We open with a side note: for the statistically inclined, there is no better $20 you can spend this winter than the subscription fee for Ken Pomeroy's site.
We follow that with your "more interesting than useful" stat of the day: Troy Daniels made more than one two-point basket in a game just three times last year (and never more than two). Daniels hit William & Mary for two two-point FGs on February 1, and repeated the assault on the rim in both NCAA tournament games.
Yesterday was offense, and today a quick word about the birth of offense, otherwise known as rebounding.
Two coaches independently made comments that relieved me of the overwhelming concern for this VCU team. First, it was that guy Shaka Smart, who said: "In our style rebounding is a challenge and we’d love to get better there, but we didn’t rebound well and made the Final Four (two years ago) and won 29 games last year."
Also, Towson coach Pat Skerry offered up this nugget:
"I've always been a big rebounding guy, but we outrebounded guys something like 19 of our last 20 games last year but didn’t have much to show for it, so I don't know. It sounds simple, but if you don’t shoot the ball well and don't have enough ballhandling you will struggle to run offense. Having big men that can pass changes the way you can play offense."
Now let's be clear: you have to rebound and hold your own on the glass. The havoc style of play, in a sense, sort of trades rebounds for turnovers. You can get the ball but we're going to take it from you.
That brings up two keys. First, the bigger VCUs margin of turnovers to rebound differential is important. The trade goes thusly: VCU creates 22 turnovers and commits just nine (plus 13), and the problems created by getting outrebounded 41-34 (minus seven) is somewhat mitigated.
Again, let's be clear: creating turnovers is not a replacement for rebounding nor is it a salve, but it certainly alleviates the problems of a weak area.
It also underscores the second key: the tremendous value of offensive rebounding. It pains me to do this to you, but look at what ODU does so well that mitigates offensive struggles--they go get the ball of the offensive glass extremely well. The Monarchs annually grab more than 40% of their misses, and two seasons ago got extra possessions nearly half the time.
We were pretty good last year--we got 33.4% of our misses (132nd). However opponents grabbed 34.0% of their misses (246th). If VCU can flip those numbers, it creates extra possessions, the backbone of havoc.
Late one night I'll start looking at the math that may be helpful as we move through the season. The formula goes something like: turnovers plus offensive rebounds <divided by> rebound differential plus offensive rebounds allowed. We'll see.
The sum: we just have to be good enough rebounders, and pay attention to offensive rebounding percentage. We have to go get our misses at a better rate than our opponents.
Around the league:
Shannon Russell gives us Xavier notes and a primer on their scrim this weekend.
Here's St. Louis head coach Jim Crews, with say-little comments about his team's scrimmage against Indiana State. Remember, Crews is subbing for Rick Majerus, who is taking this season off due to health problems.
A quick primer on LaSalle from a local blogger.
And finally, here's coverage of Dayton's exhibition win over Findlay from the Dayton Daily News.Archie Miller postgame, with highlights: