There's been much talk around here regarding the Deacon's Jekyll and Hyde dichotomy in home games vs. away games. The history, it seems, speaks for itself: 1-25 in ACC road games under Bzdelik. I don't know if that's Guinness World Record eligible, but it must come close (especially when compared to relative competence at home).
Inspired by the BSD writers' using the "four factor" breakdown, I wanted to dig into the stats a little and, like the bear going over the mountain, see what I could see.
Notes and limitations: all stats are from Team Rankings. I used stats for the 2012-2013 season, since this year is a small sample size made up of wildly divergent teams (playing mostly terrible teams at home and mostly high quality teams away or at neutral sites). I collected the info for this year as well, so if you're curious feel free to ask me how this year so far compares in any category. Finally, keep in mind that there may be a skew towards home performance in this data, because I had to take the whole season which includes the non-con games (which were not as easy as this year, but still included more easy home games than the ACC schedule).
Put on your Grumpy face, and let's begin...
THE BIG OL' CHART
Here's a summary of what I found; we can consider the individual measures a little more in-depth below. The grey bar in each category is the percentile for Wake's overall performance in that category; gold is where we would rank if you only look at our home games, and black is where we would rank if you only look at our away games.
I looked at both Offensive Efficiency (O EFF) and Defensive Efficiency (D EFF), which basically measure a team's points per offensive possession and points allowed per defensive possession.
That pretty much tells the story right there. At home, we were 138th in offensive efficiency and 50th in defensive efficiency (we scored 1 point per possession and allowed only .927 points per possession). On the road, we were 298th in offensive efficiency and 329th in defensive efficiency (scoring .915 points per possession and allowing 1.074 points per possession).
Offensive efficiency is determined by several factors, most importantly the "four factors" that the BSD writers have borrowed from Dean Oliver and explained well here. These are effective field goal percentage (EFF FG%), turnovers per possession (TPP), rebounding percentage (REB%), and free throw rate (FT RATE).
FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE
|Effective Field Goal %|
This is a huge part of the offensive disparity between home and away games. In terms of effective field goal percentage, we're a top 50 squad at home and 300th on the road. It's hard to know what's behind these numbers, but I'll toss out some ideas later in the post.
TURNOVERS PER POSSESSION
|Turnovers Per Possession|
Wake turns the ball over a lot at home, and a little more on the road, but it's not an enormous disparity.
Would you look at that! Last year, the Deacs actually grabbed slightly more rebounds on the road than at home. But again, it's not a huge disparity. Note: the Deacs also had a higher offensive rebounding rate on the road last year than they did at home.
FREE THROW RATE
|Free Throw Rate|
We were one of the top teams in the country getting to the line last year. There was a pretty big disparity between home and away games, with our free throw rate falling from approximately 1/3 at home (4th in the country) to approximately 1/4 on the road (we also shot almost 10% better from the charity stripe last year than we have been so far this year, but that's another can of worms).
OTHER OFFENSIVE STATS
I looked at two more statistics relating to offensive efficiency: effective possession ratio (EFF POSS) and extra scoring chances (X CHANCE).
|Effective Possession Ratio|
Effective Possession Ratio measures how good a team is at getting a scoring opportunity from each possession. It's calculated by [(possessions + offensive rebounds - turnovers) / possessions].
|Extra Scoring Chances|
Extra Scoring Chances is sort of a net turnover margin statistic that incorporates rebounds. A team gets a point for every turnover forced and every offensive rebound, and loses a point for every turnover and opponent's offensive rebound.
Surprisingly, Wake was better on the road in both of these categories last year than they were at home.
There was a clear disparity in offensive efficiency between home and away games last year. However, there was a minimal difference in turnovers, and the team was actually better on the road at rebounding and creating scoring opportunities. There was a moderate drop in the free throw rate on the road, but the biggest factor was effective field goal percentage. It's hard to know where the blame lies for this. Obviously, it's tougher to sink shots on the road because of players' nerves. However, coaching (in the form of either calming those nerves, getting the team pumped up, or drawing up plays for high quality shots) can help mitigate that road effect.
For simplicity, I'll restate the defensive efficiency data from above:
Again, there was a chasm between our home and road performance in this statistic. To get some hints as to what caused this, I looked at two other defensive stats: opponent's effective possession ratio (OPP EFF POSS) and opponent's effective field goal percentage (OPP EFF FG%).
|Opponent's Effective Possession Ratio|
This statistic was almost flat across the board. Our road defense didn't suffer from being significantly worse at denying the other guys scoring opportunities.
|Opponent's Effective Field Goal %|
Instead, this looks like the primary culprit. Just as our offensive road woes can be largely blamed on poor shot selection, our defensive road woes seem largely based on the other teams getting great looks. If our overall opponent field goal percentage was as bad as our road opponent field goal percentage, we'd be 340th out of 347 teams in the country.
CONCLUSION AND FINAL THOUGHTS
The 1-25 record doesn't look like a fluke. The Deacs played significantly worse on the road than they did at home. Still, this isn't a problem across the board. In some areas (rebounding, scoring chances, opponent's scoring chances), Wake actually performed slightly better on the road. The key seems to be field goal percentage on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
I don't know if the players are simply so overwhelmed by being in a hostile environment that they can't execute properly. It's possible that plays a large part, since Bzdelik's three teams at Wake have all been primarily made up of freshman and sophomores. Still, the trend has repeated itself with two noticeably different sets of Wake players (his first two years and the past two years) as well as at Colorado, where he went 1-23 in the Big 12 on the road. At Colorado, his first team had 2 seniors and 1 junior among its top 5 most used players (0-8 Big 12 road record), his second team had 1 senior and 1 junior in its top 5 (0-8 Big 12 road record), and his third team had 1 senior and 2 juniors in its top 5 (1-7 Big 12 road record with a win at Nebraska). At Wake, he's had to make do with the following upperclassmen each year: '10-'11 (Gary Clark, Mescheriakov, Ty Walker), '11-'12 (C.J. Harris, Mescheriakov), '12-'13 (Harris and McKie), and currently McKie and Coron Williams.
I don't know what to make of this. Bz hasn't had the most experienced teams in the country by any means, but I don't know that these teams (particularly some of the Colorado teams) are so inexperienced that inexperience alone can explain a 2-48 conference road record. There are other young teams in the country each year, and I've never heard of any (particularly one which should draw the kind of recruits Wake should) doing so poorly in this category.
Furthermore, I find youth and inexperience to be a less compelling explanation for why we've been so bad defensively on the road. Surely nerves play a part on defense, but I doubt it's as significant as it is on offense. Instead, I feel like our road opponents having such a high effective field goal percentage means that the coach isn't setting up or adjusting the defense properly in road games.
Well, now I'm nice and grumpy. I welcome any comments or criticism!
P.S. I didn't delve into how bad the overall rankings were. This is because I reckon anyone reading this blog knows we were pretty bad last year. The point of this post was to take a closer look at the disparity between home and away performance using a variety of statistical measures. That being said, I included our overall (combined home and away) rankings too (to save anyone interested the trouble), and anyone can of course spout off in the comments on whatever topic they feel inclined to. Keep in mind these are last years numbers, when the team was mostly freshmen. Again, feel free to ask about this year so far in any of the categories, as I've collected that info (I just didn't want to overload the post with relatively meaningless data).
I'll drop the summary chart in one more time in case you want to reference it more easily: