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Kelsey Griffin, Nnemkadi Ogwumike and Boxscores Values

With the WNBA Draft coming up, it's time for another analysis of Boxscores Values for the 73 teams in the six power conferences in women's basketball.

What does the boxscores metric try to do? It takes the work of David Sparks and attempts to allocate a team's total wins among each player on the team. For example, Tennessee won 32 games this year, but how many wins belong to Brianna Bass? How many wins belong to Shekinna Striklen? It attempts to assign responsibility among the players for how well the team has done.

There are problems with this approach, obviously. The point of a metric is to get you to consider or re-consider players and is not to be the end-all of an argument. One problem is that teams do not play the same number of games. As a result, I equalized the metric to a 30-game season, simply by multiplying the final results by (30/total games played).

Another problem is that teams play different strengths of schedule. On the other hand, all of the conferences listed - Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big Twelve, Southeastern and Pacific 10 - are recognized as the strongest in the country. Despite how well they do in the tournament, I don't think that any one of these conferences is so much stronger than any other. They tend to play each other in their non-conference schedules, all of them recruit prominently and for the purposes of the exercise we will consider them more or less equal.

A strength of the approach is that the boxscores method equalizes the pace of a team. We only care about divvying up wins; how fast or how slow the team plays doesn't matter much. Furthermore, it partially accounts for the "intangibles" - even though we might not know how intangibles contribute to a player's stats; they show up in the team's stats so each player gets credit for how well her team does.

Seven teams are not completely represented: the four finalists in the NCAA tournament and three of the four finalists in the WNIT. The stats I've used were correct as of the morning of April 3, 2010. I don't think a couple of wins added to a team will change the final numbers that much for any given player.

With all of that behind us, let's look at the leaders in women's basketball for 2009-10:

1. Kelsey Griffin, Nebraska, 9.22
2. Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Stanford, 7.18 (*)
3. Maya Moore, Connecticut, 7.14 (*)
4. Victoria Dunlap, Kentucky, 6.92 (*)
5. Jenna Smith, Illinois, 6.52
6. Tina Charles, Connecticut, 6.46
7. Monica Wright, Virginia, 6.41
8. Jantel Lavender, Ohio State, 6.12 (*)
9. Kayla Pedersen, Stanford, 6.04 (*)
10. Alison Lacey, Iowa State, 6.01

(*) - Underclassman.

What's surprising is how far ahead Kelsey Griffin is ahead in this list. One would expect the list to be Tina Charles, then Jayne Appel, and then everyone else. However, Griffin is third among all 884 NCAA big-conference players in "percentage of boxscore value" - in other words, how much of her team's boxscore value she eats up.

"One-Woman Teams": Percentage of Boxscore Value vs. Teammates

1. Jenna Smith, Illinois, 38.89 percent
2. Tierney Jenkins, Alabama, 32.76 percent
3. Kelsey Griffin, Nebraska, 32.66 percent
4. Shenise Johnson, Miami, 31.82 percent
5. Monica Wright, Virginia, 31.53 percent
6. Kandice Green, Seton Hall, 30.58 percent
7. Monique Reid, Louisville, 30.17 percent
8. Ife Ibekwe, Arizona, 29.97 percent
9. Carolyn Swords, Boston College, 29.76 percent
10. Victoria Dunlap, Kentucky, 29.65 percent

Given Nebraska's 32 wins, Griffin is helped by her high contribution to Nebraska's team boxscore value. She gets a very large piece of a very large pie.

Back to the first list - aside from Griffin, the numbers appear to have dropped as compared to the 2009-10 season. Last year, there were six players who contributed at least seven wins of a theoretical 30-win season. This year, there are only three such players. Last year, this top ten list had seven seniors on it; this year there were only five. Most WNBA insiders see this as a weak WNBA draft. Assuming you believe boxscores, Tina Charles and Jayne Appel aren't even the best players on their respective teams this year.

So which players who are juniors, sophomores and freshmen are the ones to look for in the future? Let's break down the list by class.

Top Seniors

1. Kelsey Griffin, Nebraska, 9.22
2. Jenna Smith, Illinois, 6.52
3. Tina Charles, Connecticut, 6.46
4. Monica Wright, Virginia, 6.41
5. Alison Lacey, Iowa State, 6.01
6. Jayne Appel, Stanford, 5.87
7. Brigitte Ardossi, Georgia Tech 5.65
8. Jacinta Monroe, Florida State, 5.45
9. Amanda Thompson, Oklahoma, 5.44
10. Lacey Simpson, Illinois, 4.94

Top Juniors

1. Maya Moore, Connecticut, 7.14
2. Victoria Dunlap, Kentucky, 6.92
3. Jantel Lavender, Ohio State, 6.12
4. Kayla Pedersen, Stanford, 6.04
5. Sarah Miles, West Virginia, 5.22
6. Danielle Robinson, Oklahoma, 4.95
7. Carolyn Swords, Boston College, 4.74
8. Jasmine Thomas, Duke, 4.72
9. Danielle Adams, Texas A&M, 4.48
10. Allison Hightower, LSU, 4.45

Top Sophomores

1. Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Stanford, 7.18
2. Shenise Johnson, Miami, 5.90
3. Samantha Prahalis, Ohio State, 5.20
4. Shekinna Stricklen, Tennessee, 4.95
5. Briana Gilbreath, USC, 4.66
6. Kelley Cain, Tennessee, 4.55
7. Da'Shena Stevens, St. Johns, 4.46

Top Freshmen

1. Britney Griner, Baylor, 5.89
2. Markel Walker, UCLA, 4.60
3. Sugar Rodgers, Georgetown, 4.43

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