Just three games in, the 40-0 season is over for Kentucky. The Wildcats struggled against Michigan State’s packed in man defense, especially early on. However, Kentucky was ridiculously good on the offensive boards throughout the game. Izzo’s teams are elite rebounding teams year after year and yet Kentucky rebounded 46% of their missed shots.
Transition defense was on the opposite end of the spectrum for UK. Michigan State killed Kentucky with run-out dunks. It’s not a coincidence that the inherent trade-off to offensive rebounding is transition defense. All five guys were crashing the boards for Kentucky, with nobody getting back to defend.
To determine if crashing the offensive glass was worth it for Calipari, consider the following:
- Kentucky scored 16 second chance points on their 18 offensive rebounds (.89 points per offensive rebound).
- Michigan State scored 25 points off of their 21 defensive rebounds (1.19 points per possession)
- Michigan State averaged .98 points per possession following Kentucky makes.
The .98 PPP scored off Kentucky makes is a pretty good estimate of what might have happened if Kentucky “punted” offensive rebounds to get back on defense (thus losing 16 points). Subtract 1.19 from .98 and you get the cost of offensive rebounds: .21 points per failed offensive rebound attempt. In other words, by going for offensive rebounds and NOT getting them, Kentucky gave up an extra .21 points per failed offensive rebound attempt. Michigan State has 21 defensive rebounds, meaning Kentucky’s aggressiveness cost them around 19 points.
(Editor’s Note: After reading this a couple months later, it looks like my math was really off here. I’ll chalk it up to early season rust.)
This is a very results oriented analysis. For example, in the long run Kentucky would probably convert more second chance points given 18 offensive rebounds. Still, the analysis says that Kentucky’s aggressiveness on the glass actually cost them 3 points (16 second chance points minus 19 transition points).