Thursday, April 11, 2024

Delle Donne Controls 1st Half; then UConn 2002 Sets 2nd Half Record Margin, 51-17

 The 2023 UConn Men have the most lopsided victory margin in the few hundred Value Add Basketball Games I've tracked on this google sheet. They defeated the Cinderella 2022 Saint Peters 77-39 for a 38-point victory margin and are now ranked as the 14th greatest team ever in our game.

See our previous blog for footage of Sue Bird and Larry Bird and a run through of the new men's and women's teams just created.

In their first game since I created the 16 new teams for any all-time top 40 woman's player whose team was not already in the game, the 2002 UConn Women's team set the record for the most lopsided half I have ever played.

While 16-seeds are not usually ahead at half time, 16-seeds during a regular season do not feature a future WNBA Player of the Year like Elena Delle Donne. With 39 possessions left in our game (3:45 to go in the first half), Delle Donne had dominated her shorter UConn opponents. She already had 7 rebounds and 8 points including 6 of 6 from the line and Delaware was stunning UConn 29-24.

Seed   Greatest Player Tourney    Q1   Q2   Q3   Q4   Final
16Delaware 201314159846
1Connecticut 20021410242775
Note: Game starts at 20-20, and in women's game we consider first quarter always 14-14.

It was still just 39-37 UConn with 22 possessions to play (13:11 in the game) and I was starting to wonder if I was really misreading the cards to think this team looked about the equal to 1998 Tennessee and 2016 UConn as the top three women's team in our game. The ratings we list with the teams included a +14 for UConn - meaning they appear to be about 14 points better than the average great team in the game - and -12 for Delaware. The margin between the two indicates UConn was about a 26-point favorite coming into the game but trailed at halftime.

Then it happened.

Sue Bird went on a personal 7-0 run in three possessions and a little later Diana Taurasi hit a couple of 3-pointers to cap a 21-1 run and make it 60-38 with 12 possessions (6:26) to play. Overall they closed on a 36-7 run for the 75-46 win. But what struck me is that as awesome as those two are - perhaps two of the best five players ever and incredible 3-point shooters - the other three starters never take 3-pointers but get to the rim at will. All five starters averaged double figures, but none of them averaged 15 a game.

This combined with their STIFFLING defense is what seems to make them one of the best three all-time teams. The "Adj Lay-up: -6" means that the opponents Layup range is lowered by six. For those of you who haven't played the game, there is a chart in the instructions and the combination of the -6 and Delaware's 51-44 (negative) dunk range creates the maximum "stop range" of 51-66. While rolling the dice at once, one-third of the time those numbers will come up on the 11-66 dice roll and that means the team had a STOP regardless of the other dice which can be scored as a turnover or miss and defensive rebound.

The lay-up (or dunk on the men's cards) is the key component that adjusts for level of competition (strength of schedule) to create the same level of defense the team played. UConn's cards are above average rebounding, Bird and Tamika Williams are very good at steals but not elite, and only Ashha Jones is a strong shot blocker but not elite - 21-26 but not 21-26 (32). 

Those are all defensive stats, but they only account for 18% of all defense - the rest is disrupting and denying good looks at shots, and UConn simply didn't let teams score with lockdown defense - holding opponents to 52 points a game that year and even better in this game at 46 points allowed to advance.

Here is the box score from our game, and then a photo of the scoresheet with the running score and player cards for both starting line-ups.

Pos      Delaware 2013               Pts  3pt  2pt  FT  Att  Reb  Stl  Blk  Fl   Season Actual
1-PGKayla Miller9211141023.7 pts, 5'10
2-SGAkeema Richards2010012015.5 pts, 5'7
3-SFLauren Carra20100610210.7 pts, 5'9
4-PFElena Delle Donne1101910802226 pts, 6'5
5-CDanielle Parker6022280018.8 pts, 6'2
1-PGTrumae Lucas6022211016.6 pts, 5'8
2-SGChelsea Craig2010010010.4 pts, 6'2
3-SFJaquetta May4020010214.8 pts, 5'9
4-PFKelsey Buchanan2010010012.1 pts, 6'3
5-CStephanie Leon2010010020.7 pts, 6'3
 16 Turnovers462131415325414 
PosConnecticut 2002Pts3pt2ptFTAttRebStlBlkFlSeason Actual
1-PGSue Bird151444410114.4 pts, 5'9
2-SGSwin Cash120600410114.9 pts, 6'2
3-SFDiana Taurasi182523610114.5 pts, 6'0
4-PFAsjha Jones60300604414 pts, 6'2
5-CTamika Williams80400900210.1 pts, 6'2
1-PGMaria Conlon4020010034.1 pts, 5'9
2-SGAshley Valley2010010012.9 pts, 5'9
3-SFMorgan Valley2010010013.6 pts, 6'0
4-PFAshley Battle6022210035.4 pts, 6'0
5-CJessica Moore2010030015.4 pts, 6'3
 12 Turnovers7532989363418

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