Breaking down the CCSU freshmen guards

Central Connecticut State is 5-2 overall and 2-0 in conference after an overtime victory over Sacred Heart last night. The Blue Devils have one of the best offenses in the country, scoring more than 80 points per game. Part of that is thanks to the addition of two freshman, Kyle Vinales and Devon McMillan. While Vinales gets all the hype because of his ridiculous scoring outputs earlier in the season, McMillan has provided a steady presence at point guard during his freshman season. They’re the two CCSU leaders in assist rate thus far this season at 28.8% for McMillan and 26.4% for Vinales. Let’s break down where those dimes are going in order to see the difference between these two players.

First, even though the assist rates are similar, McMillan actually has 13 more assists in raw numbers 39 to 26. Thankfully most of the CCSU box scores are on ESPN.com, so I was able to use my new program to get the data for the graphs that follow. I did the Yale game – four total assists – by hand off of StatSheet. (Note: Expanding the parser to use a secondary source of play-by-play as well is now on the future feature list.)

Here are two pie charts showing who each player passes to for his assists.

Devon McMillan's assist breakdown.
McMillan's even assist distribution with Ptacek (12), Vinales (10) and Horton (10).
Kyle Vinales assists
A full 50% of Vinales' assists go to Ken Horton.

Here it’s pretty obvious that these players create their assists in different ways. Most of Vinales’ assists come when a defense collapses onto him because they’re worried about his 20 points per game scoring average. Vinales has one of the highest usage rates in the country early in the season, using 32.4% of CCSU’s possessions when he’s on the court, so that’s a fair assumption for a defense to make. Of course then they’re out of position to handle Horton, the defending NEC Player of the Year, in the middle. It’s pick your poison.

With McMillan the fact that he’s more of a pure point guard is on display. He attempts to get everyone involved. Also, because he hasn’t attempted a three-point shot yet this season, he’s often sending the ball back out to the arc. That’s where Ptacek in particular is able to do his damage. This is demonstrated even more definitely by looking at a comparison of the two players’ assists tendencies by the type of shot they result in.

Most of McMillan's assists are on threes (61%), while Vinales has an even distribution between threes (42%) and layups (38%).

Both players could use to learn a few tricks from their teammates who are great at not turning the ball over. Horton has turned the ball over on just 9.2% of his possessions this season, 87th in the country, his freshman teammates are at 23.9% and 32.9% for Vinales and McMillan respectively. Both players are dynamic playmakers in their own way, but need to reign things in a bit more so that the CCSU offense can become truly elite. Having two passers like this for the next four years though should keep the Blue Devils in contention in the NEC.

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