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Did Hawks Shoot Poorly from 3-pt Range on Road and With Wilson Balls?

Did Hawks Shoot Poorly from 3-pt Range on Road and With Wilson Balls?


3/25/2023 - When questions like these come up, I like to apply statistical methods to make sure we don't read into differences in numbers too closely.

One of the main questions with the 2022-2023 Iowa Men's Basketball program was inconsistent shooting from 3-point range.

Overall, the Hawks were 265 of 779, which is 34%. Compared to the previous 5 years, it was the worst performance.

2021-22: 331 of 912 (36.3%)
2020-21: 301 of 780 (38.6%, 11th best in the nation)
2019-20: 244 of 703 (34.7%)
2018-19: 285 of 782 (36.4%)
2017-18: 252 of 672 (37.5%)

Why did the Hawks struggle this year? Two main reasons have been given: 1) poor shooting in road games and 2) the Wilson brand of basketball used later in the season.

When comparing 3-point shooting in games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena compared to games away from Carver, it seems like it made a difference, over 10% higher success.

Home Game: 170 of 440 (38.6%)
Away or Neutral Site: 95 of 339 (28%)

Before we draw a definitive conclusion, we have to check the statistics. A 2-proportion test can be performed to see if this difference is statistically valid. The 95% confidence interval says that the true difference between home and away games is likely 4% to 17.2% (P-value = 0.002), with an average of 10.6%. Since this interval does not contain zero, we can draw the obvious conclusion that the Hawks shot about 10% worse on the road versus home.

Another question came up about using the Wilson brand basketballs in 4 games this year (@ Northwestern, @ Wisconsin, Ohio State in Big Ten Tournament, and NCAA 1st Round vs Auburn). The games were all road games, so to accurately compare these results, we need to compare their typical road game performance with the Wilson ball versus games without the Wilson ball.

During road games, the results show an almost 15% reduction in 3-point shooting success with the Wilson ball.

Wilson Ball: 17 of 96 (17.71%)
Non-Wilson Ball: 78 of 243 (32.1%)

Running the 2-proportion test, we calculate the 95% confidence interval that the actual difference in shooting was 4.8% to 24% worse using the Wilson ball (P-value = 0.003), with an average of 14.4%. Again, even with only 4 games, the results are statistically valid.

Given that the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament used the Wilson basketball this season, and assuming that continues in the future, it seems like a smart choice to switch to that ball in the future.

As for the road game woes, that might be a mental block, or may require a chance in road game preparation or warmup routine. That's why Fran gets paid the big bucks, but the data confirms there is a valid problem with road game performance and using the Wilson ball.

 

 

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