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Yawnball Sweeps Through The ACC

Austin pointed out this morning that the ACC has slowly been, well, slowing down:

Average pace for ACC teams 2003-2011: 69.9, 69.4, 69.2, 68.0, 67.9, 69.1, 68.3, 67.7, 67.4. Slowly morphing into the Big 10!

Morphing into the Big Ten--there go all my Big Ten Super Happy Fun Yawn Time jokes. The dive hasn't brought the league down to the Big Ten's level--and the ACC will never be that slow--but it is heading south and, depending on your preferences, that's the wrong direction. Patrick Stevens added some analysis of the trend this afternoon, noting that things aren't likely to change with the recent coaching turnover.

Last season witnessed a pair of conference games (Virginia-Clemson and North Carolina-Boston College) in which neither team cracked 50 points. With a third of the ACC's coaches turning over again and schools opting for more methodical approaches, those might be far from the final instances of such plodding, low-scoring affairs.

Stevens really should have used possessions per 40 minutes rather than possessions per game--that way we can adjust for the influence of overtime games--but his point stands. Looking at the chart Stevens provides, it hard to feel good about the league's prospects in this department. Bennett, Donahue, and Brownell produced considerably slower teams than their respective predecessors. Mark Turgeon replaces Gary Williams, whose Maryland teams could be counted on to consistently finish near the top of the league in tempo. Gregory figures to pump the brakes a bit at Georgia Tech, while the Lowe-Gottfried exchange is probably a push.

Jeff Bzdelik maintained Dino Gaudio's relatively quick pace, but Stevens thinks that has more to do with the Deacs' incredibly poor defense than a change in philosophy. That may be the case, but without comparing opponents' time of possession pre- and post-Bzdelik, it's tough to say for sure. Wake's higher turnover rate definitely inflated their pace to some extent.

In the link to Big Ten Wonk I inserted earlier, you can see how the ACC fared in conference games between 2005 and 2007. (In terms of possessions per 40 minutes.) In the years since then, here's the picture.

Conf Games Only Poss/40 min
2008 71.0
2009 69.8
2010 67.4
2011 66.9

I'm still working on it, but I think we can find a way to blame Herb Sendek for this. Prince Valium put a pox on the league before he moved to the desert, and then he got to work making the Pac-10 into another Big Ten as well.