March 17, 2008

Inside the numbers: BYU

If you've seen Brigham Young play this season, this team looks a lot like Cougar teams from the past - they shoot a high percentage, hit quite a few threes, control the boards, move the ball well around without turning it over and play solid defense.

Per stats guru Ken Pomeroy (kenpom.com), BYU likes to play at a faster pace than A&M, averaging about 70 possessions per game as opposed to A&M's 64 possessions per game. This is not only a reflection of the two conferences that they are in (Big 12 vs Mountain West) but also the fact that A&M benefits from a slower tempo with its inside game built around four players that are 6-foot-8 or taller.

Despite the fact that BYU has a fine center in 6-foot-11 Trent Plaisted, nearly 40-percent of BYU's shots are 3s and about one-third of their points came from beyond the arc. Plaisted serves as the foundation for a fine inside-outside game with 6-foot-6 forward Lee Cummard, 6-foot-6 forward Jonathan Tavernari and guard Sam Burgess (all of whom shoot better than 37-percent from the perimeter). However, they also do well inside the arc and have hit 51.5-percent of their two-point shots.

One of the reasons for the shooting percentage is that BYU is a very good passing team with excellent spacing. They rank ninth in the country in Pomeroy's assist percentage category with a whopping 65-percent of all baskets coming as the result of an assist. Point guard Ben Murdock is the best passer (2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio), but BYU has six players with more than 50 assists. Cummard himself has 120 assists and Plaisted is a good passer from the post. They don't turn over the ball much either. They have a turnover percentage of 20.3-percent, which is in the top half of the country.

On the surface, BYU is not a very good free throw shooting team as they only hit 65.8-percent of their freebies this season. However, that's primarily because Plaisted attempted twice as many free throws as anyone, and only hit 55-percent of them. Four players with significant minutes hit 83-percent or better from the line.

However, they don't get to the line that much. They only get to the line 25 times a game, which ranks 192nd nationally.


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