I had some free time to drown in self pity tonight, so I figured I'd spend my night off working on a statistical analysis for Maryland' so far this season.
A few caveats. First, I'm picking one of many ways to analyze a basketball team. If you want me to take a look at a different angle, throw it in the comments section and I'll see if I can add it in. Second, the season's still only nine games in so a small sample size warning is still somewhat in effect. And third, this is not an exact science. I wish stats could solve all our troubles, but they only tell part of the story.
Apologies for the long-winded intro. Now, to the meat and potatoes. I broke down each player's efficiency with respect to the Four Factors. For those unfamiliar, here's a quick link that explains it really well. But a quick summary. Notable basketball analyst Dean Oliver broke basketball success down into four factors: Shooting (40%), Turnovers (25%), Rebounding (20%), and Free Throws (15%). The best way to measure efficiency is through rates and not raw numbers so percentages are used to grade each of the four.
So what I did was catalog Maryland's nine main players' percentages for the above stats through this season. I did not include Jonathan Graham since I think we all know he's not a long-term solution after one decent outing against GW. I graded each player on a scale of 1-9 in comparison to his teammates. For example, the best shooter was awarded a 9, the worst a 1. Make sense? I then multiplied the ranking by the percentage breakdown (i.e., the shooting ranking was multiplied by .4, the turnover ranking by .25, and so on).
The Four Factors method was built for team analysis in order to factor in defensive play, which makes its use in a player breakdown a little more difficult. I couldn't factor in shooting defense, but I was able to factor in defense in terms of turnovers (steal and block percentage), rebounding (fairly obvious) and free throws (fouls committed per minute).
Sorry if this wasn't a clear (or brief) description. Again, if you have any questions, feel free to comment and I'll see if I can answer.
So, here's the charted data to give everyone an idea of where the rankings come from. I included Seth Allen at the bottom in red. I'll get to him more later on.
(A quick glossary: eFG%: effective field goal percentage; DR% and OR%: defensive and offensive rebounding percentage; turnover, steal and block percentages are self-explanatory; FT Rate: measures how many of a player's shots come from the foul line; and fouls/min, again self-explanatory.)
And now here's how the numbers look after grading out and ranking each player...
A few things that jump out:
Mitchell: It's extremely rare for a big guy to lead your team in effective field goal percentage...We all knew Chuckwas a great rebounder...Chuck's surprisingly good at avoiding fouls (likely due to some matador defense)
Layman: We all know he can shoot it, but his best offensive asset might be that he never turns it over (especially on a team that can't stop giving away the ball)...His lack of getting to the line is a great way to show his lack of assertiveness...Surprisingly, a better rebounder and defender than many expect
Smotrycz: Biggest weakness is always gonna be on the defensive end...Has gotta learn to avoid fouls
Wells: Great rebounder for a guard...Turnovers are getting better...Man, does that lack of an outside shot kill his efficiency...Should be getting to the line more (and hopefully will when moved off the ball)
Cleare: His rebounding for a big guy is simply unacceptable...His defense would be great....If he could just stop fouling
Faust: One of your leading shot takers can't be one of your least efficient scorers...Great at forcing turnovers on defense to make up for his own...Again, like Dez, would love to see him get to the line more
Dodd: Absolutely a non-factor on offense, but I think we all knew that already...His defense has actually been better than Shaq's...If only one of our big guys could make free throws
Peters: The freshman turnovers were to be expected...but at least he's a guard who gets to the line...He could be our best on-ball defender by season's end
Ram: Everyone loves the gritty glue guy, but the numbers don't...Glue guys can't turn the ball over this much...And it would help if he could shoot just a little
And for the team...
- The turnovers are improving (somewhat)...
- The offense needs to focus on a drive and kick approach with Dez, Faust and Roddy attacking to get to the line more or kick out to our good shooters (Jake and Smo)...
- Rebounding is definitely the team's biggest strength so far, especially on the offensive glass...
- Not only do the Terps struggle to play sound defense, they can't even force turnovers to produce easy offense (last in the ACC in opponents' turnover percentage)...
How to Fix It?
There's a clear first four in Mitchell, Layman, Smo and Dez. After that, the second guard is killing Maryland. Faust's struggles have been discussed at length, while Roddy continues to adjust on the fly. Ram playing more than a few minutes a game is not the answer. So the Roddy/Faust breakdown seems to leave us with one question. Which player's strengths does the team need more?
Roddy is an efficient scorer, a subpar rebounder and an average defender. Faust is an inefficient scorer who takes a lot of shots, but an above average rebounder and defender.
Both have their place on the court, but given Maryland's other players, Faust's rebounding can be easily replaced, and his defense isn't remarkable enough to offset his hideous shooting. Roddy's offense is the better fit for offensive efficiency.
The Seth Allen Return
A massive disclaimer on this one. I compared Allen's numbers last season to those of Maryland's players so far this season. This does not factor in a number of things (Allen's progression, schedule difficulty, or his effect on others). However, it's the best we've got to work with.
Even given all those disclaimers, Allen's numbers aren't exactly encouraging when placed in the grand scheme of things. Those of us who expect Allen to be the "savior" upon his return are likely to be disappointed.
Allen was a volume shooter last season, who shared Maryland's recurring turnover woes. As far as defense, Allen isn't an upgrade over either Roddy or Faust. He'll be a much-needed ball handler, but a cure all he is not.
Where We Go From Here
The pieces are there offensively. As I said earlier, it's the approach that needs to change. Some of that is on Turgeon, but some is also on the players. Dez and Faust need to be attacking the basket, not settling for jump shots. An offense built around Dez, Roddy and Faust attacking with Layman and Smo on the perimeter and Chuck under the basket to cleanup will score plenty. Allen will be a great utility man when he comes back. His ability to both get to the rim and shoot from deep will offer Turgeon some lineup versatility come January.
On defense? The numbers tell us the Terps have a bunch of below average defenders. Faust isn't the stopper Turge had hoped for this offseason, and the inability for Maryland's perimeter defenders to stay in front of their man has created way too many open looks. All these leave Maryland 10th or worse in the ACC in most defensive categories.
I've never been a fan of zone defense, but a good coach builds his gameplan around the players he has. Alex Len isn't standing in the middle to mask everyone's mistakes so Maryland's best bet is to utilize its perimeter length to close down shooters and clog the lane. The biggest concern with zone is always rebounding, but the Terps have the personnel to handle the boards with Chuck, Smo and Layman (along with two above average rebounding guards in Dez and Faust).
Hopefully, this helped explain things for some of us. The season's far from over. Here's hoping Maryland adjusts, and opens ACC play the right way.