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UConn: Know Your Glendale Travel Companion

Looking at other teams in the region didn't jinx Mizzou when I did it for their Boise pod, so we'll do it again this time around.  The other game in Glendale Thursday night pits a suddenly en fuego UConn team versus a strong and steady Purdue squad.  Today, we look at the #1 seed.

UConn: 28-4

UConn Opp
Points Per Minute
1.91 1.55
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.14 0.92
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.34 0.98
2-PT FG% 51.6% 40.4%
3-PT FG% 34.5% 30.6%
FT% 67.7% 70.8%
True Shooting % 55.9% 45.1%
UConn Opp
Assists/Gm 16.2 12.3
Steals/Gm 6.3 6.4
Turnovers/Gm 12.2 12.1
Ball Control Index
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.84 1.55
UConn Opp
Expected Offensive Rebounds/Gm 12.5 15.0
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 14.2 12.9
Difference +1.7 -2.1
  • Where UConn's good: Rebounding, 3-point defense, rebounding, passing, rebounding, shooting
  • Where UConn's not as good: Free-throw shooting, forcing turnovers
  • UConn plays at a relatively slow pace (only about 63 possessions per game via my numbers) but takes very efficient shots from the halfcourt offense.  Their 1.14 points per possession is damn strong (as is their 0.92 PPP allowed).
  • UConn averages 8.8 blocks per game.  8.8!  Hasheem Thabeet alone averages half of those, but even taking Thabeet away, 4.4 per game would be relatively impressive.
Player AdjGS* GmSc/Min Line
Hasheem Thabeet (7'3, 263, Jr.) 16.90 0.53 13.7 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 4.4 BPG, 1.8 TOPG
Jeff Adrien (6'7, 243, Sr.) 13.45 0.39 13.9 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1,1 BPG, 1.7 TOPG
A.J. Price (6'2, 181, Sr.) 11.40 0.36 14.7 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.8 APG, 2.7 TOPG
Kemba Walker (6'1, 172, Fr.) 7.95 0.31 8.7 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.8 TOPG
Stanley Robinson (6'9, 210, Jr.) 7.56 0.32 8.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.5 TOPG
Gavin Edwards (6'9, 234, Jr.) 6.86 0.58 4.0 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.7 BPG
Craig Austrie (6'3, 176, Sr.) 6.02 0.24 7.0 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 2.3 APG
Donnell Beverly (6'4, 190, So.) 1.89 0.43 1.2 PPG
Jim Veronick (6'8, 200, Sr.) 1.00 1.00 3 minutes
Scottie Haralson (6'4, 215, Fr.) 0.53 0.12 1.4 PPG
John Lindner (6'5, 265, Sr.) -0.06 -0.04 5 minutes
Johnnie Bird (6'0, 165, Sr.) -0.15 -0.10 13 minutes
Alex Hornat (6'5, 205, Jr.) -0.55 -0.55 2 minutes
Jonathan Mandeldove (7'0, 240, Jr.) -0.63 -0.28 16 minutes

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds.  It does the same thing my previous measure of choice did (it takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual's "score" for a given game), only the formula is more used and accepted.  The "adjustment" in Adjusted Game Score is simply matching the total game scores to the total points scored in the game, thereby redistributing the game's points scored to those who had the biggest impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • This list obviously does not include Jerome Dyson (6'4, 190, Jr.), UConn's starting guard who was lost to injury eight games ago.  On a per-minute basis, he was UConn's second-most productive player (0.39 AdjGS/min).
  • Dyson's departure has meant, among other things, more exposure for freshman Kemba Walker.  Statistically, he is not the player Dyson is (0.31 AdjGS/min instead of 0.39), but he's nothing if not steady.  In his last 10 games, Walker has scored 7, 8, 13, 4, 9, 8, 10, 8, 10, and 8 points.  He's not much of a shooter (27.7% from 3-point range), but he's great near the hoop, draws a lot of fouls, and plays good defense.
  • AJ Price: stud.  His turnover % is a bit too high, and his shooting % a bit too low, but he has brought his A-game to the NCAA Tournament, and when he's playing like he did against Texas A&M (27 points on 16 shots, 4-for-7 from 3-point range, 7-for-9 from the free throw line, 8 assists, 5 rebounds), UConn will not lose.
  • Without Dyson, UConn has basically a 7-man rotation that is impressively balanced but...still only 7 guys.  If Missouri gets a chance to play UConn, they would probably need to extend the tempo as much as humanly possible, especially since the guard rotation is at least a bit thin.
  • They may not be a deep team, but they're deep in terms of quality size.  Thabeet and Adrien are a ridiculously good 1-2 punch, and that says nothing of Gavin Edwards and Stanley Robinson.
  • The offense runs through a few different players, but from a statistical standpoint, the game runs through Thabeet.  The big man averages over 31 minutes per game--impressive for a 260-pounder, no?--and while he doesn't come equipped with a lot of post moves, a) he's big enough that it doesn't matter, and b) his defensive presence more than makes up for the fact that he's no Hakeem Olajuwon with the ball in his hands.

What does Ken Pomeroy have to say?

Honestly, KenPom's stats say exactly what you would think.  They are #3 in the country in defensive efficiency, #2 in Effective FG% allowed, #1 in FTA/FGA defense (meaning they don't foul much in playing great defense), #4 in 2pt% allowed, #2 in Block%, and #2 in Effective Height.  They are experienced and grab a ton of offensive rebounds.

The team's offense--no slouch in its own right--is completely overshadowed by its defensive profiency.

Weaknesses?  They don't force turnovers, they don't do much 3-ball shooting, and they really do not have any depth whatsoever.  And free throws could cost them in crunch time.


Tomorrow, we'll look at Purdue, the keys to the Boilers-Huskies game, and a prediction.