Saturday, August 28, 2010

Atlantic Sun: 2010-11 Preview

The Teams

The Bruins were a young team last year that was supposed to be rebuilding. However, Belmont exceeded expectations and was the top team in the Atlantic Sun. Now everyone is returning except for Keaton Belcher. The Bruins are led by rising sophomore Ian Clark. Clark had an eFG% of 55.6 in his rookie year. He shot the ball over 40% from three and over 50% from two. Clark's achilles heel was a high turnover rate, but improvement in that area will make him one of the best options in the conference. Clark's supporting cast features two outstanding juniors. 6'9" Mick Hedgepeth can score with efficiency, get to the foul line, block shots, and rebound. The other junior is Drew Hanlen. He had a great sophomore season and distributed the ball well. Kerron Johnson and Scott Saunders are two more guys who should see an increase in minutes. Both struggled with efficiency on offense, but have the talent to be big time contributors for the Bruins. Belmont will certainly excel on defense. As long as they can keep their turnovers down (23.6% last season for 319th in the nation) their offense will also be near the top in the A-Sun.


Last year, Campbell finished 14-6 in conference largely due to defense. Now they have just four major players back from that campaign. All four are under 6'5". Junard Hartley was fourth in the nation in assist rate and and third in the nation in steals percentage. However, Hartley struggled shooting the basketball. Lorne Merthie is another defensive stopper with an outstanding ability to get steals. Merthie mad 69 threes last season on 41% shooting. Preston Dodson is the closest thing Campbell has returning that is a big man. Dodson is a decent rebounder and scorer. Campbell will have to look to newcomers for size. Among the newcomers is 6'8" transfer Keishawn Mayes. Mayes was named to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference All-Rookie Team as a freshman at Maryland-Eastern Shore and should be a factor down low. Campbell will certainly be a different team this season, but if they can remain solid on defense they will be able to stay very competitive in the Atlantic Sun.

East Tennessee St.

ETSU had an inconsistent season that ended with an NCAA Tourney loss to Kentucky after winning six straight games. The team will be led by three seniors. Tommy Hubbard, Justin Tubbs, and Micah Williams all have fairly similar skill sets. None of them are particularly great three point shooters, but finish inside the arc well. All three take good care of the basketball, but don't have good assist rates. Hubbard played the most minutes last season, but only posted an eFG% of 46.2. However, Hubbard is a great rebounder for his size on both sides of the ball. The main threat inside for ETSU is Isiah Brown. Last year Brown shot the ball well and blocked shots. ETSU could still probably use a long range shooter, but this is pretty much the same team that went to the NCAA Tourney last year.

Florida Gulf Coast

The Eagles won just five conference game last year, but amazingly swept Belmont. 6'1" Reed Baker is still around for his senior year and will be the Eagles go to guy. Anthony Banks is also a very good low post option despite being undersized. Banks was 38th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. Last year the Eagles really struggled shooting and taking care of the ball on offense. They forced a lot of turnovers on defense, but didn't rebound or force missed shots. FGC should just be focused on getting better in what will again be a rebuilding year. The Eagles will again likely be towards the bottom of the totem pole in the A-Sun.


Ben Smith is a huge loss for the Dolphins. Smith played 93.7 percent of Jacksonville's minutes (third in the nation). He did so with high usage and great efficiency. Travis Cohn and Ayron Hardy will be trying to replace him this season. Cohn was a significant contributor last season, but had a bad turnover problem. Hardy was more of a role player, but had great efficiency in his role. Hardy was also a solid defender and accumulated a bunch of blocks and steals. Down low the Dolphins will be undersized. Jacksonville could have some trouble finishing at .500 in conference this season.

Kennesaw St.

The Owls were very streaky last year. They lost five conference games in a row, then won six in a row, then lost seven more in a row. Markeith Cummings freshman year was successful. The 6'7" Cummings had an ORtg of 104.1 and was used on 27.6% of possessions. The Owls have two other decent bigs down low. LeDaris Green and Matt Heramb make Kennesaw St. one of the bigger teams in conference. Last year Green was a very good rebounder and shotblocker. Both Green and Heramb shot too many threes for the Owls. The shot just 26% and 33% respectively from behind the arc. Kevin McConnell and Spencer Dixon are the best two options at guard for Kennesaw. Both had ORtg's just above 100 last season. The Owls will be competitive in the A-Sun if they can maintain some consistency.


The Bisons had a solid 14-6 season last year and have everyone back. Last year, however, the 14 conference wins were due to offense and some luck. Lipscomb had the best offense in the conference, but also one of the worst defenses. Adnan Hodzic will certainly get his fair share of publicity entering his final season and deservedly so. Hodzic was a very efficient and very high volume scorer. The 6'9" big man shot 60.4% from the floor, rebounded, drew fouls, and took care of the basketball. Fellow senior Josh Slater is nearly as important. Last year Slater had a phenomenal assist to turnover ratio and shot the ball at 37% from deep. It doesn't end with just those two. Jordan Burgason shot 44% from three last year. Brandon Brown and Michael Taylor both had ORtg's of 107.5. Lipscomb will potentially have one of the best offenses at the mid major level. Defense will prevent the Bisons from running away with the A-Sun. Unless drastic improvement can be made on the defensive side of the ball, Lipscomb should be behind Belmont and ETSU for conference supremacy.


Last year Mercer could score, but couldn't stop their opponents from scoring. This year they no longer have (arguably) their two best offensive players in James Florence and Daniel Emerson. They still have a good amount of offense left. Jeff Smith is an experienced guard and Brandon Moore should be in for a breakout season. 6'7" Brian Mills shot a ridiculous 68.3% from two and is back for another year. Basically, the Bears will still be a solid offensive team. If they can't improve on defense they will almost certainly be in for another average season in conference.

North Florida

The Ospreys did not have much offense last year. Only one player on the team, Jerron Granberry had an ORtg over 100. Turnovers were a big problem. Three key guys returning are Andy Diaz, Brad Haugabrook, and Matt Sauey. All three were used on a high percentage of possessions last season, but weren't efficient. Diaz and Sauey are both 6'7" with some potential. Bringing down their turnovers would be a big help for the Ospreys. North Florida will still be relatively young and will need to use this as a learning experience most likely.

South Carolina Upstate

USC Upstate is losing their two most used players from a 6-23 team. This, of course, is not good news for the Spartans. Last year they were led by 7'3" (not a typo) Nick Schneiders. The big man was a big time shot blocker and anchored a decent defensive team. With Schneiders gone the Spartans will presumably take a big step back on defense. Offensively, not one player for USC Upstate had an ORtg over 100. Coach Eddie Payne has eight new recruits coming in, but this year should be a big time rebuilding year for the Spartans.


The Stetson Hatters were really bad last year. Expectations have to be low again this season. However, Coach Derek Waugh may have the program on the right track via recruiting. Corey Walden, Luis Jacobo, and Steven Forbes are three high school recruits who will play in 2010-11. Additionally, Liberty transfer Chris Perez and Delaware transfer Adam Pegg will be ready to go for the Hatters in 2011-12. Stetson isn't close to competing in the A-Sun, but look to be on the right track.

The Players

Player of the Year: Adnan Hodzic, Lipscomb

The 6'9" junior can do it all for Lipscomb. He shoots well, draws fouls, rebounds the ball, takes care of the basketball. He was used on nearly 30% of Lipscomb's possessions and had an ORtg of 114.8. Expectations are high for the Bisons and Hodzic is the biggest reason why. Coach Scott Sanderson himself has said, "The message I sent [to the team] is that I hope their minds are refreshed and renewed and that they are ready to have a banner year." Hodzic has the skills to lead Lipscomb to that banner year.

Best of the Rest:

1) Josh Slater, Lipscomb

2)Markeith Cummings, Kennesaw St.

3) Ian Clark, Belmont

4) Justin Tubbs, ETSU

5) Anthony Banks, Florida Golf Coast

Breakout Player: Brandon Moore, Mercer

The 6'5" senior plays bigger than size for Mercer. He is a well above average offensive rebounder and shotblocker. He gets to the line very well and shot 56% from two. Moore even made nine of 18 threes last season. Turnovers are a weakness, but he should be able to improve in the area. With the graduation of James Florence and Daniel Emerson, Moore will become a much more featured player. As long as he can keep his efficiency up he will be one of the top players in the A-Sun.

Best of the Rest:

1) Brandon Brown, Lipscomb (43.8 %Min, 107.5 ORtg, 20.3 %Poss)

2) Tevin Galvin, Jacksonville (51.4 %Min, 101.6, 17.4 %Poss)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Atlantic Coast Conference: 2010-11 Preview

Boston College

Before last season, I talked to my friend who happens to be a BC fan. We talked about realistic expectations for BC. They had everyone baAlign Centerck except for standout guard Tyrese Rice. Interestingly enough, he told me he expected BC to take a step forward in 2009-10 while getting worse results. How does this make sense? Well, BC was coming off an odd season. They beat eventual national champions UNC and lost to Harvard. When the season was all said and done they collectively had gotten pretty lucky. Results were good, but they only ranked 69th in Ken Pomeroy's rankings. Well, said friend turned out to be completely right. BC saw modest improvements in the rankings (62nd overall), but finished the season 15-16. Back to present day. Joe Trapani, Corey Raji, and Reggie Jackson are all great pieces. The extremely efficient role player, Tyler Roche, is lost to graduation. Rakim Sanders has transferred to Fairfield, but may actually help BC's offensive efficiency. Depth and defense will be the problems for the Eagles. A tourney bid is unlikely, but the "big three" will make BC dangerous when on their game.


The Tigers will be a different team this season with the departures of Trevor Booker and Oliver Purnell. Demontez Stitt will lead a talented backcourt. Stitt, Tanner Smith, and Andre Young need to do a better job taking care of the basketball. Each player turned the ball over on over 22% of possessions last season. On the bright side, Stitt and Young both shot the ball really well last year. 6'8" Jerai Grant will provide solid efficiency, rebounding, and shot blocking for Clemson. Devin Booker may be the X Factor here. Booker showed promise in limited minutes last season and will be a big part of the ultimate fate of the Tigers.


Coach K's squad will once again be the team to beat in the ACC. The national champs are loaded once again with parts. Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith are the known quantities for the Blue Devils. Both will surely provide the team with superb offense. Kyrie Irving takes over for Jon Scheyer. Much has been made of Irving, and we have no evidence to disagree with the public sentiment. Miles Plumlee will presumably take over Zoubek's role. Plumlee may not approach Zoubek's offensive rebounding, but will be more than competent underneath. Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee, Tyler Thornton, and Josh Hairston will make the Blue Devils as deep as they come.

Florida St.

Last season, FSU was really, really good defensively and really not good offensively. In the end, it resulted in a first round exit to Gonzaga. Solomon Alabi and Ryan Reid are both gone. With these two out, FSU's interior defense will take a bit of a hit. Still, the Seminoles have competent replacements coming in. Xavier Gibson returns for the Seminoles and newcomers Okaro White (top 100 prospect), Jon Kreft, and Bernard James will provide an abundance of size. The development of Michael Snaer and Chris Singleton will be crucial for FSU. Both featured very inefficient offensive production last season. Other guards, Kitchen and Dulkys, provided much better efficiency albeit in a smaller offensive role. The Seminoles defense should keep them competitive alone, but improvement on offense would turn them into a legitimate contender in the ACC.

Georgia Tech

Paul Hewitt's club should be in for a rebuilding year this season with the losses of Lawal, Favors, Peacock, and Bell. Iman Shumpert will be the established go to guy for the Yellow Jackets, but needs to bring up his efficiency. Brian Oliver and Glen Rice both showed great signs last year to indicate they are ready to break out. The former shot 38% from three while the latter shot 47%. Still, the problem will be the frontcourt for GT. Kammeon Hosley, Daniel Miller, and Nate Hicks will form an extremely inexperienced frontcourt. The young Yellow Jackets will most likely be on the outside looking in at the NCAA Tourney, but gaining experience will be crucial down the road for a team with a fair amount of talent.


The Terps had the 5th offense in the nation last season. In fact, not one player on the team had an offensive rating below 100. Unfortunately for Maryland, they are losing three key starters. Vasquez, Milbourne, and Hayes all provided efficient offense with high usage. Sean Mosley and Jordan Williams will both see greatly increased roles. If both players can keep their efficiency at last years levels, they both are excellent breakout candidates. The supporting cast of Bowie, Tucker, Padgett, and Gregory are all efficient options. The Terrapins should remain efficient on offense if one or more of those four can step up. Six more recruits will also enter the mix for Gary Williams. Maryland could find themselves on the bubble, but have the pieces to get back to the NCAA Tourney in what should have been a rebuilding year.


The U had a tough conference season last year. The 4-12 last place finish was not indicative of Miami's true talent level. Dwayne Collins and James Dews are unfortunate losses, but talent is still around. Durand Scott had a solid freshman campaign, but also has plenty of room for improvement. Scott and Malcolm Grant will form a great backcourt for the Canes. Adrian Thomas' ORtg of 122 and 3P% of 42% make him the perfect role player on offense. 6'9" Reggie Johnson is a breakout candidate in the frontcourt. As a freshman he was extremely effective in limited minutes. Miami could be a big surprise in the ACC.

NC State

Team defense was a strength for the Wolfpack last year, but offensively they really struggled. Apart from go to guy Tracy Smith, NC State only has one player returning with and ORtg over 100 (Scott Wood). On the bright side, Sidney Lowe was able to land top recruit CJ Leslie. This team has gotten a lot of early hype, but I am taking a more cautious approach. The Wolfpack will be deep and have a solid distributor in point guard Javier Gonzalez, but a wait and see approach should be used for a team that has big expectations.

North Carolina

Many words have been written on UNC. Potential is the key for most of the Tar Heels. From a statistical standpoint, Tyler Zeller and Will Graves are Roy William's best offensive options. Zeller is one of the best big men in the ACC when healthy and Graves is a solid shooter who can take care of the ball. Harrison Barnes will improve UNC right away. The Heels have a solid foundation with those three. John Henson, Lesile McDonald, and Dexter Strickland are the unknown returners for UNC. All three had not so great freshman years, but have talent. Reggie Bullock and Kendall Marshall will enter with plenty of talent as well. Production will be needed from a couple of these young, talented players to return UNC into a conference contender once again.


UVA will probably once again be near the bottom in the ACC. Sylven Landesberg is now in the rear view mirror after getting kicked off the team towards the end of last season. Jeff Jones and his solid ORtg are also taking their talents elsewhere this season. Mike Scott should be the team leader underneath. He can rebound and score very well. Sammy Zeglinski and Mustapha Farrakhan both return and will need to make big strides for UVA to be competitive. Tony Bennett's first recruiting class will also be entering. UVA will most likely be fighting to get out of the ACC cellar this season.

Virginia Tech

VT did virtually everything well last season except shoot. Everyone is back this season, and shooting will probably still be the achilles heel. However, the Hokies are still a legitimate contender in the ACC. Heck, College Gameday even made the decision to visit for the Duke game. Malcolm Delaney is the real deal. He can get to the line really well and has a solid assist to turnover ratio. Still, he hasn't been able to shoot consistently (like most of the Hokies). Dorenzo Hudson is being acknowledged as one of the most underrated players in the conference, but he too has struggled shooting. In fact, Hudson did not break 30% from three last year despite taking 120 attempts. VT will be one of the top defensive teams in the conference again this season. Offensive consistency and shooting will be what prevents Tech from challenging Duke for conference supremacy.

Wake Forest

The Deamon Deacons will be a different team in Jeff Bzdelik's first season. The team could be led by two rising sophomores: Ari Stewart and C.J. Harris. Harris posted an impressive ORtg of 107.7 in his rookie campaign. He gets to the line well and is an excellent foul shooter. Stewart struggled last season, but still has potential. Tony Woods and Gary Clark were both also useful options in limited time last season. The real key for Wake will be the incoming recruits. ESPN ranks Bzdelik's class as 12th in the nation with four top 100 recruits. If the class is as good as advertised Wake Forest should be in line for another NCAA Tourney berth, but the margain for error is pretty slim.


(Note: Incoming freshman were not considered)

Player of the Year: Kyle Singler, Duke

Singler was used on a higher percentage of possessions last year than any of his other teammates. Many players have this distinction, but Singler is the only one who did it on the national champions. He also took full advantage of his opportunities. He shot the three ball well, got to the line, and took care of the basketball. The result was an ORtg of 116.2. The only flaw in Singler's game was shooting two's. He only shot 42% from inside the arc in 2009-10. In his freshman and sophomore years, that number was significantly hire. The two point shooting will almost certainly improve and Singler will be the best player on the best team in the ACC.

Best of the rest:

1) Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech

2) Nolan Smith, Duke

3) Tyler Zeller, UNC

4) Corey Raji, Boston College

5) Jordan Williams, Maryland

Breakout Player: Reggie Johnson, Miami

As a freshman, Johnson did hardly anything wrong in limited minutes. He shot over 50% from the floor, blocked shots, took care of the ball, rebounded on both sides of the floor, got to the charity stripe, and shot 78.5% from the line. This resulted in an ORtg of 122.4 while being used on 23.2 percent of possessions. Now Johnson will see regular playing time. With the increase it is unrealistic to expect Johnson to maintain this unbelievable efficiency, but he should be one of the top big men in the conference.

Best of the Rest:

1) Brian Oliver, Georgia Tech (2009-10 stats: 41.2 %Min, 20.1 %Poss, 105.7 ORtg)

2) Miles Plumlee, Duke (2009-10 stats: 40.9 %Min, 17.1 %Poss, 107.2 ORtg)

3) Sean Mosley, Maryland (2009-10 stats: 66.3 %Min, 18.7 %Poss, 116.6 ORtg)

4) Devin Booker, Clemson (2009-10 stats: 28.9 %Min, 20.7 %Poss, 100.1 ORtg)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

America East: 2010-2011 Preview

The Players
Player of the Year: John Holland, Boston University
Holland led the conference in points per game last year and earned a spot on the America East first time. He was obviously a big part of the offense for BU, but will carry an even bigger load with the graduation of Corey Lowe. Losing Lowe and his exceptional assist rate may hurt Holland. His decision making ability will be put to the test and could play on the ball much more. Holland's sparkling efficiency suggests he will be ready to step up to the test.
Best of the Rest:
  1. Gerald McLemore, Maine - McLemore was Maine's leading scorer last year as a sophomore. He took the most shots for the Bears and posted the best effective field goal percentage. However, he was pretty one dimensional. Shooting the ball at nearly 40% from three is nice, but we would like to see him improve in other areas entering his junior season.
  2. Joe Zeglinski, Hartford - Zeglinski was a top scorer in the conference last year. He emerged last season as the featured player, but as you might expect saw a drop in efficiency. Zeglinski does a great job taking care of the basketball, but like McLemore needs to expand his game.
  3. Evan Fjeld, Vermont - The big man did it all for the Catamounts in a somewhat limited role last year. He led the team in eFG%, took great care of the ball, rebounded well, and was a solid shot blocker. With Blakely and Joseph gone, Fjeld should be the big man on campus in Burlington.
  4. Bryan Dougher, Stony Brook - Dougher was a prolific three point shooter last season and will be counted on more with the departure of POY El-Amin. Dougher can take care of the ball and will almost certainly be an extremely efficient player again next season.
  5. Greer Wright, Binghamton - Wright was the clear go to guy for Binghamton last season. The 6'7" rising senior led the team in assist rate and getting to the line. He finished extremely well at the rim, but probably took a few two many threes (30.8%).
Breakout Player: Tommy Brenton, Stony Brook
Tommy Brenton was clearly a solid player for Stony Brook last year. It is probably a reach to make him the breakout player, but we did it anyway. Brenton was named to the America East All-Defensive Team. He was a monster on the boards and got to the line well. So how can he possibly be a breakout candidate? Usage. On offense, he simply was not a top option for Stony Brook. He was only used on 15.7% of possessions and took a shot on only 11.1% of possessions. If Brenton can increase his impact while staying steady, then he could reach Marqus Blakely levels in terms of production across the board.
Other Breakout Candidates:
  1. Ben Crenca, Vermont - The 6'10" freshman got very limited playing time for the Catamounts last season. The big man did post an ORtg of 106.4 and was a great rebounder and good shot blocker. He will need improvements, but he will be important for UVM this season.
  2. Mahamoud Jabbi, Binghamton - Jabbi was very similar to Crenca in terms of production last year, but with an even more polished offensive game. However, Jabbi saw a lot of minutes for the Bearcats and was unable to assert himself in the offense. Jabbi may not have great upside for a breakout candidate, but he is an efficient big man with little downside.
  3. Mike Black, Albany - The freshman guard was a big part of the Great Danes offense when in the game last season. Black's three point shooting and assist rate both look very promising. If he improve his ball control and two point shooting from his freshman year he could have a true breakout season for Albany.

The Teams


Will Harris was the best player for Coach Will Brown last season. His departure is unfortunate for the Danes, and it will be interesting to see who steps up. Tim Ambrose is back with his comprehensive but mildly inefficient play. Ambrose featured an excellent assist rate, but did not shoot the ball well or take great care of the basketball. Still, he is a very interesting piece to have given his ability to be a tremendous focal point in the offense. Mike Black and Logan Aronhalt both have potential for the Great Danes. Black featured an excellent assist rate and three point shooting. However, turnovers and two point shooting were weaknesses. Aronhalt took a plethora of shots when in the game last season. Results were not good, but the ability to be used on a high percentage of possessions is the first step in becoming a go to guy. Fran Urli and Billy Allen were both efficient role players last season and are looking to build. However, the Great Danes still have a long ways to go on offense and defense to get back to the Jamar Wilson days.

Key Recruits: Luke Devlin (6'8") "He has a tremendous skill set for a big man and likes to play physical," [Coach Will] Brown said. "He has range to the three-point arc and is very clever in the low post. He possesses a very strong feel for the game, plus can pass the ball."

Binghamton has everyone back from a surprisingly decent offensive team. 1.01 points per possession in confernece play was not bad, but defensively they struggled giving up 1.05 PPP. Greer Wright was the clear go to guy for Binghamton. The 6'7" rising senior led the team in assist rate and getting to the line. He finished extremely well at the rim, but probably took a few two many threes (30.8%). He will certainly be the player with the biggest impact this season. Kyrie Sutton is a young player with high volume and low efficiency on offense. Sutton's rebounding and shotblocking presence alone makes him a useful piece. He has some severe warts, but is oozing with potential. Mahamoud Jabbi is a great mid major big man. He rebounds, takes care of the ball, and blocks shots. A 113.1 ORtg and solid defense makes him an excellent low post threat. Moussa Camara and Umur Peten were the other two players on Binghamton with an ORtg over 100.

Key Recruits: Rob Mansell and KJ Brown per RecruitRecon

Boston University

B.U. will be undergoing a makeover this season. John Holland is a very good start. Our pick for Player of the Year will be in for a nice season. Jake O'Brien is the other useful offensive piece back. At 6'8" he can step out and hit the three and should be ready to take a larger part. The only other (significant) guy back is Jeff Pelage. He is a great rebounder and shot blocker, but badly inefficient on offense. These three are not a bad start, but obviously B.U. will need to get production from incoming recruits. They have seven guys coming in per ESPN. Head coach Pat Chambers has said here, "We're really fired up about this year's incoming freshmen class. They have big shoes to fill with what the nine seniors accomplished last season, but I know they will continue to carry the torch and take pride in BU basketball."

Key Recruits: (see above)


Hartford was just another young team in the America East. Everyone is back for the Hawks, but they will need major improvements. Neither offense nor defense were good for Hartford. Joe Ziglinski is a solid foundation, but the players around him need to step up. Anthony Minor and Kevin Estes were the only two players with ORtg's above 100, but neither got many minutes. Andres Torres (no, not the baseball player) is an interesting piece. He hesitantly shot the ball at a high percentage and had a great assist rate. Turnovers were his main problem. He provides some upside for the Hawks. Without dramatic improvemnt it should be much of the same for Hartford.

Key Recruits: Mustafa Jones


Maine is, you guessed it, another young America East team. Only one player is lost from last year from graduation. Maine should once again be in the upper half of the conference due to good, solid defense. On offense, Maine will be led by Gerald McLemore. Murphy Burnatowski will be looking to build on a solid freshman year. At 6'7" he was a presence on defense. Improvement on offense by Burnatowski would be great for a Maine team looking for scorers. Shooting will continue to be a problem. McLemore was the only player last year with an eFG% over 50%. However, defense is the key for the Bears. Stony Brook, B.U., and Vermont are all losing key guys. Slight improvement from Maine could put them in the hunt for an America East Title.

Key Recruits: Alasdair Fraser


Yet another team with just one senior gone from last year. Unfortunately, UMBC doesn't have much to build on from last year. Their defense was awful and their offense was decent at best. Shooting last year was a big problem for UMBC and should continue to be. Chris De La Rosa, the Siena transfer, will be entering his second season with the program. He distributes the ball extremely well, but does not shoot the ball well enough. With better shooting, De La Rosa could be a top point guard in the America East. It sure does look like another sub par season could be in store for UMBC. (Edit: It has been brought to our attention that former GW member Travis King will use his final year of eligibility at UMBC this season. Thanks neilballofrubber.)

Key Recruits: Chase Plummer and Matt Conway

New Hampshire
New Hampshire is another young team that can't shoot. Unlike most of the bottom teams from last year, New Hampshire played solid team defense. They have a year to get better and something to build on. Alvin Abreu is their go to guy. His wart, like the rest of the team, is shooting. New Hampshire, in fact, did not have a single player with an eFG% over 50%. Russell Graham is coming off a season where he was 5th in the nation in assist rate. His 33.5 eFG% negates the great job he does distributing. The good news for New Hampshire is the defense should be there again. It is hard to place who is going to step up on offense, but New Hampshire looks like they will be an average team in conference.
Key Recruits: Jordan Bronner, Scott Morris, and DeAndre Buckley
Stony Brook
One would figure Stony Brook would be taking a step back after the graduation of Muhammad El-Amin. However, Stony Brook has the parts to stay very competitive in conference. Chris Martin should be used on many possessions, but the Seawolves have a three head monster to go along with Martin's high usage. Bryan Dougher, as described above, will be a top shooter and scorer. Brenton will also be a solid offensive contributor. On defense, Brenton and Joyner are both active. The two are also solid offensive and defensive rebounders. The seawolves have the pieces to stay at the top of the conference. If everything goes according to plan, then Stony Brook should be competing for a second conference title in as many years.
Key Recruits: David Coley, Anthony Jackson, Al Rapier
The America East Conference Champions have a lot to replace coming into this season. Evan Fjeld should be the go to guy for the Catamounts. I already discussed above the potential of Ben Crenca. Other than that, UVM mainly has a bunch of role players who will need to adjust to a new role. It is hard to picture Vermont not taking a step back. Vermont has been the class of the America East in recent years, but it seems unlikely another trip to the NCAA Tournament is in store for the squad from Burlington.
Key Recruits: Josh Elbaum, Brian Voelkel, Sandro Carissimo, and Ryan McKeaney

Monday, August 23, 2010

America East: 2009-2010 Season in Review

One of the three main components of a college basketball preview should be reviewing the previous season. This provides a baseline for the second and thirds components (what a team is gaining and what a team is losing). The two most fundamental ways to give a snap shot of a season are both recurring themes on our website. First, we have an efficiency graph. The numbers are conference games ONLY. The efficiency graphs are perfect for comparing teams in the same conference, but not teams from different conferences (strength of schedule is not taken into account). Second, we have the four factors for both offense and defense displayed by a bar graph. The four factors graphs consist of all D1 games.

10 Thoughts

  1. Stony Brook was a different team in conference play. On the suface, Stony Brook was lucky last year. The 13-3 conference record does not seem to fit their KenPom ranking of just 188. However, Stony Brook's offense took off in conference play. 1.09 PPP during conference games led the America East and the defense proved to at least be competent. Although probably not the best team in the league, Stony Brook's 13-3 record was a combination of some luck and some improvement.

  2. Maine was finally relevant. From 2009 to 2006 Maine's best KenPom ranking was 278. In 2010, Maine sported a ranking of 211. One game is not a sample size to take to the bank, but the Bears did win at BC by a point. Maine was a legitimate threat in the conference. This could become a trend from a Maine team with many parts back again.

  3. Marqus Blakely did everything. UVM will be faced with the nearly impossible task of replacing Blakely. The NCAA Slam Dunk Champion did just about everything but shoot the 3 ball. Rebounding, scoring, passing, blocking, stealing, you name it. Blakely was the epitome of a "Five Tool" basketball player.

  4. Maine could play defense. The only team with an adjusted offensive or defensive efficiency in the top 100 was Maine. Opponents struggled shooting the ball against Maine on all spots on the court. Being able to force misses without fouling was the recipe for success for Maine.

  5. UMBC could not play defense. The only team with an adjusted offensive or defensive efficiency above 320 was UMBC (341). Rebounding was the biggest problem for the Retrievers. Unfortunately for UMBC they were unable to compensate for their rebounding problems by forcing turnovers, forcing bad shots, or not fouling. Only one senior was on the squad, but dramatic improvements will have to be made by the exisiting players to turn it around.

  6. Boston University played fast. BU averaged about 3.5 more possessions per game than the second highest team in the conference. UVM was able to slow them down in the America East Championship Game. That game was BU's slowest of the year at just 61 possessions. BU's defense was what failed them in that game. UVM shot the ball with great efficiency on the way to an NCAA Tourney berth.

  7. Nearly the whole student body got playing time for Albany. Tim Ambrose was the only Great Dane player who played over 60% of available minutes. Overall, Albany had 12 players play more than 20% of available minutes. The team was second in the country in bench minutes. Coach Will Brown had some awfully inefficient players playing a few too many minutes, but ultimately the added experience could play dividends in the future.

  8. New Hampshire couldn't shoot. Shooting is essential to basketball. New Hampshire was the perfect example for this fact. Defensively the Wildcats were above average in conference. On offense, the Wildcats could rebound, draw fouls, and take care of the ball enough to compete. However, shooting was the achilles heel for New Hampshire. They proved to be tough to beat when they hit their shots though. They posted impressive wins against Vermont and Stony Brook of 19 and 22 respectively.

  9. Binghamton had turnover problems. The young Binghamton team probably had a better season than expected rebounding from internal program issues. Yet the Bearcats did not fair well in the turnover department on either side of the basketball. Simply put, it is hard to win basketball games while giving away possessions AND not forcing turnovers on the defensive end.

  10. Hartford liked to break rules. Remember when I said, "Simply put, it is hard to win basketball games while giving away possessions AND not forcing turnovers on the defensive end." Well, that was supposed to work both ways. Hartford was a team who didn't turn it over and turned you over well last year. They still managed to be in the bottom tier of the America East. Turnovers are crucial, but Hartford proved they aren't everything.

Tomorrow we will look towards the future in the America East.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Whacks at the Pinata

Earlier this month, Ken Pomeroy tweeted, "I request to copyright the phrase 'gets more whacks at the pinata' to describe a low FG%/high efficiency offense." Naturally, I decided to take this a step further. This post is a look at the teams that got the most whacks in 2009-2010.

(Team's OEff)-((100.8/48.8)*(Team's eFG%))

The formula is essentially subtracting a team's expected OEfficiency based ONLY on shooting from the team's actual OEfficiency. 100.8 represents the Division One average OEfficiency and 48.8 is the Division One average effective field goal percentage. eFG% is multiplied by the constant to establish the same scale as OEff.

  1. Duke (11.2) - The national champs had the most whacks at the pinata (as pointed out by John Gasaway). How could a team with quality long range shooters like Smith, Scheyer, and Singler be on this list? Two point shooting was the achilles heel of the champions. Two pointers combined with Zoubek's offensive rebounding and the big threes ability to take care of the basketball accounted for the Blue Devils number one ranking on this list.

  2. West Virginia (10.3) - Kevin Jones and Wellington Smith were efficient shooters for the Mountaineers. The rest of the team, however, did not shoot the ball well. What brought WVU to the Final Four was their ability to go get their misses. 41.8 percent of the missed shots were rebounded by the WVU.

  3. Houston (9.9) - Bad shooting? Check. Bad rebounding? Check. Bad foul drawing? Check? Bad offense? Nope! Houston managed to feature the 41st best offense in the nation by doing one thing: taking care of the ball. The Cougars only turned the ball over on a ridiculous 12.4% of possessions. Good for the best TO% in the KenPom (2004-2010) Era.

  4. Morgan St. (9.2) - Simply put, Reggie Holmes did the shooting and Kevin Thompson did the rebounding for the Bears. Holmes shot on about 32% of the possessions he was in the game. Thompson was 5th in the nation in offensive rebounding. Holmes took 280 threes (36%) and 304 twos (41%). Clearly, Thompson had plenty of garbage to clean up.

  5. Providence (8.7) - Keno Davis' squad put it (i.e. points) on the board with efficiency last year. Unfortunately, the defense was not competent enough to be relevant in the Big East. The key to Providence's offense was offensive rebounding. Jamine Peterson and Bilal Dixon anchored the offensive glass. Ball control was also a strength for the Friars. If Providence had been able to shoot it at a higher percentage, they would have had an exceptional offense. If Providence had been able to get more stops on defense, they would have been an exceptional team.

Best of the Rest: Southern Mississippi, Virginia Tech, South Dakota State, Seton Hall, Charlotte.

Interested in seeing the whole list? Don't hesitate to e-mail us.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Testing the Four Factors

For a beginner's guide on the four factors discussed in this post read this.

The four factors certainly work effectively to determine a team's offensive/defensive ability. In order to take a closer look, I decided to "build" an expected offensive efficiency for each team in 2009-2010 based solely on the four factors. The major problem was determining how to weight each factor. For the NBA, Dean Oliver recommended 40% shooting, 25% turnovers, 20% rebounding, and 15% free throws. However, these numbers are somewhat arbitrary. When using those weights, the correlation coefficient between Dean Oliver's weighted four factors and actual offensive efficiency was .94. I then decided to play around with the weights. I was able to raise the correlation coefficient to just barely over .99 by using the following weights:
  1. Shooting: 58%
  2. Turnovers: 23%
  3. Rebounding: 16%
  4. Foul Shots: 3%

(NOTE: The spreadsheet used must have been created slightly before the end of the '09-'10 season. Stats for individual teams are slightly off, but the overall study remains useful.)

Why this weighting system correlated so well to offensive efficiency is a bit of a mystery. Getting to the line is barely accounted for, but this is what worked. The next step was to turn my new four factors rating into an expected offensive efficiency. The results were good. Every team's expected offensive efficiency was within 4.7 points per possession of their actual offensive efficiency. Prairie View A&M was the most inaccurate projection (91.8 expected OEff vs. 87.1 actual OEff).

The Expected OEfficiency tends to underestimate highly efficient teams and vice versa for inefficient teams. Here is a look at the teams most undervalued and overvalued:

Note: Final column may appear off by a tenth due to rounding.

  • From top to bottom these teams ranked 1, 5, 3, 13, and 4 in unadjusted OEff.
  • All five teams shot two pointers, three pointers, and free throws well above average with the exception of Duke's well-documented two pointers.
  • As expected, excellent ball control is a common theme among these teams.

  • From top to bottom these teams ranked 343, 342, 341, 345, and 336 in unadjusted OEff.
  • Each team was 330 or below in eFG%.

Clearly, the four factors work. The weights that seemed to work the best are the interesting part. It would definitely be interesting to see other work on this topic.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Shape of Things to Come

No, this is not a review of a LOST episode. Instead, we are releasing the schedule for our 2010-2011 NCAAB Preview. Starting August 23rd we will preview the upcoming season conference by conference. More general posts are sure to follow leading up to the games, but here is the conference schedule: (click on image for clarity)

Can't wait until the 23rd for the next post? You're in luck. A couple posts are on the way as we prepare for the conference previews.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Varying Impacts - Jimmer Fredette

A while ago, we did a post on the varying impacts an efficient basketball player can have. In order to explore this subject further, we have conducted a series of interviews. We have discussed three different types of players with team specific bloggers. This final post features an interview with Mountain West Connection (twitter: @JeremySBN) on Jimmer Fredette.

Hoop Vision: Jimmer Fredette was 63rd overall in offensive rating, but 1st overall for players with at least 28% of possessions used. Excellent shooting percentages, assist to turnover ratio, and ability to get to the line were the driving factors. Where (on the floor) and when (transition, end of shot clock, etc.) did Fredette's shots occur in 2009-2010?

Mountain West Connection: Jimmer is actually a good enough player to be able to beat defenders of the dribble with his quickness, but if defenders back off and give space so they are not beat Fredette is good enough to drain a deep shot. He is very difficult to handle one on one and in a man defense. A zone can work better since it is more difficult to penetrate a zone off the dribble. Basically he was good enough to score from all over court and was the guy to take a shot as the shot clock was expiring which is why he had 10 games of 25 points or more which included a season high of 49 over Arizona in Tucson.

Hoop Vision: As the point guard for BYU, Fredette was not able to hide on the court. How much of Fredette's solid TORate (15.0%) was due to his ability to rely on his teammates and how much was due to his decision making ability?

Mountain West Connection: He had to rely on his teammates to an extent because there were times when opposing defenses would throw everything his way, but Fredette was able to get out of it by just controlling the ball or finding the open teammate. Plus, the team was so good they knew where to be to help out any player. Fredette's decision making of taking on a defender to get to the foul line was key in keeping the number low.

Hoop Vision: Fredette's 3% has gone up from 34% to 38% to 44%. What can we expect from him shooting the ball in 2010-11?

Mountain West Connection: It is hard to get to much better then 44% from three point range, but who knows. Fredette is on the USA Select team where is playing with current NCAA stars while going up against NBA players who are on the National team. Fredette, as hard as it seems to be, may have to take on more of an offensive presence in the offense due to the loss of a few key players. Fredette's goal is to get to the NBA but being a 6 foot two point guard in the NBA will require him to keep up that deadly shot, because it will be very difficult for him to beat guys who are five inches taller and outweigh him by 25 pounds. In general he will do what it takes to score whether it shooting deep threes or taking players off the dribble to get to the free throw line.

Hoop Vision: BYU has proven to be a quality team throughout Fredette's career. However, would Fredette be having the same success in a top conference and with equally great teammates?

Mountain West Connection: Excellent question and I do not think any player who is the stud on their team would be as good if they played with an equally good player. I think Fredette will be one of those guys that you hear about that were great college players, but never really made it in the pros. I think with much stiffer competition like the ACC or Big East Fredette would struggle to beat guys off the dribble on a consistent basis, however he is such a good shooter that he would perhaps be a number two option on any team in the Big East or ACC with the occasion to take over game. I could be selling Fredette short since he did put up big numbers against NCAA teams such as 49 over Arizona, 37 over Florida in the first round of the NCAA tourney, and consistently scoring 20 plus points against UNLV, San Diego State, and New Mexico.

Hoop Vision: What can we expect from BYU as a whole in 2010-11?

Moutain West Connection: I expect BYU to contend for the conference title again, but the Mountain West is a really good league and the title will come down between BYU, San Diego State, and UNLV. There is a possibility of New Mexico being in the mix but they lost Darrington Hobson, and are more of a darkhorse then a title contender. The Cougars should make the NCAA tournament and anything less is unacceptable, but they do lose Jonathan Tavernari, Michael Loyd, and I believe Tyler Haws is leaving on a church mission for two years so the talent will be gone from last year. A top three finish in the regular season and an NCAA berth is a reasonable goal.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Varying Impacts - Jon Scheyer

A while ago, we did a post on the varying impacts an efficient basketball player can have. In order to explore this subject further, we have conducted a series of interviews. We have discussed three different types of players with team specific bloggers. This second post features an interview with Duke Hoop Blog (twitter: @DukeHoopBlog) on Jon Scheyer.

Hoop Vision: Jon Scheyer was 10th overall in offensive rating, but 3rd overall for players with at least 20% of possessions used. Solid shooting percentages and an excellent assist to turnover ratio were the driving factors. Where (on the floor) and when (transition, end of shot clock, etc.) did Scheyer's shots occur in 2009-2010?

Duke Hoop Blog: Jon took over half of his 531 shots in 2009-2010 from deep (287). His two-point attempts usually came at the rim or just inside the arc due to Duke’s offense. Once in the half-court, Jon would primarily play off the ball with Nolan running the point. Jon took most of his shots at the beginning or very end of the shot clock. Because of the personnel of the 2009-2010, Duke did not run in transition that often. If Duke couldn’t get a quick shot in transition (beginning of the shot clock) Coach K liked to run the clock all the way down, causing Jon to take shots at the end of the shot clock. Jon also took quite a few shots after an offensive rebound and a quick kick-out, causing the shot to come at the beginning of the shot clock.

Hoop Vision: As the point guard for Duke, Scheyer was not able to hide on the court. How much of Scheyer's phenominal TORate (11.4%) was due to his ability to rely on his teammates and how much was due to his decision making ability?

Duke Hoop Blog: Half and half. He wasn’t able to hide on the court as a point guard, but after bringing the ball up, he often played off the ball. That obviously helped his TORate. He was also, arguably, the smartest player in college basketball. There were too many examples of his basketball IQ and decision making ability to single out one from last year, but a great example from 2009 sticks out. In the second round game of the NCAA tournament with 15 seconds left he dives to save a ball and throws it up in the air as high as he can to the other side of the court to waste time. A foul by Texas occurred and Duke ended up winning the game because of the spectacularly intelligent play by Jon.

Hoop Vision: Would Scheyer's style of play have seen as good of results on a team inferior to Duke? Were his assist numbers and efficiency largely dependent on his team's ability to make shots?

Duke Hoop Blog: That is a tough question. On a team with less talent, Jon would have had to take most of the shots, causing his assist numbers to drop and, most likely, his turnovers to increase. Jon is not a John Wall type player who can slash through a defense and get teammates wide open layups time and time again. But, what he can do is command defensive attention for himself and then get the ball to his teammates for open shots.

Hoop Vision: It is hard to criticize a national championship team, but did Scheyer best utilize his talents in Duke's offense or could he have played a more prominent role while keeping his excellent efficiency?

Duke Hoop Blog: No I don’t think he could have played a more prominent role and kept his efficiency as high as it was. As I have said, he often played off the ball after bringing the ball up; this let him maximize his talent as a shooter and a more natural 2-guard. He was also able to develop his skills as a passer and game manager while playing the point guard position. If he had been expected to carry the load offensively his numbers would have suffered.

Hoop Vision: What can we expect from Duke as a whole in 2010-11?

Duke Hoop Vision: Duke will be more talented in 2010-2011 because of the arrival of freshman point guard Kyrie Irving, transfer Seth Curry, the return of Kyle and Nolan, and the emergence of the Plumlees. Duke has all the tools to repeat as national champions, but they will certainly miss the decision making and leadership of guys like Jon, Zoubek, and Lance. If a leader can emerge (most likely Kyle or Nolan) and Kyrie can make good decisions with the ball, the Blue Devils will be extremely successful. Duke will look very different next year than they did this past year. They will be a more traditional Duke team on defense, using pressure man-to-man and stepping in passing lanes. This is possible because of the speed and agility of the added personnel. On offense, Duke will look to run. The Plumlees are built to be agile and athletic big man who can run the floor and finish at the rim. Kyrie is a lightning quick player (he will challenge Kemba Walker as the quickest player end to end in college basketball) who can get the ball up the floor and either finish in transition or put a teammate into position to finish. Expectations are very high for the Blue Devils in 2010-2011, but they are achievable.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Varying Impacts - Blake Hoffarber

A while ago, we did a post on the varying impacts an efficient basketball player can have. In order to explore this subject further, we have conducted a series of interviews. We have discussed three different types of players with team specific bloggers. This first post features an interview with The Daily Gopher (twitter: @TheDailyGopher) on Blake Hoffarber.

Hoop Vision: Blake Hoffarber was first in the nation in offensive rating. Outstanding shooting percentages and quality turnover prevention were the driving factors. Where and when did Hoffarber's shots occur in 2009-2010?

The Daily Gopher: The easy answer is that Hoffarber's shots came from behind the arc. 75.8% of his shots were threes. I'm not sure where that stat compares to the rest of SGs around the country but 5.2 three-point attempts per game compared to just 1.7 twos is a pretty significant ratio. More specifically he was most proficient in transition. The Gophers turned their opponents over at a pretty high rate, especially early in the season. Hoffarber is very good at running wide, finding an open spot on the wing and then draining the three when receiving the pass. In the half-court the Gophers really were not very good at running offensive sets to get him some open shots. His shots in the half-court set usually would come on a ball reversal when the defender would fall asleep and choose to not close out on him.

Hoop Vision: Was Hoffarber's low turnover percentage more from his overall timidness in the Gopher's offense or quality decision making?

The Daily Gopher: I'll say a little of both and a lot of neither. Hoffarber's low turnover rate is largely due to the fact that he does not put the ball on the floor that often. He is a great shooter and a great passer, but he is not athletic enough to create shots with penetration. He is smart enough to know that and rarely did he put the ball on floor, putting him in position to turn the ball over.

Hoop Vision: Hoffarber shot 47% from 3 and 59% from 2, both excellent marks. However, he shot more than three times as many 3's as 2's. How big of an impact did Hoffarber's three point efficiency have on the other Minnesota players? Did his range open up space for Westbrook, Johnson, Joseph, and company?

The Daily Gopher: Yes, yes and yes. Not only was everyone better but the Gophers were 13-1 when Hoffarber scored 11 points or more last year (19-2 over the last two years). The problem is he doesn't hit that magical 11 point mark nearly enough. For a guy with his shooting ability, he really should be more of a focal point and be taking at least two or three more shots per game. This gets back to an earlier point that the Gopher offense doesn't do nearly enough to run him off screens and run offensive sets exclusively for him. He really should not be 4th on his own team for shots attempted. When you break it down by minutes he would take a shot every 4 minutes, 7th on the team for guys over 300 minutes. Lawrence Westbrook led the team taking a shot every 2.7 minutes.

Hoop Vision: Did Hoffarber best utilize his talents in the Gopher's offense or could he have played a more prominent role while keeping his excellent efficiency?

The Daily Gopher: I think if he was more of an offensive focal point, you would obviously see his efficiency drop off a little but not by much. The thing is that defenses already focus on him at all times. So if the Gopher offense were to run more of their offense through him, it is not like defenses would adjust and spend more time trying to slow him down. They already put one of their best defenders (usually a longer and more athletic one) on him and that defender typically is not responsible for helpside defense. Maybe fatigue would be more of a factor if he is running off screens and not allowed to sit out behind the arc quite as much. But that would go both ways as his defender would be taxed more as well. In the end, the Gophers need to at least find out how much his efficiency would drop. He isn't the most athletic player on the floor and he won't create his own shots, but he is savvy. Give him the opportunity to come off screens and trust him to make good decisions with the ball. Putting the defense in more situations where someone has to choose to leave their man to guard Hoffarber or let him have an open three is exactly the kind of situations the Gopher offense needs to get itself into.

Hoop Vision: Hoffarber was not nearly as efficient during his sophomore season. His turnover percentage was 22.6% and he only shot 34% from long range. Will the tremendous strides made from sophomore to junior year remain for 2010-11 or is regression due to occur?

The Daily Gopher: His sophomore year was the abberation. I do not think you will see great statistical improvement from his JR to SR year, but I'd be shocked to see him regress to anything near his Sophomore year numbers. His sophomore year was a year where he could just never get on track. Shooters go through droughts but his was started in January and lasted through the NCAA Tournament loss to Texas.

Hoop Vision: What can we expect from Minnesota as a whole in 2010-11?

The Daily Gopher: There is plenty of talent on this roster but there are a number of question marks. Two key players are still in limbo as to whether or not they'll be playing this year, both starters and key positions for this team. Al Nolen missed half the season due to academic issues and Trevor Mbakwe missed the entire season due to pending legal issues (UPDATE). If both issues are resolved then Nolen is our starting PG and Mbakwe is our starting PF. So step one is getting everyone eligible, adding those two completely change the outlook of the 2010-11 season. After getting those guys on the roster it comes down last year's sophomores and freshman improving. The soon to be juniors are the nucleus of the team. Devoe Joseph, Ralph Sampson and Colten Iverson have all been solid but they need to be better and more consistent. Rodney Williams showed flashes of great athleticism in his freshman season but he needs to grow by leaps and bounds in his sophomore year. He is capable of being our most dynamic player but he needs to understand his role in the offense and how to play Tubby's demanding defensive system. Assuming Mbakwe and Nolen play, and assuming even just moderate improvement from the rest of the roster I believe this team will fighting to finish anywhere from 3rd to 5th in the Big Ten. There is the talent to compete for a conference title but the starts kind of have to align for that to be realistic possibility. If guys do not become eligible and Williams doesn't figure out how to get himself on the floor, this team will miss the NCAA Tournament and could finish way down in the Big Ten pecking order.