Big Ten Wonk
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
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 current numbers for the Big Ten:

Top 20 PPWS: through games of December 12 (12+ min. per game)
1. Je'Kel Foster, Ohio State (1.74)
2. Errek Suhr, Indiana (1.67)
3. Ben Allen, Indiana (1.61)
4. Jamar Smith, Illinois (1.50)
5. Jamar Butler, Ohio State (1.45)
6. Vedran Vukusic, Northwestern (1.39)
7. Paul Davis, Michigan State (1.39)
8. Jamal Abu-Shamala, Minnesota (1.38)
9. Marshall Strickland, Indiana (1.37)
10. Courtney Sims, Michigan (1.36)
11. Tim Doyle, Northwestern (1.34)
12. Marco Killingsworth, Indiana (1.30)
13. Daniel Horton, Michigan (1.30)
14. Lester Abram, Michigan (1.30)
15. Drew Neitzel, Michigan State (1.29)
16. Sylvester Mayes, Ohio State (1.29)
17. James Augustine, Illinois (1.29)
18. Ron Lewis, Ohio State (1.28)
19. Kammron Taylor, Wisconsin (1.24)
20. Jamelle Cornley, Penn State (1.22)

BONUS moral of the story! Expectant parents, if you want your kid to shine on the Big Ten PPWS list in 2025, resist the urge to name him "Seven" and instead choose something cool starting with a "J" like "Je'Kel," "Jamar," "Jamal," or "Jamelle." (Even the more traditional "James" will work!)

Bottom 20 PPWS: through games of December 12 (12+ min. per game--no freshmen allowed)
1. Ron Coleman, Michigan (0.74)
2. Matt Sylvester, Ohio State (0.77)
3. Michael Jenkins, Northwestern (0.80)
4. Alex Thompson, Iowa (0.84)
5. Brandon Hassell, Penn State (0.84)
6. Vince Scott, Northwestern (0.85)
7. Chris Hunter, Michigan (0.89)
8. Geary Claxton, Penn State (0.90)
9. Marcus Arnold, Illinois (0.92)
10. Doug Thomas, Iowa (0.92)
11. J'son Stamper, Minnesota (0.94)
12. Dee Brown, Illinois (0.98)
13. Alando Tucker, Wisconsin (0.98)
14. Adam Haluska, Iowa (0.98)
15. Shaun Pruitt, Illinois (1.00)
16. Dion Harris, Michigan (1.00)
17. Travis Parker, Penn State (1.01)
18. Dan Coleman, Minnesota (1.01)
19. Matt Kiefer, Purdue (1.02)
20. David Jackson, Penn State (1.02)

That's right--I've enacted a no-freshmen policy on the Bottom 20 list. Call it blogger's prerogative: December of freshman year is just too soon for inclusion here. More importantly, it doesn't really aid our understanding of Big Ten hoops so very greatly to note that teams that are struggling offensively have freshmen that (it's true!) are struggling offensively. Maybe I'm getting soft--anyway, freshmen are verboten here until further notice.

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Wisconsin beat UNC-Wilmington 54-51 on a Kammron Taylor three at the buzzer in Madison last night. With six seconds remaining in the game, Taylor took an inbounds pass at his own free throw line, drove to the right side of the key, and hit the game winner. "It was a point guard with the ball in his hands and he made a drive and had a shot," Bo Ryan said after the game. "Take that away and you have our next option. I'm not telling you that." Wisconsin shot just 6-of-21 from the field in the first half. T.J. Carter of the Seahawks led all scorers with 19 points, which in a game of this slowness (55 possessions) is really more like 25. (Box score.) BONUS visual note! Taylor needs some practice in the jersey-popping department. Two hands, Kammron, two hands.

Ohio State put six players in double figures and beat Norfolk State 92-59 last night in Columbus. This, along with the game Indiana played at Western Illinois, was one of the better offensive performances turned in by a Big Ten team this year. The game was played at an average pace (69 possessions) but Thad Matta's team broke 90 with a gaudy 1.33 points per possession. Yep, it's official: what you got here is a POT. Ohio State launched 32 threes, bringing their season figure for 3FGA/FGA to an even 39 percent. "I don't think I'd call it a green light," Matta said after the game last night. "We talk about good shot selections and when to shoot them, but I thought that was the shot they were giving us." Shooting threes this frequently puts responsibility for the offense's performance squarely on the outside shooting: if the threes go in, this'll work. If they don't, you're doomed (because there's no way you'll get any offensive boards shooting this many threes). So keep your attention focused squarely on the Buckeyes' 3FG pct. this season. (Box score. Also see the spanking good game recap at the Buckeye Sports Blitz blog.)...Former OSU coach Jim O'Brien is seeking $3.5 million in back pay and benefits as part of a wrongful firing lawsuit in the Ohio Court of Claims.

Michigan State big man Drew Naymick is banged up and might redshirt....Mo Ager has dished at least five assists in four straight games.

Minnesota guard Moe Hargrow, sidelined with a sprained ankle the past couple weeks, might return to action tomorrow night against UAB. Meanwhile Dan Monson says Vincent Grier's absence from the floor due to injury allowed several Gophers to develop faster than they otherwise would have. (But he's glad Grier's back.)

Iowa players are taking finals! (So are most other players.) With some free time on his hands, Steve Alford's grousing about the state legislature-mandated requirement that the Hawkeyes play each of the state's other three D-I schools: Iowa State, Northern Iowa, and Drake. (He's also musing about the challenges of recruiting international players.)

Michigan big man Courtney Sims took conference player of the week honors after he scored 33 against Delaware State. Incredibly, Sims did not use the occasion to guarantee a national championship--given his history of verbal adventurousness, this represents admirable restraint on the young man's part. Newly stoic close-to-the-vest type Courtney Sims, Wonk salutes you!

Purdue, it says here, is allowing opponents to shoot 43 percent on their threes. But of course if you're a Wonk reader you already know that. (Maybe I should start charging for this stuff. "WonkSelect"? Hmmm....)

Illinois big man Marcus Arnold says he's feeling better about his role and his game....Peoria high school baller Bill Cole has given a verbal commitment to play at Illinois. The 6-9 200-pound junior is a former teammate of fellow Richwoods product Jamar Smith....Andy Katz throws some love the Illini's way at

Penn State coach Ed DeChellis wonders if players' demanding 12-month schedules, including offseason weight lifting and conditioning, is behind the rash of injuries in the Big Ten this season.

Every once in a while I see a picture of a person and think to myself--and this was the good one!

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

OFFICIAL hoops blog of P.Funk!
Friday in the course of a meandering and aimless post (go figure), your intrepid blogger chanced to refer to "regular Big Ten Wonk reader Bootsy Collins." Wonk's readers respond!


Does Bootsy Collins really read Big Ten Wonk? I wants to get funked-up!

John F.

There's a literal and a figurative answer to your question, John. The literal (i.e., "accurate") answer is: "no." I am yet to see "" pop up under "details" on my site counter--though I keep looking and hoping.

The figurative answer, though, goes like this....

While I'm not one to name-drop (George Clooney told me not to), I can tell you this much: Bootsy's been a crucial behind-the-scenes player in this blog's evolution. For, after all, what are tempo-free stats if not the hoops equivalent of The Funk 30 years ago: new and wrongly construed as vaguely subversive initially but ultimately destined for wider vistas. As Bootsy himself has said:

The Funk was a bad word when George and myself came out with the first stuff, wasn't too many people talking about funk. It was almost illegal to say that on the air, at one time it was definitely illegal to say. Plus, it was kinda rowdy, it wasn't your traditional Temptations, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. Anytime something is that new, people tend to back off from it for a minute, and if it starts working then they'll start coming in. But New York was like... we had all kind of fans there in New York City but our records never got played.

See the parallels? (Ken Pomeroy = George Clinton. They even look alike!)

BONUS observation! I've conducted an exhaustive search of Lexis-Nexis, Technorati, and the Menard County Review, and confirmed that this is indeed the first time in recorded history that the words "I wants to get funked-up!" have been uttered by a resident of Montana. Congratulations, John F.!

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