Every school is either about to start conference play or has already played a conference game or two (or more). So, what do you do with those stats from non-conference games?
1. Put them in context
You know who you played and how they measure up to your team. You may have surprised yourself by stepping up against a nationally-ranked opponent or maybe you had some key players unavailable due to injuries. Either way, make sure you keep in mind your opponents and available players when looking at the numbers you put up. It could make a dramatic difference. Do the same when you’re prepping for your conference opponents, they may have had some odd circumstances too.
2. Expect Improvement
It’s rare for first-year players to come in and immediately have an impact but after a handful of games, that great shooter you recruited will usually start to knock down shots like you expected. I’m a big believer that junior year is when players really take a leap forward so believe in those numbers if someone in their third-year has surprised you so far.
3. Pay Attention to Groupings
Everyone has new players or players playing more than they did last season, so who is really clicking early on? Again, put it all in context but if a first-year player is really meshing well with your seniors, even if the individual stats don’t reveal something significant, the group stats may tell you to keep that group together more. In particular, look at your groups’ plus/minus and shooting percentages.
Of all three, the first one is the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re looking at these numbers but the completion of non-conference play is a great checkpoint and especially with the impending holiday, comes at a great time to evaluate your team.