Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why Frazee Plays at Liberty...

Last week I speculated why a player as strong as Megan Frazee chose to play for a smaller school like Liberty rather than a big name program. The guys at WNBA DraftNet have found the answer in an ESPN special from last season.

Go see the video yourself...

My first guess was right on target. Despite being heavily recruited by Ohio State, Megan chose to play four more years with her triplet sisters who also play for the Liberty. I hope scouts still take notice of her skills though, she could be a real steal for someone in the draft if they fail to do so.

Center Prospects

I finally get around to the last position on my prospect list. On a side note, I am also doing analysis for WNBAdraftnet's college prospects each week. You can track how the various WNBA prospects from the NCAA 2009 senior class are doing by the numbers each week at that site. Today's top center prospect vaulted to the top of the class in this second week of action.

Center Prospects
Courtney Paris
Oklahoma, 6'4"
Courtney is a formidable post player with size to match her height. She also knows how to use that size on the low block. She is near the top of the list for shooting/scoring for centers (FL:59%, eFG: 56%, TS: 57%), is right where we expect a star for usage (25%), and second on the list for BoxScore (7.08). She assists on 57% of her possessions and only the turns the ball over on 7% of them. She is simply a standout on the boards at both end of the floor. She grabs 24% of available defensive rebounds for her team, 15% of available offensive rebounds and averages 18 rebounds per 40 minutes. No one else comes even close. Her 81.59 offensive rating is not all that exciting, but I suspect it is representative of the pace at which Oklahoma plays given her sister Ashley offers the same rating. Her performance combines with a solid team RPI to give her the second best adjusted individual rating and the top adjusted WinScore of my center prospects. No one else is within 40% of her WinScore. The numbers back up the consensus number 1 draft pick predictions by the media. Courtney has a solid future in the WNBA.

Robyn Fairbanks
Utah Valley State, 6'1"
Sadly, here is where numbers do not tell the whole story. Robyn puts up fantastic numbers, but her team is not even a member of any particular conference. Her height makes her an undersized PF or a SF in the pros, and I don't know that she can play the three with enough speed/athleticism to make that work. She could be a 6th man candidate along the lines of Plenette Pierson if she were drafted into the right system. Robyn is a strong shooter (FL: 58%, eFG: 60%, TS: 63%) who is heavily used by her team (34.43 Usage). She has a decent BoxScore rating (5.11) and an excellent assist to turnover ratio. She assists on 63% of her possessions while only turning the ball over on 6% of them. She is an above average rebounder despite her size disadvantage (DR: 16%, OR: 8%, R/40: 14). She has the second best offensive rating of any center on my list, and the second best overall individual rating. Her RPI adjusted individual rating is in the top 5 despite playing for a small school in the middle of nowhere, and she has the second best adjusted WinScore of any center prospect.

Traci Edwards
UW Milwaukee, 6'2"
Center prospects do not come tall this season, and the best numbers producers are coming from smaller schools. Traci is the top shooter on my list (FL: 59%, eFG:60%, TS: 67%). She has a high Usage at 28.32 indicating her importance to her team. She has a good BoxScore at 6.37 and is a strong passing option in the post (AR: 67%, TOR:8%). She is the second best rebounder available grabbing 18% of the defensive rebounds, 10% of the offensive rebounds and averaging 12 rebounds per 40 minutes. She has a solid offensive rating of 93.62 and the best individual rating because of her balanced offensive/defensive stats and efficiency. Her team's low RPI drop her to the middle of the pack for adjusted individual rating and fourth for adjusted WinScore.

Chante Black
Duke, 6'4
Chante and Courtney are the best of the true bigs available. Chante also comes from a solid program. This should combine with her strong numbers to vault her into the WNBA next year. Chante is a strong shooter/score (FL: 56%, eFG: 52%, TS: 58%) but only has a 23% usage rate. Her BoxScore is an average 5.47 but her assist/turnover ratios are decent (AR: 58%, TOR: 9%). She is also a decent rebounder (DR: 11%, OR: 7%, R/40: 11). She has a poor offensive rating of 79.41 but a strong individual rating indicating her defensive value on a defensive oriented team. Her team's strong RPI vault her towards the top of the adjusted individual rating and adjusted WinScores.

Kia Vaughn
Rutgers, 6'4"
Kia is another tall player with decent numbers. She has a low floor percentage (49%) which indicates that while she shoots well (averaging 55% in each of the other shooting categories) she is not a clutch player. She has a barely above average usage of 21.25 (20% is average) which indicates either she is not critical to team success, has a really strong backup, or Coach Stringer prefers to manage her minutes tightly. Her assist and turnover ratios are strong (AR: 55%, TOR:6%) and she appears to rebound well (DR: 15%, OR: 9%, R/40: 11). Her offensive rating is a low 79.36 which is representative of the Rutgers style of play. Her team's solid RPI (hey they made it to the NCCA final last season) keep her adjusted individual and adjusted WinScores in the top five.

Honorable Mentions:
Nadia Parker (USC, 6'3"), Devanei Hampton (California, 6'3"), Kaitlin Sowinski (Sacred Heart, 6'4"), Aisha Mohammed (Virginia, 6'3")

Tall Players I Wish Were a Little Better:
Megan Skouby (Iowa, 6'6"), Amber Sprague (San Diego, 6'5")

Remaining Prospects:
Lade Akande, Jenna Green, Kemie Nkele, Jessica Adair, Shawn Goff (injured) Sybil Dosty, Lauren Lacey

Friday, November 21, 2008

Power Forward Prospects

Istanbul has been great, though today is the first day with sunshine, and my innovation suite is empty as people head out to bask in the sun.

Ashley Walker
California, 6'1"
I really prefer my forwards to be taller, but Ashely led the pack of PF's last season for shooting efficiency (FL:57%, eFG:51%, TS: 57%), BoxScores (8.24), rebounding (DR:14%, OR:11%, R/40:12), adjusted individual rating (61.94) and adjusted WinScore (6.54). Her ability to translate to the pros may rely on her size and strength to play as an undersized post or her athletic ability and outside shot to slide to the perimeter as a decent sized small forward.

Lindsay Wysdom-Hilton
Purdue 6'2"
Lindsay offers a little more height, solid shooting (FL:53%, eFG:56%, TS:57%) BoxScore (7.95), rebounding (OR:8%, DR:10%, R/40:10), adjusted individual rating (54.91) and adjusted WinScore (6.34). Like Walker, she has a fairly low offensive rating (76.25) which is likely due to the style of play at Purdue. Additionally, her usage rating is only 24%, which is a bit low for a player to break the first round in the draft.

Devanei Hampton
California, 6'3"
Hampton has the size to play the post in the pros, but her shooting efficiency is low for a post (averaging in the low 40's). Her usage is very high, at 34%, which means that California depends on her presence in the post to succeed, even more than the more efficient Walker. Her low assist ratio (45%) may indicate that the ball rarely leaves her hand once she gets it, or that she does not do a good job at finding open shooters when double teamed, but her solid turnover ratio (6%) means she isn't making mistakes with the ball. She is a decent defensive rebounder (11% of available defensive rebounds) but below average on the offensive end of the floor. She also offered the lowest BoxScore, adjusted individual rating and WinScore of my top prospects at this position. I suspect that Hampton is a defensive player that could be a good complement in the post to a more offensive minded player like Sophia Young, Lauren Jackson or Tina Thompson.

Candyce Bingham
Louisville, 6'1"
Bingham is a better shooter than Hampton, and offers an average BoxScore rating. She has a decent assist ratio (assisting on 56% of her possesions to 16% turnovers). From a rebounding perspective she does well at both ends (DR:11%, OR:9%, R/40:10). She offers the second best offensive rating (85.59) of my top five PF, and decent adjusted BoxScores (4.69), adjusted individual rating (59.95) and adjusted WinScore (5.37).

Marshae Dotson
Florida, 5'11
Dotson's height means she will have to play the three in the pros or be very overmatched. I think this will prevent her game from translating to the pros in the end. She does look good by the numbers however, as the second best overall offensive rated power forward (98.57). She is a solid shooter (FL:53%, eFG:53%, TS:58%) and rebounder (DR:11%, OR:9%, R/40:12).

Honorable Mentions: Kelsey Griffin (Nebraska), Lade Akande (Butler), Kemie Nkele (UC Riverside), Star Allen (Ohio State, and Ashley Paris (Oklahoma).

Remaining Prospects: Shawn Goff, Demetress Adams, Lauren Lacey, Whitney Thomas, Amber Jackson, Rachel Allison, Marlies Gipson

Innovation for Women's Sports

I received a press release this week sharing what looks to be a promising program sponsored by Nike and Ashoka's Changemakers. They are soliciting community participation to discover new and innovative approaches to breaking down barriers faced by women globally. They have launched their new program sports related program at http://www.changemakers.net/womeninsport.

“Nike understands the transformative power of sport and we know there are social innovators around the world doing amazing work in this area,” states Nike “Let Me Play” Global Director, Maria Bobenreith. “Through the Nike Game Changers competition we are providing an online platform to form a community of game changers and showcase their ideas and innovations around empowering women through sport.”

I run an innovation program at my company, so I am particularly impressed with their decision to form an online community to explore innovation through sports. As a "niche" sport community, women's basketball fandom thrives better online than it does through any other medium. I applaud the forward thinking approach and encourage all you brilliant WNBA and NCAA fans out there to participate in their program and help uncover the next great advances that sports can offer for women around the world.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Getting to the good stuff, SF Prospects

I leave for Istanbul tomorrow, and though I would love to see Barbara Turner play while I am there, realisticly, I am booked all day and night while I am there. This also means I may not post my PF and Center lists until I get back.

Megan Frazee
Liberty, 6'3"
The Liberty list Megan as a G/F, but at 6'3, she is taller than some of the center prospects this year, and I will place her at the perimeter forward position rather than the guard spot. My first question is why such a versatile player (to play guard successfully at this height, she MUST be versatile) is playing for such a small school (They are ranked 315 this pre season though they ended last season at 21) ? She is a triplet and both her sisters also play on the Liberty team. Perhaps she chose to stay and play with her sisters for four more years over playing a lesser role in a major program, or perhaps she was attracted the school's evangelical roots (Rev. Jerry Fallwell was the founder). Anyway, Megan was tops overall on my overall list, so she was going to go first on whatever list I put her on, regardless. Frazee appears to be an excellent shooter (FL:57%, eFG:53%, TS: 60%) and is heavily used by her team at 30% Usage. She has a great assist ratio (60%) and solid turnover ratio (13%). She has the best BoxScores rating of the group and is a great rebounder for her team, averaging 13 rebounds per 40 minutes and grabbing 15% of the available defensive rebounds and 10% of the offensive ones. She doesn't have a great offensive rating (this could be team pace related) but her RPI adjusted Individual Rating and WinScore are top of the pack.

Angel McCoughtry
Louisville, 6'1"
Angel is another solid shooter with some height at the small forward position. She has a 36% usage rating which indicates she is more important to the success of her team than any of the other players reviewed are to their teams. She has a strong BoxScores rating, a very good assist to turnover ratio and is also a great rebounder for a perimeter player. She pulled down 15% of the available defensive rebounds, 9% of the offensive ones and averaged 11 rebounds per 40 minutes. She offers a better offensive rating than Frazee, but her overall Individual Rating is more down to earth. Her adjusted overall WinScore is second only to Frazee, however.

Danielle Gant
Texas A&M, 5'11"
Danielle is a decent shooter with a good assist to turnover rating, but she is very small for a forward. She is a decent rebounder (DR:10%, OR:10%, R40:9) despite her height indicating either a bulk or desire greater than her competition. Her adjusted individual rating is solid as is her adjusted WinScore.

Marissa Coleman
Maryland, 6'1"
Kristi Toliver has senior help this season in Coleman. Marissa appears to be a solid scorer/shooter but her usage is low for a prospect at 23%. She does offer a strong BoxScores rating and decent rebounding, but it is her RPI adjusted Individual and WinScore ratings that put her this high on my list.

Laura Kurz
Villanova, 6'1"
Laura has decent shooting numbers, but her 47% floor percentage tells me she is not the most effective scorer on her team. She has excellent assist/turnover numbers and decent rebounding numbers, but it is her strong (103.30) offensive rating that gets her into my top five.

Honorable Mention: Rashanda McCants (North Carolina), DeWanna Bonner (Auburn) and Toni Thomas (Cal Fullerton)

The Rest of My Prospects: Jernisha Cann (IUPI), Lyndra Littles (Virginia), Dominc Seals (Texas Tech), Lindsay Schrader (Notre Dame), Antelia Parrish (George Washington), Dominique Duck (Western Kentucky)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

On to the SG's

Jhasmin Player
Baylor, 5'10"
Defensively, I like my two guards with a little more height, but I found the shooting guard ranks to be a little thin in this draft. Jhasmin will have much to prove after ACL surgery last February when she tore her ACL and sprained her MCL. She is the star of her team and one of the best shooters on my list (FL: 55%, eFG:54%, TS:58%). Her assist and turnover ratios are decent, assisting on 58% of her possessions and turning the ball over on 22%. She is a decent rebounder for a guard averaging just under 8 rebounds per 40 minutes. Baylor's strong RPI puts her at the top of my adjusted Individual Rating and second for adjusted WinScore. Due to her injury, her usage is below average for last season.

Sade Logan
Robert Morris, 6'0"
Sade appears to shoot well with eFG and TS percentages in the mid fifties, but her floor percentage is only 48% which indicates she doesn't score as often as I might like when actually trying to score. Her usage is strong at 32%, with a solid BoxScore, excellent ball handling (56% assist ratio to 4% turnover ratio), and decent rebounding for a guard. The low RPI for her team hurts her adjusted ratings.

Mandy Morales
Montana, 5'9"
Another short guard who shoots really well (FL: 54%, eFG:54%, TS: 60%). She assisted on 60% of her possessions and turned the ball over on 24% of them. She is a decent rebounder at 6 rebounds per 40 minutes, but her decent adjusted Individual Rating and adjusted WinScore keep her near the top of my list.

Krystal Ellis
Marquette, 5'9"
There are a lot of shorter guards in this draft. Krystal is not a great shooter, with only her true shooting percentage breaking 50%. She may be able to translate to a point guard in the W given her low 14% turnover ratio. She is essentially average in the rest of her categories.

Chandrea Jones
Syracuse, 5'9"
Have I mentioned that I am not thrilled with the shooting guard prospects in this draft? Chandrea is another average shooter with a low turnover ratio. She is the best rebounding guard on my list, pulling down 11% of the available defensive rebounds, 9% of the available offensive rebounds and averaging almost 11 rebounds per 40 minutes.

Honorable Mention: Morgan Warburton (Utah), Shantia Grace (South Florida), Maggie Dwyer (Missouri State), Alexis Gray-Lawson (California) and Tiera DeLaHoussaye (Western Michigan.

The Rest of the Candidates: Shavonte Zellous, Brittany Cook, Jasmine Young, Emily Fox, Amber Bland, LaCoya Terry, Juliann Viani, Rachel Porath, Erin Kerner, Heather Ezell, Niki McCoy, Mara Freshour, Tasha Harris, Takia Starks, Antelia Parrish, Jessica Morrow, Abby Waner, Porchia Green.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My top senior PG prospects...

Kristi Toliver
Maryland, 5'8"
Kristi has a decent shooting rating with 50% floor, 53% eFG and 59% true shooting percentages. She has the second highest usage percentage of the point guards at just under 26% which flags her as a star for her team. She has a decent assist ratio (59%) but a higher turnover ratio (28%) than I generally like in a PG and her offensive rating is next to last on my list. However, her team's high RPI earns her tops for adjusted individual rating and she tops the BoxScores for point guards as well.

Kristi Cirone
Illinois State, 5'8"
This Kristi took the overall shooting prize among point guards with a 56% floor, 56% eFG and 61% true shooting percentage result. She is above average at 22% usage, but any player under consideration better be above average on their team. Cirone is second to Toliver on BoxScore, has a strong assist ratio (61%) with a turnover ration of 25%. Her offensive rating is not spectacular but she has strong RPI adjusted Individual Rating and WinScore rating.

Shalee Lehning
Kansas State, 5'9"
Shalee is right behind Cirone in the shooting arena but only has an average usage of 20%. She meets Cirone on her assist ratio but has the worst turnover ratio of the bunch at 33%. She is a superior rebounder, garnering 16% of the available defensive rebounds for her team and averaging 9 rebounds per 40 minutes. Her team's strong RPI puts her at the top for adjusted WinScore and Individual Rating.

Renee Montgomery
Connecticut, 5'7"
ESPN has her as their top PG, and perhaps she will shine this season, though with Maya Moore on the floor she will never be the star of this great team. Statistically, last season, she offered the lowest shooting score among point guards I looked at. She has a reasonable assist ratio of 50% but a solid 20% turnover ratio. Her great team RPI puts her near the top on adjusted Individual Rating.

Brianne O'Rourke
Penn State, 5'6"
Perhaps too small for the WNBA (though Bobbitt did OK last season), Renee was average in the scoring category, solid in assist ratio (52%) but she must be an excellent ballhandler, turning the ball over on only 8% of her possessions. Also, somehow, despite her height, she managed to be the second best rebounding PG with 13% of her team's available defensive rebounds and averaging 7.5 rebounds per 40 minutes. She had the best offensive rating of all the point guards I looked at by far (110.50), but her team's low RPI indicates her opponents were not as strong as other players on this list.

Honorable Mentions: Amber Guffey (Murray State), Shalee Brooks (Florida)
The rest of the candidates: Briann January, Camille LeNoir, Kristi Smith and Dellana Criner.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Links and Stuff

Jayda Evans has stretched her wings to encompass Husky basketball. Check out her renamed blog (hmmmm...she is stealing the name of the top women's bb blog on the net...).

Also, the Women's Sports Foundation (a worthy program founded by Billie Jean King back when I was just out of diapers) would like to remind you that even with Title IX in place, your daughters may need your help to ensure they get the athletic opportunities they deserve. They have an informational page and a quiz set up for you to learn more and get involved.

Just like the election of Barack Obama to the top job in the nation reminded us what Opportunity can lead to for the children of this nation, I am reminded each time I watch an NCAA or WNBA game of the importance of the Opportunity provided by the passage of Title IX. I may not be a woman, nor do I have daughters, but my life and the life of my two boys is richer because of the presence of the WNBA in my city, and that would never have been possible without Title IX. This is not only from the players and coaches aspect, but also the fact that the four women who kept the team here in this city were products of Title IX as well.

My current list of Seniors...

I have tweaked my analysis a bit.

I used the following process to analyze the players I wanted to watch this season:

I took a list of prospects and ranked the top 25 in the following categories:

Shooting: 1/3 Floor %+ 1/3 Effective Field Goal %+ 1/3 True Shooting %

Rebounding: 1/3 Defensive Rebounding Percentage + 1/3 Offensive Rebounding % + 1/3 Rebounds per 40 minutes

Usage Percentage: Estimate of the percentage of team plays a player uses while on the court.

Adjusted WINSCORE: I took David Berri's WINSCORE rating and adjusted it for RPI.

BoxScores: An estimate of player impact developed by David Sparks.

Offensive Rating: I use Dean Olliver's formula for determing a players points per 100 possessions.

Adjusted Indvidual Rating: I use RPI to adjust the Individual Rating formula I use on this site (borrowed liberally from Kevin Pelton.)

Each player is given a score equal to their rank in each statistic as long as the crack the top 25 for that stat. I group the shooting stats and then the rebounding stats to reduce the overall weight of those categories on the total score. The total score for each player is then adjusted by the RPI of their school (using 2007-2008 stats and RPI). For players that sat out 2007-2008 I use their 2006-2007 statistics.

Note that this analysis does not really identify the top 25 seniors in college basketball. Players statistics can be inflated by a player's conference or by the talent of their particular position within a conference. I have some remarkable mid-market players on my list that may not translate to the pros from a personal scouting perspective because of their height (post players are generally MUCH smaller in college), athleticism (much more important in the pros) and other factors as well. The list below reflects statistically INTERESTING players that I want to see play this season.

Megan Frazee
Megan is a 6'3" G/F for the Liberty. She has a strong shooting score ~57% across the three categories I measure. She gets to the line quite a bit and shoots 10th in the nation from the line. While she doesn't shoot a lot of three pointers, she shoots about 35%. She is a solid rebounder, likely from her height advantage. She has a hig Usage Percentage, using around 30% of her team's possessions. Her Rebounding, adjusted Winscore, Boxscores and adjusted Individual Rating push her to the top of the list.

Courtney Paris
Courtney is virtually everyone's #1 pick in the draft this year. She is a 6'4" center who has dominated her conference. Her low post game leads to strong floor percentages and effective field goal percentages. She is the best rebounder on my list by miles. Her adjusted Boxscores, Winscore, Rebounding, and adjusted Indvidual Rating are key to her place on this list.

Angel McCoughtry
Angel is a 6'1" small forward and a solid thief. She has the best steals numbers of the more than 80 players I looked at. She is not a great shooter, but is a strong rebounder, and her solid Usage %, BoxScores and adjusted Winscore lift her to third on my list.

Robyn Fairbanks
Utah Valley State
Robyn put up fantastic numbers, unfortunately, 6'1" is simply too small for a professional center or even a power forward. She appears to be a solid shooter and rebounder, so if she has the athleticism and rebounding, she could be a small forward in the W or an undersized power forward. She is one of the best shooters on the list, and a top notch defensive rebounder. Shooting, Rebounding, Usage % and adjusted WinScore are her strongest areas.

Ashley Walker
Ashley is an undersized PF for the WNBA at 6'1". She has a great Floor % and is a fantastic offensive rebounder. She had the best BoxScores rating of my prospect list, with a strong adjusted WinScore, decent rebounding and adjusted Individual ratings.

Danielle Gant
Texas A&M
Danielle is a 5'11" small forward with strong offensive rebounding and decent shooting skills. Her strength was in her RPI adjusted Indvidual Rating, and WinScores as well as her BoxScores rating.

Traci Edwards
UW Milwaukee
Traci is another undersized post at 6'2". She has the shooting numbers and rebounding numbers to play the power forward position in the WNBA off the bench. Her RPI adjusted WinScore and Individual Rating, combine with her shooting and rebounding to make my top 10.

Kristi Toliver
Consensus says that the 5'8" Toliver is the best senior point guard, and I agree. Her true shooting percentage, BoxScores and adjusted Individual Rating make her #8 overall. She has a 1.69 assist to turnover ratio, assisting on 59% of her possessions and turning over 28% of them. She is also a decent overall shooter.

Kristi Cirone
Illinois State
This Kristi is another 5'8" guard, but she is a better shooter than Toliver. She has a great adjusted Individual Rating, and shows strong in BoxScores and adjusted WinScore. She has a 2.87 assist to turnover ratio, assisting on 61% of her possessions and turning over the ball on 25% of them.

Marissa Coleman
My second Maryland player is a 6'1" small forward. Marissa is a decent shooter with excellent BoxScores, adjusted Individual Rating and adjusted WinScore.

Laura Kurz, Villanova
Shalee Lehning, Kansas State
Chante Black, Duke
Lindsay Wysdom-Hilton, Purdue
Jhasmin Player, Baylor
Kia Vaughn, Rutgers
Nadia Parker, USC
Devanei Hampton, California
Sade Logan, Robert Morris
Kaitlin Sowinski, Sacred Heart
Mandy Morales, Montana
Renee Montgomery, UCONN
Candyce Bingham, Louisville
Rashanda McCants, North Carolina
DeWanna Bonner, Auburn

Friday, November 07, 2008

Seniors I am watching...

I've been looking at some NCAA seniors to put my college game watch list together. Here are the twenty seniors I will be watching this year...

Fname Lname School/Team Position
Courtney Paris Oklahoma C
Robyn Fairbanks Utah Valley State C
Traci Edwards UW Milwaukee C
Megan Frazee Liberty G/F
Angel McCoughtry Lousiville SF
Ashley Walker California PF/C
Kristi Cirone Illinois State G
Jenna Green UCSB C
Lindsay Wysdom-Hilton Purdue PF
Aisha Mohammed Virginia C
Kristi Toliver Maryland PG
Danielle Gant Texas A&M SF
DeWanna Bonner Auburn SF
Laura Kurz Villanova SF
Brianne O'Rourke Penn State PG
Amber Guffey Murray State PG
Sade Logan Robert Morris G
Tiera DeLaHoussaye Western Michigan G
Mandy Morales Montana G
Shalee Lehning Kansas State PG