Ahearn: He came, he shot free throws, he left

With three games left to play in what has been another truly great ACB season, some folks are thumbing through the league record books to see which bits of 2009-10 might be immortalized in statistics when it’s over.

Over at the league’s official website, Daniel Barranquero takes a long look – no, a loooooooooooong look – at the facts, figures and numbers of 2009-10 ACB play. Some of the stats to watch for as Spanish baloncesto closes the season are listed below the break.

(Serious number junkies, Hispanophones, ACB fans/historians and all those into the general statistical voodoo should read the entire article packed with 50 figures to put things in numerical perspective — some really outstanding work by Sr. Barranquero.)

The teams:
• At 28-3, FC Barcelona could garner the single best record ever under the current schedule format. The league record is 28-4 and is held by Baskonia; note that Barcelona will play 34 games in 2009-10, while the record-setting Baskonians played 32.

• With two more wins at Palau Blaugrana, Barça would go 17-0 in defending home court in ACB play (for the record – so to speak – they’re currently 26-1 in Barcelona overall for 2009-10), a feat no team has accomplished. The record sits with the above-mentioned Baskonia team, which went 16-0 in hometown Vitoria.

• Ignominy threatens Caja Laboral Baskonia: Should the Baskonistas not average more than 72 points per game over the final three, the 2009-10 team would become the lowest-scoring Baskonia team ever.

• On the other hand, if Baskonia holds opponents to 50 points per game in closing out the season, they’ll have established an all-time club best defensive mark.

• Suzuki Manresa is scoring just 71.39 points per game; if the team averages under 70 per over its final three games, that’s a ten-year ACB low.

• Xavi Pascual must be drilling those extra-pass lessons this year: Barça’s 17.58 assists per game is well ahead of the all-time ACB mark of 17.1. Leading this passing machine are Ricky Rubio with 4.4, Juan Carlos Navarro dishing out 3.4, and Victor Sada at 2.4 apg.

• As a team, 2009-10 Valencia is shooting 81.4% from the free-throw line, which would be the all-time ACB record in the category.

• At just 18.3 per game, Baskonia is committing fewer fouls than any ACB team in the last 10 years.

The individuals:
• Anybody remember Blake Ahearn? The former Missouri State Bear appeared on the Estudiantes Madrid roster long enough to go 57-of-58 on free throws in about a dozen games. This insane rate of 98.28% would represent a single-season ACB record and a seemingly difficult one to topple. (Is the league really going to put this one in the books? A dude averaging 1.7 free throws per game?) Those who follow the college game may recall Ahearn as the all-time leader in free-throw shooting, going for a career 94.6% rate from the line while taking three NCAA titles in the category.

• Shooting a crazy 52.03% on three-pointers this season, Rafa Martínez looks fit to break Saulius Štombergas’ mark of 51.85% set way back in 2000-01. (Incidentally, of the 64 Martínez has sunk for Valencia in 2009-10, few were more significant than that below, The Shot That Sunk The Mighty Barça’s 25-game winning streak…)

• Omar Cook of Unicaja needs just eight assists to break the single-season ACB modern-day mark set by Fede Ramiro.

• Miloš Vujanić is within range of an odd distinction: Should the CB Murcia player surpass Tiago Splitter and Bruesa GBC’s Andy Panko in free throws made (Splitter’s currently at 4.38 and Panko’s got 4.37 per game while Vujanic has 4.32), this would make the first time in ten years a player on a last-place team has led the ACB in the category.

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