Tempo or pace shows how a team prefers to play. A team's style.
Do they play up-tempo? Do they like to slow it down? Do they play man-to-man defense? Or zone?
A lot of these questions can be answered calculating a team's average possession length.
APL = a team's seconds on offense and defense
What does this mean and why is it important?
This metric tells you on average, how long a team has the ball. It adds to the character of how a team plays.
This calculation isn't adjusted. It measures the entire possession meaning offensive rebounds count.
This is important because it can test assumptions about a team.
KenPom provides the following example:
If a coach insists he likes to run, his offensive APL is your personal lie-detector test.
If a coach likes to go up-tempo, but his average possession length is 20 seconds, that's not entirely true.
It's often assumed the team that controls the pace wins the game or gains an advantage. This also isn't always true. A team controls the pace often times because it's winning and not the other way around.
This means the offense often dictates the pace of the game. It's not meant to be taken as a fact. This should be examined on a game-by-game basis.
Think of APL as a decoration or ornament to a team's style.
In the 2015-16 season, West Virginia ranked 3rd in defensive APL at 15.8 seconds. An opponents' average offensive possession against West Virginia lasted around 16 seconds.
West Virginia presses to force turnovers and gives up fast-break points because of their press. They also commit tons of fouls, ranking dead last in defensive FTRate.
This style caters to a low defensive APL.
In contrast, the 2015-2016 Iowa State team ranked 18th in offensive APL at 15.5 seconds. On average, the Cyclones' offensive possessions lasted about 15 seconds.
Iowa State shot an incredibly high percentage, ranking 5th in the country with a 51.5% eFG%. The team rarely turned over the ball and seldom got to the free throw line.
This all describes a style of high offensive APL.
This is a simple stat to measure the amount of 3-point shots a team attempts.
3PA% = 3-point attempts / Field goal attempts
For example, the 2015-2016 Michigan team had a a 3PA% of 44.3. This was good for 19th in the country.
This means about 44% of the shots Michigan took, were from 3-point range.
Several other statistics contribute to a team's style. These are covered in the Team Stats section.