With the season over, it's time for what everyone has been waiting for: the final floor-slap numbers for the MSU basketball team.
This started a few years ago, when I and others would note on Twitter that MSU seemingly never got a stop when they slapped the floor for a big defensive possession. After enough talking, I decided to enter this season doing what TOC does best: math.
Along with my regular tweets noting a slap and the results, I kept track of every slap this season. My constant tweeting of slaps started to upset some people, such as former MSU player Tim Bograkos, who let me know a floor slap doesn't actually affect a possession. Well, that's why I was doing this math project. Bograkos said I should track defensive play instead of slaps. He's probably right. While I could do that, I'm not a basketball coach, and that seems hard. We're about advanced statistics here. You won't find floor slaps in the box scores. Only here at The Only Colors dot com.
But I have to blame part of the Twitter annoyance on the players themselves. While I don't have numbers from past years, this season definitely included many more slaps than the past. It was a slap-happy team. Lourawls Nairn was easily the top slapper, and even if other Spartans didn't join him, it counted, because this is a team sport, and everyone is held accountable. With three more years of Tum Tum, don't expect the slapping to slow down.
(Note: If I was a player, I'd probably slap the floor every single time. Even if we were down by 40. Even on offense. It just seems like a lot of fun, and I understand why the Spartans do it when emotions get high.)
But wait! There was also some controversy involved in this project. Bryn Forbes was fond of touching his shoes at various points in games. I don't know why he does it. I wondered if it was nervous twitch, because of how frequent it happened in the NCAA Tournament, but reporters have asked him, and he didn't have an answer. I'm just going to assume it was meant to throw me off. This did NOT count a floor slap, but it often caught the attention of myself or other viewers, and I would go back and make sure it wasn't a slap.
I took this project very seriously.
So finally, here are the results....
Games with slaps: 28 (out of 39 total games)
- Total slaps: 54
- Baskets allowed: 17 (five 3-pointers)
- Fouls with free throws: 7 (10-for-14)
- Turnovers forced: 5
- Other stops: 25
- Total stops: 30
I did not count shot attempts or shooting percentage. Only the final result mattered to me. If it was a foul and the possession continued without free throws, only the final result was counted.
MSU allowed a basket on 31 percent of slap possessions. They gave up a basket or free throw attempts (aka not a stop) on 44 percent of possessions.
They got a stop on 56 percent of slap possessions, including forcing a turnover on 9 percent.
MSU averaged 1.3 slaps per game and 1.9 slaps per slap game.
I don't have MSU's season numbers on what percentage of total possessions resulted in stops, so I can't say if slaps made it more likely MSU got a stop or not. If anyone can calculate that, let me know in the comments. As pointed out by TheCrestedHelm in the comments, MSU gave up a total of 49 points in 54 possessions, for a defensive efficiency of 90.7. Per KenPom, MSU's season adjusted defensive efficiency was 95.5 (adjusted for opponent), meaning the defense was likely BETTER when they slapped the floor, though @msufjo correctly notes on Twitter that slap possessions don't include transition possessions.
So here you have it. Maybe it was poetic MSU was knocked out by the team known for the floor slap. The Spartans slapped the floor four times against Duke, giving up a basket three times.