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Just The Sports: Georgetown Hoyas' Offensive Efficiency Is Not Predicated Upon Tempo

Just The Sports

Friday, January 07, 2011

Georgetown Hoyas' Offensive Efficiency Is Not Predicated Upon Tempo's Luke Winn is a great college basketball writer. He does copious amounts of research, has a great understanding of advanced basketball statistics, and comes up with interesting topics to discuss in his articles. Unfortunately, Winn has also been the recipient of misleading information.

In his December 16th college basketball power rankings, Winn quotes an assistant coach from an opposing team who scouted the Georgetown Hoyas and had this to say:

"I honestly think, because their guards [Chris Wright, Austin Freeman and Jason Clark] are so talented and skilled, that the faster they play, the better off they are. Because the more chances you give those three guys to make decisions on the fly and create shots, the better off they're going to be."

Immediately upon reading this, red flags went off for me because in my experience, the tempo at which a team plays has very little to do with just how efficient they are offensively. A team that plays at a slow pace has just as much chance of being a great offensive team as one who treats every possession like a fast break opportunity.

If it were actually the case that the Georgetown Hoyas would be a better team if they played at a faster tempo, then it would be reflected in their play this season. Luckily, finding out such is an easy task as all one has to do is run a correlation between Georgetown's possessions and their offensive efficiency, points per 100 possessions.

As it turns out, through their 15 games this season, the Hoyas have a .374 correlation between their number of possessions and their offensive efficiency, indicating there is some truth behind the assistant coach's proclamation. The correlation, which is fairly strong, does reveal that the faster the Hoyas have played, the more efficient their offense has become.

However, in the grand scheme of what comprises Georgetown's offensive efficiency, the speed at which they play is less important than a number of other categories.

The most important factor in determining how efficiently the Hoyas have played on offense should come as no surprise; it is how well they have shot the ball. No matter which shooting statistic you choose to look at, be it field goal percentage (.857 correlation), true shooting percentage (.832 correlation), or effective field goal percentage (.799 correlation), how well the Hoyas shoot is an incredibly more powerful and reliable indicator of their final offensive efficiency.

Additionally, the Hoyas' assist rate (.582 correlation), turnover rate (-.525 correlation), offensive rebounding percentage (.400 correlation), and turnovers per possession (-.430) all have more to do with their offensive efficiency than their tempo does.

Instead of advocating that the Georgetown Hoyas play at a faster pace to maximize their offensive potential, the opposing assistant coach should have advised the Hoyas to shoot better from the field, make sure all passes are leading to field goal makes for their teammates, limit their turnovers, and grab as many offensive rebounds as they can. All of those pieces of advice would benefit the Hoyas more in the future than simply playing faster so they can acquire more possessions.

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