Recently Ken Pomeroy published his 2011-12 individual player efficiency calculations for the first time this season. His computer has traditionally loved Wisconsin and this year is no different. Despite some discouraging losses, kenpom.com still has the Badgers (7-2) rated No. 3 in the country and projects them to finish 26-5 overall.
Disagree with Pomeroy's metrics all you want, but there is no doubt the player efficiency stats are some of the most interesting tools college hoops fans can use as debate artillery. The fact that Pomeroy moved his site behind a paywall this season, in part because of all the coaches using his statistics, means the value is not debatable either (ie: if you say the ratings are wack, you're wrong).
With that said, I ponied up the modest fee to continue my unfettered access to these numbers again this season. In particular, I eagerly awaited the release of the individual stats to compare how the Jordan Taylor I saw struggling with my own eyes compared objectively to the JT who dominated Division I ball from an efficiency standpoint a year ago.
The numbers weren't all that surprising, but worth a look nontheless. Part of the difference can probably be attributed to Taylor's right ankle not being back to 100% after offseason surgery.
First the raw numbers, then a brief synopsis.
|Season||%Min||Off. Rtg||%Poss||%Shots||eFG%||TS%||OR%||DR%||Asst Rate||TO Rate||Blk%||Stl%||FC/40||FD/40||FT Rate||FT%||FG%||3PT%|
|Green indicates Top 25 rating in Division I||Stats explained|
Taylor's efficiency numbers are down across the board, but not universally. His total offensive efficiency (114.9) is lower than last year's outstanding 126.9. His efficiency was so amazing as a junior because of he maintained it while using 27.4% of the available possessions when he was on the court.
So far this season, Taylor is playing a smaller share of the team minutes as well as taking a smaller percentage of the team's shots and possessions. Another interesting tidbit is the dip in fouls drawn and free throw rate. Taylor is drawing one whole foul less per game than a year ago and his rate of free throws attempted per field goal attempt has dropped to nearer the level of his freshman season. Now a fourth of the way through the season, Taylor has shot only 29 free throws while hoisting 37 3-point attempts. I would expect the free throw stats to rise once conference play arrives and Taylor must initiate more of the offense personally.
Most folks are well aware that Taylor's shooting has not been up to snuff yet, so I won't bore you with those details.
The senior has improved in a few areas though. Taylor is registering a full percentage point higher in offensive rebounding percentage. With the benefit of Wenesday's sterling 10 assist, no turnover performance against UW-Green Bay in the computers, Taylor's assist rate is also higher than last season. With 368 career assists heading into Saturday's tilt with UNLV (9-1), Taylor will likely pass Michael Finley (371) for third place on Wisconsin's all-time assists ledger.
The good news for Wisconsin is that most of the other key returnees have stepped up. Replacing Jon Leuer, Keaton Nankivil and Tim Jarmusz is a group task that has proved hard to master, but it appears that Taylor is feeling the brunt of the pressure.
- Ryan Evans has taken a gigantic leap from last year in offensive efficiency (82.4 -> 110.8) and his defensive "money" stats (blocks and steals) are up in the non-conference.
- Jared Berggren ranks 59th in the nation (!) in Stl%. Pretty rad for a big man. Most of Berggren's rates -- including offensive efficiency and usage rate -- have improved significantly now that he's gotten steady playing time.
- Even Mike Bruesewitz, much maligned in the early season, has quietly improved in some key efficiency metrics. Because he's been in early foul trouble, it's easy to miss that Bruiser has rebounded better, gotten to the line more often and cut down on turnovers while keeping his total offensive efficiency about even with last year.
- Josh Gasser has regressed ever-so slightly as a sophomore, but his game is the kind that the Pomeroy computers really love. His shooting is obviously much improved, which covers up for slight dips in assist and rebounding rate and a slight rise in turnover rate.
Both Wisconsin (Taylor) and UNLV (Chace Stanback) return their leading scorers for the Runnin' Rebels 68-65 upset of the Badgers last season. In fact, the Rebels return eight of the nine players who logged minutes in that game. If you recall, Vegas was en fuego from 3-point land in that game.
You might think UNLV's confidence would be high after downing then-No. 1 North Carolina prior to the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, but since then reality has smacked the Rebels in the face. Their first two road games caused headaches in the form of a double-overtime win at UC-Santa Barbara and a blowout loss at Wichita State.
The Kohl Center should be even less inviting. I'm hoping fans bring their A-game and make this Badger game a little louder than it was against the Green Bay this past week. It should be a much better game -- one perhaps most predictive of what kind of team UW will be during league play.
Join the Badger conversation on Facebook! Go to our Facebook page and "like" us!
For more Wisconsin basketball coverage, follow Phil on Twitter @hoopsmarinara.