The 2016-17 season is now in the record books, and Texas Wesleyan walked away with the NAIA Division 1 championship. On their way to the top, they bested many teams, which in their right, are worth mentioning for their noteworthy accomplishments. There are other winners. Teams that broke records and were the best in particular statistical categories. A lot of these achievements go unnoticed or pass us by without much pomp and circumstance. Most of them are only appreciated when seen through the lenses of advanced statistics and basketball metrics, something not ordinarily appreciated by the pedestrian basketball fan.
CONTEXT IS KEY
The highest scoring team may not always be the best offensive team. Some teams prefer to play an up-tempo style of offense, pushing the ball down the floor and running at every opportunity. On the other side of the coin, are teams that like to “milk the clock” and slowly set up their offense in a half-court set. These contrasting playing styles influence the number of possessions in a game and subsequently, the opportunities to score, rebound, and compile other statistics.
IT’S ABOUT THE POSSESSIONS
It is fair and balanced criteria to assess teams and what they do on a per-possession basis, as opposed to a per-game filter because they can be compared more evenly, regardless of the pace of the game. The NBA was the first to use these type of advanced stats. Until today no such data was available for NAIA Division 1 Basketball. Court Side Newspaper is the first source in the world to introduce it for numerous countries, leagues, and players.
LONGEST WINNING STREAK IN NAIA DIVISION 1 BASKETBALL
LSU Alexandria stayed undefeated for 34 games in a row. Their run came to an end in the semi-finals when they lost 63-65 to Pikeville. Culver-Stockton had the longest losing streak in NAIA Division 1 with 29 games.
TO RUN-AND-GUN OR GRIND IT OUT?
Philander Smith was the fastest team in NAIA Division 1 this season. They averaged 85,6 possessions per game. Their aim was to get as many opportunities to score as possible and hopefully outgun their opponents. The slowest team in NAIA D 1 hoops was Montana State-Northern with only 60,7 possessions per game.
MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER
While Philander Smith played at the highest pace and William Penn averaged most points per game (92,5) they were not the best offensive teams. The best offensive team this 2016-17season was Dilliard with an Offensive Rating of 119,8 (119,8 points per-100 possessions). The second-best offensive team was Carroll with 119,7. William Penn ranked 4th with 118,5 and Philander Smith 52nd with 85,6.
The toughest team to score against in NAIA Division 1 Basketball was LSU Alexandria. Their stingy defense allowed only 94.9 points per-100 possessions. St.Louis College of Pharmacy had the worst defense in the league, allowing 135.5 points per-100 possessions, followed by Philander Smith with 127,7.
TOUGALOO WERE SNIPERS FROM THE FREE-THROW LINE
Tougaloo recorded a 38.2 free throw rate. That’s the ratio of foul shots to field goal attempts. However, the best True Shooting Percentage belonged to Carroll (67,8 TS%). True shooting percentage is a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws.
LSU ALEXANDRIA WERE CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARDS
LSU Alexandria grabbed 57.4 % of all available rebounds (Rebounding rate). They were closely followed by William Penn (57.1). It is also noteworthy that no team crashed the offensive glass like Dillard (36,2.6% of all available offensive rebounds) and LSU Alexandria (36,1.5%).