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Just The Sports: Turnover Schmurnover

Just The Sports

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Turnover Schmurnover

Should you have found yourself in the position of being bored enough to or actually interested in watching a University of North Carolina women's basketball game, you no doubt heard the commentators remark multiples times during the course of the game that head coach Sylvia Hatchell will worry about her team's turnover totals only if they approach some exorbitant number such as forty in one game. A mantra like that from a head coach might lead one to surmise that the team as a whole does not prize possessions in a manner that would lead to efficient play on offense. That assumption would be incorrect in relation to the 2006-07 Tar Heel women's team.

Among the top ten teams in the country as ranked by the AP Poll, it is true that the Carolina women have the most turnovers per possession (.246). Yet, UNC has the second-highest offensive rating (112.7) with only Maryland ahead of them (115.0). Part of the reason why they are able to shake off those turnovers is because of very good overall shooting (55.6 TS%); again, Maryland is first in this category among the top ten women's teams with 59.5 TS%. The rest of the reason for maintaining a high level of efficiency is due to the fact that Carolina is such a great offensive rebounding team, as evidenced by a offensive rebound percentage of 47.6%, tops among the top ten teams.

Having such a high offensive rebound percentage improves a team's efficiency in this way. A basketball possession only ends when the opponent establishes control of the ball so when a team is able to rebound its own misses, it is keeping its possession total down so that if it does score off an offensive rebound, the team is credited with scoring points off a singular possession even though it may have taken three shots and three offensive rebounds to score. Being a good offensive rebounding team allows one to avoid wasting possessions in a less conventional manner than merely keeping down turnovers, but it is a no less effective method of doing so.

Maryland is similar to Carolina in that the women on the team also have a high turnover per possessions number (.241), but make up for it with good offensive rebounding (44.1 OReb%).

On another note, at least among the elite of women's college basketball, the women look like they are catching up to the men in offensive efficiency. Of the top ten teams, only one (George Washington) has an offensive rating below 100, although LSU is dangerously close to falling below that mark. As the seasons go by, women's college basketball seems to only be getting better.

As Carolina and Maryland have shown, a team can have a propensity for turning the ball over, but be a good offensive rebounding team and take that path to elevated offensive efficiency. No matter what a team does, each must find a way to prize possessions or else find numerous losses in their stockings at the end of the season.



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