With 20% of the season in the books, the Tigers are 6-0. I thought it was a perfect time for my first episode of Improved or Inflated?. In this article I will talk about statistics that LSU or individuals have improved and if it will continue through the season or if it is inflated due to sample size or competition. LSU's RPI (NOW: 26, WAS: 86 )
- Inflated. LSU's RPI will not stay in the 20's but I will be shocked if the Tigers finish worse than 86. The Tigers are learning to play together and more wins are imminent. Their schedule looks like a good fit, and if they continue to improve, their RPI will follow suit. Prediction: 55th RPI. LSU's Points per Game (NOW: 79.8, WAS: 65.4)
- Improved. In the end, I am going to predict that LSU scores 75.4 points per game. Not only does this team have more players who can score with the additions of Morgan, Collins, Carmouche, Coleman, and Hammink but the Tigers uptempo style bodes well for an improved scoring number. LSU's Rebounds per Game (NOW: 44.2, WAS: 36.9)
- Inflated. LSU is top 10 in the country in rebounds, but I do not see it continuing at such a high pace. LSU hasn't played many "big" teams with players who can rumble down low. Once LSU gets into the meat of the SEC schedule I think this number falls back to earth. I'll predict around 39.5 per game, still better than last year but mostly due to more shots being taken rather than improved rebounding. LSU's Steals per Game (NOW:13.2, WAS: 7.0)
- Improved. LSU leads the nation with over 13 steals per game. I think LSU ends the year leading the nation around 12.5 steals per game. When LSU brings the heat, opponents turn it over. I don't think it stops even after the opponents improve. Anthony Hickey leads the nation, Malik Morgan is 6th in the nation in steals per possession, and Charles Carmouche is 16th in the nation in steals per possession. WOW. LSU's Three Point Percentage (NOW: 37.8%, WAS: 32.6%)
- Improved. LSU currently has 5 players shooting over 40% from beyond the arc, 3 of which are newcomers. LSU has more weapons outside and are less prone to shooting bad shots. This equates to a better percentage. I'll predict around 36.5% for the year, much above the 33.1% NCAA average. Johnny O'Bryant's Rebounds per Game (NOW: 9.0, WAS: 6.8)
- Improved. Johnny O'Bryant gets offensive and defensive rebounds at an alarming rate. He is top 100 in both offensive (15th) and defensive (90th) rebounds per shot. He blocks out better and has gained strength to hold them in a big pack. I think this number improves to almost 9.8 per game by the time the season ends. Anthony Hickey's Steals per Game (NOW: 4.4, WAS: 2.1)
- Improved. Anthony loves to sneak up on unsuspecting victims and pick their pocket. He likes to jump in front of passes. Most of all, the fast pace LSU runs forces opponents to make mistakes, and Hickey is there to capitalize. I project Hickey's average to end up around 3.9 per game, a vast improvement over the 2.1 of last season. Andrew Del Piero's Field Goal Percentage (NOW 70.6%, WAS: 16.7%)
- Improved. ADP has been this season's biggest surprise. He has been efficient in his growing minutes and has gained tons of confidence. While the 70.6% isn't really sustainable for Andrew I think he ends the season over 60% from the field. He doesn't take shots if he doesn't think he can hit it.
Agree? Disagree? Others?