Wednesday, April 07, 2004

UConn won despite poor foul shooting
I posted a story a few weeks ago about how free throw percentage was not as important as many people seem to think. Free throw percentage had a smaller effect on team winning percentage than assist-to-turnover ratio, steals per game, field goal percentage and rebounds per game. In fact, if you're building a team, having a high assist-to-turnover ratio more than makes up for any deficiencies at the free throw line. More specifically, if a team goes from an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2 to 1 to an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.3 to 1 (over the course of a season), their winning percentage will increase by roughly 9%. However, improving team free throw percentage by one percent will only increase team winning percentage by one percent.

Well, UConn won the national championship Monday night and guess what -- coming into the tournament they were one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the league (59.5%) -- at the beginning of March they ranked 319 out of 323 NCAA teams. But interestingly, they were fourth in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4 per game). This seems to be a pretty clear-cut case of how a high assist-to-turnover ratio more than made up for abysmal free throw shooting.

I guess the cliche, "even a blind squirrel finds a nut" is applicable here -- but I'll take it.