Stanford Defense Chart Analysis

The Bootleg's Basketball Stats Analyst Cameron Tana provides outstanding insights into Stanford opponents' shooting strengths and weaknesses versus the Cardinal in Pac-10 Conference play. Cameron has broadcast Stanford MBB games, both as Dave Flemming's color man in 1996-97 & as play-by-play announcer in 1997-98. He has also done NBA game charting for

Stanford has made its mark this season with one of the top defenses in the country. According to, its schedule adjusted defensive efficiency of 84 points per 100 possessions is 3rd in Division I and tops in the Pac-10. Effective field goal percentage that weighs made three-pointers by an extra 50% is the main factor in defensive efficiency. Stanford is also 5th in Division I and tops in the Pac-10 in this category at 42.5%. Shot chart data games help reveal how the Cardinal accomplish these marks. Stanford's defensive shot chart data from conference games are compared to average shot chart data Pac-10 games not involving Stanford. generally provides shot charts for games involving a ranked team. Therefore, shot chart data are available for all conference games involving UCLA and Washington State, 10 out of the 11 Stanford games, and a few Arizona State, USC, and Oregon games for a total of 33 conference games. The one missing Stanford game is the suffocating defensive effort against Arizona.

The main point of the previous shot chart analysis articles was that defenses should try to force their opponents into shooting two-point jumpers. These shots are lower percentage than layups and dunks, and do not have the extra point credited to shooting from beyond the arc. Stanford does a great job of this, forcing two-point jumpers on 42% of its opponents' field goal attempts, compared to 35% in other conference games. This mostly cuts into the proportion that is three-point attempts as shown below.

Attempts Proportion Stanford D vs. Pac-10 Other Pac-10 Games
Layups & Dunks 32% 34%
2 Pt Jumpers 42% 35%
3 Pointers 26% 31%

The percentage of field goal attempts that are three-pointers is even higher for all non-Stanford conference games at 33%. Stanford's three-point field goal percentage defense is good but not exceptional, officially at 32% in conference games versus 35% for other conference games (an effective field goal percentage of 48% versus 52% for other conference games). Stanford forces teams to shoot where the extra point is not awarded and then locks down on those two-point shots. Based on the shot charts, here are the percentages on two-point shots versus two-point shots in other conference games.

Field Goal Percentage Stanford D vs. Pac-10 Other Pac-10 Games
Layups & Dunks 54% 65%
2 Pt Jumpers 30% 40%

The difference in percentages on two-point jumpers within the key is even more striking. Against other Pac-10 defenses, jump shots from within the key are higher percentage than other two-point jumpers. In contrast, pulling up for shots amongst the Stanford trees is a very tough task.

2 Point Jumpers Stanford D vs. Pac-10 Other Pac-10 Games
Inside Key 31-115 27% 164-377 44%
Baseline Outside Key 8-26 31% 46-120 38%
Wings/Semicircle 33-102 32% 130-345 38%

These shot chart data show how Stanford forces misses and the Cardinal do not give opponents many additional shots in a possession as has it ranked 4th in the country in defensive rebounding percentage at 74%.

How does Stanford do against different types of offensive players? I have divided Pac-10 starters and other players who had five shots in a game against Stanford into five categories: point guards, lead guards, wings, swingmen, and post players.

Point guards are the primary ballhandlers for the offense. Point guards include Tajuan Porter, Kamyron Brown, Darren Collison, Nic Wise, Calvin Haynes, Taylor Rochestie, Daniel Hackett, Angelo Johnson, Justin Dentmon, Venoy Overton, and Jamelle McMillan. These players are generally not able to get to the rim against Stanford and struggle on their two-point jumpers.

Effective FG Percentage Stanford D vs. Pac-10 Point Guards Point Guards in Other Pac-10 Games
Layups & Dunks 11-18 61% 58-102 57%
2 Pt Jumpers 12-48 25% 48-130 37%
3 Pt Jumpers 10-34 44% 43-115 56%

Lead guards often initiate the offense off the dribble from the above the circle, but typically play alongside another ballhandler. These dynamic offensive players include Russell Westbrook, Jerryd Bayless, Josh Tarver, Derrick Low, O.J. Mayo, and Ty Abbott. These players do better against Stanford than any of the other four types, even shooting two-point jumpers at a good rate.
Effective FG Percentage Stanford D vs. Pac-10 Lead Guards Lead Guards in Other Pac-10 Games
Layups & Dunks 11-20 55% 60-98 61%
2 Pt Jumpers 12-23 52% 55-108 51%
3 Pt Jumpers 7-21 50% 45-153 44%

Wing players play off the ball and primarily on the perimeter. I have put Bryce Taylor, Josh Shipp, Jawann McClellan, Seth Tarver, Lathen Wallace, Daven Harmeling, Patrick Christopher, Eric Vierneisal, Dwight Lewis, Ryan Appleby, Tim Morris, and Jerren Shipp in this category. These players shoot three pointers as well against Stanford as the rest of the league, but really struggle finishing at the basket against the Card. This may be because the Stanford big men have more time to help out against these players' drives.

Effective FG Percentage Stanford D vs. Pac-10 Wings Wings in Other Pac-10 Games
Layups & Dunks 13-29 45% 54-81 67%
2 Pt Jumpers 11-32 34% 49-116 42%
3 Pt Jumpers 19-40 71% 88-200 66%

Swingmen are generally bigger than wings and will play on the perimeter, but sometimes post up as well. Malik Hairston, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Chase Budinger, Marcel Jones, Sean Carter, Kyle Weaver, Ryan Anderson, Davon Jefferson, Quincy Pondexter, and James Harden are considered swingmen for this analysis. This group probably has the biggest dropoff against Stanford.

Effective FG Percentage Stanford D vs. Pac-10 Swingmen Swingmen in Other Pac-10 Games
Layups & Dunks 24-45 53% 89-136 65%
2 Pt Jumpers 8-44 18% 49-131 37%
3 Pt Jumpers 7-21 50% 38-88 65%

Post players are the team's primary inside threat. They may step out to the three point line, but are less likely to dribble drive from there. Post players in the Pac-10 are Maarty Leunen, Kevin Love, Alfred Aboya, Jordan Hill, Omari Johnson, C.J. Giles, Calvin Hampton, Robbie Cowgill, Aron Baynes, DeVon Hardin, Jamal Boykin, Taj Gibson, Keith Wilkinson, Jon Brockman, Artem Wallace, and Jeff Pendergraph. These players fare decently at the rim, but are forced into more two-point jumpers than they are used to. They also likely get less putback opportunities because Stanford is such a good defensive rebounding team.

Effective FG Percentage Stanford D vs. Pac-10 Posts Posts in Other Pac-10 Games
Layups & Dunks 33-53 62% 167-246 68%
2 Pt Jumpers 24-75 32% 85-211 40%
3 Pt Jumpers 5-17 44% 17-41 62%

Stanford is having one of its best defensive seasons in its history, with only the 1999-2000 team having a better defensive efficiency rating over the last 15 seasons. They are accomplishing this by forcing teams into tough two-point shots and rebounding the misses.

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