Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Basketball: An early guess at how MRU and UNBC will fare in CIS

Last week we looked at the effect of losing a (perenially winless) CIS basketball team, but coming up in 2012-13 Canada West will add their second and third new teams in two years in the Mount Royal Cougars and UNBC Timberwolves.

The first of those new teams were the UBC Okanagan Heat, a team I thought would go about 5-17 (assuming a 22-game schedule against average Canada West competition), or .227; they actually finished 3-15 (.167) — one win below the .227 mark. They scored 74.6 and allowed 67.9 per game in their last PACWEST year (+6.7). But that positive differential was far on the horizon in 2011-12, with Okanagan scoring just 62.1 per game and allowing 81.4 (-19.3) in league play against a slightly-above-average schedule. A very rough estimate, then, is that a team's offence and defence will each get about 15-20% worse following a shift to CIS. For the men's teams, anyway (we don't have women's basketball statistics at the B.C. college level).

The CCAA-to-CIS translations we use here have always assumed that the player making the jump is placed on an average team with average CIS players, though this is obviously not the case with expansion teams like the Heat. The entire team is new, basically. And the year-to-year performance of those Heat players who participated in PACWEST in 2010-11 and CIS in 2011-12 is instructive in helping us figure out what to expect from an entire team of players making that leap to CIS play.

Not everyone who played for UBCO in 2010-11 did so in 2011-12, though. Five players (Steve Morrison, Ed Dane Medi, Simon Pelland, Mack Roth, and Iain Con) made that transition together, and here are their combined stats in both years:

YearMinutesPts/40Ast/40Ast/TORSB/40eFG%Usage
2010-11
1506
24.4
5.5
1.3
15.8
49.4%
30.0%
2011-12
1611
12.8
1.3
0.4
9.3
44.9%
19.6%

(RSB/40 is rebounds, blocks, and steals per 40 minutes.)

Pretty much every stat changes as we'd expect it to change, but the differences are almost too extreme in some cases: points drop almost by half, for example. We also see assists fall, turnovers climb, and that rebounds, blocks, and steals are all harder to come by in CIS. (We use similar adjustments to players' stats when translating CCAA stats to CIS, based not just on these players but on all who have played at one level one year and the next level in the next year.)

What's interesting is that usage dropped. These are experienced players (at least one year prior to the CIS year) and they took 30% of the Heat's possessions before the jump, but less than 20% after? Doesn't seem right. It turns out this can be explained by the addition of Yassine Ghomari, who led the team in minutes, points, and usage rate (32.1%, fourth in CIS among players with at least 300 minutes played), and had a fair amount of experience before '11-12. It's probably not the case that a team's core will lose 50% of their possessions from one year to the next.

If we assume usage stays constant, that would mean increasing all the per-40 numbers above by half (from 20% to 30% usage, roughly). The per-40 numbers would then be more in line with what we'd expect: points at 19.2, not 12.8; assists at 2.0, not 1.3; and RSB/40 at 14.0, not 9.3. The predicted drop in points, 21% (from 24.4 to 19.2), agrees with the overall team drop experienced by UBCO (17%), so for lack of a better estimate we can stick with the 20% number for now.

We can't yet predict the MRU or UNBC numbers since we don't yet know which players will make the jump: if they bring their better players, we'd obviously expect them to have an easier time than if they had to rebuild.

When we do know (later this fall) who's sticking around, we'll have a post looking at the Cougars and Timberwolves' expected numbers, but for now we can come up with a very early guess at their 2012-13 points scored and allowed, and by extension their expected wins and losses. These teams both had better years before their CIS jump than Okanagan did, and consequently they should have a better record, not knowing anything else yet about the teams.

  • UNBC scored 87.5 and allowed 69.2 last year. Taking 20% away from each, that becomes 70.0 and 83.0 at the CIS level, or a .327 winning percentage. In 22 games, they'd have a record of about 7-15.

  • MRU, who scored and allowed 85.8 and 64.5, albeit in a different league, would be expected to score and allow 68.6 and 77.4, or about an 8-14 record.

We'll have a more sophisticated analysis of these two teams closer to the beginning of the Canada West season, but for now they both project as below-.500 teams. Probably not that surprising, really.

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