Thinking about the Red Storm's pace last year - faster than even Steve Lavin's pace from the previous years - I wanted to take a look into how well the Johnnies got aggressive transition attempts. Given the issues at the point guard position, it stands to reason that the Red Storm's transition attack may look much different than last season.
And in digging in to Hoop Math data from last season, I broke down the percentage of attempts teams had in transition, focused on major conference teams for comparison. For major conferences, I used the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12, and Southeastern Conference.
According to Hoop Math (thanks, Jeff Haley!), transition attempts are the ones that happen in the first ten seconds of the shot clock after a transition - a made shot, miss, or steal by the opposition.
I thought about adding the American Athletic Conference, but half the league profiles as very different, talent-wise; schools like Tulane and Central Florida tend to recruit locally, unlike the rest of the conferences, and have a lower level of talent at the bottom of the league. (Hey, it's a justification, argue with it if you want.)
If you're wondering, I did look at the relationship between transition offense and defensive efficiency, and that was an incredibly weak correlation.
But if you want to see it, here it goes (hopefully you can see it more clearly if you click on it, if you're looking on a mobile device):
For your own knowledge, I noted where Rutgers/ DePaul (and Washington State) are, where St. John's is, and the Wisconsin & Virginia Sadness/ Negative Zone. And to note where teams tend to clump, look at the little hashlines on the edges of the plot.
Anyway, the real meat - a look at the conferences and how much of their offense they attempt in transition, starting with the Big East. Note that the median major conference team would shoot about 21% of their field goals in transition.
Who knew Creighton was pushing the issue in transition so much? Maurice Watson Jr.'s speed and skill has a lot to do with this, but Creighton is set up to score early in every possession - they space well and are ready to shoot.
St. John's is eighth in the Big East, 53rd in the major conference group of 75 teams, and 229th nationally in the percent of their offense that happens in transition. For a team that wants to play fast and DID play fast, those rankings hint that 1) the Johnnies executed their offense quickly in halfcourt sets and possibly 2) St. John's struggled to attack defenses in transition. We'll take a further look at this later as time permits.
Next, the Atlantic Coast Conference:
Five teams wanted to race up the court faster than the median team... and Boston College was one of them. Winless in conference Boston College. Virginia, Notre Dame, low-talent Georgia Tech, injured-roster-Duke and quite a few other ACC teams wanted to save their shot attempts for a more deliberate, half court setting.
Now, the Big Ten:
A lot of zoom here, led by Indiana. Despite the continued presence of Wisconsin and the need to control the chaos from Northwestern and Penn State, this conference was pretty fast. Big Ten Speed!
How about the Big 12?
I thought that West Virginia number was a typo. But it turns out that on defense, opponents' possessions don't last very long, but theirs tend to linger. Maybe their incredibly potent offensive rebounding (grabbing 42% of their misses was #1 in the land) helps extend their possessions beyond the first shot, and that's what's being captured here?
The rest of the sub 21%-attempt teams were, well, lower on talent, trying to survive, man.
Looking out west to the Pac-12:
Washington was on some "other stuff" last year. With a number of highly talented freshmen - a few of whom are checking out their NBA possibilities, with two invited to the NBA Draft combine - the Huskies led the power conferences in transition offense attempts.
Oh and USC played fast too.
Down south in the SEC:
If not for Wisconsin, we'd be talking about Big Ten speed. But the Badgers exist to slow down breakneck basketball, so the Southeastern Conference leads the way in transition attempts. Six of the top 13 teams in major conference transition attempts are from the SEC