The 2015-16 college basketball season is just around the corner. In honor of the Flyers winning 53 games the last two seasons (and because I couldn’t come up with 2,015 reasons), I’m counting down 53 reasons (in no particular order) to look forward to the season. Follow the blog between now and the season opener against Southeast Missouri State on Nov. 13.
I’ll post links on Twitter (@DavidPJablonski) and on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DavidPatrickJablonski.
No. 52: Flyers at the FT line
At the risk of confusing readers, I mentioned free-throw rate in my Dayton men’s basketball stories often last season. It’s not a stat that shows up in the box score, but the stat helps explain why the Flyers won 27 games last season.
Free-throw rate, according to advanced stats guru Ken Pomeroy, “captures a team’s ability to get to the free-throw line.” It is calculated by dividing free throws attempted by field goals attempted. It’s a way of showing how often a team gets to the line and does not measure how good a team is at making free throws. It is one of the four factors, Pomeroy writes, that “tell you why a team is good or bad when they have or don’t have the ball.”
Dayton ranked fourth in the country last season among the 351 teams in Pomeroy’s ratings in free-throw rate (48.1 percent). The Flyers attempted 846 free throws (23.5 per game), making 68.6 percent. They hadn’t shot that many free throws in a season since 1954-55. They shot 1,755 field goals (48.8 per game), making 46.2 percent.
While the Flyers ranked in the middle of the pack in the A-10 in free-throw percentage, they got to the line more often than any team in the conference. Rhode Island was also strong in free-throw rate, ranking seventh in the nation (47.3).
No one knows the importance of the free-throw rate stat more than Dayton coach Archie Miller. The Flyers ranked No. 1 in the country in the stat for a time in February when he was asked about it.
“That’s exciting to me,” Miller said. “When we got the job here, we would say, ‘What do we want our program to be about?’ The things we would talk about are versatility and the ability to play a certain style on offense that allows you to beat people a number of ways. One of the biggest stats of any offense is how do you get to the line. What’s your rate? I think we get to the line a lot. We’ve been getting to the line regardless of who’s on the floor.”
I imagine that will continue this season, though the Flyers lost their best free-throw shooter (Jordan Sibert) to graduation. In Miller’s four seasons, the Flyers have shot 20.2 free throws per game in 2011-12, 20 in 2012-13 to 22.4 in 2013-14 to 23.5 last season
No Flyer frustrates the fan base more at the line than Kendall Pollard. He made a big jump last season, going from 32.6 percent (15 of 46) at the line as a freshman to 58 percent last season (123 of 212). He fell three free throws short of cracking the top 10 in UD for free throws attempted in a season. He would have scored 22 more points on the season if he had shot the team average of 68.6 percent.
Still, Pollard made up for his lack of accuracy by getting to the line. Only two players in the top 15 in the A-10 in FT accuracy outscored Pollard at the line. One was his teammate Sibert, who shot many free throws and shot them well (145 of 184, 78.8 percent).