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Friday, March 18, 2011

Kansas Led NCAA Basketball Division I Teams in Assists During the Regular Season: It's a Team Game and The Team with the Most Assists Usually Wins

Which NCAA Division I basketball team led the nation in average assists per game during the regular season 2010-2011?

The answer is currently 2nd-ranked Kansas: 17.9 assists per game.

We noticed some years back that one of the most important statistics in college basketball besides the final score is the total assists stat.

Basketball is at its core a team game and the team with the most assists usually wins. Of course, a stronger team is likely to have more assists just because of the strength of its players and because it scores more baskets, but a strong team without a good team game will likely lose to an equally strong team -- or even a somewhat weaker team in terms of personnel -- that has a better team game.

Let's take a look at the box score stats of all the NCAA Division I tournament games thus far as an example:
  • Clemson beat UAB 70-52 and led in assists 17-10
  • N.C. Asheville beat AR Little Rock 81-77 in OT but trailed in assists 19-17 (we think AR Little Rock would/should have won this game had their star Solomon Bozeman not fouled out prior to overtime)
  • VCU beat USC 59-46 and led in assists 11-4 (very poor team play at USC)
  • UTSA beat Alabama State 70-61 and led in assists 14-13
  • West Virginia beat Clemson 84-76 and tied in assists 15-15
  • Kentucky beat Princeton 59-57 and led in assists 12-8
  • Butler beat Old Dominion 60-58 and led in assists 11-8
  • Pittsburgh beat N.C. Asheville 74-51 and led in assists 18-9 (sophomore Travon Woodall was in the game for only 23 minutes and had 6 assists (!) but was only 1 for 6 himself on field goals, so let him play but not shoot)
  • Florida beat UCSB 79-51 and led in assists 22-8 (6'10" forward (!) Chandler Parsons had 10 assists)
  • BYU beat Wofford 74-66 and led in assists 14-8 (Jimmer Fredette not only scored 32 points but led all players in assists with 7)
  • Wisconsin beat Belmont 72-58 and led in assists 13-12
  • UCLA, record national champion, beat Michigan State, also a perennial powerhouse when it comes to NCAA tournaments, 78-76, but was lucky to win, trailing in assists 13-20, and winning the rough game only at the free throw line with 30 of 47 foul shots to only 16 of 21 for Michigan State
  • Gonzaga beat St. John's 86-71 and led in assists 20-9
  • Kansas State beat Utah State 73-68 and led in assists 14-10
  • Morehead State beat Louisville 62-61 but trailed in assists 14-11
  • Richmond beat Vanderbilt 69-66 and led in assists 14-12
  • Temple beat Penn State 66-64 but trailed in assists 12-10
  • San Diego State beat Northern Colorado 68-50 and led in assists 11-8
  • Connecticut beat Bucknell 81-52 and led in assists 20-6 (Kemba Walker led all scorers with 18 points AND 12 assists -- that is player dominance)
  • Cincinnati beat Missouri 78-63 but trailed in assists 15-14
In 20 games thus far, the team that led in assists won 14 of those games, tied in assists in 1, and lost 5, and even if a game was lost, the stats were close, except in one game only which was decided by free throws, i.e. where assists and field goals played a secondary role.

So, how useful is this information?

We expect ALL of the teams that won in the Round of 64 but had fewer assists than their opponents to LOSE in the Round of 32 (i.e. UCLA, Morehead State, Temple and Cincinnati).

Similarly, we expect teams with a large dominance of assists to be especially strong in the coming round(s) (i.e. Pittsburgh, Florida, Connecticut), because the number of assists points to their strong TEAM game. Both Gonzaga and BYU also did well in terms of assists but they play each other in the Round of 32 and so one of them must fall. (The big difference for Gonzaga in their recent win streak is 6'4" guard junior Marquise Carter, moved by Coach Mark Few from point to off guard, who is strong defensively, and who scored 24 points against St. John's, and also had 6 assists AND 6 rebounds for the Bulldogs -- that's All-American play. Indeed, Carter was an NJCAA All-American. Ever since Carter was moved into the starting lineup 10 games ago, and has been playing 30 minutes or more per game, Gonzaga has been winning impressively. Early in the season, e.g. in the Bulldogs worst loss, 81-59 to Washington State, Carter was not even in the starting line-up and scored 0 points.)

Logically, if a winning team has only a so-so performance on assists this may indicate that those teams may be over-rated. San Diego State, for example, which was not impressive at all in its game, may be one of those over-rated teams.

Just as a check on the theory, a look at the NIT games thus far shows that the team that led in assists won 12 of 16 games thus far in the tournament, tied in assists in 2, and lost only 2:

NIT Tournament First Round
  • Alabama beat Coastal Carolina 68-44 and led in assists 12-7
  • New Mexico beat UTEP 69-57 and led in assists 16-13 
  • Missouri State beat Murray State 89-76 and tied in assists 16-16
  • Miami of Florida beat Florida Atlantic 85-62 and led in assists 11-6
  • Colorado beat Texas Southern 88-74 and led in assists 19-14
  • California beat Mississippi 77-74 and led in assists 17-11
  • Fairfield beat Colorado State 62-60 and led in assists 14-11
  • Kent State beat St. Mary's 71-70 and trailed in assists 17-13
  • Boston College beat McNeese State 82-64 and led in assists 17-10
  • Northwestern beat Wisconsin-Milwaukee 70-61 and led in assists 17-16
  • Oklahoma State beat Harvard 71-54 but trailed in assists 13-9
  • Washington State beat Long Beach State 85-74 and led in assists 17-12
  • Virginia Tech beat Bethune-Cookman 79-54 and led in assists 21-13
  • Wichita State beat Nebraska 76-49 and led in assists 18-6 (as a Husker alum I can say that the coaching of the Cornhuskers basketball team is badly in need of improvement or change, given that disastrous statistic - the worst in all of the NCAA and NIT games thus far, showing virtually no team game at all. The NU coach blamed the loss on poor shooting, but that is just the tip of the iceberg for a coach who preaches defense but does not seem to understand how to generate team offense).
  • College of Charleston beat Dayton 94-84 and tied in assists 11-11
  • Cleveland State beat Vermont 63-60 and led in assists 16-10

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Sky Earth Native America

Sky Earth Native America 1 :
American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
Volume 1, Edition 2, 266 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Sky Earth Native America 2 :
    American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
    Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
    Volume 2, Edition 2, 262 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Both volumes have the same cover except for the labels "Volume 1" viz. "Volume 2".
    The image on the cover was created using public domain space photos of Earth from NASA.


    Both book volumes contain the following basic book description:
    "Alice Cunningham Fletcher observed in her 1902 publication in the American Anthropologist
    that there is ample evidence that some ancient cultures in Native America, e.g. the Pawnee in Nebraska,
    geographically located their villages according to patterns seen in stars of the heavens.
    See Alice C. Fletcher, Star Cult Among the Pawnee--A Preliminary Report,
    American Anthropologist, 4, 730-736, 1902.
    Ralph N. Buckstaff wrote:
    "These Indians recognized the constellations as we do, also the important stars,
    drawing them according to their magnitude.
    The groups were placed with a great deal of thought and care and show long study.
    ... They were keen observers....
    The Pawnee Indians must have had a knowledge of astronomy comparable to that of the early white men."
    See Ralph N. Buckstaff, Stars and Constellations of a Pawnee Sky Map,
    American Anthropologist, Vol. 29, Nr. 2, April-June 1927, pp. 279-285, 1927.
    In our book, we take these observations one level further
    and show that megalithic sites and petroglyphic rock carving and pictographic rock art in Native America,
    together with mounds and earthworks, were made to represent territorial geographic landmarks
    placed according to the stars of the sky using the ready map of the starry sky
    in the hermetic tradition, "as above, so below".
    That mirror image of the heavens on terrestrial land is the "Sky Earth" of Native America,
    whose "rock stars" are the real stars of the heavens, "immortalized" by rock art petroglyphs, pictographs,
    cave paintings, earthworks and mounds of various kinds (stone, earth, shells) on our Earth.
    These landmarks were placed systematically
    in North America, Central America (Meso-America) and South America
    and can to a large degree be reconstructed as the Sky Earth of Native America."

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