The Four Key Statistics in WBB

Arguably the most important thing a head coach does is make big decisions. Who should we start? What play should we run? How will we stop them? Should I call a timeout? Who should I sub in? Should I offer her a scholarship? What should I wear to the game? Big time decisions.

Some coaches make decisions solely based on their "gut." Some make decisions based on statistics. And some use both. I'm not saying there is a right or wrong way to make decisions...however, I am an extremely analytical person. So I make my decisions (well really I make "recommendations" right now as an assistant coach...not quite a decision maker yet) based on statistics. But not just any statistics...I call them the Four Tenets.

The "Four Tenets" are the four statistics in women's basketball that correlate to wins. You absolutely have to look at them together. Just like any team...alone they mean nothing...together they mean everything!

1. FG% vs Opponent FG%
2. FTA vs Opponent FTA
3. Offensive Rebounds vs. Offensive Rebounds Allowed
4. Turnovers vs Opponent Turnovers

I know. I know. There are really eight stats that you have to look at. But the "Four Tenets" are really four statistical comparisons. The four areas that we look at are:

1. Shooting
2. Attacking The Basket (drawing fouls)
3. Rebounding
4. Mistakes (Making few and forcing a bunch)

The first tenet is the one statistic that every fan seems to be concerned with...whether or not your team is putting the ball in the hole...and whether or not your team is getting stops. I don't think I have to tell you this but whatever...if you shoot 30 percent from the field and your opponent shoots 45 are probably going to lose.

Well why are there four tenets then? Why not just shooting? Notice the word "probably" in that last paragraph. Definitely is what we are looking for here. And quite frankly even if Tennessee shoots 30 percent and the other team shoots 70 percent...Tennessee could still win. How? Well...

More than likely Tennessee would get to the free throw line...not just because they are Tennessee and they get calls (and you know they do)... but because they are very aggressive offensively. They ATTACK the basket. If you attack the basket you will get to the free throw line.

Tenet No. 2 tells us that if you get to the FT line more than your opponent, you increase your chances of winning. Quite frankly this is the most telling of all four. Drawing more fouls...leads to the bonus...which leads to more points...which leads to changes in substitution patterns...which leads to drawing more fouls because now you are playing on the slower second string players...which leads to more points...and so on and so on. I love it.

I know you don't, but just hang with me through this marathon...I promise you it will change the way you look at a women's basketball box score.

Tenet No. 3 is Offensive Rebounds vs. Offensive Rebounds Allowed. Simple...CRASH THE BOARDS on offense and BOX OUT on defense. You do those two things...and you will increase your changes of winning the game.

Tenet No. 4 is Turnovers vs. Turnovers Forced. Take care of the basketball...and pressure your opponent on defense. I guarantee you that every coach in America looks at this tenet first if they are losing. I've worked for three head coaches now and every time we were down at halftime, each one says, "HOW MANY TURNOVERS DO WE HAVE?!"

Before I end this and you furiously rejoice and head back to

The most important thing is that you win the majority of the "Four Tenets."

For example, let's look at Sunday's Top 10 matchup between Stanford and Baylor:

Stanford 87 Baylor 63
1. FG% vs. Opp FG% - Stanford 49.3% - Baylor 36.4%
2. FTA vs. Opp FTA - Stanford 22 - Baylor 14
3. OREB vs. OREB Allowed - Stanford 12 - Baylor 11
4. TOs vs. TOs Forced - Stanford 10 - Baylor 17

Stanford dominated Baylor both in the game and in the Four Tenets!

Is this full proof? No...but it's pretty darn close. So close that I swear by it. But I swear by a lot of things...Coach G says I have a terrible mouth.



Very good comments, though, I think you should have credited or at least cited Dean Oliver's book, "Basketball on Paper" for a thorough explanation of the four "tenets."

You are right, Tom...Dean deserves a lot of credit for those statistics. He has a great mind for the game.

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Bill Ferrara Bill Ferrara
CMU assistant Bill Ferrara gives his inside opinions on women's hoops.