Turnovers – FSU’s Achilles Heel

Florida State's men's basketball team finished the regular season third in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Seminoles eclipsed the twenty win mark on the season, and had double-digit conference wins. Going into the ACC tournament, FSU received a first round bye and awaits the winner of the Clemson/NC State game. Most would agree that FSU had a successful regular season, especially for a university that is most commonly known for their football achievements. As we all know, the season isn't over, so let's take a look at what this team needs to fix in order to advance in the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

Even a casual observer could tell you that FSU finished third in the ACC mostly because of their suffocating defense. I could get into how/why the defense has been so dominate, but that isn't the point of my FanPost - I want to figure out what needs fixing.

It seems pretty evident from watching this season's games and speaking with various TN readers that FSU's glaring weakness is their offense. Considering the regular season is over and FSU starts tournament play on Friday, there is no way anyone could expect major offensive adjustments. But there is one aspect of FSU's offense that might be possible to improve on - turnovers - which is their Achilles heel.

For those of you familiar with Ken Pomeroy, turnover percentage is one of his four key factors to winning a game. According to Pomeroy, Florida State ranks 330th nationally in turnover percentage at 24.5%. This means per 100 possessions, FSU turns the ball over almost 25 times. Even with their other offensive inefficiencies, turning the ball over a quarter of the time is by far their biggest downfall. Think about it, not only does FSU not put any points on the board 25 out of 100 times, but they allow their opposition an extra 25 chances to score (out of 100).

First, let's take a look at how FSU would be better offensively if they could limit turnovers. For argument's sake, imagine FSU could cut their turnover percentage to 18%. Since there are approximately 70 possessions in an FSU game, their turnovers would decrease from around 17 per game to 13 per game. In this scenario, FSU would have 4 more scoring opportunities and since they have an effective field goal percentage of 51%, they could score 4 to 6 more points a game. Now this might not seem like much, but consider how tight tournament games usually are and/or the fact that 11 of FSU's 30 games were decided by 5 points or less.

Now let's take a look at the 17 teams ranked worse than FSU in turnover percentage and their records:

  • Arkansas Pine Bluff 14-15
  • Garner Webb 8-21
  • St. Peters 16-14
  • Norfolk State 11-18
  • East Carolina 10-20
  • Florida Gulf Coast 8-21
  • Wagner 5-26
  • Albany 7-24
  • Mississippi Valley State 9-22
  • South Carolina Upstate 6-23
  • North Dakota 8-22
  • Savannah State 11-15
  • Winston Salem State 12-17
  • Bryant 1-29
  • Texas A&M-CC 16-14
  • Southern Utah 7-22
  • Alcorn State 2-29

From those teams' records you can see why Ken Pomeroy believes turnover percentage is a key factor in winning basketball games, and I think any reasonable person would agree. Only 2 of those 17 teams ranked below FSU had winning records: St. Peters and Texas A&M-CC. The difference between FSU and a team like St. Peters and Texas A&M-CC (or any other team on the list, for that matter) is the competition they face night in and night out. St. Peters is in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and Texas A&M-CC plays in the Southland Conference, which Pomeroy ranks 15th and 23rd respectively. As we all know, FSU plays in the ACC, which Pomeroy ranks as the best conference in the country.

So in a way, FSU is almost lucky to finish 3rd in the ACC and if they plan on making any sort of splash in the big dance, they need to learn how to protect the basketball - and fast.



[Editor's Note: This is my first FanPost and I know I lack written skills, which is why I work in finance, but hopefully you guys get something out of this and understand my point. Thanks for reading.]

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