Are We Really Shooting Worse?

Lots of people are saying this is one of the worst-shooting teams of recent memory. I know it seems that way, especially last weekend – but let’s look at some data and not trust our lying eyes.

So, using the great site Sports Reference, I pulled down game stats for the past five seasons. I then did some analysis.

First, I ran out FG% by game for the past five years, and did some graphs to see if I could see trends. The game-by-game graphs were too volatile, so I added four-game rolling trendlines. That seemed to show that this team was under earlier teams – but then I realized that our FG% was only part of the equation.

If you are a bad-shooting team, but your opponents shoot WORSE, isn’t that the stat that really matters?

So, I went back and added a rolling cumulative percentage, game by game, for both us and our opponents. THEN, I did a column showing the cumulative game-by-game difference.

Here are the results, both through 18 games and through the end of the year, showing both our FG% and the difference with our opponents:

2010-2011 — 47.7% through 18 (up 8.7%), finish 45.3% (up 5.9%)

2011-2012 — 43.2% through 18 (up 6.7%), finish 42.2% (up 3.8%)

2012-2013 — 45.4% through 18 (up 5.8%), finish 45.6% (up 6.1%)

2013-2014 — 47.1% through 18 (up 7.6%), finish 47.1% (up 7.5%) 

2014-2015 — 42.7% through 18 (up 5.7%), —

So, no matter how you look at it, this year’s FG% is lower through 18 games than any of the previous teams, AND their margin against their opponents is smaller as well.

Note, of course, that if you subtract the margin from our FG%, you can see our opponents are also shooting lower than any year except 2011-2012. So, this year’s defense is usually giving us a margin of safety. But not always.

Let’s hope that the offensive numbers go up at least a little, and that our defense continues to be strong. I’ll post updates on these stats as the season goes along.

Can A Loss Be A Win?

My wife and I traveled to a funeral on Saturday, and listened to the game on the way back to Louisville from Dayton. We were able to pick up the game at halftime, and listened to the end. And while I was disappointed in the loss, I have to say:

Outside of the score, this was a win for Louisville.

Yes, I know, that’s at best an oxymoron, and at worst one of those “moral victories” claims. But seriously, this game is going to produce more dividends down the road, I think, than if one of the two shots at the end had actually gone in and we had won.

Chris Jones continued his upward trajectory as a point guard. Terry Rozier was, once again, amazing. The 5 position finally showed some signs of life. All good things, all positives we can celebrate.

But you see, we have a HOF coach, and he is going to use this as a teaching-tool-slash-club-to-beat-you-with for probably the next three months. As in,

“See what happens when you don’t play defense?”
“See why you need to get stronger, Mango?”
“See what happens, Trezl, when you disappear?”
“See what happens, bench players, when we get nothing from you?”
“See what happens, everyone, when you lose focus and let a team back into the game?”

I’m going to predict that this team is going to make a deep run in March, and when they do, they are going to reference this loss. They are going to learn from it, over and over again. Because as a person who works in adult learning in my career, there’s a truism that definitely applies:

Adults learn more from failure than from success.