Syracuse Basketball Presents Syracuse Sabermetrics: Just How Clutch are the Orange?

Ennis hit a shot to win a basketball game for the Orange. Is he legitimately clutch? - Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Sabermetrics in baseball denies that there is such a thing as "clutch." While I tend to agree, what the Orange has done this season forces us to now look at a decent sample size of clutch performances. Who are the most clutch? Let's find out.

There is a long honored tradition of sabermatricians calling clutch myth, narrative and/or complete BS. For the most part, advanced statistics in baseball back up the notion that clutch is just that: narrative and luck rolled into a good at bat. However, in other sports, clutch can be statistically valued with numbers to a point where screaming "Small Sample Size" at the top of your lungs is not enough of a rebuttal.

Syracuse has an argument for being statistically clutch. Here's this from ESPN Stats:

1779884_10152294012017223_1734648341_n_medium
via ACC Facebook

And we all know about the Ice Man Tyler Ennis and how he clutch he is.

The NC State skews this just a bit, however the bottom line is that in 35 minutes, almost a full game of "clutch" basketball, the Orange have done extremely well and won every game. Let's see just how clutch each player is, taking their stats of the last five minutes/OT of games which conveniently adds up a 40 minute total that we can compare to a player's per game numbers.

The games that the above graphic are referencing are the following: North Carolina State, Pitt (both games), Miami, St. Francis, St. Johns and Duke even though the Orange were ahead at the five minute mark. Anyways, here's the stats from the team in these games.

C.J. Fair: 21pts, 7-14 FG (1-1 3pt), 7 Reb, 1 TO, 6-19 FT (31.5%) 4 Fouls

Tyler Ennis: 32 pts, 8-11 FG (1-1 3pt), 1 Reb, 6 Assists, 2 TO, 1 Steal, 15-15 FT (100%), 6 Fouls

Trevor Cooney: 5 pts, 1-6 FG (1-3 3pt), 5 Reb, 1 TO, 1 Steal, 1 Block, 3-4 FT (75%), 4 Fouls

Rakeem Christmas: 5 pts, 0-0 FG, 7 Reb, 1 TO, 2 Steals, 4 Blocks, 5-6 FT (83%), 4 Fouls

Jerami Grant: 15 pts, 4-6 FG, 10 Reb, 3 Assists, 1 TO, 2 Steals, 1 Block, 7-10 FT (70%), 2 Fouls

Baye Moussa Keita: 0 pts, 0-1 FG, 3 Reb, 1 TO, 3 Fouls

Michael Gbinije: 2 pts, 1-1 FG, 1 Reb, 1 Steal, 0-1 FT (0%) 1 Foul

Reiterating what we already knew: Tyler Ennis has a clutch gene. Those numbers are insane, from the 100% free throw shooting or 3:1 A/TO ratio and the 32 points makes me very happy he handles the ball most, if not all the time, in these clutch times. Many would say he's due for a regression to the mean and the NC State game would be a great starting point for this theory. Ultimately, Ennis' performance in a predictably close Duke-Cuse rematch will determine if this is actually going to come to fruition. Trevor Cooney would be the antithesis of all of his. He hasn't attempted many shots and has felt nonexistent in these close games. The numbers back it up.

Jerami Grant and C.J. Fair are very interesting cases in that both of these players are slightly more effective in these clutch times than their normal per game averages in points and shooting percentage. Jerami is a beast on the boards (he averages 7 a game currently) and does a great job manning to stay out of foul trouble. C.J. sees a slight jump in all numbers except free throw percentage which is just dreadful. I triple checked these numbers because I didn't believe it. I don't want to be the guy who keeps belittling Carl Junior, but numbers like these reinforce why he may not be getting as much attention as we often feel he deserves.

There are a bunch of different theories as to why a team performs better or worse in these clutch situations. There's the individual mental aspect of each player, the coaching element and the generally accepted luck/no different outcomes accepted by those who heavily study statistics. With the Orange, Tyler Ennis leads the charge in these tight moments with the rest of the team elevating most aspects of their respective games. Having a Hall of Fame coach certainly helps. Having a system that simplifies plays to fit the player's natural abilities certainly helps. Getting used to these types of situations certainly helps. All in all the Orange, specifically Tyler Ennis, are incredibly clutch.

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