Hoops Q&A with John Gasaway: Part II

Monday, November 09 2009 by Ben

John Gasaway is a writer for Basketball Prospectus, a site near and dear to my heart. BP is dedicated to statistical analysis of NBA and College Basketball.  John has a new book coming out College Basketball Prospectus 2009-10: Major-Conference Preview. I encourage everyone to go out, buy a copy, and read it cover to cover.  Twice. 

Mr. Gasaway has been kind enough to do an email interview with Dear Old UVa.  He also gave us so much information that we're covering it in two posts: one exclusively about Tony Bennett and another one looking at specific players.  Many thanks to John for this interview! (Part I is here)

The interview follows after the jump.

Dear Old UVa: Statistically speaking, what is the ceiling for Sylven Landesberg?

JG: Landesberg missed a lot of shots last year but then again he was a freshman on a team where he pretty much had to be the star. That actually describes the freshman year that Manny Harris had at Michigan in 2007-08 pretty well, and last year he improved by leaps and bounds. Virginia fans should hope for the same thing for Landesberg this year. His perimeter shooting was below-average as a freshman but someone who makes 80 percent of their free throws certainly has the ability to make more threes. And the fact that he already draws six fouls for every 40 minutes he plays bodes well. 

DOU: Dear Old UVa favorite Mike Scott, sleeper 3rd team all-ACC pick or dud?

JG: Dud? Perish the thought! Heck, he's one of the top offensive rebounders in the ACC. (Or was. Your new coach doesn't really dig offensive boards. He thinks they jeopardize transition D.) Anyway, definitely a sleeper third team pick. 

DOU: Do you have a vote in the AP poll? If not, would you vote strictly based on efficiency margin (or some sort of schedule strength adjusted version)?

JG: No, I'm not a voter. It seems like the AP repeats what the coaches' poll (USA Today/ESPN) says, or maybe it's vice versa, so there's probably a fair amount of consensus autopilot happening there--as in how long has it been since Team X lost and where did we have Team X ranked last week. One voter isn't going to change that. The good news is this isn't football: Polls don't matter! I'd much rather disguise myself as a busboy and sneak into the conference room where the selection committee meets in March. Now those are some important rankings and decisions.  

DOU: May we take a guess at who wrote the forward to your book?  Is it John Hollinger? Dickie V?

JG: Yes, you may. No, not Hollinger. Not Dickie V.

Think ACC. Uh, more ACC than Vitale. 

DOU: College basketball prospectus is a great book, can you give us one key insight from it that the typical fan would not know?  I especially liked the insight from last year's book about the trade off between 3FGA and turnovers.

JG: (Thanks for the "great book" part.) Last week an assistant coach for a program that's been to the Final Four in the aughts asked me to look at the targets the staff had set for the team this year in the areas of offensive and defensive rebounding. One key insight that I drew upon there and that the typical fan might not know is that every rebound needs an adjective, either "offensive" or "defensive." If you ever see "rebound" wandering around on its own unaccompanied, grab the nearest adjective and slap it on post haste. There is no such thing as "rebound margin" and there never has been.

Some coaches, such as Bennett, choose to go without offensive rebounds almost entirely. So any team's target for offensive rebounding will have to tie in with things like their approach to transition D, how many threes they shoot, etc. Conversely every coach, of course, wants to be good at defensive rebounding. For a target there you just pick a high number and go: Men, let's get to 70 percent of the opponents' misses this year! Two very different balls of wax. 

DOU: Thanks so much John!

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I didn't see the Longwood game, because I don't live in Charlottesville. However, I can provide you with some context for the game from kenpom.com . Offensively, Virginia put up some excellent numbers. Almost 110 points per possession (PPP) would've pitted