With practices just weeks away, we’re looking back on the last season, and some of the big questions facing teams in the year ahead
If there was a storyline that permeated through the 2013-14 season, it was how the number of foul calls went from already uncomfortably high levels to hearing-whistles-in-your-dreams levels, at least according to many fans. In an attempt to increase scoring, the NCAA asked referees to call fouls tighter, especially against ball handlers. The result was an increase in scoring across Division I, but also an increase in the number of fouls.
The idea was that as defenses adjusted, the foul count would decrease, and shooting would increase. That adjustment happened…slowly at some schools, if at all.
So what was the final result? Here are a look at how team’s scoring changed from the 2012-13 season to last year:
|Scoring Change||Free Throws Made||% of scoring change||FG % Change||3PT % Change|
League-wide, about 52% of the OVC’s scoring rise can be attributed to more made free-throws. What’s interesting is how team’s shooting was affected: A 1.5% change in shooting percentage is noteworthy, translating into about one extra made field goal a game. But three-point shooting was actually worse last year than before the new rules were put into effect, erasing some of the gain made by overall field goal shooting.
The other contributors were minute — so much so, it’s hard to actually track them.
Where is the other 48% coming from? The new rules led to fewer turnover across the board — all 12 OVC teams saw their turnover percentage drop last season, and that led to a very slight rise in field goal attempts a game.
|Turnover % Change||Field Goal Attempts Per Game|
We did some more calculations as well, and I won’t bore you with even more charts. Not only was three-point shooting percentages down, so were the numbers of three point shots. (18.8 attempts per game in 2013-14 versus 19.2 in 2012-13) You could make the argument that there was a difference in talent between the two seasons, but the top ten three-point shooters from last year shot roughly the same percentages as the top ten the year before.
What does this all mean? Free-throws were, undoubtedly, the largest contributor to the rise in scoring from a year before. The other contributors were minute — so much so, it’s hard to actually track them through statistics. Shooting was slightly better, there was an extra possession here and there, but make no mistake, there was no offensive revolution last season. Did the new rules increase scoring? Yes. Did they increase excitement on the floor?
Once you take out free-throws, the rules led to about one extra-field goal per team, per game. I’m hard pressed to say that’s exciting.
A full year after their implementation, defenses should continue to adjust, and the numbers should continue to shift. But after one year, the new foul rules impacted just that — fouls — and not the game as a whole.