Loyola (Ill.) used the wrong lineup

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.


Senior forward Darrin Williams was the most efficient player on Loyola according to Win Score.

The Loyola (Ill.) Ramblers went through a variety of lineups during the 2008-09 season. Head coach Jim Whitesell struggled to find a combination that could score points effectively and play defense. The Ramblers struggled to a 14-18 record overall and 6-12 (8th place) in the Horizon League.

According to Win Score that's because Whitesell was relying on the wrong guys. While seniors J.R. Blount and Justin Cerasoli were given the majority of the offensive responsibility, they were both just too inefficient from the floor to handle it. In fact, the most efficient player on the court for Loyola last season was senior forward Darrin Williams. Williams scored just 7.1 points per game last season because of a lack of touches. He shot .514 from the field. He also grabbed 4.9 rebounds per game in 23.9 minutes per game. Why he played so little only Whitesell knows, but Williams had the highest Win Score on the team at 148.5, and it wasn't even close.

As for the other players, Win Score tells a story about why it was so hard for Whitesell to figure out the Ramblers basketball team lineups.
Loyola's roster suffered from a case of mediocrity last season. Eight players finished with a Win Score between 36.5 and 90. This was partly due to inefficiency - for Blount and Cerasoli, injury - Andy Polka, Leon Young and Ross Forman, and youth - Jordan Hicks. Still, it's understandable how difficult it is to pick a lineup when it's almost impossible to determine your best players.

Side note: Win Score does have its faults. A player that is supposed to be a great defender - like Cerasoli - can tend to be a bit underrated, as the current defensive box score stats - blocks, defensive rebounds and steals - certainly don't account for everything a defender does. Still, it can give us a rough estimate of who was playing the best basketball last season.

In terms of a per minute basis - to eliminate Whitesell's playing time biases - the most efficient Loyola lineup would've been:

  • Darrin Williams, Sr, F/C
  • Leon Young, Sr, F
  • Walt Gibler, Sr, F
  • Jordan Hicks, Fr, G/F
  • Aric Van Weelden, Sr, G

There are two significant players left off that list - Cerasoli and Blount. The fact is though that both played a ton of minutes and both failed to make significant contributions for the Ramblers while on the court. Blount shot 38.4 percent from the field and a disastrous 19 percent from beyond the three-point arc. Cerasoli was better from beyond the arc - 33 percent - but struggled from inside it and finished at 37.8 percent overall.

For Blount his decline in Win Score to 40 overall and .4 WS/Min on the season continued a downward trend in his career. As the four-year player for Milwaukee, Wisc. was forced to take on more and more of the Loyola offense, he struggled mightily. His per minute Win Score dropped from .10 as a freshman to .4 by the end of his senior year.

At that point what do experience and guile really get you? It seems like Whitesell would've been better off letting his senior play a little less - Blount played 34 minutes per game - and learn a little more.

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