Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Syracuse's defensive rebounding and whether it will effect their tournament chances

You want to hear a shocking stat?

Syracuse is 319th in the country in defensive rebounding percentage.

What does that mean?

The Orange allow their opponents to grab 37.3% of the available offensive rebounds, a number that only 26 teams nationally allow at a higher rate. Given the size and athleticism of the Syracuse front line, that's a surprising number.

Pitt was able to expose it Monday night. The Panthers looked bad offensively without Tray Woodall against the 2-3 zone in their 71-63 loss to the Orange, but they were able to hang around for a while because they grabbed 18 offensive rebounds. (Ironically, Pitt, a team known for their ability to crash the offensive glass, is getting there as well as they ever have under Jamie Dixon, which should tell you just how much else is wrong with that program.)

The Orange have never been a good defensive rebounding team, however. Its a very difficult thing to do out of a zone. Since 2003 (when Kenpom started keeping stats on the subject), the Orange have had only one season where they ranked in the top half of the country in defensive rebounding. That was in 2008, when they were 122nd. They also went to the NIT that season.

This made me wonder: has anyone ever won a national title rebounding this poorly on the defensive end of the floor?

As you can see in the chart, no team has ever made the Final Four clearing the defensive glass as poorly as Syracuse has this season. But ironically enough, the 2003 Syracuse team that won the national title came the closest, allowing their opponents to get 36.6% of the available offensive rebounds. Last year's VCU team was up there as well, finishing at 36.5%.

But if you look at the numbers more closely, you see why Syracuse is able to survive. For starters, they lead the country is steal percentage and are fourth in turnover percentage, meaning that they make up for all of the extra possessions they allow by taking the ball away from their opponent. They also lead the country in block percentage, swatting away an insane 22.2% of their opponent's field goal attempts. Its stands to reason that a good percentage of those offensive rebounds they give up never make it back to the rim.

Defensive rebounding also doesn't appear to be critical to having success in the NCAA Tournament. Eight teams have made the Final Four after allowing opponent's an offensive rebounding percentage higher 33%, which roughly puts them into the bottom half of Division I. Three of those teams have won a national title, and neither 2010 Duke (32.1%) nor 2009 UNC (31.9%) are included in that figure.

The ability to get those second chance opportunities for themselves appears much more critical. Only five teams have reached the Final Four grabbing less than 33% of their offensive rebounds, and 2006 Florida (35.5%, 105th nationally) is the only team to fall outside the top 50 that has won the title.

(h/t Jameson Fleming)


Anonymous said...

Affect, not effect!! And you are a writer?

Rob Dauster said...

Yes, I am. One that writes between 5,000 and 8,000 words every day. Some of them are going to be wrong. OH THE HUMANITY!!!!!!

Lenn Totten said...

I too worry about the 'Cuse rebounding. Your stats verify what I have seen but I do not know if there is enough there to sway me one way or another about their tournament fate.
One stat I saw earlier in the year , at that time (4-5 games ago) 1 out of 3 Syracuse's opponents possessions resulted in a change-of-possession. Really got to love your odds with that stat at your back.