2008-2009 Season

NC Central Plus/Minus

I have been playing around with ways to do some more in depth statistical post-game analysis. Something along the lines of MGoBlog‘s Under Further Review or 82games.com.  An entire play by play system I think would just be far too boring for the amount of effort it would take (but gives props to those who put in the work). There are usually 2-3 games every week and I wouldn’t have time to do an entire UFR for every game. I started to do some kind of UFR and then decided it would make a lot more sense to just read a play-by-play if someone wanted that kind of data.

In the end I decided the first thing I wanted to do was analyze what lineups worked and who had the biggest effect on the team’s success. What I came up with was a very limited +/- analysis similar to 82games.com. I am definitely planning to expand this feature but I really wanted to see what you guys thought of the idea and what I have so far. The result is simply the number of points scored when the player/unit is on the floor minus the number of points scored by the other team while they are on the floor.

Player +/- Minutes
Novak 31 15
Harris 23 36
Sims 21 34
Douglass 20 17
Grady 18 27
Merritt 2 13
LLP 0 23
Puls 0 1
Wright -1 3
Lee -3 4
Shepherd -3 13
Gibson -8 14

Obviously the first thing that stands out is Novak’s +31 in only 15 minutes. Novak was on the floor during both of Michigan’s big runs but he only had 3 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound, 1 steal, and 1 turnover. I think that Novak at the four definitely helps to stretch the opposing defense and really opens up the offense but I was still a bit shocked to see him at the top of the list.

Manny and Peedi as expected are next in line, they both played substantial minutes in a 20 point win so they naturally have a high plus/minus.

Douglass and Grady are right behind and they combined for only 7 points but also 5 assists and no turnovers. McCormick also pointed out a couple times when Grady had what would have been an assist but led to free throws.  Point guard minutes from here on out should be a lot closer to 30 minutes for Grady and 10 for Merritt. Merritt basically has no effect on the game (+2) while Kelvin posted a very solid +18.

The troubling part of this list are the three other guys at power forward besides Zack Novak: Gibson -8, Shepherd -3, and Wright -1. These three just are not producing. Gibson was abused on defense and missed three wide open three pointers. Shepherd had one good stretch with some follow ups but other than that didn’t do much. Michigan needs one of these guys to step up because this was a game where DeShawn Sims had to play 34 minutes. If Sims gets injured on into foul trouble that means Gibson will play significant minutes.

I was also surprised at Laval Lucas-Perry’s goose egg. Laval came out and rained three triples but after that was very unproductive. He missed a couple layups, a free throw, and another three point attempt. It is only his third game so I’m willing to accept the fact that this has to do with his transition at this point.

Lineup +/-
Grady-Douglass-Harris-Novak-Sims 20
Grady-LucasPerry-Harris-Novak-Sims 8
Merritt-Douglass-Harris-Shepherd-Sims 4
Grady-LucasPerry-Harris-Novak-Gibson 3
Merritt-LucasPerry-Harris-Shepherd-Sims 0
Merritt-LucasPerry-Lee-Wright-Puls 0
Grady-LucasPerry-Harris-Wright-Sims -1
Grady-LucasPerry-Lee-Shepherd-Sims -3
Merritt-Douglass-Harris-Shepherd-Gibson -4
Grady-LucasPerry-Harris-Gibson-Sims -7

Beyond individual performances I looked at which lineups clicked. The one thing I need to do next time is track the number of minutes each line up plays. This will be a little more work but looking back at it, it is definitely necessary. The three lineups that got the most playing time in my estimation are:

  • Merritt, Douglass, Harris, Shepherd, Sims
  • Grady, Lucas-Perry, Harris, Gibson, Sims
  • Grady, Douglass, Harris, Novak, Sims

The best by a large margin was Grady, Douglass, Harris, Novak, and Sims. The lineup numbers confirm that when Novak is on the floor the team produces. The Grady, LLP, Harris, Novak, Sims lineup was only on the court the first time Laval came on the court and when he hit his first two threes. I would like to see Beilein go with this group a little more but understand that Novak was limited to 15 minutes because of fouls.

The two worst lineups have the common denominator of Zack Gibson being on the floor. The lineups with Gibson at the five were only used for short stretches when DeShawn was on the bench (6 minutes total). Wright also got limited playing time but he wasn’t on the floor with any lineups that posted a positive +/-.

Looking at these lineups you can see why Beilein started Novak in the second half and pulled Merritt after only 30 seconds or so. Grady, Douglass, Harris, Novak, Sims is definitely our strongest lineup at this point even if it does present a size problem at the PF.

It’s hard to take too much from this data after only one game because it’s just a small sample size and after a couple games in the Big Ten it will be easier to identify which lineups work and which don’t. I am very curious whether Novak continues to post huge +/- numbers as well or if this was more of a fluke.

I’d love some feedback on this so I can continue to try to improve it. 82games is the inspiration but they have a lot more resources and data at their finger tips to track this kind of stuff so I am going to have to pick and choose what is reasonable.

On another note, be sure to check out Dana O’Neill’s feature on Manny Harris and John Beilein.

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