This is a post in a series that uses Win Score in different ways to
ask - and attempt to answer - some difficult questions from last
season. You can read about all the statistics used in this blog in the glossary. For more about Win Score specifically - and it's applications to the NBA - check out The Wages of Wins Journal blog.
Kevin Coble has been a great player for Northwestern basketball. When you look at his season numbers he's been incredibly consistent from day one of his freshman season. While it may look like he hasn't improved much as a Wildcat, the fact is that certain players just start at such a high level that improvement of any sort is very difficult.
What Coble could improve during his senior season which would help Northwestern basketball a great deal is his game-to-game consistency. It's quite obvious that when Coble plays great the Wildcats are a better team. When he struggles, well... let's hope that doesn't happen too often next season.
Coble's Win Score has been very consistent during each of his first three seasons. They are: 218.5, 149 and 222. His sophomore year might at first appear to be a drop in production, but it's lower because Coble played in 21 games that season. His per game averages work out to: 7.5, 7.1 and 7.2. For three seasons Coble has essentially been the same player. Want more proof? Check out his offensive rating for his three seasons in Evanston: 104.4, 103.7 and 110.6. All of those were done while using right around 24 percent of the team's possessions.
Now, production at that level for any year player is obviously outstanding. There's no question that Coble is an excellent college basketball player. The problem though is how that Win Score of 222 during his junior season was created. In 31 games last season Coble averaged a Win Score of 7.2, but the standard deviation was 5.1. That's an incredible amount of variance!
Why is the inconsistency important? Consider these two facts:
- Northwestern's record when Coble's Win Score greater than or equal to 10: 5-2 (losses were at Michigan and at Stanford).
- Northwestern's record when Coble's Win Score was less than or equal to 4: 4-6 (wins were at Brown, versus SMU, versus Minnesota and versus Wisconsin).
Coble's two best games according to Win Score also happened to correspond with (arguably) Northwestern's two biggest wins of the season. The junior forward had a game score of 18.5 at home against Ohio State in February and a game score of 17 in the road upset victory over Michigan State.
If Coble could play at that extremely high level against opponents like the Buckeyes and Spartans, he can do it against anyone. During his senior season he'll need to strive to hit that level of production during every game if the Wildcats are going to end their historic NCAA Tournament drought.