We've gotten a great set of previews on each position by the guys here at AOG, and they've all been spot on. But more than whether or not Ezeli can provide enough points in the paint, or whether our swing forwards can cover three positions effectively, or even if today's newest post hoping Taylor : Byars as Jenkins : Foster is prescient; I have a larger concern. I want to know how efficient our defense will be. I'm assuming most people are familiar with efficiency stats (made famous cheah!); if not, it essentially quantifies how many points per hundred possessions a team allows (or points per possession, as well). You calculate possessions, according to Ken Pomeroy's method, with FGA+TO-OR+.475(FTA). Divide your opponent's total points by that number, and you've got your defensive efficiency.
Why does this metric concern me? Luke Winn has pegged Defensive Efficiency outside of the top 60 or so teams, I believe, as the cutoff line for where teams can legitimately expect to get to the Sweet 16; we haven't gotten out of the first round in our last two tournaments. I think our defensive efficiency is the reason why.
Since our 2003, here are our Defensive Efficiencies, and End of year results (again, courtesy of Ken Pomeroy).
Year Def Eff (Rank) Result
2003 95.3 (70) Worst Season Since WWII
2004 91.3 (30) Sweet 16
2005 91.8 (32) 3rd Round NIT
2006 98.7 (122) 1st Round NIT
2007 94.0 (56) Sweet 16
2008 96.4 (81) Nut Punched
2009 95.6 (68) REBUILDING!
2010 93.8 (60) Nut Punch: The Milder (?) Sequel
We haven't had a truly good defense since 2005. We got by in 2007, as the post from Train Island noted, by having two SEC POYs on the same roster. That team wasn't particularly adept at defense, but the combo of DB and Foster was difficult to stop; DB in particular was a caliber of playmaker we really haven't had very often (made his own shot, made shots for others, stepped up in crunch time... I can't think of a player that was as complete as DB).
But look at our recent DEs. We shouldn't have been surprised, in hindsight, by the first Nut Punching; that team was content to try and outscore any and all. Last year's team played better defense, but wasn't even as good the 2006-2007 squad. We have been defensively inefficient, at least relative to our expectations of tournament performance.
If you're curious, here are our defensive performances from SEC time last year:
Miss St 106.1
Ole Miss 107.4
Not good. This is what needs improving.