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There has been a lot of talk on this board about how Butler and VCU will do in A10 conference play next season. I decided to gather some data to see how an A10 schedule matches up with what these teams have faced in the past. To compare the difficulty of VCU and Butler's past seasons to the difficulty of playing in the A10 I have created an imaginary team (A) who only plays A10 teams each season. The SOS of team A should represent to some degree the strength of the A10.

All data is from kenpom
SOS - Strength of Schedule
NCSOS - Non-Conference SOS
Code:
		  Butler		   VCU			 A
		SOS  NCSOS		SOS  NCSOS		SOS
	2012	123  49			132  63			36
	2011	53   8  		67   29 		87
	2010	53   1 			147  146 		59
	2009	104  57 		139  78			82
	2008	110  49			196  132		60
	2007	88   28 		150  106 		145
	2006 	135  92 		178  243		109
	2005	184  175		181  124		151
	2004	170  138		166  117		76
	2003	113  80			220  220		91

3 Yr Avg	76   19 		115  79			61
5 Yr Avg	89   33			136  90			65
10 Yr Avg	113  68			158  126		90
So what does this data tell us? It shows that, on average, the A10 has been improving over the last ten years. It also shows that, on average, teams from the A10 are more difficult than teams Butler and VCU normally face. However, the A10 doesn't compare to the difficulty of Butler's recent OOC schedules, so there is evidence that they might not have a problem adjusting to the A10 and a harder overall schedule. The data suggests VCU may have a more difficult time adjusting since A10 is on average more difficult then even the non-conference part of their schedule.

Essentially:
For Butler, the A10 will be more difficult than the conference portion, but less difficult than the OOC portion of their seasons. They may adjust well.
For VCU, the A10 will be more difficult than both their conference and OOC portions of the their previous seasons. They might have difficulty adjusting.
 
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I think you're missing one key point with Butler: They won't be significantly better than the rest of the league anymore. It's one thing to play a great OOC and then slide into a comfort zone with the majority of your league games vs decidedly inferior opponents. The Horizon is a league full of Fordham's and Duquesne's (this year Duquesne, not the dangerous Duquesne of the last few years).

VCU is a total wildcard. A10 teams rarely see anything like their style of play. UMass will attempt to play 40 minutes of 94 foot pressure, but they don't have the same level of athleticism or physicality.

The numbers are well and good, but they don't account for the daily grind. The 16 game A10 season is something that Butler has never seen. Even Fordham, our worst team by far, comes at you with brick shithouses. It's a pretty grueling slate. VCU hasn't experienced it either, but the CAA is a lot closer to the A10 than the Horizon. They also have a better team right now. I think they are better prepared in the short term.
 

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...
VCU is a total wildcard. A10 teams rarely see anything like their style of play. UMass will attempt to play 40 minutes of 94 foot pressure, but they don't have the same level of athleticism or physicality. ...
Having may times watched both teams play this defense I can say with certainty that you are wrong. UMass simply doesn't play it nearly as well. It's not the players' athleticism or strength - it is the coaching. To be fair to Kellogg, he just started trying to teach it.
 

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Having may times watched both teams play this defense I can say with certainty that you are wrong. UMass simply doesn't play it nearly as well. It's not the players' athleticism or strength - it is the coaching. To be fair to Kellogg, he just started trying to teach it.
I don't think you looked very closely, then. What VCU does, and what UMass showed last year, are two entirely different animals. It's Varsity and JV. UMass won games because they could force enough discomfort for teams to miss some shots. VCU won because they can physically shut you down by forcing the ball out of the PGs hands and into their own. Teams playing VCU looked like they wanted to cry at times.
 

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Both will finish Top 3. Both have top 3 or 4 rosters and have the two best coaches sitting on benches in the league.
 

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I don't think you looked very closely, then. What VCU does, and what UMass showed last year, are two entirely different animals. It's Varsity and JV. UMass won games because they could outscore you. VCU can do that, but they win because they can physically shut you down. Teams playing VCU looked like they wanted to cry at times.
You and I are not disagreeing on the relative success implementing the style - we are disagreeing on why that difference exists. I would argue that UMass was actually more athletic than VCU last year. The downside to the defense that VCU and UMass play is that when you don't execute it properly you give up easy baskets. VCU executes it properly almost always. UMass does not. That is, I am sure, the result of coaching and not of athleticism and physicality.
 

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Even Fordham, our worst team by far, comes at you with brick shithouses.
Quite possibly the best description for them.


UMass has modeled our style of play after VCU, and has one year of it under our belt. Of course we're not going to be as good at it as VCU - we haven't been recruiting for that style of play.


I tend to agree with UMass87 there a bit, it's not necessarily the athleticism that separates the two teams, it's the fact that VCU players have been taught far better how to play within the system than UMass players have. They have more success because they have a better understanding of their roles.
 

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You and I are not disagreeing on the relative success implementing the style - we are disagreeing on why that difference exists. I would argue that UMass was actually more athletic than VCU last year. The downside to the defense that VCU and UMass play is that when you don't execute it properly you give up easy baskets. VCU executes it properly almost always. UMass does not. That is, I am sure, the result of coaching and not of athleticism and physicality.
I don't think it's coaching. It's not an entirely difficult system to learn and implement. It's truly about the athletes you have on the floor. They have to be overly quick, very physical, and have a great ability to read and anticipate where the ball will be.

e-parade is right, it's about the players. UMass doesn't have a roster full of guys who can execute that style to near perfection right now. They still have a DDM heavy roster, with guys who are always looking for their next bucket. Kellogg can coach until he's blue in the face, and they are not going to give you what is needed to be a dominant defensive team. They will have to live with simply trying to score more than the opponent is capable of scoring.

And this is why I like VCU to hit the ground running. They have the players. We will have to adjust to them as much or more to them adjusting to us. With Butler, they are well coached and talented, but they play a style we know well. They have to adjust to us more than us adjusting to them.
 

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There will definitely be an adjustment to the day-to-day grind in the A-10. I think this is where VCU's depth will help. We play with "controlled chaos" and do it very well. The ball pressure we apply out front is what creates the most trouble and I believe this is what the A-10 will have to adjust to.

As a realistic VCU fan I know we will have challenges adjusting but don't underestimate what we are bringing. We only have 2 seniors, 3 juniors and 8 underclassmen. This team has guys who only know how to win, and do it at the highest level. We will adjust to you guys as well as you adjusting to us. I don't expect us to win them all but I know we won't lay down just because its a little tougher every night. We respect the league and are happy to be here, but we are coming here to try and win it.

can't wait to get this thing rolling, should be an awesome year for the A-10.
 

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There will definitely be an adjustment to the day-to-day grind in the A-10. I think this is where VCU's depth will help. We play with "controlled chaos" and do it very well. The ball pressure we apply out front is what creates the most trouble and I believe this is what the A-10 will have to adjust to.

As a realistic VCU fan I know we will have challenges adjusting but don't underestimate what we are bringing. We only have 2 seniors, 3 juniors and 8 underclassmen. This team has guys who only know how to win, and do it at the highest level. We will adjust to you guys as well as you adjusting to us. I don't expect us to win them all but I know we won't lay down just because its a little tougher every night. We respect the league and are happy to be here, but we are coming here to try and win it.

can't wait to get this thing rolling, should be an awesome year for the A-10.
You guys should get double digit conference wins. Anything less than 10 I'd consider a failure to adjust based on your recent success.

I'd say the same for Butler, but with how they did last year, getting 10 wins in the A10 would be a marked improvement year over year.
 

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adamflyer hit on it. As far as VCU and UMASS athletically, I think they are similar. VCU has a wide variety of athletes, the difference being we have guys who are here to be a part of our system.

The one thing I know will be coming from game one to game 16 is other teams complaining about VCU holding, grabbing, grasping, slapping, etc. We know we do it, but as part of our style we MAKE the refs call a foul. In the end it leads to us getting away with very physical play on the perimeter. It can work in both teams favor as you are allowed to do the same. Be prepared, you've been warned.
 

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They still have a DDM heavy roster, with guys who are always looking for their next bucket.
I dont agree with that, nor do I think that a "DDM heavy roster" is necessarily not capable of playing the style of defense being described here.

Umass has lots of long, lean athletes, and good height everywhere except point guard - and that guy offsets his stature in other ways, obviously.

I think the players at Umass are more than capable, athletically and size-wise, of playing the way VCU does. It's a matter of coaching, conditioning, and depth.
 

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You guys should get double digit conference wins. Anything less than 10 I'd consider a failure to adjust based on your recent success.

I'd say the same for Butler, but with how they did last year, getting 10 wins in the A10 would be a marked improvement year over year.
This might not be common knowledge, but after Butler's second Final Four it lost 3 of the starting lineup to graduation and for the second year in a row a person early to the NBA Draft. Both Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack would have been on last year's team. More or less all of the minutes turned over, freshman and sophomore made of 4/6s of the opening night first sex- which might not be such a bad thing if one of those sophomores hadnt completed his first full year of organized basketball as a junior in high school.

It took most of the season just sorting out the minutes and the fact that ALL of the shooters had graduated/left early to the NBA Draft never was resolved. What they did accomplish was establishing that it could still be an elite defense and that you can build around Roosevelt Jones, Khyle Marshall, and Chrishawn Hopkins.

This year they add the most decorated player in the conference, who the country considers the best shooter in the country, but he swears up and down he's the second best on the team (to 6'6" freshman wing Kellen Dunham)

I suppose it doesn't matter what people expect, but I've been following this program for a long time, and its as good as Ive seen barring the first Final Four team. As an aside, I guess they took Hayward, Mack, and three other alumni behind the woodshed last weekend, FWIW.

Heck, the 5th option on the team was playing for Team USA last summer.

Its a 2nd weekend team group. Its not going to lose at home. Good luck to all, it should be fun

Hopefully, BU wins Maui (BU and UNC were the only two picked by the ESPN panel). Get that done and you're in the cat bird's seat the rest of the year
 

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The one thing I know will be coming from game one to game 16 is other teams complaining about VCU holding, grabbing, grasping, slapping, etc. We know we do it, but as part of our style we MAKE the refs call a foul. In the end it leads to us getting away with very physical play on the perimeter. It can work in both teams favor as you are allowed to do the same. Be prepared, you've been warned.
I am curious to see how that is going to work out when certain A10 referees start calling every ticky-tack foul you can imagine. Could prove problematic, especially on the road.
 

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I dont agree with that, nor do I think that a "DDM heavy roster" is necessarily not capable of playing the style of defense being described here.

Umass has lots of long, lean athletes, and good height everywhere except point guard - and that guy offsets his stature in other ways, obviously.

I think the players at Umass are more than capable, athletically and size-wise, of playing the way VCU does. It's a matter of coaching, conditioning, and depth.
I don't mean athletes as in "UMass has slow, short, fat guys". I mean the type of athlete, the type of player. You can't just put a guy with long arms and skinny ankles out there and expect him to be able to defend 94 feet with intensity. Only a certain type of player can do it.

UMass has athletes, but frankly, they are a bit more finesse. They don't go through you, they go above and around you. That's the DDM style. Get you moving and dribble right around you. VCU wants to plow right through your chest. I think Kellogg does, too, but it will take time. He will be playing a hybrid style as the roster evolves. It helps to have Chaz Williams, who can create for himself and the 4 others on the floor with him in any system.
 

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I dont agree with that, nor do I think that a "DDM heavy roster" is necessarily not capable of playing the style of defense being described here.

Umass has lots of long, lean athletes, and good height everywhere except point guard - and that guy offsets his stature in other ways, obviously.

I think the players at Umass are more than capable, athletically and size-wise, of playing the way VCU does. It's a matter of coaching, conditioning, and depth.
They're not all the right kind of players for what we're trying to do. The younger guys are getting up there though. Like I said, one season of a sudden change to a different style of play isn't an easy adjustment.


However, it should be noted that VCU led the NCAA in steals (by a large margin), but UMass was actually #8 in the nation. No other A10 team was in the top 40. So clearly something is going well.

On the flipside - the main problem wasn't the defense, it was us not holding onto the damn ball on offense. VCU had 389 turnovers, UMass had 494 (ranking us as #319 in the nation).
 

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I disagree. Defense is not about body type. If a kid has size and athleticism, there is no reason they can't play whatever type of defense they want. If they have the natural tools, the rest is desire and know-how.
 

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I am curious to see how that is going to work out when certain A10 referees start calling every ticky-tack foul you can imagine. Could prove problematic, especially on the road.
We had this happen a few times last year and it makes for one lowsy game both ways. They could call us for a foul on each and every play, so typically they don't. When you do get into the battle of attrition it makes the game slow and lumbering. It sucks for all.
 

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We had this happen a few times last year and it makes for one lowsy game both ways. They could call us for a foul on each and every play, so typically they don't. When you do get into the battle of attrition it makes the game slow and lumbering. It sucks for all.
A foul is a foul. If VCU can get away with tons of clutching and grabbing up and down the court for 40 minutes, then I suppose dealing with "havoc" will be especially problematic.
 

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We had this happen a few times last year and it makes for one lowsy game both ways. They could call us for a foul on each and every play, so typically they don't. When you do get into the battle of attrition it makes the game slow and lumbering. It sucks for all.
I am going to say that in the A10 on the road, they typically will call it against you most trips down the court. I have seen way too many an A10 game ruined by calls on too many trips down the court and that's when there was not always something blatant. If things are as you say and they can call something on each and every play, I think you might possibly need to prepare yourselves for some ugly games on the road especially. Time will tell.
 
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