Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NCAA | Sweet stats and Sugar Bears


next: NCAA Tournament 1st/2nd Rounds
  • Santa Clara vs. Hawai’i | November 30 | 5PM | Hec Ed Pavilion
  • Arkansas St @ #5 Washington | November 30 | 7PM | Hec Ed Pavilion
  • Tickets: Husky Ticket Office (M-F 8:30AM-5PM) or www.gohuskies.com

live chat with Krista Vansant |November 29 | 1PM | www.seattletimes.com/html/sports


Okay, sports fans … what, exactly, is a Sugar Bear?
 
Yes, that’s the mascot for the University of Central Arkansas’ volleyball team. You’ve heard of sun bears, polar bears, black bears, Grizzly bears. 

But where would you find a Sugar Bear? [answer below]


On to the stats for Washington, Central Arkansas, Hawai’i and Santa Clara. Take a look first at the national team rankings (out of 328 Division 1 teams):


Blocks/Set
1.
Washington
3.33

43.
Hawai’i
2.56

219.
Santa Clara
1.86

300.
Central Arkansas
1.52




Aces/Set
1.
Jackson St
2.15

6.
Central Arkansas
1.74

18.
Washington
1.58

38.
Santa Clara
1.44

69.
Hawai’i
1.36




Hitting Pct.
1.
BYU
.313

15.
Hawai’i
.274

25.
Central Arkansas
.257

32.
Washington
.253

92.
Santa Clara
.222




Kills/Set
1.
Oregon
15.90

7.
Central Arkansas
14.6

33.
Hawai’i
14.18

93.
Santa Clara
13.31

98.
Washington
13.26




Assists/Set
1.
Oregon
14.88

5.
Central Arkansas
13.79

51.
Hawai’i
12.98

78.
Santa Clara
12.60

96.
Washington
12.40




Digs/Set
1.
Pennsylvania
21.53

213.
Hawai’i
14.48

250.
Central Arkansas
14.01

251.
Santa Clara
13.98

273.
Washington
13.36

Things that jump out in the team statistics:
  • Central Arkansas ranks very high in many categories. On the one hand, the Sugar Bears built those numbers against opponents from the Southland Conference, which sent no other teams to the tournament. On the other, they weren’t the only dominant team in an otherwise weak league, yet finished ahead of most others in the national rankings. Case in point: Hawai’i, the only team in the tournament from the Big West Conference.
  • All four teams appear to be great servers. Aces, of course, tell just part of the story. There is no statistical category for great serves that are hard to pass and result in a free ball or stuff block. With that in mind, Washington’s and Hawai’i’s dominant blocking numbers might indicate stronger serving.
  • All four teams rank low on average digs per set. On the one hand, this can be a deceptive number, because teams that score a lot of points on great serving and big blocking don’t get a lot of dig opportunities, nor do teams that side out quickly on offense (long rallies equal lots of digs). On the other hand, Washington’s six losses this season can each be traced, in large part, to opponents’ ability to keep the ball in play.
  • Hawai’i, Central Arkansas and Washington all hit above .250; that’s a big statistic. Unfortunately, the NCAA doesn’t rank the flip side: how well the defense holds an opponent to a low hitting percentage. Washington held opposing teams to .174, second best (to Stanford) in the Pac-12. Hawai’i was even better at .170, Central Arkansas better still at .162. Santa Clara is the outlier at .213.


Next, let’s look at how individual players rank:

Blocks/Set
1.
Amanda Gil
Washington
1.79

68.
Kylin Muñoz
Washington
1.19

120.
Jade Vorster
Hawai’i
1.09

157.
Kalei Adolpho
Hawai’i
1.04





Aces/Set
1.
Christine Edwards
Jackson St
0.98

13.
Jessica Hays
Central Arkansas
0.44

49.
Alyssa Longo
Hawai’i
0.37

110.
Kylin Muñoz
Washington
0.32

106.
Chelsea Heier
Santa Clara
0.32

121.
Alyssa Anderson
Santa Clara
0.31

130.
Shelbee Berringer
Central Arkansas
0.31

216.
Marissa Collins
Central Arkansas
0.28

232.
Cassie Strickland
Washington
0.28





Hitting Pct.
1.
Chelsey Feekin
Wichita St
.449

18.
Jade Vorster
Hawai’i
.384

25.
Alicia Dittrich
Central Arkansas
.380

40.
Taylor Hammonds
Central Arkansas
.365

44.
Megan Anders
Santa Clara
.362

174.
Haley Cameron
Santa Clara
.304

212.
Kaleigh Nelson
Washington
.296





Kills/Set
1.
Tyler Henderson
Tulsa
5.21

11.
Emily Hartong
Hawai’i
4.57

29.
Jessica Hays
Central Arkansas
4.31

49.
Krista Vansant
Washington
4.11

85.
Jane Croson
Hawai’i
3.74





Assists/Set
1.
Lauren Plum
Oregon
13.25

3.
Marissa Collins
Central Arkansas
12.34

86.
Mita Uiato
Hawai’i
10.26





Digs/Set
1.
Dani Shepherd
Pennsylvania
6.56

161.
Jenna Orlandini
Washington
4.21

192.
Shelbee Berringer
Central Arkansas
3.99






Things that jump out in the individual statistics:
  • While team stats rank all 328 Division 1 teams, individual stats only cover the top 250 in each category. Since there are nearly 4,000 athletes on D1 volleyball rosters, these individual stars can be deceptive, since they may or may not have a passel of teammates lurking just below the 250 cutoff.
  • That said, Amanda Gil is the best blocking middle in the country, and teammate Kylin Muñoz may be one of the best 2-3 blocking outsides (with teammate Kaleigh Nelson not far behind, at 0.86 blocks/set.)
  • Central Arkansas setter Marissa Collins (#3 nationally in assists) clearly has a connection going with right-side hitter Jessica Hays (#29 in kills/set) and with middle blockers Alicia Dittrich (#49 in hitting percentage) and Taylor Hammonds (#40 in hitting percentage). On top of that, Hays can serve (#13 in aces/set)
  • Hawai’i’s Emily Hartong is an All-American and a big-time hitter. If Washington and Hawai’i should advance to the second round, the battle between Hartong and Krista Vansant could be memorable. The Wahine Rainbow’s Jane Croson was Hartong’s high school teammate (Los Alamitos, CA), and can also bring it, despite off-court baggage that resulted in a one-month suspension from the team during October. (Hartong, by the way, is the Hawai’i player who earlier this week was quoted describing Washington’s Hec Ed Pavilion as “a small gym, packed with fans …”)


NOT a Central Arkansas mascot
And if you guessed a Sugar Bear is a cartoon character on a cereal box, you are dead wrong.

Back when the university was known The Arkansas State Teachers College, teams variously used nicknames like Tutors, Teachers, Pedagogues, Pea-Pickers and Normalites.

Arkansas is nicknamed the “Bear State,” and on April 7, 1921, a reporter referred to a team for the first time as the Bears.

To this day, most UCA teams call themselves Bears. But, according to Assistant AD for Media Relations Steve East, some women’s teams followed a regional tradition and called themselves the Lady Bears or Bearettes.

In 1980, Ron Marvel took over as coach of the women’s basketball team. He went on to coach for 24 years, winning 489 games, and retired a legend.

But as Marvel began his long run, he didn’t cotton much to the diminutive terms for his teams. So, says East, Marvel called them the “Sugar Bears.”

The name stuck, and was adopted by other UCA women, including the volleyball team. And, no, East says, he knows of no other university in the nation that uses “Sugar” to identify its female teams.

Interestingly, when Central Arkansas added women’s softball and soccer, neither of those teams chose to call themselves Sugar, and are known—as all the men’s teams are—simply as Bears.

And now, you know.

NOTES:
  • Want to know how well Krista Vansant is recovering from her ankle injury? Want to know how she’s getting ready for the Sugar Bears? You can ask her yourself, by joining in the Seattle Times live chat, Thursday, November 29, at 1PM. Just go to the Seattle Times online Sports section.
  • The most famous athlete so far to graduate from Central Arkansas? Former Seattle Sonics first-round pick Scottie Pippen.


1 comment:

  1. In Southern parlance, "sugar" is not all that far removed from "wahine" in Hawai'ian... a sexist diminutive. Many Hawai'i fans now say 'Bows rather than Wahine.

    ReplyDelete

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