Taiye May Reach Janel-ish FG% and a Post Shot is as Good as a Three-Point Shot

CutDownTheNet

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(This post was moved from the Janel McCarville - Banner Raising thread where initially (improperly) posted, per Iggy’s suggestion.)

With the very nice celebration and honoring of great Gopher(/Lynx) Post Janel McCarville yesterday (and glad to hear that great Lynx Post Rebekkah Brunson was in attendance), my mind couldn't help wander to relevant statistical trivia (some of which were included within posts in the Janel McCarville - Banner Raising thread). For single-season Field Goal Percentage ...

Janel still apparently holds the record for Freshman Field Goal Percentage at .580. Among the top-ten in seasonal FG%, Janel currently holds 1st and 2nd place as well as 6th place at FG% of .657 (2002-03), .616 (2003-04) and .580 (the 2001-02 Freshman record), respectively.

Other recent names on that list include Taiye Bello in 9th place at an FG% of .576 (2017-18) and Jessie Edwards in 4th and 5th place at FG% of .598 (2016-17) and .580 (2015-16), respectively. (I always felt that Jessie got too little respect from both fans and Marlene.)

During the 2017-18 season in which Taiye garnered her 9th-place all-time record of .576, Jessie Edwards was slightly lower at .530, and Annalese Lamke shot .571 (albeit discounted, since on only 14 shots, which is no-doubt why it does not show up as a tie for 10th place all-time in FG%, which is numerically where it falls).

Then last season (2018-19), as Taiye shot .535 and Annalese shot .517, Kehinde Bello shot .571 (albeit discounted like Annalese the year before, since again on only 14 shots, which is why it does not show up as a tie for 10th place all-time in FG%, which is numerically where it falls).

Fast forward to this year's (2019-20) partial season as of after the UC Davis win. Through 10 games, Taiye Bello is shooting .635. We have to discount the following statement due to the fact that the latter is only in games against (probably weaker) non-conference teams. But that having been said, Taiye's .635 is on track for being sandwiched between Janel's 1st-place and 2nd-place FG% records (i.e., if maintained through the Big-Ten season, the new records would be 1st Janel at .657, 2nd Taiye at .635, 3rd Janel at 616), sliding Jesse and the others down a slot in the record book. Even if Taiye's FG% stats go down a bit in Big-Ten play, it seems quite possible that Taiye may have a second top-ten seasonal FG% record to go with her current 9th-place position.

Interestingly, Kehinde Bello currently is shooting a FG% of .700. Again, as in the prior year, we have to discount this since it's obtained on too small a sample of only 10 shots. However, if it were eligible for the all-time best seasonal FG% statistics page, then it would not only beat her sister, but also bump Janel out of 1st place. We can't really draw any conclusions out of this, since it's only 10 shots in 66 minutes of playing time. But suffice it to say that we have two Janel-ish caliber Bellos as current Post players on the squad.

A similar situation applies to Klarke Sconiers, who is shooting .643 on the season, slightly ahead of Taiye, but similarly to Kehinde, on only 14 shots, and thus it must be discounted for insufficient data. But if placed on the all-time seasonal FG% records list (just for sake of comparison), Klarke too would split the difference between Janel's 1st and 2nd place FG% records.

Now a lot of fans have been loathing the fact that we "don't have anybody to back up Taiye in the Post." And watching them play, it's certainly true that both Kehinde and Klarke are maybe a couple years behind Taiye in terms of basketball development and basketball IQ and smoothness of play (to make a pun out of a Twitter handle). Yet the numbers thus far suggest that all Kehinde and Klarke need is more playing time, and they could be nearly as good as Taiye. Heck, if they could just keep up the FG% statistics they've earned thus far over the few minutes they've played this season, then the numbers suggest that they have the potential to be nearly Janel-good in FG%.

I'm no longer worried about one of the backup Posts "stepping up." I'm more worried about Whay having both the opportunity and guts to "step up" to giving a bit more playing time to Kehinde and Klarke in a timely fashion, such that they might be ready when we need them in the Big-Ten season. And need them, we will. There will be tall Big-Ten teams in which we will need to play two Posts for a significant stretch of the game. And Whalen will know that, so I'm not too worried about it.

Last season, we went into Big-Ten play using what seemed like the best approach at the time, namely a 3-guard/2-post system most of the time. After about 5 losses in the B1G, it was realized that we need to rotate in-and-out of both systems, but that a 4-guard/1-post system was best for most of the time. Looks like this year we're going into Big-Ten play under the assumption that a 4-guard/1-post system will again be the best for "most of the time." We will again need to rotate in-and-out of both systems, but I hope it doesn't take us 5 Big-Ten losses to realize that (perhaps - only a conjecture at this point) we might need to spend more time in a 3-guard/2-post system than in a 4-guard/1-post system.

Look at it this whay. We have three posts shooting at Taiye's .635 or better for FG% - which results in an expected 1.27 points per post shot taken. On the other hand, we have three guards shooting threes at an 3FG% of, respectively, .407 (Hubbard), .447 (Scalia) and .448 (Pitts) - for a weighted 3FG% average (weighted by 3FGA) of .433. That results in an expected 1.299 points per three-point guard shot taken. So it's really nearly a wash (with a slight .029 point advantage to the guards) as to whether we have Hubbard/Pitts/Scalia shoot a three, or have Taiye/Kehinde/Klarke shoot a two from the paint.

As an aside, note that this balanced situation between 3-pointer scoring potential and post scoring potential, even suggests the potential viability of a radical policy of "shoot a three first almost all of the time, and then go for the offensive rebound if you miss, and if you get that rebound, you still have both options available, namely putting it back up or kicking it out to a guard on the three-point line." However, that "potential viability" is probably only an actually realizable viability during those times when you play two posts in a high-low framework so that you have one post having a chance at getting a low-post rebound and one post having a chance at getting a high-post rebound.

That gives Whalen a lot of flexibility. She can pretty much get the same point-production-per-non-turnover-possession by using post shooting or guard three-point shooting, as the situation calls for. (Another aside: Although guard two-point FG% is typically no better than the best guards’ 3P%, there is an advantage to driving into the paint too, namely us getting fouled, or a good pass to an open Post, or an offensive rebounding opportunity in case of a miss.) And if one or the other of posts/guards are shooting cold, she can adjust accordingly.

And, if rebounding against a tall opponent is a potential big issue, she should have no fear about rotating into a 3-guard/2-post system for a while, since (probabilistically speaking) the gained point production of the extra post who rotated in will almost exactly compensate for the lost point production of the guard who rotated out.

That puts Lindsay and team in a very privileged (might I say elite?) position within the NCAA Div I - namely, if they can continue to defend very well (including picking up shooters at the three-point line when necessary - a lesson they learned the hard way from UC Davis), and protect the ball, so as to get a positive turnover margin, and can rebound well so as to get a positive rebound margin, then they can have more productive possessions while at the same time scoring nearly 1.3 points per non-turnover possession on average. That's a figure that Lindsay's former Lynx coach would kill for, since Cheryl Reeve won 4 WNBA championships with a statistic smaller than that.

And note (as proven in the UC Davis game) that if an opponent tries to win by fouling, that will most likely backfire since we're shooting .803 from the free-throw line. That means that a shooting foul will net us an expected 1.6 points (or 2.4 points on a three-point shot attempt, as Pitts proved yesterday by hitting all three free throws after an ill-advised foul on her three-point shot). And a classic point-after-score situation will net us an additional .8 points on average. So fouling us on a shot attempt is typically a worse idea than letting us shoot. And after 5 fouls against us in a quarter, we’re on the 1.6-point gravy train. (That’s how we beat UC Davis.)
 
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Ignatius L Hoops

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:)
Now a lot of fans have been loathing the fact that we "don't have anybody to back up Taiye in the Post." And watching them play, it's certainly true that both Kehinde and Klarke are maybe a couple years behind Taiye in terms of basketball development and basketball IQ and smoothness of play (to make a pun out of a Twitter handle). Yet the numbers thus far suggest that all Kehinde and Klarke need is more playing time, and they could be nearly as good as Taiye. Heck, if they could just keep up the FG% statistics they've earned thus far over the few minutes they've played this season, then the numbers suggest that they have the potential to be nearly Janel-good in FG%.

I'm no longer worried about one of the backup Posts "stepping up." I'm more worried about Whay having both the opportunity and guts to "step up" to giving a bit more playing time to Kehinde and Klarke in a timely fashion, such that they might be ready when we need them in the Big-Ten season. And need them, we will. There will be tall Big-Ten teams in which we will need to play two Posts for a significant stretch of the game. And Whalen will know that, so I'm not too worried about it.
Yes I'm one of those fans thinking Taiye Bello does not have a back-up beyond the occasional sub for a quick bench rest. I'm not "loathing the fact" :); but I do think you've gotta play your best players. Our game deciders are Pitts, Brunson, Taiye Bello, Scalia, Hubbard, Powell with perhaps Adashchyk working herself into the mix. We just need Kehinde Bello and Klarke Sconiers to hold their own in limited minutes.

Post play subs will likely be an ongoing discussion heading into our last non-conference game and then opening the season at PSU and then host Ohio State. Lindsay has said she admires Lisa Bluder's program, maybe she'll learn from Bluder how to develop post players on the fly.
 

CutDownTheNet

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Agreed that you gotta play your best players (except for breathers and if we’re in a blow-out win situation). And in the post, that would be Taiye (by a mile, or say, a couple seasons worth of experience). For one thing, I was comparing posts’ field-goal percentage, but other factors are pace of scoring, rebounding, blocks, chemistry with the guards, etc.

So for now, we do mostly need Kehinde and Klarke to hold their own in limited minutes. But when Big Ten starts in a couple games, we will need to occasionally field a 3-guard/2-post roster. I said I wasn’t worried about it, but, OK, maybe I am a touch nervous.

Also I mentioned the hope that Whay would have the opportunity to play backup posts more often, and we should emphasize the word “opportunity.” That mostly means blow-out games, of which we’ve only had a couple. I do like it that Lindsay is not afraid to play the bench in those scenarios - as opposed to Marlene, who might risk bringing in the subs for the last 60 seconds with a 20-point lead.

Not sure if Lisa Bluder is a good post trainer - maybe. Or else she’s just a good recruiter who lucked out and got a nice replacement for Megan Gustafson. Or maybe both.
 
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tripledouble

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I don't think that Whalen's going to want/need to field a 3 guard/2 post lineup in the BIG. Ideally, she would have the personnel to do that, but I don't think she has the people to do that. She'll have to go with her best players. And given the limited amount of PT the backup posts have had in the NC schedule, I don't see that happening in future games. And, as for Bluder, she is a good post trainer like Stollings was a good post trainer when Zahui B was here. In other words, more lucky than good.
 
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