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Fred's Teams: How Does the 2014-15 Version Compare?

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We take a look at how the 2015 version of the Cyclone basketball team compares statistically to the previous three tourney teams.

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

March is finally here.  Conference tournaments are looming, awards are being handing out and every good little girl and boy is awaiting presents under the tree.  Will this be the year that March-Madness-Santa brings us a Final Four?  Or will there be nothing but dashed hopes and a first round upset awaiting us?  It's all so exciting, which makes these final days seem to drag on ... so let's look at some stats!

As in my previous article, I will only be using raw statistics and ranks, no advanced metrics here.  I do appreciate them, and understand their usefulness, but I'll avoid them all the same, mostly on account of laziness.

The Hoiball Comparison

With apologies to the "Flying Diantes" of the 2010-11 season, I've focused this only on the teams that Fred has led to an NCAA berth (which is 80% of them by the way).  All rankings are Big XII conference only ranks.

Scoring

The most sadly obvious thing when it comes to looking at scoring statistics is that there is a marked trend downward in even just the last four years among conference teams.  Thankfully we have the anti-drug in Hoiball, which is largely bucking that trend.  This year's team scores similar to the last two seasons and a helluva lot more than the slower paced Royce team of 2011-12.

2014-15: 1st (77.3 ppg)

2013-14: 3rd (78.8 ppg)

2012-13: 1st (78.7 ppg)

2011-12: 4th (71.4 ppg)

Scoring Margin

I decided to skip scoring defense, suffice it to say that we give up a lot of points every year.  But in the the end Scoring Margin is the important part anyway - are you scoring more points than your opponents?  Surprisingly, last years team led by Melvin Ejim & DeAndre Kane was very average in this regard, but this years team returns to normal form.

2014-15: 4th (4.7 ppg)

2013-14: 5th (1.3 ppg)

2012-13: 4th (5.1 ppg)

2011-12: 3rd (5.1 ppg)

Free Throw Percentage

The conventional thinking is that this year's team is terrible at free throws, Georges Niang and Bryce Dejean-Jones both choked after stellar non-conference play and no one else really stepped up to fill the void.  Is that accurate?  Maybe, but hell, we've been worse.

2014-15: 7th (65.6%)

2013-14: 8th (68.1%)

2012-13: 2nd (75.1%)

2011-12: 10th (65.4%)

Field Goal Percentage

All of Fred's tournament teams have shot well from the floor, largely attributed to the elimination of the long two.  This year's team is the best of all of them by over 2.5%.

2014-15: 1st (47.9%)

2013-14: 2nd (45.1%)

2012-13: 2nd (45.7%)

2011-12: 4th (44.5%)

3 Point Percentage & Makes

Hoiball makes it rain.  I have to admit, I had forgotten how incredible the 2012-13 team was, they took 3 point shooting to another level, hitting an amazing 51 more threes in conference play than any other Big 12 team.  This year's team percentage has gradually improved throughout conference play to land a very respectable second place only to Baylor's 40% clip.  That compares very favorably after last season's dip in shooting from distance.

2014-15:  38.6% (2nd), 141 makes (1st)

2013-14: 31.8% (7th), 135 makes (4th)

2012-13: 39.1% (1st), 191 makes (1st)

2011-12: 38.5% (1st), 164 makes (1st)

Rebounding
Losing one of the top rebounders in ISU history in Melvin Ejim meant lower expectations in the rebound department. However, with the emergence of Jameel McKay & the steady play of Niang & Dustin Hogue,  the Cyclones have remained a steady middle of the pack rebounding team, with the usual emphasis on the defensive end.

2014-15: 4th (overall), 9th (offensive), 1st (defensive)

2013-14: 4th (overall), 8th (offensive), 1st (defensive)

2012-13: 5th (overall), 9th (offensive), 3rd (defensive)

2011-12: 2nd (overall), 6th (offensive), 2nd (defensive)

Blocks
Iowa State hasn't seen a shot blocker in the Hoiberg Era like McKay, and maybe not since the 1996-97 season when Kelvin Cato patrolled the lane.  McKay had 45 blocks in the conference season, easily outpacing the rest of the team (and all of the 2012-13 season).

2014-15: 6th (79)

2013-14: 9th (55)

2012-13: 10th (41)

2011-12: 7th (46)

Steals
The Cyclones seemingly have a fairly steady, if unspectacular, amount of steals each season, yet their Big 12 rank varies wildly.  This is the one stat where last year's team holds a commanding edge to this years version.

2014-15: 7th (94)

2013-14: 2nd (114)

2012-13: 10th (96)

2011-12: 5th (111)

Assists & Assist-to-Turnover Ratio
Iowa State is Assists, Assists is Iowa State.  With Monte Morris at the point and Niang doing what Niang does, no team in the Big 12 is anywhere close to the numbers the Cyclones have put up the last 3 seasons.  Somewhat surprisingly, the Cyclones again lead the Big 12 in both assist categories with small but significant drops in production.  Apparently the entire conference needs a kindergarten-style lecture on sharing.

2014-15: 1st (278 total), 1st (ratio: 1.34)

2013-14: 1st (327 total), 1st (ratio: 1.69)

2012-13: 2nd (281 total), 2nd (ratio: 1.56)

2011-12: 4th (262 total), 3rd (ratio: 1.20)

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

So how does this team compare? Well, it shoots better than any of the other teams, blocks twice as many shots, and compares favorably in nearly every other category.  This year's team is noticeably better at 3 point shooting than last year's team, but not in a dependent way like the 2012-13 team.  Also, after a dip in scoring margin last season this year's team has bounced back to the ~ 5 ppg the other teams have averaged.

So what does this team lack compared to last years Sweet 16 run? Well, steals for one.  Last year was by far the best bunch of pickpockets in Fred's tenure and this year's team, save for Monte, hardly knows what a steal is.

Can they win it all? Lack of "leadership" and a "go-to guy" are the most widely discussed dings on this team, but wouldn't you know the Big 12 doesn't provide a statistic on either of them for our analysis.  The stats they do rank however, are looking good and this team seems like they are one favorable Selection Sunday draw away from a deep tournament run.