From freshman role player to sophomore playmaker.
It's been over two weeks now since we last talked basketball. That's partly a function of the spring game, partly a function of The Great Jersey Fiasco of 2010 (as it will be referred to by historians centuries from now), and partly a function of catching our breath after what was arguably the most nerve-wracking Final Four run in the history of the modern NCAA Tournament.
I've been trying to figure out how to recap this season efficiently. Given the continuous string of ups and downs, I think detailed analysis may be a waste of time. To a large degree, this season defied analysis. The season results--a share of the Big Ten title and a second consecutive Final Four appearance--were both predictable and acceptable, but the paths the team took to get to those results were anything but predictable.
So partly for that reason, and partly because I have some other things I'd like to do this offseason, I'm going to forego the player-by-player season reviews I've done the last two offseasons. Instead, I'm going to do just two recap posts--one for offense and one for defense.
We'll start with offense. A comparison of MSU's 2009 and 2010 team-level tempo-free indicators follows the jump. These numbers cover the entire season, not just conference games.
|Off Reb %||40.7||39.7||(1.0)|
MSU's unadjusted offensive efficiency increased slightly from 2009 to 2010, but that was a function of playing a less taxing set of opponents. MSU played the 23rd toughest defensive schedule in 2010 (per KenPom) vs. the 3rd toughest schedule in 2009. The difference is at least partially the result of the significantly more difficult road to the Final Four the 2009 team took relative to the 2010 team.
On an adjusted basis, the Spartan offense went from 20th best in the country in 2009 to 28th best in 2010. That's not a dramatic fall, but it's disappointing in that MSU was replacing Travis Walton, who played the 2nd most minutes on the team in 2009 and was clearly a defensive specialist, with increased minutes for players with considerably more offensive potential.
In terms of the four factors components, the MSU players regressed slightly in both categories that determine how many shots a team gets off, turning the ball over at a slightly higher rate and grabbing offensive rebounds at a slightly lower rate. Neither change was dramatic, though. The lower offensive rebounding percentage (#6 national ranking in 2009) was somewhat inevitable with the departure of Goran Suton. MSU still ranked 10th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage.
The team's effective field goal percentage mark increased noticeably, but it was entirely a function of shooting inside the arc. Kalin Lucas increases his 2-point shooting percentage nearly 10 points (.396 to .491); Draymond Green's increased playing time (.550 2pt%) was also a major factor.
The only player to increase his 3-point shooting percentage from 2009 to 2010 (while taking at least one shot per game) was Chris Allen (.311 to .398). Korie Lucious' .317 performance from beyond the arc, while taking a team-high 139 three-point shots, was a drag on the team's offensive efficiency.
Every returning MSU player saw his free throw rate drop from 2009 to 2010, perhaps reflecting the fact the team generally had more jump shooters on the floor than in 2009 (because of Walton's presence in 2009), reducing the need to attack the basket (or the perceived need to do so, at least).
Individual offensive numbers (with PORPAG!) are below. The first four columns of numbers are 2009 data; the next four columns are 2010 data; the final column is the change in PORPAG (Points Over Replacement Per Adjusted Game) from 2009 to 2010.
Kalin Lucas' big-picture offensive numbers were nearly identical from 2009 to 2010, as he again used possessions efficiently (offensive rating=110.1) while bearing the heaviest offensive burden on the team (usage rate=25.4). The decline in his PORPAG number was the result of missed playing time. A decline in assist rate from 29.6 to 25.8 was perhaps a function of Lucas playing off the ball more while Lucious handled the point guard responsibilities.
The loss of Goran Suton was offset by increased production from Draymond Green and Delvon Roe. Green saw a dramatic increase in both his playing time and his role in the offense, but actually managed to increase his efficiency from what was a pretty impressive level of offensive efficiency as a freshman. Among MSU's top 7 players, Green ranked 2nd in 2-point percentage, 3rd in assist percentage, 1st (lowest) in turnover percentage, and 2nd in offensive rebounding percentage. He did it all.
Delvon Roe saw his rebounding numbers decline somewhat (13.3 to 10.3 on offense) as he matched up more against opponents' biggest players. The increase in his free throw percentage (.455 to .661) helped him increase his overall offensive efficiency, though.
Unfortunately, freshmen Garrick Sherman and Derrick Nix weren't able to replace the production the team got out of Green and Roe as freshmen in 2009, as neither player ever played well enough for Tom Izzo to entrust him with double-digit minutes on a regular basis. I'm surprised how poor Sherman's ball-handing numbers were (2.2 assist rate, 28.8 TO rate), as I had recalled him making some good passes at times. Nix's free throw shooting (.271) was, of course, his Achilles' heel (he did finish the season having made 7 of his last 11 shots from the line, though).
Raymar Morgan, Durrell Summers, and Chris Allen all provided more offensive production in 2010 than they did in 2009, but the increases were marginal. In the cases of Morgan and Summers, increased PORPAG was a function of (1) more playing time (with Morgan having missed substantial playing time in 2009 due to illness) and (2) late-season surges in efficiency and assertiveness. In Allen's case, he did something you don't see from a lot of juniors--increasing his offensive efficiency while turning himself from a frequent shot-taker into an offensive role player, with his usage rate dropping nearly 7 percentage points.
Korie Lucious also scaled back the frequency with which he asserted himself on offense, but saw a much smaller corresponding increase in efficiency. He reduced his extremely generous 2009 turnover percentage of 32.0 just a tad to 27.7. After a solid start in the NCAA Tournament (8-4 assist-TO ratio in 3 games plus one all-time great 3-point make), Lucious eventually struggled as Lucas' replacement at the starting point guard position (combined 8-10 assist-TO ratio vs. Tennessee and Butler).
Overall, the team treaded water on offense in 2010, failing to reach the elite top-ten scoring potential they appeared to possess going into the season. Outside of Draymond Green, there were no breakout performances. Or, at least, there no season-long breakout performances. Morgan broke out at the close of the Big Ten season, and Summers broke out in the NCAA Tournament.
Given the lack of consistent offensive production from players not named Draymond (with Lucas' inconsistent production not being any fault of his own), the team needed some breaks to grab repeat Big Ten and Final Four banners--with the Morgan and Summers surges being critical factors in taking advantage of the breaks to achieve the respective repeat honors. Those breaks probably won't be there next season, meaning that enhanced and sustained offensive production is going to be needed from at least one or two players in the Allen/Summers/Lucious/Roe group.
Of course, none of the numbers I've presented above do justice to what this team accomplished in the final five weeks of the season. I told you this season defied analysis.
Next week: The defense.