Monday, April 27, 2015

Ray Floriani's Tempo-Free NEC Wrapup

Jalen Cannon (left) and Brent Jones (right) led St. Francis Brooklyn to regular season NEC championship, and spearheaded Terriers' offensive attack, the league's most efficient. (Photo courtesy of Big Apple Buckets)

It came down to the wire in the Northeast Conference. Not surprisingly, the numbers in many cases mirror how close this league was.

The EM (efficiency margin), as noted in past posts, is offensive efficiency subtracted by the defense. The ‘photo finish’ of the two top teams was consistent in how the conference played out. (Numbers courtesy of bbstate.com)

1) St. Francis Brooklyn (EM 12, 15-3 record, TS 49.9)
2) Robert Morris (EM 11, 12-6, TS 57.9)
3) Mount St. Mary's (EM 7, 11-7, TS 52.7)
4) Bryant (EM 2, 12-6, TS 52.4)
5) Saint Francis University (EM 1, 9-9, TS 53.8)
6) Sacred Heart (EM 0, 9-9, TS 50.5)
7) LIU Brooklyn (EM -6, 8-10, TS 50.6)
8) Wagner (EM -7, 8-10, TS 47.3)
9) Fairleigh Dickinson (EM -9, 3-15, TS 40.8)
10) Central Connecticut (EM -17, 3-15, TS 43.1)

A new metric: Not really that new. True shooting percentage (TS) has been around a few years. While effective field goal percentage gives a little ‘extra credit’ for a three-pointer finding the bottom of the net, TS takes a comprehensive look at the shooting performance. The following formula sums it up best:

TS = Points/(2 * (FGA + .475 * FTA))

True shooting looks at the player performance, shooting-wise, relative to used possessions. You may ram home over 60% of your shots in Wilt Chamberlain fashion from in close, but if you shoot free throws as the storied ‘Big Dipper’ did, TS will suffer.

TS is not to belittle the FG, one of the Four Factors, but having the free throws accounted for, gives us a comprehensive look at a said shooting performance. TS can be used for teams (we included the NEC performances) as well as individuals. It seems eFG gets used more with teams and TS individuals. Both metrics have their merits for the two groups, teams and individuals. TS, somewhat of a below the radar stat to many, has appreciable value in its own right.

The top (meaning lowest) TO rate on offense was 16.9, posted by Bryant. Just behind was FDU at 17.1. The problem with Greg Herenda’s Knights was an eFG mark of 47.8% and a 40.8 TS percentage.

Top Defenses:
1) Mount St. Mary's (93 defensive efficiency)
2) St. Francis Brooklyn (94)
3) Robert Morris (96)

Not among the best defenses in this metric, FDU had the distinction of forcing opposing offenses into the highest TO rate at 21.6%. Closely behind were Robert Morris (21.2) and Mount St. Mary’s (21.0). St. Francis Brooklyn had the stingiest eFG defense at 45.5%. Closely behind was Mount St. Mary’s at 46%.

Leading Offenses:
1) Robert Morris (107 offensive efficiency)
T-2) St. Francis Brooklyn (106)
T-2) Bryant (106)
4) Sacred Heart (103)

Bryant’s conference leading 54.1% eFG percentage was a major factor.

Fastest Pace:
1) Sacred Heart (70.7 possessions)
2) LIU Brooklyn (70.2)
3) Wagner (69.8)

Anthony Latina made no bones about it. He wanted his Sacred Heart team to get out and run, force the pace and dictate tempo, and the Pioneers did it as the NEC’s fastest-paced club.

Most Deliberate Pace:
1) Bryant (64.1 possessions)
T-2) Central Connecticut (64.6)
T-2) St. Francis Brooklyn (64.6)

About one mile separates the campuses of St. Francis Brooklyn and LIU. That short distance, a subway stop or two, saw two vastly different approaches to tempo: The push it up, ‘NASCAR’ pace of the Blackbirds, as opposed to the more methodical approach of the Terriers.

Northeast Conference Championship: Robert Morris 66, St. Francis Brooklyn 63
A contest eminently worthy of being labeled the championship game. A 64-possession affair right at the target tempo of both teams (Robert Morris averaged 66 possessions per NEC game). The Colonials had a 100-98 edge in offensive efficiency. A major factor was Andy Toole’s club forcing St. Francis into a 24.8 TO rate while holding them to 45% eFG percentage. How did the Terriers stay competitive? Second chances. Glenn Braica’s group enjoyed a 22-6 lead in offensive rebounds, translating into a 50-20% domination of offensive rebounding percentage, a factor that allowed them to take this game to the final possession, despite some struggling on the offensive end.

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