Saturday, December 29, 2007

Brown Preview

While I have the blogging juices flowing, a couple notes about tonight's game. Brown is coached by Craig Robinson, Barack Obama's brother-in-law.

Using the best individual statistics I could find, I finally have the opportunity to do a better in-depth analysis of our team and our Ivy League opponent.

First of all, a word about the statistics. A player's individual offensive rating is a concept developed by Dean Oliver in the book and is basically equivalent to a team's offensive efficiency (points produced per 100 possessions). The equation is extremely complicated (a page and a half of my notebook) but provides a solid indicator of a player's performance. The percentage of possessions used by a player is the fraction of a team's percentage that a player "uses" (takes a shot, turns the ball over, etc.). A perfectly even distribution would be 20% (five players on a court at a time). Percentage of minutes played is a simple fraction of playing time from the total team's minutes. That's it for now, if you want a better definition of those terms, Ken Pomeroy provides as always.

Notre Dame- Offensive Rating/Percentage of Possessions/Percentage of Minutes

McAlarney- 123.9/18.1%/84.0%
Jackson- 88.7/21.3%/75.5%
Ayers- 127.6/12.8%/63.0%
Harangody- 113.5/31.3%/65.3%
Kurz- 123.3/22.8%/65.0%

Hillesland- 108.1/20.0%/50.5%
Peoples- 118.0/14.6%/37.8%
Zeller- 131.5/13.5%/34.8%

Luke Harangody is clearly the focal point of the offense, using 31% of Notre Dame's possessions. That is the 36th highest percentage nationally and the highest for any player you've actually heard of. He is our force in the post and the number clearly indicates the team's willingness to put the ball inside and let the big man take over. His offensive rating is not as high as one would like, but the shear number of touches he gets helps to lower that (the more times you get the ball, the harder it is to score). In all, he contributes enough to add 24.7 points a game through assists, made baskets, and rebounds.

Mac and Ayers have very high offensive ratings, 123.9 and 127.6 points per 100 possessions. Both are good three point shooters and contribute a lot of points per possession without using a high percentage of the team's chances. Ayers' possession percentage under of 12.8% shows how infrequently he contributes to the offensive output. When he is involved, we usually score, but most of the time Ryan is left on the outside.

Rob Kurz has a great offensive rating and above average contribution percentage, supporting his solid effort on the floor every night. Tory Jackson contributes to 21.3% of the team's possessions through his assists, but has a terrible rating due to poor shooting.

Luke Zeller is the only player whose rating fails to tell the whole story. He gets a lot of points per shot through his three point attempts which artificially raises his offensive rating. Of course, the numbers fail to indicate post defense and other detractors from his game.

Brown- Offensive Rating/Percentage of Possessions/Percentage of Minutes

#20 Huffman- 106.1/20.4%/87.9%
#22 Skrelja- 105.2/19.8%/84.0%
#14 McAndrew- 108.6/26.1%/83.7%
#5 Friske- 99.9/16.6%/66.4%
#45 Mullery- 105.4/12.6%/43.7%

#25 Sullivan- 108.8/17.1%/40.2%
#35 MacDonald- 99.4/34.7%/35.1%
#11 Williams- 100.8/14.4%/32.8%

Huffman, Skrelja, and McAndrew take up a huge chunk of minutes and will play most of the game together. Huffman and McAndrew are the starting senior guards, with McAndrew finishing a quarter of the team's possessions while on the floor. He is the best offensive player on the team, but produces a much lower output than four of Notre Dame's starters.

Matt Mullery is the best scorer in the post, hitting 59% of his two-point shots. However, he is only a sophomore and doesn't get the same opportunities as Brown's experienced backcourt.

Off the bench, Mark MacDonald could see limited playing time but always gives the Bears a high-intensity performance. He missed the last game against Hartford due to injury or suspension and may not be available for tonight's contest. When given the opportunity, however, he shows some senior leadership and controls an extremely high 35% of possessions on the floor.

Overall, Brown is a very slow team, averaging the 300th most (or 42nd fewest) possessions per game. They have managed a 6-4 record with that methodical play and boast an RPI of 109, making them the clear favorites to win the Ivy League. Still, the Irish should have little trouble winning this contest. Brown's next toughest opponent the rest of the way is Baylor on January 8th. Depending on how difficult tonight's game is for Notre Dame, it will be interesting to see how that one plays out.

The Irish should go out and show some better game management than last time. The team was far too sloppy against San Francisco. Hopefully the midweek break for Christmas will leave them rested and ready instead to dominate.

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