I’m sure that as long as they’ve been playing basketball, people have been debating on the “correct” way to play the game or asserting which style is best. Somebody surely told James Naismith that his gym class wasn’t getting enough peach buckets. VCU certainly isn’t immune to that chatter, with its unique “Havoc” system. While everybody has a good time when things are good, and under Shaka Smart, things have certainly been that, there’s always somebody in the stands that cringes when Troy Daniels pulls up for a three in transition or when a Ram fires a jumper early in the shot clock. Smart’s system allows players a level of freedom that is rare in college hoops these days. That can be frustrating to some. Maybe this post will help.

C.J. Moore of Bleacher Report (seriously, a great post from Bleacher Report), wrote a great piece today that piggybacked off Ken Pomeroy’s recent assessment of offensive efficiency and how it relates to the length of a team’s possessions. The data was compelling, and for the most part, suggested that teams were more efficient when playing faster and getting shots earlier in the shot clock. And VCU was one of the best examples. I pulled the table below from Moore’s story that shows the teams with the biggest differences in offensive efficiency in relation to the time on the shot clock. Please note: live ball turnovers – which often lead to easy buckets early in the shot clock – have been removed from this data.

Rebound, 0-10 sec. eFG% Rebound, 11-35 sec. eFG% Opp. score, 0-10 sec. eFG% Opp. score, 11-35 sec. eFG% Dead-ball turnover, 0-10 eFG% Dead-ball turnover, 11-35 eFG%
 Indiana 63 50 59 47 57 55
Miami 54 43 69 53 64 42
VCU 56 49 51 46 61 45
Marquette 59 45 61 44 54 45
Kansas 63 46 58 49 53 47

Interesting stuff. Off a rebound, VCU’s effective field goal percentage is 56 percent in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock, but sags to 49 percent after. Off a dead-ball turnover in the first 10 seconds, the Rams come in at an impressive 61 percent effective field goal percentage. In each of these three situations, the Rams are much less efficient after 10 seconds have elapsed on the shot clock. Of course, this data isn’t perfect. Correlation doesn’t equal causation, but the data here is an interesting conversation piece. Are the Rams better off playing fast? It sure looks that way from here.

P.S.: If you’re a math guy, you’ll probably enjoy hoop-math.com, which provided this data. Good stuff.