Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

by Dave Morus

Dejan Kovacevic of the Trib wrote an article about the City Game that contains an interesting version of the facts from the last several months. In this version of history, we discover that there are two problems with Duquesne basketball:

  1. Ferry's failure to retain five recruits (except only two of them were signed) who most certainly would have contributed heavily and are now at BCS schools putting up numbers.
  2. That our freshmen are contributing too much to our total production.

These problems are completely incompatible with one another, and I'll tackle them in reverse order. If we were going to bring in a freshman class that is capable of making immediate contributions from Coach Everhart's recruiting work, then we would certainly see the same percentage of production from our newcomers. The point is completely, well, pointless.

There can be no criticism on that basis because it was going to be true no matter what. Remember the facts - the Dukes had no point guard on the roster after the transfers that led to Everhart's firing. The Dukes returned only two players with meaningful experience - Sean Johnson and Andre Marhold - no matter who the coach was going to be. So where's the beef? It's a non-argument posed in a way that makes Duquesne look bad.

Now, the first point looks like it could have some merit. There are numbers in the article and everything! But I hate sleeping, so I looked up the game stats for these players. I do wish all of these players luck, and I hope they have great careers. I am simply pointing out the inaccuracies of the commentary in the article.

Below, I'll compare the stats quoted in the article to the reality of what has happened:
>> Coty Clarke, 6-foot-7 power forward, Arkansas. He’s starting in the SEC, averaging 8.2 points and 6.8 rebounds.
Can't argue with this guy's stats. He's legit. He also was never mentioned as having any significant recruiting ties to Duquesne. He was pursued by many BCS programs and wouldn't have been more than a long shot. This would have been a great player for the Dukes, but this is not reality. Rivals, for example, makes no mention of an offer, of interest, or other pursuit. This guy's name was never legit except in hindsight after the farewell astroturfing for Everhart.
>> Willie Moore, 6-3 shooting guard, Oregon. He’s averaging 2.7 points and 9.5 minutes, not bad for being undersized at his position in the Pac-12.
This is dishonest, because Willie Moore hasn't played against any Pac-12 teams, not that it would be too different from playing against the Atlantic 10 given that the A10 has frequently been ranked with or above the Pac-12. He averaged 2 minutes in the games against the recent ranked opponents. All but one Oregon game has been at home. His contributions have been against the typical BCS cupcakes. Moore hasn't played in two straight games.
>> Donovon Jack, 6-9 power forward, Penn State. He’s been hurt but now averages three minutes in the Big 10.
Four games, no points on one attempt. And once again, dishonest, as he hasn't played a single Big 10 team yet - because we're still in the non-conference portion of the schedule. 
>> Kahlil Johnson, 6-7 small forward, California. He’s at 1.7 points for the Pac-12 leader.
He's been in three games out of seven. Those opponents? CS Bakersfield (where he did nothing in four minutes other than get a rebound and get a turnover), Pepperdine, and one minute in a blowout loss to Wisconsin. 
>> Brandon Taylor, 5-11 point guard, Utah. He averages seven minutes, 1.6 points and is in line to soon run a Pac-12 offense.
This is my favorite because it proves nothing whatsoever. Six of his eight points and 16 of his 32 minutes came in a 104 - 47 decimation of some D3 school called Willamette. Take that away and he's got two points, one assist, one rebound, and three turnovers in 16 minutes against D1 competition. Surely his recruiting was only in response to the transfers that ultimately did in the coach. We have a freshman point guard who is running the offense right now, and he's averaging double figures and 25+ minutes. To this point, I'll take Colter, thanks.

These players may have all the potential in the world and I am sure that all Dukes fans wish them well. But they weren't the saving grace of the program, nor of Everhart's position at the university. Only two of them had signed letters. Coty Clarke and Brandon Taylor were so heavily recruited that Duquesne fans never heard their names. This is to say nothing of the fact that three of our four newcomers are on the same level or above everyone on this list, and the fourth (brought in for PG depth) is performing better than all except the non-recruit Clarke.

You quite simply can't complain that we're missing the contributions that a stellar freshman class would have brought and that the team is getting too high a percentage of production from the freshman. It can't be both.

Oh, I forgot to preface this post with an important point: I went to Duquesne.