Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Statistical Snapshot of the Basketball team: Take 2

Earlier in the year I looked at the basketball team's basic Kenpom stats. My belief was that the team was better than its start and that we would be competitive late in the season. With only a few games left, it is time to ask if BC has improved and if we are better than our record.


In December our offense was 254th. Things have actually gotten worse. Our adjusted offense is now 288th. As we played better teams and better defenses, we had more trouble scoring. Part of this was rebounding and part was BC's inconsistency from 3. Given Donahue's track record for offense and his success with offense last year, I am disappointed that we have not improved offensively. The final three games gives BC a chance to improve the numbers, but not dramatically.


The defense tells a much better story. In December we were ranked 296th in adjusted defense. We are now 198th in adjusted defense. There are multiple factors in the improved defense. We've been better in transition and generated a good amount of turnovers. BC has also helped limit possessions with decent defensive rebounding. The improvement wasn't enough to help us win games, but the improvement should be noted.


Donahue has positioned this season as a learning experience. If you watch him during the games, it is obvious that he is trying to win, but he is also trying to teach these guys how to play together and play his way. These final three games need to be a different type of learning experience. Donahue needs to win two out of three. Not to win over BC fans, but to build confidence in his players as they head into their second season together.

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18 Comments:

At 8:51 AM, Blogger mod10aeagle said...

I think it's impossible to overstate how utterly "out of their league" a team of mid-tier freshmen is in D1 and in the ACC in particular. This is essentially a high school all-star team playing against top-100 college teams. Any expectations beyond "learning a lot" would have been delusional.

I think this group and their coaching staff did learn a lot this season, and I'm actually optimistic and looking forward to next year and especially the year after that. Coach D is rebuilding a program that had slid into decay for few years. A little patience will be rewarded, I believe.

 
At 9:39 AM, Blogger Galvin said...

I think that's a great comment, and in my frustrations with the losses, I often failed to remember that. They do play hard and I think Donahue is going to build something special with these guys.

 
At 9:53 AM, Blogger @timstwrt said...

The program had not "slid into decay." That's demonstrably untrue. We were in the Tournament three years ago, and would have been last year if not for the defections after the coaching change. If we're going to examine Kenpom stats, the adjusted offensive and defensive rankings during Skinner's final season of "decay" were 49 and 82, respectively.

I continue to be baffled by the fact that everyone wants Gene D's head because of the state of the football program and somehow he and Donahue get a pass. I guess it's because Donahue yells a lot during games, which people apparently equate with coaching.

How long a leash does Donahue get? If this team isn't in the top 4 in the ACC and a 6 or better seed in the Tournament two years from now, we're going to be in the same cycle that football's in right now and he should be fired.

 
At 11:27 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

First of all, I never had high expectations for this year. There's just too much youth on our team. Next year, we really need to see demonstrable improvement though.

@timstwrt: I don't see how you can compare Donahue and Spaz. Spaz is a horrible head coach, who routinely gives up before halftime and exudes hopelessness. The teams has gotten worse every year that he's been in charge, and he has no excuses! These are his kids and his coaches! He's been a part of this program for over a decade. The player and coach defections that continue every year can only be laid at his feet. Donahue, on the other hand, is finishing up his first year with "his" players. Since they were almost all freshmen, we couldn't expect much. He does need to show constant improvement over the next two years though.

 
At 11:39 AM, Blogger mod10aeagle said...

Obviously, we have different perceptions of the end of the Skinner era. I found his teams in the last few years about as exciting to watch as the Kenpom stats or a festering sore.

I don't know just how long a leash Donahue should get but I do think he'll need to be sniffing at top 4 in the ACC in two years to be able to step up the quality of recruits he'll be able to sign, which is what sustains a program. The idea that he should be fired if we're not a 6 seed in the Tournament two years from now is preposterous. The guy started with a gutted program.

 
At 12:14 PM, Blogger @timstwrt said...

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At 12:15 PM, Blogger @timstwrt said...

Your perception is seemingly based on some standard of personal excitement to the exclusion of "statistics" and "facts."

To call the team that Donahue took over "gutted" is completely divorced from reality. He had an NBA first round pick, Rakim Sanders (currently having a terrific year at Fairfield), and two guys who are solid rotation players at top 15 schools this year (Heslip/Ravenel).

Let's say that Skinner needed to be fired because you don't like the flex offense and recruiting had taken a step back when Cooley left. I would disagree, but fine. Shouldn't Donahue have done everything possible to keep the talent he had? The cupboard wasn't bare, and the program wasn't gutted. Donahue tore it down to rebuild in his style. Which is certainly his prerogative. But when do we start judging him by a normal standard?

People need to stop grading this guy on a curve. He didn't start out with nothing, he decided that tearing it down was his best approach. Do we have to wait eight years to have a good Steve Donahue team, like Cornell did?

 
At 12:16 PM, Blogger ModA36 said...

Couple of thoughts. Yes, Skinner's teams tended to be fairly boring, particularly his last year (without Tyrese), but they consistently won. We were promised up-tempo With Donahue but that hasn't happened. Of course, he quite simply does not have the horses to play up tempo, and if he tried to run on some of the teams, BC loses by 40.

As to better defensive statistics, if it is solely based on points, I can tell you why. When BC runs the clock for about 25 seconds before they start looking at the basket, the other team can't put up big numbers. I do think they are putting in significant effort on D, however.

Yes, Donahue should be given a few years, but I continue to believe that he is going to need to obtain much better recruits than this current class. Hanlan should help, but I haven't heard anything about a 6"5" to 6'8" banger who can slash. Get a kid like that and this group may do OK.

 
At 12:19 PM, Blogger Brett said...

Jeff's comment brings up a good point - Donahue is a proven head coach (albeit at a smaller level) whereas Spaz simply is not a head coach. I think it's reasonable to have a certain degree of confidence in Donahue that we wouldn't grant Spaz. Donahue took Cornell to 3 straight tournament births and a Sweet 16 in his final year - would it be a fair analogy to imagine a football coach that took a non-BCS team to a quality bowl victory(perhaps not a BCS bowl, but one of those good bowls BC never gets invited to)?

 
At 12:23 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Donahue's style of basketball is pretty infuriating to watch. It literally looks like we're in the Ivy League or some other mid-major conference. Except most of the Ivy League can (and has) kicked our butts. We have 0 toughness. Say what you will about Skinner (though you'll probably sell him short), but he recruited tough players with talent. Donahue recruits mid-major-level shooters who are undersized, lack physical tools, and can't play defense.

 
At 12:27 PM, Blogger ModA36 said...

Following up on Tim's point about gutting the program. Coach D came to the Cage Club after a game (a win) and spoke for about 20 minutes to the bald eagles and took Q and A for quite some time. He was very impressive, engaging and smart. He was asked some scintillating questions such as "talk about Dennis Clifford's progress." In my question, I told him that there had been reports that he didn't want Heslip, Ravenal and Skinner's recruits to come, and wondered whether he wanted them to come to BC (or stay in Ravenal and Heslip's case), and he first said that he doesn't pay attention to the press. He also said that he wanted them to stay, and that they "would have made it work." It was clear to most of us listening that this last line meant clearly that if they stayed they would have dealt with it, but he preferred that they leave.

Incidentally, Noreen (a Skinner recruit who backed out) is doing OK at West Virginia.

By the way, BCI has in its archives an angry letter from Heslip's father accusing Donahue of saying that the kid couldn't play in the ACC. Whether true or not, the kid could have helped.

 
At 1:51 PM, Blogger mod34b said...

The angry letter from Brady's dad is a comment by "tomhe slip" on Boston.com. click here sounds like it is his father

2 point on the letter. He says GDF mislead him and lied. Why is GDF involved in recruiting? Interesting and contrary to GDF's claims he is not involved. Also it does say that Donahue said Heslip was not ACC calibre. Is Donahue a poor talent evaluator? Seems like he blew it with Heslp.

 
At 4:35 PM, Blogger mod10aeagle said...

We waited four years for Skinner to have a winning season, after which he had many great seasons. The flex was a thing of beauty when he had players capable of running it against defenses that knew it as well as they did. When he stopped getting those players, the flex became a form of torture for viewers, including those who preferred stats and facts to entertainment. Two of Al's last three seasons genuinely sucked, again from both perspectives. Even the 07/08 season was only 9-7 in the ACC (but 22 wins overall deserves praise).

Yes, Donohue clearly boned himself (and us) by failing to retain several players that could've helped this year and beyond. That said, has Fairfield ever produced a first round NBA draftee? Pretty unlikely that Sanders will be one, either, despite his terrific season.

Donahue "gets a pass" because it's only his second season, and he's got nine freshmen on his roster, no matter why. Any coach playing that many freshmen who isn't trying to teach during the games should retire or be tossed.

 
At 4:38 PM, Blogger EL MIZ said...

@ Unknown, regarding Donahue's "style of play". watch a georgetown game. they run a similar offense based on spacing and making the extra pass, and they are doing pretty well (top 10). that offense took a few years to implement, as i imagine it will here.

who knows what was said to heslip or heslip's dad -- that letter seems to put more of the blame on Gene D lying than it does on Donahue, although he does allege that heslip "can't play in the ACC" which is obviously offputting. regardless, i think that is clearly an instance of needing to hear both sides of the story. a "dad" ranting on an online forum is going to be fairly biased.

St Johns had the #2 recruiting class in the country last year, and they too are playing with essentially all freshmen. SJU has won 3 in a row and are now 13-16. it just goes to show you how hard it is to win with freshman if a team that had way better recruits is also struggling to be even 500.

donahue made as many sweet 16's at cornell as al did at BC. why do some act as if skinner was making final 4 year after year? we peaked in 2006, and once cooley left the team got demonstrably worse. someone please feel free to rebut this, i think that is a fact. in donahue's first season, with essentially the same team minus rakim, we did better than the previous year and got screwed out of the tourney. and yet some people still clamor for al? i dont get it.

i agree that donahue needs to add some size. we are getting crushed on the boards and even with anderson and clifford bulking up this summer, we are still going to be skinny/small in the backcourt and the frontcourt. i hope we can add one more recruit this year that is 6'5-6'8 and athletic.

i would expect above 500 next season, but not by much. something like 18-16. year 3 will be the measuring stick. i fully expect this team to be a top ACC team with this current freshman class as juniors, and moton as a senior. hopefully we can turn a solid season and an NCAA tourny run into some better recruits.

i honestly get the feeling that some people who post comments just look at box scores and then vent about how bad we are. this team really isn't that bad; they've lost a number games that were tied up with minutes to play because they unraveled down the stretch (tired, no experience and no execution, etc). they play really hard, and contrary to unknown, i think the style of play is pretty fun to watch. they have a bunch of good shooters who take 3s, they move the ball around, etc. i've watched probably 15-20 games this year and think we have some legitimate players (the daniels/jackson backcourt is solid; clifford is a big that can run; anderson always does at least one thing well; humphrey has become a really really good defender; heckmann looked good pre-mono).

 
At 4:53 PM, Blogger @timstwrt said...

@mod10a - Reggie was the first round draftee. The lazy way I used the comma may have made it seem like I was referring to Rakim...I wasn't.

I've watched probably the same number of games as Miz, and there's not a lot that I would dispute, actually. I felt better about the trajectory of the team three weeks ago, and felt that they had made a lot of improvement since the beginning of the season. That progress has stagnated, but I'm willing to chalk that up to age, fatigue, etc.

I'm not remotely rooting for Donahue to fail, and I've seen some good things from him. I'm just baffled by how much rope he gets from the fan base, when he's made some pretty terrible decisions in the short time he's been here. People seem to act like we've got some hotshot coach on the rise who's struggling with a situation that was out of his hands, when it's just as possible that we have a small time basketball coach to match our small time football coach and small time AD.

 
At 5:02 PM, Blogger EL MIZ said...

"when he's made some pretty terrible decisions in the short time."

i'm not sure what these decisions are. is it heslip leaving school? or rakim or ravenel? i don't really know if that's worth crying about, especially given the fact that we have only "heard" one side of the story (a guy posting on boston.com as "tomheslip").

did you see the UCLA story today? about howland giving the big recruits basically no discipline; well, now we see the fallout from that. if rakim, ravenel, and heslip weren't buying into donahue and his whole program (diving after loose balls, playing within the system, etc), and they left, so be it. its more about building a program and having sustained success than it is holding onto one of those guys (rakim was always a knucklehead, at least when i was on campus) for a better year 1 and 2, and then it taints what donahue is selling and it never works out. we'll see if he's able to build that sort of program, but i understand the thinking behind "if you don't want to play MY way, you can transfer." also, doesn't the fact that undoubtedly the best player of the bunch, reggie jackson, stayed? as did raji, paris, and trapani (although he had already transfered once).

also, its not like we lost mcdonalds talent, we lost marginally good college players who may have made this current team have 12 wins instead of 8. if they wanted rules to apply to them a certain way and donahue didn't allow it, i think we should applaud him for sticking to his guns rather then chalk it up as a "terrible decision."

 
At 9:51 PM, Blogger Knucklehead said...

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At 10:14 PM, Blogger Knucklehead said...

I will take the win tonight and you can keep the adjusted Offense and Defense stats.

 

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