Thursday, February 02, 2006

Terps without McCray

It would be inevitable that stories regarding Maryland being hurt by the absence of Chris McCray would follow the first loss since his academic suspension. It would also be inevitable that these stories would make assumptions that are simply not true. Today a number of the local papers ran stories, in one form or another, about the defense faltering without McCray. Interesting considering Miami, Duke and Wake Forest didn't seem to have any problem scoring at will with McCray still in a Maryland jersey. Let us look at the offensive and defensive ratings for the last 6 games broken up into those with and those without McCray

With McCray
Offensive Rating: 98.5 Defensive Rating: 107.8

Without McCray
Offensive Rating: 113.7 Defensive Rating: 112.9

So the defense has been slightly more porous in McCray's absence, a difference of +5.1 in the rating formula. Part of this can be explained by the fact that both games without McCray (Georgia Tech and Temple) were very physical contests that resulted in lots of foul shots. In any game were many foul shots are taken the defensive ratings for both teams will be inflated. In the last two games opponents shot 83 free throw attempts while in the previous four they had shot 77. Some will argue this demonstrates worse defense, which it might or might not. Also consider that for the last four games that McCray played opponents shot 44% from the field and in the last two games he did not play opponents shot 40.5% from the floor. That 3.5% is nothing to sneeze at since it often amounts to the difference between a solid defensive team and a mediocre one. So when opponents were not getting to the foul line in the last two games the team actually did a better job defending in the half court.

Turning to the offensive end it is clear that the team has been much more productive in spite of the turnover problems since Jones has replaced McCray in the lineup. The rating actually has gone up 15.2 since the last game McCray played in, which is astonishing. A rating in the 90's is fairly poor for a team and would likely put you a the bottom of the ACC, while 113 would put a team near the top of the league and is an excellent number overall.

Also note that while the defense has gotten worse the differential between offensive and defensive rating between the two sets is better since McCray has gone out. I'm not suggesting that the team is better off without Chris McCray since that isn't true, but I am saying that his loss isn't as devastating to the defense, which was fairly mediocre with him, as some would like to claim. From an offensive perspective the team is far, far better off with Jones and Caner-Medley taking more of the shots, which I wouldn't have believed myself even a few weeks ago.

Chris McCray was a player who did many things well(defense, passing), a few poorly(outside shooting) and was excellent at one task (foul shooting). His absence won't effect the Terps like taking away Adam Morrison would have on Gonzaga or removing JJ Redick from Duke. While McCray was good he simply wasn't that kind of player.

1 comment:

irwin robinson said...

Thank you for your percpective and insight