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Monday, May 02, 2005

First off, does anyone have advice for converting what Excel spits out as an HTML file into something Blogger-acceptable? It's all style-sheetin' and meta-datain' and Blogger does not like you to put such tags in post bodies, so I have to make GIFs of the charts. It's not a big deal--the GIFs are actually smaller than the html page--but it's time consuming.

Anyway. I've done some number-crunching, stat-smooshing, your general what-have-you and present the results to you. mgoblog would also like to introduce a pet stat of his own: Shots Per Possession, which is basically exactly what it sounds like. More on that later.

On with the show, first with adjusted rebounding statistics. Raw rebound numbers are often distorted by possession variance. A better way to look at rebounding numbers is a simple percentage of available rebounds garnered. I've done this for both offensive and defensive rebounds for all teams in the Big Ten (conference games only):

Ewwww. Amaker haters, here's your ammunition. Michigan had sporadic injuries to frontcourt players--Hunter missed seven conference games, Petway two, and Brown one--but at all times there were three legitimate options in the frontcourt. Injuries cannot explain away the fact that Michigan was far and away the worst defensive rebounding team in the conference.

Michigan was about average with its offensive rebounding, which is still somewhat disappointing with a jumping jack like Petway on the team. Offensive rebounding is more athleticism and skill than defensive rebounding, which is mostly a matter of boxing out your man, and Michigan had one of the better offensive rebounders in the league in Petway. He got no support from anyone else, however.

The offensive rebounding is not the real issue, though. Michigan must improve its defensive rebounding next year to have a real chance in the Big Ten. There's no reason they can't do so. The only reason they were horrendous this year was poor coaching. mgoblog will be watching Def Reb % like a hawk next year... it's the canary (in a coalmine) stat for '05-'06.

As for the rest of the Big Ten... MSU's utter dominance certainly leaps out at you. This probably a combination of Izzo coaching and Paul Davis definitively proving that he is not a "disappointment" or "soft." Davis is a bad mutha (scroll down) on the boards. The only guy better is his teammate and football-moonlighter Matt Trannon.

The hits just keep on coming. Ugh. Unlike the rebounding numbers, I do believe that the turnover percent can be explained away by injuries. The Michigan backcourt morphed into Dion Harris and Three Guys From The IM Building midway through the season and that was it as far as turnovers went. Dion played 40 minutes a game as the only offensive option. He got tired and turned the ball over, so someone else would bring the ball up the court and turn the ball over.

Will this improve significantly next season? Yes. It almost has to. Michigan won't leap up into the top half of the Big Ten--Horton, Harris, and Sims are all very turnover prone--but hopefully they can get to about average.

And now the pet stat: Shots Per Possession. There are two version of this stat per team, one offensive and one defense. The formula for both is (FGA + 0.44 FTA) / Possessions. It is exactly how many shots you get or yield per possession, an important measure of offensive efficiency that combines your rebounding and turnovers into a single stat that shows how effective you are at getting off shots. It obviously does not address shot quality.

What jumps out at you? How about Illinois' SPP of 1.00... a whole shot per possession! That essentially means that Illinois had one offensive rebound (161 on the year) for every turnover (160 on the year). They were 39-2 for a reason, kids. Michigan's OppSPP of 0.97 is bad but nowhere near as bad as their regular SPP of 0.89, which beats only Northwestern.

Take the difference between the two SPP stats and multiply it by the average number of possessions in a game and viola, Shot Differential. Shot diff passes the initial sanity check... all five tourney teams at the top, Illinois at the tippy-top, and Michigan State close on their heels. Michigan, of course, sucks at everything. Other things of note: Wisconsin's hands-off defense has its costs They give up an unusually high number of shots for a good team, largely because they're tied with Penn State for last in opponent's turnovers. Minnesota's reputation for hard-nosed defense is well deserved. It appears to be the only thing that they do well, but they did it well enough to make the tournament last year.

Finally, pirate rating weights parrot percentage very heavily and successfully negotiates a balance when it comes to eyepatches--having too few relative to parrot percentage (signifying you're a bunch of posers) is punished just as harshly as having too many (signifying you can't control your parrots and they keep pecking out eyes). When Michigan lost Horton for the year it lost both a source of PP and a guy who could reliably handle a parrot without risking an eye--something John Andrews and Dani Wohl found to be difficult, to say the least. Michigan should improve here.

Summary: Ewww. These stats are totally gross for Michigan, especially the defensive rebounding number, which is awful and not explainable by pointing to injuries. Anyone questioning Amaker's coaching ability should point to that stat first and foremost. The numbers reflect what I've muttered privately for a while: Michigan is not only a bad team, it's a dumb, inefficient team. The stats that seem to relate to talent and effort (offensive rebounding and opponent's turnovers) see Michigan in the middle of the pack. The stats that are mostly intelligence, technique, and coaching (turnovers and defensive rebounding) see Michigan at the very bottom. Michigan may slide by next year with good shooting, shotblocking, and perimeter defense, but if the latter statistics don't improve over the course of a few years Michigan will never be a threat to win the Big Ten or advance deep into the tourney.