Archive for the ‘number crunchings’ Category

Keep the eyes moving all summer: link dump!

August 11, 2009 2 comments

What I’m reading these days:

While you try to figure out why teens are not tweeting; why passengers were stuck on an airplane for a full night on the tarmac; why in heaven’s name Kathy Griffin was at the teen choice awards, and why with Levi Johnston (you may know him from the Palin Family Values campaign tour); why Nancy Grace is writing a fictional book Chevy Volt imageabout… herself.

Or maybe you’re fixated on why “town hall” meetings have not only erupted into (planted) shouting matches, but now include anti-health care reform icons who need to solicit donations for their own health insurance costs, while Sarah Palin is channeling the best of Phyllis Schlafly… as Chuck Norris is ANGRY about lengthy LOGICAL LEAPS he has MADE from a few words of a document?!!

We live in a ridiculously partisan country. And celebrities are selfish, Ayn Rand-loving morons.

I am wondering how someone came up with the idea of a hand cream against sex trafficking… I think it was intentional. And the Chevy Volt’s “230 miles per gallon” number may be a bit exaggerated, dependent on where/ how far you are driving. Still, it may be time to go get your hybrid on. Please enjoy a “what Pico is reading” update, and a picture of Party Down’s Lizzy Caplan looking skeptical below. My wife doesn’t think she’s very cute, I disagree.

Lizzy CaplanBut this is a sports blog, and I am following a few other blog for sports news; I will be returning to the 2008-2009 player in review posts for St. John’s basketball. Technical difficulties got in the way. So to pass time in the slow part of the summer for college basketball fans, I’m checking out…

star iconMLB’s online baseball package… soon coming to the Roku, which I own.

star iconRush the Court‘s “Teams of the 2000s” series, starting with #10, Maryland and #9, Syracuse. I wish I could have convinced people to use the term “the naughty Aughts” for the “zeros” or the “first decade,” but I gave up my crusade in about March of 2000.

star iconVegas Watch is doing a series of ratings/ previews based on Pomeroy’s Pythagorean winning percentage in 2009, returning minutes, and returning points, starting with the ACC.

star iconVillanova By the Numbers is taking a Big East-wide look at returning minutes broken down by returning minutes by year and last year’s Pythagorean winning percentage.

star iconFrom – who do you think are the best basketball tacticians? I like Matt Painter in this list. And what is the best team outside of the Big 6 conferences?

star iconFrom Welsh-Ryan Ramblings, what does need to happen for the perception of Northwestern basketball to change?

star iconCollege Chalk Talk is assessing the team by team losses in the Atlantic 10: Part I and Part II.

star iconGary Williams speaks to Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News. He is aiming at the ACC title next season (every coach is, that’s a non-story), and talks about his incoming size (Jordan Williams and James Padgett) and the criticism he received last year.

star iconNBE Basketball has started a brilliant staff support series, with interviews with the assistant coaches who do some heavy lifting in near-anonymity.

Also: the Big East is looking to eliminate the double-byes from the conference tournament, instead pitting the #1-4 teams against the 13-16 squads… Linas Kleiza, former Mizzou Tiger, signed with Greek team Olympiakos instead of taking the Denver Nuggets‘ qualifying offer… Jamie Dixon and Pitt got a transfer from Centenary College who is eligible to play point guard this year due to Centenary’s dropping down to Division III… former Knick GM, coach, and pariah Isiah Thomas got a big-time recruit to commit to Florida International… and USC‘s football team breaks into song in a meeting:

Top Ten Conferences’ RPI as of Feb 04 – A Look at Median RPI

February 4, 2009 1 comment

The median measure of numbers gives a truer understanding of the average; it’s less skewed by spectacularly good or spectacularly bad results. And so, while skimming work and thinking about cookies, I put together a spreadsheet and chart on how top heavy some conferences are.

I was thinking about the disparity between the better teams in the Big East and the lower level teams and expanded to the top ten leagues by RPI. Are they all this top heavy? The top of the league has great teams (though how Georgetown’s RPI is 19 is curious to me). Some conferences have a couple of really good teams at top, and some dogs at the bottom.

So I played with some numbers and created some measures to look at disparity within the conference; not just the difference between #1 and the rear, but the difference between the top half of the league and the bottom half. Obviously, leagues like Conference USA and the Atlantic 10 have a single monster team and a bunch of middle-pack, hoping-to-get-to-the-dance squads. These measures are better for conferences with more top teams.

Original spreadsheet here.

So far this year, the basketball conferences with weak sisters at the bottom are Conference USA and the Atlantic 10. Though of the “Power Conferences” or the “BCS Conferences,” the Big East has the weakest bottom half, with a median RPI of 119; the next closest is the SEC at 110, who also have a low top-half RPI – their conference is more even. The Big Ten’s bottom half is the strongest of these ten leagues.

And apparently, the ACC is better than the Big East.

RPI Top Half
RPI Bottom Half
Big East
Big Ten
Big 12
Pac 10
Mountain West
Missouri Valley

I used the difference between the conference’s median RPI and average RPI (median – average, as of 02/04/09, taken from to measure what kind of effect the lower-level teams have on the league’s overall ranking. In all cases the median number was higher – lower ranked teams bring down the average. Conversely, higher ranked teams bring up the median. You can use this measure to either say “the ACC is really tough this year – Georgia Tech is the poorest team by RPI, but they’re not the easy out DePaul is!”, or you can say, “maybe Memphis isn’t that good, they get to slap around the Southern Methodists of the world!”

It’s your call.

Click on image below for larger version.

top heavy conferences

St John’s 07-08 Year In Review Part II-Malik Boothe

April 3, 2008 7 comments

Part 0 of the Series – Opening. | Part I of the Series: Team stats.

Malik Boothe

(stats taken from, Statsheet, Ken Pomeroy’s Basketball Prospectus, and my own calculations)

2007-2008: Freshman
Position: Point Guard
Height: 5-9
Weight: 185 lbs
Age: 18 (04/30/1989)
Home: Rosedale, NY

High Points 11 (USF)
High Assists 10 (USF)
High Rebounds 5 (Duke)
High Minutes 37 (Prov)
High Steals 3 (Conn)

MalikMalik Boothe Boothe. Rosedale on the map! as Flavor Flav once said. Being from Rosedale/ Southeast Queens myself, it’s good to see Boothe’s tough as nails, little man point guard in the red and white. He’s well after my time, but there’s still some pride. Boothe was brought in by Coach Norm Roberts (from nearby Laurelton, as Anthony Mason’s father was) to be the point guard recruit he’s always wanted.

And most would say, “needed.” St. John’s has had 4 years of Eugene Lawrence with Daryll “Showtime” Hill moments, when he wasn’t injured; the commitment and de-commitment from Doug Wiggins, Derwin Kitchen’s ineligibility, and pretty much no one else to handle the ball. The results have been a molasses slow kind of basketball filled with turnovers in all flavors and terrible overall offensive efficiency.

Coming out of Christ the King, Malik Boothe was known as a jet-quick guard, a good passer, solid and strong defender, with deficient height and a questionable jump shot. All of these are true. In fact, the analysis is too true. Boothe’s shot is terrible. It doesn’t look bad, but that jumper doesn’t fall into the hoop. Especially from the outside. He shot 16% from beyond the arc all year. 13% in conference.

These weren’t contested shots; these were wide-open “should I take it?” kind of shots. They went clang clang clang like a bell. That’s extremely poor. Obviously, this needs to improve; he doesn’t have to be a bomber from outside (and it would be to his detriment if he was a score-first point guard), but damn, he can’t be like Chris Dudley.

His shooting was also weak inside the arc: 36.8% overall, but he improved from 32% in non-conference to 39.5% in conference. That’s still weak, but shows signs of learning. What’s more, Boothe snaked his way into the lane and drew fouls at a decent clip. As far as being a credible offensive threat—and he needs to be if he is going to be a successful (and starting) point guard—this may be a saving grace.

Boothe needs to develop a runner in the lane. He has the quickness to slice into defenses and probe, to draw defenders away from their primary man. If he is also a threat to hit a runner from 15 feet or so in, shot blockers will have to come out on him, freeing up lanes for passes to Burrell and other inside/ slashing players.

The other aspect of Malik’s game aren’t perfect, of course. Boothe has to improve his handle and ball control, even if he looked miles better than other ball-handlers that have graced Carenesecca Arena and Madison Square Garden for St. John’s basketball. And he fouls a bit more than one would like from a physical, lock-down defender—he plays his man perhaps too close, and yet doesn’t generate steals, so he might give the other player a half step of room Boothe can slap at any sloppy dribble. Or, Boothe needs to make his in-your-jock defense work better. Malik also better work on his endurance in the weight room; his back up, right now is… thin air, a mystery recruit, and wishes and dreams.

More stats after the jump.

Read more…

St John’s 07-08 Year In Review Part I-Team Stats

March 31, 2008 11 comments

I spent much time watching the St. John’s men’s basketball team lose this year. I saw them lose on ESPN. I heard them lose on the radio. I missed much of a game and caught up with the losing via box score. I read about the losing on the message boards. I saw name calling on the message boards. I read about the losing in all the local papers, and when the team caught a note nationally, it was about… you guessed! Losing.

It’s tough to watch a team with little hope. But at least I couldn’t make it to the Notre Dame game from here in Chicago. Next year I’ll probably con myself into seeing the team live at DePaul, and maybe at Marquette. I know I shouldn’t, but I cannot turn away.
St John's loses again

So let’s look at some numbers from Ken Pomeroy’s stat page on St. John’s. For the individual player stats, coming this week, I will borrow from Stat Sheet’s information and my own calculations for the individual player stats to profile the team. But for now, the aggregates.

On offense, I’ve taken:

3Pt FG% – isolated 3 point shooting
2Pt FG% – isolated 2 point shooting
3PA/FGA – 3 point FGs as a percentage of all shots
A/FGM – assists as a percentage of all shots/ what percentage of shots are assisted.

And also from Dean Oliver’s 4 factors (more on them here):

Effective Field Goal Percentage (EFG%), which is field goal percentage with an extra point added for each field goal made (FG% allowed for defensive metrics);
Turnover Percentage (TO%), the percent of possessions that end in a turnover (on defense it’s based on how many turnovers are forced);
Offensive Rebound % (OR%), the percentage of possible offensive rebounds a team gets (or allows, on defense);
and Free Throw Rate (FT Rate), which is number of Free Throw Attempts per 100 shot attempts (for individual stats, this will be a little different).

I could have taken steals and shots blocked—on both offense and defense—into account, but both are accounted for in TO% and FG%, respectively. Here are the team-wide numbers for the aforementioned stats (08), compared to last year’s team (07), and the median numbers/ middle value (Med) for all of Norm Roberts’ years as coach (2004-05 to 2008). Underneath each number is the team’s rank among all Division I teams (now 341). And no, those triple digit numbers are not good, generally, on offense or defense. They don’t all need to be double-digits but this is not, statistically, a way to win.

First, Field goals and assists:




3P FG% 33.3 34.2 32.3 3P FG% 34.3 33.8 34.1
2P FG% 44.1 45.0 45.6 2P FG% 48.6 45.3 45.9
3PA/FGA 29.0 38.0 26.8 3PA/FGA 31.6 34.4 33.2
A/FGM 52.8 61.4 56.3 A/FGM 53.3 56.0 56.3

And the corresponding national ranks:



3P FG% 244 192 264 3P FG% 123 115 119
2P FG% 306 289 264 2P FG% 183 54 75
3PA/FGA 289 84 304 3PA/FGA 86 178 157
A/FGM 217 44 146 A/FGM 124 189 191

The upshot here is that:

– The 2008 team shot 2-pointers worse than they did in previous years, but not worse than the median result of the Norm Roberts era. On one hand means that they’ll probably get better, but on the other hand points out how the offense has just never been very good, and the best offensive team skewed more heavily to the three-point shot thanks to Avery Patterson; there haven’t been dominant/ efficient inside presences in an offensive style that seems to want to be an inside-out attack.

– Defensively, that 2 point field goal allowed number is just atrocious. And teams shot a lot more twos than threes against the Red Storm. There were open baseline lanes a few times a contest, with Big East players too good to pass up the chance for better offensive position, interior passing, easy dunks, “and-1” opportunities. The interior defense was straight garbage, and the players who manned the center and post – Coker, Evans, Burrell, Jasiulionis along with Mason, who let players drive by him like Menace II Society – are all to blame. The players on the perimeter had their lapses, but they were less glaring than the destruction at the hoop.

– The team shot worse on three-pointers, also, but shot far fewer. In particular, there are some possibly encouraging results that will be covered in the individual team profiles of Kennedy and Horne, and an interesting result from looking at Eugene Lawrence’s 4-year career.

– There were fewer assists for each field goal, which might speak to poor ball movement/ individual play, but also to guys who are not (yet?) adept shot-makers; Malik Boothe was making passes, and his inconsistent assist numbers may be because of different defenses, or plays not making shots.

As for the offensive rebounding rate, Effective Field Goal percentage, turnovers, and Free Throw Rate:




EFG% 45.8 47.4 46.3 EFG% 49.5 47.1 47.7
TO Pct. 22.6 21.5 23.2 TO Pct. 21.7 19.9 21.0
Off. Rb% 33.2 32.1 35.5 Off. Rb% 31.6 35.6 33.2
FT Rate 23.2 24.9 23.8 FT Rate 40.3 33.1 39.2

And their corresponding national ranks:




EFG% 313 259 292 EFG% 152 57 83
TO Pct. 265 185 273 TO Pct. 136 235 183
Off. Rb% 156 219 92 Off. Rb% 115 269 190
FT Rate 240 177 215 FT Rate 248 97 223

– The Red Storm turned the ball over more. Again, not more than the median St. John’s team of the Norm Roberts era, but every year, the handling, playmaking, anticipation, and passing is sloppy. Turnovers can be worked on with practice, extreme offenders can be benched, and offensive players can become competent non-turnover machines, especially in a slower offense… so the turnovers year after year are very worrisome. Of note is that St. John’s played a tick faster this year, which might contribute to higher turnover percentages… but I doubt it.

– The Johnnies allowed fewer offensive rebounds (good work, team). The opponents’ throw down dunks and easy shots (so no offensive rebound opportunity) might play into this figure, but the team played decently on the boards. Kennedy was integral to the teams work on their own offensive glass; and Sean Evans put up a solid effort there also, but could gain himself more playing time by increasing his offensive rebounding rate. And if Coker can stay on the court and clean the glass, which he may have some tendency to do, the team will be in even better shape.

Coker after a foul– The free throw rate, again, measures how often a team gets to the line. Note how in 2007, the Red Storm got to the line at a higher clip than their opponents did; but in other years, this was less true. Defensively, the Red Storm sent opposing players to the line to pad their stats a LOT, and a few guys (Dele Coker, in particular) couldn’t last a 5-foul game on defense. Players were often out of position in the post, and it showed; and some guys need to stay on their feet. And on offense, it’s not good that the two players with the highest rate of free throw attempts shot free throws woefully, at 35 and 44%.

All of that makes the offense, overall, worse than all but the bottom of the Division I teams… and the clownishly worse Rutgers Scarlet Knights, who are badly in need of a pass-first point guard. On defense, the team slipped, but they’re still a better defensive team. And St. John’s is better than Rutgers in some aspects, but worse in FG% allowed.

“Better” doesn’t mean “good;” last year’s 16-15, senior-laden team was the best squad of Norm Roberts’ era, though defensively not as good as the 2006 squad who made each game a ridiculous dogfight. With that defense and a credible offense, St. John’s could be competitive, but still not a world beater.

The “youth” excuse pops up from time to time, and certainly, there is a lack of poise that happens with young players. Young players hit the wall early and have to drag themselves through part of conference season. It is a grind. But you can check this list – with respect the the ages of the players who spend the most time on the court, Syracuse and Florida are younger, Purdue is about as young. Also younger are Arizona State and Wake Forest. Those teams have more highly touted talents, for sure. But St. John’s is going to be just as young with Eugene Lawrence’s graduation, and youth simply will not be an excuse.

It’s not unreasonable to think that Coach Roberts can get the defense up to a decent shot-suppressing level. Strong improvements on offense, however, will be a real test of the coaching staff’s teaching acumen.