Statistical analysis is a useful tool in the proverbial tool belt of sports writers everywhere. It lets one show the reader that everything may not necessarily be what it seems and paints a different picture than what appears before you during the game. Your casual fan who just enjoys watching the game and following the team may not be all about the statistical analysis that goes into a sport, lest it be on a positive note for the ballclub they cheer on.
About a month ago I sought an answer to a question I'd mulled in my head just a few games after Creighton played Villanova for the first time and subsequently got blown out. The question was whether Creighton had improved defensively since that game and my results were sort of strange, as it appeared as if Creighton would play stellar defense for three games and then lay down and let their opponent score seemingly at will. Here's the graph I'm talking about:
Now that you're all caught up I'd like to redirect and remind you that it's entirely possible that with a little elbow grease and some determination that a sports team can buckle down and buck a trend because teams are made up of human beings that are malleable subjects and can change over the course of time. Time is but an abstract creation of man, however, and conscious thought is seemingly a constant when in a waking state. Basketball is a sport that utilizes time as its primary measure for the game (3 seconds in the key, shot clock, game clock, 5 second inbound, etc.,) and looking at statistics over a period of a team's schedule can give you an idea of how a team performs. We're gifted statistics by cool folks like Ken Pomeroy who went into depth about average time of possession in college basketball.
Usually teams with lots of possessions per game also happen to have the shortest possessions, which can be good or bad. A quick possession that ends in a missed shot or a turnover is, obviously, bad. Possessions that end in points, as you may presume, is good! What I did is I amassed average possessions per game and compared them to points per game and opponents points per game. I could've simply used the points per possession metric, but I wanted to give you a good idea of which teams make the most of their possessions while limiting their opponents. Here's what I came up with.
As you can see the top tier teams average a good amount of possessions and capitalize on them, Villanova and Xavier especially. Creighton, as I've said all year, beats their opponents with their offense, similar to Butler, and just sort of bullies their opponents into submission. On a bad shooting night, both Creighton and Butler are vulnerable to devastating losses (see: Butler-Xavier 2/13, Creighton-Villanova).
On the other hand, St. John's averages a great deal of possessions but cannot score, which most likely explains why they've got just one win in conference - a win over the other team who averages a fair deal of possessions but cannot score, DePaul.
Back to the task at hand, which is Creighton's defense.
Since I wrote part one of this love story I've made sure to keep the ol' eyeballs peeled for any improvement or indiscretion by the Bluejay defense along the way. I must admit that my eyes started to get tired and I eventually blinked and ultimately fell asleep, but from my observations things remained on track to the evidence I found previously.
The weird thing is that Creighton currently ranks third in the BIG EAST in scoring defense, only allowing 70.4 PPG but rank seventh in FG% defense allowing their opponents to shoot an average of 43% from the field.
Yet, let's look at how the Bluejays have done over the course of the entire season with the same graph up top but updated:
Consistently inconsistent. By this logic, Creighton will improve a great deal on defense over the next three games and then blow it in their regular season matchup against Xavier. Who knows though, like I said before - humans are malleable and subject to change behaviors.
Also: I'm wrong about a lot of things, so perhaps we just enjoy the pleasant colors and pictures presented, ride out this college basketball season, and enjoy the hell out of ourselves while doing so.