Plus/minus analysis for analytics-friendly Penn basketball

Utilizing the box score and play-by-play from Penn’s matchups with Robert Morris and Central Connecticut State, this post uses unofficial plus-minus numbers for the Quakers in their first two games this season, both wins at home. Keep in mind that these numbers are a short sample size and do not yet include Penn’s win at Delaware State Tuesday.

Steve Donahue has made much of the fact that he is an analytics-friendly coach, emphasizing to his players that they seek high-percentage shots in the paint first and foremost before subsequently trying for three-pointers if they cannot get off layups. He has also said that he likes to go 10 deep in the first half, using as much of his bench as he can.

That means a lot of lineups for a coach who relies on a lot of analytics, which merits some further analysis of our own. We already established that Penn’s worst lineup against Central Connecticut State was also its most used lineup, as the starting lineup of Jake Silpe-Antonio Woods-Matt Howard-Sam Jones-Darien Nelson-Henry posted a -11 rating in 11:49 together on the court. Donahue used 19 different lineup combinations with 14 different players in that game.

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Crunching the numbers: Penn-CCSU plus/minus

Utilizing the box score and play-by-play from Penn’s matchup with Central Connecticut State, this post uses unofficial plus-minus numbers for the Quakers in their 77-61 win. Keep in mind that these numbers are a very short sample size.

While Sam Jones put on a show against Central Connecticut State by going 5-for-9 from three-point range http://wp.me/p5jSrX-1QV, he wasn’t the only Penn player to post strong plus-minus numbers. Of the 10 players to get three minutes or more of playing time, seven posted positive plus-minus numbers, including a game-high +23 from Darnell Foreman.

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Steve Donahue: The Reconstructionist

Does this look like a man ready to turn around Penn basketball? Why yes, yes it does.
Does this look like a man ready to turn around Penn basketball? Why yes, yes he does.

It is ironic that Steve Donahue has become our new head coach.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with the choice.  After all, this has to be his dream job. A Philly guy with Quaker DNA who has a deep respect, if not love, for the hoop traditions of the city, returns as leader to the campus that once nurtured his coaching skills as a young assistant.  In fact, he was so enamored with his new position that in his introductory press conference he said, “This place is one that has everything I ever wanted in an institution.  I am a Big 5 coach. There are only five of us. To imagine that I am one of them, at this institution, is just incredible.”

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The case for Jerome Allen

(Laurence Kesterson/AP)
(Laurence Kesterson/AP)

For the next three weeks, there will be no shortage of people calling for Jerome Allen to be fired and replaced as Penn basketball’s head coach. The reasoning is simple: With Allen at the helm over the past five and a half seasons, the Quakers have gone 63-99 and appear on their way to another below .500 season along with a third straight bottom half of the Ivy League finish.

But no matter the reasons his many detractors will provide for his ouster, there are definitely reasons to keep Allen aboard for next season. The following isn’t an opinion piece advocating for Allen but simply lays out the main factors Athletic Director Grace Calhoun will have to look into before making her final decision after the season.

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Q&A with Daily Pennsylvanian Senior Sports Editor Steven Tydings

The Daily Pennsylvanian’s annual Penn Basketball Supplement is out today, and I encourage you to check it out, not because I’m a DP alum but because it’s a very thorough, insightful supplement. In fact, there are some genuine nuggets in the DP’s supplement, including Tony Hicks’s reasoning for changing his jersey number from ‘1’ to ’11’ this season – “It was kind of egotistical, and I just wanted to get away from that” – and the team’s reaction to being projected to finish seventh in the Ivy League – “We break huddles; we say: ‘Seven.’ We commit bad plays during practice on offense or defense; sometimes coaches will say ‘Seven.’”

So optimism abounds for Penn basketball in spite of last season’s 8-20 finish, but how’s the team looking up close and personal right now? I reached out to my successor as Daily Pennsylvanian senior sports editor, Steven Tydings, for an inside look at the Quakers.

Read moreQ&A with Daily Pennsylvanian Senior Sports Editor Steven Tydings

Penn Roster Preview – 2014-15 Edition

Now or never season for Jerome Allen? Now or never season for Jerome Allen.

That being said, this is a very young roster as seven of Penn’s top 10 scorers from last season are gone, which means that Penn’s nonconference play may not be as telling as it was a year ago when it was clear very early on – like, the season opener – that the Quakers were in trouble. This roster needs time to gel, and it will have to gel before the program starts stringing together wins with any consistency. So it’ll be a while before we can properly evaluate what pieces Allen is working with here.

Read morePenn Roster Preview – 2014-15 Edition