Pace of Play

I got a number of questions from the points per possession post a couple of weeks ago about the number of possessions per game. So, let’s take a look at that today as well as how that translates to actual time. First, let’s talk about pace of play.

Pace of play takes into account not only the overall number of possessions each team has had but also factors in all the minutes played so nothing gets over inflated because of overtime games. This way we end up with a number that represents the number of possessions per 40 minutes. The second column below then takes 40 minutes and divides it by the number of possessions to give you an average amount of time per possession.

On the men’s side it’s important to note that there was a definite uptick in the last few years, part of that is attributable to the shortened shot clock in the last few years. But the style of play has picked up in the last few years without regard to the shot clock.


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On the women’s side, you once again see the effect of UConn and Amherst on the NCAA D1 and NCAA D3 teams – both are great defensive teams so you’re going to see a slower pace of play on those two levels with both of them affecting a smaller sample size.


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Overall you can see the overall average is about 70 possessions and 16-17 seconds per possession. Certainly that’s going to vary due to a variety of factors but if you believer or want your team to play at a fast or slow pace going into a season, these numbers can give you a great point of comparison.

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