Inside The Numbers: Should Rodgers Return?

The big debate around the UA is the return of Chris Rodgers. Fans seem torn on whether bringing him back. While you can't factor in the chemistry issues, you can look at the numbers. In this case, the numbers may be surprising.

I decided to look at the stats in games where Rodgers played and games where Rodgers did not play. I assumed that in games where Rodgers played that the defensive numbers would be better, while the offensive numbers, especially shooting percentage, would be better after he left. This was only true to an extent.

I first compared the 16 games that Rodgers played in and compared them to the eight that he did not. The first stat I looked at was wins and winning percentage and they were identical. The Cats were 10-6 (62.5%) with him and 5-3 (62.5%) without him, so that is a wash.

On the offensive end the Cats averaged 74.6 points a game with Rodgers in the line-up and just 74 points a game without him, basically a wash. Where it did get interesting is in shooting percentage. The Cats shot better (45.8%) without him than they did with him (43.4). Behind the arc the numbers are the same. The Cats shot 32.3% without Rodgers and 30.7 with him. That being said, the Cats averaged more made field goals and more made three-pointers with Rodgers on the floor.

One number that was a little surprising was that the Cats actually took care of the ball better with Rodgers on the floor. The Cats committed 1.2 more turnovers a game with Rodgers out. Despite more turnovers, opponent's steals were down ever so slightly (6.7 to 6.0).

Defensively the Cats were better with Rodgers, but that is no real surprise. Opponents shot 44.4% with Rodgers out there and 45.3% with him away from the team. Behind the arc it was the same as opponents made 36.4% of their attempts since he left to just 34.9% with Rodgers on the team.

With their defensive stopper the Cats forced 21.9 turnovers and 10.8 steals a game. Without him they averaged 16.9 forced turnovers and 8.7 steals a game.

Those stats basically supported what I thought, but I still had questions. Some of those numbers could have been padded in the games against non-BCS teams. Although the Cats failed to blow anyone out, they did have games against the likes of NAU, St. Mary's and Utah.

I decided to compare the stats in Pac-10 games. Rodgers played in six conference games where the Cats were just 3-3, they were 5-2 in conference without him.

Offensively the Cats scored more than half a point less a game (75.3 to 74.7), but shot better overall from the field (46.3 to 45.3). They also shot worse from behind the arc with Rodgers out of the line-up. With Rodgers they shot 48.8% and 43.5% without him. The Cats also turned over the ball nearly two more times a game without Rodgers, but had less balls stolen.

Defensively, the numbers are shocking. The Cats allowed conference opponents to shoot 48.8% with Rodgers on the floor, while they shot just 43.5% after he left. Behind the arc the numbers were even more staggering. Conference opponents shot 45.5% with Rodgers and just 34.3% without.

What the Cats did not do as well was force turnovers, but the steals were about the same.

Of course the numbers are skewed a bit because of the Oregon games. Against the Beavers the Cats allowed OSU to shoot 75% from behind arc and 61.4% overall. The Ducks shot 56.3% behind the arc and 55.1% overall. All told the two schools shot a staggering 62.5% from behind the arc.

In the end the numbers don't support a move either way. Maybe the only number that stands out is the Cats' conference record without Rodgers where they are 5-2. Chemistry seems to be the bigger issue and the Cats have been up and down without Rodgers. Players like Mustafa Shakur, Ivan Radenovic and Kirk Walters have played better since Rodgers left, but a lot of that could be due to an increased emphasis on the inside game. Conversely, Hassan Adams has not been as good with Rodgers gone.

Maybe it could best be summed up by the feelings of the Wildcat faithful, "Trust Lute". If Lute Olson feels that Rodgers will benefit the team, he must see something that the numbers do not show. If he can work within the framework of the offense, it could work. If not, it may not be worth it for the minimal benefit on the defensive end.

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