|Player (min)||+/-||+/- per min|
|J. Mason (19)||+1||+0.05|
|A. Bradley (29)||-3||-0.10|
|D. Balbay (19)||-5||-0.26|
|J. Lucas (16)||-7||-0.44|
|J. Hamilton (17)||-9||-0.53|
|D. James (28)||-12||-0.43|
|J. Brown (12)||-14||-1.17|
|G. Johnson (27)||-17||-0.63|
|D. Pittman (15)||-17||-1.13|
A few notes after the jump.
- +/- results: It's never a good thing when your 3rd string players have the best +/- on the team, while your starters have the worst. Ugly results from Dexter Pittman, Gary Johnson, J'Covan Brown, and Damion James. Dogus Balbay and Avery Bradley's numbers weren't bad given the 14 point loss. There's Justin Mason again with a surprisingly high +/- compared to the rest of the starters.
Matt Hill and Clint Chapman: While Rick Barnes is getting criticism for playing 12 players, this game suggests it isn't warranted. In the first half, Barnes played all 12 guys and we went into halftime up 8 points. In the 2nd half, Barnes cut the rotation to 9 players, leaving the Alexis Wangmene/Hill/Chapman trio (combined for 18 minutes in the 1st half - more than Pittman's game total... ugh!) stuck on the bench. What happens? We fold like a tent. While there's no direct relationship to our struggles being related to our offensively-limited big men being on the bench, it's certainly puzzling for Barnes to completely forget about them in the 2nd half, given their positive +/- in the 1st half (obviously I'm pointing to Hill's +11, could've even been higher had he made any of his 4 shots).
As I pointed out in the Kansas State game, KSU really did their 2nd half damage off of our small rotations, with Gary Johnson playing the center position. Looking at the spreadsheet, we see similar results. Texas was leading 52-49 when Barnes decides to sub in James for Pittman, leaving us a rotation of Lucas, Brown, Hamilton, James, and Johnson playing center. After UConn ties the game at 52, Barnes subs in Bradley for Hamilton, so our biggest guy is still Johnson. UConn goes on to score the next 6 points to lead 58-52. This last rotation was also our worst. To summarize, UConn immediately goes on a 9-0 run once Johnson is our biggest man on the court.
It's easy to see how these rotations could've led to failure. It's an incredibly small and awful defensive lineup, and right now this rotation isn't as good offensively as it would be on paper. Just like in the KSU game, these small rotations were destined for disaster. I believe Barnes should NOT have deserted the Wingman/Hill/Chapman trio and have one of these guys playing center at all times throughout the game when Pittman is on the bench. The small lineup might work against a small team like a Texas Tech, but not a big, physical team like UConn. This was a tactical error on Barnes IMO.
- J'Covan Brown: While harsh, I can't disagree with PB's words on Brown in his most recent TBR. He hasn't received nearly the amount of criticism as he deserves, because of the (false) perception that he's been good offensively. His silky smooth moves, early great play in non-conference, and being the only elite free throw shooter on the team gave him the benefit of the doubt, but no more. His defensive intensity was absent - truly a despicable effort, and his +/- per minute being the worst illustrates how useless he was in this game. If any player deserves to lose playing if Barnes wants to reduce his rotation, it should be a player half-assing it on defense and rebounding like J'Covan and Hamilton rather than our backup bigs. Rarely will you be questioning the effort of the Wingman/Hill/Chapman trio, and like I stated above, we need their size because Johnson CANNOT be playing center without expecting trouble.
Guard pairs: Numbers are listed below. What do you notice about the worst three pairs? That's right, J'Covan Brown is in each pair. Bradley, Mason, and Balbay should be getting the majority of the minutes assuming they can stay out of foul trouble. I would still throw Brown and Lucas out there (never together), but have very short leash on them.
Guard pair +/- Bradley, Mason +3 Balbay, Bradley +2 Lucas, Mason +2 Balbay, Mason +1 Brown, Mason 0 Bradley, Lucas -2 Balbay, Brown -5 Bradley, Brown -7 Brown, Lucas -8
Fouls: Balbay was called for his string of fouls, taking him out for essentially the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half. This was definitely a major difference in the game given the terrible play by his backup. It's been well-documented that UConn gets a hefty amount of favoritism from the refs at home more than almost any team in the league - there was even an article on this written about a year ago. It explains why they consistently rank highly in blocked shots.