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Kentucky Basketball: Comparing Teams -- Points Per Possession

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One of our members had a good idea about comparing statistics of individual team members from last year to this, which I am working on, but have not finished yet.  As you might expect, that takes a while.

But I did come up with this interesting comparison while perusing some statistics the other day.  What we have here is a comparison of points per possession, defensive points per possession, and pace between this year's team and last:

2010-11 2009-10
Team Pos PPP DPPP Margin Team Pos PPP DPPP Margin
ETSU 71 1.24 0.92 0.32 MSU 72 1.04 0.82 0.22
@PORT 60 1.32 0.8 0.52 MIA 62 1.16 1.13 0.03
OU 68 1.12 0.94 0.18 SHSU 82 1.24 1.12 0.12
@UW 75 0.99 0.89 0.1 RIDER 75 1.23 0.84 0.39
UCONN 67 1 1.25 -0.25 CSU 69 1.06 0.71 0.35
BU 67 1.36 0.85 0.51 STAN 66 1.11 0.98 0.13
Average 68 1.17 0.94 0.23 Average 71 1.14 0.93 0.21

As you can see, there are some interesting things to look at.  First of all, the pace that last year's team played at up until this point in the season was markedly faster than what we have seen from the team so far this year.  In fact, UK plays at a tempo that places it 141st in the nation.  It's reasonably fast, but markedly slower than last year, which was something of a surprise to me given the composition of this year's smaller team.

The second thing I notice is that despite the loss to the Connecticut Huskies (UK 2009 did not have a loss at this point), the Wildcats are scoring more per possession this year than last.  Last year's team was slightly better defensively, which is no surprise considering the erasers they had in the paint.

But the real point is that despite losing to UConn and playing a much tougher schedule to date, this year's version of the Wildcats' scoring margin is 9% better than last year.  This team is also more efficient on average, 115.9-114 than last year's team.

The only conclusion I can draw is that at this point in the season, considering the level of competition and overall performance, this year's team is actually better than last year, at least statistically.  Now, not everything can be measured with stats, as we all know, and there is no doubt this year's team has some holes that last year's did not -- the big people are still a question mark this year, and the overall team depth is not as good.

But as surprising as it may seem, the 2010-11 Wildcats are actually playing better basketball than at the same point last year, even with Darius Miller struggling a bit.  That may change, of course, and with the next two games being outside the friendly confines of Rupp Arena, one a road game and the other semi-home, we stand to learn how well these young men can stand up to hostile crowds and different surroundings.

But those who thought there would be a significant drop off this year have nothing to point to yet.