W&M Tribe Basketball Update!

shetland pony
Senior Captain Sean “Pony” Sheldon has been on fire lately, notching 20 pts vs. UNCW last week. Keep it up, Pony. [photo via tribeathletics.com]
Wow, what a year it has been! William & Mary currently sits tied atop the CAA leaders with a 12-5 (4-2 CAA) record…But they’re not alone. No less than SIX CAA teams are tied with a 4-2 record; there is a serious logjam at the top. We knew the league was strong this year, but not this strong.

The six CAA teams all have a legitimate shot at winning the CAA Tournament this year and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. And the bottom four teams? Well, they’re all capable of knocking off the top six on any given night–yes, even the lowly Drexel Dragons. Just about every CAA game has been a nail-biter so far; let’s see where the Green and Gold stands at this point in the season

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Statistical Rankings

As close as the CAA has been, there are some statistics we can look at to gauge just how well W&M has performed against its competition up to this point. On the flip side, we can also see areas where the Tribe is lacking, and could use some work going forward. Below is a list of key W&M Basketball rankings, as ranked against the 10 teams in the CAA.

  • Scoring Offense: #5 (75.9 ppg)
  • Scoring Defense: #4 (Opponents average 68.6 ppg)
  • Free Throw PCT: #4 (.699)
  • Field Goal PCT: #1 (.483)
  • Field Goal PCT Defense: #3 (Opponents average .406)
  • 3-Point FG PCT: #2 (.370)
  • 3-Point FG Made: #5 (7.4 avg/g)
  • Offensive Rebounds: #10 (8.5 avg/g)
  • Defensive Rebounds: #1 (29.1 avg/g)
  • Blocked Shots: #1 (5.4 avg/g)
  • Assists: #2 (15.6 avg/g)
  • Steals: #6 (5.9 avg/g)

After analyzing these stats, one can see that the Tribe places in the upper half in just about every single category. It seems that W&M tends to check in at about #3 or #4 in most rankings, and is even #1 in a few others. So far this season (and yes, there is still plenty of basketball to be played), W&M rankings #1 in field goal percentage, defensive rebounds, and blocked shots.

These #1 rankings are very impressive, but aren’t too surprising: Coach Shaver‘s teams have typically done very well in field goal percentage over the years, as players are very comfortable in the offensive system; they consistently wait for the offense create an open shot or lane before jacking up a bad shot. It doesn’t hurt that we have smart, scholar-athletes making these decisions either. In terms of defensive rebounds, we are very happy to see W&M perform incredibly well in this regard, as rebounding has always been an issue in years past.

Terry Tarpey has played like a man possessed this year, and has put himself in the running for his second CAA Defensive Player of the Year award. (Jonathon Gruenke / Daily Press)
Terry Tarpey has played like a man possessed this year, and has put himself in the running for his second CAA Defensive Player of the Year award. (Jonathon Gruenke / Daily Press)

Similarly for blocked shots, it’s somewhat surprising the team is also #1 in this category. We can attribute this, at least in part, to the complete maturation of senior captain and last year’s CAA Defensive Player of the Year, Terry Tarpey, who leads the team in blocked shots (1.4 per game) and rebounds (7.7 per game).

On the flip side of things, the stat that sticks out most negatively is offensive rebounds per game. The Tribe is dead last in this category. Now how can a team that is ranked #1 in defensive rebounds per game be so bad at offensive rebounds? Are they not crashing the boards? Giving up on the play too early? Losing position down low? It’s a mystery we’re not quite sure we can solve. But we hope Coach Shaver can pretty soon, as offensive rebounds can help turn a game around. And we’ll need all the help we can get down the stretch in this year’s CAA.

Road Ahead
vs. elon phoenix  hofstra  UD

It doesn’t get much easier! W&M will take on Elon at home before going on the road to play a very strong Hofstra team. The Tribe will then Travel to Delaware to take on the hated Blue Hens–a team that the Tribe has not been able to beat in recent years, even as W&M has been the much better team on paper.

Even still, W&M is performing at a very high level across the board. This team has what it takes to go all the way, but it won’t be easy. The CAA is the strongest it’s been in the last 5+ years, and might just be the strongest it has ever been–yes, maybe even including the years that GMU and VCU were here. It’ll be an uphill battle, but the Green and Gold have been to the CAA Championship the last two years, and know how to get it done. In Shaver we trust. LET’S GO TRIBE!!!

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