There are 351 teams in Division I, and at the risk of stating the obvious, some of the numbers produced by those teams can be puzzling at first glance. Sure enough, in the course of reading our Insider 2013-14 Season Preview, a few numbers really jumped out at me.
For example, I was struck by how many 2-point jumpers St. John's attempted last season. I also couldn't help noticing how often South Carolina sent its SEC opponents to the foul line. I noted that once again, Wisconsin was beastly on the defensive glass yet strangely passive on the offensive boards. Where did these numbers come from? And would style-of-play adjustments help these teams improve in both the numbers and the standings?
I tracked down Steve Lavin, Frank Martin and Bo Ryan and asked them to help me understand the numbers that I had found so curious. Could getting the coaches' side of the story shed light on these metrics?
Absolutely. Here's what the coaches had to tell me.
(Note: I've extended a few of the question sections here to include additional info that didn't always make it into my conversations with the coaches.)
Question for St. John's coach Steve Lavin: Why did you take so many 2-point jumpers last season?
Q: Coach Lavin, as you know, a 2-point jumper tends to be less productive for a team's offense than either a shot at the rim or a 3-point attempt. Basically, you'll miss more of those jumpers inside the arc than you will shots at the rim, but they're also worth less than shots from farther away -- pretty bad deal all the way around, right? Given that, why did your team attempt so many 2-point jumpers last season? St. John's ranked No. 1 among major-conference teams nationally in that category. How come?
Steve Lavin: Well, it's a little like what Coach [John] Wooden used to say. The best situation is to have talent plus experience -- but if you can't have both, you definitely want talent with no experience instead of experience with no talent.