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the offensive rebounding illusion

Posted by syracusan on December 21, 2006

To continue the debate

Rebounding can be a tricky stat category. Granted it’s never OK to get 18 fewer rebounds than Canisius, but that was a Gorman game, so I’ll let it slide. However, early season rebounding margins can be suspect because in blowout games the numbers get skewed for several reasons. First, it’s hard to muster up the passion and energy to hit the boards when the game is a laugher. Second, and more importantly, the offensive rebounding numbers are almost meaningless thanks to the radical difference in o-rebounding opportunities.

Let me put it this way: if you want SU to get more offensive boards per game, the easiest way is to miss more shots, thus giving them more chances at O-boards. Conversely, if the other team is getting too many, the easiest way to solve it is to let them shoot a higher percentage.

SU is shooting 47% from the field this year. Our opponents are shooting 37%. We’ve missed 358 shots, they’ve missed 474! That’s a hell of a lot more clanged shots that the other team has the opportunity to go get. Additionally, our major flaw this year is turnovers, so 20 times a game we have offensive possessions that cannot result in an offensive rebound. Also, we get to the free throw line enormously more often than our opponents (130 more times so far this year), and it’s extremely difficult to get an offensive rebound against any opponent off a missed free throw.

The point is, I wouldn’t worry about offensive rebounding numbers in games where our offense is playing well and we’re scoring points. It’s much better to shoot a high percentage and not worry about getting any offensive rebounds. The only way we’re going to know how good we are at hitting and defending the offensive glass is to get into the Big East season where we’ll play close games against teams with equally athletic players and the shooting percentages start to even out. That’s when those numbers matter.

Also, there’s nothing particularly wrong with being +3.25. That’s decent.

For the record, we outrebounded Wichita State 43-29; were outrebounded by OK St 29-21; and outrebounded Drexel 44-36. I think turnovers lost us all those games, not the glass.


2 Responses to “the offensive rebounding illusion”

  1. OrangeRay said

    Thanks for articulating well a logical “problem” I’ve always had with the value of offensive rebounds, and rebounds in general. Offensive rebounds are indeed valuable; they give your team a second chance to score, though really, no more valuable than a defensive rebound which gives you the same extra opportunity (you’re just farther from your own hoop!).

    I’ve always been more interested in how many offensive rebounds we have given up in a game. If we’re holding the other team to a low shooting percentage, but giving them a ton of second chances on offensive rebounds, then our defense is not doing its job. Holding your opponent to a low shooting percentage AND limiting their offensive rebounds is an excellent recipe for winning!

    Good job!

  2. […] while back we had a mini-debate about the relative significance of offensive rebounding statistics. The game today against St Johns was a counter point to the example I gave back in December. This […]

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