We live in a statistical renaissance in the modern sports world, an age where player efficiency rating and box plus-minus are used seamlessly alongside traditional box score stats like points and rebounds while predictive analytics like KenPom, Sagarin, and BPI are used to evaluate teams far more than their win-loss categories. Statistics can also be a divisive topic at times when it comes to evaluating players or teams, with analytics-driven minds clashing heads with the conventional method of watching film and spotting the intangibles.
For me, statistics are a great tool to be used alongside the good old-fashioned eye test and watching film to figure out what actions lead to a certain statistical outcome is an entertaining challenge as a writer, coach, and basketball fan.
Followers of Gator Country will know that I love to interject a fascinating stat when appropriate and with the 2017-2018 college basketball season finished there are a lot of intriguing stats I have found that are too tantalizing not to share.
In this article I will list my favorite stats that I have found at the end of the season. Some are team stats, some are individual stats. Some are positive, some are negative. The fun for you as the reader is to decide which of these stats are an indication of something bigger like, say, an adjustment to the offense that needs to made or a successful coaching tactic that should be celebrated and which ones are insignificant numbers that can be chuckled at but ignored. Some will be presented with some of my thoughts and some will be presented without comment.
Here they are, the most interesting, wacky, and compelling stats from the Florida Gators 2017-2018 season.
The Exactech Arena has the 99th best home court advantage in college basketball, according to a KenPom stat that weighs in the home/away splits of teams playing there. This is the lowest home court advantage Florida has had in the 17-year history of the stat.
The average Gator was 6’4.9”, making Florida the 154th tallest team in college basketball. In “effective height” (average height of players proportionate to time on the court, the more functional way to rank teams by height) the Gators were 136th in the country at an even 6’5″.
Florida’s bench played 28.1% of available minutes, 251st in the country.
Chiozza had 0.89 steals per foul committed which was 81st in the country. His ability to gamble for steals while staying out of foul trouble was very impressive and appreciated by the coaching staff and fans alike.
Before the season coach Mike White challenged Chiozza to lead the country in assist/turnover ratio. He wasn’t able to do that, but with a 3.4 AST/TO ratio he was 10th in the country.
Hayes had 0.807 blocks per foul committed, good for 41st in the country. It’s tough to challenge shots at the rim without fouling but his ability to move his feet and get to an optimal angle to challenge shots allowed him to turn away a lot of layups (36th in the nation in block percentage) while not getting whistled for too many infractions.
Hayes was known to struggle offensively but he was probably better than you thought when it came to scoring in the post. He shot 50% on the block (192nd in the country) and when you factor in “derived offense” (his own shots plus shots off his passes from the low block) he was 72nd in post offense. His favorite spot was definitely the left block where he shot 70% from the field and was the 3rd highest field goal percentage player from that area. Yes, he didn’t take a lot of post up shots and that shot selection allowed him to convert at a higher percentage, but it shows that he has aptitude in that area and could come back a better post scorer his senior year. Watch for him to be a much improved offensive player.
Someone who really did struggle on the low block:
Stone shot 11.1% on post ups, the 12th worst of all players to take more than 10 post up attempts. For those wondering, that is 1240th out of 1252 players. Stone has good size and length with a soft touch so I chalk up his struggles down low to be a bit of an anomaly, though it would be really great to see him convert at a higher rate down low. His bread definitely got buttered from behind the arc as he team leading 42.4% from deep was 139th in the country.
There were definitely some freshman learning moments for Ballard this year, especially on offense. Florida really struggled to convert on after time out plays (more on that later) and Ballard was a player who had particular troubles executing these sets shooting 1-16 for 7.7% from the field. Of players with multiple shots on after time out plays he finished 3066th out of 3081.
He also really struggled when he tried to force a contested jump shot, shooting 5.6% (1-18) when guarded. That makes him 3518th out of 3538 players. Some time working on his skills and a better understanding of the offense and set plays should really help Ballard improve his offensive efficiency next season.
Not known to be a three-point shooter in high school, Okauru surprised everyone by being the 34th best spot-up shooter in the country last year at 1.413 points per possession and a 54.8% shooting clip. Hopefully he doesn’t have a sophomore slump next year and can keep that pace up alongside the talented guard recruits the coaching staff has coming in.
Way to know your role, young man. The 6’11” Gak took 0 shots outside of 8 feet last season.
Gak also gets the award for most unlucky Gator. When he was closely guarding an opponent they shot 58.3%, and when he was the primary defender and left a shooter wide open they shot 37.5%.
That is just goofy.
Though extremely explosive and muscularly built Allen really struggled to score at the rim this past season shooting 35.9% which put him in the bottom 5% of the nation. He was inconsistent offensively throughout the year and his inability to cash in on easy buckets at the rim didn’t help. He definitely needs to become more confident at the tin which will also open up his outside game.
Might as well leave him open if you’re guarding Jalen Hudson. He shot 45% from the field when closely guarded and only 38.5% when wide open. Try to figure that one out.
The Gators had a 0.222 winning percentage in games decided by 3 points or less, 327th nationally. Florida will have to improve on late game execution in the future as there were a lot of valuable wins the Gators left on the table as shown by that stat. Their winning percentage in close games was also a sliver from being 0.000 on the season as their sole victory came on the now infamous Chris Chiozza “pick 6” at the buzzer against Missouri when he stole the ball from the Tigers with mere seconds left and ran the length of the floor for a layup at the buzzer to win.
The Gators were 337th in the country in after time out play efficiency. With a fairly veteran team you’d like to see far better execution coming out of stoppages where they have the ability to gather themselves. I’ll be closely monitoring this stat next season for sure.
It wasn’t just on offense that Gators struggled after time outs but on defense too. They finished 306 in defending after time out plays, a number that combined with their offensive ATO numbers makes you wonder if the focus is always there following the stoppage.
The Gators also struggled in short clock (<4 seconds) situations, ranking 314th in this category. Outside of Hudson the team didn’t have a lot of players who could create a shot off the dribble and I think that is closely tied to this issue. Florida needs to find a way to create offense individually this upcoming season, particularly if Hudson decides to stay in the NBA draft.
Though the Gators often looked like they struggled to score against zone defense they actually converted better against them than they did against man defense. They shot 43.4% against zone and 41.2% against man, a marginal difference but one I think is notable. When you use affective field goal percentage (a stat that factors in the increased reward for a made three) it shows they were definitely better off against zone as they finished with a 54.9 AFG% against zone and a 47.7 AFG% against man.
Another stat that falls into the bizarre category: The Gators were 1st in the country at defending end line out of bounds plays and they won this category handily. Only allowing 0.476 points per possession they were comfortably ahead of the second place Penn State team who allowed 0.526 points per possession. I don’t know if they spent much practice time working to defend end line out of bounds plays but whatever they did, it worked brilliantly.
Super Stat Or Meaningless Number?
I just rifled a lot of numbers at you and if your head doesn’t already hurt, spend some time thinking about what numbers you think really matter or what are numbers you think are random and should be ignored. Some of these stats could mean nothing, and some could mean everything. Let me know what you think on the Gator Country forums!