My good people. Let us not bicker or quarrel. We all love the Crimson Tide. And yet I cannot help but sense that there is great displeasure among you with the performance of our basketball team this year. This displeasure, I fear, has caused us to look upon our beloved Tide with a jaundiced eye, such that we are able to see only what displeases us while unable to give proper respect to that which is so deserving. I humbly offer these stats, which may serve to bring some cure to thine eye. If I cause offense to thee with these observations, please consign them to the flames. For I, your faith and humble servant, have no wish to sow dissent among the faithful and loyal Writers and Readers of Roll Bama Roll (all stats come from statsheet.com):
1) We are the best defensive team in the SEC, and Grant and the team deserve a lot of praise for putting us in this position. Great defense in basketball is mostly about working your ass off to be in the right place at the right time. We have been among the best in the nation at this since Grant's arrival.
In order to get a measure of how well the team is doing, we have to look at possession numbers first. Grant wants to limit the possessions in a game. He's damn good at it. We lead the SEC in SEC play, with 61 possessions per game. This means that each team only gets 61 possessions each.
Next, lets see how many points per possession that our SEC opponents have: .91, second in the SEC to the Gators .83. Then consider our opponents' floor percentage (this is the ratio of scoring possessions to non-scoring possessions): 48.1%, 3rd behind UF and Mizzou. Finally, look at our opponents' offensive efficiency (this is points per 100 possessions): 91.3, 2nd to UF's 83.2. When it comes to stopping teams from scoring when they have the ball, we are second in the conference to a team that may end up with a no. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney.
Now, how are we so good on defense? Blocks, steals, and turnovers, my friends. Again, in order to get a proper measure of the impact of these defensive plays, you need to measure them by percentages rather than totals. So lets do that.
We blocked 10.2% of our opponents' FGs, 2nd to UK who blocks 11.5%. We stole the ball from our SEC opponents 15.3% of their total possessions, first in the league, and ridiculously good, I might add. We have forced our opponents to turn the ball over on 23.9% of their possessions, 2nd to the Hogs' 26.8%. These defensive plays have a higher value because we are limiting the overall possessions.
2) We are not at the bottom of the conference in offensive production or rebounding. As I said above, Grant's style is to limit possessions in a game and defend the 3-pointer (something Gottfried knew nearly nothing about). When successful, this style means that there will be fewer overall shots in a game and thus fewer opportunities for either side to score points and snag rebounds.
On points per possession, we are in the middle of the league at .96, way below UF at 1.19 (2nd is MIzzou is 1.1) and way above MSU at .84. We need to do better and we'll look at this problem below. Our rebounding %, that is rebounds per rebound opportunities is 48.7, not great but this puts us again at the middle of the pack rather than on the very bottom.
3) So where are the problems? Let's put aside the question of whether we think we ought to run this style of play. Let's consider what we need to do better in order to be more successful at this style of play. I think that there are two issues here: assists and shooting %. Of course, you can't get the assist unless someone scores, so I think that the bigger issue is shooting a higher percentage. And the stats support this assessment. We are 11th in the league in total shot % (a combination of FG% and FT%). So we are middle of the pack in FG% and middle of the pack in FT%, but put them together (the total scoring output) and we are near the bottom.
I am not opposed to our style of play, and I don't think the problem lies in offensive schemes. I think our offensive problems have to do with executing the scheme, and more importantly, knocking down the open shot, of which we have had numerous. I wish there was a stat comparing contested shots to open shots. I haven't seen that before but I suspect we'd be about average there.