With or without Drew

Statistics show UNC a better team since departure

Since Larry Drew's departure, UNC's AP ranking has gone from 23rd to 13th. Considering these and the following statistics, we can conclude what most UNC fans know instinctively: UNC is better off without Drew.

Photo by Daniel Sircar reesenews

When Larry Drew decided to transfer after the Boston College game on Feb. 1, UNC had played seven ACC games. As of Thursday, March 3, they’ve played eight conference games in his absence.

With the help of statistical analyst Michael Bryce, Reesenews has compiled statistics from each set of games to examine how the loss of Drew has affected the team.

Notes:

  • The comparison is based on ACC games alone, rather than an entire season, due to the comparable level of competition.
  • The team was 6-1 in ACC play with Drew, and 7-1 after the transfer.
  • While some statistics can be directly attributed to Drew’s departure, such as Kendall Marshall’s +13.93 increase in minutes played per game, others may only be tangentially related. The net team loss of  1.71 points per game without Drew, for instance, might be more directly attributable to the quality of opponents. There is no implication that each statistical change is a result of Drew’s absence.
  • The chart is split into three categories: statistics with Larry Drew, statistics without Larry Drew, and net change. Negative changes are expressed as parenthetical values.

Summary:

  • Larry Drew averaged 19.71 minutes per game in ACC play. Since his departure, the bulk of those minutes (+13.93) have been picked up by Kendall Marshall. Other players who have gained playing time include John Henson (+4.66), Harrison Barnes (+3.84), Dexter Strickland (+2.66), Leslie McDonald (+2.64), and Tyler Zeller (+1.64). Since Drew’s departure, Roy Williams has played each of his starters (and sixth man Leslie McDonald) with more frequency. Reggie Bullock, Justin Knox and Justin Watts have all lost playing time with this strategy change.
  • The biggest statistical gains in points since Drew’s exit belong to Marshall and Tyler Zeller, who average 3.54 and 3.41 more points per game, respectively. Reggie Bullock has lost the most, his average falling by 4.86 points per game (not including the Florida State game, which he missed due to injury). Each starter has experienced a net scoring gain.
  • Predictably, Marshall has gained the most in assists, averaging 3.02 more per game.
  • Besides Dexter Strickland, each starter has experienced a net gain in rebounds, with Henson’s average skyrocketing from 8 per game to 12.43.
  • Overall, the team’s points per game average dropped 1.71 points, and their assists fell by .77. Rebounds increased by 1.98 per game.
  • One statistic not represented in the chart above is tempo; in the seven ACC games without Drew, UNC averaged 70.43 possessions per game. Without Drew, the number dropped marginally to 69.75, meaning the pace of play was almost exactly the same. If the 48-46 win against Boston College is removed from the equation (an anomalous game when the Eagles purposefully stalled and allowed UNC just 58 possessions), Carolina’s pace increased to 71.43 possessions per game without Drew.

Analysis:

On paper, UNC is not a markedly different team without Larry Drew, at least in conference play. The team’s average margin of victory has remained fairly constant (7.71 with Drew, 7.13 without), and overall points, assists and rebounds have only varied marginally.

However, a deeper look at the numbers reveals that the quality of point guard play has improved. Drew’s assist-to-turnover ratio in his seven ACC games was 2.89. During that same span, Marshall’s ratio was 2.26. Since becoming a full-time starter, though, Marshall leads the nation in assists-per-40-minutes, and has overtaken Duke’s Nolan Smith for the ACC lead in assists-per-game.

And since Drew’s departure, UNC’s AP ranking has gone from 23rd to 13th. Considering these facts, we can conclude what most UNC fans already knew instinctively: UNC is better off without Drew.

With Larry Drew Without Larry Drew Change
Minutes Points Assists Rebounds Minutes Points Assists Rebounds Minutes Points Assists Rebounds
Larry Drew II 19.71 3.14 3.71 2.43 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 (19.71) (3.14) (3.71) (2.43)
Kendall Marshall 20.57 5.71 4.86 1.00 34.50 9.25 7.88 2.75 13.93 3.54 3.02 1.75
John Henson 25.71 12.43 1.29 8.00 30.38 12.63 1.25 12.63 4.66 0.20 (0.04) 4.63
Harrison Barnes 26.29 15.57 0.57 4.57 30.13 16.00 1.38 6.50 3.84 0.43 0.80 1.93
Tyler Zeller 26.86 12.71 0.29 5.57 28.50 16.13 0.13 7.63 1.64 3.41 (0.16) 2.05
Dexter Strickland 25.71 5.71 2.00 4.57 28.38 6.38 2.50 3.25 2.66 0.66 0.50 (1.32)
Leslie McDonald 12.86 5.43 0.71 1.71 15.50 7.25 0.25 2.50 2.64 1.82 (0.46) 0.79
Justin Watts 7.57 0.71 0.43 2.14 6.75 0.00 0.63 1.00 (0.82) (0.71) 0.20 (1.14)
Justin Knox 14.71 5.14 0.43 3.29 12.75 3.13 0.25 2.00 (1.96) (2.02) (0.18) (1.29)
Reggie Bullock 16.14 7.14 0.57 4.14 11.75 2.00 0.13 1.75 (4.39) (5.14) (0.45) (2.39)
Daniel Bolick 0.71 0.29 0.14 0.14 0.50 1.00 0.25 0.13 (0.59) (0.04) (0.14) (0.02)
Stewart Cooper 0.57 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.50 0.00 0.00 0.00 (0.45) 0.00 0.00 0.00
David Dupont 0.71 0.00 0.00 0.29 0.50 0.00 0.00 0.00 (0.59) 0.00 0.00 (0.29)
Patrick Crouch 0.71 0.71 0.00 0.14 0.50 0.00 0.00 0.00 (0.59) (0.71) 0.00 (0.14)
DJ Johnston 0.71 0.00 0.14 0.14 0.50 0.00 0.00 0.00 (0.59) 0.00 (0.14) (0.14)
Team 74.71 15.14 38.14 73.00 14.38 40.13 -1.71 -0.77 1.98

Statistics compiled by Michael Bryce and Shane Ryan.

  1. The element that seems most obvious is that the players are happier, more motivated, closer, more spirited, less frustrated, having fun and enjoying each other's company. Whether that was going to come with time anyway (or with more wins) is debatable. It just appears that they all get along better without him. Maybe that's also because they each sensed that they needed to step up to the requirements of their positions with Larry gone. I am sorry that he felt he had to leave. I also admire them all for being candid but positive in their comments about him.

    Comment by Elizabeth on March 4, 2011 at 1:57 pm

  2. Was he the drag on the team last year?

    Comment by B Lewis on March 4, 2011 at 1:58 pm

  3. Graves getting the boot was the biggest improvement.

    Comment by Chip on March 4, 2011 at 2:23 pm

  4. Post hoc ergo propter hoc…as with many things, just because something happens after something else, does not necessarily mean that one caused the other. While I wouldn't dismiss some correlation between the two events, I would also like to think that, amongst other factors, under the coaching of Roy Williams that the players also improved over time. I only bring this up, because I don't believe that we should be "piling on" Larry Drew II or any of the other players who chose to leave the team. Let bygones be bygones, wish them well, and cheer for our team.

    Comment by Aaron on March 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm

  5. The Drewless Wonders! Go Heels!

    Comment by T Ganski on March 4, 2011 at 11:43 pm

  6. My guess is the Drew family is kicking themselves right now.

    Comment by Drew Who on March 5, 2011 at 10:46 pm