[quote="UncleLar, post:11, topic:1483"]We won against NW because our offense scored 81 and 79 points in our two games against them (our two highest Big Ten point totals of the season - not counting the 81 in OT against Wisconsin). In the two games against us, NW shot a total of 57 threes making 22 of them. That's slightly more shots per game (28.5) and a higher shooting percentage (38.6%) than their averages (26.1 and 35.7%). But we suddenly shot lights out - 56.3% in Evanston, 57.1% in State College. That's why we won. It had nothing to do with an imagined shutting down of NW's three point offense.[/quote]
But lar, that’s not the point!
It’s not the point. This is what I mean about stats. Shot lights out? In the game at Evanston, AJ, DJ and Brooks had 42 points and 16 rebounds vs. 35 and 7 for NW’s 3 starting frontline players. Is that really shooting lights out, or is that dominating inside? If that’s not dominating inside, can you give me a single game last year, just one(maybe Sacred Heart) where DJ, AJ and Brooks outscored Battle, Frazier and Babb? How about another game where those 3 had 16 rebounds? We killed NW inside, which opened up the outside. 42 points by the big 3(about double their averages), 39 points from everybody else(and Ott and Sasa had 5 of those 39). That’s shooting lights out? 47 points from the front line? The front line hit two treys out of those 47. In the game at PSU, the same front line outscored NW’s 24 to 12. How often did PSU’s front line outscore other team’s front lines? In the Big 10, since Cornley left, it’s a good bet that it never happened. Vs. teams like VTech and Temple, both of who have an enforcer named Allen(both a whopping 6’7") our bigs don’t go inside, and the arc gets crowded and shut down by their extended defenses. You think our 6’8" and 6’9" guys would take it in vs. them, use their size and maybe send them to the bench with fouls, but not, go to the arc. So, we shoot poorly and that’s blamed, but what’s the alternative? There’s nobody inside to catch a pass, so treys get launched from close to halfcourt. PSU can’t extend the defenses as well, as there hasn’t been a defensive enforcer inside. VTech and Temple don’t give up treys due to inside D. We give them up because of a lack of that. Battle, Frazier and Babb could cover the arc, but they were collapsing all game(s) to help out.
I bet if Lehigh hits treys tonight it will be after kickouts. And if Knutsen has his way inside, we’ll get killed by treys. I think we’ll be alright, but it will come because of our inside D, IMO. And our inside scoring, at least relative to Lehigh’s.
But you are missing the point. We got lucky against NW because our offense exceeded their reach and played lights out. We can’t expect that to happen on a regular basis, they just aren’t that talented. What we can do is address our defensive deficiencies. In the long run, that’s what will win more games.
I have to take off for the men’s soccer game so this is my last post before the game but here’s a little piece that I wrote earlier.
Some noteworthy UncleLar Hoops FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
- As bad as last season was, did Penn State do anything well?
Yes. PSU was the #1 defensive rebounding team in the country last year (see Ken Pomeroy) grabbing defensive boards at an amazing 73.7% rate.
The preferred (by stat junkies), but non standard, way to measure rebounding is what percentage of available rebounds do you grab. When you are on defense, you want to grab more than 2/3 (66.6%) of the rebounds available (rebounds available on defense being your defensive rebounds plus your opponents offensive rebounds). On offense, your target number is 1/3 (33.3%) of the available boards (in this case the available boards are your offensive boards plus your opponents defensive boards). The quick and dirty way to see if you are doing well is to make sure that you have at least twice as many defensive board as your oppnents offensive boards (your defensive percentage) and more than half as many offensive boards as your opponents defensive boards (your offensive percentage). The traditional way of comparing boards is your defensive boards vs your opponents defensive boards (and offensive vs offensive) but those numbers can be very much skewed if one team misses a more shots than the other. Comparing your defensive boards against your opponents offensive boards is a better way of doing it because both teams are fighting for the same ball. The team that beats the national average, i.e. 67% on defense, 33% on offense, is the team that is winning the rebound battle.
- How can PSU be that good a rebounding team? I constantly hear their front line (Brooks, Jones, Jackson) being criticized for being out rebounded by Talor Battle. They can’t be good rebounders.
First of all, Talor Battle’s rebounding numbers are skewed by the number of minutes he plays. Yes, he grabs more boards than the aforementioned three but he’s on the floor for many more minutes than they are so he has many more opportunities to get a rebound.
On a rebound per minute basis, here’s where Penn State’s regulars (players with more than 100 minutes) stood last year.
Talor Battle is right were you would expect him to be - behind all the front court players. The reason that he has more boards than the other guys is because he’s playing more minutes than they are.
Having said that, Battle’s rpm average is very high for a guard. His rebounding is what turns Penn State from just a good defensive rebounding team into a great defensive rebounding team. He also might be the reason that we are only an average offensive rebounding team. His defensive responsibilities don’t allow him to crash the offensive boards like he can on the defensive end.
BTW. Penn State’s defensive rebounding didn’t come about by fattening up their numbers against non conference opponents either. They continued to rebound at that high rate during conference play too.
- I thought defense was one of our weaknesses last year. Are you telling me it’s a strength?
No, definitely not. While PSU did a fantastic job of holding our opponents to just one shot, there were some real defensive problems, the first of which was that opponents got that shot off far too many times. We were 339th out of 347 schools in forcing our opponents into a turnover (and next to last among major programs topping only Notre Dame). On average, teams force opponents to turn the ball over about 20% of the time. Penn State forced turnovers at a 16.2% rate, In other words, teams turn the ball over on average 1 out of every 5 possessions. Unless they are playing Penn State, in which case they only turn the ball over one out of every 6 possessions. That pretty much means that one out of every five times down the floor, we let our opponents have an extra possession. We didn’t try to steal the ball (ranking 329th in steals) nor did we try to block the ball (also ranking 329th in blocks). It’s almost like we said, go ahead and take the shot because we’re going to get the ball when you miss.
Another defensive anomoly can be uncovered by looking at the type of shots that our opponents took. We seem to encourage opponents to take a three pointer against us. On average 38.2% of our opponents shots were three point shots. That ranked us 319th in the country. Forcing an opponent to take a three point shot can be a defensive strength because they are harder to make than twos. Encouraging them to take a shot by leaving them open for one though is not a strength. Penn State appeared to fall in the latter category, because not only were opponents taking a lot of threes, they were making a lot too. Opponents shot 36.3% against us from behind the arc. That was 275th in the country - not good at all. Letting opponents take and make a lot of threes is a bad combination.
Perhaps Talor and the other guards were too preoccupied with rebounding the ball to put pressure on the opponents’ guards out by the three point line. Something has to change there for PSU to be successful this year.
And that something better start changing with the Lehigh game because Lehigh has the perfect guy to exploit PSU’s three point weakness - C.J. McCollum.
McCollum is a 6’3" shooting guard who was the country’s leading freshman per game scorer averaging 19.1 ppg (outscoring even Kentucky’s heralded John Wall who averaged just 16.6). McCollum did it by being a superior three point shooting averaging 42.1% beyond the arc. Lehigh, as a team, shot 40% from beyond the arc. That was good enough to rank 9th in the country in three point shooting percentage.
If Penn State plays defense like they did last year and doesn’t pressure the three point line, Lehigh could shoot the lights out at the BJC and easily ruin Penn State’s opener. It will be interest to see how PSU plans to go about stopping McCollum, who was both the Patriot League’s Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year. Freshman Taron Buie has the on ball skills to challenge McCollum but Lehigh is great at setting screens for their gunners. Freshmen defensive deficiencies often show up in the off the ball play and Buie might not be up to the task of defending McCollum off the ball.
As a D1 major program, PSU should be the better team but Lehigh’s game matches up well against PSU so this game could be a difficult one for the Lions.
The net of it all is that if we expect to have a winning season this year we better do it by concentrating on our deficiencies, i.e. steals, blocks, forcing turnovers, three point defense, etc. (those areas where we are among the very worst in the country) not by our expecting our offense to rise to any extraordinary levels.