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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.

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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.

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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.