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Tempo and Turnovers

Turnovers (and the frequency with which they are occurring) have been a key talking point this season and this has only been amplified the last 36 hours on the heels of UNC's somewhat stunning 26-turnover disaster at Clemson. The Tar Heels are currently turning the ball over 16.9 times a game, given that, I wanted to take a look at how that number of turnovers, and more importantly, the percentage of possessions in which they are turning the ball over, compared to previous seasons under Roy Williams. (The numbers enclosed in the parentheses correspond to ACC games.)

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  1. TO %: the percentage of a teams' possessions that are ended via a turnover.
  2. Steal %: the percentage of teams' turnovers that result from the opponent stealing the ball.

In looking at these data, two things really surprised me. The first thing was the fact that there really is not much of a difference between the total numbers, and the numbers that result from competition within the ACC. While there has traditionally been an increase in TPG and TO % in ACC games, it is not to the extent that I would have thought. The second thing that jumped out at me was the fact that UNC was playing faster this year than they ever have under Roy, and I have to admit that the first thing that popped into my mind was, "Are they playing too fast?" Based on their T0 %, it would appear that the answer is no, but still, I wonder...

Getting the task at hand of comparing this year's turnover stats to those of previous years, you basically end up with a comparison of two different "eras": the "Ty Lawson Era" and the "Non-Ty Lawson Era." With Ty Lawson at the helm, UNC just did not turn the ball over and there is really no comparison between those teams and this year's squad. Flat out, we were spoiled. However, this year's turnover numbers (TPG and TO %) are quite similar to the turnover numbers of Roy's first three teams at UNC, though this team is giving up a larger percentage of steals, which can lead to more easy baskets for the opponent.

The Tar Heels have 44 turnovers in their first two ACC games. To state that which is completely obvious, if they continue to throw the ball away at that rate, it will be a tough ACC season. However, the last 6 seasons seem to indicate that what you see in the non-conference schedule (in terms of pace and turnovers) is pretty close to what you will get in the ACC schedule. If this proves true again, then UNC will probably be okay.