Gophers 2013-14 Recap Part IV: Turnovers

Gophers 2013-14 Recap Part IV: Turnovers

On Offense…
Turnover percentage in 2013-14 was down throughout college basketball, dropping to 18.3% from 20.0% a year earlier. The decline is largely attributable to the increase in fouls called by referees.

So, while Minnesota’s improvement in offensive turnover percentage was good last season, it wasn’t as remarkable as it may initially appear.

Minn D-I % Diff
2013-14 18.1% 18.3% -1%
2012-13 21.5% 20.0% 8%


The Gophers turned the ball over at about the same rate as the average D-I team this past year. In Tubby Smith’s last run with Minnesota, the squad’s turnover percentage was 21.5%, or 8% higher than the D-I average.

An improvement wasn’t unexpected as things could not have gotten much worse. In our preview last season, we noted that the biggest culprits in 2012-13 were the Minnesota bigs.  Nonetheless, it’s fair to say 2013-14 was an improved showing.

There’s still plenty of room for improvement, but the Gophers lose two of the players who helped keep the turnover rate low last year: Austin Hollins (good with the ball) and Malik Smith (quick trigger). DeAndre Mathieu’s 24% turnover rate was by far the highest of any regular.

Important to recognize is that the Gophers struggled in conference games. Their 20.0% turnover rate was the second-worst in regular season Big Ten play.

In 2012-13, Minnesota’s conference rate of 21.3% was slightly better than their full season percentage. Still, the 21.3% was bad enough to place them in the basement of the Big Ten.

On Defense…
Defensively is where the turnover statistics get a bit odd.

Minn D-I % Diff
2013-14 18.7% 18.3% 2%
2012-13 20.2% 20.0% 1%


At first glance we see that the Gophers defense turned the opposition over at slightly above the D-I average in both years.  We believe the Gophers should have been able to create more turnovers with Richard Pitino coming into the mix and DeAndre Mathieu at point.

Mathieu posted a 3.2% steal rate, good for 7th best among Big Ten regulars. Austin Hollins posted a 3.7% rate which placed him behind only Shannon Scott and Aaron Craft of Ohio State.

The team’s steal rate was 11.5% – nearly equaling 2012-13’s 11.7%. Now, consider the D-I average steal rate fell almost a full percentage point between years and Minnesota’s steal rate starts looking pretty good.

In fact, the Gophers had the 23rd best steal rate among 351 D-I teams (including teams transitioning in). Only Ohio State, who boasted one of the nation’s best defenses, was better among conference peers.

So what is the issue? We’ve explored this topic before: non-steal turnovers. Minnesota’s rate was better than only 10 other D-I teams. The numbers are amazing and today we are also looking into the topic in further detail <HERE>.

Nonetheless, the message we’d send now is that you will likely hear Richard Pitino talk about improving defense in 2014-15 and he’ll talk a lot about steals. The truth is the Gophers aren’t likely to improve their defense by creating more steals in 2014-15. Last season was already very good and the team loses its top steal man.

However, there is a ton of improvement to be had in turning the other team over via non-steal turnovers.  There are a number of reasons why we believe improvement in that area will be realized, but if it’s not, the team’s overall defensive improvement will be muted.

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