This week let’s take a look at a couple of defensive stats: Steal Percentage and Block Percentage. Let’s start with the definitions.
Steal percentage is the percentage of opponent possessions that end in a steal. Block percentage is the percentage of two-point shots blocked by a team.
Two things to note on block percentage:
1. Three-pointers are excluded because it’s not easy to block three-point shots and some coaches actively avoid even attempting this.
2. The stat can fluctuate wildly from one year to another depending on the make up of a team’s roster.
I’m going to show you numbers for both but focus more on steal percentage because that’s a more telling statistic. I have yet to meet a coach who focuses on blocking an inordinate number of shots.
Steals are sometimes a function of style of play. A good defensive team may be just fine with contesting shots and making passes more difficult – not necessarily a lot of pressure that would lead to steals.
Looking at the numbers, you can see on the men’s side, NCAA D3 has a slight average with an average of nearly 14% over the last decade of champions reaching a high of almost 17% with the 2011 St. Thomas Tommies.
On the women’s side, the numbers are definitely higher, again with NCAA D3 leading the way. The 2015 St Thomas More team reached nearly 24% in this category.
So what should you do with this information? Well, like any stat, it comes down to your style of play and what you work on in practice. If you don’t have a lot of size to begin with, I wouldn’t worry about blocks at all. As far as steals go, if you pride yourself on defense but your steals percentage is low, your opponents should have a high turnover percentage or your team should have a high defensive rebound percentage.
The more you work with these stats, the more you will start to make connections like these and can see how everything can work together.