April 7, 2012

Projection: UAB-Tulsa to battle for CUSA Hoops Title in 2013-14

According to a new projection, UAB and Tulsa could compete for the CUSA basketball title in two years as the only two teams that have five players projected among the best in the country in 2013-14.

If everyone stays, new UAB coach Jarod Haase and Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik will both have six spots to fill to supplement the highly regarded current sophomores, freshman and recruits.

Projections of the top 100 teams and top 2000 players for next year appear on http://www.crackedsidewalks.com/2012/04/projecting-2012-13-part-4-of-4.html. The "Value Add" system builds on Rivals Rankings and offensive and defensive stats for current players to precisely measure how many points a player adds to his team's scoring and subtracts from the opponent's scoring. It has been featured in Sports Illustrated, NBC Sports, ESPN and CBS Sports this past year.

While the system projects a big loss with the graduation of Cameron Moore (5.05% Value Add ranked third in CUSA behind only Memphis' Will Barton and Rice's Arsalan Kazemi, while Kentucky's Anthony Davis was first in the country at 12.35%). However, 8 of UAB's returning players were ranked among the top third of the 4000 Division I players, and most could be around for two years:

Nationally Ranked UAB Players for 2012-13
194. Preston Purifoy 6' 5" So
738. Jordan Swing 6' 6" So
777. Robert Williams 6' 4" So
904. Ovie Soko 6' 8" Jr
1006. Chris Jones 6'1" HS
1119. Jekore Tyler 6' 3" Jr
1194. Cameron Golden 6'1" HS
1228. Quincy Taylor 6' 1" So

Purifoy, Swing, Williams, Jones and Golden make UAB the only CUSA school besides Tulsa to have five players already on the roster who are projected to be in the top 500 in the country in 2013-14, according to Pudner. Southern Mississippi only has three ranked players who will still be around in 2013-14, so it will take a good recruiting class next year for them to be in the mix - while the other five teams have a way to go.

Without getting into the math, Pudner's contention is that Value Add calculates that if you have a good team that lost a game 73-75, and then you replace a typical player with Purifoy, he does enough MORE than a typical player that you win 76-75. Anthony Davis was the #1 ranked value player this year with a 12.35% Value Add divided pretty evenly between offense and defense, so the calculation is that if you instead added Davis to the 73-75 loss, you win 78-71.

While the outlook is bright for two years down the road, Value Add projects a tough 2012-13 in CUSA with Memphis running away with the title their final years in the conference as the 15th best team in the country. Their closest competition is expected to be from a much improved Houston team (projected 60th best in the country). Beyond that, every CUSA team is projected to be solid - in the top half of all teams - but not great - with UAB right in the middle of the other 10 teams for 2012-13. The following is the projected total Value Add of all the rising juniors, sophomores and freshman for the 8 teams slated to be in CUSA in 2013-14:

CUSA in 2013-14 (Total Value Add)
Tulsa 11.89 (7 players)
UAB 11.13 (7 players)
UTEP 10.99 (10 players)
Southern Miss 8.73 (3 players)
Tulane 8.65 (9 players)
Marshall 7.75 (6 players)
Rice 4.52 (9 players)
East Carolina 3.62 (4 players)

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