Final Four Passer Trends

So here are the Final Four teams from this past season. What you see are their primary passers and their “expected FBSO eff” based on how many points their team currently has. These expected FBSO numbers are built by combining Big 10 and Pac 12 conference and preseason/some postseason matches – meaning that I looked at the FBSO eff of ALL teams in the dataset on each type of reception rating (R#, R+, R!, R-, R/, R=). What this does not show is how well these four teams actually did in FBSO during the season – this is just what our expectations were, per passer. This is listed below:

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In the Final Four viz, the numbers above each bar is the number of receptions that occurred for that passer, within that range of scores. So if you look at Cat McCoy in the Texas chart, she passed 22 times when Texas had 20-24 points. Again, only have seven Texas matches since I don’t have access to the Big 12, so it is what it is.

What this type of analysis might spark is the idea of when to serve specific passers. As you can see from these four teams, some players like Goehner get better as Minnesota gets closer to 25 – some players like Wilhite and Albrecht decline as their teams approach 25. Others peak in the middle of sets like JWO, Micaya White – while others perform best at the beginnings and ends of sets like Rounsaville from Texas.

And then there’s Morgan Hentz. Dude. What?! This kid passes for a .220 FBSO Eff – AT ALL TIMES. She’s a true freshman who is apparently always really good, regardless of where in the set Stanford currently is. Unreal.

A fair criticism of this analysis is that these FBSO efficiencies were calculated with league  data and really don’t reflect the appropriate value of each pass for each specific team. Minnesota and Texas don’t hit on the same on poor passes, therefore we shouldn’t reward their passers equally. Fair point. Another good point would be that since we’re using the entire seasons for 3/4 teams, if Minnesota is constantly blowing out teams, their passers may be in that 20-24 range while the opponent is only at 10 or 15 points, possibly reducing the pressure on Minnesota passers. This argument maybe sticks better for Texas who is likely to blow out Big 12 teams more than Stanford might blow out Pac 12 teams, but the idea is the same – the logic isn’t 100% bulletproof.

With all this being said, this is still an interesting way to target passers as the match evolves. You could definitely add score differentials to drill deeper into how passers perform when winning/losing big vs. small or whatever. But for now, maybe you want to attack Sarah Wilhite at the ends of matches rather than Rosado or Goehner. And stop serving Morgan Hentz in general!!