Thursday, July 17, 2008

2008/22 - Dream 81, Fever 77

Way to chase that biscuit, Izi! Pic courtesy of

Once again, I didn't get a chance to see -- or even hear -- the last Dream game. I was at work and sadly enough, not only was I engrossed in a time dependent project but my computer is not set up for streaming radio sound. (And I suspect that the workload today will keep me from updating the blog, which irritates me.)

So once again, all I had to go by were second hand accounts and the team boxscore. As it turns out, the blog Rethinking Basketball turned me on to one of the best statistical writers in basketball, a man by the name of Dean Oliver. You can find his article archive right here. Sadly, he doesn't do fannish writing anymore -- he's been hired by the Denver Nuggets and has become their Director of Quantitative Analysis. Sadly, all of his future work is proprietary, all rights reserved by Denver.

Dean Oliver had this to say about boxscores:

A boxscore gives you something else. It provides a summary of the entire game. It's a bigger picture than what a game recap typically gives. It cannot show a crucial run that "decided the game," as the popular press likes to say. It cannot show Joe Dumars going 3-3 in the last minute to seal a victory. It really tries to show the foundation of the game before that last minute or before that last run. It includes information on that last minute, but it doesn't emphasize it. Because it doesn't emphasize much of anything, the boxscore can be overlooked by people not interested in the whole game. For me, however, the boxscore is very valuable.

So the first thing we'll do is get and idea of the pace of the game.

Possessions are defined as

[(away FGA - away Off Reb + away TO + 0.4 * away FTA) + (home FGA - home off Reb + home TO + 0.4 * home FTA)]/2

Plugging in the numbers we get:

[(67 - 7 + 14 + 0.4*15) + (72 - 13 + 15 + 0.4*26)]/2 = 82.2

This estimates that each team had the ball 82.2 times. Before you reply, "Why do I have to do one of these constipating math problems?" I'll quote Dean Smith who quoted the great Frank McGuire from the University of North Carolina: "A quick glance at three figures (our points per possession, opponent's points per possession, and total possessions) helps the coach to determine any changes he must make."

Now, we look at points per 100 possessions:

Atlanta: 98.5
Indiana: 93.7

Since the damned WNBA site won't provide league totals, the points per 100 possessions last year was 92.6. This means that this was primarily a game where offense dominated on both sides. Atlanta dominated offensively, but not defensively.

Let's take a look at the flow of the game:

Atlanta: 20 20 15 26
Indiana: 20 18 13 26

Clearly, this was a close game all the way. If any one team was behind -- as Indiana was at one time -- they came back to make it a real contest. Atlanat only won the game by four points.

The next thing to look at: starters minutes.

Only two players on the Dream played "starters minutes", and I make the cutoff at 25 minutes. Izi Castro Marques played 36 minutes and Alison Bales played 33. Betty Lennox came close. Atlanta is still having to rely on the bench to provide much of its offense. Compare this to Indiana, where five players played starters minutes. Atlanta relied on four of its starters -- Douglas, Hoffman, Sutton-Brown, and Bevilaqua to do the lion's share of the work. Only guard Tan White failed to get "starters minutes" for Indiana.

We know one thing: this was no rout by the Fever, or the starters would have been taken out early.

Now we can start looking at individual offense of the Dream players.

Stats will be listed in the order of MIN, FG-FGA, FT-FTA, OFF REB, DEF REB, TOT REB, AST, PF, ST, TO, PTS.

Castro Marques 36 10-20 2-2 1 2 3 3 1 3 3 24

After her last game where she scored zero points, Izi picked up 24 points. She came very close to her career high of 26 points.

Was she efficient? One way to determine this is to use some complex metric like floor percentage. The cheap and easy way to do it is to count the number of shots taken and compare it with the points scored. If shots taken is less than points scored, she was efficient.

24 points scored. 22 shots taken. Yep, Izi had a good day.

Bales 33 3-5 2-2 3 8 11 1 1 1 2 8

Even Bales was efficient offensively. When she took shots, she made them.

Lennox 23 5-9 2-2 0 5 5 2 1 0 2 16

Lennox was very efficient offensively, scoring 16 points on 11 shooting attempts.

(* * *)

Unfortunately, there is one thing that a box score cannot tell us. Defense. All you can do is begin to match up players and try to guess who was guarding who. However, I suspect that defense was lacking on both sides in this game. Maybe Indiana just got tired. Maybe it was Izi's hot shooting hand. Either way, we can simply look at the most important stat in the boxscore: Final points scored. That got us the win, and I'm glad to get it.


Patrick said...

I have tracked the WNBA via Oliver's formulas for each year since it started in 1997 if you are interested.

pt said...

patrick, does your data include running totals of the 2008 season? I used the 2007 season. I'd hate to have to put you to the trouble of providing 2008 data and then sending it to me every time it changes.

Patrick said...

I haven't run 2008 as of yet, but I have a single excel spreadsheet that does 1997-2007 at the team level. You could plug your own numbers in for 2008 if you so desire. Let me know and I can email them to your blog email address. I have only the Storm and Charlotte for the player data with Oliver's formulas over that span. I just haven't entered the data into the spreadsheets for the other teams. I've been focused on Storm +/-.

pt said...

That would be cool. Just mail them to the atlantadreamblog@ you know where address.