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The high cost of turnovers

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One of the things that has plagued this year's version of the Wildcats is turnovers.  As I was thinking about that, I decided to have a look at how turnovers affect a team from a scoring standpoint.

What I have done is take the statistics from the Louisville game, and assign points to the turnovers.  How I have done this is simple -- I take the actual points scored off turnovers, then I add the opportunity cost of the turnovers, which is really just the points per possession times the number of turnovers.  The same thing is done for steals.

What you can see by looking at this is the dramatic impact turnovers have on the game.  By my crude accounting, Kentucky gave away more than 31 points in turnovers, versus Louisville's 13+ points. that is an 18 point margin.  Of course, the reason the math doesn't work out is because I have included "opportunity points," which aren't real.  I included them so that we could see not only points we actually lost, but the potential points we threw away.

Statistic Kentucky Louisville



Points per possession 0.9 1.1



Turnovers 22 14



Points by opposition from T/O's 25 18



Points lost/TO 1.14 1.29



Opportunity points lost from T/O's 19.8 15.38



Total points lost 44.8 33.38



Total points lost per turnover 2.04 2.38



Steals 6 8



Points scored off steals 6 14



Opportunity points scored by steals 5.4 8.79



Total points won 11.4 22.79



Total points won per steal 1.9 2.85

















Player Points Turnovers Points surrndred Steals Extra points Total
Kentucky





Joe Crawford 19 7 -14.25 0 0 4.75
Patrick Patterson 6 6 -12.22 1 1.9 -4.32
Ramel Bradley 27 4 -8.15 1 1.9 20.75
Derrick Jasper 6 2 -4.07 0 0 1.93
Jodie Meeks 7 1 -2.04 3 5.7 10.66
Perry Stevenson 2 1 -2.04 1 1.9 1.86
Ramon Harris 8 0 0 0 0 8


21 -42.76 6 11.4







Louisville





Terrance Williams 15 5 -10.18 0 0 4.82
Jerry Smith 17 2 -4.07 1 1.9 14.83
Derrick Caracter 6 2 -4.07 3 5.7 7.63
David Padgett 9 2 -4.07 0 0 4.93
Juan Palacios 17 1 -2.04 1 1.9 16.86
Edgar Sosa 10 1 -2.04 0 0 7.96
Andre McGee 11 1 -2.04 1 1.9 10.86
Preston Knowles 2 0 0 2 3.8 5.8


14 -28.51 8 15.2


As you can see, many things change when taking turnovers into consideration.  Patrick Patterson actually scored negative points by this measure.  Joe Crawford's 19 points virtually disappear in a barrage of turnover costs.  Jodie Meeks' 3 steals show that even though he shot poorly, he had a greater net positive impact on the game by this measure than Crawford did.  Take a look at Louisville's Terrance Williams -- his 15 points didn't help as much as Derrick Caracter's six.

This is all academic and just for fun, but my whole point is something we already knew -- turnovers are making us uncompetitive.  We can play as hard as we want to, do as much work on the boards as we want to  (we held Louisville to a tie in that statistic, despite their size advantage) but we cannot win turning the ball over 20 times per game, except almost by accident.

If this team could improve to what Louisville had, 14 turnovers, that would have narrowed the real margin by 8 points based on the above stats -- enough to put us right there.  If we had just a good game turnover-wise by any reasonable definition, say 10, we could have been close to the lead.  And those are real points, not counting "opportunity" points.  The bottom line is this -- we are losing primarily because we are giving up the basketball.