The importance of taking care of the basketball

I know I said I wasn't going to be around much, but I really wanted to carve out a few minutes to highlight something for you.

Up until this point, the Cougs' offensive efficiency (what's that?) has been tied almost exclusively to how well they've shot the ball, which is really just an extension of whether Klay Thompson's is scoring efficiently. And, the reality is, if you shoot the ball well, you can survive turnovers -- something the Cougs proved against Mississippi Valley State, Nicholls State and (especially) San Diego.

Note: Average offensive efficiency is around 100; average eFG% (right now) is 48.7; average TO% (right now) is 21.1.

Opponent Off. Eff. eFG% TO%
Mississippi Valley State 128.6 51.6 24.6
Nicholls State 121.0 65.9 24.8
San Diego 137.6 73.2 25.1

But when you combine a lot of turnovers with a poor shooting night -- again, on this team, mostly due to whether Klay is up or down because he's by far the team's most prolific shooter -- you get what we got against Gonzaga and Kansas State:

Opponenent Off. Eff. eFG% TO%
Gonzaga 95.7 45.2 23.6
Kansas State 91.5 48.8 33.1(!)

This really makes a lot of common sense -- if you turn the ball over, there really is only one outcome to the possession: You don't even get to shoot and the team heads back the other way. It's a negative outcome every single time.

However, by simply taking a shot, you have a number of potential positive outcomes: make, miss with an offensive rebound (something this team has proven it's prolific at) or a foul (another thing this team has proven prolific at). Taking care of the basketball isn't just one of those antiquated, trite coachisms; it really does help your offense out. (See Maryland, 2008-09.) Even if your team isn't particularly good at offensive rebounding or foul shooting, you can sometimes pick up points thanks to simple dumb luck where a rebound falls into your hands.

Which brings me to last night. Despite posting only a pedestrian 48.3 eFG% (due largely to 33 percent 3-point shooting), the Cougs were able to achieve a 112.7 offensive efficiency rating. That's not spectacular, but it's certainly good, and it all started with WSU only turning the ball over on 13.3 percent of its possessions. In fact, after turning the ball over six times in the first 13 minutes, the Cougs turned it over just four more times the rest of the game.

Here was the effect last night. The Cougs' offensive rebounding percentage -- the number of available offensive rebounds the Cougs came up with -- was 38.7. That's in the same ballpark as the Gonzaga and Kansas State games (39.5 and 35.3, respectively). The difference, of course, is that there were many more offensive rebound opportunities last night. Against KSU, they only came up with eight offensive rebounds. Last night, it was 16 -- the Cougs were able to extend eight more possessions by simply taking care of the ball. They converted all of those opportunities into eight second chance points, and while that might not seem like much, this was a 12-point game in the end. Those eight points mattered.

Klay didn't have his greatest night of the season against Idaho. And for once, it didn't destroy our offense. That is huge, and is going to be a key for this team going forward. They don't possess a lot of good shooters to drive the offense (something that probably drives Ken Bone batty, but that's a conversation for another day), so they've got to play to their strengths on offense -- getting offensive rebounds and getting to the free throw line -- which can only be done if they take care of the ball and get the ball on the rim as they did last night.

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