Flagrant Stats – Statistical analysis for women's basketball

Introducing FOWLES – an excitement score

I’ve tossed together a new statistic to help you prioritize your March Madness watching experience: FOWLES (Figures Observed, Weighted, and Leading to an Excitement Score). It’s a weighted average of six factors that I hope will allow for prioritization of which games to watch during the women’s NCAA tournament.

The six factors are:

  • 50% closeness in team strength, using ELO ratings obtained from warrennolan.com
  • 20% the average of the two teams’ pace of play
  • 15% the average of scoring efficiency of the two teams on a per possession basis
  • 5% the average of the two teams’ rate of taking three point shots, measured as percentage of field goals taken that are three pointers
  • 5% the average of the two teams’ turnovers forced per game
  • 5% the average of the two teams’ blocks per game

My reasoning for the weighting is that the most exciting thing this time of year is close games (duh), but that scoring helps, playing fast helps, and threes & turnovers are exciting but not necessary.

I hope this fairly silly tool at least gives you an idea of what games to prioritize watching on Friday & Saturday.

Here are the first round’s games in order of FOWLES. All games are on ESPN & ESPN.

GameTimeFOWLES Score
No. 9 Clemson vs. No. 8 South Dakota3/22 7 p.m.81.3
No. 12 Rice vs. No. 5 Marquette3/22 1:45 p.m.81.2
No. 10 Buffalo vs. No. 7 Rutgers3/22 4 p.m.80.7
No. 10 Auburn vs. No. 7 BYU3/23 3:30 p.m.79.8
No. 11 Quinnipiac vs. No. 6 South Dakota State3/23 11 a.m.79.4
No. 9 North Carolina vs. No. 8 California3/23 3:30 p.m.79.2
No. 13 Florida Gulf Coast vs. No. 4 Miami3/22 9 p.m.79.0
No. 11 Princeton vs. No. 6 Kentucky3/23 11 a.m.78.4
No. 10 Drake vs. No. 7 Missouri3/22 4 p.m.78.1
No. 9 Michigan State vs. No. 8 Central Michigan3/23 1 p.m.78.1
No. 12 Bucknell vs. No. 5 Florida State3/22 4 p.m.77.7
No. 13 Boise State vs. No. 4 Oregon State3/23 5:30 p.m.76.5
No. 9 Kansas State vs. No. 8 Michigan3/22 1:45 p.m.76.3
No. 13 Belmont vs. No. 4 South Carolina3/22 1:45 p.m.76.2
No. 12 UCF vs. No. 5 Arizona State3/22 7 p.m.76.0
No. 11 Tennessee vs. No. 6 UCLA3/23 1 p.m.74.7
No. 14 New Mexico State vs. No. 3 Iowa State3/23 5:30 p.m.74.0
No. 14 Fordham vs. No. 3 Syracuse3/23 1 p.m.74.0
No. 11 Missouri State vs. No. 6 DePaul3/23 3:30 p.m.73.9
No. 13 Wright State vs. No. 4 Texas A&M3/22 4 p.m.72.6
No. 10 Indiana vs. No. 7 Texas3/22 7 p.m.71.8
No. 12 Little Rock vs. No. 5 Gonzaga3/23 3:30 p.m.71.8
No. 14 Maine vs. No. 3 NC State3/23 1 p.m.69.7
No. 15 Mercer vs. No. 2 Iowa3/22 1:45 p.m.69.1
No. 14 Radford vs. No. 3 Maryland3/23 11 a.m.68.3
No. 15 UC Davis vs. No. 2 Stanford3/23 5:30 p.m.68.1
No. 15 Portland State vs. No. 2 Oregon3/22 9 p.m.65.1
No. 15 Towson vs. No. 2 UConn3/22 7 p.m.62.8
No. 16 Abilene Christian vs. No. 1 Baylor3/23 5:30 p.m.61.5
No. 16 Robert Morris vs. No. 1 Louisville3/22 noon60.5
No. 16 Southern vs. No. 1 Mississippi State3/22 9 p.m.59.0
No. 16 Bethune-Cookman vs. No. 1 Notre Dame3/23 11 a.m.56.6

Taking a look at the Quinnipiac Bobcats

The Quinnipiac Bobcats finished the season on a 21-game winning streak after going through the MAAC untouched in both the regular season and the conference tournament. Only three of those wins came by a margin of less than ten points. Their last loss came on December 30th in a two-point home loss to UCF. They capped their conference championship run with a thirty point victory over Marist.

Quinnipiac is currently projected as a 12 seed by both High Post Hoops’ Russel Steinberg ESPN’s Charlie Creme as of the end of March 11. They don’t have a true bad loss on their schedule, with their defeats coming to a sextet of 20-win teams: Bucknell, Texas, Missouri, Central Michigan, Princeton, & UCF. They lack a very strong non-conference win, with either Harvard or Drexel being the best team they beat. The MAAC lacked a strong contender for a NCAA at-large bid beyond Quinnipiac; the best of the rest was Marist, who Quinnipiac beat in all three meetings.

The Bobcats excelled on defense, where they led the country in points allowed per 100 possessions at 75.4. Their offense was fine, with their 95.6 points per 100 possessions placing them 111th. They’re one of the slowest paced teams in the country with just 67 possessions per 40 minutes, which put them in the bottom 50 of all of Division I.

Defensively, Quinnipiac thrived on forcing turnovers – they ranked eighth in the nation with 21.2 forced turnovers per game. This was a team-wide effort, with four players averaging 1.8 to 2.0 steals per contest. They also rejected 2.2 shots per game, which ranked 19th in the country. Paula Strautmane paced the team with 1.8 rejections per contest. They were unfortunate in that their opponents made 73.3% of their free throws, which ranked just 320th out of 351 teams.

On offense, the Bobcats were particularly dependent on spot up possessions, with 29.9% of their possessions ending that way. They only ranked in the 26th percentile of points per possession (PPP) for plays ending this way. They were more efficient on plays ending with shots for the pick & roll ball handler and for players coming off screens, but these were far less common plays. They did draw a fair number of free throws, ranking 105th nationally in free throw rate, but they only made 67.2% from the charity stripe, which put them 246th.

The Quinnipiac offense is fairly evenly distributed, with no player sticking out as clearly dominant in terms of possessions used on this side of the ball. Seniors Jen Fay and Aryn McClure taking the most shots. 5’11” wing McClure wasn’t the most efficient scorer, shooting just 26.7% on 116 jumpers, but she did excel in scoring near the basket in non-post-up opportunities, making 58.8% of her 97 tries in that range. McClure would benefit from focusing on jumpers inside of 17 feet: she made 20-51 of her tries in that range, but just 11 of 65 beyond that.

McClure is most effective coming off of cuts, as she ranked in the 96th percentile in PPP on these kind of plays.

6’0” forward Jen Fay is a better spot up shooter. She’s oddly better on long jumpers (between 17 feet & the three point line) vs. jumpers inside of 17 feet on a PPP basis. She’s a solid scorer in transition, on spot ups, and coming off of cuts, ranking in the 63rd to 71st percentiles in PPP for these play types. While she rarely used them, she was in the 94th percentile for post ups and in the 90th percentile for off screen PPP.

If Quinnipiac does continue their streak of successfully upsetting teams in the NCAAs (they knocked off #5 Marquette & #4 Miami in ’17 and #8 Miami in ’18), it’ll be due to their suffocating defense. They might not produce the most high flying games you’ll see in the tournament this year, but it’s been effective for them so far.

Statistics from Her Hoop Stats and Synergy Sports

Sometimes I remember I write here

I was just mentioned on Twitter for predicting Rice as the top teams in the Conference USA before the season started by the moderator for r/NCAAW. I haven’t been able to follow the game too much the past couple of months due to real life stuff, but their success has been pretty shocking.

Because I didn’t include reasons as to why I thought the Owls would win the Con-USA, I thought I should talk about why this is happening now.

(Current season stats are from Her Hoop Stats).

  1. Erica Ogwumike is a beast. It’s easy to point at stuff like her 16.5 PPG and dominance on the glass (11.0 RPG). More telling on the offensive end is that she has an effective field goal percentage of 48.9%. That’s a solid number, but when you consider she’s doing that with one of the highest usage rates in the country (28.4%), it’s really impressive. *
  2. They also returned Nicole Iademarco, a solid wing player. Her 1.30 points per scoring attempt is second in the Conference USA. She’s doing that with a 20.5% usage rate, which isn’t ridiculously high but indicates she’s involved enough in the offense where that efficiency will actually make a difference for the team.
  3. They also added Nancy Mulkey, a transfer from Oklahoma. The center has really upped her game from her time as a Sooner: she’s leading the country in blocks per game at a disgusting 3.8 per. She also has a pretty high usage rate of 25.2%, and has kept her scoring efficient at a 58.9% effective field goal percentage.
  4. The most impressive thing the Owls have done as a team is tighten up their defense. This is likely helped by the fact that they only lost two players from last year who averaged 10+ MPG. HHS’s version of defensive rating shows them improving from 90.1 last year to 83.6 this year; that’s a jump from 106th nationally to 55th. Factors in this include decreasing their opponents’ three point rate (30.6% to 28.1%, an improvement of over 100 spots) and free throw rate (14.5% to 13.7%, moving from 55th to 40th nationally). Holding opponents to two point jump shots is a big part of a successful defense, especially when you don’t force a lot of turnovers – and Rice does not do that, ranking 324th in the country with just 13.1 turnovers forced per game.

* One concern I do have is that Erica’s three point shooting has fallen off badly from last year; ’17-’18: 54-143 (37.8%) in 32 games; ’18-’19: 26-88 (29.5%) in 23 games.

December 5’s Most Important Game

The most important game for December 5 is Texas A&M at Houston. A&M entered the season as my #15 team and Houston was #53.

Texas A&M heavily features star sophomore Chennedy Carter (19.0 PPG, 4.4 APG, 3.8 RPG, 1.6 SPG), but her teammates have improved. Aaliyah Wilson, now eligible after transferring from Arkansas and sitting out ’17-’18, is averaging 15.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.0 APG, 2.0 SPG, and 1.5 BPG, has made a tremendous impact already, and Kayla Wells (11.7 PPG, 4.5 RPG) has stepped up tremendously after playing 12.4 MPG of fairly benign ball. A&M is now 4-2 after a shocking six point home loss to Lamar.

The Cougars are off to a very disappointing 4-5 start, but two of their losses have come in single or double overtime. Houston is paced by one of the best AAC players that isn’t a UConn Huskies, Jasmyne Harris (17.4 PPG), though her shooting efficacy of 49.0% TS% is low on a massive 30.6% usage rate. For Houston to fulfill their preseason promise, they’re going to need to cut down on turnovers – they’re currently 348th out of 351 teams in D1 basketball in total turnovers.

I favorite Texas A&M, despite their surprising loss the last time out. I’m pretty concerned about where Houston is as a team.

You can catch this game at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

December 4, 2018: Most Important Game

I’m coming back from vacation and the holidays.

The most important game for December 4, 2018 is Middle Tennessee vs. Troy. The MTSU Blue Raiders (6-2) are built around A’Queen Hayes and Alex Johnson. Hayes, a versatile guard, is averaging 13.9 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 3.1 APG. Johnson, the hometown 6’0″ forward, is averaging 13.2 PPG and 4.8 RPG. I had MTSU projected as a mid-table Conference USA team before the season.

The 6-1 Troy Trojans, my preseason prediction to win the Sun Belt, have only lost their season opener. That was a road game against Florida State. Troy’s currently led by Sky’Lynn Holmes (9.4 PPG, 8.3 RPG), though I expect more from Amber Rivers (13.0 PPG, 3.9 RPG) soon. Troy is interesting in that their 13 players who have played this year are averaging between 11.6 and 22.9 MPG.

Troy plays at a much higher pace than MTSU, so this will be an interested contrast of styles.

This game is on ESPN+ at 6 p.m. Eastern.

I think Troy will pull out the win.

2018 WNBA Rookie of the Year Race

Stats are through 7/3

All picks are from 2018.

1. A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces (#1 overall pick) – 30.8 MPG, 20.1 PPG, 45.6% eFG%, 27.1 PER, 5.01 BPM, 1.51 VORP

2. Ariel Atkins, Washington Mystics (#7 overall pick) – 20.7 MPG, 10.8 PPG, 51.9% eFG%, 18.2 PER, 4.99 BPM, 0.61 VORP

3. Victoria Vivians, Indiana Fever (#8 overall pick) – 23.9 MPG, 9.8 PPG, 56.6% eFG%, 15.6 PER, 3.03 BPM, 0.75 VORP

4. Gabby Williams, Chicago Sky (#4 overall pick) – 25.3 MPG, 7.4 PPG, 43.0% eFG%, 17.3 PER, 2.62 BPM, 0.64 VORP

5. Kia Nurse, New York Liberty (#10 overall pick) – 23.2 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 47.9% eFG%, 15.4 PER, 2.84 BPM, 0.62 VORP

6. Myisha Hines-Allen, Washington Mystics (#19 overall pick) – 14.1 MPG, 4.6 PPG, 46.8% eFG%, 24.1 PER, 2.87 BPM, 0.29 VORP

7. Azura Stevens, Dallas Wings (#6 overall pick) – 18.7 MPG, 6.2 PPG, 47.3% eFG%, 14.0 PER, 3.21 BPM, 0.47 VORP

8. JiSu Park, Las Vegas Aces (#17 overall pick) – 14.8 MPG, 3.3 PPG, 39.4% eFG%, 16.0 PER, 0.85 BPM, 0.30 VORP

9. Kelsey Mitchell, Indiana Fever (#2 overall pick) – 28.9 MPG, 15.2 PPG, 46.9% eFG%, 4.6 PER, 0.46 BPM, 0.28 VORP

10. Diamond DeShields, Chicago Sky (#3 overall pick) – 25.8 MPG, 13.6 PPG, 43.8% eFG%, 11.1 PER, -0.54 BPM, 0.21 VORP

The one comment I’m going to write on this post is that Mitchell and DeShields’ places probably seem odd and overly harsh; I’ve seen them in the top five a lot in other peoples’ ranks. Neither is having much of a defensive impact on very bad defensive teams. They both have high usage rates with middling shooting numbers. DeShields is making an impact on rebounding, while Mitchell is decidedly not.

Also to consider: Jordin Canada, Seattle Storm; Maria Vadeeva, Los Angeles Sparks; Stephanie Mavunga, Indiana Fever