Thursday, February 22, 2007

Analysis: Wallace Time

Every college basketball fan enjoys the dramatics of end-game heroics. As a Hoya fan who started following the team the year after the 2001 NCAA run, two last-second shots stick out in my mind: Roy Hibbert's dunk at the buzzer against Notre Dame in 2005, and of course the Nat Burton shot in the NCAA tournament, whose legend continues to grow each and every year as the calendar turns to March.

But the truth is, most games aren't won during the final seconds. Basketball is a game of momentum. The team that is best able to seize it during opportune times greatly increases their chances of winning the game. In basketball, the most important periods of the game to maximize the effectiveness of riding a wave of momentum come at the end of the first half and beginning of the second half. How a team finishes the first half and starts the second half is crucial; if a deficit is erased or a lead is stretched into double digits, the team is riding a wave of position emotion into the locker room, which can only help boost confidence and possibly demoralize the other team. During the Hoyas' current winning streak; it has happened several times (@St. John's, @DePaul, and @Nova being the most vivid examples).

So who has stepped up for the Hoyas during these extremely important times of the game? On several occasions in HoyaChat, I've dubbed the last two minutes of the first half and the first two minutes of the second half "Wallace Time," due to Jon's uncanny ability to knock down shots during those vital four-minute periods. But just how effective has Wallace been? Has he really been shooting that well, or am I just noticing all the makes and ignoring all the misses? My curiosity led me to compile these stats, which I found very interesting:

First, let's take a look at Wallace's total shooting numbers for the year:

2PT%: 53.3% (49 for 92)
3PT%: 48.0% (48 for 100)
FG%: 50.5% (97 for 192)
FT%: 89.1% (49 for 55)
Total: 291 points

Initially, I compiled Wallace's shooting statistics during the last two minutes of the first half and first two minutes of the second half for the out-of-conference schedule only (13 games):

2PT%: 75.0% (3 for 4)
3PT%: 37.5% (3 for 8)
FG%: 50.0% (6 of 12)
FT%: 100% (2 for 2)
Total: 17 points

Solid numbers in the OOC, but nothing out of the ordinary for Wallace this year. However, contrast those numbers to those during the same time period during games, but for conference games only (13 games):

2PT%: 66.7% (4 for 6)
3PT%: 88.9% (8 for 9)
FG%: 80.0% (12 for 15)
FT%: 100.0% (1 for 1)
Total: 33 points

Wallace has been incredibly important to the Hoyas during the Big East schedule in terms of changing momentum with clutch shots. If it's seemed like he's never missed during the last two minutes of the first half and the first two minutes of the second half during our winning streak, well, it's probably because he rarely did. At Wallace's current average of 11.2 points per game, this would have assumed that he would have scored roughly 145 total points for just BE games. Having scored 33 points during this 4-minute interval in all BE games combined, he is averaging approximately 22.8% of his expected scoring output during this period, which spans only 10% of the game.

Here are Wallace's shooting numbers for the entire season during the aforementioned 4 minute time period of games:

2PT%: 70.0% (7 for 10)
3PT%: 64.7% (11 for 17)
FG%: 66.7% (18 for 27)
FT%: 100.0% (3 for 3)
Total: 50 points

All of these numbers are significantly higher than what he is shooting for the entire season. And as great as these statistics are, they might still take a backseat to the shifts in momentum that Wallace provides when the team badly needs a bucket to whittle away a deficit or take a lead. It's impossible to measure his influence on games in that sense by merely using shooting percentages. Certainly, he has changed the dynamic of more than a few games this season not with just the increased accuracy of his shots, but also the timeliness of when they occur.

Simply put, Jon Wallace is clutch.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome analysis! I had thought the same thing about Wallace ability to change momentum, but these figures are impressive!