Monday, January 28, 2013

Are the Baby Eagles Showing Any Progress?

It's no secret that the Eagles are off to a rough 1-5 start to ACC play.  Four of the six games, all losses, were within five points.  Such close games are usually 50-50 propositions, meaning that BC very well could be sitting at 3-3 if things had gone slightly differently.  A 3-3 start would certainly have been progress over last year's four total wins in ACC play, but I wanted to compare the stats to see if the numbers support this type of progress.

Scoring: Last year, BC averaged a field goal percentage of .409 and this year average .431, a differential of .022, a small bump at best.  This becomes even smaller when you consider two additional factors.  First, BC is playing a faster offense this year, which should result in more layups and other high percentage shots.  Second, BC has played less than half of its ACC games, meaning that the current field goal percentage disproportionately reflects a higher number of out of conference opponents than last year's percentage. 

When it comes to 3 pointers, BC shot .339 last year, and is currently shooting just .337, a clear, albeit slight, regression.  On the balance I think the numbers support slight overall regression in the shooting department.  They certainly don't show progress.

Defense: Last year, opponents shot .436.  This year, opponents are shooting .447.  BC is playing a faster pace offense this year, which should result in more opponent possessions, and therefore proportionately more opponent points.  The problem is that opponents are increasing not only their point totals but their total points per possession, reflected in part by the increased field goal percentage. 

Again, we have slight regression.

Rebounding and Turnovers:  We do see some progress when it comes to rebounding.  BC was out-rebounded 1111-924 last year.  This year BC is clearing the glass at a more even rate, coming in just ahead at 636-619, even without Clifford.

Similar results can be seen in the assist-to-turnover ratio.  Last year this stat was under water for BC, coming in at 358:454.  This year the team has turned the ship around, coming in at 238:223 so far. 

Conclusion: I'm honestly not entirely sure what to make of these numbers.  On the one hand I'm discouraged with the lack of progress, especially in regards to shooting.  Donahue was supposed to be a good, if not great, shooting coach.  How many guys have noticeably improved their shot under his watch though?  Lonnie Jackson and maybe Anderson?  I always thought that Donahue's defensive background was suspect, and even asked him about his defensive credentials when I first met him. These guys need to get tougher on the defensive end if they are going to win ACC games.

That being said, this team was never going to play in the post-season this year.  If we're looking at this team compared to last year's team, not much has changed.  We've lost our most experienced starter, Humphrey, and replaced him with a freshman.  We replaced a freshman point guard with another freshman point guard.  We've swapped a healthy Clifford for an unhealthy Clifford.  Only Heckmann, Anderson, Odio, and Jackson are improvements over their 2011-2012 selves.  I don't believe that adversity is an excuse, but it shouldn't be completely discounted either.

I'll keep rooting for this team, going to games, and hoping that Donahue works out.  I like him both as a person and as a coach.  I think he's a great fit for this university and that he was dealt a really difficult hand by Skinner.  These types of questions will become more frequent as the losses pile up however.

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