About a month ago I wrote an analysis of the boxscore from one of the Boilers' exhibition games. At that time I said it looked like we might see a Boiler defense that forces fewer TOs than in years past but which cleans the defensive glass better. I also said that I thought (and hoped) we might shoot fewer 3s this year than last.
Well, we're now 6 games and 1 loss into the season. Let's see how my initial thoughts have panned out and what else can be gleaned from the games played so far. Once again, I live out of the US, with little TV access. I've watched about 30 minutes of Boiler basketball this season, so these thoughts are wholly based on box score skimming. If you hate that sort of analysis, consider yourself warned.
THE SEASON SO FAR
1. Avoiding Turnovers: Even with Barlow's occasional 4 turnover games, the offense as a whole has been good in this area. For the season, Purdue is turning the ball over on just 17% of offensive possessions--a very good number. Moreover, they have been consistently good at this, never losing the ball on more than 20% of possessions in any single game so far.
2. Offensive Rebounding: Last year, Purdue collected 29.6% of its missed shots, which is pretty poor. So far this year, things have been much better, as the Boilers OR% stands at 37.7%. I thought this might just be the result of the games against Howard and Alcorn State, so I recalculated the OR% just for the 4 games in the Chicago Invitational, and found that the OR% for those games was 34.1%--lower than the overall number for the season, but still significantly higher than last year.
3. Creating Turnovers: Last year, Purdue got opponents to turn over the ball on 23.7% of their possessions--good for 23rd in D1. So far this year, they are even better at 26.9%, including 27.2% during the Chicago Invitational.
THINGS THAT LOOK POSITIVE BUT REALLY AREN'T:
1. Opponents EFg: If you look at KenPom's numbers, Purdue's fg defense looks stout as usual. Over 6 games their opponents have managed an EFg of only 42.0%, even lower than last year's 44.8%. Looks good, but this is an stat for which the first two cupcake games are outliers disguising the real trend (Howard and Alcorn St. had EFg's of 25% and 31% respectively). During the Chicago Invitational, Purdue allowed opponents an EFg of 50%. That's pretty bad, and surprising from a Matt Painter defense. The nice, round 50% EFg figure is a result of 33.3% 3P shooting and 50% 2P shooting. By way of comparison, last season, Purdue allowed opponents to shoot 35.3% from 3 and 41.6% from 2. Those who have actually had eyes on the games can speculate as to what's going on here, but I suspect it has something to do with losing a fantastic interior defender in Hummel (and the inability of Bade, Marcius, or Carroll to fill his shoes yet), as well as JJ backing off a bit on defense to avoid last year's foul troubles.
2. Assists/FGM: There are two points to make here. First, I'm always skeptical about what this stat tells you about a team's quality. It certainly tells you something about how they go about scoring their points, but it's not directly correlated with overall success. I have heard people touting Purdue's high A/FGM ratio as a sign of a quality offense, and I'm just skeptical about that claim. Second, if you factor out the Howard and Alcorn St games, Purdue's A/FGM ratio has been 56.6%, almost identical to last season's number. Moreover, during the last 2 games of the Chicago Invitational, the ratio was very low (32.0% and 37.5% respectively).
1. 2P FG%: I said in my earlier post that I hoped Purdue would shoot fewer 3's this year. That hasn't happened, but so far they've been decent from beyond the arc, so it's fine with me. What's not promising is the drop in shooting percentage inside the arc. It stands at 48.8% for the season and 47.5% during the Chicago Invitational. Last year, Purdue was solid but not spectacular from 2-point range--49.7%. This year with a good big man in JJ, two mid-range guys in E'Twaun and TJ, and a couple of drivers in Barlow and LewJack, I thought this number would continue to go up. No such luck. Fortunately, the decent 3-point shooting has made up for it up to this point.
2. Defensive Rebounding: Last year Purdue allowed opponents to collect 31.4% of their misses; this year they've allowed opponents to collect........31.4% of their misses. The numbers were slightly worse during the Chicago Invitational--32.8%. This isn't a new issue; Purdue's been average but not awful on the defensive glass since 2009.
WHAT TO TAKE FROM THIS:
In the exhibition game, I thought it looked like Purdue might force fewer turnovers this year but collect a higher % of defensive boards than last. But in the 6 regular season games so far, the defense looks pretty much the same--they force lots of TOs but allow more offensive boards than they should. Similar remarks hold for the offensive end. Based on the exhibition performance, I thought we might see a more interior-focused offense, but if anything, it's been the opposite.
I think the two things that look truly different so far in the regular season are these. On the offensive end, Purdue is cleaning the offensive boards better than in previous years. This is certainly a positive. On the negative side, though, they are (in the Chicago Invitational games, at least) much worse in terms of 2-point FG% defense. These are two stats I'll certainly be looking at going forward.