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Random Acts Of Randomness…

These Thursday games are nice in that they give me extra time to dig into numbers, catch up on my reading, and generally increase my enjoyment of VCU basketball. Hopefully the random nuggets that follow do the same for you.

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Darius Theus is playing at a high level. The senior has 51 assists and just 11 turnovers in A10 games. What's more, Theus has committed more than one turnover TWICE in the past 13 games.

Rob Brandenberg broke out of a four-game slump with his 21-point, 7-12 shooting night against Charlotte. Brandenberg had been mired in an 8-33 sluggishness over those four games. Rob was 3-5 from three on Saturday after going 3-15 from three in the previous four games.

Odd but true stat, and I have no idea if it means anything. In VCUs five losses, Briante Weber has made exactly one two-point basket. Odder: Weber began the season 7-14 from three, but has missed his last 17 attempts from beyond the arc.

On the other side, after
starting the season 6-12 from the foul line, Melvin Johnson has made his last
10 free throws. He hasn't missed since going 1-2 against Alabama on December 15. Johnson is also averaging 20.3 minutes per game over the past six games.

David Hinton is finishing his career in grand style, and has a near-bizarro comp. Coming into the season, the senior had eight career field goals, two career assists, three career steals and four career blocks. This season Hinton has: eight field goals, two assists, three steals and four blocks.

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Let's back up. VCU is clearly a very good basketball team. We've come to rely on Theus, Juvonte Reddic, Troy Daniels, and the Freight Train. You know who makes us great, that x-factor? Brandenberg and Weber. Here's the combined stat lines for the Dynamic Duo in wins and losses:

  • Field goal shooting: 118-247 (47.8%) in wins and 14-66 (21.2%) in losses.
  • Three point shooting: 37-103 (35.9%) in wins and 6-30 (20.0%) in losses.
  • Scoring: 17.6ppg in wins and 9.0ppg in losses.
  • Assist-to-turnover ratio: 99/55 in wins and 12/11 in losses.
  • Steals: 88 in 19 wins (4.63spg) and 11 in 5 losses (2.20spg)

The point: we've survived Troy being cold. We've survived Theus being injured. We've survived off-shooting nights from the Freight Train and Reddic being locked up. And we've survived less-than-stellar games from the Dynamic Duo.

But I call them the Dynamic Duo for a reason–when they play well, VCU is a force.

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The whole "do you foul if up by three late in the game" conundrum is near to the Ramnation. Ken
Pomeroy wrote an outstanding piece today
that analyzed every game that has occurred in which a team led by three with with between five and 12 seconds to
play.

The article lays out the data and has a few fun nuggets, but the end-game is that a team wins 92.7% of the time if it chooses to foul in that situation (122 wins, five losses, and 10 games went to overtime).

Teams choosing to simply defend straight up won 94.0% of the time (598 wins, two losses, 77 overtimes).

Two items stand out to me. First, the statistical difference is not significant. Second, coaches overwhelmingly choose to play defense (677 to 137).

One
A10 coach told me flat out: "you can't lose if you defend. A three only
ties it. At worst I'm in overtime. You foul and you bring losing into
the equation. Plus, the offensive rebound chances are greater. You can
climb a guy's back–you think any official is calling a ticky-tack foul
in that situation?"

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Here's Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn with more awesomeness about havoc, complete with gifs.