What Went Wrong: A 2009-10 Recap by the Numbers

First of all, I’d like to thank ClickClack for letting me come on board. Since its inception, this blog has been the first stop source for the diehard UA fan- getting all the relevant hoops news and getting it first. Hopefully, I can be a valuable addition to the P&G Nation and help provide some escape from the off-season blues.
Remember, only 14 days, 14 hours and 28 minutes ‘til Midnight Madness and the start of (what we can only hope will be looked upon by history as) The Great Dane Resurgence of 2010-11.

But first, though it’s not quite pleasant, let’s take a look back at last season and what went wrong:

One could travel down a long list of adjectives to describe the past season, disappointing being the most benign, but let’s take a look at the numbers to parse out what was behind the free fall.

Following the lead of Dean Oliver, who is for all intents and purposes the Billy Beane of basketball, I’ll start with the essential Four Factors in basketball : Shooting, Turnovers, Offensive Rebounds, and Getting to the Foul Line. None of this should be an affront to conventional basketball wisdom, nor should it take one long to realize Albany’s deficiencies in these areas (and the data I’m pulling is from kenpom.com)

Let’s step out of order and confront the most egregious factor first: Turnovers.

Albany ranked 335th in turnovers (that’s worse than all but 12 teams in the country for those of you keeping score). They fumbled away nearly a fourth of their possessions… that makes it near impossible to win ball games. The demotion and eventual early departure of point guard Mike Johnson insured that UA wouldn’t have the stability it hoped for. Mike Black did well as a freshman, but there were growing pains as he rapidly took on a huge amount of minutes at the helm.

Secondly, Shooting. Albany’s effective FG% (adds weight to the 3-pointers made) was a poor 46.5%, 268th in the country. This number is particularly damning because of the Will Brown’s system- a slower system requires play-makers and spot shooters and the turnovers limiting the amount of shots Albany actual took. If only the Danes had played the bottom dwellers of the Ivy League every game, they posted eFG% of 59 and 54 over Penn and Yale respectively, but they only managed to shoot above average five times in 17 league games. All in all, Albany’s shooting wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t near good enough to be able to overcome their trouble holding onto the ball and sub-par defense.

The lone bright spot is itself a backhanded compliment- Albany was 58th in the country in Offensive Rebounding. That said, when you are missing so many shots, the difficulty of corralling an offensive board dramatically increases. The now departed Scotty McRae‘s was a big part of this success, but so were returners Blake Metcalf and Fran Urli (who, remarkably, had more offensive boards than defensive).

The ability to get to the foul line, calculated by Free Throw Attempts versus Field Goal attempts, is to me, the most bitter remnant of the 2009-10 season. Albany ranked 310th in the nation in getting to the line, but 67th in FT%, shooting 72%. Once the Danes made it to the line, they consistently scored, but they just did not show the propensity to get to line. Exemplifying this untapped source of offense was Will Harris. The UVA transfer had superior strength and good speed, the perfect combination for drawing fouls, but in 14 AE games last season he attempted a mere 25 free throws. And he made 84% of them. Take the ball to the rim!!!!

Other things from the numbers:

Albany’s offensive was slightly better than its defense (off. rating: 276th, def. rating: 293rd)

Albany played slowly (258th) but only two possessions below average- but the illusion of an at times sloth-like tempo was enhanced by the enormous amount of turnovers.

Defensively, Albany was torched from the three point line, ranking 280th in defending the three.

Every UA fan must have felt that, despite the final standings, there is no way that UA was the worst team in the America East. Though it is not of much comfort, kenpom agrees- Albany’s final ranking was 292, while Hartford and UMBC clocked in at 311 and 318, respectively.

A fascinating final note, Albany was number two in the country in bench minutes- UA bench players saw 46.1% of minutes. The quick hook for Giff helped this, but the lack of stability permeated far deeper. It was impossible to gauge who would be playing the next game, as players shuffled between starting and not even taking off the warm up jersey. There is no question the struggle to find a dependable rotation hurt Danes ability to operate an efficiently.

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~ by TheMidRangeGame on October 1, 2010.

2 Responses to “What Went Wrong: A 2009-10 Recap by the Numbers”

  1. Sometimes numbers don’t lie. Everybody knows we struggled defending the three and scoring the ball.

    If UA is to improve as a team both those areas must improve.

    A key thing that didn’t help us in both areas were injuries. Over the last season and a half yes just a season and a half ago as a team UA was off to its best start in school history:

    * Allen has been slow recovering and gaining form from major back surgery
    * Aronhalt has had two foot surgeries which slowed him and took away his explosiveness
    * Barazza was beset with injuries and never healthy
    * Raffa went down for about 6 games a season and a half ago and then departed

    All 4 were suppose to be key perimeter players and therefore our perimeter offense and defense stunk.

    Then some of our recent departed players were selfish offensively,lazy defensively and seemingly not committed to the team concept. Therefore the offense had little perimeter scoring and almost no rythm. The defense was from guys who were often a step slow (due to injury) or just not willing to commit their efforts for the good of the team defensively.

    It should be interesting to see how healthy we are this season. Also with such a young team (9 Fr & Sophs, I think) I wonder if we will see a big improvement individually as well as in team consepts. I am especially interested in guys like Aronhalt, Black and Lindfors. Also, will Puk and Watts bring anything to the table and should we expect anything from our Australian in his freshman year.

    Finally, which Timmy Ambrose will show up and will he not be as soft as he has been in the past.

    Just some thoughts from a very frustrated fan.

  2. Excellent points- while a clean bill of health I would expect a noticeable boost in our offensive efficiency, but its the other end of the floor that worries with me.

    I buy into the idea that defense is inside out so even if Russell Moore proves himself to a be a reliable defender (I have hopes he will) and Ambrose regains his form, it will all be for naught if our bigs (in my mind, Lindfors and Metcalf) cannot secure the paint.

    Also, I have a feeling it would be a bad sign for the state of our team if Watts and Puk don’t see more than garbage minutes. Hopefully the leaders of this team will play to their potential and allow WB to settle on a rotation early.

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