We have finally arrived at the end of non-conference play. now we see if our Dayton Flyers can continue their inspired play against their Atlantic 10 foes. Before we dive into Dayton’s data, I wanted to discuss what, if any, link there is between an Atlantic 10 team’s performance in non-conference play and their record in conference play.
Non-Conference Success Leading to A10 Wins?
Along with the Flyer’s strong play so far, a few other Atlantic 10 teams built up their win totals in non-conference play. Sure, some of them such as Duquesne and George Mason did it mostly against lower quality teams. Winning against bad teams is certainly better than losing against them though. The question we need to ask though is if a good run in non-conference play has any link to success in league play.
The answer to that question is a resounding no! When we plot Atlantic 10 team’s win percentage in non-conference play and their win percentage during conference play from the last ten seasons, we see the r-squared at a minuscule 0.2996. R-squared is a statistical measure that represents the proportion of the variance for a dependent variable that’s explained by an independent variable or variables in a regression model. If that made your eyes glaze over, this measures the relationship between the two variables (in this case, the non-conference and conference win percentage) with 1 being a perfect correlation. In other words, there is very little linking non-con and conference winning.
The e losses George Mason and Duquesne had at the end of their non-conference play are anecdotal evidence that racking up wins against potato sack competition might not lead to Atlantic 10 glories. It is also a word of warning for our Dayton Flyers. Most would be satisfied with how things went for Dayton in the first portion of the season. Yet our Flyers are as susceptible to a second half collapse as anyone. In the data from Atlantic 10 teams the past 10 seasons, the 2010-2011 Dayton Flyers had one of the largest gaps between their non-conference win percentage and conference win percentage. This Dayton team needs to continue their fine form in conference play or it could join that 2010-11 Brian Gregory led team in infamy.
Now let’s turn our attention to the Dayton Flyers. Thanks to the great ncaahoopR package made by Luke Benz, a novice R user like me can scrape basketball data with ease. With that data we can figure out the how’s and when’s of the Flyboy’s offense and defense. First, inspired by another ncaahoopR user Carmen C post about UConn, we can see how efficient Dayton and their opponents are at scoring at various points in possessions.
On offense, Dayton is averaging 1.27 points per shot in the first ten seconds of a possession, 1.31 in seconds 11 through 20 in the possession, and 1.10 in the final 10 seconds of the possession. In short, things get a little more tough deep in the shot clock for the Flyers, but they are still are an above average offense (an “average team” averages 1 point per shot) in that time frame. Dayton really makes their hay though either getting early offense in transition or being able to run their offense efficiently in the middle portion of the shot clock.
While the Flyer’s offense has deservedly been the story so far this season, their work on the defensive end has quietly been solid as well. The Flyers averaging less than a point per shot in all of these time frames is impressive. While it is not the lowest total we see here, Dayton only allowing 0.95 points per shot on opponent’s attempts within the first 10 seconds of a possession is a good indicator of the solid transition defense the Flyers have employed.
Next, we can look at the type of shots Dayton is taking on offense and when they are taking them. Inspired by Jack Giles on Twitter, the table below shows how often and how efficient Dayton is taking the ball to the rim, settling for mid-range jumpers, and taking three’s.
You might have a hard time believing this, but the 2019-20 Dayton Flyers are efficient scoring the ball at the rim. Shocking, I know. No matter when Dayton is shooting a shot at the rim, they are typically scoring it at least at 1.4 points per shot. Folks, that is really good. When Dayton is able to get to the rim quickly within 10 seconds of having the ball, they are scoring 1.45 points per shot. The Flyers have been able to…um, fly down the court and get to the basket frequently, with 53.2% of their transition possessions ending in a shot at the rim. This is a promising sign that the Flyers can continue to be a good offensive team.
The other interesting thing to note from this table is the 1.31 points per shot Dayton is getting from three-point shots 11-20 seconds into the possession. It is good to see Dayton being so effective with their shots from beyond the arc in this time frame, as it helps support the idea that they have been good at moving the ball around and passing up good shots for great ones. To my untrained eye, this certainly seems the case frequently on offense, with UD frequently making crisp cuts and great passes to find the best shot on the court. With 48% of Dayton’s shots when they have the ball 11-20 seconds coming from three point land, Anthony Grant and company have utilized these shots well so far.
Finally, it is worth noting that the inefficient mid-range jump shot is rarely used by the Flyers. Only accounting for 17.27% of Dayton’s field goal attempts, the shots have only yielding in total 0.90 points per shot. UD has been able to mostly avoid these shots on offense, though we do see a slight uptick late in the shot clock where a player might be out of options. But even then, a plurality of shots are coming from the three point line and the rim.
With the leftover funds from the Maui budget, the Blackburn Review got their hands on a Synergy account and let me have it. Like a kid in a weird statistical metaphorical candy store, I was almost overcome with all the numbers. Borrowing again from Jack Giles, I looked at how on offense the Flyers are trying to score when on offense and graphed them for you fine folk each game. Below we see the percentage of transition, spot up, and post up field goal attempts the Flyers had each game.
The takeaway from that seems to be there isn’t one specific type of play Dayton is utilizing on offense. Obi Toppin is unquestionably the top dog for the Flyers, but UD doesn’t have to rely on him playing with his back to the basket or getting out in transition to be successful. Really, the only trend here is the lack of reliance on the post up outside the Indiana State and North Florida games. This is a good sign since Dayton is only averaging 1 point per possession on those shots, compared to 1.14 PPP on Spot Ups and 1.22 on transition attempts.
We will finish up looking at the true shooting percentage and usage rate for the Flyers so far. I will spare you the mock surprise about Obi Toppin being high in usage and efficiency. Instead let’s first look at Ibi Watson. According to KenPom, the most frequent lineup for Dayton in the past five games do not include Ibi but instead contain Rodney Chatman, Jalen Crutcher, Trey Landers, Ryan Mikesell, and Obi Toppin. After Ibi’s 30 point game against Grambling, I wondered if he had earned a spot in the starting line-up, but against North Florida he was still coming off the bench. Clearly Ibi is an offensive threat looking at his efficiency shooting, but there is a bit of the chicken or the egg. Does Ibi benefit matching up against bench players on the opposition and would see a downturn against starters or can he score against anyone? I would like to see him given a shot to start but I suspect Anthony Grant won’t experiment starting A10 play.
We should finish up by looking at the true shooting percentages of Chase Johnson and Jordy Tshimanga. The old cliché is that you can’t teach size and Jordy certainly has plenty of that. On offense, Jordy has looked a bit rusty thus far while also committing 9.3 fouls per 40 minutes this season. While in limited minutes due to his…um concussion symptoms, Chase has been much more efficient when he has been shooting and hasn’t been the foul machine on defense. In a similar amount of playing time, Chase has also logged a 20.9% defensive rebound rate while Jordy has 11.8% in the same metric. We should all check WebMD for cures to “post-concussion stress syndrome”.