Frank Dehel, a St. Joseph's Prep and Fordham graduate with a masters' degree from St. Joe's, has his own website, dribblehandoff.com. Dehel has done analytics work for the Hawks and for Duke hoops. He tries to go beyond traditional numbers, to figure out why those numbers are what they are.
His recent idea, creating something Dehel calls JumpShotQ, is the quantified value of a team's quality of jump shots, independent of whether the shot goes in or not. He also looks at it from the defensive side of that equation, measuring how contested the jumper was, and where it was shot from, plus if it was a catch-and-shoot, for instance, or off the dribble, which has a higher degree of difficulty.
Maybe the most interesting numbers Dehel found for this season regard the Penn Quakers.
"Penn's ability to take easy jumpers and force difficult ones has been incredible,'' Dehel said.
That's not hyperbole. According to Dehel's data, Penn is third in all of Division I offensively and defensively when it comes to JumpShotQ.
That's not to say Penn makes all those great looks. The Quakers are 134th in D-I in effective field-goal percentage (which weights in three-pointers) and 22nd in D-I in effective field-goal percentage defense.
To me, it all lines up since a big reason Penn has lost only one Ivy League game going into the last weekend of the regular season — in addition to having the best defense in the Ivies — is that Steve Donahue chose to put his best ball players on the court, not solely his best jump shooters. Donahue is big on analytics and believes fully in the modern three-pointers or layups game. But he's got savvy veterans such as Darnell Foreman, Max Rothschild, and Antonio Woods. Those guys have matched with great shooters such as Ryan Betley and Caleb Wood to provide an effective mix at both ends. Dehel's JumpShotQ stats back it up.
Had to look
KenPom.com does a running odds chart of which team is going to win every game, based on the score at a particular time in the contest. For Drexel-Delaware, the percentage odds of Delaware winning (and Drexel losing) hit 98.7 when the Blue Hens took that 53-19 lead late in the first half. With under seven minutes left, Drexel still had only a 3.3 percent chance of winning.
The largest comeback in NCAA Division I history also changed the late narrative of Drexel's season since the Dragons had lost four straight going into the Delaware game and lost the one remaining regular-season game after it. History, however, will remember the comeback more than those other losses.
In that game, it was rebounding. Drexel got more shots because the Dragons got more offensive rebounds. (Not just the other way around.) When a 6-foot-1 guard, Tramaine Isabell, gets 12 rebounds, three at the offensive end, that at least puts a team in position for good things to happen.
Not your imagination
Nick Robinson has been a significant X factor for St. Joseph's. The Hawks sophomore, a big-time contributor lately, has a Ken Pom offensive rating of 103.4, third on the team (among players who get at least 5 percent of minutes) behind Taylor Funk and Shavar Newkirk. The rating is like a QB rating, factoring in all offensive contributions.
The X factor is that Robinson has gone under a 99 rating only once in St. Joe's wins, while has dipped under 99 nine times in losses. There's a little larger variation for him than other Hawks regulars.
Player of the week
C'mon, it's Temple's Steve Leonard, unless you know of anyone else — anywhere, ever — who made the first two three-pointers of a Division I career for the first two baskets of his senior day.
Building of the week
The Palestra went from two crucial Ivy nights for Penn right to Public League finals to Catholic League finals. A lot of hoops and sweaty customers. (Side note: Tell me a father and son who have better Palestra memories now than the Lynn Greers.)
Get there if you can
Amar Stukes, B.J. Johnson, Tony Washington, and Johnnie Shuler deserve applause from La Salle fans as they play their last home game Wednesday night against Dayton. Different kinds of players, but all contributors for the Explorers. One snapshot: Stukes, less than a 30 percent career three-point shooter going into this season, has made 44 percent as a senior. It tells you he never stopped working.
If you want to learn the basics of inside pivot play, watch Villanova's Mary Gedaka. The sophomore from Gloucester Catholic puts on a clinic.