In the spirit of the season, I thought I’d dole out some gifts to 5 teams that have some glaring weaknesses.
Pitt has the #1 offense in the nation (all ranks throughout the article are from the Pomeroy ratings), but ranks only 43rd in defense, which is a pretty big red flag, in terms of contending for a national title. Their main problems are a lack of turnovers (234th) and steals (246th), 3pt defense (223rd), and few blocks (114th).
Santa’s Bringing Them – Ayron Hardy, Jacksonville. The 6’5” senior was named A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year in 2008-09. He averages a steal every 20 opponent possessions (13th), blocks 4.7% of opponent shots (242nd), and helps anchor a Jacksonville defense that holds opponents to only 29.1% from deep (41st). The fact that he’s an extremely efficient role player on offense (130.2 ORtg, 16.7 %Poss) is a sweet bonus.
Much like Michigan State, the Bears are fantastic on offense – when they don’t turn the ball over, which they do at an alarming rate (283rd in TO%). Their point guard, AJ Walton, has a decent assist rate (28.8%, 142nd), but more than counterbalances that with his turnovers (35.1 TO%), which contribute to his terrible offensive rating (93.8).
Santa’s Bringing Them – Nate Wolters, South Dakota State. The 6’3” sophomore is the only player in the country currently ranked in the top 50 nationally in both assist rate (36.4%, 29th) and turnover rate (9.2%, 46th). He also gets to the line at a decent rate (458th in FTRate), which is the next biggest offensive weakness for Baylor (99th in FTRate).
Obviously, what the Boilermakers really want for Christmas is Robbie Hummel back. That’s not going to happen, even in this little alternate universe, but maybe they can get the next best thing.
Santa’s Bringing Them – Marshall Moses, Oklahoma State. I tried to match a major conference player’s 2011 rate stats to Hummel’s 2010 line. Moses is the closest I could find to such a Hummelganger (Unless you have eagle eyes, you’ll need to click to see the figure, as it’s too wide to show here full size):
Villanova ranks #11 in defense, but only #34 in offense, and one of the team’s biggest problems is terrible outside shooting – their 31.5 3PFG% ranks 253rd.
Santa’s Bringing Them – this T-shirt, for Maalik Wayns and Corey Fisher. The duo has combined to shoot 20 of 90 (22%) so far from long range. If we assume their misses are rebounded by the Cats at a 40% rate (slightly higher than Nova’s season average OR%), that means they’ve used 68 possessions (20 makes + 48 un-rebounded misses) to score 60 points. Remove those points and possessions from the efficiency calculation, and their offense improves from #34 to #21. Granted, that’s not how it works in real life – some of those shots were probably taken because they couldn’t find a better option, so you can’t just not shoot. But still – STOP SHOOTING!
The Cougars have a strong defense (#17). And on offense, they do a great job of holding onto the ball (22nd lowest TO%) and making shots (8th in eFG%). Yet they’re ranked only #48 in adjusted offense. Part of that is due to their easy schedule (269th in SOS), but part of it is due to anemic rebounding. They rebound only 30.5% of their misses, which ranks 244th nationally.
Santa’s Bringing Them – Kenneth Faried, Morehead State. The 6’8” senior’s 20.2 OR% is the highest in the country among players that play at least 60% of their team’s minutes (Fareid has played 80.9%), and he’s first in DR% as well, at 34.2%.
EVERY OTHER TEAM IN THE COUNTRY has a weakness or two as well, and if I were the real Santa, I’d have a gift for all of them: a healthy toe for Kyrie Irving and Duke, a trim and committed Renardo Sidney for Mississippi State, a continuation of Josh Selby’s blazing perimeter shooting for Kansas, somebody – anybody – to create some efficient offense for Florida State. But all I can leave them with is best wishes over the holiday break, for good health and good fortune in the coming year. Even for Missouri [replace with your favorite team’s rival, as necessary].