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  1. #1

    KenPom analyzes whether/when to foul if tied, up 1 or up 2

    KenPom has a piece to fill the summer doldrums that moves past the familiar question whether to foul up 3 to the question whether to foul late if up 2, up 1 or tied. https://kenpom.com/blog/

    The takeway - including a statistical note that I hadn't seen pointed out before, but jibes with my "eye test" instinct, that free-throwers tend to do worse on their first shot than their average:

    We see that the strategy is most viable for teams up 2, especially for underdogs in the single-bonus. As shown with the USF/BYU case, underdogs up 2 are trading only a slight increase in the chance of overtime for a significantly increased chance of winning in regulation when they foul.

    The strategy is also quite useful for underdogs when tied in the single-bonus due to the chance of a poor free-throw shooter missing the first attempt and giving the fouling team the final possession in a tied game. In a tie game, fouling increases oneís chance of winning if the game ends in regulation and reduces the chance of overtime. So thereís a strong underdog effect here since they suffer more than a favorite in an overtime situation relative to ending a game in regulation.

    We should note that when implementing this strategy, itís important to consider that a playerís season-to-date free-throw percentage may not accurately represent his true ability. In particular, players are worse on their first free-throw attempt than their season average. In games involving power conference teams since 2010, players have made 67.4% of their first attempts and 73.1% of their second attempts in two-shot foul situations. Thatís important in the single-bonus situation where the chance of making no free throws is extremely beneficial to the fouling team.

    At any rate, the math is clear. When tied or up 2 on defense and the shot clock is off, teams can benefit from putting a below-average free throw shooter on the line. Especially underdogs in the single-bonus.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Skinker-DeBaliviere, Saint Louis
    Did they factor in whether the foul shooter is Tre Jones?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    6 miles from Heaven, 10 miles from Hell
    Quote Originally Posted by throatybeard View Post
    Did they factor in whether the foul shooter is Tre Jones?
    He only misses second shots. Intentionally.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Raleigh
    Quote Originally Posted by DU82 View Post
    He only misses second shots. Intentionally.
    Worthy of watching again. And again. And again...

    [redacted] them and the horses they rode in on.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Quote Originally Posted by Nugget View Post
    At any rate, the math is clear. When tied or up 2 on defense and the shot clock is off, teams can benefit from putting a below-average free throw shooter on the line. Especially underdogs in the single-bonus.[/I]
    Eek! Can you imagine the public reaction if you're tied, you foul the opponent, the opponent makes at least one FT, and then you lose the game on a last-second shot? The coach would get crucified. Even if the math supports it, a coach would never go down that route.

    Up 2 makes sense to me and is a solid choice (if your name isn't Roy Williams, of course). But tied? Even if the math makes sense, that's insane.
    Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. - Winston Churchill

    President of the "Nolan Smith Should Have His Jersey in The Rafters" Club

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Undisclosed
    Quote Originally Posted by flyingdutchdevil View Post

    Up 2 makes sense to me and is a solid choice (if your name isn't Roy Williams, of course).
    One of the beautiful parts of last season was that Roy lost doing it both ways. And got merciless grief from the IC bleacher bums both times.

    Heh. Rot in Hell, cheaters.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Cary, NC
    The problem with this analysis is that KenPom is using historical data to determine the probabilities of certain events occurring. But that doesnít factor in a.) the strengths/weaknesses of your team as well as your opponentís, or b.) the fact that these decisions were not made randomly, but by coaches who took numerous factors into account, and those factors may not be relevant to your particular situation.

    So it might be that the team at the line only gets an offensive rebound off a missed free throw 25% of the time when looking across all of college basketball. But if youíre facing UNC or a team that you know is a good rebounding team, that changes the equation. Also, itís easy to say ďjust foul the worst free throw shooter on the other teamĒ but obviously the other team knows that you want to do this and so will do everything they can to keep the ball out of his hands. Being at home versus on the road makes an enormous difference in whether you play for overtime, as does your teamís depth/fatigue, foul situation (both player and team counts), pace of play, and dozens of other factors.

    FDD brings up a good point though, which is that the fear of looking foolish is a big motivating factor. Malcolm Gladwell did a study several years ago where he studied penalty kicks in soccer and boiled it all down to shooting left, right, or down the middle. What he found was that statistically the highest probability of scoring would occur from kicking it right down the middle, because the goalie always guesses to one side or the other. However, the embarrassment of kicking it right at the goalie and having it blocked would be so great that no player would ever do this.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Valvano says hi.
    "This is the best of all possible worlds."
    Dr. Pangloss - Candide

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