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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

January 4, 2006 at 7:29 PM

Pet Peeve Time

There isn’t much news from Montlake right now with the WSU game still three days away – the team had Wednesday off.
So it’s time for me to unleash some Lute Olson-style venom – you know, the coat-throwing, hand-waving, nuts-going-type – regarding one of my pet peeves about basketball, a misconception I heard reinforced today on KJR’s Husky Honks Show.
A caveat – I know Dave Mahler and think he does a good job.
But since he said it today, I’ll use him as an example of something I hear way too often.
Reciting the Pac-10 stats, Mahler asked “Who has the best defense?” and answered WSU since the Cougars lead the conference in fewest points allowed (54.1). Then he asked “Who has the worst defense?” and answered Washington since the Huskies allow the most points (69.4).
But points allowed is a misleading at best – outright terrible at worst – indicator of a team’s defensive prowess.
Points scored and allowed, instead, is almost solely dependant on a team’s style of play, and in UW and WSU we have the two most extreme styles in the conference, which lends to a lot of misguided statements about how each team plays defense.
A much more valid indicator of how well a team plays defense is defensive field goal percentage, and in reviewing that stat, we see that while the Cougars truly deserve their ranking as one of the best defensive teams in the conference, so do the Huskies.
For the season, the Cougars lead the Pac-10 in field goal percentage defense, allowing foes to hit only 36.5 percent of shots. And despite all the points UW allows, the Huskies are third in the conference in field goal percentage defense at 41.4 percent. UW allows a lot of points simply because it plays fast. WSU, whether it plays good defense or not – and usually it does – will seldom allow a lot of points because it plays slow and the opponent gets substantially fewer possessions, and subsequently, fewer shots.
The numbers are similar even when considering just the two conference games each team has played. UW allowed ASU and Arizona to hit just 39.2 percent of their shots, which is second behind Cal (37) while the Cougars are third at 39.5 percent against the same two opponents as UW.
Another somewhat misleading stat you are likely to hear this week involves offensive rebounding — the Huskies are second in the Pac-10 at 15.8 per game while WSU is last at 7.5.
But pay close attention and you’ll see that the Cougars barely even try to hit the boards.
Instead, in their effort to slow the pace of the game, almost all of their players usually turn and head back to play defense once a shot is taken on offense.
WSU is willing to give up a few offensive rebounds in an effort to limit, if not eliminate, fast-break chances for the opponent.
The Huskies, meanwhile, often send everybody crashing to the offensive boards.
To be sure, the Cougars wouldn’t rebound as well as UW if they tried to do what the Huskies do since they don’t have the personnel. The Huskies know they have the players who can get back and play transition defense even if they hit the boards, while the Cougars know they don’t. So they play accordingly.
Still, the numbers are skewed greatly by the approach each team takes to rebounding.
OK, enough ranting.
COUGS ADD ONE
Speaking of WSU, here’s an interesting story from today’s Spokesman-Review about a transfer who will be eligible to play for the Cougars sometime next season. It’s more evidence that Dick Bennett and staff have the Cougs on the right track. Here’s the link
ROMAR’S RECRUITING
With the team off Wednesday, Romar flew to Fresno to see two of his prized 2006 recruits – Adrian Oliver of Modesto Christian and Quincy Pondexter of San Joaquin Memorial – face off. The two teams were to play at San Joaquin Memorial.
Pondexter is averaging 17.2 points for Memorial, which is 16-1, rated No. 17 in the state by MaxPreps.com, and also features Brook and Robin Lopez, twin 7-footers who have signed with Stanford. Oliver’s team is 10-3 and rated No. 10 in the state by MaxPreps.com.

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