I'm hoping to continue these posts throughout the year to track the quality of Alabama's five-man units throughout the season. The reason for tracking five-man units is to look at how players perform in combination with each other, as opposed to isolating single player statistics or looking at the team as a whole.
For the most part, I'll be looking at Offensive Efficiency and Defensive Efficiency (shown here as Points per Possession and Opposing Points per Possession). To give you an idea of why they matter, I'll quote Burnt Orange Nation
Historically, the way we tend to evaluate basketball teams is to look at per game statistics. For instance, we might look at the Big 12 statistics from last season and conclude Nebraska, who allowed 60.5 points per game, and Texas A&M, who allowed 61.3 points per game, were both better defensively than Texas, who allowed 62.2 points per the game. The chief problem with this sort of analysis is that it ignores the pace at which these teams play. Texas A&M played at an extremely slow pace last season, averaging 62.2 possessions per game. Nebraska played slightly faster, averaging 63.6 possessions per game. Of these three schools, Texas played at the fastest tempo, averaging 66.9 possessions per game. Nebraska and Texas A&M were among the slowest-paced teams in all of Division I last year, whereas Texas' pace was pretty close to the Division I median of 66.6 possessions per game.Per possession statistics help us to put all teams on an equal footing, no matter what tempo they play at. A team that averages 70 possessions per game is likely going to both score and give up more points that a team that averages 60 possessions per game. So when comparing two teams, we should look at how many points per possession each team scored and allowed, rather than simply comparing the per game statistics.
The NCAA average last season was 1.03 points per possession so, ideally, our offense will average better than a point per possession and our defense will average fewer than one point per possession.
I'll also be tracking +/- and +/- per 40. +/- is exactly like the hockey stat: Points scored less points allowed. +/- per 40 is an attempt to determine how much Alabama would win (or lose) by if that particular unit played every minute of every game as well as they played when they were on the court.
There are two HUGE caveats that need to be addressed before presenting these stats. First, the real stat people are capable of adjusting for defensive quality. Obviously, allowing 60 points against a team that averages 100 pts/game is better than allowing 60 points against a team that averages 60 pts/game. Unfortunately, I can't control for that. So these are raw numbers, unadjusted for the quality of the defense or offense played.
Second, sample size matters. The NBA gets 82 games, we get 30. The NBA gets 4000+ minutes per season to analyze, NCAA teams are lucky to get 1200. This is especially an issue at the beginning of the season when teams are trying out multiple different lineups. My attempt throughout the year will be to keep stats for non-conference games, conference games, and games against Sagarin's Top 50 and (maybe) Top 100.
With all that said, here are the Five-Man stats for the North Florida game.
|Five-Man Group||Time||Possessions||Points||Pts/Poss||Opp. Possessions||Opp. Points||Opp. Pts/Poss||+/->||+/- per 40|
|Releford - Randolph - Cooper - Mitchell - Green||8:46||14||8||.57||14||9||.64||-1||-4.44|
|Releford - Lacey - Randolph - Mitchell - Green||7:22||12||17||1.42||12||5||.42||12||68.57|
|Eblen - Lacey - Randolph - Cooper - Jacobs||3:33||5||5||1.00||6||9||1.50||-4||-53.33|
|Releford - Cooper - Hankerson - Jacobs - Green||3:05||5||4||.80||4||3||0.75||1||13.33|
|Releford - Lacey - Randolph - Mitchell - Jacobs||2:53||4||5||1.25||4||2||.50||3||40.00|
|Lacey - Randolph - Hankerson - Green - Engstrom||2:04||4||5||1.25||3||4||1.33||1||20.00|
|Eblen - Lacey - Randolph - Mitchell - Green||1:57||3||6||2.00||2||0||0.00||6||120.00|
|Eblen - Randolph - Hankerson - Mitchell - Jacobs||1:57||1||2||2.00||2||2||1.00||0||0.00|
|Releford - Lacey - Randolph - Mitchell - Engstrom||1:34||2||0||0.00||2||0||0.00||0||0.00|
|Lacey - Randolph - Hankerson - Mitchell - Jacobs||1:15||2||3||1.50||2||2||1.00||1||40.00|
|Lacey - Cooper - Hankerson - Jacobs - Green||1:01||2||0||0.00||2||0||0.00||0||0.00|
I've limited these numbers to the units that had more than one minute on the floor. The important thing to note here is that only two units had more than one shift during the game. Those two units ended up at the top in terms of minutes played. Obviously, the sample size is small but, for this night, the combo of Releford-Lacey-Randolph-Mitchell-Green significantly outplayed the starting lineup of Releford-Randolph-Cooper-Mitchell-Green.