The study of tempo-free statistics have been a personal favorite for quite a few years. Even before Basketball Prospectus came on board, the possession based analysis was of great interest, especially in the games I covered.
On Thursday Wichita State captured their first NIT title, defeating Alabama 66-57 in an entertaining championship. The pace for the contest at Madison square Garden.
Wichita state 65
That works out to a moderate pace. Get in the seventies and you are at 'NASCAR' level. Mid sixties means you will look to run but back it to half court if no transition is available.
Offensive Efficiency :
Simply, points per possession multiplied by 100. Divide points by possessions to get a metric more valuable than simply points scored or allowed.
Wichita State 102
The Shockers came in with an efficiency a little above average. Defensively, they were outstanding. Holding a team under 100 in efficiency will give you a win a good percentage of the team. Lock them up under 90, almost certain for a W.
Stats (tempo-free) that mattered:
Turnover percentage. Of Dean Oliver's Four Factors, turnover percentage is simply turnovers divided by possessions. Wichita had a dangerously high 29% TO rate. That is nearly one of every three possessions wasted away. The saving grace for Gregg Marshall's club was eFG percentage defese. The e or effective field goal percentage gives more credit to a team hitting a three pointer. The formula:
eFG = (FGM + 3 PT FGM * .5)/FGA
Alabama checked in with a 39%, very low eFG mark. Largely due to being forced into 2 of 14 shooting from three point range. Wichita State was 58%, again their three point shooting performance (7 of 15) was huge.
Final thoughts...Not a big crowd, only4,873, but the Wichita state group was out in support, vocal and having a great time. And why not ?
As a voting media member, chose Garrett Stutz as Most Outstanding POlayer. His Wichita teammate Graham Hatch wound up winning the award. Hatch scored 12 points hitting 4 of 4 from three, including a few big ones in the stretch. Really had no problem with Hatch's selection. Voted them both on my All-Tournament team which they made. Joining them were Trevor Releford and JaMychal Green of Alabama and Alec Burks of Colorado.
Really admired the sideline work of Gregg Marshall of Wichita State and Alabama's Anthony Grant .
Big story was depth. After Green got in foul trouble, Wichita made its move. The 6-8 Green finished with12 points 4 rebounds in 25 minutes.
Marshall was not only excited to win the tournament but showed a very deep sense of history and respect for the NIT tradition. "Seeing the yellow (school color) in the stands and smiles on these kids faces," Marshall said, "lets you know this is a pretty big thing."
The NIT matters. Gregg Marshall, his team and faithful fans will second that.