HU blown out at D-I Northwestern State

The Bisons lost 89-61 this afternoon against a very tough Northwestern State team in Natchitoches, Louisiana. NSU was coming off a road victory at Oklahoma State (Eddie Sutton’s second non-conference home loss in his illustrious career), so this was not entirely surprising. Northwestern State also made Jay Bilas’ Power 16 on ESPN.com this week, although probably undeservedly. As for today’s game, the Bisons struggled in pretty much every aspect of the game, but they picked up some experience against a very solid D-I team.

The four keys:

HU Opp. +/-
TS% 48.0 57.3 (0.162)
OR% 28.9% 53.8% (0.462)
TR 20.1 12.3 (0.386)
FTM/P 0.179 0.140 0.284

If you couldn’t tell by the final score, these stats can show you how the Bisons were overmatched today. The edge in free throw shooting is only a small consolation when you are outplayed in the other three areas. I’d like to do a study at some point to see the relative impact of an edge in each key area, but I would imagine that free throw shooting is the least important. It’s hard to win games when you get out-shot by 16%, out-rebounded by a phenomenal 46%, and turn the ball over 38% more often.

I’m willing to chalk this one up to a solid effort from a very good D-I team, rather than any fault of our own. I rated NSU a 69 for my subjective Player Leveling Factor purposes, based on their play so far this season. That may be a bit low, since their RPI ranks them #41 in all of D-I, but I’m not going to give them that much credit unless they reach and somehow win a game in the NCAA Tournament.

As far as individual performances go, there was nothing to write home about. Brandon Sims had a nice game shooting from behind the arc, but he was the only Bison in double figures for the game score. Lonnie Smith had 16 points, but it was a cold shooting night, just 4-of-16 from the field, bumping his game score t0 8.1, snapping a four-game double-digit streak. Alassane Savadogo and Cole Kee scored in double-figures themselves, but Savadogo had an uncharacteristically poor night on the boards, with just one in 16 minutes on the floor.

Here are the game scores and other useful stats:

## Player Name GS GS/M TS% PPR AR TR RR
12 Bibb, Reggie…….. 2.0 0.080 0.0 12.0 75.0 12.5 2.1%
14 Smith, Lonnie……. 8.1 0.238 42.9 -7.8 8.1 16.2 4.6%
21 Sims, Brandon……. 11.1 0.317 60.0 3.8 16.7 0.0 7.4%
24 Andrepont, Patrick.. 0.0 0.000 31.1 -13.1 5.3 26.5 7.9%
50 Savadogo, Alassane.. 3.9 0.244 83.3 -18.8 0.0 33.3 3.2%
4 Kee, Cole……….. 3.4 0.200 51.2 -9.8 13.6 20.3 6.1%
10 Morgan, Kellen…… 0.0 0.000 #DIV/0! 0.0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! 0.0%
22 Barnett, Steven….. 1.8 0.120 26.6 6.7 51.0 17.0 6.9%
34 Bynum, Jesse…….. 2.5 0.119 60.2 -14.3 0.0 47.5 17.3%
44 Anderson, Alex…… 0.0 0.000 #DIV/0! 0.0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! 0.0%

The Bisons will have 22 days to rest up for their next game, which is January 2nd at Missouri-Rolla. The next home game is against Delta State on the 7th (the Saturday before classes start). The dorms should be open by then, so I would encourage everyone to come back early for the game.

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2 thoughts on “HU blown out at D-I Northwestern State

  1. John,
    I think a study about the relative impact of an edge in each key area would be interesting.

    Though I still need to pick up a copy of Dean Oliver’s book to further understand his methodology, I would say from years of experience and watching games that of the “four keys,” free throw shooting is the least important.

    However, I am not sure how you would be able to research relative impact in regards to free throw shooting due to these three variables:

    #1 Different offensive philosophies… A team that runs motion offense and predominantly shoots jumpers is not prone to getting fouled as much as a team who works the shot clock down– getting their big men touches on every possession and run players off picks.

    #2 Referees… Some have the “let them play” philosophy. Some are nitpicky and call handchecks & any aggressive jostling in the post. I am not a fan of the latter.

    #3 Late game situations… If a team is playing from a couple of possessions behind, the other team will naturally live at the free throw line the last minute or two of the game.

    Just to further illustrate the point why I think free throw shooting is the least important key— take this situation. Team A is 9/10 from the line and beats Team B, who was 19/34 from the line.

    Even if I were Team B (the loser), I would still like my team’s chances in future games if they made it to the line 24 times more than my opponent.

    I would argue that total shooting percentage is the most important of the four keys relatively. Rebounding would be second (especially in regards to offensive rebounds).

    If I’m a high tempo team, I can live with turnovers (third key) from aggressiveness. I would say that assists are just as important, and an assist/turnover ratio would concern me more than turnovers themselves. I believe this key is also relatively more important than free throws, because a turnover is a lost possession… a team who gets to the foul line has opportunities to put points on the board for that possession.

    Even though I really don’t follow Div. 2 basketball (though I saw one team has Jasper Johnson who I saw play for USM when I was at TCU…and a very solid d-1 player too), I enjoy reading your analyses.

    Hopefully this long winded post is coherent… I’m not that great of a writer when it comes to mathematical & philosophical concepts.

    I really believe you should pursue sabermetrics, sabernomics, or economics in your graduate studies. You’ve got a sharp analytical mind, write well, have a great knowledge of all three major sports, and obviously have a passion for this stuff. Just a suggestion.

    Jay Zuckerman

  2. Thanks for the comments, Jay. I’ve been thinking about doing a study on the relative impacts of the four keys for a while, and perhaps I’ll have time for it over the break.

    It would be really interesting if I could come up with some sort of formula that would tell me, by looking at the four keys alone, who won the game.

    Your analysis is spot-on. I would agree that free-throw shooting is by far the least important of the four. In fact, true shooting percentage takes free throws into account somewhat anyway (it’s basically points per shot, multiplied by 50).

    As for my grad studies, my plans are still to study accounting, but if I get into a doctoral program, I will get a much deeper background in statistics. You’re absolutely right about my passion for this stuff. The job market for it is limited, but if I ever found my way in, I’d probably jump all over the opportunity.

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