I've wanted to do some defensive charting for the women's team for a while now and their showdown with Texas A&M provided the perfect opportunity. The Aggies boast one of the best offenses in the SEC this year and provided quite a challenge for the Wildcats stingy D. Before I get to the individual players, here's a look at the 4 Factors and Efficiency for each team in the game.
The 4 Factors really illustrate just how closely contested the game was. The two teams were basically even on the offensive glass and getting to the free throw line although Kentucky cost themselves a few shots by missing the front end of some 1 and 1's. Ultimately the contest was decided between the Cat's ability to force turnovers against the Aggies' better shooting. Kentucky took care of the ball while forcing TAMU to give it up over a quarter of the times they had the ball. That was enough to offset the Aggies better shooting by getting Kentucky 7 more shots.
Beyond the overall numbers this was a game in which both teams made runs, something that is easy to see by looking at the game flow:
Kentucky made 2 big runs in the game and they were ultimately enough to get them the win. At other times the offense was almost nonexistent, but the defense did enough to keep TAMU at bay, even holding them to 0 points scored over an 8 possession stretch in the first part of the 2nd half.
One of the interesting things - at least to me - was how little the press directly affected the game. I stress the word "directly" because obviously the effects of a press stretch beyond the individual possessions on which it is used. One of the things I did was make a note of when the outcome of a possession (turnover, free throws, shot) came against the press as opposed to a half-court situation. That is, I kept track of when a turnover was forced by the press or when Texas A&M was able to beat the press and immediately went for a shot. Possessions in which they beat the press but then pulled back and ran half-court offense were not included.
2 of the shots were uncontested and the other was blocked by DeNesha Stallworth, one of her school record 7 on the night. One of those steals was a heads up play by Kastine Evans from Kelsey Bone off an inbound play in which Bone took the ball in backcourt and then made a lazy pass which was easily taken away by Evans and led to a layup. Describing this as a press possession is somewhat dubious, but I included it because Evans was pressuring the intended target (I didn't write down who it was) the whole time and the turnover was a direct result of that pressure.
Here's how the individual players did defensively in the 4 Factors:
- You really get a sense of how tough it is to go against Kentucky's guards when you look at the individual turnovers forced by Evans, A'dia Mathies, Janee Thompson, and Bria Goss. Facing that kind of pressure must be really draining for opposing guards.
- Big big game by Samarie Walker and Stallworth on the boards. They were simply terrific.
- Bria Goss had a really great line with excellent marks in all categories.
- Poor Mathies - not only was she in foul trouble but every foul she committed led to free throws. The Aggies hit 6 of the 7 FTs A'dia gave them.
Here are the calculated ratings. As a reminder, Stop% is the percentage of plays in which the opponent is prevented from scoring AND Kentucky gets the ball back. DPoss% is an estimate of the fraction of shots/free throws/rebounds/turnovers that a player is involved with while she is on the floor. Opp Eff is a measure of how efficiently the opponent scored on plays that involved the player and DRtg is the individual defensive rating that places her individual results within the context of the team's overall play.
Players are sorted from best to worst DRtg.
- Walker and Stallworth were fantastic inside containing Kelsey Bone. They were going against a really good player while manning the most important defensive position on the floor and both were terrific.
- When I first started the DSS one of the things I emphasized was that a poor rating did not in isolation indicate poor defense. I think Janee Thompson is an example of this. She was on the other side of a couple made baskets (see her eFG% above) but I was impressed at how well she guarded her woman and recovered on shooters. Both of the made shots that she was "credited" as guarding were specifically because she was quick enough to get out on the shooter - that's good defense even if the result wasn't.
- I suspect this was an unusual game for Mathies. Her DRating was hurt a lot by the 6-7 FT shooting but I doubt that's usually the case. The Aggies scored 14 of their points against her, but she got 13 herself so ultimately she was basically even.
- Seriously, Bria Goss was outstanding.
I hope to do at least one more game this year - Tennessee for sure and maybe another if I have the time. One thing I would like to do is figure out a better way to evaluate the press - I'm open to suggestions if anyone has one. Thanks for reading!