Attention on Deflections

In last week's print edition of the <i>Blue & Gold News</i>, I wrote an article about deflections being one of the keys to the Mountaineer defense.

In that article (and shame on you if you didn't read it - call 304-291-2242 right now to subscribe!), I talked about deflections becoming an important statistic in today's basketball defenses, and how getting hands on the ball can either destroy an offense's continuity or lead to turnovers.

One of the statement I made was that more points were scored off deflections (where one defender tips the ball before a teammate grabs it) as opposed to clean steals, where a defender intercepts a pass or strips the ball cleanly.

So, unbeknonwst to me, intrepid writer Matt Keller charted WVU's deflections in the James Madison game, to see if my theory held true.

The following lists each of WVU's deflections that lead to a turnover by the Dukes and then resulted in scores for the Mountaineers. The first table details deflections that led to scores, while the second charts the clean steals.

1 Led to turnover, then a J.D. Collins three-pointer. 3
2 Led to Mike Gansey's breakaway dunk 2
3 Led to a pair of Tyrone Sally free throws. He made one of two. 1
4 A Kevin Pittsnogle deflection led to an eventual Patrick Beilein three 3
5 Led to a Sally lay-up 2
6 Deflection off a a JMU player out of bounds led to a D'or Fischer stick-back inside 2
7 Tip led to a foul on a WVU breakaway. on the resulting possession, Fischer gets hoop and a goul for a three-point play. 3

Add them up, and that's 16 points for the Mountaineers off deflections. Now, let's look at the clean steals.

1 Darris Nichols pass interception leads to his breakaway layup 2
2 Joe Herber strips the ball, ensuing possession leads to Collins three 3

That shorter list yields five points off clean steals, so, to my relief, the theory holds true.

Of course, there were deflections and steals that didn't lead to points, but those also held true to the formula. In all, WVU had 11 deflections that resulted in Mountaineer possessions, and from those WVU scored 16 points. They totalled three clean steals, from which five points resulted.

So, what can we learn from all of this? First, never give Matt the opportunity to investigate something! Just kidding there of course - he's an excellent journalist, who doesn't accept anything at face value.

And second, don't overlook those little tips of the ball. They might not seem important, but they have a great impact on the outcome of many games.

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