The House of Blue

The home for all discussion on UK athletics


Why do scores seem to be so low this year?

  • I was watching the Kansas game tonight and couldnt believe my eyes when the Jayhawks had 2 points with 6 minutes left in the 1st half. Thats right 2 points in the 1st 14 minutes of the game and 13 at the half. That began me thinking of why the scores of college basketball games seem to be so low this year. Is the overall talent that far down in the NCAA this year or is the one and done partly resposible for the talent pool being so low. I think there are a few very good teams this year but no team like UK was last year. There is a lot of parity in the NCAA this year but I just cant pin down 1 reason why the game scores are coming up in the 40s, 50s and 60s this season. If you have any ideas of why it is the way it is in the NCAA this year as far as the scoring drought goes by all means let us know what you think.

    This post was edited by sleepydog 17 months ago

  • Here are three reasons I would consider.

    1. Because all the talent is either in the NBA or young.

    2. Lack of experienced talent affects how coaches coach their teams (defensive focus because it's easier to coach up than offensive skill).

    3. A little pet peeve of mine, the refs don't know how to call a block/charge. If they would just eliminate the secondary defender block/charge call the game would open up and the quality would go up overnight...not to mention the refs would have one of it's toughest calls removed improving their officiating.

  • Lack of top shelf talent and officiating. Refs have let the game become way too physical.

    signature image
  • All 3 reasons you gave makes sense. The 3rd one I agree with most of all and that is the block/charge calls the refs make. The NBA has taken 1 step to help eliminate the charge/block calls and that is the "flop" penalties. I know that these calls slow up the game and reduce scoring. Good points.

    This post was edited by sleepydog 17 months ago

  • Just read an article about this a few days ago. Over the course of the season the average scores per game will be extremely close to what they have been the last 30 years. Since the institution of the three point line there has been a slight decline, but it's beginning to average out. FG% has actually risen ever so slightly. Turnovers and offensive rebounding have decreased over those years. I'll try to find a link to the article, but that could be a tough task considering I don't remember the author.

    As for Kansas, that is pitiful. Never thought I would hear a team as good as the Jayhawks would have 2 points with four minutes to go in the half.

    signature image signature image signature image
  • For the enjoyment of the fans I couldn't agree more. When I still played in HS I would argue with my dad that this wasn't the case, but thanks to leagues like the Big 10 and Big East this has become the case. Then you have teams like Wisconsin who have proven playing late into the shot clock can keep you in games with top tier teams, but at the same time that keeps weak teams in games with you.

    I second the notion of removing the block charge call, except I think only in the paint and extending to the three point line in the corners. I also think CBB should adopt the hand check foul rule of the NBA. I can't stand watching perimeter defenders be aloud to put both hands on the ball handler and then when they use their forearm to clear out its called an offensive foul. Ridiculous.

    I also I hate everything about Duke because I feel like everything I'm bitching about was brought to this game by K minus the rough play.

    signature image signature image signature image
  • The flop fine is great. In CBB it should be a tech per occurrence and every second time a player commits the cowardly move they should be suspended 1-5 games, depending on how often they are guilty. This should also be a reviewable play, period.

    signature image signature image signature image
  • I think I read an article like the one you described perhaps its the same one. Overall stats may have this years team averages similar to previous years but I wonder if those averages would be the same if they would have used the teams that are ranked in the top 50 for the past several years. It may be that it is just me and the scores are close to what they have been but it sure seems like this years scoring is down. Kansas I would have thought would have been all pumped up b/c they just lost to Travis Fords OK St. Cowboys and the Kansas players ready for blood but they jsut couldnt hit a thing and 2 points in 14 minutes is pitiful and 13 points for a half is sad. The bad thing is that they were just down 9 at the half.(22-13).

  • The question about scoring year to year is an interesting one. The average points per game in NCAA basketball has not varied much over the last 5 seasons. You can see the data in the first image linked below. This year, there are two factors for the marginal decline in scoring. Average efficiency is down, and average pace is down, both in the same year.

    The issue of parity is one that I have trouble grasping, yet it seems to emerge in any season that the team a fan follows is not located near the top of the heap. But, the distribution of teams, based on efficiency, each year is very similar. The two distributions attached are for this season and last season. I could not attach more of these so I have given links to the corresponding distributions for 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008. A parity argument emerges more as a team's position is located along a section of the distribution with the flatter slope. But when a team is at either end of this distribution, there are few teams that can beat it, or few teams that it can beat, depending on which end, and in those cases, very few are willing to make the parity argument for that year.

    As far as game to game variations, you have those in every year as well, and the single game anomalies have little significance in the big picture. The fact that Florida laid an egg the other night does not change in a material way the fact that this Florida team is dominant this season and more than it means that this Arkansas team is suddenly a monster of the midway. Neither are valid conclusions from that anecdotal outcome. Upset occur in sports. Last year, 24.3% of all NCAA D1 games ended with the lesser efficient team beating the more efficient team. This year, the numbers are tracking right along with what the theory would predict, just as it did last year.

    signature image

  • There is also a historical cycle from high scoring to lower scoring.

  • 66.4 pts per game is the lowest in 5 years. So there is something to it although minimal. When you look at statistics especially when you have a large sample size the results usually are more minimal than the eye test impression.

  • Absolutely, and it is also significant that this year is the only data point that is outside the mean +/- 1 Standard Deviation Unit. This is a significant drop in scoring, and it is much more related to the drop in average efficiency, which is also outside that one std dev range.

    The efficiency is down, in my opinion, for many of the reasons already cited above. However, while average efficiency is down, the efficiencies of the top team are at the historical levels for the top team over the years. At the top, the quality of play remains high in my opinion, especially for Florida, Indiana, and Michigan.

    signature image

  • Chris nailed it...Also skill level is down...Dont find as many mid range shooters any more..Guys always wanting to dribble in a crowd and dunk..The officials and NCAA have let the game get too rough and this negates the skill of the offensive player..Any time a defender can put his forearm on the hip of a dribbler and ride him to the basket,then he has gained an advantage..The whole game is awful right now and I dont see the NCAA wanting to change it...Too much tv money..

  • THis^^^ Too many kids rely on thier speed and leaping ability now..they dont care if they can hit 15 footers all long as they make 1 or 2 highlight reel dunks...I partially blame ESPN for top 10 is always dunks or crazy shots..why never a silky smooth 18 footer to win the game? Its just not sexy anymore..thats why! I myself admire kids that come in and shoot 90% from FT land and stroke the mid range at a 50% clip..they are rare. No reason most guards shouldnt shoot at least 80% from FT...Im a fat 6'4 325ln ex DT/OT that also played a lil PF..and I can hit 80% FT...its ridiculaous for a guard to shoot less than 70%.

  • I never thought about the point you made about ESPN and their promotion of great dunks and the lack of the lost art of the 16-18 footer but you hit the nail on the head. Until recently I hadnt heard of how great a game that Jack Givens played in the NC game of 1978. He made a living that day with the midrange shot and burnt Duke for 41 points. The roughness of the game that was mentioned in other posts is a very good insight to the decline in scoring. Look at the Big 10 and Wisconsin for example the scoring is held down by design almost like some teams used the 4 corner style of play before the shot clock was added. I have noticed that some teams shut down their attack on the basket too early IMO when they have a lead. Some teams have taken this approach with 6 or so minutes left in the game and to their chagrin the other team starts to catch up. Your points are also good ones and thanks for replying.

    This post was edited by sleepydog 17 months ago

  • Agree and gave Bluedawg a plus 1 for that. The irony is that most NBA scoring comes from mid range ( think) Former players who are now analysts constantly make comments about how a given player would improve if he would just develop a mid range shot.

  • This IMO has become the age of the dunk and 3pt shooter b/c that is whats featured on ESPN and other media outlets. It seems that they focus on these 2 areas of the offensive side of the game and forget about the midrange game altogether along with the rest of the things that make up a good offensive player and team. To me there is nothing prettier than a great pass ending in a basket and an assist for the passer. For example Kyle has had a few beautiful assists this season resulting from great looking passes. Dont get me wrong I love a fantastic dunk or a player stringing together 3 or 4 straight 3 pointers but there is a lot more to the offensive side of the court.

  • I think there is an angle that is not being looked at here. Is coaching down? When you look around the country there just aren't many great up and coming coaches. Brad Stevens, Sean Miller, thats really it. You've got Ben Howland at UCLA who I'd call a pitiful coach. Once he started having to recruit his own players he's played a boring, uninspired style of basketball there and they are supposed to be a giant in college basketball. Ask Bill Walton what he thinks of Howland. The PAC12 is a pitiful conference. And when you've got a guy like Bruce Weber getting a job immediately after he has a terrible tenure at Illinois at a program as good as K St. I have to question whether there are enough good college coaches. In football you see guys consistently changing the game too. Guys with innovative offenses and different styles elevating and changing the game. You just don't see it in college basketball. Everybody acts like its all been done before and that simply can't be the case. I'm sure at some point we'll get some new young blood in the coaching profession but right now its pretty stale and dull.

  • Good point there tWit. I dont know if you remember the teams at LMU with Hank Gathers and etc, now that was fun basketball to watch. Very little defense played in their games but the consistant 100+ scoring in their games was just exciting to see. Now I know that a lot of people enjoy good defense and I am one but there arent very many teams that average over 75-80 points per game. I admire what they do at Wisconsin but watching their slow methodical games is like having a root canal IMO. When the #5 team(Kansas) has 2 points with just 6 minutes left in the 1st half and ends up with 13 pts total for that half its just sad. They need to change the shot clock to 30 seconds which I think is what the womens teams use so there are more possessions for each team per game.

  • Now, the average college game has 67 possessions per team, 134 possessions in a game.

    That is an average of 17.9 seconds per possession. The slowest paced teams this year average 117 possessions per game for both teams, or 20 1/2 seconds per possession, and the fastest paced team this year averages 151 possessions per game, 15.9 seconds per possession. Kentucky is 43rd fastest team this season, at 139.4 possessions per game (both teams), which is 17.2 seconds per possession on average.

    Sure some possessions use the entire clock, but over the course of a game, the number of such possessions is quite small, just as the number of possessions that use just a few seconds from beginning to ending is a small number.

    I am not sure it is a function of the shot clock duration. But I recall the games prior to a shot clock when teams would put the ball in the ice box. Watching paint dry was more exciting than those events.

    signature image

  • Professor, the games I watch usually involve the higher ranked or more recognized teams in D-1. I dont mind watching 2 top 25 teams battle it out defensively and if a low scoring game is a result of good defense on both teams part then fine but what I have a problem with is 1 or both teams that slow the pace up by design. I know there is a 35 second clock but a team can develop a mini 4 four corners style of play, and again I will use Wisconsin as an example. You take the Lady Cats for example I love to watch them play b/c of the high octane style they play and thats the reason I made it a point to watch every game that LMU played on TV the years Gathers played there. The overall stats you use are fascinating but they include all 300+ D-1 schools(I assume) most of which we never see play on TV. It would be very interesting if you could come up with numbers that included only the top 75-100 schools in D-1 and see what that would look like. Thanks for the statistical info I really do enjoy reading it all.

  • The top 64 teams, per Pomeroy, have played this season at an average pace of 66.5 possessions (133 for both teams). The fastest in this group is 145.4, and the slowest is 118 possessions per game (both teams) The fastest in this group is North Carolina, the slowest in this group is Denver. Some examples of teams within +/-1 possession of the mean are:

    Providence, Maryland, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Cincinnati, Creighton, Ohio State,

    signature image

  • Thats interesting and surprising in that the top 64 teams per Pomeroy has on average 1 less possession than the average # of possessions for all D-1 teams. Thanks for getting that info, so according to that data lowering the shot clock time to 30 seconds wouldnt do a lot to increase scoring. I wonder if it in fact could do the opposite and lower scoring by teams having to shoot the ball 5 seconds sooner than they do now. I would just like to see the teams I watch on TV score a little more but todays scoring averages just might be the way it is for now and maybe something will change to increase the outcomes of games when it comes to the final score.

  • I just don't see any innovation in the college game. Cal with his method of recruiting is really the only guy that you could say is an innovator in the college game today. I'd love to hear of other names. Pitino was an innovator in the late 80's and early 90's. I just don't see much innovation. But maybe I'm wrong and then again maybe its just right around the corner. I'm just tired of the Tubby's and the Howland's watering down the game.

  • The answer is change some rules on fouls liberating guards, cut the shot clock to close to the NBA's, and lengthen the game to the pro level. People want more baskets that's the answer. I'm not overly sure that's what we as fans want though.

    Of those three that I suggested, I mostly would like to see a revolution in the rule book. I think that would have the single most impact on what we see out of the college game outside of what Calipari is doing.

    signature image signature image signature image
  • What rules would you be in favor of changing to make this game more productive for the players and the fans? I think there is a need for some changes but I dont know exactly which ones should or could be modified or eliminated. According to the professors data shortening the shot clock wouldnt make that much of a difference although Im not sure I agree with that. I think if the womens teams can use a 30 second clock then why cant the men. I say at least try that to see if it would speed the game up and increase scoring other than that Im just not sure what actually would work except maybe what you suggested about tweaking the rule book.