If you have followed my work for any amount of time you know about my affinity for statistics. One statistic relatively new to basketball that can help illustrate the strength of a team is the plus/minus for a player. This has traditionally been a hockey statistic but has made its way into basketball both at the pro and college level. The plus/minus is calculated by taking the points a team scores while a player is on the floor and subtracting the points the other team scores. Basketball is a simply about scoring more points than the other team and the plus/minus statistic is a good metric to see what players help that cause. Here are the individual plus/minus scores for Wyoming from the just completed season:
Wyoming only had four players with a positive plus/minus rating for the season. Washington and Martinez could be rated as impact players with Nance Jr. and Gilmore rated as above average. The rest of the team posted a negative rating with Cooke Jr. (13 minutes per game) and Adams (28.9 minutes per game) being the two biggest liabilities on the court. Wyoming had to play the entire conference season without Martinez due to injury/suspension leaving just Washington to carry the load who played injured most of the conference games.
For comparison purposes here are the top 20 plus/minus ratings in the Mountain West for the 2012-2013 season:
Wyoming’s best player Leonard Washington ranked just 20th in the Mountain West in plus minus. This can partially be explained by the Cowboy’s style of play under coach Shyatt (slow and possession based basketball). It also highlights the fact that Wyoming currently lacks quality players and depth. Obviously there are some talented players who have great potential but right now they can’t produce at a high level in the Mountain West. When you look at the plus/minus breakdown in conference games only you will see no Wyoming players had a positive rating and the only teams with players who did all made the NCAA tournament.
Looking towards next season, Alabama transfer Charles Hankerson Jr. has posted plus/minus ratings of +50 and +96 in his two years of college play meaning he should fill the void of the graduating Martinez. That will leave Nance Jr. to fill the shoes left by Washington which is more than possible as he will be more of a focal point on offense. The Pokes will also need another player or two to step up and contribute a positive rating if they are to be successful. The three most likely players who could do that based on projected playing time are Grabau who could be the point guard next season as well as improved play from Adams at shooting guard and Cooke Jr. at power forward/center.
The telling stat is that no players were “plus” for the conference schedule. That is indicative of the weak non-conference schedule leading to a false hope after a 13-0 start. Personally, I gave us a .500 at best conference record after the 13-0 start.