Mailbag: Shooting Metrics, Overused Announcer Memes, Spartan Guy Says Things To Comfort Self

Submitted by Brian on February 1st, 2013 at 1:20 PM


GRIII: "I see what you did there." Sobocop: "I THOUGHT THIS GUY WAS JUST A SHOOTER"
(Bryan Fuller)

One shooting metric to rule them all.

Hi Brian,

I was reading through your post from today about the game last night (solid effort, can't wait for Saturday!) and I came across the part where you summarized Trey's statline, part of which was that he had 18 points on 11 shots.  Is there a place that tracks "points-per-shot" (Kenpom maybe?), and do you think this is a worthwhile metric when tracking offensive efficiency of an individual player? I know the tempo-free stats usually look at eFG% as a major indicator of offensive prowess, but was wondering if points/shot would something akin to this for an individual player.

Thanks for your thoughts!

I just use points per shot as a quick-and-dirty evaluation method when I'm putting together a post because it gets the job done when we're running sanity checks on opinions from our eyeballs. As an out-and-out metric it falls short since it doesn't put free throws in the divisor properly—going 0-2 at the line doesn't hurt you. If you're reaching for an actual stat you can do better.

For a catch-all stat that encapsulates how many points a player acquires per shot attempt, I like True Shooting Percentage, which rolls FTAs into eFG% and spits out a number that's easy to interpret. Trey Burke is at 59%, which means that he is scoring at a rate equal to a hypothetical player who takes nothing but two-pointers and hits 59% of them. Easy.

For Michigan, there's little difference between eFG% and TS%—Burke is 175th in one, 189th in the other, etc—because they so rarely get to the line. Teams at the other end of that scale can see players with much larger differences. Iowa demonstrates this amply. Roy Devyn Marble's eFG% is 46% and his TS% is 53%—a major difference. FTA-generating machine Aaron White is around 200th in eFG% and around 100th in TS%. From an individual perspective, the latter is a more accurate picture of what happens when Aaron White tries to score.

The four factors everyone uses separate free throws from eFG%, so when you look at those as a unit you do see the impact of FTs. If you wanted to you could cram those factors down into a TS% factor and the other two factors into a Possession Advantage factor, but looking at four bar graphs seems to be okay for people.

Announcer meme overuse.

The announcers constantly having to tell us that Stauskas is more than just a shooter reminds me of last year's over used statement (story?), that Trey Burke played with Sullinger in HS.  Seriously, they told us that every freaking game.  So my question is, which one is worse?

I'm going to have to go with Burke.  First, that was mentioned every game, whereas the Stauskas thing only gets mentioned in games where he has a take to the hole, which only happens MOST games.  Second, at least the Stauskas thing is mentioned in context, as in, he just proved he was more than just a shooter which prompted the comment.  The Burke/Sullinger mention was almost exclusively brought up out of the blue, and had nothing to do with anything happening in the game.  It was as if the announcing team made note to make sure they mentioned it at a certain minute marker in the game because nothing plausibly could have brought it to mind otherwise.


P.S. If it had kept going, Dan Dakich's mention of that thing about Spike's dad would easily have been the worst.  Luckily, he only told us that Spike's dad was the former best biddy basketball player in the world during Michigan's first four games.

These are different classes of announcing crutch. The Burke thing—which is still happening—is the equivalent of Tom Zbikowski Is A Boxer, a biographical detail that will be crammed in every game to hook casual viewers. The Stauskas thing is a generally applicable sentiment that can be applied to anyone who takes a lot of threes but has decided to venture within the line.

Neither really bothers me. "Not just a shooter" means Stauskas has just thrown something down or looped in for a layup, and I am probably typing something about blouses or pancakes into twitter. I have good feelings associated with its utterance. The Burke thing is just background noise.


Hey Brian,

So, no one is more sick of conference expansion talk as I am. I'm 100% with you that it's bent our tradition over a dumpster and I agree it's foolish to base major long-term decisions on a dying profit model.

Here's the thing though, does the fact that the current profit model is dying really matter. I mean, we're moving (slowly) to a system where you pay only for the channels you want instead of being extorted for a bunch of channels you'd never watch. So, under this new business model, although it may be less overall money than under the old system, wouldn't they still get more subscribers to be B1G network if they add more schools? There's not a single UNC fan who would pay $5 a month or whatever for the B1G network, but if they were added them, you'd get more subscribers than you would normally. I mean there's the chance that you weaken the brand that you lose more subscribers than you gain, but I don't think that's a serious concern.

TL; DR - It's about the money, and won't expansion bring more regardless of whether the old model is dying or not?

Thanks again,


Expansion brings more money but it also brings more mouths to feed. From the perspective of a school in the league it only makes sense to add a team that is at least on par with you in terms of being able to bring fans and eyeballs. Penn State and Nebraska brought those numbers; Rutgers and Maryland likely do not.

The Big Ten can expand to acquire more subscribers but in a world where cable is a niche product to enjoy live sports, the amount of money you're getting is proportional to the number of fans shelling out. Right now it's proportional to population, which makes Rutgers seem like a good idea. Later maybe not so much.

People think things that make them feel better.

To Brian:

Brian, I have this constant argument with a Spartan at work...He says that Michigan's recruiting rankings are always high because when Michigan lands a recruit, the recruit gets a bump in ranking.  According to him, this is because a large number of Michigan fans pay recruiting sites for memberships so the sites keep Michigan fans happy by giving them a higher ranking than other schools with lower memberships.  He also says that MSU's coaches are just better at recruiting than the sites so that is why they do better than their rankings.  Any thoughts on how to prove / disprove his theory?


It will not matter since from the sounds of this conversation your co-worker thinks Mike Valenti is a gentleman scholar and will find some other way to wheedle himself positive feelings until such time as his team is crushed under the boot of history.

HOWEVA, you could just point out that literally every four-star member of Michigan's recruiting class fell in the most recent Rivals update except Jourdan Lewis, who hopped up sixteen spots. This is pretty much inevitable: unless you're moving up, you're moving down as more and more players are discovered. This dude will wave his face around in a disturbing fashion and ignore this data.

As for the thing about MSU's coaches, yeah, recruiting ratings are not infallible and there will be teams that deviate above and below when touted guys bust and low-rated ones break out. MSU's gotten massive outperformance from its defense recently, and maybe they can sustain that in the same way Wisconsin can sustain its running game.

They'll be trudging uphill when it comes to Michigan and Ohio State. State fans love to point out Michigan's class rankings versus their performance over the last half-decade and say "see, nothing there." Taken over larger samples, though, recruiting does correlate with success. Michigan's fade was largely a lack of retention and coaching ranging from lackadaisical to awful. If MSU fans are counting on those two items to sustain them going forward they're in for a rude surprise.


Caveman Bob

February 1st, 2013 at 1:42 PM ^

Couldn't you just point at a player's pre-commitment ranking to show that Michigan's recruiting rankings aren't inflated? It's not like these guys were 2 or 3-stars before they committed.


February 1st, 2013 at 2:21 PM ^

Seems at though Mr. Stribling played himself famous his senior year and was about to get a nice bump in the rankings.

If recent news is true about Mr. Jones' visits/offers then he too was worthy of a bump.

Lastly....Mike Valenti - Gentleman Scholar....Brain is hilarious.


February 1st, 2013 at 2:31 PM ^

I just wonder how much of Stribling's "fame" and Jones's offers have to do with Michigan offering Stribling at camp, Jones committing to Michigan, etc.  I'm not saying that Rivals purposefully bumps up guys who commit to Michigan, but neither one of those guys was really on the radar until Michigan entered the picture.  Then they almost immediately got bumped up to 3-stars.

Outside of special teamers (Sypniewski, Gibbons, etc.), Michigan hasn't pulled in many 2-stars in recent years.  Witty was the last one in the class of 2009.  Before that Michigan got Patrick Omameh, Marell Evans, Marques Walton, Brandent Englemon, and Andre Criswell.  It does seem a little bit odd that Michigan has ZERO 2-star commits from 2010-2013, but they had SIX such 2-star commits between 2002-2009.

Either Michigan is just recruiting guys who are deemed to be more talented by the recruiting services now . . . or the services are trying to make fans happy now that this has turned into such a huge business that it can support several major recruiting services and numerous nationally televised high school All-American games.


February 1st, 2013 at 1:45 PM ^

I saw an article somewhere that stated that Intel is working on on-demand channels as you have speculated. The article went on to explain why such a model is difficult to do. Their example was ESPN. ~25% of cable subscribers watch ESPN. That means that if ESPN currently brings in $5 per cable subscription, they would charge $20 for the channel outside of a package to earn the same amount of money. All of a sudden, that cable bundle doesn't look so bad when you consider that it would only take a few channels to get up to the price of the bundle.

This might also be why BTN is pushing to get some east coast schools. Adding Hockey and Lacrosse programming along with more available games for the channel in Football and Basketball might make it more enticing to pick up the $40 subscription to BTN. Maybe that becomes $30 during football season, and $10 the rest of the year to hold onto subscribers, but at least the $10 gets you something.

I think a lot of their money comes from advertising anyway. That won't change when you go to a channel-by-channel model.


February 1st, 2013 at 1:59 PM ^

I have never understood most of this debate about bundling. What is going to "force" the cable companies to stop bundling? For some reason, getting more from cable makes people angry and talk ludicrously about "extortion." We also know from experience with basically everything that unless you only order a very limited number of things, a la carte ordering is always more expensive.

That might work for me because I don't have cable in the first place so I am not expecting to watch all the various cable shows on the various cable channels. I might just buy ESPN and maybe the BTN. I doubt it would be less expensive for most households that watch Dexter, Girls, The Walking Dead,  Game of Thrones, Weeds, ESPN, Homeland, and whatever else.

I also do not agree with the assumption that expansion is solely about the BTN. As you suggest, it is clearly an oversimplification to analyze the effects of adding a school by only looking at football viewers but that is a different argument.


February 1st, 2013 at 3:46 PM ^

I think a lot of the assumption about on-demand TV is that ESPN won't be able to make the same amount of money because they'll be forced by the market to take less per household. Of course they'll be resistant to this (who would want to make less money?), but they'll probably be forced into it the same way the music, movie, and television industries have been forced to offer digital products: if you don't offer it for a reasonable price, people will start taking it for free (YARRRR). Movie, television, and especially music companies made more money on DVDs and CDs but had to bite the bullet when the internet forced them to adopt new business models or lose revenue from people that weren't going to pay for the old model, and live streaming sports are heading the same way. Once that happens people won't need to buy whole cable packages and any channel saying "this is what we need to charge to make the same amount of money" isn't going to have anyone buying.


February 1st, 2013 at 2:26 PM ^

"Luckily, he only told us that Spike's dad was the former best biddy basketball player in the world during Michigan's first four games."


This annoyed the junk out of me.  I wish I knew why.


February 1st, 2013 at 2:43 PM ^

Your Spartan buddy can say what he wants about MSU's recruiting but when it comes down to it, they would want the much higher rated players. Like every other school, MSU doesn't get every player that they wanted and it turns out that some players will out play their ratings and others will underachieve. I have little to no doubt that Dantonio would have taken Dillon Baxter or Lache Seastrunk or even Austin White above Bell but, luckily for them, none of those guys wanted to go to EL so they were left with Leveon. Your buddy can say what he wants about his coaching staff but when it comes down to it, even a blind squirrel can find a nut.

matty blue

February 1st, 2013 at 3:54 PM ^

i get the point, and msu guy is obviously just a...well, he's an msu guy, but is it fair to say that when someone pops up "out of nowhere" and gets an offer from michigan (or any other "major" power), he pretty much automatically goes from no stars to three based entirely on getting an offer?  and that msu, since it doesn't have the prominence that michigan has, doesn't get that same bump at the lower end?

let's not pretend that rankings are based entirely on some sort of objective, honest assessment of talent / ability / potential.  more like "ooh, alabama offered him, he must be good.  four stars."

not to be argumentative, or anything.


February 1st, 2013 at 4:14 PM ^

 I mean, we're moving (slowly) to a system where you pay only for the channels you want instead of being extorted for a bunch of channels you'd never watch.

Nick Sparks

February 1st, 2013 at 4:34 PM ^

Can't think of one off the top of my head - just predicting the future based on the way other internet-based media models and consumer demand seem to be headed in a "buy only what you want" sort of way.

Buying individual songs vs albums is the perfect example. Companies resisted, now their profits are higher than ever.


February 1st, 2013 at 9:00 PM ^

The nice thing about your Sparty friend is that if our recruiting rankings are that meaningless, then he should have nothing to worry about...and he can just stop talking.