Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Texas Tech Lady Raiders have now missed all 20 of their three-point attempts in their last two games. Tech went 0-of-8 last Saturday at Texas A&M and 0-of-12 last night at home against Nebraska.

Going into the Texas A&M game, Texas Tech was hitting three-pointers at a .338 clip. Subtracting that from 1 yields a .662 miss rate. We then raise .662 to the 20th power, giving us an estimate of .0003 (or 3-in-10,000) as the probability of the Lady Raiders missing all 20 trey attempts in their next two games. (This procedure is akin to raising one-sixth to the second power to determine the probability of a rolling double-sixes on two dice, which is 1/36.)

Tech has not always shot so poorly from behind the arc. In a December win at UCLA, for example, the Lady Raiders made nearly half of their long-distance shots (9-of-19; .474). Further, on two occasions, at home vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (13-23; .565) and in a neutral-site tournament game vs. North Dakota (10-of-18; .556), Tech exceeded 50% on trey attempts.

Here are a few factors to consider in looking at a cold streak like Texas Tech's. First, the rarity of the streak may be exaggerated, given that its dramatic nature drew me into doing a statistical analysis of it, rather than looking at a random cross-section of all teams. Second, one might wonder if a team's poorest outside shooters took a disproportionate number of shots during the drought; that does not seem to be the case as the Lady Raiders' two main outside scoring threats, Jordan Murphree and Ashlee Roberson, took a sizable share of the threes. Third, a scenario that can lead to a lot of missed threes is when a team falls way behind and puts up a lot of desperation shots in an attempt to make up the deficit as quickly as possible. I watched some of the Nebraska game on television and, as the Cornhuskers were opening up a big lead in the first half, I would say the Lady Raiders were putting up some ill-advised treys in an attempt to close the gap.

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