There are some statistical categories you don’t want to lead.
Three quickly come to mind.
Missed shots, and the variety of percentages they affect, are closely monitored and apt to undermine confidence, particularly among younger players.
Then there are turnovers, which involve a change in possession and tend to be both expensive and obvious.
Finally, there are personal fouls, a debit that may have no tangible effect on the game’s outcome or may crucially influence player availability and produce easy scoring opportunities for the other team.
Coaches often stress avoidance of fouls. Special approbation is reserved during Duke practices for those who commit a seventh team foul during a scrimmage, sending the opposition to the free throw line for a one-and-one scoring opportunity.
Last season a key strength of a veteran Notre Dame squad coached by Mike Brey was its sparing foul rate, best in the ACC with 15.1 per game. Wake Forest, replete with inexperienced players, was at the other end of the spectrum. Danny Manning’s Demon Deacons were the only league team that broke the 20-foul mark per game, committing 21.0.
Oddly, the teams that averaged the most fouls – Wake, Louisville (19.3), Florida State (19.3), Virginia Tech (19.2) – produced only one of the top 10 players in acquiring fouls, the Hokies’ Zach DeLay.
Four of the six leaders in personals played in the Final Four, notably UNC’s Isaiah Hicks and Syracuse’s DaJuan Coleman. Both used the extended opportunity to flash their speed and profligacy as foulers, best – or worst – among the top 10.
Look for Hicks, a senior, to emerge this year as a major interior force if he cuts down on his fouls and gets to stay in games for extended periods. He’s both an accurate shooter and a solid rebounder.
|HAVING A FOUL BALL|
Individual 2016 ACC Leaders in Personal Fouls
(Returning Players Noted by Asterisk)
|PF||Player, Team||Min||Gs||Min Per PF|
|121||Isaiah Hicks, NC*||723||40||5.97|
|108||BeeJay Anya, NS*||772||33||7.15|
|107||Tonye Jekiri, Mi||993||35||9.28|
|103||Brice Johnson, NC||1121||40||11.08|
|102||DaJuan Coleman, SU*||649||37||6.36|
|101||Tyler Lydon, SU*||1122||37||11.11|
|100||Marshall Plumlee, D||1099||36||10.99|
|100||Zach LeDay, VT*||1078||35||10.78|
|98||Grayson Allen, D*||1317||36||13.44|
|98||Michael Gbinije, SU||1403||37||14.32|