Most Valuable Freshman

Which freshman is currently more valuable to the team?


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polli

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Thanks to Shades for posting the team statistics. During this lull in the schedule I used them to do a little analysis.

Our three posts are 40 of 57 (all 2s), that’s 70%. Is that good for post players? How does it compare with other good team’s post players? How does it compare with our Final Four team?

The perimeter players are 89 of 217 shooting 2s, that’s 41%. Each 2-point attempt was worth 0.82 points.
And on those High Value 3-point shots, 45 of 125; that’s 36%. Each 3-point attempt was worth 1.08 points.
Is that right? Three for me? Who should stick to the perimeter?

Pitts: 0.66 points every inside shot; 1.34 points for every shot from outside the arc.
Powell: 0.92 points per shot inside; 0.46 p/s outside.
Hubbard: 1.0 p/s inside; 1.07 p/s outside.
Brunson: 1.3 p/s inside; 0.33 p/s outside.
Scalia: 0.9 p/s inside; 1.5 p/s outside.
Staples: 0.67 p/s inside; 0.64 p/s outside.
Masha: 0.4 p/s inside; 1.5 p/s outside.
Barbora: 0.5 p/s inside; 1.5 p/s outside.

Of course this is only based on shots. We should also consider how many times a perimeter player tried to drive the lane and lost the ball.
 

CutDownTheNet

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Thanks to Shades for posting the team statistics. During this lull in the schedule I used them to do a little analysis.

Our three posts are 40 of 57 (all 2s), that’s 70%. Is that good for post players? How does it compare with other good team’s post players? How does it compare with our Final Four team?

The perimeter players are 89 of 217 shooting 2s, that’s 41%. Each 2-point attempt was worth 0.82 points.
And on those High Value 3-point shots, 45 of 125; that’s 36%. Each 3-point attempt was worth 1.08 points.
Is that right? Three for me? Who should stick to the perimeter?

Pitts: 0.66 points every inside shot; 1.34 points for every shot from outside the arc.
Powell: 0.92 points per shot inside; 0.46 p/s outside.
Hubbard: 1.0 p/s inside; 1.07 p/s outside.
Brunson: 1.3 p/s inside; 0.33 p/s outside.
Scalia: 0.9 p/s inside; 1.5 p/s outside.
Staples: 0.67 p/s inside; 0.64 p/s outside.
Masha: 0.4 p/s inside; 1.5 p/s outside.
Barbora: 0.5 p/s inside; 1.5 p/s outside.

Of course this is only based on shots. We should also consider how many times a perimeter player tried to drive the lane and lost the ball.
@polli, I like your analysis. I've always wondered whether coaches look at points per shot by shot type on a per-player basis, and if not, why not.

Points per possession is one of the biggest factors in a win, thus points per shot (by shot type) is also very important. For instance, for those who are masters of the three-point shot, one might argue that on a fast break, they often may be better off to stop-and-pop at the three-point line (while letting their team-mates keep running in for the potential rebound) than continuing on for a possibly contested two-point shot. That's just what Sara Scalia did in the last game in the fourth quarter (where, by the way, she took a handful of threes and didn't miss a one).

> The perimeter players are 89 of 217 shooting 2s, that’s 41%. Each 2-point attempt was worth 0.82 points. And on those High Value 3-point shots, 45 of 125; that’s 36%. Each 3-point attempt was worth 1.08 points. Is that right? ... Who should stick to the perimeter?

By your analysis, we might conjecture that both Pitts and Scalia are better off shooting a three than a two. But on the other hand, Pitts is driving to the hoop more lately, and we shouldn't discourage that either. Because the threat of an easy bucket in the paint forces the opponent to defend her, and she thus often gets the opportunity to feed a team-mate such as a post (who are hitting 70% from (mostly) the paint).

Note that Pitts is averaging 3.8 assists per game, which is good (almost at the level of assists that you would expect from a point guard - in fact she leads each of the Jasmines in assists, but combined they have almost twice the assists of Pitts). Also note that it's not exactly like Destiny can't hit a 6-10 foot jump shot. In the last game they mistakenly left her unguarded for an 8-foot jump shot, which she promptly drilled. The ones she misses in the paint are mostly difficult shots like floaters - difficult but makeable. So given those complexities, we don't want to tell Pitts to stop shooting from the paint or stop driving into the paint. At the same time, it's Pitts and Scalia who have the greenest light (shall we say) to shoot from deep.

On the face of it based on the current data only, one might think that Masha and Barbora should also be greenlighted from three, but they each only have two shots on record, of which they each hit one. So there's not enough data to justify that conclusion. However, Barbora does have a pretty decent 3-point shot (in spite of it looking ungainly because she shoots from her shoulder); and I believe that time will prove Masha to have a good shot from deep as well. For now though, and in spite of lack of data, I'd rather have Tomancovic shoot from three than from in the paint, because her paint footwork is often lacking.

Also, technically speaking, Tomancova is a post (but the only post shooting threes, thus far). Thus I'd rather (like you did) not mix her with the other posts for statistical purposes. I'm fine (for now, for statistical purposes, and until Cumming plays) considering the posts to be the Bellos and Sconiers.

Note that (also per your analysis), Hubbard is a balanced shooter who is about equally productive from three- or two-point range.

On the other hand, the Jasmines (our two point guards) are definitely better off driving into the paint than shooting from deep.

> Our three posts are 40 of 57 (all 2s), that’s 70%. Is that good for post players? How does it compare with other good team’s post players? How does it compare with our Final Four team?

70% shooting on twos is incredibly good, in general. I didn't compare to Final Four teams as that data is a bit more work to collect. I did the lazier thing (and I appoloize since the caliber of the leagues is not even comparable) - I compared to WNBA data from last season. Admittedly, the WNBA is much tougher and therefore harder to score at a high percentage, but it at least gives a ball-park comparison as to what we might consider a good (in-the-paint) shooting percentage for a post player.

After discounting some players who didn't play significant minutes, it turns out that the Lynx own Sylvia Fowles led the pack in shooting percentage last WNBA season, shooting 58.8%. See the full results below. For confirmation, Nneke Ogwumike won MVP a couple seasons ago and shot 60+ percent (including a lot of threes) and that was considered spectacular at the time. I'm acquainted with a University of St. Thomas (Div III) center who still holds some of the school records, and who shot 60% on her career. So 60% shooting by a post player is considered good.

Compared to that 60% standard of shooting goodness, Taiye Bello is currently shooting 71.8%, with Kehinde Bello shooting 70% and Klarke Sconiers is shoting 62.5% on a smaller sample size. (And as noted above, for statistical purposes we'll ignore Barbora's 25% in-paint shooting and call her a three-point shooter.) Also, note that in the last game (against weaker competition), Taiye shot 4/4 for 100% and Kehinde shot 4/5 for 80%. If we could keep up those percentages against stronger competition, we'll be set for the season.

Here's the shooting leaders from last year's WNBA season with overall percentage (and for those who shot significant numbers of three-pointers, their two-point-only field-goal percentage in parentheses). It is ordered by two-point-only field-goal percentage for better comparison to the three Gopher posts that have only shot twos thus far.

Player FG% (two-point-only %)
Stephanie Dolson 51.9% (60%) - Stephanie takes a lot of threes, but on twos she shoots 60%
Emma Meeseman 55.2% (59.2%) - Finals MVP Emma also takes a lot of threes, and also beat Sylvia on two-point-only percentage
Sylvia Fowles 58.8% - Sylvia was the nominal leader of the WNBA in official FG%
Brittney Griner 56.4%
Elena Delle Donne 51.5% (54.5%) - WNBA MVP EDD also shoots a lot of threes, so her two-point-only percentage is better than official FG%
Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe 54.5%
Brianna Turner 53.8%
Alaina Coates 53.3%
Temi Fagbenle 51.9% (52.4%)

Earlier in the season, Destiny Pitts was shooting over 60% from deep (and if you think shooting 60% in the paint is impressive, try that from the three-point line sometime). She often hits four in a row during game warmups. Currently (after discounting those with too-few shots), our three-point leaders are Pitts at 44.7% and Scalia at 50% (and with enough sample size to be significant). Let's see how the WNBA did last season from deep (after discounting those top-of-the-list players who didn't shoot enough triples to have a significant sample size, but leaving in subsequent players).

Player 3P%
Alysha Clark 48.1%
Natisha Hiedeman 46.4%
Courtney Williams 45.7%
Sydney Colson 45%
Allie Quigley 44.2%
Elena Delle Donne 43% - EDD is your WNBA MVP
...
Emma Meeseman 42.2% - Emma is down the list a bit, but we include her as Finals MVP

Although the pre-season NCAA is not really comparable to the WNBA, we'll compare anyway. Destiny is currently scoring threes at a percentage higher than all but the top four three-point shooters in the WNBA last season. Although with a smaller sample size (which discounts it just a bit), Sara is currently exceeding all WNBA players in three-point shooting percentage from last season.

Let's not stop there, let's look at free-throw shooting. After discounting all but the top-five most frequent free-throw shooters (due to too small a sample size), our free-throw shooting percentage looks like this.

Player FT%
Destiny Pitts 90%
Jasmine Powell 85.2%
Jasmine Brunson 83.3%
Taiye Bello 82.6%
Gadiva Hubbard 73.3%
(Note that Sara Scalia is also shooting 87.5% but we discounted that due to small sample size)

The WNBA leaders in free-throw shooting from last year are as follows.

Player FT%
Elena Delle Donne 97.4%
Diana Taurasi 94.4%
...
DaWanna Bonner 91.6%
(Note that I skipped a few players who did not have enough free throws to be significant in my opinion, but I kept Taurasi in there in spite of a short season after injury for her, just to show that a great player can still shoot free throws in spite of otherwise being a bit rusty.)

Note that Pitts comes close to DaWanna Bonner, but nobody can touch EDD in terms of free-throw accuracy. It's incredible to watch - I urge you to find any YouTube video of any Washington WNBA game from last year, and just study EDD's free-throw style. She is as calm as somebody catching rays at the beach and has ice in her veins. I believe her record might also be an all-time WNBA record. To say that Pitts is within striking distance of that record is quite remarkable, actually. Free throws are a competition between a player and a ball + hoop (and what league you're in has nothing to do with it).

OK, we're on a roll here, so let's look at offensive rebounding (per game) by the WNBA for last season. This is one area in which both the tougher competition in the WNBA plus the fact that they simply make more of their shots (so there's less rebounds to be had) suppresses the rebounding stats in the WNBA versus the NCAA.

Player OREB/game
Jonquel Jones 3.3
Teaira McCowan 3.2
Elizabeth Williams 3.1
Natasha Howard 2.7
Sylvia Fowles 2.7
Chiney Ogwumike 2.5

The season is yet young, but thus far in 6 games, Taiye Bello is averaging 4.3 offensive rebounds per game. And that includes the first game in which she was in foul trouble and only had a couple rebounds. Of course, as noted above, 4.3 offensive rebounds in the NCAA is not really properly comparable to 3.3 rebounds in the WNBA by Rachel's team-mate Jonquel. But it's interesting that second place in offensive rebounding in the WNBA goes to rookie (from Mississippi State) Teaira McCowan at 3.2 offensive rebounds per game. Teaira was first in offensive rebounding in the NCAA last year, beating out Taiye, who came in third place, as follows.

NCAA Offensive Rebounding 2018-19 Season
Player OREB/game
(#1) Teaira McCowan 5.72
(#2) Kristine Anigwe 5.45
(#3) Taiye Bello 4.90

If you ignore our game-1 loss (as, say, a bad dream for Taiye) then in the most-recent five games she is averaging 5.0 offensive rebounds per game - right on pace for last year's season average of 4.9 (although rebounds are harder to come by in the Big Ten). If Teaira McCowan can offensive-rebound in the WNBA at slightly more than half the rate she did in the NCAA, then does that mean that a hypothetical Taiye Bello in the WNBA could offensive-rebound at slightly more than 2.5 offensive rebounds per game (putting her about at a par with Sylvia Fowles, Natasha Howard and Chiney Ogwumike)? Don't know - it's all hypotheticals.

Taiye is less well known for her defensive rebounding, coming in 23rd place in the NCAA last year with 7.35 per game. That compares to Teaira McCowan (15th place, 7.81), Megan Gustafson (2nd place, 10.58) and Kristine Anigwe (1st place, 10.7). Currently this year, Taiye is defensive rebounding at a rate of 5.5 per game (counting all 6 games), or 6.4 per game over the last five games. Perhaps the lower rate is because the Gophers are giving their opponents less shots this year? (thanks to better defense and more steals)
 
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polli

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WOW! What a response from CDtN. Note that my post was "just the facts ma'am", no advice, judgments, or opinions.

But I had to smile when I looked at the very small sample size stats from the game last night.
Pitts:3 of 10 on 3s1 of 8 on 2s
Hubbard:6 of 13 on 3s1 of 3 on 2s
Brunson:2 of 2 on 3s3 of 9 on 2s
Scalia:1 of 6 on 3s3 of 5 on 2s
I'll leave calculating the value of each shot to the curious.

As 4/5th of a team (w/o the post), they shot 38% from outside the arc (36 points) and 32% from inside the arc (16 points).

P.S. Here's an opinion: This thread is misnamed.
 

Shades

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P.S. Here's an opinion: This thread is misnamed.

No, the topic title is perfect. The problem is you and your buddy CutDownTheWords struggle to keep on topic. How about you start your own topic if you don’t want to discuss this one?

What are the pros and cons of Scalia’s game compared to the pros and cons of Powell’s game?

I personally think they’re both pretty poised for freshmen, better than I expected. To me, Powell’s dish and drive skill set is more rare and valuable as compared to a mostly jump shooter. Defensively Scalia is better than I expected but I think Powell has the edge there too. I think Whalen may be holding Powell back. She has Big Ten freshman of the year potential if she were a starter.
 



tripledouble

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It looks like we have a couple guards we can build on. Now if we could only get some inside help. Hard to evaluate some of the other Gopher frosh when they're not healthy. I like the fact that both Powell and Scalia have different talents...Scalia more of a shooting guard, Powell a traditional point guard who can get to the hope and who can distribute. Both seem to be interested in playing defense and both can snag some rebounds. I'm particularly surprised by Scalia as she wasn't a highly-ranked recruit like Powell was. Both appear to be ready for prime time early in their college careers. I'd prefer that Powell was taller, but she seems to be strong enough to play in the BIG. For me, she's a bit like Bell, but without as much speed and without the bevy of turnovers. It will be fun to see what Powell can do with her passing as she becomes more familiar with her teammates.
 

Shades

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It looks like we have a couple guards we can build on. Now if we could only get some inside help. Hard to evaluate some of the other Gopher frosh when they're not healthy.

Sconiers has only played in 4 games, but has put up decent numbers in those games, other than rebounding.

For me, she's a bit like Bell, but without as much speed and without the bevy of turnovers.

In other words, she’s nothing like Bell.

Bell’s primary objective was to score, and she was often out of control on her drives.

It will be fun to see what Powell can do with her passing as she becomes more familiar with her teammates.

She already leads the team in assists (37) playing 100 less minutes than the runner up in assists, Pitts (34).

She also leads the team in scoring from the FT line (29) in 68 minutes less than the runner up, Bello (27). Scalia has only scored 8 pts from the FT in 9 games. This needs to improve. Her game needs to become more versatile or she’ll become easy to scout and defend.

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Ignatius L Hoops

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Sconiers has only played in 4 games, but has put up decent numbers in those games, other than rebounding.

Last night during the radio broadcast, I remember Corbu and Lynette mentioning Whalen being annoyed that Sconiers didn't stay involved in a play in which one of the Gophers saved a ball from going out of bounds. Staying involved certainly has not been an issue for Powell and Scalia.
 



tripledouble

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And Sconiers or the other bigs will be well served to use T. Bello as a model. Bello is someone who definitely stays involved and her game has improved each year since she's been here.
 

Shades

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Seems like everybody’s loving Powell tonight.
 

CutDownTheNet

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Yup.

I think we see double point guards for much of the rest of the season. 35 points from the two point guards tonight, in a total of 75 combined minutes (e.g., one or the other Jasmines were on the bench for a total of only 5 minutes).

Or to put it another way, during the 35 minutes that Whalen fielded double point guards, they scored almost 35 points, so that’s a point per minute from point guards when there’s two of em at once.

Plus (again between the two of them) 9 assists, 9 steals, 7 rebounds (all of which were grabbed by the 5’6” Powell in this particular game).

And Powell really stepped up in the leadership category tonight. And her defense gives fits to whomever she’s guarding (as long as it’s not a post). I enjoy watching her outrun the offensive player to wherever they want to go.
 
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EaganGopher22

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If Brunson's injury lasts more than a game or two, Powell will become the most valuable freshman because we will desperately need a point guard. Difficult to navigate games without a point guard.
 

samloupete

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It looks like Scalia is starting to go through the freshman rigors of a long season. She has played a lot of minutes and it seems to be wearing on her. Her shots are flat probably because her legs have lost some of their bounce. Powell on the other hand hasn’t played nearly as many minutes and therefore seems more fresh.
 




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