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Barnes' rotations in Tex/Mem game (+/- stat featured)

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Bumped from the diaries. Very interesting look at Texas' season finale. --PB--

Finally I had some free time this weekend to do this.

First I went to the Texas vs Memphis box score/play-by-play. You can use this to check my work.

On Excel, I typed every single rotation Rick Barnes used, the duration of each rotation, and the net points each rotation gained/lost. After figuring out the net points for every rotation, I tabulated the +/- stat for every player. Here is the spreadsheet in a picture version.

Click to enlarge

If anyone wants the actual Excel file I created to play around with it, let me know.

Commentary on the box score after the jump.

The number in () beside the player name is how many minutes they played.

I listed the total plus/minus of the whole game. If you go to the spreadsheet though, you'll also notice that I listed the plus/minus of the players BEFORE we started fouling intentionally. This is when we first put Mooney in there to foul guys. I did this because since Mooney replaced Mason, Mooney and 4 others took the plus/minus hit when Memphis hit their FTs, while Mason didn't take this hit because he's on the bench. This makes Mason's total plus/minus look better than it should be compared to the others.

Lets get down to business. Here are the minutes played and plus/minus of every Texas player in the Memphis game (listed as minutes first, plus/minus last):

Augustin 39, -16
Abrams 38, -20
Mason 35, -9
James 24, -16
Atchley 23, -15
Johnson 16, -3
Pittman 15, -2
Wangmene 3, -3
Chapman 3, +2
Lewis 3, -2
Mooney 1, -6

Before I get into any analysis, realize that the plus/minus isn't a definite measure of a player's capability. Use common sense when extracting information from the spreadsheet. Also, there are flaws to this kind of analysis anyway. For one thing, I didn't take into account the Memphis rotations that were playing against the Texas rotations.

Regardless, here are some observations I, and hopefully you, will conclude from the spreadsheet.

  1. Of our starters, Abrams has the worst plus/minus; Mason has the best plus/minus. This should not be a surprise to anyone who watched the game. I remember a number of you in the game day thread who were commenting that Mason was the only one who showed up. He does so many things to help a team win. As for AJ's plus/minus, this is no surprise either, as Memphis was a horrible matchup for him. Their size, athleticism, and defense means they had a number of players that could completely shadow him and limit his effectiveness.

Conclusion: AJ had no business playing 38 minutes. He was a total liability in this game and a cancer on the court. This reminded me of Mack Brown playing the seniors over the better, younger players. I wish Barnes would've payed more attention to the matchups. In this game, AJ not only should've played less than 30 minutes, he probably should've come off the bench instead.

Looking to next year, I would like AJ to start only if he's a favorable matchup. If we're playing against small guards or bad defensive teams, of course AJ can start. But if we play a Memphis type team next year, I'd rather have Johnson and/or Pittman start. I guess I'd be satisfied with less AJ minutes more than anything. I can't see Barnes benching a senior. Especially if DJ leaves, AJ will be considered "the guy" next year.

I'm just glad that now I have STATS to support my disapproval of too much AJ. I said before the game even started that I would prefer Pittman or Johnson start in place of AJ to matchup with their size, which brings me to...

  1. The rotations that included Johnson, Pittman, and Chapman were great given the final deficit of 18. Also, if you take a look at our 4 rotations that generated a positive plus/minus. (before the fouling stage), they all featured one or a combination of these 3 players. Our best overall rotation of +3 featured Johnson AND Pittman. This rotation was significant, as it was the final 5 minutes of the 1st half. Even though Johnson/Pittman both played just about 15 minutes, and Chapman just 3 minutes, they were playing meaningful minutes. When they were in there, we did not lose much ground at all.

Conclusion: Barnes should have matched up with their size... ALL GAME LONG. This goes back to 1) of AJ's minutes. He doesn't thrive in this type of game. On the other hand, Johnson, Pittman, and Chaps all should've played more minutes, as their size matched up well with Memphis' bigs. Barnes really screwed up on this IMO. I mentioned that our best rotation featured Johnson AND Pittman before halftime. Then at the start of the 2nd half, Barnes goes back to the starting lineup. While we did make a minor comeback initially, that rotation eventually lost us another net 2 points. Not enough Gary, not enough Dexter, and Chapman didn't play at all in the 2nd half.

To wrap up what is probably my biggest diary ever, I will re-state my desire for Abrams to start next year only selectively. Against small teams that don't D up well, AJ can play and thrive. But next year when we run into big teams, Barnes HAS to match up with their size by playing Johnson, Pittman, Hill, Chaps, and Wingman more and way less of AJ. Hopefully next season they will all get more minutes by default. I was really impressed by Johnson in particular in the Memphis game. Like Mason, he didn't look intimidated. He made jumpers and he made his free throws.

Don't think that I'm blaming Barnes for the loss though. I don't think we win this game under any circumstance. However, if we matched up with their size better, I believe we could've made this a competitive game, which was my goal. I didn't expect a win, but I expected to hang in there with them. Instead, they kicked the crap out of us, and Barnes' decision to not matchup with their size and play AJ for almost the entire game was conducive to our pathetic performance.

By the way, before I end this, you should know that you can watch the replay of ANY NCAA tournament game in great quality from this year at this link:

Below is a direct link of the Texas/Memphis game. You can use this to analyze a particular rotation, instead of just relying on the limited +/- statistic. I've given the time on the spreadsheet so you can locate on the video when exactly this rotation is on the court:


EDIT: Link doesn't work, so just use the link right above it and search for the Texas/Memphis game.