Sunday, March 25, 2007

A question that I hear now and then about hot-hand research is whether a team's or an individual's run of success in one aspect of a game tends to be accompanied by success in other aspects. For the North Carolina Tar Heels, today's overtime loss to Georgetown in the final of the men's NCAA East Regional suggests can that different facets of basketball performance can actually operate in inverse fashion to each other.

UNC's field-goal shooting imploded in the second half and into the overtime period. Quoting from the above-linked game article:

Georgetown overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half, then ripped off 14 straight points in overtime to stun the top-seeded Tar Heels 96-84...

[The Hoyas] were helped by an amazing collapse from Carolina (31-7), which made only one of 23 field goal attempts, including its first 12 in overtime, over a 15-minute span after seemingly have [sic] the game in hand.

Yet, concurrent with their second-half slump on field-goal attempts, the Tar Heels hit a perfect 12-for-12 on free throws in the second half (not counting overtime), as shown on this play-by-play sheet.


Talking about clutch second-half free-throw shooting, Ohio State made each and every one of its last 20 attempts from the line in finishing off Memphis Saturday in the final of the men's South Regional (play-by-play sheet). Ordinarily, 20 straight made free throws would be a nice accomplishment, but not a blockbuster -- in January 2005, Wake Forest made 50 straight -- but the pressure of trying to make the Final Four raises the Buckeyes' impressiveness quotient in my mind.

From an Ohio State press release, these were the Buckeye players' FT percentages before the Memphis game (rearranged by me to go from highest to lowest, with the players who shot during the "Streak from the Stripe" denoted, naturally, in red).

Butler, Jamar...... .837
Lewis, Ron......... .762
Harris, Ivan........ .750
Lighty, David...... .688
Hunter, Othello.... .683
Conley Jr., Mike... .672
Cook, Daequan..... .667
Oden, Greg......... .640
Terwilliger, Matt... .621
[Two players, with only two attempts between them, are excluded from this list.]

The distribution of shots among the participating players was quite even, with each of them going to the stripe four times, except for Lewis (6) and Lighty (2). The Buckeyes' prior team FT%, weighted for number of shots during the streak, is thus:

4(.837) + 6(.762) + 2(.688) + 4(.672) + 4 (.667) = 14.652, divided by 20 = .733.

.733 raised to the 20th power then = .002.

Ohio State's perfect 20-of-20 from the stripe to close out the game is thus roughly a 1-in-500 phenomenon!

No comments: