The early part of the non-conference schedule, at least the first five games, all look like wins. Texas Tech's first game is against Louisiana-Monroe, on Friday night, and follows up with a game in Denton at North Texas on Tuesday, November 16th, and then back home for three games: Stephen F. Austin, Liberty and Georgia Southern. The Red Raiders will then head off to South Padre Island for the South Padre Island Invitational.
From what I can tell, the field at the SPII includes BYU, St. Mary's College, South Florida, Liberty, Chicago St., Mississippi Valley St. and Georgian Southern. BYU, St. Mary's and South Florida all won 20 games or more last year and Texas Tech won 19. There is some talent at this tournament, it's top-heavy, but I think this is a pretty good tournament for a team like Texas Tech in that they can hopefully play one or two good teams at a neutral spot.
The Red Raiders will have eight more non-conference games remaining: Oral Roberts, @ Washington, TCU, @ UTEP, UT Arlington, New Mexico, TAMU Corpus Christi and Delaware St. And realistically speaking, Texas Tech should win 10+ games in their non-conference schedule and SPII tournament. Last year, this team won 12 games in non-conference play. This year, I don't think that Texas Tech gets a win @ Washington, while playing @ UTEP is always tough, as is playing Steve Alford's New Mexico squad. Having attended law school in Tulsa, I became familiar with Oral Roberts and they regularly have a pretty good team, but I don't think they were very good last year.
More good-good after the jump, including the conference schedule, playing some defense and what is Four Factors.
This is where things fell apart for Texas Tech last year and if Texas Tech wants to make it to the NCAA Tournament, the Red Raiders must win more than 4 conference games. At one point, Texas Tech lost 7 conference games, 4 of those games were at home and 3 were on the road. The only conference game that Texas Tech won were 3 home games against Iowa St., Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. and 1 road game against Oklahoma.
I can't say that I follow Big 12 basketball incredibly closely, but I think this year, the league is top-heavy and there's a lot of teams, including Texas Tech, that are right there smack in the middle. I think Kansas St., Kansas, Missouri and Baylor (assuming LaceDarious Dunn plays) are the top-tier of the of the conference. And Texas, Colorado, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma St. and maybe Nebraska are in that second tier of teams. Those are the teams that you have to beat at home, and that's 5 wins right there, while I expect Texas Tech to win at home against Oklahoma and Iowa St. There's 7 wins and to get to .500 in Big 12 play means that Texas Tech needs 8 wins (16 game conference schedule). That's possible if Texas Tech can win those games at home.
IMPROVE THE DEFENSE
When Pat Knight was officially at the helm at Texas Tech, he proclaimed that he wanted to run and wear out opponents. That significantly changed in PK's second year, where he quickly realized that out-scoring opponents didn't work in conference play. In fact, focusing on offense, failed miserably. The last time that Texas Tech made the NCAA Tournament, 2007, Texas Tech wasn't great at defense and had an adjusted defense ranking of 101, but the adjusted offense was pretty darned efficient, ranking 55th. The one thing to point out is that the top two teams in conference play, Kansas (#1 AdjD) and Texas A&M (#10 AdjD), were terrific defensively. In 2008, Kansas (#1 AdjD), Texas (#36 AdjD) and Kansas St. (#23 AdjD), were the top of the conference and not surprisingly were terrific at defense. In 2009 and 2010, the same trend follows suit as Kansas (#7), Oklahoma (#36), Missouri (#13) and Texas (#28) were all great defensively and all finished at the top of the Big 12. In 2010, Kansas (#8), Baylor (#34), Kansas St. (#17), Texas A&M (#14) and Missouri (#13), were all terrific defensive teams. So where have the Red Raiders ranked? Not so well:
And just to clarify, for adjusted defense, 100 is the national average, while anything below 100 is good, while anything above 100 is bad. The opposite holds true for the offense (i.e., above 100 is good, below 100 is bad). See Ken Pomeroy's website for more details.
So what does all of this mean? It means that Texas Tech needs to play better defense, and specifically, Texas Tech needs to be a top 40 Adjusted Defense team to have a legitimate shot at making the NCAA Tournament. The good thing, perhaps, is that Texas Tech made a significant jump from 2009 to 2010. The bad thing is that some of Texas Tech's best players, SF Mike Singletary and PG John Roberson, are also two of Texas Tech's worst defenders. Roberson, at the very least, gives good effort, while Singletary looks like he's never played defense in his life sometimes. If I'm PK, and I'm serious about emphasizing defense, then I quickly remove Singletary when he doesn't give full effort on the defensive side of the ball. It's that simple. There's enough depth on this team where there are players who will at least give effort and if Singletary does that then I think this team can be significantly improved.
One other item is that CF D'Walyn Roberts was injured for a good part of the conference games. If Roberts is healthy during conference play, then his defense and ability to guard so many players and force teams to take more difficult shots with his shot-blocking ability, then you could be talking about a completely different team defensively. A lot hinges on having a good offensive player and Roberts is an excellent defender.
In every boxscore page, StatSheet has a Four Factors graph that lets you easily look at how teams matched up on the Four Factors:
And the good folks at StatSheet provides a history of what the Four Factors are and what they mean:
Basketball boxscores on Statsheet will soon have a bar chart showing the "Four Factors". The concept of the Four Factors was pioneered by Dean Oliver, one of the leading basketball statisticians in the field of APBRMetrics. Dean wrote a book,Basketball on Paper, that I highly recommend to anyone interested in the technical details of analyzing basketball stats. I met Dean in February 2008 and he's a nice guy to boot.
Dean has identified four factors that are the most important determinants of basketball success. They are:
- Shooting the Ball Well, which is measured by effective field goal percentage (eFG%). eFG% is like field goal percentage except that it gives 50% more credit for made three-pointers (since it accounts for more points). The calculation is (0.5*3PTM + FGM) / FGA.
- Taking Care of the Ball, which is measured by turnover percentage (TO%). TO% is a pace-independent way to measure ball security. TO% = Turnovers / Possessions.
- Offensive Rebounding indicates a team's ability to get second chance shots, which dramatically improves efficiency. This is measured by offensive rebounding percentage (OR%). OR% = Offensive Rebounds / (Offensive Rebounds + Opponent Defensive Rebounds).
- Getting to the Free Throw Line is measured by Free Throw Rate (FT Rate). This isn't just a measure of how many free throws a team makes, but the frequency in which they go to the line. FT Rate = Free Throws Attempted / Field Goals Attempted.
These factors aren't weighted equally. Studies have shown for both NBA and college basketball that the factors have the following weights: Shooting (40%), Taking Care of the Ball (25%), Offensive Rebounding (20%), and Getting to the Line (15%). Your mileage will vary depending on the team however (i.e., for some teams getting to the line may have a higher importance to winning).
KenPom also has a handy page team page with all of the Four Factors, and here's how Texas Tech finished last year:
|Shooting eFG%||48.5 (178)||47.8 (119)||48.8|
|Ball Handling TO%||18.5 (72)||19.9 (211)||20.4|
|Off. Rebounding OR%||32.1 (197)||34.2 (242)||32.7|
|Shooting FTs FT Rate||42.8 (64)||41.0 (236)||37.7|
I'll try to make sure and post the Four Factors after each game, but even as a casual fan these always seemed to be a big part of winning basketball, but am not smart enough to quantify them in such fancy numbers and graphs.