New York City - As a long time fan (yes even prior to Basketball Prospectus & co,) of tempo free analysis, the study of possessions and efficiency has been a favorite analytical endeavor. For years I calculated possessions using the Dean Smith formula.
Coach Smith used this as an Air fForce assistant and later at North Carolina where we can safely say he had a quite 'distinctive' run.
Possessions = FGA = (.50 * FTA) = TO
In Smith's estimation a missed shot that was rebounded offensively, did not extend a possession but began a new one. Today, the popular formula subtracts offensive boards as the possession is not ended in that situation but extended. Thought Smith's formula was obsolete and of little use today but recently there has been a revival. Dean Smith's caluculation could be used to determine the efficiency of 'plays'. A shot ends the play. Grab the rebound on the offensive end and you have a new play. It should be noted in both formulas points are divided by possessions or plays toarrive at efficiency or points per possession.
Entering the Coaches vs. Cancer matchup with Arizona this is how St. John's breaks down, in numbers that is.
POSS. OFF EFF. Plays Points Per Possession
St. John's 214 109 241 .97
Opponents 212 90 252 .76
All the marks are very impressive. In Smith's break down the aim is to keep opponents under .85 points per possession. You notice opponents have more plays than St.John's. That's because the opposition has a +15 edge over St.John's on the offensive glass.
Tonight Arizona presents a decidedly tougher challenge. Should be interesting to see how the final numbers , in relation to St.John's' first three contests, compute. For plays as well as possessions.