Big Ten Wonk
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
BONUS out-the-door edition!
I'm going to take the next few days off so today's post is going to be short and sweet. If you're in need of your daily fix of Big Ten hoopsicon, may I recommend the tempo-free stats for players that are now available a way over yonder in the sidebar? You'll find that Je'Kel Foster is truly a monster of scoring efficiency; Graham Brown and Paul Davis are a cut above the rest when it comes to rebounding; Michigan and Wisconsin are benefiting from the much-improved ball-handling of the hitherto turnover-prone Daniel Horton and Kammron Taylor, respectively; and Wolverine reserve Jerret Smith bids fair to win this year's "She's my daughter! (slap) She's my sister! (slap)" Award.

Think of these stats as my present to you--enjoy!...

...Um, this is embarrassing. You didn't get me anything?...

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Iowa beat Drake 65-60 last night in Iowa City. Canonical blogger Ryan Kobliska of Hawkeye Hoops has the game wrapped up in a nice little 715-word package: Iowa's offense is struggling--particularly in Jeff Horner's absence--but they pulled out the win anyway. Greg Brunner had a 17-12 dub-dub and is now in fact averaging said double-double. (Wonk readers, however, know that there are more players than just Paul Davis who are better rebounders than Brunner in the Big Ten--despite what the "official" stats say.) Adam Haluska shot 11 threes and made just three--two of those makes came, however, in the closing two minutes. (Box score.)

Purdue beat IPFW 79-69 in West Lafayette last night. Connecticut transfer Marcus White made his debut as a Boiler, hauling down five boards in 12 minutes. Chris Lutz led Purdue in both shot attempts (14) and points (18). (Box score.)

Penn State beat New Hampshire 75-51 last night in State College. Geary Claxton led the Nittany Lions with 18 points and Ben Luber made 4-of-5 threes on his way to 16. (Box score.)

Illinois plays Missouri tonight in St. Louis in the 25th annual Braggin' Rights game between the schools. Oracular Illini observer Mark Tupper pulls out his trusty oven thermometer to measure more precisely the heat that Quin Snyder's under at the moment.

Michigan State plays Wisconsin-Green Bay in Green Bay tonight. Tom Izzo says he's looking for more intensity (it's true!) from Marquise Gray and Goran Suton.

Minnesota plays Grambling in Minneapolis tonight. Profile of Harvard transfer and Gopher walk-on Zach Puchtel here. BONUS Noam Chomsky note! I'm fairly confident this is the first time in the history of the species that the words "Harvard transfer and Gopher walk-on" have been used in sequence.

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

Stop being so nice to us
Yesterday I said some nice things about Indiana. Alert reader and ever-wary Hoosier fan Nate is having none of that, thank you....


I agreed with your points about the Hoosiers' game last night (though a 9 PM EST start led to a tired Hoosier fan this morning; why do they have 9 PM EST starts, especially when the early game was in Kansas). I think the reason Ben Allen didn't get that many minutes was that this was not his type of game....Allen isn't the fastest guy in the world (notably lagging behind on the offensive end a couple of times last night in limited play) and he hasn't learned to play physical defense without fouling (Withers would have eaten him alive).

The one positive of D.J. White's injury is that the rest of the team is playing with confidence (see your second paragraph). They know they can play with No. 1 in the land and hopefully have gotten their let-down game out of the way. This should be a fun team to watch (unless you cheer for one of the other ten Big Ten teams).

Still, there are two things that concern me about this team:

1) Enough playing time. Yes, right now, everyone is passing the ball to the open guy (heck, even Jay Bilas says so--it must be true). But what happens when guys feel like they aren't getting enough PT? Does the extra pass still come? No. 1 culprit: Roderick Wilmont (aka Bracey-lite). Don't get me wrong, I like his game--he shoots well from 3, plays aggressive defense (though forgets team-help responsibilities sometimes). I think he could have problems (forcing shots is his specialty) if he doesn't get on the court enough. Hopefully, Coach Davis will stay on top of this. (By the way, Terry Hutchens wrote about this in his "Ask the Expert" column today.)

2) Ball handling. Neither of our PGs thrills me in regards to their play. They seem to be too careless with the ball (see ISU game) and in games where there are low number of possessions (I hate watching Northwestern games), this could cost the Hoosiers. Also, Robert Vaden, who seems to be another option to handle pressing situations, doesn't make good decisions. Yes, he is looking for his teammates, but getting it there is another story sometimes. In big games (aka NCAA tourney), PG play is usually the key factor to a team's victory. If IU had a Quinn Buckner-type PG, I would like our chances for adding a sixth national championship. Unfortunately, I think lack of ball handling could cripple this team's chances in March.

P.S. Memo to Lewis Monroe: Teams have figured out you don't shoot. Stop just swinging the ball to a guarded teammate (happened twice in the first half). Either shoot or drive and dish.

One final question: should I be nervous when the two leading rebounders last night were Strickland and Monroe? Or is that a good sign?

Nate D.

Fret officially recorded, Nate--thanks! And, by the way, you should be neither nervous about nor encouraged by the beastly board work of Strickland and Monroe Monday night, which falls squarely under the heading of "total fluke."

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