.6      30.0  
FTA/FGA        60.9      40.7      50.0        45.8      80.0      63.3  

Assist Rate    33.3      20.0      26.3        64.3      75.0      68.2  
Block Rate      6.2      17.6      12.1         6.2       0.0       3.3  
Steal Rate      3.5       3.2       3.3         7.0       6.4       6.6  
2FG%           43.8      50.0      46.7        56.2      41.2      48.5  
3FG%           28.6      23.1      25.0        62.5      12.5      37.5  
FT%            28.6      90.9      56.0        72.7      70.0      71.0

Monday, January 10, 2011

The team that can't shoot straight

While there is undoubtedly much moaning and gnashing of teeth in Hoya-land these days, it's important every once in a while to step back and wonder whether your current mood is based upon small sample-size results.

To wit, one of the biggest drivers for Georgetown's current swoon is the complete loss of an outside shooting touch.  If you take a look at the Team Stats breakout page, you'd find that the team shot 42.6% on 3FGs in the non-conference season, but has only hit them at 25.7% over the first four conference games.

To put this difference into some context, I've gathered the final non-conf. and conf. 3FG shooting percentages for all Georgetown seasons since the 3FG game into the game (1986-7).  This may have been a herculean effort in the past, but thanks to the stats pages over at the Georgetown History Project, it's now a trivial exercise.

As you can see, how well a team shoots from behind the arc in the non-conf. portion of the schedule is generally a good predictor of how well it will shoot in Big East play.  Until this season (that big black dot in the lower right).

How well are the two shooting percentages correlated?  Glad you asked:

There's a bit more going with this graph, so allow me to explain all those lines:
  • The blue line is the 1:1 line.  Points above the line are when the team shot better in conference, points below the lne are when the team shot better out-of-conference.  Since competition in the non-conf. portion of the schedule is weaker, you'd expect most of the points to be below this line, which they are.
  • The thick red line is the linear fit of the data, for all seasons except this year.  That R2 number refers to the goodness of fit of this line.
  • The dashed lines are the 95% prediction bands, based on the fit.  That is to say, there is only a 1 in 20 expectation that a data point would fall outside of the dashed lines.  And this is just what we see:  there are 24 seasons that make up the dataset, and only one would be considered an outlier (1989-90).

In the four Big East games played so far, Georgetown's lousy outside shooting is an extreme outlier.  As we said at the top, the team is shooting 25.7% on 3FGs, while we'd expect them to be making 37.4%, based upon the OOC performance.

Using the stats from previous seasons, there's about 0.12% chance that Georgetown will end the conference season shooting this poorly.  In terms of odds, that's 850:1 against.

So chin up Hoya fan!  It's going to get better.

It has to.

I hope.

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    Recap: West Virginia 65, Georgetown 59

    Today may end up serving as a clarifying game, where excuses for losses end and fans come to recognize that this year's Georgetown team is simply flawed.  Make no mistake - this was a bad loss, as the Hoyas were about a 5 point favorite coming in (or about a 3:1 favorite, if you prefer).

    While the lack of defensive ability is well-documented, this is the second consecutive game where the Hoyas' once vaunted offense self-destructed by turning the ball over too many times, with a -5 turnover margin today [18 to 13], including four straight to end the game.  Georgetown was also man-handled on the glass today, allowing West Virginia to grab 44% [=15/34] of their misses while tracking down only 19% [=4/21] of their own.

    This also marks at least the third game this year where an opponent had a career game against the Hoyas to lead his team to victory.

    Recognizing Georgetown's defensive issues, this loss was entirely about offense.  We expected West Virginia to score about 1.05 points per possession at Verizon coming into the game, and that's just about the figure they hit.  But we'd also expect Georgetown to score about 1.15 points per possession today, and they weren't close.  This is almost exactly the same performance we saw against Notre Dame, once we adjust for opponent and venue.

    The most glaring issue for the Hoyas today and throughout the season is that when Austin Freeman and Chris Wright aren't making shots, the game is lost.  It's unclear if (and unlikely that) there are some underlying health issues for Austin, but the pair have simply not performed up to their reputation in Georgetown's four losses.
    .               Wins             Losses
    .           ORate   TS %      ORate   TS %
    Freeman     144.5   72.9       86.5   47.9
    Wright      114.3   59.5       72.9   33.5
    . TS % = True shooting percentage
    In Georgetown's losses, the rest of the team (everyone but Wright and Freeman) have managed a TS% = 65 and an Off. Rating = 116.

    And on that note, just a stats dump will have to suffice for the game. My schedule is a bit swamped right now.  Hope to get the stats pages updated tonight.

    Let's run the numbers:

    .            Home                            Visitor   
    .            Georgetown                      West Virginia         
    .            1st Half  2nd Half   Total      1st Half  2nd Half   Total
    Pace            28        35        62
    Effic.         90.7      97.9      94.8       105.2     103.7     104.4  
    eFG%           55.3      56.0      55.7        46.3      46.0      46.2  
    TO%            32.7      25.9      28.9        18.1      23.0      20.9  
    OR%            22.2      16.7      19.0        43.8      44.4      44.1  
    FTA/FGA        21.1      28.0      25.0        22.2      72.0      46.2  
    Assist Rate    60.0      33.3      45.5        81.8      50.0      66.7  
    Block Rate      5.3      22.2      13.5        14.3      15.4      14.8  
    Steal Rate     10.9      14.4      12.9         3.6      17.3      11.2  
    2FG%           64.3      61.5      63.0        42.1      38.9      40.5  
    3FG%           20.0      33.3      29.4        37.5      42.9      40.0  
    FT%           100.0      85.7      90.9        66.7      72.2      70.8

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    (Not so) great moments in sportswriting, pt. 57

    This post has almost nothing to do with the Georgetown Hoyas.

    The Missouri Tigers are playing the Colorado Buffalos on Saturday in Boulder.  As a preview for the game, the local Boulder newspaper posted a preview article.  Some excerpts (emphasis mine):

    The Princeton offense at Colorado was a dumb idea. At least against Missouri.


    New CU head coach Tad Boyle believes the Buffs -- now running an up-tempo motion offense that enters Big 12 play ranked seventh nationally in scoring (84.8 ppg) -- will be able to compete better against Anderson's frenetic and proven methods. It usually didn't take the Tigers long to get Bzdelik's teams out of the methodical offense and into a lot of trouble trying to deal with an early deficit and intense full-court pressure.

    I wonder if the author realizes that the only blemish on Missouri's record to date came from a team that runs a variation of the Princeton offense.

    Or that the 2011 Buffs average 68.6 possessions per game and score 1.15 PPP, while the 2010 Buffs averaged 68.5 possessions per game and scored 1.12 PPP.

    Probably not.

    Thus endeth the lesson.

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    Recap: St. John's 61, Georgetown 58

    The Georgetown defense wasn't able to get a stop on three consecutive critical possessions late in the game, and the Hoyas lost to St. John's tonight, 61-58.

    In a game where none of the "Big 3" guards was able to make a net positive contribution on the court, Hollis Thompson scored 16 points and grabbed 7 rebounds to keep the Hoyas in the game.  Nate Lubick scored 5 efficient points at the free throw line, gathered 4 rebounds and had 3 assists to help out.

    Let's run the numbers:

    .            Visitor                         Home      
    .            Georgetown                      ST. JOHN'S         
    .            1st Half  2nd Half   Total      1st Half  2nd Half   Total
    Pace            26        28        54
    Effic.        101.6     113.2     107.6       125.0     102.6     113.2  
    eFG%           52.5      46.0      48.9        50.0      39.6      44.8  
    TO%            35.2      17.7      26.0         7.8       7.1       7.4  
    OR%            45.5      50.0      48.1        33.3      30.0      31.2  
    FTA/FGA        25.0      48.0      37.8        33.3      62.5      47.9  
    Assist Rate    77.8      36.4      55.0        63.6      55.6      60.0  
    Block Rate      5.9      15.8      11.1        18.2       5.9      10.7  
    Steal Rate      7.8       3.5       5.6        15.6       7.1      11.1  
    2FG%           54.5      58.8      57.1        52.9      42.1      47.2  
    3FG%           33.3      12.5      23.5        28.6      20.0      25.0  
    FT%           100.0      75.0      82.4       100.0      66.7      78.3

    While the easy story of the game is the disappointing night for Messrs. Freeman, Wright and Clark, the tempo-free box score lays clear that - in spite of the lousy shooting - the single biggest difference in the game was turnovers.

    Georgetown managed a -10 [14-4] turnover margin in tonight's game.  In a 53 possession game, that means that the Hoyas would need to score more than +0.25 points per effective* possession more than their opponent.  They managed to be only +0.24 in those possessions, and that was the ballgame.
    *effective possession = possession with a scoring attempt

    During one stretch in the Lit-off half, Georgetown committed 6 turnovers on 7 possessions, and watched a one point deficit balloon to nine.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Recap: Georgetown 86, DePaul 75

    It took an 11-1 record in one of the hardest out-of-conference schedules in the country to convince Hoya fans and the nation that this year's team would be different, better, more consistent.

    It only took two conference games to realize that it won't.

    Georgetown came out today and gave a defensive effort that may have yielded a loss to 14 other Big East teams, but luckily for them they were playing that 15th conference opponent:  the currently woeful DePaul Blue Demons.  The Hoyas walked away with an 11-point victory that was - at best - a head-scratcher.

    Let's run the numbers:

    .            Home                            Visitor   
    .            Georgetown                      DePaul         
    .            1st Half  2nd Half   Total      1st Half  2nd Half   Total
    Pace            32        41        73
    Effic.        112.7     122.8     118.3        90.8     113.0     103.1  
    eFG%           51.7      62.1      56.8        37.0      48.8      44.0  
    TO%            18.8      19.7      19.3        21.9       9.8      15.1  
    OR%            41.2      35.3      38.2        44.4      43.5      43.9  
    FTA/FGA        20.0      69.0      44.1        48.1      27.5      35.8  
    Assist Rate    57.1      52.9      54.8        40.0      52.6      48.3  
    Block Rate      4.2       8.6       6.8         4.5       4.3       4.4  
    Steal Rate      6.3       7.4       6.9        18.8      14.7      16.5  
    2FG%           50.0      65.2      57.8        41.7      51.4      47.5  
    3FG%           37.5      33.3      35.7         0.0      20.0      12.5  
    FT%            83.3      70.0      73.1        69.2      63.6      66.7

    One of the main reasons that Georgetown's defense was so awful today was its offense - or rather a specific part of its offense, the dread live-ball turnover.  Coming into today's game, the Hoyas had committed turnovers on >20% of their possessions only twice in the past six games: at Temple and at Notre Dame.

    But to be a bit more stats-wonky about things, take a look at Georgetown's defensive performance so far this season: the team has had three terrible defensive games.  One was against Loyola, where almost the entire second half was devoted to letting the bench play, so I'll ignore it (the defense was fine in the first half).  The other two were at Missouri and today.  In both of those games, Georgetown allowed their opponent to steal the ball more than 16% of offensive possessions; the Tigers turned 15 steals into 24 points, while today the Blue Demons turned 12 steals into 16 points.

    To put this another way:
    .                   poss. after steal         other possessions
    Opponent           Count     Def. Eff.       Count     Def. Eff. 
    Missouri            15          160           69          113
    DePaul              12          133           58          102
    Georgetown has allowed a steal rate above 15% only one other game this season - at Temple.

    Meanwhile, during the second half today when DePaul seemed able to score at will, the Hoyas were only able to force 4 turnovers.  By getting so many trips down the court with a scoring attempt, the Blue Demons were inevitably going to improve their offensive efficiency.

    Another stat of interest today was the dreaded rebounding issue.  DePaul attacked the offensive glass with abandon today, gather 18 rebounds on 41 opportunities [44%].  But a strange thing happened.  In spite of those 18 offensive rebounds, the Blue Demons managed only managed 11 second-chance points.  At least for today, Georgetown's rebounding problems weren't a big driver of the poor defense.

    So did anything go right?

    The offense was actually just a hair less efficient then we'd expect, thanks to strong 2-pt shooting, especially by Jason ClarkJulian Vaughn and friends gathered 13 offensive rebounds, which the Hoyas managed to convert into 19 points.

    And, in the end, the Hoyas walked off the court with a conference win.