Carolina vs. UNC-Asheville: +/- and Defensive Charting

Caveat: Single-game +/- figures are so “noisy” (i.e., influenced by randomness) that they’re rendered practically useless. Even with a complete season’s worth of data, the +/- metric (especially in this– its unadjusted– form) suffers from this noisiness. Still, when taken in conjunction with the defensive box score, traditional box score, and old-fashioned “eye test,” the single-game +/- can be a part of the total evaluation process. It also serves as a good summary of Roy Williams’s substitution patterns/rotation.

Some definitions:

Pts-Pts All.: the points scored and points allowed by the team during a given player’s minutes
Off Eff: the points scored per 100 possessions with a given player on the court
Def Eff: the points allowed per 100 possessions with a given player on the court
Net Eff: the scoring margin per 100 possessions with a given player on the court

+/- Stats vs. UNC-Asheville

Player Minutes Pts-Pts All. Off Eff Def Eff Net Eff
Watts 9.4 27-19 145.9 108.6 +37.3
Marshall 32.9 80-58 121.2 90.6 +30.6
Barnes 30.1 69-51 113.1 86.4 +26.7
Zeller 29.2 67-52 113.6 90.4 +23.2
Hairston 11.4 32-27 145.5 122.7 +22.8
TEAM 40.0 91-75 115.2 94.9 +20.3
Henson 29.2 63-54 107.7 92.3 +15.4
McAdoo 9.3 23-21 127.8 113.5 +14.3
Strickland 29.5 58-51 100.0 87.9 +12.1
Bullock 11.8 31-32 129.2 128.0 +1.2
Hubert/Simmons/Cooper/Crouch 1.5 1-2 50.0 66.7 -16.7
Dupont 1.1 0-0 0.0 0.0 0.0
White 0.4 1-2 100.0 200.0 -100.0

+/- by Backcourt
Combo Minutes Pts-Pts-All.
Marshall-Strickland 23.9 48-36
Marshall-Hairston 5.4 23-12
Strickland-Hairston 4.2 7-9
Marshall-Bullock 3.6 9-10
Strickland-Bullock 1.5 3-6
Crouch-Dupont 1.1 0-0
White-Crouch 0.4 1-2
+/- by Frontcourt
Henson-Zeller 21.8 47-35
Watts-Zeller 7.4 20-17
McAdoo-Henson 7.4 16-19
Watts-McAdoo 2.0 7-2
Simmons-Hubert 1.5 1-2
Most-used Line-ups
Marshall-Strickland-Barnes-Henson-Zeller 18.8 40-25
Strickland-Hairston-Bullock-McAdoo-Henson 2.6 7-6
Marshall-Bullock-Barnes-Watts-Zeller 2.6 5-5

After 7.2 successful +/- minutes against Michigan State (21-11), McAdoo-Zeller didn’t play any minutes together against UNC-A. Roy opted for Watts-Zeller and McAdoo-Henson pairings instead (with a stint of Watts-McAdoo mixed in as well). Using Watts as a face-up 4 is a good way to create plenty of room (and touches) in the paint for Zeller. Not sure if that was Williams’s logic with the frontcourt rotations versus UNC-A, but the amount of McAdoo-Zeller combinations (as compared to Watts-Zeller and McAdoo-Henson) is something to keep an eye on as the rotation pattern continues to evolve/finalize.

Shifting gears, I’ve been charting every Carolina defensive possession since the 2004-05 season. This concept, aided by Luke Winn’s terrific Sports Illustrated piece, is finally getting some national attention. It’s a great way to measure individual defensive contributions and to see who’s making consistently timely and effective help-side rotations (the backbone of Roy Williams’s- and virtually any– defensive system). Click on the Winn link to read a little more about the charting process. (And here’s a piece by David Hess with even more on defensive charting.)

Some definitions:

FG-FGA: the made field goals and field goal attempts that a player is responsible for (both as a primary and help defender)– same for 3Pt-A and FT-FTA
Pts All.: the number of opponents’ points that a defender is responsible for allowing
TOF: forced turnovers (including offensive fouls drawn (OFD))
Defl.: deflections
DR (ORA): defensive rebounds and offensive rebounds allowed
Denies: when a player can deny an opponent or force an offensive reset by making a strong individual defensive play (of the type that doesn’t force a turnover or missed shot– i.e., wouldn’t otherwise show up in the defensive box score)

Defensive Box Score vs. UNC-Asheville

Player FG-FGA 3Pt-A FT-FTA Pts All. TOF (OFD) Defl. Floor burns DR (ORA) Denies
Marshall  1.5-9 1-6 1-2 5 1 (0) 4 1 1 (0)  0
Strickland 3-4 1-2 4-4 11 3 (1) 7 0 3 (2) 4
Barnes 2-5.5 0-2 2-4 6 1 (0) 3 3 4 (0) 3
Henson 4.5-10 1-1 2-2 12 0 (0) 0 0 8 (4) 2
Zeller 2-12 1-6 1-2 6 1 (0) 2 1 7 (0) 1
Bullock 0.5-1 0-0 2-2 3 1.5 (0) 2 1 0 (1) 1
McAdoo 1-3 0-0 0-0 2 0 (0) 0 1 4 (0) 0
Hairston 2-4 1-3 3-5 8 1 (1) 1 2 0 (1) 2
Watts 1.5-3.5 1-2 0-0 4 0.5 (0) 2 1 2 (0) 1
Cooper 0-0 0-0 2-3 2 0.5 (0) 0 0 0 (0) 0
Simmons 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 (0) 0 0 1 (0) 1
Hubert 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0.5 (0) 0 0 0 (0) 0
Crouch 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 (0) 1 1 0 (0) 0
Team 7-11 2-6 0-0 16 0 (0) 0 0 3 (0) 0
Totals  25-63 8-28 17-24 75 10 (2) 22 11 33 (8) 14

UNC-A Shooting by Level of Contestedness:

  • Open: 6-10 (0-4 3-pt.); 60.0 eFG%
  • Lightly contested: 16-33 (8-19); 60.6 eFG%
  • Contested: 3-16 (0-5); 18.8 eFG%
  • Heavily contested: 0-4 (0-0); 0.0 eFG%

UNC-Asheville was able to create plenty of clean opportunities using its 4-guard, high screen-heavy offense. They have excellent, experienced guards (Dickey and Primm), and space the floor well to exploit bigger teams. After facing just 16 high ball screens against Michigan State (known for its extensive catalog of of offensive sets), the Heels had to navigate 34 against UNC-A. Like last season, Watts was the Carolina post player who handled his high screen responsibilities (hedge-and-recover) the best last Sunday. Both Henson and Zeller were often too quick to recover to their men (who were popping to the perimeter more often than rolling to the rim), sometimes failing to control the dribbler in the process. For the game, only 31.3% of UNC-A’s field goal attempts were considered “well-contested” by my charting. Last season, that number was 39.3% for UNC. Against Michigan State, it was 43.1%.

After a sublime defensive performance in the Carrier Classic, Henson struggled some versus UNC-A. Perimeter-oriented 4s have always given him difficulties– a trend that continued against the Bulldogs. Teams with the personnel to space the floor and take Henson out of the paint might continue having (relative) offensive success against UNC.

The Heels also had plenty of breakdowns in transition defense against UNC-A. Feeling the effects of the coast-to-coast travel, perhaps, Carolina was sluggish in getting back on defense for most of the afternoon. Most of these were total team breakdowns (accounting for almost all of the points in the ‘team’ row of the defensive box score), although there were a couple individual lapses, too (Barnes was badly beaten down the court on one occasion, leading to a transition lob). Because Carolina crashes the offensive glass so hard, they can be susceptible to fast-break opportunities. The nine live-ball turnovers (of 17 total) against UNC-A didn’t help matters, either. While there are systemic reasons for Carolina to sometimes get beaten in transition, many of the breakdowns versus UNC-A were simply due to lack of focus/hustle. Those types of mistakes will largely be cleaned up by the time conference season rolls around.

As the season progresses, I’ll be posting a bunch of +/- and defensive charting tidbits/trivia/trends on my Twitter feed (@FreeportKid), so if this kind of stuff is your cup of tea, check it out.

Adrian

About Adrian

I'm the editor of Maple Street Press's Tar Heel Tip-off, and live in Raleigh with my wife and 2-year-old daughter. I grew up along the banks of the Allegheny River, and terrorized the WPIAL as a pass-first point guard. Follow me on Twitter @FreeportKid.
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