During the 2008 basketball offseason, I did a series of posts looking at Michigan State's tempo-free tendencies on offense during the Tom Izzo era. My major conclusions were as follows:
- Turnovers: Minimizing turnovers has never been a strength for MSU under Izzo. Three seasons were particularly bad (1997-97, 2001-02, and 2006-07), with the percentage generally declining in the periods between those peaks. Up until 2006-07, having two starting-quality point guards (Taylor/Hill, Hill/Neitzel) had led to the best results.
- Field Goal Shooting: Izzo-led teams have always taken a below-average percentage of their shots from 3-point range. Field goal shooting has been a strength more often than not. Spikes in 2-point or 3-point shooting have generally offset each other. MSU has been a better overall shooting team the last five years than they were in the previous seven-year period, although effective FG percentage has slowly declined over those five years.
- Free Throw Shooting: Over the last 12 years, the team’s free throw shooting percentage has generally increased over time–becoming a major team strength from 2001-02 to 2005-06. Because of a decline in the rate the team gets to the line relative to field goal attempts, their net free throw rate (FTM/FGA) has declined somewhat over the last five years.
- Offensive Rebounding: MSU was an utterly dominant offensive rebounding team from 1997-98 to 2000-01. They’ve been good, but not great, since. The difference seems to be a decline in the number of perimeter players crashing the boards (Bell, Peterson, Thomas, Klein, Richardson on the early Final Four teams).
I've updated these numbers to account for the 2008-09 season. Technical stuff and scrumptious tempo-free chart after the jump.The chart below was generated using the fabulous Statplot service. The first season with available data is 1996-97, so we only miss the first year of the Tom Izzo era. Data are all based on full-season stats. That may skew things slightly due to fluctuating strength of schedule from year to year, but (1) it gives us the broadest measure of each team's tendencies, (2) conference-only data would be affected by the fact that the strength of the Big Ten fluctuates from year to year, and (3) the Statsheet conference-only numbers are a tad quirky.
So here it is: a graph of the four factors on offense from 1996-97 to 2008-09.
The 2009 team was actually a little less efficient than the 2007-08 team on offense (107.8 vs. 110.3), almost entirely because of a decline in effective FG%. The team's 2-point shooting % dropped about 3 points, and the 3-point shooting percentage dropped about a point and a half. The latter can be chalked up to the graduation of Drew Neitzel, the former to Raymar Morgan's reduced playing time due to injury and Kalin Lucas' early-season shooting troubles.
The decline in shooting efficiency was partially offset by an increase in offensive rebounding percentage (Delvon Roe replacing Drew Naymick) and a spike in free throw rate (Lucas and Roe being the two largest contributors to the spike). The 2008-09 team was the second best team of the Izzo era in terms of scoring points by getting to the free throw line, behind only the 2002-03 team (which was good at getting to the free throw line but not much else).
Overall, the team moved a little closer to the tendencies of the early Final Four teams: more emphasis on rebounding, less on shooting.
Going forward, the hope would be that Delvon Roe and Draymond Green can maintain their rebounding prowess as their minutes go up, making up for the graduation of Goran Suton and keeping MSU's offensive rebounding percentage above 40 percent.
And there's reasons to be optimistic that the team can improve on the other three factors.
- Travis Walton's departure will help with shooting percentages. (The loss of Walton on the defensive end will be a different story.)
- A full season of a healthy Raymar Morgan and more playing time for Delvon Roe could boost the free throw rate number even higher.
- And maybe, just maybe, the turnovers go down as the perimeter guys all pick up another year of experience.
Per usual, once I finished the series on the historical offensive stats last year, a case of Defensive Attention Deficit (DAD) set in, and I haven't done anything comparable on MSU's historical tendencies on defense. I plan to partially make up for that with a single post (rather than a full series) in the next couple weeks.