Friday, February 3, 2012

Lineup stats through 10 conference games

While trolling the interwebs the past couple of days, I noticed a new (to me) blog for the Connecticut Huskies called UConn by the Numbers (the name blatantly ripped off from the sadly dormant Villanova by the Numbers, but who are we to talk?). The main feature for UCBTN seems to be breaking down the Huskies by lineup, which reminded me that we used to do that around here, before we got fat and lazy.

So . . . here we go. We'll limit the data set to the ten conference games played to date.

First, a breakout of minutes played by position.

Here, we follow the same rules as we've used before - players are sorted by height, shortest to tallest, with weight serving as the tie-breaker. All heights and weights come from the GU website. Not all slots will add up to 40 minutes, both due to rounding and because I don't show any player with less than a minute played at a position.
  1. Starks [20], Clark [19], Trawick [1]
  2. Clark [15], Trawick [12], Whittington [10], Thompson [3]
  3. Thompson [26], Whittington [9], Porter [5]
  4. Porter [25], Lubick [13], Thompson [3]
  5. Sims[29], Lubick [5], Hopkins [5]
The big caveat here is that Markel Starks was out for 1 1/2 games, first with what looked like a concussion versus Marquette, then with stomach issues versus DePaul.  So his minutes at the point are a bit underestimated, since I'm too lazy to adjust for that - figure he's playing about 23 minutes at the point when healthy.

Shooting guard has become a committee, since Jason Clark is actually playing more time spelling Starks as the primary ball handler.  Coach Thompson can go big by bringing in the solidly-built 6' 5" Jabril Trawick, especially to help out with quick guards, or he can go ridiculously big by bringing in lanky 6' 8" Greg Whittington to help against outside shooters.  The problem is that neither is much of a threat from behind the arc, so spacing on offense can be an issue.  Hollis Thompson also gets a few minutes a game showing the NBA scouts that he can play the "2" spot.

It should be noted here that the formal position by height kind of breaks down here, since Trawick will often bring the ball up when he and Clark are in the game together.

After spending much of last season as an under-sized power forward, Hollis has been able to play his natural college position on the wing this year.  Whittington spends almost as much time at the wing as the shooting guard, and Otto Porter spends about 5 minutes a game there when Coach Thompson brings out the stupid-big lineup.

For those clamoring for Porter to start over Nate Lubick as the power forward, you may not realize that he already plays twice as much as Lubick at that spot.  In a pinch, Hollis slides over to the four when the team goes small.

Finally, Henry Sims has spent the most time of any player in a single role, manning the pivot nearly 30 minutes a game.  It should be a worry that Sims is wearing down in that role - much like Julian Vaughn last season - but I just don't know if Mikael Hopkins is ready to help out, although I suppose the UConn game offers a glimmer of hope.

Lineup efficiencies after the jump

I normally lead these posts with the breakdown of how the various lineups have played, but I'm kind of hesitant with those stats this year. The breakdown is simply the team's offensive and defensive efficiency when any particular set of 5 players is on the court.

Because of all the interchangeable parts on the team, the Hoyas have managed to run out 57 different lineups for at least one possession in conference play, and an amazing 33 combinations have played together for at least 5 possessions on both offense and defense.

The problem is that, while the Hoyas have played about 640 meaningful possessions in conference so far, about 30% of those possessions were with a lineup that just doesn't have enough time together to properly evaluate (here, at least 12 possessions on both offense and defense).  So while the table may encourage you to draw some strong conclusions about particular 5-man lineups, keep in mind that there were probably a bunch of other combos that just missed the cut that would show just the opposite of what you're thinking.

Here we go:
                                                 Offense                  Defense             Net
Lineup                                    # poss   Eff    Time     # poss   Eff    Time       Eff
Clark-Lubick-Sims-Starks-Thompson           104     83    16.9       108    103    18.6       -20
Clark-Porter-Sims-Starks-Thompson            70    110    16.1        66     86    17.8        24
Clark-Porter-Sims-Thompson-Whittington       59    110    20.2        58     93    20.7        17
Clark-Lubick-Porter-Sims-Thompson            47    102    19.6        48     81    20.0        21
Clark-Porter-Sims-Thompson-Trawick           34     68    19.0        32    106    21.7       -39
Clark-Porter-Sims-Trawick-Whittington        25    100    17.1        26     96    24.3         4
Clark-Porter-Sims-Starks-Whittington         17     94    13.9        16     50    15.6        44
Clark-Lubick-Porter-Thompson-Whittington     17     88    16.7        15     73    13.5        15
Clark-Lubick-Porter-Thompson-Trawick         14    136    17.1        17    112    17.9        24
Porter-Sims-Starks-Thompson-Whittington      14    114    23.8        15    100    21.0        14
Clark-Hopkins-Porter-Starks-Thompson         15     60    19.2        14     93    16.8       -33
Clark-Lubick-Porter-Starks-Thompson          14     64    21.2        14    121    18.7       -57
Clark-Porter-Thompson-Trawick-Whittington    13    115     9.3        13    115    12.0         0

The starters have spent the most time together as a single unit, and unfortunately haven't been all that successful while out there.  I'm personally not in the camp that Coach Thompson needs to change the starting lineup, but this certainly indicates that it wouldn't be a bad idea.

Jason Clark, Hollis Thompson and Otto Porter show up so much in this table (each only missing from one line) that I just don't think you can say much about them being in or out of the lineup - it's probably best to assume that those guys are going to be on the court most of the time.

An example of why this table mostly will just drive you nuts:  when either Lubick or Hopkins plays center with Starks-Clark-Thompson-Porter, the offense stagnates greatly.  But the lineups of Clark-Lubick-Porter-Thompson and Trawick has been the highest scoring of all combos.  So is Lubick the problem?  Maybe not.

I'll let you draw your own conclusions with this table.


  1. Great post. Data tells me two things. First, Clark and Starks shouldn't be on the court together. When you look at combined D and Off efficiency, the best lineups include Clark with trawick and/or Whitt but no Starks. Or Starks with Whit and Thompson but no Clark. Strong case for having Clark lead at the 1 more. Second, Porter and Thompson are the two critical pieces; they are in all the best line-ups, surrounded by Lubick, Sims or Whitt as the third forward/center option.

    1. I'm not quite ready to give up on Starks just yet - he's been about the best shooter in conference play. Yes, he commits too many turnovers, reaches too much on defense and can disappear for large stretches, but I think you've got to just roll with it - he is capable of being the best player on the court for the Hoyas (see the Louisville game). And he's likely to be handed the keys to the car next year if Thompson jumps.

      But yeah, Clark, Thompson and Porter need to be on the floor as much as possible.