Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SDSU Women's Basketball Tourney Thoughts

Here are a few thoughts on SDSU's game against Oklahoma, and the possible game against Georgia Tech or Arkansas-Little Rock.

According to one RPI site, SDSU made it into the top 100 during the conference tournament, which is good, because that should be one of our team's goals all the time (and hopefully Oakland/Oral Roberts/etc. will have that as a goal. If our conference had 3+ teams in the range better than 100, someone would always have a chance at an at-large bid.

We also ended up with 2 wins in the top 25 RPI, which isn't easy as a midmajor, and it should be noted that both MidTenn and Gonzaga should have been 5-7 ranks rather than 7 and 10 or whatever. That's the position SDSU was in last year, and it really makes life tough being slightly under ranked once you get to the second round. In the sweet 16, it gets tough no matter what, and obviously last year SDSU was good enough to beat Baylor as a 2 seed, but had we been a 5 rather than a 7, we would have only had to beat a 12 and 4 rather than a 10 and 2. That's really where midmajors get screwed, and it makes absolutely no sense how they seed things, since they are supposedly going by RPI, by results against top 25/50/100 RPI, and stuff like that. SDSU was more than good enough last year, and I think MTSU and Gonzaga are good enough this year.

As far as this weekend goes, we are listed as a 9 point underdog to Oklahoma, according to this RPI projection. That seems fair--I'm not sure it is taking into account the fact that this is far from a neutral site, but maybe that evens out SDSU's better play toward the end of the year.

They have a good coach in Coale and a great driving point guard in Danielle Robinson (who was almost as crucial to their success last year as the Paris sisters, but has had a greater load put on her this year). Add to that the fact that SDSU doesn't do all that well defending against driving PGs, and that might be key. Additionally, OK is taller than us in the 4/5 positions, but SDSU may be bigger at the 2/3 positions. OK looks pretty bad at 3pt% and probably don't shoot many, so that may be an equalizer. Additionally, SDSU may be better at some of the peripherals like blocks and steals. We've played against some top teams steal-wise (like ORU), and while good Big12 teams like Oklahoma have played against bigger players than us, I don't know if they've played against many teams that are as consistent and fast as us. If this were last year's team (not just the missing players, but the missing team defense that I thought was top 5 in the country last year--this year it's been hit-or-miss), I'd say we had a 50-50 chance (just as much chance of blowing them out as they have, and a pretty good chance of playing it close to the end). This year, I think we have a better chance of not showing up, and 35% seems fair. We would be their worst loss, and they would be our best win, but it's not outside the realm of possibility.

You can see all the teams in our group here.

One thing I thought was crazy was how many tall players Georgia Tech has. They have five over 6-2 (OK has 3, and SDSU has none). In spite of the height, Georgia Tech has relatively few blocks and lots of steals (on par with SDSU steals-wise at ~300/year--maybe even better at 340/year--I don't think any team compares to Oral Roberts who had 500 team steals this year--it's almost insane). I'm not sure why GT had so few blocks.

Additionally, both OK and GT are substantially worse than SDSU in terms of 3's, both in terms of % and production. And I do mean substantially. Therefore, the 3 can be the equalizer for SDSU in these games, but since SDSU has been hot-or-cold with 3s, that means they could also be off and lose. The good side is they shot 3s better late in the year (last 10-12 games), and most consistently. The bad news is they may be playing against taller and more athletic teams.

OK: 166-534 .311
SDSU: 251-660 .380
GT: 88-338 .260
UALR: 112-352 .318

I haven't said much about UALR, and they're a very good team--giving Middle Tennessee a run for their money this whole year. In fact, their top player Chastity Reed was on my honorable mention list for top players. Their strength of schedule was worse than MTSU, but they won ~20 games in a row before losing the conference tournament final (in OT I think) against MTSU. I think they would be a great match for SDSU this year, and it would probably be a hard game. Too bad I don't see it happening. Their size is more like ours, and we are probably even bigger. Aside from Reed (averages 25 pts, 8 rebs, 2 st, and 1 bl--sort of like Boever's stats, but with twice as many points), I think we would be able to beat them easily without Reed, but Reed is close to on par with Kevi Lupar of Oral Roberts and Alysha Clark of MTSU, so she'd give us a run for our money.

One other thing I found of note was that GT has no wins against top-25 RPI teams, while SDSU has two (Gonzaga and MTSU). On the other hand, Oklahoma has seven, so I think they're in a different class. I think that SDSU could play with any 5+ seeds, but a good 3 seed like Oklahoma is going to be tough. Their Strength of Schedule is 7th in the nation, and ours is 205th (another reason we need more teams in the Summit League to get in the top 100, and a reason I'm happy to be rid of Centenary soon, in addition to the travel).

Recap: Oklahoma
In any case, I think that our strengths will be 3pt shooting, overall FG%, and steals. Blocks are a wash, as is FT%. They have a driving PG who will give us trouble, and two big girls who rebound and foul out a lot. They're just as balanced as we are, and I would say they are a slight to moderate favorite. The 35% chance that RPI gives us seems reasonable--I would have put it at 40%, but I'm overvaluing our improvement over the course of the year, and undervaluing their home court advantage. It should be a good game.