Tuesday, March 19, 2013

High Usage, Go-To Guys Against Syracuse

As a diehard Syracuse fan, I have always wondered how opponents' go-to players perform against the Orange relative to other games and teams.  Does the vaunted 2-3 zone really make a difference in that respect?  With the help of kenpom.com, I set out to examine whether a significant difference exists between go-to players' performance against Syracuse compared to their seasonal averages. (Go-to consists of a greater than 28% usage rate on the season).

Teams that have a go-to guy are 4-12 and teams without are 5-14 against Syracuse this season.  There is hardly any difference in the records of how teams perform with or without a go-to guy, however there is a difference in how those players perform compared to their season averages.  

As the above chart indicates, only 5 of the 15 players had an offensive rating above their season average.  The average offensive rating of the 15 go-to guys against Syracuse was 95, their season average is 105.5.  I believe this 10.5% difference to be significant and representative of these players struggling against the zone applied by the men in Orange.


Shooting percentages, points, rebounds and assists decreased - Go-to players simply were not as effective against the zone as they were against other teams.  Some factors could include Syracuse's length, physicality, or the heightened competition.  Only 8 of the 16 games against go-to players were either Big East teams, or NCAA tournament teams.

Turnovers increased - Whether it was a result of playing a top 15 team in Syracuse, or the zone itself, the high usage guys were more careless with the ball. That extra possession could be the difference between a win or a loss.

Minutes decreased and fouls increased - I am curious as to whether it is in the Orange's game plan to attack the opponents' go-to guy.  From a common sense standpoint, this makes perfect sense.  Get their best player out of the game, and you don't have to worry about him beating you.

What To Do:

If I were creating a game plan against the Orange, I think you need to get your go-to guy involved early.  Being too reliant on the 3 ball is a risky strategy, as this game displays where the 2003 Oklahoma Sooners shot a less than stellar 5-28 from 3 point range in their Elite 8 game.  However, to beat the Orange, I think you need to establish the high post, whether it is your go-to guy or someone who can pass and hit the open midrange shot.  A scorer and distributor in the high post surrounded by 3 shooters on the perimeter and an athletic big on the baseline could be a recipe for success against Syracuse.

For what this means looking at Syracuse moving forward, the only teams with high usage, go-to players in the East region are Bucknell, Davidson, Illinois and Temple.  As a Syracuse fan, I'd be thrilled if they play any of these teams as that means they have made the Sweet 16 and avoid Indiana (Temple), or made the Elite 8 and avoid the higher seeds (Bucknell, Davidson, Illinois).

1 comment:

  1. Good points! In Louisville's comeback over Syracuse on Saturday, they got Gorgui Dieng established in the high post. He wasn't finding much success with his jumpers, but he opened up the floor and found cutters down low.