Early Season Evaluation

Forum Forum Lehigh Sports Lehigh Men’s Basketball Early Season Evaluation

This topic contains 7 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by Bison137 Bison137 8 years, 7 months ago.

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    Good time, during exam break, to take an early season evaluation. 3 OOC games left, until the Holiday Break, and then the PL season.

    My barometers of success for Lehigh basketball are as follows:

    1) Play at least .500 basketball in the OOC games
    2) Beat one of the major 3 OOC foes we play (fall back is to give a scare to a top program)
    3) Don’t lose to teams in crappy conferences. I can take a loss to a top small school team (top Ivy team, etc), but not to run of the mill teams from Ivy, Northeast, Metro Atlantic, etc.
    4) Play solid .500+ basketball in the PL, and earn a top 4 seed in PL tournament.
    5) Win PL tournament
    6) Don’t embarrass ourselves in NCAA
    7) Fall back position on 4/5 is play some postseason basketball and perform well

    Going into this season, I was pretty high on our prospects. I thought most of my list was possible, although I didn’t think we would beat Virginia, Syracuse or Purdue (but found solace that we beat 2 of 3 in big games last year and we upgraded our competition). I thought we could win the PL, but I realized that our peak should be next season with TK and AP as seniors and KR as a junior.

    I had the following penciled in as wins:

    Yale (or Columbia) but an Ivy split
    St Francis
    Stony Brook (or Robert Morris) but split there as well

    So I had us at 4-4 at this point, rather than the actual 1-7. Now, we have 3 games left in OOC, and I think we are probably an underdog vs. Stony Brook, and probably a pick ’em in the other 2 games. I have had to temper my early season optimism.

    But, goals should now be win 2 of next 3, and enter PL slate on an upswing. 3 wins would be a great primer, but probably not realistic. I think .500 in the PL is probably not going to happen. I think we are better than Holy Cross, Lafayette, American and Loyola, but behind the others, so I think we finish about 6th in the conference, and probably don’t contend for a PL title this year.

    On the floor, there have not been any bright spots other than KL, in my opinion. Of our seasoned players, I have seen no real progression from TK, KR, JG, or JC. They are at or below career averages. That is also disappointing. Also, the fact that of the new faces, who we thought could see playing time, only KL has shown promise. Nothing from DC, TJ, MH (injury), BA (injury), CS (injury), or JRG.

    Thankfully, the PL doesn’t look very good this season. I don’t see any dominant teams. I think Bucknell is the favorite, with service academies next. And, we have only played twice at home so far, and one loss was to a very good Yale squad. The Ivy league is on a bit of an upswing right now. So, those Columbia and Yale games were tougher than expected, although RMU looks easier than anticipated, even on the road.



    Great recap, 90! I agree with so much of what you said and might only add a few personal thoughts and research findings. First the latter……….

    KenPom sees us finishing in the middle of the PL pack this year at 9-9 and good for 5th. He tabs Army #1 followed closely by BU, Bucky, and Navy. As for the remainder of our OOC schedule, he sees us going 1 & 2 with a 4pt. at home over MSM and close losses to RM and SB.

    Again according to KenPom, the PL is ranked 20th out of 32 NCAA D-1 conferences. Take away our “Big 3” of Syracuse, UVA and Perdue, four of the other seven D-1 opponents have come from lesser conferences (Stony Brook from the AE ranked 24th, and MSM, RM, and SFU form the NE ranked 30th). With that slate of games, I, too, was hoping for a > .500 record before we hit the PL. I do believe, however, we’ll go 2-1 with wins over RM and MSM. SB with an impressive 13 point win over Princeton may be just too much to handle.
    The PL has taken in the chin so far this year – no more so than Lehigh. Here’s how KenPom saw it on Day 1 and here’s how he sees it today. The universe is comprised of 352 teams.

    LU 119 – 220
    BU 123 – 140
    Bucky 151 – 191
    Army 169 – 111
    AU 182 – 265
    Loyola 203 – 268
    LC 237 – 287
    HC 257 – 243
    Navy 268 – 200
    CU 279 – 270

    Finishing in the upper half of the PL, short-staffed and talent-lacking as we appear to be, will be quite a feat. However, I do give us hope and I pin much of my optimism on senior pride. JC, JG, JRG, and DC will probably never suit-up for another game come the middle of March. Call it a hunch, but I do believe that pride and renewed energy will take over. I fully expect JC and JG, in particular, to raise their games in Conference play – both on the defensive and offensive side of the ball. As for the latter, here’s where their shooting percentage sit today as compared to how they did in PL play a year ago.

    JC .342 / .477
    JG .462 / .572

    At 1-7, there’s little else we can do but cheer and remain loyal. Count me in.

    Again, thanks 90 for a great recap.



    I think tomorrow’s game at RMU is our best bet for a D1 win before PL play. On paper, it should be very tight.
    However, my biggest concern is that we haven’t yet played a tight, nip-and-tuck game down the stretch. If this game is tight late in the game, we’re in uncharted territory. We’ll often hear discussion about a team with the intangible “knows how to win” tight games. If there really is such a trait, we can’t really tell if we have it yet. And it’s a road game, so history tells us that the challenge is a little rougher.
    I wish I had access to KenPom’s raw data and tools. I’d be really interested to see if the accepted home-court advantage of roughly 4 points holds true for smaller programs. It makes sense to me in an environment like Cameron or Rupp, but is it real in Stabler or at other small-crowd venues?


    [quote=24332]I think tomorrow’s game at RMU is our best bet for a D1 win before PL play. On paper, it should be very tight. . . .

    I wish I had access to KenPom’s raw data and tools. I’d be really interested to see if the accepted home-court advantage of roughly 4 points holds true for smaller programs. It makes sense to me in an environment like Cameron or Rupp, but is it real in Stabler or at other small-crowd venues?


    1. One issue for RMU, as it has been for LU, is that they have had some injury issues. Tate has missed most of the year and two other starters have missed some games. If they are healthy, they are dangerous. May not be healthy at this point though.

    2. Back in 2008, I did an analysis based on three years of PL data. It indicated that there was a home court edge of about 3.5 points over that period. The advantage clearly isn’t due to the crowd size or noise in most venues. I think it is a combination of the wear and tear of travel – bus rides, hotels, etc – plus being more comfortable with the home shooting background etc

    Just now I looked back at the last two years of PL league games. In 2015 home teams were 54-36 (60%), while in 2014 they went 50-40 (56%). Overall that produces a W-L record of 104-76 (58%) when the expected pct, of course, is 50% if there is no advantage. That is meaningful, but I have forgotten the probability formulas.

    Bucknell is a special case but fwiw Bucknell’s all-time record in league games in Sojka is 93-21 (82%).



    Good stuff, 137. I was digging into this topic a bit last night, and found a couple of interesting things. The first one comes from a site called predictionmachine.com. It’s old-ish, but I suspect it’s likely still pretty applicable. They crunched the numbers for a big data set, 2000-2012, and ranked teams by demonstrated home-court advantage. At least to me, the results are surprising. The top teams are not what I would have expected. I thought we’d see big programs with big, rowdy home crowds. They found the following three attributes to have the best correlation to home courts advantage:
    1. High elevation (wow!)
    2. Extreme tempo (fast or slow)
    3. Average conference teams that still draw sizable crowds

    Homecourt Advantage

    As 137 indicated, Bucknell did have a very good home court advantage as of February 2012 – #97 overall; Lehigh was at #266. For any other data dorks, I found the article very interesting.

    There’s another article that looks like it’s perfectly in line with my interest, written by Ken Pomeroy – but it’s an “ESPN Insider” article. I’ve been ponying up for KenPom for a couple of years now, but I’m not prepared to spring for Insider too (yet). If anybody here is an Insider and interested, you can check this out:

    Myths of Home Court Advantage



    I didn’t think playing at home could be a disadvantage, but looks like for about 20 teams it may be.



    I saw that too – unbelievable! Do their fans distract their own FT shooters??!! Ha!!


    I looked at the Pomeroy article, but unfortunately ESPN no longer shows his list of teams with the biggest home court advantage. He says his research indicates that ” there are four things that give the road team a disadvantage: altitude, travel, unfamiliarity with the surroundings and hostile fans. Based on this study, I also think that’s their order of importance.”

    For the years in his study, the team with the biggest home court advantage was Utah Valley State.

    Since I posted, I looked at four more years of PL league data, and it confirms that there is definitely a significant home court advantage in the PL. For the four years, this is the record of the home teams:

    2013: 33-23
    2012: 31-25
    2011: 32-24
    2010: 38-18

    TOTAL: 134-90

    Combining the above with the 2014-15 results, the overall six-year home court W-L record is 238-166 (59%), as opposed to the expected 50% if there were no home court advantage.

    • This reply was modified 8 years, 7 months ago by Bison137 Bison137.
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