Big Ten Wonk
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Feisty mid-majors on your home courts, Wonk salutes you!
This really calls for an acronym, no? Very well: the Big Ten went 0-2 against FMMOYHC's last night....

Indiana State beat Indiana 72-67 in Terre Haute. The Sycamores held Marco Killingsworth to 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field. "I thought [Indiana State] did a great job of playing [Killingsworth] physical,'' Mike Davis said afterward. "He missed some point-blank shots that he normally makes, but when they did double and triple him, the opportunities to get it out were there, but he didn't get it done." Killingsworth turned the ball over seven times--indeed, the Hoosiers actually shot better than did Indiana State but IU gave the ball away no less than 22 times. It was the difference in the game. (Box score.)

Northern Iowa beat Iowa 67-63 in overtime in Cedar Falls. Ben Jacobson helped the Panthers get the game to OT with three threes within 90 seconds in the final three minutes of regulation. And teammate Erik Crawford scored seven points in OT to help his team defeat the Hawkeyes for the third consecutive time in the UNI-Dome. Particularly costly for Iowa was the possession in OT where UNI recorded two offensive rebounds before sinking a go-ahead three. "In the last minute-40 they just dominated the glass and got a lot of extra shots," Steve Alford said after the game. Hawkeye guard Jeff Horner watched the OT from the bench after hobbling off the court with an injured knee. Horner's status for Friday's game at Iowa State is yet to be determined. (Box score.)...Former Iowa big man Brad Lohaus has entered a guilty plea on theft charges for allegedly failing to deliver items he sold on eBay.

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Purdue big man Carl Landry announced his intention yesterday to redshirt this season. A second-team All-Big Ten selection last year, Landry says he still feels the effects of offseason knee surgery and plans to return next year for his final season of eligibility. Landry did not dress for the Boilers' game against Chicago State in West Lafayette last night, a game Purdue won 69-56. (Box score.)...In addition to contending with Landry's absence, the Boilers also played last night without the services of Korey Spates (concussion) and Gary Ware (ankle). All of which meant more PT (and some big pub) for walk-on Bobby Riddell. Purdue will get some help for this year a week from Saturday when Connecticut transfer Marcus White becomes eligible....Former Purdue coach Gene Keady has accepted a position with the Toronto Raptors....BONUS 11-month meme look-ahead! Buy your Purdue stock now. Next year: the return of Landry, David Teague, Tarrance Crump--and pretty much everyone else playing now.

BC played in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge after all--and lost
Despite a certain ESPN commentator improbably confusing Travis Walton (young and skinny) with Matt Trannon (old and big), Michigan State beat Boston College 77-70 in the nightcap of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York City last night. Where in the world has Marquise Gray been hiding himself? That drive-and-dunk early in the second half? Good grief, that was worthy. If this keeps up we scribes will have to throw out the "Izzo looking for a Power Forward" story for good. For his part, Lansing State Journal columnist Todd Schulz credits the Spartans with keeping their composure when the Eagles whittled a 13-point deficit down to just two points late in the game. And pocket pontiff Andy Katz proclaims State "just fine, albeit flawed like all Final Four contenders." (Box score.)

What can tempo-free stats do for you? They can save you from saying things like: "MSU (6-2) finally showed some glimpses that it had regained its traditional scrappy, blue-collar defense." Is this true? Of course not! It was a slow game (60 possessions) because BC wanted it that way. Here are the numbers: in the 215-point three-OT shootout with Gonzaga in Maui, State allowed the Zags 1.18 points per possession. In last night's slugfest, the Spartans allowed the Eagles 1.09 points per possession. (Tom Izzo is much closer to the truth of the matter: "I don’t think we played great, but we found a way to win.") Any more scrappy blue-collar defense like this and MSU will soon be the Wake Forest of 2006--an offensive juggernaut, yes, but still ripe to be knocked off the first weekend by some upstart West Virginia-type.

In today's less Jimmy V-ish venues....
Wisconsin plays Wisconsin-Green Bay in Madison tonight. Mark Stewart of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says guards Kammron Taylor and Michael Flowers have improved noticeably over last year. Tonight's game will mark the first time that high school teammates Greg Stiemsma and Ryan Tillema have faced off against each other....Brian Butch gets some love from Gregg Doyel at csb.sportsline this morning. (Doyel's not as impressed, however, with Cem Dinc of Indiana and Marcus Arnold of Illinois.)

Michigan plays Delaware State in Ann Arbor tonight. The Hornets took Northwestern to OT Saturday night before falling 61-54. Profile of Wolverine forward Ron Coleman here.

Penn State plays Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) in State College tonight. Jeff Rice of the Centre Daily Times says the Nittany Lions are looking for better outside shooting.

Minnesota coach Dan Monson says he hopes the Gophers' road win at Arizona State Monday night builds his team's confidence. The Gophers have, of necessity, been giving a ton of minutes to Adam Boone so far this year and Boone's play at the point is the subject of a nifty assessment over at Gopher Hoops this morning.

Illinois hosts Georgetown in Champaign tomorrow night and Hoya coach John Thompson III gushes about Illini freshman Jamar Smith thusly: "When he throws it up, it goes in." Peoria native Smith says his hero growing up was--who else?--fellow Peorian and former Illini point guard Frank Williams....Freshman point guard Chester Frazier is scheduled to have an MRI done on his injured left thigh tonight. (Or is it the right thigh?) If it's a muscle tear Frazier could be out for the year....In his blog this morning, oracular Illini observer Mark Tupper responds to Illinois fans who've fretted (I am not making this up) that Tupper has harmed Dee Brown's NBA prospects by writing candidly (and, I might add, accurately) of the senior's struggles at point guard this season. Ye gods....(Mark, I feel your pain! This blogger and Illini fan said the same thing last Wednesday and was subsequently termed a "critic." In actuality I'm too thin to be a critic. Roger Ebert--now there's a critic.)

Note to self: fewer invitations to inference, more ALL-CAPS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!
What happens when you post a PPWS list and, without wishing to come right out and forecast doom for the 5-8 former walk-on who currently sits atop said list, clearly imply ("the Brent Lawson of 2005-06") that this glory is fleeting? Well, said list gets linked and then that link gets linked and you learn that in fact you've said that this particular 5-8 former walk-on "is the best player in the Big Ten this season."

Wow, really? He is? Why wasn't I told!...Oh, I said that? And where precisely is this passage?

Must be one of those penumbras-and-emanations things....

Wonk back!
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The fast track to slow games
Mr. Wonk,

I regularly read your blog, partly to get information concerning future opponents, partly in an attempt to learn how anyone could be so interested in the Big Ten. Could you help me with the latter part? I believe that one of your earlier writings addressed this issue, although the piece about the glacial slowness of the Big Ten may have been from Pomeroy's blog.

Looking in from Winston-Salem, I see the Big Ten as deadly dull year after year. From time to time a team such as '05 Illinois will go up tempo, but mostly the conference harbors clutchers & gabbers, vicious screens, and half-court sets hampered by the aforementioned clutchers & grabbers. We, of course, have our problems in the ACC, but most of our teams at least try to entertain with extended defenses, quick passing, motion (or flex, for the plodders) offensive sets, and fewer clutchers & grabbers (Dook excepted, but at least they are fast clutchers & grabbers). Is there any chance that Michigan State's success last year may mean that some up tempo play will spread to your cold, northern climes?

Again, how can you love the Big Ten? Let me borrow a description from the immortal UNC play-by-play guy, Bill Currie, that I routinely apply to your conference. During a slowdown ACC tournament game in the '60s, Bill described the action as "almost as exciting as artificial insemination."

I look forward to an irreverent reply. Best wishes for some long needed changes!

Jerry H.

Irreverence? Wonk? Perish the thought! No, merely confusion....

Last night I watched a Big Ten team play an ACC team on ESPN. Last night I watched one team wanting to run and another team wanting to slow the game down. Last night I watched one team break out occasionally for dazzling fast breaks capped off by spectacular dunks. Last night I watched another team with seemingly no offensive rhythm or even plan beyond merely bulling into the lane and hoping for a foul. Last night I watched a Big Ten team win....

My personal aesthetic preference is for something north of 65 possessions, it's true. At the same time I certainly doesn't begrudge the BC's, NC State's or Georgetown's of the world for humming their own tune--so long as it works.

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