An advanced stat comparison of this year basketball team to last year's

First, just look at this season only. Here are the stats / anomalies that stand out.

  1. KP ranks us #1 in the nation, with #5 offense and #5 defense. We are still among the team that fouls the least (#5). We also limit opponent to just 22.9% from 3s (#5 in the nation), and lastly, we just aren't getting blocked on offense (#5 best in the nation). See a pattern?
  2. After 6 games, TKR is shooting better from 3s (33.3%) than Loyer (32.1%). And he's shooting better from the FT line (56.2%) than Braden Smith (50%).
  3. Our team is shooting 40.8% from 3s, good for #12 in the nation. We have 6 players shooting 40% or better from 3s: Morton (67%), Colvin (64.3%), Heide (60%), Smith (50%), Gillis/Furst (40%). Of course, the issue is that most of them are low-volume shooters, and our big guns Jones (9-of-29, 31%) and Loyer (9-of-28, 32.1%) are almost identically mediocre.
  4. We failed twice in icing the game against Marquette on the FT line. Who should be on our FT-shooting closing lineup? Just purely by current FT% among the rotational players, they will be: Loyer (89.5%), Heide (75%), Edey (72.7%), Furst (63.6%), and Lance Jones (57.1%). Doesn't really give a lot of confidence. As a team, we are shooting 69.2%, only #221 in the country.
  5. Edey is NOT leading the team in 2P%, that would be Heide (60%). We only have 5 players shooting >50%: Heide, Edey (59.2%), TKR/Smith (52.6%), Jones (52%). Colvin, for all his brilliance shooting 3s, is only 33.3% (2-of-6) from 2s, which is surprising, considering you'd think he should be a dunk guy. Coen Carr of MSU, who beat Colvin in the high school dunk contest, is 14-of-20 (70%) from 2s, but he hasn't attempted a 3-pointer yet. As an aside and a comparison, Marquette has a ridiculously 8 players shooting better than 50% on 2s. They have 4 players shooting above 66.7% (!), one of whom is their leading 2-pt man.
  6. Live-ball TO. We are #326 in offensive STL%, and that is something we REALLY need to clean up. Thankfully, we are pretty good in avoiding the dead-ball (non-steal) TO, #30 in the country, so overall we are only #196 in TO%. This will remain one of our biggest concerns. And we are not good in forcing TOs either, just #272.

Now, onto the comparison. Unless otherwise noted, the comparison below is only our team's stats 6 games into this season (right after Maui) to the team's stats 6 games into last season (right after PK85). Here are what stands out:

  1. We play faster. Adj Tempo goes from #320 to #138. Surpisingly, the bigger jump is on the defensive side of the ball, where we go from #158 to #47. Offensively, we are only modestly faster from #297 to #232.
  2. Another thing that jumps out is 3-pt shooting is a lot better, as 3P% goes from 34% (#147) to an elite 40.8% (#12). What might be the explanation? Perhaps being more selective. Last year, 41.2% of our shot attempts were 3s (#95), but this year, only 34.6% (#242).
  3. We shot a lot worse FT% though. FT% drops from 78.6% (#24) to just 69.2% (#221) though. Edey was shooting 34-of-45 (75.6%) last year, but only 48-66 (72.7%) this year. Notice the increased FTAs though. Braden going from 95% to 50% is partially offset by Loyer going from 69.2% to 89.5%, but TKR at 56.2% (9-16) and Lance Jones 57.1% (4-7) are pulling us down.
  4. We were elite in defending the 3 to start the season this year (our opponents are shooting only 22.9%, #5 in the nation), almost identical to last year's start (23.1%, also #5 in the nation). Recall that both years we have 4 of our first 6 games against power teams and 3 really high end ones, maybe that's why we won PK85 and Maui.
  5. Note though 3P% defense tend to be fickle as KP showed, and for the entire season we were only #45 (31.4%). However, it is not entirely random. Tennessee was #1 at 26.5%, Houston #2 at 27.9%, and UConn #14 at 29.7% for the entire season last season. Thus far, Tenn is 26.7% (#33), Houston 27.9% (#58) and UConn 30.2% (#105).
  6. Despite Edey's heroic on the offensive glass against Marquette, we are actually worse in ORB%, going from an elite 38.1% (#15) to just 33.5% (#80). This stat is a lot more stable than 3P%, as we ended last season at 38.4 (#3). At least we are partially offset by being better rebounding defensively, as we only gave up 25.4% (#73) of rebounds on the defensive side, down from 27.2% (#123) last year.
  7. We are playing fewer bench minutes, going from 35.6% (#68) to a below average 30.9% (#194).
  8. We are worse in protecting the ball. We were "at least" #83 (17%) in TO%, compared to #196 (18.1%) this year. I attribute it to teams know that is our weakness and pressing us more. Our instinctual excuse would be we just played Tennessee and Marquette, two of the better defensive teams. However, we also played WVU and Marquette last year in our first 6, and as Painter noted, we only had 6 TOs against Marquette last year, and they were #18 best in forcing TOs. We just need to better take care of the ball. It can be done!

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