Tag Archives: Nick Johnson

Fun Facts on the Pac-12’s Penultimate Day

This weekend we’ll spring our clock’s forward which is something I don’t generally like. But think of it this way: we’re one hour closer to the tournaments! But before that, we must get through tomorrow’s regular season finale. There are still infinite permutations of what seed which teams will garner for Vegas and I’m not going to break it down. It’s insane. On Monday we’ll have our All-Conference teams announced and the madness will begin. Or has it already begun? The calendar turned three months old last Saturday and the Pac has been anything but predictable. Utah won on the road. USC won.

We’ve got one day left, here’s a quick run through some fun facts of what you can expect to see, not see, or prepare for:

  • Oregon State hasn’t been swept on the weekend at home this season. Doesn’t bode well for ASU keeping the three seed
  • The Pac-12 has a road winning percentage of 67%. Since March, Pac-12 that home win percentage is 45%. Doesn’t bode well for Stanford, Oregon, Washington, Oregon State, Cal, or Washington State.
  • The last time the Wildcats won in Eugene it was called Mac Court and the Pac-12 was a twinkle in Larry’s eye. Oregon has since built an entirely new arena. Doesn’t bode well for the Wildcats.
  • The last time I went to a Colorado-Cal game, Cal’s best player went 2-17 and still won. Doesn’t bode well for Justin Cobbs or Colorado.
  • Utah hasn’t won consecutive road conference games since visiting TCU and Wyoming in February 2009. Doesn’t bode well for the Utes.
  • In two hosting events of the Colorado Buffaloes, Cal has yielded an average of 49 points per game or 0.77 points per possession. Doesn’t bode well for the Buffs.
  • Dwight Powell, Josh Huestis, Stefan Nastic, John Gage, and soon-to-be-fifth-years Aaron Bright and Anthony Brown are all celebrating their senior night in Palo Alto, Saturday. Doesn’t bode well for the Utes.
  • USC is playing a game. Doesn’t bode well for the Trojans.
  • Arizona is +74 in scoring differential when playing a team for the second time this season (5-1). Doesn’t bode well for the Ducks.
  • I have an Arizona-Oregon bet with Matt. It’s cumulative points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks of Aaron Gordon vs. Mike Moser. The first match up lead to an underwhelming 16 (Moser) vs. 14 (Gordon). I’m not winning right now and Moser is averaging 18 & 11 during this 6-game winning streak by the Ducks. Doesn’t bode well for Adam.
  • There are six Pac-12 games to behold on Saturday. Bodes well for us.

What did I miss?

Three Road Wins and Fun with Graphs

Last night was as March as games not broadcast on CBS get. Every game saw a tie or lead change in the final five minutes (if not the final two minutes) and EVERY SINGLE ROAD TEAM WON. I’m not going to data mine to see if there has been a three pronged road sweep on a single night this Pac-12 season. But considering there have been only 44 road wins across 100 Pac-12 games, I don’t think we’ve seen it. Welcome to March.

Arizona @ Oregon State

I don’t know if this was a trap game or what it projected to be but I do know that there are some damn fine ball players on that Oregon State roster. They have size all over and Roberto Nelson is a scorer. Unfortunately, this was my mom’s analysis of the game, “It looked like one team had a plan and the other didn’t.” Well guess who won? Arizona did and was fortunate to do such if you’re asking their coach. He cited the Wildcats’ inability to rebound and so I present to you the expected rebounding numbers and the actuals and subsequently how Oregon State stayed in that game:Arizona_OSU

Colorado @ Stanford

If we break the game into quarters, the Colorado Buffaloes have been outscored by 45 points in the third quarter during conference play this season. That’s an average of about 2.7 points per game and worse on the road: -3.5 points, -25 collectively. Conversely, the Stanford Cardinal come out of the half and are plus 21. It’s a theme worth diving deeper into at another time but here is how last night’s battle for a bid played out:

Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Colorado 12 21 13 13
Stanford 11 17 13 15

In what appears to be that critical third quarter, the Buffs managed to play things even, maintain their lead, and subsequently close the game. Oh, and this was critical at 2:01

Utah @ California

Numbers don’t lie:

Utah RoadUtah Road 3-5Oh, and what’s going on at Cal?

WANE: End of the Year Awards

I honestly think that – despite all of the talent in the Pac-12 – Spencer and my First Team All-Conference Team would be, at best, a bubble team. Listen to agree with our selecting ineptitude. That said, our team would certainly have Delon Wright on it. No questions asked. It’s maybe not the best team, but it’s a really hard choice!

 

The Table: (but really our notes on awards which are incomplete and scatter brained)

Conference Awards:

First Team:

PG: Chasson Randle, Jahii Carson, Justin Cobbs

SG: Nick Johnson, C.J. Wilcox

SF: Aaron Gordon, Delon Wright, Josh huestis

PF: Dwight Powell, Jordan Loveridge, Kyle Anderson

C: Kaleb, Josh Scott, Richard Solomon

POY:
Kyle Anderson
Chasson Randle
Nick Johnson
Roberto Nelson
CJ Wilcox
Delon Wright

Defensive POY:
Nick Johnson
Jordan Bachynski
Jordan Adams
Aaron Gordon

 

Newcomer of the Year:
Aaron Gordon
Zach LaVine
Jermaine Marshall
Joseph Young

Coach:
Sean Miller
Steve Alford
Herb Sendek
Tad Boyle
Larry Krystkowiak (**We admittedly didn’t discuss him on the podcast)

Game of the Year:

Oregon @ UCLA (the wears almost do it game)
Arizona @ Cal (the cobbs game)
Oregon @ Utah (the dunk game)
Utah @ Colorado?
Arizona @ UCLA
Arizona @ ASU
Oregon @ ASU
ASU @ Cal
Arizona @ Stanford
UCLa @ Stanford

Performance of the Year:
40 by Jahii (<thought about that but non-con)
AG 19 and 16.

The “Brock Motum” Aussie of the Year:

Angus Brandt
James Hunter
Dexter Kernich-Drew

Name of the Year:

Angus Brandt?
Wannah Bail
Beau Gamble
Schuyler Rimmer
Omar Oraby

Where They Affect the Game: TJ McConnell

It should be obvious that this is going to center around the rim. It’s my favorite. But what sets TJ McConnell apart from the other guys we’ve discussed (Anderson and Wright), is that we”ll wind up talking about the guys around him. After all, he’s got an NBA front court to dish to.

And dish he does. McConnell is fourth in the conference in assist rate and third in assists per game. Further, and I apologize for being unable to contextualize, he’s collecting these dimes just 27.6% of the time in transition. That’s the lowest number (aside from Justin Cobbs) amongst Pac-12 point guards that I glanced at. This is a significant number because no matter how often you want to get in transition, the majority of your offense is going to come in a half court setting. As the offense’s facilitator and someone collecting as many assists as he does, McConnell’s ability to facilitate offense for his friends is impressive. It’s a tribute to his understanding and execution of the team’s principles and the talented pieces around him.

When crunching all of the rim success numbers, it was McConnell that lead the conference (amongst the players I studied) in success at the rim:

Player % poss resulting in rim score % poss resulting in play at rim Success % at Rim
TJ McConnell 44.25 49.84 88.79
Nick Johnson 28.04 32.18 87.13
Delon Wright 50.65 61.23 82.71
Kyle Anderson 33.57 41.64 80.63
CJ Wilcox 21.80 27.25 80.00
Pe’Shon Howard 38.34 48.54 78.99
Nigel Williams-Goss 26.17 35.09 74.59
Askia Booker 29.00 38.95 74.45
Justin Cobbs 29.93 40.62 73.68
Brett Comer (2013) 51.18 72.47 70.63
Roberto Nelson 26.96 40.43 66.67
Chasson Randle 20.96 33.14 63.25
Jahii Carson 24.86 40.06 62.05

Nearly 90% of McConnell’s possessions at the rim are successful. He was making the third most assists at the rim per game (2.72) despite having the fewest possessions (8.59) per game. Aside from the ridiculous Delon Wright, McConnell accounted for the highest percentage of rim scores. I love that. Kaleb Tarczewski, Aaron Gordon, and every other Wildcat loves that. Arizona, in fact, is second in the nation in FG% at the rim (74.1%). They don’t take the most shots there (31.6% of the offense is good for 300th in the nation) but when they do, they’re making it:

See what I mean? The word facilitate means to “make something easier” and so it appears TJ McConnell makes scoring easier for his sometimes scoring inept team.

Now look at Arizona’s last two offensive explosions. In those two games, McConnell has assisted 16 times and turned the ball over just once. The above tells us that his team easily scored when he passed them the ball. The turnovers suggest the other team isn’t getting an opportunity to easily score, forcing teams into a half court setting against the Wildcats in which they have the second best non-transition defensive eFG%. Good luck. In a moment of inspiration and wanting-to-copy-cat-a-great-mind, I saw Luke Winn’s power rankings in which he notes Fred VanVleet’s protection services. He notes VanVleet’s propensity to not turn the ball over and a few wildly impressive 5 game stretches (most notably a 30:1 A:T ratio in late December to early Jan). Wichita State’s facilitator protects the ball and dishes to his playmakers and they haven’t lost. Which – for a Pac-12 blogger – begs the question: Do TJ McConnell and other Pac-12 points offer similar protective services?Assisters

This is a pretty interesting graph in that everyone seems to have taken a pretty significant dip as they began to face off against one another in conference play. Look at the downward trend beginning right around games 10-13.

And then there’s McConnell. The lead man at Point Guard U with a violent uptick as we head into the game’s most critical month. Is it a sign of things to come? As that’s a rolling five game average, it would suggest so.

In the meantime:

Treated Right and Swiping Right in Boulder

We were perusing the upper bowl of the Coors Event Center during halftime of Saturday’s Arizona-CU game when what I can only assume was an undergraduate encouraged me to “leave [my] f**cking stadium.”

But to say I was mistreated in Boulder would be a gross exaggeration. Quite the contrary. In fact, my favorite team in the world won by 27, shot 60%, garnered 1.32 points per possession, yielded no baskets for more than 10-minutes, held Xavier Johnson to 1-10 shooting, Jacob Hazzard got involved, and Aaron Gordon:

Aaron Gordon Dunk CU

I had little to say to that kid. I declined his invitation carried on to my seat and then the rest of the night transpired. We’ll skip the basketball for now and I’ll go straight to a big shout out to the fine gentlemen who recognized me at Absinthe. I can only hope that the DJ has changed tunes by now and I thank you boys for the drinks.

And I thank you, Boulder, for another glorious trip. I beg an answer as to how I entered the Dark Horse (and its appropriate bathroom) in a T-shirt and jeans and exited to snow? Do the Wildcats bring the snow? We all know they brought the heat but was it snow, too? Alas, I saw old friends and new and a loud, involved crowd. On the latter, speaking bluntly, that crowd had little to cheer Saturday night. The aforementioned successes of my Wildcats gave them nothing to make noise for and Tad Boyle himself said they deserved more. But the effort those fans gave was impressive. It was deafeningly loud and while the Wildcats had an answer for each of their roars, the loyal Buffaloes responded with great support for their seniors, sending Ben Mills and Beau Gamble off in deserving senior fashion. Furthermore, Ben Mills’ family lead the Harlem Shake.

photo(8)I booked things at the wrong Marriott but we got little else wrong that weekend. Once again the Shady Pony (I like this nickname) treated us right and then it was off to The Sink and a conglomeration of drinking establishments that saw us have a ball and a dance event. It’s what running around a college town is about. And when the night was down and the sun up, stories were shared, the game relived and brunch was had with the most dense number of attractive people I may have ever seen. Bravo, Highland Tap and Burger. The DJ was a heavy touch but the clientele made up for the noise. Good burger.

If I rode in your car, thanks for that.

As for the basketball, I’ll take the perspectives of two people. First, Tad Boyle. From his seat and in his shoes I’m torching that game tape. There’s nothing to look at and nothing to learn. An opposing team shot 60% in your house, there was poor effort, poor execution, and a general abandonment of the game plan. Address these items (defense on screens, 4 transition shots, general effort, etc.) and move along. No sense in dwelling.

Our second perspective shall be my own. I’ve already discussed some of the more impressive notes from Arizona’s game above and in yesterday’s review. Arizona’s tour d’force was an announcement of sorts but I was most impressed by the Wildcats’ bench. As I walked the upper loop, dismissing vitriolic requests of departure, I overheard rather valid commentary about CU’s position (down just 6) considering the half they’d just played. I mean, they’d started the game 0-14 from the field and to be down six was something of a miracle. Or at least a whistle. Because in a span of twenty game seconds, each of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (5:12), Kaleb Tarczewski (5:04), and Aaron Gordon (4:52) picked up their second fouls. The Buffs were down twelve and Arizona was left to a lineup with a local from Tucson (Matt Korcheck) and a kid named Pitts. Before you could say CUnit, Colorado had rattled off seven straight. Five point game. Arizona timeout

Gordon and Tarczewski wouldn’t play the rest of the half if memory serves me correctly but the Wildcats would give up no further real estate during that final 4:37 of the half. It was this critical juncture, a moment when the most hostile crowd was itching to blow the Keg’s roof off, when a multitude of infrequently used players responded to their coaches plea to defend and opportunistically score. They did, like a set up man getting the ball to Mariano, they weathered that storm. And when the closers came in – again, after it was requested I get the f*** out – well they only missed four more shots.

Of final note, a closing observation, I saw a familiar application in use in front of us about mid-second half. The game was getting out of hand but in this young patron’s hand was a phone and an app and photos and swipes. Yes, I witnessed in-game-Tindering and the most notable was a a photo peruse of what appeared to be rather attractive lady. Photo 1 seemed adequate so he sauntered to the second. Attractive women plus child. Right swipe. App closed. Back to the game.

For you, Boulder, I’d swipe right.

Boulder The Keg

 

Week 8 Pac-12 Hoops Preview

Is it just me or is the Wednesday slate absolutely packed? There’s four games and the worst match up is Washington @ Oregon. If that’s the worst game then I think we’ve got what experts and otherwise would call a good conglomerate-o-competition. Furthermore, I’m going to be attending two Pac-12 games this week in two different states and seeing four different teams. Put that on your Southwest credit card and charge it (please?). College Game Day is going to be in Boulder this weekend – as will I – and the weather forecast there isn’t freezing. Things are turning up Adam aside from the fact that my attendance at Wednesday’s UCLA @ Cal game is going to keep me from that mega slate-o-Pac. Alas, I’ll be doing a production behind the scenes report for Pacific Takes. Not entirely sure what it is, but it’s an experience. I like those.

GotW: Arizona at Colorado. I don’t care if there are sexier games or more important games or better attended games or what. I’m going to this game and I’m going to have one helluva time. It’s the game I’m missing my ex-girlfriend’s wedding for (mom, dad, and grandfolks are attending) and, quite frankly, it fits the aforementioned billing of all the items I just said I didn’t care if it was not. Colorado is fighting for the tournament lives but sit in a relatively good place while Arizona is coming into a very important phase of their re-development post-Ashley. Look at Colorado’s “turnaround.” It took them 4+ games to find a groove without Spencer and this Ski Trip for the Wildcats is games 4+ and 5+ without my favorite Wildcat. I’m also not about to toss in the caveat that this game’s significance wanes pending tonight’s results. No matter the case, Saturday is significant for all parties. And I’m going to party. By the way, congratulations are due to the ex. I’m happy for her and she found her kind of keeper if he’s willing to be wed during basketball season.

Game to Avoid: I’d say just ignore Thursday. That’s a little extreme but I imagine we’re going to be a little exhausted after Wednesday’s monster schedule. If you need a little breather, want to catch some ice dancing or the luge, I support you, Pac-12 fan. Plus, WSU @ OSU…tough. Let’s just say there’s a lot more red on that KenPom Game Prep page than green.

Something to Prove: Percy Allen of the Seattle Times jumped the UCLA Bruins into the top spot in his power rankings and I can’t begrudge him that. They’re the winners of three straight and in convincing fashion, Kyle Anderson is playing like the conference POY, and the Wear family is putting up career highs in offensive efficiency. Steve Alford has things clicking in Westwood but here’s this weekend’s catch: They’re not in Pauley. They’re hitting the Bay Area and I’m going to get a first hand (if not behind the scenes) look at them tonight in Berkeley. We’ve discussed at length how difficult it is to win on the road but that’s why the Bruins have such a great opportunity to prove themselves as contenders. This is chest thumping time, a come-at-me-bro moment. I maintain this team has top-15 talent they just haven’t passed any of their challenging tests (@Mizzou, semi-@Duke, vs. AZ). This is their weekend to ride the sweet momentum wave into a wildly easy final four games (did you shutter a little when I wrote “into a wildly easy final four?” they’re good but not yet that good).

Something to Lose: It’s my Wildcats and they stand to lose whatever mystique and aura they built over 21 straight wins. I know their trajectory got jolted with a now bolted foot, but this is still an insanely good defensive team. It’s a skill I’m quick to tell you travels but if your jump shot gets left at baggage claim or – even worse – doesn’t even make the trip, you’re going to struggle. Instant offense, the kind of scoring that comes from blindly giving the ball to the best kid, often becomes a critical piece in winning tight road games. Exhibit: Nick Johnson. In Arizona’s two losses – both of which came on the road and down to the wire – the supremely talented junior is a combined 6-34. That’s not going to cut it. Particularly without Brandon Ashley there to do what he was able to do late. Ashley was this team’s most skilled player but this, unfortunately, is no longer about Brandon. Nick is and always has been this teams leader. As they head into a very difficult home stretch, his team is going to need him to be that best kid to remind everyone else just how good they are.

The YouTouber: This is a 15-year-old song. I bet you know all the words, too:

Where They Affect the Game: Kyle Anderson

At this point in the season if you haven’t picked up on my new found fascination with shot location data then I should welcome you to the blog. Welcome! But as different shots hold different values, and different players different skill sets, I wanted to learn how and where different players are affecting a basketball game. This is the story of how I got to asking the question.

The transit between my first two BART stops on the way home from work gets no cellular reception. If I’m able to get a Twitter refresh before frantically boarding, it means I scour over the last few hours of tweets. That night I came across this:

In a further panic than the aforementioned refresh, I managed to email myself that tweet as it had piqued my interest. I then went home, ordered $45 of Indian food and watched Elysium with my brother. He passed out while I grabbed my laptop. I was setting out to answer Nieves’ question. Where does a specific player (Kyle Anderson in this case) most effectively and frequently affect a basketball game?

We first needed to know how often Kyle even had a chance to affect the game. One component of this would be to look at a player’s %poss or usage rate. This tells us how often a player is shooting, passing, turning over. It’s a great number but without context it just shows us where the ballhogs are (for better or worse). KenPom often marries usage with ORtg to see if players are being efficient with the possessions they get. It’s a far better marriage than anything Kardashian but not good enough for Neal’s answer.

I needed to know how much of Kyle’s usage was coming at the rim or otherwise. From the hoop-math, I can tell you Kyle’s FG%, percent of shots and assists at the rim, on 2-point jumpers, and from three. I could have told Neal some of these numbers and perhaps satisfied his question. But I wanted to answer it. I knew we’d have to marry up KenPom and hoop-math.

From Pomeroy we could capture Kyle’s possession data and from hoop-math his location data. Our first calculation was to understand how often he had the ball, uncovering how many possessions Kyle was involved in per game. It’s a complex stat but after consult of greater minds than my own, we agreed that the following would suffice in ball parking Kyle (or any player’s) individual possessions per game:

Individual Possessions/game = (team possessions per game)*(%min)*(%poss)

This is taking into account the total number of possessions a player’s team is getting per game, the percentage of minutes he’s on the floor for those possessions, and the percentage of possessions he’s involved in. With this number we understand approximately how many shots, assists, and turnovers Kyle is a part of. More visually:

Player Team PP % Min % Poss Poss/Game
Kyle Anderson 71.20 0.82 0.26 15.37
Slow-Mo gets the third most possessions per game amongst ‘participants’ in my initial study involving the Pac-12 elite (only Roberto Nelson and Jahii Carson were getting more touches per contest). With the knowledge of how often Anderson was doing something, it was time to discover where he was doing it.
Here is where I have to tell you that our final answer is going to be inexact. That’s ok, right? A study like this is a fun examination into that great middle ground between perception and reality. Without Synergy Sports I’m not soon going to look at all of Kyle’s possessions to discover how often he is indeed getting into the paint and scoring or dishing. But the perception is that he’s doing it often; it’s why Nieves asked the question and I imagine you’ve noticed it too because I know your team’s struggled to stop it. What we’re figuring out here is approximately how often Kyle Anderson is helping his team be successful from inside the arc. Kapeesh?

And so how often are those 15-ish possessions resulting in something around the rim?

Player % poss resulting in rim score % poss resulting in play at rim Success % at Rim
Kyle Anderson 33.57% 41.64% 80.63%

So more than 40% of the time Kyle Anderson is involved in a play, it results in something happening at the rim. And on 34.51% of Anderson’s possessions, someone in powder blue (Anderson or otherwise) is scoring at the rim. Stand alone numbers are rarely significant but let me tell you something: that’s significant. I’ve exhausted rim data on the blog but if the average FG% at the rim is 61% then it would seem to behoove your team to shoot there. Kyle Anderson ensure that it happens more than 40% of the time!It was the fourth highest percentage of possessions in the study but the third most scores at the rim per game (5.16) against the fifth most plays there (6.4).

And he’s not just flailing in there, diving recklessly into the paint with no where to go. Looking at the difference between his scores and plays at the rim (those last two numbers from the paragraph above), we find that 80.63% of his rim possessions are resulting in two for the blue. That’s the fourth best percentage amongst the guys I studied. By comparison, Jahii Carson has 40.06% of his possessions at the rim (shot taken or assist made) but only 62.05% of those result in a rim score (more on Carson later this week).

Here is the full table ranked by success at the rim:

Player % poss resulting in rim score % poss resulting in play at rim Success % at Rim
TJ McConnell 44.25 49.84 88.79
Nick Johnson 28.04 32.18 87.13
Delon Wright 50.65 61.23 82.71
Kyle Anderson 33.57 41.64 80.63
CJ Wilcox 21.80 27.25 80.00
Pe’Shon Howard 38.34 48.54 78.99
Nigel Williams-Goss 26.17 35.09 74.59
Askia Booker 29.00 38.95 74.45
Justin Cobbs 29.93 40.62 73.68
Brett Comer (2013) 51.18 72.47 70.63
Roberto Nelson 26.96 40.43 66.67
Chasson Randle 20.96 33.14 63.25
Jahii Carson 24.86 40.06 62.05

This is a ranking of effectiveness when making plays at rim (third column). The players chosen was essentially arbitrary and ad-hoc based on who I thought was driving and dishing. Email or tweet me if you want me to get your guy. There are infinite depths by which to dive further into this and I intend to do that on a team-by-team basis over the coming weeks. But above is a Pac-12 snap shot.

Oh, and you’ll notice Brett Comer. Brett was Andy Enfield’s Florida Gulf Coast point guard and I figured the leader of Dunk City would be an interesting study. Turns out I was right as he CRUSHES the Pac-12 guys in percentage of plays at the rim (72.47%). Anyhow, more on that later.

Back to your question, Neal. Kyle Anderson is creating a play at the rim 6.4 times per game and turning 5.16 of those into a score or assist. Only Delon Wright creates more scores at the rim and he’s a freak (7.08). But as the question asked about Kyle’s time in the paint, we could also include the two-point data. I was hesitant to do such considering that’s a much bigger and less effective shooting range. Plus, the Wear twins love shooting twos with their foot on the arc and ain’t nobody but evidently Kyle Anderson got time for that.

As it were, amongst those studied, he creates the second highest percentage of scores from 2-point range (3.92/game, 25.5% of his possessions). He’s the fourth most successful at converting these plays to points (54.75%). Once again, Anderson is setting his teammates up to be successful, but like I said, the two-point data doesn’t fully scratch the itch. The rimformation answers Nieves’ trigger question.

But to examine Anderson as a complete game affecting package, we had to see what he did in creating threes, too.

Anderson blows the rest of these players out of the water when it comes to effectively creating three pointers. Of his possessions that result in a trey,  78.95% of them are successful. Next best in conference is Jahii Carson’s 69.93% (which is why I believe he has such a low rim success rate but, again, more on him later). And this isn’t even a diluted stat. Anderson creates the second most three point scores per game (3).

So between the rim and three data, I’m drawn to three conclusions: 1) Kyle has a great ability to draw multiple defenders to himself, 2) he’s very adept at finding the man left or the hole created, and 3) his own shooting. Slow-Mo in an efficient 22-42 from distance this year and so he’s either shooting a good three or passing to one.

To summarize (again): 80% of Kyle Anderson possessions that result in a rim shot or three point shot go in the hoop. Kyle’s helping you help him.
Steve Alford Kyle AndersonWe’ve long known Anderson was a terrific basketball player and we’ve long called him a unique talent. As we said early on, this was a look at the balance between perception and reality. We assumed this about Kyle, we’ve proven this about Kyle. Only he and TJ McConnell rank in the top four of all three locations by way of success percentage and he’s the only one who is 6’9″ within that two-man subset. Unique to be certain.

I’m going to use this information to hopefully learn a little more – and share -about each of your teams. As I mentioned, I found the Dunk City stuff to be fascinating as well as the Jahii Carson stuff (Jahishalls are real). Stay tuned and thanks for reading through this 1567 word marathon.

The Valentine State’s Valentines Day

On this day of St. Valentine I have neither brilliance or wit for you. I’m simply going to rampage through bullet points of facts surrounding tonight’s Arizona- Arizona State game. Hooray love because I espouse lots of it in the subsequent bullets (a fitting organizational tool for such a game):

  • 95/110, 98/115 – These are the offensive efficiency numbers for Carrick Felix and Jermaine Marshall in their season without then with Jahii Carson
  • 2/14/1912 – Arizona becomes a state! The belief is that the name Arizona was derived from the O’odaham name alĭ ṣonak which meant “little spring.” This subsequently was Major League Baseball’s rationale for moving Spring Training to the Valentine State.
  • 36%/4.6/4.3/0/3 – That is Jordan Bachynski’s FG%, ppg, rpg, apg, and bpg against Kaleb Tarczewski. His normal numbers in the last two seasons? 59%, 10.7ppg, 7.2rpg, 0.3apg, 3.8bpg. Kaleb might own somebody?
  • Local Talent – Both Nick Johnson and Jahii Carson are from Phoenix. They grew up playing there together. They’ve faced off just once in Tempe. Johnson scored 19 points, Carson scored 22, and the Wildcats won by 17.
  • +55 – Point differential in Arizona’s favor across the last three Territorial Cup games
  • 2-7 – Herb Sendek’s record against Arizona since Sean Miller became the coach in Tucson
  • 13 vs 9 – ASU has more all-time tournament wins (13) than Arizona has Sweet-16 wins (9).
  • This

guys

WANE: On Cats, Wildcats, and Arizona Post-Ashley

A good friend of mine, who unfortunately does not get mentioned in this WANE, is both a Broncos fan and an Arizona basketball fan. He also lives in New York and went to the Super Bowl. Needless to say, Matt felt this was the worst sports weekend ever.

In this WANE we discuss how Arizona adjusts moving forward and Spencer has something of a pep talk at the tail end of it all. The Wildcats are going to be fine, don’t read message boards or ESPN comments, listen to WANE:

 

The Table:

0:00 – First musical intro. Thoughts?

0:54 – Spencer inadvertently admits that we recorded another WANE prior to this one.

0:58 – Positivity! “Let’s talk about things going forward!” And then Spencer shows some East Bay love to Elliot Pitts.

1:59 – Adam’s debut in this WANE and he drops the term “macro” and discusses Arizona’s program and Miller’s body of work. Also a complete WANE moment when he dives into Big 12 hoops. Big mistake. But who drops “macro” outside of a corporate office. Comeonman.

4:00 – A weird noise occurs.

4:20 – Aaron Gordon’s role seemingly moves from the three to the four where many think he’s best suited. He moves closer to the basket which could help him considering he’s 9-37 over the past three games.

5:25 – TJ McConnell the scorer?

6:40 – Some effusing on Brandon and how good he is and what a bummer not getting to play is including some awkward talk about things that get Adam sad.

8:45 – Team chemistry conversation. It’s referenced, but don’t go watch the Kevin Ware video.

10:19 – Adam egregiously butchers the names of two different Jewish sports journalists. It’s really effing brutal.

11:33 – A budding conversation on how Arizona is still the conference favorite. But different.

12:07 – Is Arizona still a national title contending team? (hint: Yes.)

14:07 – What direction do the Wildcats take from here? A discussion of Matt Korcheck.

15:20 – SHOUT OUT TO TUCSON’S SABINO HIGH SCHOOL (who I once beat, 7-2, with 10Ks)

15:56 – Are the reserves reserves because they’re not good, they’re just not as good, or what? They’re going to play now.

16:56 – Grant Jerrett?

17:29 – McDonald’s AA bragging.

17:49 – Smaller Cats: what’s that like and more Elliott Pitts, East Bay love.

19:04  – Another weird noise…

19:25 – Was the panic button tickled? An eventual PSA from WANE to not read the comments. Plus, Spencer with a phenomenal pop-culture analogy.

20:14 – The first mention of an actual game in the post-Ashley era. Adam wishes the Ducks good luck

22:36 – A STAT!

24:19 – ANOTHER AWESOME STAT!

24:47 – Spencer forgets his last point then goes on again about Pitts

25:26 – Public Service Announcement

25:29 – THE SPENCER B SMITH PEP TALK TO WILDCAT NATION!

Nine Astute Observations from the Pac-12’s First Half

1) Injuries f***ing suck – Jernard Jarreau, Aaron Bright, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Brandon Ashley. If I’m missing others I apologize but when the court is taken devoid these characters it sucks. The Dawgs miss JJ’s size as he projected to help their thin front court that’s become the Perris Blackwell show (I think Rain Man Jr. just got called for a foul). While Aaron Bright is missing out on creating something profoundly special with the same six guys he signed to play college with four years ago. That 2010 six-man class of Dawkins’ has been through quite a bit and it sucks Aaron Bright won’t be a part of their last hoorah. Schools, let alone Colorado, don’t often come across dynamic, 6’5″ point guards capable of taking a game over on either side of the ball. Spencer Dinwiddie was the centerpiece of a tour d’buff, sweeping the nation and conference by storm. And Brandon? Let’s just say I’m going to miss seeing him each night with that team. Injuries f***ing suck. Get well soon, gentlemen.

2) Transfers kinda work – Jermaine Marshall is raining Jahishalls in Tempe. The transfer from Penn State is scoring 15.3ppg and hitting 48% of his threes – 91.2% of which are assisted (presumably by Jahii Carson). Just south, in Tucson, TJ McConnell is being called the most important piece of the #2 team in the country. In ski country, Delon Wright is quickly becoming recognized as one of the best players in the conference. He’s a guard taking 60% of his shots at the rim and making 75% of them. That’s nuts. His line reads like this: 16/7/5. And then there’s Transfer U. Individually, each of Oregon’s transfers (Moser, Young, Calliste, Amardi) are having fine seasons. But as a collective (along with the rest of the Ducks) things have been…better? Since entering the calendar year, Dana’s team is 3-6 and barely looked that good. This past weekend, Dana defended his use of transfers (ironic word choice!). Basketball is indeed a team sport and with such there are strong components of unity and other teamly terms. Oregon has some great talent, but does that make a great team? Nine more games.

3) If you want to play fast you still can go to UCLA – By now we’re all familiar with Andy Enfield’s line from earlier this year lauding his lolly-gagging Trojans to “go to UCLA if you want to play slow.” Well now, halfway through conference play and twenty-plus games into the season, here are the many ways UCLA is outpacing USC:

UCLA USC
Tempo 71.9 70.4
Avg Poss Length 15.1 15.8
% Shots in Transition 28.90% 25.40%
Head-to-head 107 73

The Battle of Los Angeles reignites Saturday in the Galen Center. Put your seatbelt on.

4) Parity? Mediocrity? No, it’s gotta be parity – We began the first weeks of Pac-12 play and had four teams ranked in the top-25. Sure, not at once, but between two separate poll releases, each of Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, and UCLA were ranked. This is far from the end-all-be-all barometer, but just a few weeks removed, Oregon is in ninth place, UCLA holds a loss to Oregon State, and Colorado is still learning it’s way through the post-Dinwiddie era. Even Arizona just lost Brandon Ashley. Further, the third place Cal Bears hold a win over Arizona (KenPom #1) and a loss to USC (KenPom #130). The results are unexpected and the games great. Amongst conferences, the Pac-12 ranks as having the 4th fewest blowout losses. I think that’s something to cheer?

5) (non) Shooting guards – With all these guards you might suspect they’d be taking a bunch of threes. After all, this is college basketball, it’s a high value shot, and guards love to shoot. Not the case. As a conference, the Pac-12 ranks 32nd of 33 in the percentage of threes they take. Just 29.1% of Pac-12 shots are taken from distance. That’s a conference with guys like CJ Wilcox, Chasson Randle, Roberto Nelson, Jordan Adams, and Jahii Carson. The average percentage of shots from downtown is 32.3%. When Pac teams are shooting from distance, they’re doing a decent job of making them, too. Their collective 35.2% 3FG% ranks 15th amongst conferences. The average 3FG% is 34.3%. It’s something of a most interesting man situation: We don’t often shoot threes, but when we do, we make a slightly above average amount of them. But what I find really odd is that while it would seem there is a concerted effort to not shoot threes, the Pac ranks 26th amongst the 33 conferences in 2pt FG%. WTF, guys? You’re passing on threes to miss twos? There’s no doubt something to be said about defense in here but as far as observations go, this was interesting.

6) But wait…there’s more – Those guards are really good. Thirteen of the top 15 scorers in the conference are guards. Fifteen of the top-25 ORtgs in the Pac-12 are guards. Furthermore, the All-Conference team is likely to not include a few of these guys: Roberto Nelson, TJ McConnell, Nigel Williams-Goss, Chasson Randle, Justin Cobbs, CJ Wilcox, Askia Booker, or Delon Wright. Hell, even Jordan Adams could get squeezed by his own teammate, Kyle Anderson (serious POY candidate).

7) Tweet! Whistle! Tweettweet! – The first thing addressed at Pac-12 media day was college basketball’s new rules. That we’d hear more whistles and see more free throws. It was a concerted effort to make the following chart look the way that it does:

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 11.04.41 PM

See that progressive, 18-year downward trend in scoring? The NCAA wanted to do away with it and it appears they have. Here’s how it’s looking in the Pac-12:

  • Efficiency – Up 2.9 points per 100 possessions as teams are getting more points per possessions due to more FTs and more possessions (I’ll prove that later)
  • Tempo – Up 2.1% or 1.4 possessions per game as possession length is shortening on the whole and thus leading to more frequent possessions (trust me on that stat, I just don’t have it for the whole conference)
  • TO% – Down 3.7% as more turnovers are turning into, say, fouls? Which leads us to…
  • ST% – Down 5.3% because, same as above, that bit of extra contact isn’t two the other way as often as it’s two for free
  • FTrate – Up 18.6% to 32.5%. This is arguably the most obvious factor as everything listed above is pointing towards this very increase
  • FT% –  Up 2.2% which I just think is kind of funny considering there are so many more free throws being taken and everyone is now shooting them better. Well done kids.

8) Defense Travels – This title is a little misleading because the Pac-12 is one of the worst road conferences out there. Optimistically said, it appears Pac-12 teams enjoy the greatest home court advantage because they’re winning 68.5% of those games. Now defense leads this observation point because if we look down two lists – the conference rankings by record and by defensive efficiency – we find:

By Record By Defensive Efficiency
Arizona Arizona
UCLA UCLA
Cal ASU
ASU Cal
Stanford Utah
Colorado Stan
Oregon State Colorado
Washington Oregon
Oregon Washington
Utah Oregon State
WSU WSU
USC USC

On this list, only Oregon State and Utah differ by one ranking or less. My takeaway? Defense is pretty telling. And here’s what to make of Oregon State being in three spots ahead of their defensive efficiency and Utah five spots below. OSU: has played just four road games and one of those included Washington State. They’ve essentially pulled a “Ducks” and have managed to ride first half’s most efficient offense (108.7) to their 5-4 mark. Utah: now ranks as the 350th luckiest team in the nation. That’s the 2nd most unlucky squad and basically means they exceed expectations but not enough to get a win. I keep citing this for the Utes and what it’s ultimately going to explain is a TOP-4 FINISH IN-CONFERENCE NEXT SEASON. Boom you heard it hear first. Shall I say it again? Utah will finish amongst the top-4 teams in the 2014-15 Pac-12 and return to the NCAA tournament. But for now they’re in tenth place.

9) Nine – That’s how many games to this…and embedding this video marks the triumphant return of Husky Cheerleader Hair Toss (absolutely no pun) to the blog. Welcome back!