A Quick Analysis of Maryland and Purdue’s Frontcourts

Posted by Alex Moscoso on December 11th, 2015

Before the season began, both Maryland and Purdue were named in CBSSports.com’s preseason selection of the top 10 frontcourts in America. The Terrapins added two more bigs — Robert Carter and Diamond Stone — to their already strong trio of Jake Layman, Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky, while the Boilermakers added freshman Caleb Swanigan to their duo of A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas. As of today, the two teams have combined to go 18-1 with the sole loss by Maryland coming in Chapel Hill against the nation’s preseason #1 team. No matter how you slice it, the Terps and Boilermakers largely owe their excellent starts to their respective frontcourts. So how do their performances compare with the other eight selected by CBS? Let’s take a closer look. [Ed Note: All data was collected before Wednesday and Thursday’s games.]

Caleb Swanigan's addition to Purdue has taken this team to new heights in the early season. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

Caleb Swanigan’s addition to Purdue has taken this team to new heights in the early season. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

The most basic function of any frontcourt is to grab rebounds and protect the rim. The four bar charts below compare these 10 teams’ total rebounding percentages, block percentages, offensive rebounding percentages and defensive rebounding percentages.

frontcourts chart

We can easily see above that Purdue has been much more effective in rebounding the basketball than Maryland. The Boilermakers’ big men rank fifth among the top 10 frontcourts in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage and third in total rebounding percentage. The Terrapins, on the other hand, rank ninth in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage and last in total rebounding percentage. Furthermore, Purdue ranks second in block percentage — rejecting 13.66 percent of all opponents’ two-point field goal attempts–while Maryland ranks third.

While some frontcourts are more talented at the defensive side of the game, others are more talented offensively. The table below displays the percentage of total points that are produced from the frontcourt (PProd / TPoints), the percentage of total points scored by the frontcourt (% of Total Points), and the frontcourt’s true shooting percentage (TS%). Points produced is based on Dean Oliver’s formula that takes into account the whole sequence of how the basket is scored and is divided between the players responsible. For example, as you can see below, Maryland’s frontcourt scored 54.2 percent of the total points but were only responsible for 51.8 percent. This means that some of the points they scored were also because of help from the backcourt.

frontcourt off

We can also see that Maryland has a sky-high true shooting percentage at 67.0 percent, which leads all other frontcourts on this list. This is because of a combination of Layman’s ability to hit the three and that he, along with Carter and Stone, have been successful in getting to the charity stripe. Even though they’re shooting the ball very well, they are middle of the pack when it comes to their share of total points. If the Terps didn’t have one of the best guards in the country in Melo Trimble, you might advise them to get the ball into the paint more often. Purdue, on the other hand, ranks in the middle of the pack in all three metrics. However, it is important to mention that both Hammons and Haas are shooting over 65 percent from the field — good enough for top 20 rankings individually.

To summarize all of this data, Purdue is clearly more effective in the traditional defensive big man duties of rebounding and blocking than Maryland. But the Terrapins have a measurable advantage offensively because of Layman’s ability to stretch the floor and the frontcourt’s collective knack for attracting fouls. No matter how you slice it, though, one thing remains clear: Both frontcourts, as expected, can hold their own among the very best in college basketball.

Alex Moscoso (170 Posts)

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