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More offensively efficient second half aides Maryland comeback

Basketball Prospectus writer John Gasaway recently taught me how to calculate points per possession, a tool used to help determine a team's level of efficiency in each game. So I figured I'd put the knowledge to good use and try it out on last night's Maryland-Clemson game.

The data showed that Maryland's offensive efficiency dramatically improved as the game progressed, while Clemson's dramatically regressed. Consequently, a nine-point halftime Clemson lead turned into a nine-point Terrapins victory.

Maryland's points per possession in the first half: 1.1.

"We couldn’t run our offense the first half," Coach Gary Williams said. "Probably because of Clemson, but also because of the way we were playing."

Maryland's points per possession in the second half: 1.4.

To put that in some perspective, Gasaway said that if a team averages 1.2 points per possession "that's simply stratospheric, out of this world, historic, fantastic."

Okay, so he might have been exaggerating just a tad. But you get the point.

Clemson, on the other hand, averaged 1.4 points per possession in the first half and 0.9 points per possession in the second half. As a general rule of thumb, if a team is not averaging at least one point per possession, said team is in some trouble. That certainly proved to be the case with the Tigers last night.

On the night, Maryland averaged 1.3 points per possession, while Clemson averaged 1.1.

Let me know if you all are interested in these types of calculations. If so, I'll start making points per possession tabulations part of the postgame analysis routine.

By Steve Yanda  |  February 25, 2010; 12:24 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Dealing with Clemson's Trevor Booker


I'm not interested in PPP but don't mind the posts after each game if the other commentors want them.

Posted by: fushezzi | February 25, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I like it. Offensive efficiency and Defensive efficiency (opponent's offensive efficiency) take into account the pace of the game as well as turnovers, shooting percentage, free throws (I think) and defensive rebounds.

Question: Does a missed shot and a put back count as 1 possesion or 2?

Posted by: larry31 | February 25, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Yes- keep these analyses coming, please.

Posted by: FeartheNoodle | February 25, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I like it - it reminds me of baseball, runs for and runs against. The differential allows you to calculate a record, and anything outside that is called "luck" although it could be great relief pitching or something else. In the case of basketball, it maybe has something to do more with chemistry

Posted by: CharlieF | February 25, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

yanda -

You've heard others on the board complain when there aren't any posts related to the Terps. Keep the posts coming and we can argue amongst ourselves as to their relevance. Indeed, shoot a few of these out during the offseason if you can because a lot of us get starved for Terps coverage - if there is no news, make some up. Ultimately, W-L is the only stat that is inarguable. But the rest of them generate interesting conversation - even if its a board member blasting the value of the statistic.

Regards -


Posted by: HughGRection | February 25, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

While stats are nice and can be a helpful tool in analyzing a game, they shouldn't be the end all, be all. I mean, last night the Terps lost the rebounding game (both offensively and defensively) but still outscored Clemson by 18 in the 2nd half.

With that said, sure, keep giving us kooky-stats Yanda.

Good win last night, though I'd like to see the turnovers in the single-digits.

Also, the way the Terps keep shooting the rock is amazing. I keep expecting a fall-off (I guess that was the Duke game) but they still keep hitting over 50% of their shots and 3's. That's amazing and sit seems like it's been going on all year.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | February 25, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Yanda -

If you get the chance, answer larry's question above - kinda confused about it myself.

Regards -


Posted by: HughGRection | February 25, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Btw, speaking of UNC. They are so insanely due right now, if I were a betting man I'd be all over them tonight against an FSU team that struggles on the road.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 24, 2010 5:15 PM

Whew, luckily thanks to afternoon rush-hour traffic I couldn't make it to either Morongo or Pechanga Casino. Had I been able to make it to either I would've taken the above advice and bet the house (literally) on UNC to win.

Whew!! One time I'm happy to have So-Cal's traffic situation, which prevented said bet from being placed.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | February 25, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Those new stats you have been referencing are pretty cool. PLease include in future posts.

Posted by: lavar609 | February 25, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm a stats junkie, so I really like this stat and how it shows what occurred in the game. Please keep it up!

Sounds like the Terps were smokin' a 1.4 in the second half -- and it looked like they were as well.

Posted by: wwkayaker | February 25, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse


The players are shooting so well because Gary is God! It is his divine influence that has the ball going through the rim at such an amazing rate.

By the way, the "planet crackpot" comment was, if I recall, lifted from Bart Simpson. And I am not even that big of a Simpson's fan.

Va Tech is undefeated (like MD) at home in the ACC. I see the Va Tech away game every bit as challenging as the Duke home game. I think Va Tech was looking ahead to MD last night when they lost by 20 to BC.

Posted by: larry31 | February 25, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

What is the point of the stat? Couldn't one look just as easily at the end of the game and note the first half and second half scores. Then we could look at the efficiency rating and actually see a correlation. Wow!

Here is another stat: A team that scores 1 more three point field goal than another team but scores one less two point field goal and the same number of free throws will win the game! WOW!

Posted by: petecard | February 25, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Where do you fit GV's mop-up into the stat analysis? Is that worth anything in the efficiency rating?

Posted by: petecard | February 25, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse


Efficiency ratings are a much better means of comparing teams than RPI. Remember when the Missouri Valley conference figured out how to get a great RPI without playing tough teams a few years back? RPI has a lot of flaws. Offensive efficiency is a much better indicator when comparing teams, provided your sample is sufficiently large. In late Feb. these number mean something. In early Jan, they don't. Just looking at these stats for one game doesn't tell you that much. But, they are interesting when put into context with what the rest of the conference has done over the season.

Posted by: larry31 | February 25, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

To quote Homer Simpson, "Aw, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forty percent of all people know that."

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | February 25, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Offensive(and defensive) efficiency is also important because the pace (ie number of possessions) across games for a single team, or even across conferences(cough Big 10 cough) is not the same - so just comparing points doesn't tell the whole story.

When the Terps(or any other team) somehow get forced into a slow down game, having a higher offensive efficiency(playing better per possession) vs. a team with a lower offensive efficiency should provide a win. Just for example.

Posted by: BrokenClipboard | February 25, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Also Terp fans should like current ranking based on efficiency - Ken Pomeroy's numbers have us at 13.

Any other questions?

Broken Clipboard
Maryland '04, BS in Math-Stat

Posted by: BrokenClipboard | February 25, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Yanda seems like these stats are a lot of work for you, I wuold bag it. I would be much happier with recruiting coverage, but I usually go to the Sun for that.

Poop there is a sportsbook at those casinos in SoCal? I thought sports betting was only legal in Nevada.

Posted by: jpfterps | February 25, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Statistics like these put the anal into analysis. A more telling stat is that the team with the most points always wins.

Posted by: ajlerner1 | February 25, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Glad to hear that McPoop is NOWHERE near the campus.

Posted by: terpfan4141 | February 25, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Why's that terpfan4141? Only REAL terp fans allowed to be near their former school?

Moron, obviously you're new here or else you'd have known long ago I live 3000 miles away from UMD. Isn't it time you go back to wasting your life away in a cubicle?

Jpfterps, honestly I have no idea whether or not any of the local casino's have sports betting. Whenever we get the itch, we just go to Vegas.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | February 25, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Hey Poopy,

were you watching the game on JustinTv?


Posted by: HughGRection | February 25, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Efficiency stats are pretty worthless after a game. They come in handy when comparing teams that play at much different paces. Gary Williams typically uses offensive and defensive FG% to determine how well his team is playing which is similar to efficiency.

Posted by: TerpFan2001 | February 25, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Empirical data provide objective criteria for discussion and further analysis. I'm impressed with the statistically accurate predictions afforded by the rpi and Pomeroy indices (even though the two show rather different team rankings!). Good stats lead to good predictions and 'good' predictions provide 'proof' in science. So keep 'em coming Steve, you're right on!

Posted by: AncientTerp | February 25, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for your response. Really appreciated.
Personally, the Tournament is fun and it does determine the automatic bid to the NCAA's, but I think the regular season is more meaningful.

Posted by: petecard | February 26, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

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