Big Ten Wonk
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Gene Keady
Purdue plays at Indiana tonight and, barring unforeseen events in the Big Ten tournament, this will be the last game between these two erstwhile rivals during Gene Keady's tenure as coach of the Boilermakers. It seems as good a time as any for a blog devoted to Big Ten basketball to recognize the man who's prowled the sidelines in West Lafayette for 25 years.

Wonk has no long flowery tribute to offer. Merely what I know and what I remember about Keady....

That for far too long, he made my life as an Illinois fan miserable. Every fan scans the schedule of their team in advance and does a quick mental calculation of the likely W's and L's. For many, many years, the date at Mackey Arena was calculated in my book as a likely L.

That he coached the player who to this day is still the single most dominant scorer Wonk has ever seen in Big Ten play, Glenn Robinson.

That, in addition to the above paragraph being true, Keady's "best" players were most often in the Brad Miller/Brian Cardinal mold--players who weren't necessarily the most talented but ones who left it all on the court. (And yet look at those "not so talented" millionaires now.)

That for many years his teams were instantly recognizable as coached by Keady: tenacious defense; rebounding with a vengeance; and tough screens and constant motion on offense.

That he went from being a high school coach in Beloit, Kansas, to the Elite Eight.

That, for all the talk of his recent struggles, Keady is still the last opposing coach to walk in to Assembly Hall in Champaign and walk out with a win.

That he is a spontaneous and witty guy in a profession that seems to be trending toward cautious corporate types.

And that, primarily for this last reason, he will be genuinely missed by this blogger.

Best wishes, Coach.

Forget PPG. Remember PPWS.
There's no trick to putting up a nice number for points per game (PPG). Just shoot a lot. But who would get the most points from the same number of shots?

To answer that question we turn to the handy stat that not only measures scoring efficiency, it also captures more than just points from the field (unlike, say, points per shot or "PPS"). This stat takes in both FGA's and FTA's. It's points per weighted shot (PPWS), developed cannily by John Hollinger (The Basketball Prospectus) and renamed brazenly by Wonk.

Here are the latest Big Ten PPWS numbers and, no, the top three aren't alphabetized. This is the actual order of finish for the week, with the top three separated by mere hundredths of a point:

Top 20 PPWS
1. James Augustine, Illinois (1.38)
2. Dee Brown, Illinois (1.38)
3. Kelvin Torbert, Michigan State (1.38)
4. Luther Head, Illinois (1.32)
5. Carl Landry, Purdue (1.32)
6. Brent Lawson, Minnesota (1.28)
7. Alan Anderson, Michigan State (1.28)
8. Maurice Ager, Michigan State (1.27)
9. Jeff Hagen, Minnesota (1.27)
10. Roger Powell, Illinois (1.26)
11. J.J. Sullinger, Ohio State (1.26)
12. Adam Haluska, Iowa (1.25)
13. Michael Jenkins, Northwestern (1.24)
14. Courtney Sims, Michigan (1.24)
15. D.J. White, Indiana (1.24)
16. Vince Scott, Northwestern (1.23)
17. Chris Hill, Michigan State (1.23)
18. A.J. Ratliff, Indiana (1.22)
19. Aaron Robinson, Minnesota (1.22)
20. Clayton Hanson, Wisconsin (1.22)

Bottom 20 PPWS
1. Ben Luber, Penn State (0.81)
2. Nick Smith, Illinois (0.86)
3. Brandon McKnight, Purdue (0.87)
4. Drew Neitzel, Michigan State (0.88)
5. Spencer Tollackson, Minnesota (0.91)
6. Roderick Wilmont, Indiana (0.91)
7. Mike Henderson, Iowa (0.92)
8. Andreas Helmigk, Wisconsin (0.93)
9. David Teague, Purdue (0.95)
10. Dion Harris, Michigan (0.95)
11. Brandon Fuss-Cheatham, Ohio State (0.95)
12. Gary Ware, Purdue (0.96)
13. Jamar Butler, Ohio State (0.97)
14. Xavier Price, Purdue (0.97)
15. Dan Coleman, Minnesota (0.98)
16. Marshall Strickland, Indiana (0.99)
17. Tim Doyle, Northwestern (0.99)
18. Warren Carter, Illinois (1.00)
19. Erek Hansen, Iowa (1.01)
20. Aaron Johnson, Penn State (1.02)

What it means. Give James Augustine 12 FGA's and six FTA's and he'll likely score about 20 points. Give Ben Luber the same number of shots and he'll likely score about 12.

What it really means. In his own ruminations, Wonk has taken to using PPWS not so much as a ranking but as more of a character reference. With all due respect to James Augustine and Kelvin Torbert, your intrepid blogger directs your attention to the other three names in the top five: Dee Brown, Luther Head, and Carl Landry. While scoring about 100 more points than Torbert or Augustine, these three are performing at virtually the same level of efficiency. Incredible. And Landry in particular merits a new adjective. This guy is not only scoring lots of points, he's somehow doing so efficiently without any--and Wonk means ANY--other consistent scoring threat on his team. What a gamer. Prodigious and efficient scorers Dee Brown, Luther Head, and Carl Landry, Wonk salutes you!

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Indiana hosts Purdue tonight in Bloomington. Gene Keady is 6-17 lifetime at IU--but one of those six wins, of course, furnished the impetus for one of the most famous set-pieces in college hoops history: Bobby Knight throwing a chair on the court in disgust as his Hoosiers go down to defeat against the Boilermakers, February 23, 1985. (And which Boilermaker was at the free-throw line when the chair was thrown? Link here and all will be revealed.) As for tonight's game, Wonk trusts no furniture will be hurled, however....Looking back on the rivalry, Keady offers what could almost be a credo for his career: "I remember the technicals and the hard-fought games."...After injuring his knee in practice last Friday and being limited to his most ineffective outing of the year Saturday against Michigan State, Purdue big man Carl Landry says he's good to go: "85-to-90 percent," according to his own self-assessment....Jeff Washburn of the Lafayette Journal and Courier says the Indiana-Purdue rivalry isn't the same without Knight. Boilermaker head-coach-in-waiting Matt Painter agrees: "It has lost its sting."...As for the Hoosiers, they say they'll be ready tonight, even with just one day of rest since Sunday's victory in Ann Arbor against Michigan. "Normally, it might take a lot out of us having a quick turnaround like that," says Robert Vaden. "But this is Purdue."

Former Minnesota coach Clem Haskins says he will be in attendance Saturday when the Gophers play at Purdue. Haskins says he will be there at the invitation of Gene Keady, who will be coaching his last game in Mackey Arena. Dan Monson's predecessor hasn't seen a Minnesota game since he was fired after the 1999 season amid an academic fraud scandal that ultimately resulted in NCAA sanctions. Haskins served under Keady for two seasons as an assistant at Western Kentucky....St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Charley Waters looks at the suddenly available former coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves and says, no, Flip Saunders will not replace Dan Monson as coach at the University of Minnesota. No one will, Waters says: Monson's staying....Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse says Monson was wise to play a relatively soft non-conference schedule back in November and December....Monson says his team knows it will have a tough game against Iowa tomorrow night because the Minnesota players remember how the Hawkeyes (albeit with Pierre Pierce) were able to contain Vincent Grier in Iowa City in January. "They were the first team to have done that this year."

Iowa coach Steve Alford says he's not concerned about his job security. "That’s just not something I worry about." Alford also says his team needs to make its case for a tournament bid in the next two-and-a-half weeks. "I'm going to continue to push guys like Greg (Brunner) and Jeff (Horner) and Adam (Haluska), guys that are veterans of playing at this level, and I demand more of them. I've got to be tougher on them. But I also want them to know it's nothing personal, and I really appreciate what they're giving." Nevertheless, the Hawkeye coach says his team would accept an NIT bid if Iowa doesn't make the NCAA tournament. "I wouldn't think we'd ever turn down postseason play."

Illinois guard Deron Williams denied a report yesterday by Sporting News NBA writer Sean Deveney that he "already has decided he will hire an agent and leave school." "That's not true,'' Williams said. "I don't know where that came from. I'm worried about the season right now. After the season, I'll decide that." Williams has said that he will go pro if he's projected as a first-round pick. Deveney's item quoted "one scout" as saying Williams would likely be a 15 to 25 pick in the first round....Bruce Weber is said to be "furious" about the timing of an article in Sunday's Chicago Tribune which revisited the November 2003 break-in at a University of Illinois apartment and Luther Head's alleged involvement in the burglary....Weber will be on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" today at 5 Eastern....Weber and his players say that in the event of a win tomorrow night at home against Northwestern, there will be no celebration--even though a win will clinch at least a share of the Big Ten title for the Illini....Lindsey Willhite of the Daily Herald gets to stretch out a little bit and delivers 1,000 words from behind the scenes at an Illinois practice.

Gregg Doyel of cbs.sportsline looks at Michigan State and says "Illinois is better than Michigan State, but then, Illinois is better than everyone in college basketball." Conclusion? "Don't go to sleep on Michigan State, which hasn't received enough credit for being what it is: one of the handful of teams, non-Illinois division, with the talent and depth to win the national championship."...Tom Izzo says his top-10 team is held in higher regard by national media than by local media. Does that bother him? Heck, no! "I'm going to do the opposite of Tom Izzo. I'm going to start focusing more on the positive things that have happened."...Kelvin Torbert is in a rare shooting slump, going just 2-of-14 on his three's over the past four games.

Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan says his team is ready as it embarks on a demanding stretch where the Badgers will play three games in six days. "You just play it....It's all TV and everything else that sets it up. We don't have any control." Wisconsin plays at Michigan State Thursday night, at Ohio State Sunday, and then returns to Madison to host Indiana one week from tonight.

Detroit Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg says suspending Michigan guard Daniel Horton for the rest of the season was the right thing to do.

Wonk back!
Don't just mutter ineffectually; email me!

The alert readers are still all "discoursey for DeCourcy"!
Wonk received many, many interesting emails in response to Friday's interview of Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News. So here's another one....


I discovered your blog a few weeks ago when it was mentioned by one of the SI or ESPN writers, and have been really enjoying it ever since.

Great interview with Mike DeCourcy today. As an Illini alum in Arizona, I have often wondered about the “East Coast bias” allegation. I always thought it had a lot to do with the time difference – that a lot of West coast games are still going on by the time the East coast writers are finishing their stories. What Mike pointed out about the Pac-10’s TV rights was an angle I hadn’t heard before and makes perfect sense. I personally am sick of hearing about the ACC and Duke in particular, and took great satisfaction in Illinois’ dismantling of Wake Forest at the start of the season.

There’s a pretty good Illini connection here in Phoenix, with Jerry Colangelo, former owner of the Phoenix Suns whose son Bryan is the GM, and Eddie Johnson (my Illini classmate) one of the Suns commentators. I think there are some parallels between the Suns and the Illini – they both have great athletes who like to push the pace, don’t have a lot of height (at least among those getting the most minutes), play very unselfishly, and are great fun to watch. I think the Illini are going to do much better in the postseason, however.

Keep up the great work!
Beth K.

Thanks, Beth! Interesting parallel. Wonk thinks Illini fans wouldn't mind having Amare Stoudemire in orange. (Bearing in mind, of course, that the NBA All-Star is younger than either Jack Ingram or Nick Smith. Amazing.)

PPWS for other conferences? Is this allowed?

I enjoy the weekly update of your PPWS stats for the league. Do you have any information for comparison from the other leagues? As a Spartan fan, I'm interested to know if anyone out there is bettering Kelvin Torbert's mark!

I greatly enjoy the blog. Thanks for the highly entertaining work.

Jeff K. in upstate NY

Thanks, Jeff! Wonk regrets to inform you, however, that, as seen in today's post, Torbert's recent slump has dropped him to third in the Big Ten in PPWS.

As for other conferences, Wonk ran some famous names just to see where they fall out--call it PPWS for random big names:

Salim Stoudamire, Arizona (1.46)
Andrew Bogut, Utah (1.37)
Ike Diogu, Arizona State (1.34)
Shelden Williams, Duke (1.28)
J.J. Redick, Duke (1.25)
Raymond Felton, North Carolina (1.25)
Sean May, North Carolina (1.24)
Rashad McCants, North Carolina (1.23)
Wayne Simien, Kansas (1.21)
Hakim Warrick, Syracuse (1.20)
Francisco Garcia, Louisville (1.20)
Taylor Coppenrath, Vermont (1.19)
Gerry McNamara, Syracuse (1.12)
Lawrence Roberts, Mississippi State (1.08)

Conclusion: Stoudamire is having a year for the ages.


<< Home

wonk back!
email me

a very special wonk
the blog's final days

me, simmons, and 150 million other american males
the four dullest topics for a hoops blog
drama, magnitude, and finality
2007 "power"-conference velocity report
special report: in tedium's path
stop DAD: defensive attention deficit
consistency, threes, and stereotypes
they shoot free throws, don't they?
every rebound needs an adjective
fouls: call fewer or allow more
was norman dale wrong?
what's PPWS?
POT: perimeter-oriented team
symphony of altruists
mammalian theory of extreme home-court advantage
law of november weight change
scoring and preventing points: how to

tempo-free aerials
(conf. games only)
big east
big ten
big XII

geek chorus
intro to tempo-free stats
2007 big ten team tempo-free stats
2006 big ten team tempo-free stats
2005 big ten team tempo-free stats
state of the stats, april '06

canonical bloggers
yoni cohen
ken pomeroy
kyle whelliston
ryan kobliska
chris west
brian cook

November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
August 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
August 2006
September 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
October 2007