Friday, November 14, 2008
Mighty, or midget, or both?
The author of the Chasing the Title blog - even though his real name isn't that much of a secret I don't feel I have permission to state it yet - has boldly gone where only a few of us out there are going, namely, trying to say "these are the players you should be watching this year".
It's tough, because it opens you up to ridicule. Trust me, I know.
As far as I know, there are only three people doing this kind of stats-based analysis: me, the Chasing the Title author, and bullsky who is the author of WNBA Draft Net. Our lists of players look pretty much the same; the only difference is in what order should players be placed?
However, there are time when our lists don't match. I see a player at the Chasing the Title blog who isn't even on my list at all! There were three such players named. That means that I go back to my little spreadsheet, put the stats in, and see how they compare.
Here are three players on the Chasing the Title blog that weren't in my spreadsheet. But they are now. Let's look at how my metrics rate them.
Jenna Green, center, UC Santa Barbara
Well, there's a simple reason Jenna Green didn't make it to my list: she's returning not from her first, but her second medical redshirt year. Which means that we'll be comparing her against a class of people who are actually two years younger than her. Green is two years closer to her peak value, which automatically drops her a lot in my spreadsheet's evaluation.
On the other hand, in her rates of blocks and steals, Green is actually quite good. Furthermore, in terms of efficiency, she does well in producing value per minutes played.
In terms of assists vs. turnovers, she suffers - but all players except guards suffer, so she's in good company. The strength of her conference - the Big West - causes her rating to take a hit because she performs against a lesser class of players.
In her "rebounds expected per 100 rebounds a game for both teams total", however, Green suffers. She doesn't rebound as efficiently as a lot of centers - some of those centers are from schools in conferences as relatively weak at the Big West. My spreadsheet looks at her rebound rate, concludes "this is truly sub-par rebounding for a center", and assigns her a big hit against.
In the end, Green doesn't even make the Top 100 of my spreadsheet - the two medical redshirt years hurt her even more than her rebounding. If you decide to treat her as players aged two years younger, however, she'd jump to the 50s on my list.
Laura Kurz, shooting forward, Villanova
I never liked the term "small forward". There's nothing small about most of those ladies. For Laura Kurz, we might make a relative exception.
Kurz is another person who is missing a year - she sat out a year after transferring to Duke. Kurtz, however, is young enough to compare favorably with her "cohort", so to speak.
In terms of blocking-stealing-rebounding, her rates per game are frankly not impressive enough to stand out overall. She has too many turnovers for her assists - she had 32 assists compared to 71 turnovers in 2007-08.
However, Kurz is small compared to other forwards at 6'1" tall - she'd be at best a Jennifer Lacy type of forward, with Lacy's D-class output. Could Laura Kurz rally grapple against a Ruth Riley-Ann Wauters combo guarding the basket, much less a Candace Parker-Lisa Leslie tandem?
It doesn't look good for Kurz, and I have her at #99 on my list.
Brianne O'Rourke, point guard, Penn State
In O'Rourke's case, some things hurt her and some things help her. She doesn't have very many blocked shots - even for a guard - but Kristi Toliver doesn't have blocked shots either, and Toliver is #3 on my list.
Furthermore, O'Rourke handles the ball well if you compare assists to turnovers. So where does she take her hits?
She actually takes a double hit because of one factor - Brianne O'Rourke is five feet six inches tall. Just like my spreadsheet doesn't trust anyone over 6'6" - the "Katie Feenstra clause" - it turns up its nose at particularly small players. The spreadsheet basically says, "okay, here's a penalty, now prove that you're good". Good players will overcome the penalty; poorer players won't.
Because of her height, it's harder to get rebounds - not impossible if you like to fight, but harder. In "rebounds expected per 100 rebounds a game for both teams total", O'Rourke falls below the acceptable minimum. When O'Rourke players for you, you don't have five players scrapping for rebounds, you might have - as Queenie might say - "four rebounders and one midget". Rebounding is a skill that O'Rourke can't bring to the table. It impairs the team and has to be made up for elsewhere.
This puts O'Rourke in the 50s in my spreadsheet. If she has a good senior year - and I mean a really good one - she might approach WNBA draft territory. But if her senior year is like her junior year, odds are she won't be drafted.