The Lady Vols and the Four Factors

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today in the Miss State game thread, I threw out the idea to Chris Pendley of doing an analysis on the Lady Vols, instead of the Notre Dame preview. After the men put away their game, I got to thinking that it might be fun to do the analysis myself. So, I put something together using the Four Factors.

I pulled the stats from the official box scores at UT Sports, built a spreadsheet, and came up with the following. A couple of explanatory notes:

  • The gray highlights are where the Lady Vols were worse than their opponent on that particular factor.
  • The total under "Tenn" is additive except for the Turnover percentage, which is subtracted.
  • When the total is red, the Lady Vols had a lower Four Factors score than their opponent.
  • The opponent names in red are games we lost.
  • I hid the opponents columns to make the table easier to read. I'll put the whole thing at the end, for anyone who is interested.


As you can see, the games where our FF score was lower than our opponent are also the games we have lost. The FF margin is not always proportional to the game margin, but it's still a good indicator.

Some other observations:

  • In the Stanford and Arkansas games, we lost on three of the four factors.
  • Until the last two games, our turnover factor was actually pretty good. I suspect that teams have figured out how to defend us.
  • Our shooting is pretty bad - except when it's not. If I had time to watch the tape, I would want to really dig into what happened against Oregon State and Auburn.

So, having set up the spreadsheet, it was a simple exercise to do the same thing with the players, using their totals to date in the season. I then sorted by their personal totals, and just to make it interesting, put their average minutes beside it. (The averages don't total 200 because some players have played in more games than others.)


Couple of notes about this worksheet:

  • The columns are highlighted showing distance from the mean, with green good and red bad.
  • The Total column is shaded in green only from high to low.
  • I took the average opponent defensive rebound number, just to have something to fill in the formula.

Now, I've not ever done this exercise for any other team (although now that I've got the spreadsheet set up, I probably will). So, I had no idea if a Four Factor total under 0.2 for an individual player is good or bad. To make a comparison, I took the top seven players from South Carolina and plugged them in. Our top seven players average .207, and SC's top seven players average .254. We have two players over .200; they have five. Could mean something, or could simply be a factor of who they have played.


What does this all mean? I'm not sure. The Four Factors are based on the performances in games, just as they happen. They are certainly not a perfect gauge, but they certainly seem to be in line with what we have seen.

Would I play the top five players in the table above, regardless of anything else? No - but I would certainly be pondering these numbers, and looking at the Effective FG %age, especially.

Like all stats work, this is just a math exercise, and may or may not yield insights. I'm glad to hear any comments or observations you would like to share.

And, as always - Go Lady Vols!

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(Here is the complete spreadsheet, for those who wish to see it.)


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