Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More on Hummel

Ah, fantastic, we have some disagreement to fill the weeks until the actual season starts. In my last post I said Andy Katz’s decision to drop Purdue from 2nd to 23rd seemed about right. But Ken Pomeroy does not agree. He states that “If you added a healthy Hummel to Temple, I don’t think you would consider the Owls to be national title material.”

I understand the argument, but from a statistical perspective, I do not agree. I think if you put Hummel on Temple they would be among the top teams nationally. First, Purdue was projected as a Final Four contender because they play such incredible defense. But Temple played incredible defense last year too:

Purdue 2010
Adjusted Offense Rank = 70th
Adjusted Defense Rank = 3rd

Temple 2010
Adjusted Offense Rank = 75th
Adjusted Defense Rank = 7th

And from a lineup perspective, I’m not sure Hummel would not make just as big a difference to the Temple lineup as the Purdue lineup.

Consider Purdue’s key returning players this year:

F JaJuan Johnson 107.2 ORtg, 18.2% Defensive rebounding rate
G E’Twaun Moore 102.9 ORtg on 31% of his teams shots

The only other returning Purdue player with an efficiency rating over 95 was Ryne Smith who posted a 104.9 rating while playing 26.9% of the team’s minutes last year. Purdue also brings in just one RSCI top 100 recruit.

Compare that to Temple’s key returning players:

F Lavoy Allen 114.3 ORtg, 23.7% Defensive rebounding rate
G Juan Fernandez 108.7 ORtg, 73 made three pointers
G Ramone Moore 103.3 ORtg and very effective inside scorer as a freshman

Now these individual ORtgs are not adjusted for quality of competition, and the A10 defenses were a little easier to score against, but not as much as you might think. And I have every reason to believe that if you put a player with Hummel’s stat line on Temple, they would be an elite team.

F Robbie Hummel 122.1 ORtg, 20.8% Defensive Rebounding Rate

Even if Hummel’s offense only made Temple an above average offensive team, he is also a huge defensive force. Just look at that defensive rebounding rate! I have no doubt that with Robbie Hummel, Temple would be near the top of the rankings.

Of course, I would also agree that Temple would not be the 2nd place team in the nation. But my model did not pick Purdue for 2nd either. My model liked Purdue 5th with this Final Four:

Kansas St.
Ohio St.

Perhaps the argument could also be made that teams need some outstanding recruits to make it to the Final Four, and even with Hummel, Temple would not have multiple NBA ready prospects. And yes, there is evidence that recruits are important to a deep NCAA tournament run. Wisconsin is almost always among the national leaders in efficiency, but the Badgers have not been able to make the Final Four or stay in the Top 5 of the polls during the season. But I think evaluating a team based solely on recruits is wrong too. My favorite example of this is the Florida Gators, which have traditionally had great recruiting classes, but won two national titles with a group of less heralded recruits. (Plus Butler made the national title game with only one top 100 recruit last year.) Temple may not feel like an elite team, but winning is not all about having McDonald's All-Americans.

But I think that is mischaracterizing what Ken Pomeroy was saying. The key point is that in any given season, the difference between the top 5 teams and the bottom of the top 25 is huge. Whereas the top 5 teams are far out in the tail, teams from 20-40 in the national rankings are usually bunched together at a much lower level of performance. And I agree completely.

But, I’m not convinced that Purdue was so far out in the tail of the distribution that the loss of a player as efficient as Hummel will be easily overcome.