A Statistical Look at DePaul - Part I

In this report, John Templon takes a statistical look back at the 2008-09 men's basketball season for the Blue Demons.

DePaul struggled mightily last season, especially against Top 100 opponents. The Blue Demons were 1-20 against Top 100 opponents. The one win being DePaul's Big East Tournament opener against Cincinnati.

Here are the season averages for DePaul against Top 100 opponents:

Offensive Efficiency: 92.2

Pace: 65.7 possessions
Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%): 45.5%
Turnover Percentage: 18.7%
Offensive Rebound Percentage: 28.9%
Free Throw Rate: 26.3%

DePaul also played 12 games against non-Top 100 opponents. The Blue Demons went 8-4 in those games. Not surprisingly, those games helped raise DePaul's season averages by a significant amount. The team finished with an adjusted offensive efficiency of 100.1 for the season. The difference came from a slightly higher offensive rebound rate of 32.6 percent and a slightly lower turnover rate of 18.3 percent. Also, the Blue Demons were able to get to the line a few more times against the easier competition.

Once again though the raw numbers don't always tell the story. That's where efficiency contributions can help. The problem with efficiency contributions and DePaul though is that two of the five elements turned out to not be statistically significant. Therefore pace and free throw rate won't be discussed.

Here are the contributions in efficiency and points of the other three factors.

eFG%: 79.2 (52.1 ppg)
TO%: -16.1 (-10.6 ppg)
OR%: 22.1 (14.5 ppg)

The first thing that jumps out is that for all the complaints about DePaul's lack of leadership at point guard, and Dar Tucker's recklessness with the ball, it wasn't turnovers that were the problem for the Blue Demons last season. DePaul lost approximately 10.6 points per game through turnovers. Shooting percentage had an impact five times that of turnovers. FIVE TIMES. Now, point guard play probably factors into a team's effective field goal percentage as well. It is a point guard's job to open up easy shots for teammates. The Blue Demons finished 298th in the country in assists per field goals made, so part of the problem was point guard play.

The other part of it was taking bad shots. Tucker took 204 three-point shots last season and shot 28.4 percent. The sophomore swingman should've been driving to the basket. (He hit over 70 percent of his free throws.) He should've been finishing at the basket. (He made 45.9 percent of his two-point attempts.)

The opposite is true for Jeremiah Kelly. Kelly shot 35.6 percent on two-point shots and 29.8 percent on three-point shots. Factor in the added value of a three-point shot, and his percentage from three is the equivalent of shooting 44.7 percent from inside the arc. Some advice for next season, let Kelly shoot more.

Offensive rebounding also played a part in DePaul's woes. Mac Koshwal finished as one of the top rebounders in the country, but he tended to have his better nights against smaller opponents. Koshwal went through a stretch in the Big East from January 10 through February 7 where he failed to record double-digit rebounds even once. His rebounding had a big impact on DePaul's offense. (The streak by the way includes the blowout loss to Rutgers, quite possibly DePaul's worst game of the season.)

Just to hammer home the importance of offensive rebounding one more way, the marginal value of a statistic can be roughly calculated by dividing its points per game impact by the number that occured per game. The marginal impact of a turnover? -.87 points. The marginal impact of an offensive rebound? 1.12 points. Grab those rebounds!

In order to compete with Top 100 teams next season the Blue Demons need to shooting a higher percentage, but crashing the glass might be a good idea as well.

John Templon is the photographer and writer of the Chicago College Basketball blog. John is a graduate journalism student at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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