Since The Sidler doesn't have the Big 10 Network, I haven't been able to watch much of the Gophers this year. If nothing else, it is obvious that this is a different team than the sad-sack Dan Monson-led teams of recent memory.
But I wanted to look at what kind of team this is and who some of the standout players are using some different metrics than the standard points/game, assists, FG%, etc. Check out Ken Pomeroy's site for more information about the stats I'm about to bastardize. I couldn't find a true shooting % calculation for the NCAA, unfortunately.
Here's what I learned about the players:
I really don't know who Damian Johnson is, but apparently he's an elite shot blocker in the Big Ten, ranking third in the conference in block percentage. Nice. He really makes a difference during his 20 minutes/game.
Blake Hoffbauer is one of the most efficient scorers in the country. His effective FG% of 71.5 is ahead of the man currently leading the nation, Texas' Connor Atchley (71.4). To qualify for the leaderboard, a player needs to have played in 60% of his team's minutes; that's the only thing keeping the HOFF off the board.
On the other end of the spectrum, JAS sucks and sucks hard. His eFG is 43.9, the second-lowest on the team and lower than Brian Butch and Ekpe Udoh. But Kevin Payton is even worse, his 33.3 eFG is ridiculously bad.
Tollackson is extremely effective, 8th best in the Big Ten, at getting to the free-throw line. Too bad he's terrible once he's there.
Dan Coleman and Hoffbauer are in the top 12 when it comes to not turning the ball over; on the other end of the spectrum, Al Nolen turns it over like a fiend.
But what Al Nolen giveth, he also taketh away—the dude leads the Big Ten in steal percentage. Who is second? None other than Damian "Dennis Rodman" Johnson. Wisconsin's Trevon Hughes is the first non-Gopher.
Seeing 4 Gophers in the top 20 (Westbrook & Tolly are 19/20) in steal % is probably a good segue into the team itself—how is this year's squad better than last year's?
Let's start with the bad compared to last year—other teams are more effective when they get a shot off, albeit very slightly. And teams are hitting a higher percentage of their free throws.
That's it for the bad.
The key phrase was "when they get a shot off" because this Gophers squad leads the nation in turnover percentage—a whopping 27.8% of all their defensive possessions ends in the other team committing a turnover. 15% are by the way of a steal, as evidenced by Nolen & Johnson leading the Big Ten in larceny. In case you were wondering, the Gophers ranked 295th in the nation last year, only forcing a turnover 18.7% of the time. Thank you, Tubby.
For starters, this is probably a more entertaining team since they average an additional 4.5 possessions per game.
On top of that, they have gone from the 296th most efficient offense to the 61st.
There are a few glaring improvements—they are grabbing offensive rebounds 30% better, have gone from 219th to 80 th in eFG (Hoffbauer), they are turning the ball over 7% less than before, and the offense actually depends on players passing too each other—the assists/FG made ratio is up to 22nd in the country vs. 315th last year.
Some of these numbers are bound to change once there are more Big Ten games in the mix, but damn, it sure looks like Tubby has made a difference.
Nolen and Hoffbauer are impact freshmen in two very different ways. Sid reminds you to thank Monson for these guys.
For f*cks sake, why can't Tollackson hit a free throw?
JAS sucks only slightly less than Payton.
Tubby has transformed this team by bringing a high-pressure defense that generates more turnovers than anyone else in the nation. To put on my Mr. Obvious hat, that's the key to a mid-pack Big Ten finish and a shot at the NCAA Tournament.