I was never a math all-star. In fact, I had such a hard time staying awake in Algebra 2 junior year that my teacher sent me to the guidance counselor because he thought I was on drugs (I wasn’t, so back it down). I’m not going to try to blow your mind today, but I thought it would be interesting to apply a little math to analyze a couple facets of the VCU Men’s Basketball team’s performance this season. Do you have your No. 2 pencils and graphic calculator ready? Great.
THE THREE-POINT MYTH
For you curmudgeons out there who prefer set shots and short shorts in your basketball games, this note is probably not for you. I’ve heard this asked before. There are fans out there who want to know why the Rams shoot so many 3-pointers? The 3-pointer first reared its head in college basketball in 1980 and ever since, there’s been this debate between fans. It’s like bellybuttons, the innies versus the outies.
The simple answer is because 3-pointers are worth more. See, that wasn’t so hard. But seriously, let’s look closer. It’s true that VCU takes a lot of 3-pointers. In fact, the Rams take an average of 23.5 3-pointers a game. They make 8.4 of those, on average, for a shooting percentage of 35.8.
A 3-pointer is worth 1.5 times a normal bucket, so if you take the Rams’ 126 makes and multiply it by 1.5, you get 189. Divide that by VCU’s 352 attempts and you get an adjusted shooting percentage of .537. This is the important number in all of this. Ask yourself this question. If you could take a 2-point shot you knew was going in 54 percent of the time, would you take it? I would. Food for thought: VCU is shooting 48.5 percent on 2-point shots this season. Twos or threes, shot selection is what’s most important.
This has been an area of concern for the Rams all season. Overall, the Rams have been outrebounded by an average of 5.9 boards per game. It’s true that VCU’s style of play forces more turnovers than the opposition (252-187), which leads to more shots and more rebounds. But specifically, that applies to more available DEFENSIVE rebounds for the opposition. However, offensive rebounds are where teams really get hurt. Offensive rebounds lead to second shots and more scoring opportunities. It also forces the opposition to defend for a greater period of time.
This is an area that VCU will have to address. The Rams’ opponents have missed 476 shots this season and grabbed 199 offensive rebounds. That means when VCU’s opponents miss, they get an offensive rebound nearly 42 percent (.418) of the time. VCU, meanwhile, grabs an offensive rebound 33 percent of the time. One or both of those will have to change if VCU wants to avoid more headaches.
Oh, and I got a ‘B’ in that Algebra 2 class.