The Kentucky Women's basketball team is 6-1 after rallying to defeat arch-rival Louisville. Here's a look at how the team is performing using tempo-free stats.
Tempo-free stats are a great way to get a "big picture" evaluation of teams in basketball. Ken Pomeroy has done a lot to promote them on they are easily available for the men's game at a variety of places such as Pomeroy's site, Statsheet, and TeamRankings. The same is not true on the women's side (as far as I can tell) but they can be computed with a little effort, so I am pleased to present the advanced stat side of the Kentucky Women's basketball team.
I really wanted to be able to compute these for all the women's teams in D1 so that I could provide some national rankings, but unfortunately it seems that for some bizarre reason offensive rebounds are not available for all women's teams (the NCAA doesn't track them and I could only find a list of the top 50 teams elsewhere). So what we have are Kentucky's stats only, but I still think they are interesting in their own right.
The good: shooting and rebounding. The Cats' shooting would be Top 40 in the men's game while their offensive rebounding would be Top 3.
The bad: turnovers and free throws. Kentucky turns the ball over a bit too much which negates a good bit of the advantage they create by forcing so many on defense and a team with this kind of individual talent really should get to the line more.
The bottom line: To be honest, a 102.3 efficiency is really not all the great. Now that number isn't adjusted for competition the way it is on Pomeroy's site so it suffers quite a bit from their performances against Baylor (63.0) and Louisville (69.6), but even so - this team is too talented to not be better on offense.
Turnovers might be a largely unavoidable result of their style of play, so the most obvious place where they could help themselves would be to get to the free throw line more.
The good: Everything. The Cats are dominant in every part of the defensive spectrum. Their 42.5 DeFG% is 2012 UK Men-esque (there's gotta be a better way to refer to that squad) so not only do opposing teams only get to attempt a shot a little over 60% of the time when they have the ball, they don't hit them much when they do. It's often the case that very good defensive squads rack up quite a few fouls too, but the women's squad has been able to avoid that problem thus far - much like the men's squad did last year.
The bad: I guess if you wanted to look for something it would be defensive rebounding, although allowing opponents to grab 35.1% of their missed shots is still doing a solid job on the boards - just not as extraordinary as they are everywhere else.
The bottom line: There's nothing wrong with the defense. Even when the Cats got blown out at Baylor they were able to hold the Bears to a 104.9 Offensive Efficiency for the game which isn't great, but isn't quite as bad as the score might have implied. The offense was more of a problem in that game than the defense was. They've held every other opponent under 80.0.
The semester break is great time for teams to improve - we're certainly looking for a big jump by the men's squad. For the ladies the biggest area of improvement the team can make is in their offense. Bigger games against top opponents from A'dia Mathies would help the most, but everyone on the team can do a better job of challenging defenders and getting to the line more as well as taking a little bit better care of the ball. This will be something to watch for over the coming weeks - especially when the Cats take their show on the road to California in a few weeks.