Marching To Vegas: Are Elite Pac-12 Guards Using Officiating Changes to Their Advantage?

Posted by Adam Butler (@pachoopsab) on November 15th, 2013

Adam Butler (@pachoopsab) of Pachoops again will be joining us all year, providing us with his weekly take on our favorite conference, as we begin the March to Las Vegas. 

As soon as Bobby Dibler told us we were going to have “more whistles” this season, I had two thoughts: 1) Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhh; 2) Are Spencer Dinwiddie and Jahii Carson going to shoot a gajillion free throws? The rule changes Dibler helped roll out would have more fouls called on the perimeter, hand-checking to be penalized, giving a great advantage to those with the ball in their hands. Sweet moves translated into a whistle. Dinwiddie had already demonstrated a propensity to draw fouls (a 76.7 FT rate which was 19th in the nation last year, while drawing 6.2 fouls per 40 minutes). Carson, meanwhile, is riquickulous and could cause some significant foul trouble in the lane and on the perimeter. Last year his FT rate was 42.4 (405th nationally), while drawing 5.5 fouls per 40 minutes. Yes, my mind wandered here with Dibler on stage. And before we dive too deep into these outstanding Pac-12 guards, let’s take a gander at the state of the whistles, one week into its season.

Statistic

2013

2014

% Difference
FT

20.4

23.3

14.22%

FT Rate

35.9

43.1

20.06%

FT % (shooting)

69.4

68.4

-1.44%

TO %

20

18.1

-9.50%

Steal %

9.9

8.7

-12.12%

These are the D-I averages according to Ken Pomeroy’s website. To synopsize and analyze, we’re seeing a lot more free throws at a wild rate with fewer of them being made. Meanwhile, defenses are forcing fewer turnovers as a result of likely more fouls or timidity. Davante Gardner of Marquette is drawing nearly 17 fouls per 40 minutes. This game happened. Is Herb Sendek right when he declared these rule changes “revolutionary?” Pretty close. There certainly are some elements to these changes that have affected the game. I mean, anything that shifts an average by 20 percent is significant. The free throw rate change between 2012 and 2013 was just -1.37 percent. It stayed about the same. The game is changing, there have been 152 free throws shot in two Oregon Duck basketball games this season. REVOLUTION! (?)

So back to our beloved Pac and those two dynamic guards. To date (and that’s a measly five games), Jahii and Spencer have shot 39 free throws, a collective 80 percent free throw rate. Their teams are a combined 4-1 (wins is my favorite stat). Interestingly, however, just nine of those charity tosses belong to Jahii. There are Pac-12 players getting to the line far more regularly than Carson, who for all his quickness and 27 percent usage rate, just may not be a drawer of fouls. His assist rate is sitting around 37 percent suggesting he’s dishing the ball before contact (somewhere Jermaine Marshall grins). What’s more, Carson took 43 percent of his shots last season at the rim (unfortunately the data mash that is hoop-math.com doesn’t quite have ASU’s 2014 data up to date so I can’t tell you what he’s doing this year). For context, the D-I average is 32 percent at the rim and Dinwiddie is shooting 41 percent of his shots there this year, 23 percent last year, and 29 percent as a freshman. Marcus Smart took 29 percent of his freshman year shots around the tin with a 57.5 percent free throw rate. Carson is a damn water bug. And while shots at the rim aren’t the end all, they’re a lot easier to make than most other shots. I’ll conclude that Carson is untouchable and whether you want to foul him or are forced to foul him, it appears he won’t let you. Dinwiddie on the other hand? He’s going to draw contact. It’s his strong suit and he’s going to continue to do it all the season long.

    "The Mayor" Has Been Using The New Officiating Emphasis To His Advantage (David Zalubowski, AP Photo)

“The Mayor” Has Been Using The New Officiating Emphasis To His Advantage (David Zalubowski, AP Photo)

This closing caveat may be coming late but I have to say that the season is young. Carson and Dinwiddie are following the respective trajectories they’ve previously shown but I’m glad we had the chance to dive deeper into the landscape of college basketball. It may be a changing game – for better or worse is up to subjectivity – but it gives us new perspectives into winning and losing, that age old nugget of coach speak: adversity. If revolution is upon us – and the signs suggest that may be the case – who will rise to the challenge of adaptation?

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One Response to “Marching To Vegas: Are Elite Pac-12 Guards Using Officiating Changes to Their Advantage?”

  1. […] spent the entire off-season talking about how slashing guards like Carson and Dinwiddie would benefit from rule changes intended to “open the game up.” Well those two continue […]

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