This post is the second in a series I will be doing all season inspired by halfspaces.com’s +/- soccer ratings. Ben from halfspaces.com has come up with the +/- rating system to increase the objectivity of how he views players: he meticulously re-watches soccer matches, giving players a rating for standout events, good, bad, and ugly. Scores for each play range from -5 to +5, with the vast majority in from -2 to +2. Add up the total points for each player, and it becomes clear who has had a standout game. This system can even measure up a player who does lots of little things right, accruing constant +1’s with few negatives against flashy players that garner higher positives but more negatives.
There is a more lengthy explanation of the rating procedure in the first article of the series where I look at the FSU @ Pitt game, but here is generally how I score things:
General Scoring Guidelines:
+3: A fantastic play, almost single-handedly leading to a basket
+2: A great play, usually the equivalent of single-handedly gaining a possession
+1: A standout play, such as a great screen freeing up a driver or a great pass, usually helps the team gain a possession
-1: A poor play, such as poor positioning on defense or taking a bad shot on offense, usually leads to loss of a possession
-2: A bad play, such as missing a rotation or a bad turnover, usually single-handedly losing a possession
-3: A terrible play, such as a terrible live-ball turnover that single-handedly leads to losing a basket
I have also kept track of a new, simple metric to help more accurately keep the score of the perimeter defenders. Called “defensive pressures”, it’s a simple tally of the times a defender steps up to effectively assert pressure on the ball 25+ feet away from the basket. The amount of pressures is divided by 4, rounded up, then added to the total game’s defensive halfcourt score for each player.
First Half Notes
The general trend with these ratings is that it’s easier to gain points on offense and lose points on defense. Given that, it’s awesome that FSU totaled a positive defensive score in the first half. Seminole defenders were making plays while maintaining crisp rotations. On the other end of the court, the offensive played relatively effectively despite missing shots (almost all of the 3’s taken were wide open).
- Trent Forrest had a great start to the game, particularly on defense. He had one missed rotation on defense from over-committing on the helpside, but other than that had flawless rotations and created havoc. He lead the team in offense, but wasn’t penalized for missing some tough shots in the lane. His few negative offensive plays were from sloppy passing.
- Patrick Williams was solid on both ends of the court, but more consistent on offense (where he wasn’t penalized for a missed bunny in the lane or an air-balled three). His athleticism allows him to recover from positional mistakes, effectively baiting opponents into taking shots that are contested harder than expected. His injury in the second half prevented him from making a bigger impact in the closing stretch, but both teams were mostly coasting from that point on anyway.
- Offensive Rebounding was an issue, with 10 allowed in the half on only 21 missed shots. Oddly, 5 of those were “team” offensive rebounds, meaning they went out of bounds off a Seminole rebounder and can mostly be attributed to bad luck – I’ve never seen 5 team offensive rebounds in a half before. This was a major factor in what kept the first half so close.
Florida State outscored Florida by 8 in the second half, compared to 4 in the first half, but their total +/- actually dropped by 5 points. This was caused by a few factors:
- The offense played better in the second half, with better motion off the ball, more dribble penetration, and better decision making with their passes. I only marked them down for six negative events in the second period, compared to 11 in the first half.
- The Seminoles did a better job of actually hitting their shots. They went 6/25 in the first half compared to 14/30 in the second. Of course this is a natural result of the first point, but the ‘Noles were just plainly more accurate.
- UF ran out of luck on the offensive glass. Without the favor of team offensive rebounding (they didn’t grab any in the half) they only gained three on the half.
Full Game Storylines
Trent Forrest was once again my MVP for Florida State on the night. He gained four full points by defensive pressures. The only mistakes he makes on offense are passing up open threes and the occasional lazy or over-ambitious pass.
Forrest, MJ Walker, and Anthony Polite are an elite defensive trio of “point-defenders” in college basketball, and all three have different styles of defending that have their benefits and drawbacks. Forrest is the most passive of the three (not saying much) and seems to play different offenders differently depending on their abilities, so he very rarely gets beat. Walker is the most aggressive, harassing offensive players the farthest from the hoop. He is also prone to gambling for steals. By my count, he only got beat twice off the dribble all game. After the second half, Florida avoided matchups against Forrest, preferring to match up their athletes against Walker. Polite is the clear weak link of the trio, getting beat off the dribble 6 times this game (his only negative defensive plays). He would probably be served toning down the aggressiveness, as he doesn’t have the same elite quickness/length combination as the other two.
FSU’s game plan clearly focused on limiting Kerry Blackshear’s offensive impact. The game plan worked, with Blackshear needing 12 offensive possessions to reach 10 points, with no field goals made. Whenever he got into the post, FSU fronted him with all of their defenders except Dominik Olejniczak while always having a second help-side defender under the basket to prevent easy lobs over the smaller defender. I’ll have another article focusing on this defensive plan out this week.
I shouldn’t get too ambitious with my proclamations here after a dominant performance (.80 points per possession allowed) over a good but not great UF offense, it was encouraging how the defense looked. Our two true bigs only played 12 minutes total, so FSU played most of the game without a proven shot-blocker to clean up mistakes under the basket.
FSU makes up for this by having the best perimeter defense and team defending they’ve had in their recent “1 big” era. Along with the aforementioned “point-defender” trio, Vassell, Williams and Gray are all plus defenders on the perimeter when matched up against larger guards. Gray, Osborne, and Williams all get more than their share of help-side blocks. Their length and rotations prevent open shots even after dribble-drives break down the defense.
Right now kenpom has FSU pegged as the number 6 defense in the country while barttorvik has us at number 7. These are already elite numbers, but I predict FSU finished in the top 5 in both.
Entire Game +/- Sheet
Link to the doc, with sorting enabled and proper cell freezing.
For more updates on my +/- player ratings and FSU hoops analysis, follow me on twitter @scoreondefense