Big Ten Wonk
Monday, December 19, 2005
Is Ohio State the new Michigan?
Ohio State beat Iowa State 70-67 Saturday night at the new Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines and at 7-0 the Buckeyes are starting to hear some of the same praise and receive some of the same buzz that Michigan was getting last week when they were, um, 7-0. Will Thad Matta's team do better in this spotlight than did (see below) Tommy Amaker's? Of course! The Wolverines' eighth game was against UCLA but Ohio State's is against Tennessee State (Friday).

Alright, so OSU's likely to go 8-0. But how good are they really? It's a fair question for a team that's hitting an absolutely unconscious 46 percent of its threes and yet has still had to win close games: against Butler (in OT) and St. Joseph's most notably, though Virginia Tech and even Belmont (!) were closer than those scores might indicate.

And, just so we're clear, it is indeed their league-best outside shooting (39 percent of their shots are threes) that's propelling the Buckeyes' league-best offense. So I have the same message for the men in Columbus that your intrepid blogger had for Indiana when their then-league-best offense was being propelled by their then-league-best outside shooting: enjoy the good times while they last. Because, based on performance-to-date, the Buckeyes have little else to fall back on when their shooting goes cold (which, of course, it will, if only for a night now and then).

In fact, that correction in shooting percentage is likely to be helped along by adjustments by opposing Ds. Surely by now the scout on Ohio State is clear: make someone besides Je'Kel Foster beat you. Foster is, as of this morning, the best shooter in the nation: he's hitting 60.5 percent of his threes and his PPWS, which was already at a league-best 1.69 going into the weekend, actually went up after he lit up the Cyclones up for 28 points and now stands at 1.76. Iowa State helped this along by playing a 2-3 zone that treated non-Terence Dials Buckeyes much more equally than they should be treated. Opponents should in fact let Matt Sylvester (25.0 3FG pct., 0.82 PPWS) shoot anytime he wishes. Jamar Butler's been hot thus far (47.6 3FG pct.) but I think the sophomore's shooting will cool off at some point--particularly if he's being made to work to bring up the ball.

Will this increased defensive attention to the perimeter bring Dials back to life? Matta would hope so. But right now OSU's in a groove with Foster: he's likely to start seeing some box-and-one--if not literally, then the moral equivalent thereof.

BONUS all-blogospheric links! "A fun game to watch," says Buckeye Commentary. "Hard-fought win on the road," adds Buckeye Sports Blitz. Iowa State blogger CrossCyed, on the other hand, is somewhat more circumspect: "craptastic." (Box score.)

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Team stats have been updated. They're current through December 18! They're tempo-free! They're highly misleading this early in the year! (But, all things being equal, a little less misleading with each passing week.) Get on over to the sidebar and enjoy.

The weekend in Big Ten hoops--Friday!
Michigan State beat Cleveland State 83-75 in East Lansing. Shannon Brown led the Spartans with a career-high 27 points. Paul Davis (24-11) and Mo Ager (22-10) both recorded dub-dubs. Meanwhile, the Vikings' Carlos English stood out, albeit in a losing cause: 12 assists. The game stayed kind of close courtesy of 19 State turnovers and 14 threes by Cleveland State. (Box score.)

The weekend in Big Ten hoops--Saturday!
UCLA beat Michigan 68-61 in Ann Arbor. The Bruins employed what might be called a reverse-Duke-against-Indiana strategy. Faced with both a potent interior scorer (Courtney Sims) and a hot outside shooter (Daniel Horton), UCLA, unlike the Blue Devils, chose to take away the post and doubled Sims without mercy every time he touched the ball. It worked. Sims recorded two shots and four turnovers in 26 minutes. Horton went 0-of-7 on his threes. And, make no mistake, shooting was the difference in this one--rebounding was almost exactly even; turnovers, essentially so. BONUS where-to-go-for-more note! Your intrepid blogger is going to take a page from the book of blogger extraordinaire Ken Pomeroy, who (I am not making this up) once rather proactively referred his readers to Big Ten Wonk for an Illinois-Wisconsin preview that I hadn't written yet. In that same spirit, then: canonical blogger Brian at mgoblog has promised to adapt his football-honed play-by-play Upon Further Review feature to the alien hardwoods of hoops. Should be interesting stuff (maybe even a first?). Bring it on, Brian! D'oh! Wolverine linky backfill! While you're waiting patiently for Brian's UFR, see this outstanding game recap from Schembechler Hall, a blog that on occasion has given me some of the same thoughts I had when I first read Kyle Whelliston: it's almost too well written to be a blog. (Box score.)

Iowa beat Arizona State 62-43 in Iowa City. This blog has already alluded to the possibility that the Sun Devils are not very good this year. Still, ASU was held to an effective FG pct. of just 36.8--this marks the fifth time this season the Hawkeyes have held an opponent to an eFG pct. of less than 40. (And before you write off all those games as being tainted by weak opposition, keep in mind one of those instances was NC State.) Greg Brunner improved his standing in Wonk's rebounding pct. stat with 15 boards in just 31 minutes. Freshman Hawkeye guard Tony Freeman notched seven assists. (Box score.)

Purdue beat New Orleans 68-56 in West Lafayette. Freshman Chris Lutz led the Boilers with 20 points and sank 4-of-9 threes. (Box score.)

The weekend in Big Ten hoops--yesterday!
Northwestern beat Seton Hall 44-42 in East Rutherford, NJ. Definitely a nominee for Box Score Oddity o' the Year: this game featured in and of itself two of the worst four shooting performances in any game involving a Big Ten team so far this year. The Wildcats managed just a 33.7 effective FG pct.--normally that's death anywhere, much less on the road against a Big East team. Not this time--because the Pirates had an eFG pct. of 29.4. How bad is that? Only Maryland-Eastern Shore, playing against Iowa in the Hawkeyes' first game of the year, has shot more poorly (28.0) this year in a game involving a Big Ten team. (Box score.)

Penn State beat St. Francis 88-74 in State College. In a relatively fast-paced game (74 possessions), the Nittany Lions shot just 12 threes--and made nine of them. Travis Parker led PSU with 22 points and hit 3-of-3 threes. After missing the Pitt game with a shoulder injury, Ben Luber returned for Penn State and recorded seven assists. (Box score.)

Michigan State beat Florida International 85-58 in East Lansing. Portrait of a blowout: a 44-19 halftime lead, four Spartans in double-figures and dub-dubs for Mo Ager (18-14) and Paul Davis (18-11). As an aside for all State fans emailing me and saying Tom Izzo's defense will be fine this year: granted it was against Florida International, but this is was what we all thought the D would look like--really tough. Remember one thing: when someone (in this case Ager) joins Davis in crashing the defensive glass (84.1 defensive rebound pct.), this is a very tough team to beat. (Box score.)

Illinois beat Coppin State 61-42 in Champaign. A functional DNP against the winless Eagles (0-8), perhaps notable for only three things: the fact that it was still a seven-point game with 15 minutes to go; the fact that it was the Illini's worst performance of the year as far as holding on to the ball (giving away the ball 16 times in a 57-possession game for a 28.1 TO pct.); and the fact that for the third time in the last four games the team playing the Illini slowed things down to under 60 possessions. (Box score.)

The (extended) weekend in Big Ten hoops--tonight!
Indiana plays at Charlotte (ESPN2, 9 ET). Hoosier big man D.J. White is expected to see action for the first time this year. White's been out with a broken left foot since IU's exhibition opener six weeks ago.

Wonk speaks!
Yes, bloggers have voices: here's mine, courtesy of Kyle Whelliston at The Mid-Majority (TMM) and the latest TMM Report podcast. I reserve the right to say more about this tomorrow after you've given it a listen. For now, let me note simply that Kyle's intro on the link is, for better or worse, quite accurate: "John Gasaway, the Big Ten Wonk, joins us for a half-hour to talk PPWS, NoCal mid-major hoops, and Bootsy Collins." (Given that the entire population of humans interested in all three of those things is pretty much restricted to, um, me and Kyle, I'm not sure this will prove to be TMM's most heavily-trafficked page. But I had fun.)

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

Take a bow, Dean Oliver! (And Ken Pomeroy!)

I'm a basketball writer (for Basketball Times and Hoopville, among others) and have covered the sport for over 25 years. I'm interested in the statistical angle and charted possessions while I covered Seton Hall-Northwestern today.

For the game Northwestern had 61 possessions and 44 pts: 0.72 points per possession. The Hall had 42 pts: 0.68 PPP. (Ouch and ouch!)

After the first four minutes of the game it was 9-2 Hall on five possessions. Over the next four minutes Seton Hall scored two to make it 11-2--over that span both clubs had six possessions. So with one-fifth of the game gone, both clubs had settled into a pace on-track for 55-60 possessions. I chart all games I cover this way. It's interesting to see how teams settle into their game pace the opening four or five minutes of the contest.

This game won't have its tape fed-exed to Springfield but it was a competitive contest and nice road win for the Wildcats. Feel free to use this info and keep up the good and enlightening work.

Ray Floriani
Basketball Times

Thanks, Ray. You observed the game first-hand and counted possessions in real time (just like North Carolina coaching legends Frank McGuire and Dean Smith--or, more precisely, their assistants--used to do). I wasn't at the game so I had to rely on the box score and an equation formulated by Dean Oliver (with a twist introduced by Ken Pomeroy). As soon as I opened your email, I went to re-check my numbers for this game.

They're as follows: 61.4 possessions, 0.72 points per possession for Northwestern, 0.68 PPP for Seton Hall.

Many thanks for the field-check, Ray.

<< 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