JB's consistency, and what it says (or doesn't say) about the need for zone, iso, etc... | Syracusefan.com

JB's consistency, and what it says (or doesn't say) about the need for zone, iso, etc...

PoppyHart

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With all the discussion on our offensive woes, and given the popular refrain that JB used to just "roll the ball" out on the court and let the players do as the wish, I wanted to see if there was anything in the win-loss column that showed one approach (rolling it out vs. iso/stall ball) being more successful than the other. Additionally, I wanted to see whether there were any bottom line impacts on the switch to exclusive (or 90%+) zone defense.

To that end, I took a look at JB's record over the last 43 years. Newsflash: JB has been remarkably consistent.

Caveat 1: It is debatable when the switch in offensive philosophies occurred, and some may argue there has never been a switch.
Caveat 2: There is debate as to when the switch to being almost exclusively zone occurred, though there is no debate that a major change in defensive philosophy has occurred over JB's tenure.
Caveat 3: I included all wins (i.e. including vacated wins), but did not include the 9 games that Hop coached
Caveat 4: This is JBs 43rd season. As 43 is a prime number, the time periods below are not all equal. All data is through the year end, and does not include partial seasons (except for 2018-19).

Overall Record: 1034-374 (73.44%)

1H Record (Thru 1997-98 Season): 528-181 (74.47%)
2H Record (1998-99 to Present): 506-193 (72.39%)

Q1 (76-77 thru 86-87 season): 261 - 84 (75.65%)
Q2 (87-88 thru 97-98 season): 267 - 97 (73.35%)
Q3 (98-99 thru 08-09 season): 271 - 107 (71.69%)
Q4 (09-10 to Present): 235 - 86 (73.21%)

1st Third (Thru 89-90 season): 343 - 108 (76.05%)
2nd Third (90-91 thru 03-04): 333 - 126 (72.55%)
Final Third (04-05 to Present): 358 - 140 (71.89%)

As for when changes in philosophies occurred, especially defensively, and what we might be able to derive from that:

Theory 1: 1996: The zone received a lot of media coverage over the course of the Final Four run

Pre 1995-96 season: 454-150 (75.17%)
1995-96 to Present: 580-224 (72.14%)

Theory 2: 2003: Winning the championship was the final proof JB needed. It's all zone from that point forward (Jonny Flynn & Paul Harris aside).
Thru 2002-03 season: 653-226 (74.29%)
Post National Title: 381-148 (72.02%)

Theory 3: November 2009: After losing to LeMoyne in an exhibition while playing M2M, JB proved his point and it was now zone or bust.
Pre-Lemoyne: 799-288 (73.51%)
Post-LeMoyne: 235-86 (73.21%)

Possible Takeaways:
1. None of these numbers are statistically significant. JB is simply a machine. I wasted my time.
2. There was no point in moving to the zone. His W-L percentage actually has decreased, especially in the last third of this career.
3. The game has evolved so much and the competition is so much stronger than it was in the 70s and 80s. JB is a genius for getting ahead of the curve and making the defensive adjustments that he did. Otherwise, the dip would have been more significant.
4. We can win ugly, we can win "sexy". Why not play a high tempo, fan-friendly, aesthetically pleasing style?
 
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...
Caveat 2: There is debate as to when the switch to being almost exclusively zone occurred, though there is no debate that a major change in defensive philosophy has occurred over JB's tenure.
...

Great post.

Regarding the bolded...there is? I didn't know people debate that, but I hope we can agree that there's no need to listen to the opinions of anyone who doesn't say "Fall 2009."
 
...
4. We can win ugly, we can win "s e xy". Why not play a high tempo, fan-friendly, aesthetically pleasing style?

My hypothesis:

After a career of watching even seasoned veterans throwing the ball to the other team, calling timeouts they didn't have, etc., and after watching some no-name called Brad Stephens and his band of thugs steal a tournament game from us, Boeheim said enough is enough.

You know, like this guy:
giphy.gif


Who should be responsible for winning a basketball game, a 21-year-old kid, or a Hall of Fame coach with four decades of experience? So he tightened up the reins and decided to micromanage the game by limiting offensive possessions. Our defense is going to hold the opponent to X (with some rare exceptions). If we slow it down, 75% of the time we'll score X+1 or better. And when the rims get tight and the refs are a coin flip in March, we won't have to change our style of play to keep our advantage.

I don't blame him. I bet someone could break down your data in a way that justifies this change. It's logical.

But it's also horrible in terms of entertainment value. I don't think I've ever been less excited about an SU game than I am about tonight.
 
Maybe a better question is: how do we stack up offensively (offensive efficiency rankings) since fall 2009?
 

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