Big Ten Wonk
Friday, December 30, 2005
COMING Tuesday!
Wonk's second annual Big Ten Season Tip-Off Double-Issue Spectacular. Festivities to include:

--Michigan State: can an offense this good be kept out of the Final Four by a defense this bad?
--State of the Team Addresses for all!

Tune in Tuesday!

Friday fives
Player stats have been updated. They're tempo-free! They're current through December 29! They're excerpted here!...

Scoring efficiency: PPWS (complete list)
1. Je'Kel Foster, Ohio State (1.73)
2. Errek Suhr, Indiana (1.68)
3. Jamar Smith, Illinois (1.58)
4. Jamal Abu-Shamala, Minnesota (1.53)
5. Jamar Butler, Ohio State (1.44)

The weird-name hegemony (intriguing J-names, plus "Errek") continues atop the PPWS list! And lurking just outside the top five....

6. Paul Davis, Michigan State (1.40)

"Paul." Aye, there's the problem. If Davis changes his name to something more like "J'malamar" his PPWS will skyrocket!

Rebounding pct. (complete list)
1. Paul Davis, Michigan State (19.1)
2. Graham Brown, Michigan (18.9)
3. Courtney Sims, Michigan (17.9)
4. Marquise Gray, Michigan State (17.9)
5. Milos Bogetic, Penn State (17.2)

My choice of Paul "J'malamar" Davis as POYSF (player of the year so far) is looking good.

Offensive rebounding (oreb pct.)
1. Courtney Sims, Michigan (15.0)
2. Marquise Gray, Michigan State (15.0)
3. J'son Stamper, Minnesota (14.6)
4. Warren Carter, Illinois (14.5)
5. Spencer Tollackson, Minnesota (14.0)

Courtney Sims leads the conference in offensive rebounding--on a team that ranks but seventh in the league in that stat.

Defensive rebounding (dreb pct.)
1. Graham Brown, Michigan (25.0)
2. Paul Davis, Michigan State (24.3)
3. Marco Killingsworth, Indiana (23.4)
4. Roderick Wilmont, Indiana (22.7)
5. Greg Brunner, Iowa (21.8)

Roderick Wilmont is listed at 6-4--is he not a beast?

Assists per 100 possessions (complete list)
1. Jeff Horner, Iowa (11.3)
2. Jerret Smith, Michigan (10.8)
3. Tim Doyle, Northwestern (10.4)
4. Drew Neitzel, Michigan State (10.3)
5. Daniel Horton, Michigan (10.1)

Bit of an optical illusion: Jeff Horner's ascended to the top of the list by sitting out with an injured knee.

Turnovers per 100 possessions (from worst to best--complete list)
1. Marco Killingsworth, Indiana (8.6)
2. Rico Tucker, Minnesota (7.8)
3. Jerret Smith, Michigan (7.0)
4. Korey Spates, Purdue (6.5)
5. Tony Freeman, Iowa (6.5)

Three freshmen (go figure) plus Killingsworth and Tucker. Bit of an optical illusion: Tucker and Smith both barely make the 12 min. per game cutoff.

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Purdue plays at Memphis tonight. "We're going to find out if we are ready for Memphis," says Boiler coach Matt Painter. "Our team defense really is improved, but when a team makes us play man-to-man, that is when some of our guys have really struggled on the perimeter." Painter says patience will be key for his young team: "We just have to continue to improve and address the differences of when you play on the road. You can't shoot the ball as quick. You have to have longer offensive possessions."

Iowa plays at St. Louis tonight. Hawkeye guard Jeff Horner is expected to return to action after sitting out three weeks with an injured knee. Iowa has lost its other two games on an opponent's home court (Northern Iowa and Iowa State) and Steve Alford says a win away from Iowa City would be nice heading into conference play: "This is not a make-or-break game, but it is a game that is very important to us. It would be nice to actually have some success (on the road) before we start the Big Ten on the road next week." The Billikens will play without senior guard Anthony Drejaj, sidelined by a foot injury suffered against Gonzaga last Thursday.

Illinois plays Tennessee-Martin in Champaign tonight. Bruce Weber says he expects his team will face more than man-to-man D: "I would think they would start in a zone and play a lot of zone."...James Augustine needs 11 boards to surpass Efrem Winters as the all-time leading Illini rebounder, a feat Augustine attributes to his agility....You know your program is popular when: Champaign authorities continue to investigate the selling of counterfeit tickets for Illinois home games. Here's a helpful tip for my fellow Illini fans: you may be looking at a fake ticket if, as happened in this instance (I am not making this up), the word "Illinois" is misspelled.

The last games of 2005--tomorrow's Big Ten hoops....
Ohio State plays LSU in Columbus. The Buckeyes hope to remain among the nation's ten unbeatens.

Wisconsin plays at Pitt. Columnist Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal says the Badgers are ready for this road test--and the conference season beyond. (And the game on January 21 against North Dakota State.)

Indiana plays at Ball State. The Cardinals expect a capacity crowd and a sartorially-coordinated student section--known in Muncie as the Nest--to aid their cause.

Michigan State plays Coppin State in East Lansing. State has received a verbal commitment from high school baller Kalin Lucas out of Orchard Lake, Michigan. The 6-0 Lucas is rated no. 23 nationally by and will join the 2007 recruiting class.

Penn State plays Mount St. Mary's in State College. BONUS Cort Basham note! The Nittany Lions haven't played a game on New Year's Eve in 53 years. Penn State lost to Western Kentucky 91-78 on December 31, 1952.

Michigan plays Chicago State in Ann Arbor. Here we are at the brink of 2006 and the Cougars have yet to play a home game.

Minnesota plays Oral Roberts in Minneapolis. Vincent Grier will likely play for the first time without any wrap on his previously injured left hand.

The first game of 2006--Sunday's Big Ten hoops....
Northwestern plays Northern Colorado in Evanston. The Bears are 0-14, a record which includes losses to Lipscomb, South Dakota State, Montana State, and Northern Arizona (twice).

Redick? Morrison? Other?...
Forget national POY. Canonical blogger Ken Pomeroy asks whether J.J. Redick is even the best player on his own team.

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

The do-Wonk's-blog-for-him contest continues!
On Wednesday your intrepid blogger asked the alert readers to make like Wonk and respond to this piece by Lansing State Journal columnist Todd Schulz. In the column in question, Schulz said Michigan State's ugly defensive numbers are no cause for alarm because they're "inflated by overtime games and MSU's up-tempo style of play." Yesterday, however, various alert readers pointed out that in fact the Spartans' numbers are Edvard Munch-level horrific even on a per-possession basis.

Today long-time Wonk-backer and die-hard Sparty Shawn M. steps boldly into the fray....

Hi, Wonk,

'Tis true, of course, that Todd Schulz is off-base in some respects in the article you posted, specifically in that State's defensive numbers remain uncomfortably crummy even in statistical measures, such as your own, that eliminate factors such as overtime games and up-tempo style of play. Simply put, judging by the stats so far, the Spartan defense is not championship caliber.

So why is it, then, that there is a near-universal shrug emanating from Spartan nation (including yours truly) about this glaring deficiency? One could argue that it's because we're bewitched by the smooth and exciting offense, or that we think our past defensive performance guarantees positive future results, or that we just have too much faith in Izzo. All of these may be true to some extent, but none of them come close to hitting the mark full on.

The real reasons we're not that concerned, in my estimation, are as follows:

1) The defensive stats, both tempo-free and otherwise, for the last six games are markedly better than those of the first seven games, indicating substantial improvement. Over the first seven games, the team allowed 1.07 points per possession, which has been cut to a respectable 0.94 over the last six (which includes games against BC and Wichita State). Moreover, the big problem area is improving: opponents over this stretch have shot 32% from 3, as opposed to 38% in the first seven games. If these trends continue, the defense will be a pleasure to watch by February.

2) As the defensive numbers have improved, so too (predictably) have the rebounding and offensive efficiency numbers. Altogether, the numbers point to a team that is executing better as the season goes on: taking a glance at Pomeroy's rankings, he has MSU at #56 overall, but #16 over the last 5 games.

3) The team's personnel has a high level of defensive ability. Davis and Trannon are very effective down low, Brown and Ager are quick and regaining their focus, and Walton and Gray do nice defensive work in limited minutes. Overall, given the emergence of Trannon and addition of Walton and Gray, one could reasonably argue that the defensive skill level on this squad is nearly as good as last year's. Couple that with a much higher offensive ceiling, and things could get interesting.

4) The team has two losses, and for better or worse, no one (including myself) is taking either one seriously. The Hawaii game was a bizarre, cramptastic mulligan, while the Gonzaga game featured two teams playing their hearts out until a missed layup ended it in triple overtime. Beyond that, we have a bunch of solid wins, including neutral-site victories against two teams then ranked in the top ten.

So overall, it seems to me that there are some meaningful defensive problems here that are worth pointing out, but it is clear that these problems are being corrected. With the upward statistical trends, the better-than-average defensive personnel, and the emphasis that the program places on lockdown defense, I'm still miles away from worried on this one. Lord knows I'll never stoop so low as to agree with Todd Schulz, but if State's defense is still drawing the attention of the stat-oriented come February, I'll be shocked.

Shawn M.

Judiciously advocated, sir! As noted above, I'll add my two cents Tuesday.

Can a golden era really be now?
A while back alert reader and Illinois fan Brian M. wondered aloud whether this might not truly be the golden era of Illini basketball. I said oracular Illini observer Mark Tupper says: sheeyeah! Today long-time Wonk-backer and die-hard Illinois fan Jason H. wades boldly into the fray.


As one alert Illini fan noted a week or so ago, we may indeed by in the golden era of Illinois basketball. I'd argue that we can't consider it that without a national title, but it's a mere quibble. Weber's record at Illinois is certainly hard to argue with.

And there's a definite aura around the program now. Wednesday night, was I the only person watching who thought, "He'll hit it," when Dee was finding a little space to launch his three just before the half?

That stretch to open conference play in January 2004 seems so long ago.

What I wonder is if we're really appreciating what we're seeing now. They're now 50-2 since the start of last season. That's just mind boggling silly.

Jason H.

Thanks, Jason!
Scoring efficiency: PPWS (points per weighted shot--more about this stat)
PPWS = PTS/(FGA + (0.475 x FTA))

Through December 29 (12+ min. per game)
1. Foster, OSU 1.73
2. Suhr, IN 1.68
3. Smith, IL 1.58
4. Shamala, MN 1.53
5. Butler, OSU 1.44
6. Davis, MSU 1.40
7. Strickland, IN 1.39
8. Sims, MI 1.38
9. Brown, MI 1.32
10. Killingsworth, IN 1.32
11. Abram, MI 1.30
12. Augustine, IL 1.29
13. Vukusic, NU 1.28
14. Nixon, WI 1.25
15. Brown, MSU 1.25
16. Wilmont, IN 1.24
17. Butch, WI 1.23
18. Vaden, IN 1.23
19. Cornley, PSU 1.23
20. Neitzel, MSU 1.23
21. Horton, MI 1.22
22. Doyle, NU 1.22
23. Taylor, WI 1.22
24. Grier, MN 1.20
25. Lewis, OSU 1.20
26. Ager, MSU 1.19
27. Luber, PSU 1.19
28. Hunter, MI 1.17
29. Mayes, OSU 1.17
30. Dials, OSU 1.16
31. Tollackson, MN 1.15
32. Dillon, PUR 1.14
33. Randle, IL 1.14
34. Flowers, WI 1.13
35. Chappell, WI 1.13
36. Minnoy, PUR 1.13
37. Parker, PSU 1.12
38. Landry, WI 1.12
39. Hargrow, MN 1.12
40. Monroe, IN 1.12
41. Calloway, IN 1.12
42. Lutz, PUR 1.12
43. Hansen, IA 1.12
44. Smith, MI 1.12
45. Hachad, NU 1.12
46. Harris, MI 1.11
47. Jackson, PSU 1.11
48. Sullinger, OSU 1.10
49. Boone, MN 1.10
50. D. Coleman, MN 1.08
51. Brunner, IA 1.07
52. Henderson, IA 1.07
53. Walker, PSU 1.07
54. Kiefer, PUR 1.06
55. McBride, IL 1.05
56. Haluska, IA 1.04
57. Bogetic, PSU 1.03
58. Pruitt, IL 1.03
59. Gray, MSU 1.02
60. Thomas, IA 1.02
61. Moore, NU 1.00
62. Tucker, WI 0.99
63. Brown, IL 0.99
64. Horner, IA 0.99
65. Green, PUR 0.99
66. Carter, IL 0.98
67. Claxton, PSU 0.96
68. Arnold, IL 0.94
69. Freeman, IA 0.93
70. Hassell, PSU 0.93
71. Stamper, MN 0.92
72. Spates, PUR 0.92
73. Smith, MN 0.86
74. Scott, NU 0.86
75. R. Coleman, MI 0.82
76. Tucker, MN 0.81
77. Sylvester, OSU 0.79
78. Walton, MSU 0.77
79. Thompson, IA 0.73
80. Jenkins, NU 0.65
81. Williams, NU 0.65
Rebounding pct. (more about this stat)
Reb. pct. = player rebounds/(total rebounds x (player minutes/total minutes))

Through December 29 (12+ min. per game)
1. Davis, MSU 19.1%
2. Brown, MI 18.9%
3. Sims, MI 17.9%
4. Gray, MSU 17.9%
5. Bogetic, PSU 17.2%
6. Augustine, IL 16.9%
7. Killingsworth, IN 16.7%
8. Brunner, IA 16.6%
9. Sullinger, OSU 16.2%
10. Stamper, MN 16.2%
11. Thomas, IA 15.9%
12. Pruitt, IL 15.9%
13. Carter, IL 15.7%
14. Butch, WI 15.4%
15. Hunter, MI 15.0%
16. Dials, OSU 14.9%
17. Wilmont, IN 14.7%
18. Kiefer, PUR 14.7%
19. Tollackson, MN 13.9%
20. Arnold, IL 13.5%
21. Randle, IL 12.9%
22. Claxton, PSU 12.6%
23. Parker, PSU 12.3%
24. Hachad, NU 12.2%
25. Minnoy, PUR 11.8%
26. Chappell, WI 11.5%
27. Hansen, IA 11.3%
28. Scott, NU 11.3%
29. Landry, WI 11.0%
30. Hassell, PSU 10.9%
31. Green, PUR 10.9%
32. R. Coleman, MI 10.8%
33. Lewis, OSU 10.4%
34. D. Coleman, MN 10.1%
35. Thompson, IA 9.7%
36. Cornley, PSU 9.4%
37. Shamala, MN 9.1%
38. Vaden, IN 8.7%
39. Henderson, IA 8.6%
40. Tucker, WI 8.6%
41. Doyle, NU 8.6%
42. Monroe, IN 8.4%
43. Hargrow, MN 8.4%
44. Ager, MSU 8.2%
45. Jackson, PSU 7.9%
46. Grier, MN 7.8%
47. Haluska, IA 7.7%
48. Foster, OSU 7.6%
49. Flowers, WI 7.4%
50. Harris, MI 7.4%
51. Sylvester, OSU 7.3%
52. Williams, NU 7.3%
53. Suhr, IN 7.2%
54. Smith, MN 7.1%
55. Moore, NU 7.0%
56. Strickland, IN 7.0%
57. Dillon, PUR 6.8%
58. Abram, MI 6.8%
59. Jenkins, NU 6.7%
60. Tucker, MN 6.7%
61. Butler, OSU 6.6%
62. Calloway, IN 5.9%
63. Brown, MSU 5.9%
64. Horner, IA 5.8%
65. Spates, PUR 5.8%
66. Vukusic, NU 5.7%
67. Brown, IL 5.7%
68. Smith, IL 5.6%
69. Lutz, PUR 5.5%
70. Horton, MI 5.4%
71. Walton, MSU 5.3%
72. Boone, MN 5.2%
73. Taylor, WI 5.2%
74. Luber, PSU 4.9%
75. Walker, PSU 4.8%
76. Neitzel, MSU 4.7%
77. Freeman, IA 4.5%
78. Mayes, OSU 4.4%
79. McBride, IL 4.1%
80. Smith, MI 3.9%
81. Nixon, WI 3.8%
Assists per 100 possessions
(Assists/individual possessions) x 100

Through December 29 (12+ min. per game)
1. Horner, IA 11.3
2. Smith, MI 10.8
3. Doyle, NU 10.4
4. Neitzel, MSU 10.3
5. Horton, MI 10.1
6. Luber, PSU 10.1
7. Brown, IL 9.6
8. Butler, OSU 9.5
9. Walker, PSU 9.4
10. Boone, MN 8.8
11. Walton, MSU 8.7
12. Vaden, IN 8.4
13. Calloway, IN 8.0
14. Mayes, OSU 7.5
15. Tucker, MN 7.3
16. Moore, NU 7.3
17. Hargrow, MN 7.2
18. Freeman, IA 7.1
19. Monroe, IN 7.1
20. Sylvester, OSU 7.1
21. Harris, MI 6.4
22. Jenkins, NU 5.9
23. Landry, WI 5.8
24. Jackson, PSU 5.7
25. Flowers, WI 5.6
26. Ager, MSU 5.5
27. Grier, MN 5.4
28. Smith, IL 5.4
29. McBride, IL 5.3
30. Brown, MSU 5.2
31. Killingsworth, IN 5.1
32. Chappell, WI 5.1
33. Scott, NU 5.0
34. Nixon, WI 4.9
35. Haluska, IA 4.8
36. Sullinger, OSU 4.8
37. Minnoy, PUR 4.5
38. Kiefer, PUR 4.5
39. Parker, PSU 4.4
40. Strickland, IN 4.3
41. Taylor, WI 4.2
42. Tollackson, MN 4.2
43. Dillon, PUR 4.1
44. Williams, NU 4.1
45. Henderson, IA 4.0
46. Foster, OSU 4.0
47. Hachad, NU 3.9
48. Augustine, IL 3.8
49. Butch, WI 3.8
50. Spates, PUR 3.8
51. Suhr, IN 3.5
52. Randle, IL 3.4
53. Cornley, PSU 3.3
54. Stamper, MN 3.3
55. Brunner, IA 3.3
56. Tucker, WI 3.2
57. Green, PUR 3.2
58. Lewis, OSU 3.1
59. Davis, MSU 3.0
60. Claxton, PSU 2.8
61. Brown, MI 2.7
62. Wilmont, IN 2.6
63. Abram, MI 2.6
64. Lutz, PUR 2.6
65. Bogetic, PSU 2.4
66. Carter, IL 2.3
67. Thompson, IA 2.2
68. Hunter, MI 2.1
69. Shamala, MN 2.1
70. Vukusic, NU 2.0
71. Gray, MSU 1.9
72. R. Coleman, MI 1.9
73. D. Coleman, MN 1.9
74. Smith, MN 1.7
75. Pruitt, IL 1.2
76. Sims, MI 1.2
77. Dials, OSU 1.1
78. Hansen, IA 0.9
79. Hassell, PSU 0.9
80. Thomas, IA 0.8
81. Arnold, IL 0.0
Turnovers per 100 possessions
(Individual TOs/individual possessions) x 100

Through December 29 (from worst to best--12+ min. per game)
1. Killingsworth, IN 8.6
2. Tucker, MN 7.8
3. Smith, MI 7.0
4. Spates, PUR 6.5
5. Freeman, IA 6.5
6. Hargrow, MN 6.3
7. Minnoy, PUR 6.3
8. Hassell, PSU 6.2
9. Vaden, IN 6.2
10. Lutz, PUR 6.1
11. Hachad, NU 6.1
12. Green, PUR 6.0
13. Sims, MI 6.0
14. Doyle, NU 5.9
15. Calloway, IN 5.9
16. Grier, MN 5.9
17. Smith, MN 5.6
18. Hunter, MI 5.6
19. Brown, IL 5.3
20. Tollackson, MN 5.3
21. Thomas, IA 5.2
22. Lewis, OSU 5.2
23. Henderson, IA 5.2
24. Claxton, PSU 5.1
25. Landry, WI 5.1
26. Dillon, PUR 4.9
27. Smith, IL 4.9
28. Boone, MN 4.9
29. Parker, PSU 4.8
30. Horton, MI 4.8
31. Ager, MSU 4.8
32. Brunner, IA 4.7
33. Dials, OSU 4.6
34. Taylor, WI 4.5
35. Bogetic, PSU 4.5
36. Randle, IL 4.4
37. Hansen, IA 4.4
38. Walton, MSU 4.3
39. Sullinger, OSU 4.3
40. Horner, IA 4.3
41. Augustine, IL 4.3
42. Luber, PSU 4.3
43. Foster, OSU 4.2
44. Brown, MI 4.2
45. Sylvester, OSU 4.2
46. Neitzel, MSU 4.1
47. Brown, MSU 4.0
48. Thompson, IA 4.0
49. Davis, MSU 3.8
50. Monroe, IN 3.8
51. Carter, IL 3.8
52. Tucker, WI 3.7
53. Flowers, WI 3.7
54. Mayes, OSU 3.6
55. Cornley, PSU 3.5
56. Jenkins, NU 3.5
57. Vukusic, NU 3.4
58. Butch, WI 3.4
59. Kiefer, PUR 3.3
60. Stamper, MN 3.3
61. Jackson, PSU 3.3
62. Abram, MI 3.2
63. Pruitt, IL 3.2
64. Gray, MSU 3.2
65. Butler, OSU 3.1
66. Chappell, WI 2.9
67. Arnold, IL 2.8
68. D. Coleman, MN 2.8
69. McBride, IL 2.7
70. Williams, NU 2.5
71. Haluska, IA 2.5
72. Walker, PSU 2.4
73. Harris, MI 2.3
74. Scott, NU 2.1
75. Shamala, MN 2.1
76. Strickland, IN 1.9
77. Nixon, WI 1.8
78. R. Coleman, MI 1.4
79. Wilmont, IN 1.3
80. Suhr, IN 1.2
81. Moore, NU 1.0
Thursday, December 29, 2005
We have our winners in the do-Wonk's-blog-for-him contest!
Yesterday I fairly pulled a George Costanza (see the episode where he avoids a work assignment by asking his protege to give him a book report on risk management) and asked the faithful readers to come back here today with a response to a Todd Schulz column in the Lansing State Journal. In said column Schulz opined that Michigan State's ugly defensive numbers are nothing to fret about because they're "inflated by overtime games and MSU's up-tempo style of play."

Wonk's readers respond!


As thousands (hundreds? dozens? three?) of your readers will note, Michigan State's league-worst scoring defense (as expressed in points allowed per game) should not be worrisome. What should be troubling to Izzo is that his team is in the bottom half of the league in point differential per possession:

Illinois, 0.28
Indiana, 0.25
Ohio State, 0.21
Wisconsin, 0.19
Michigan, 0.18
Iowa, 0.17
Minnesota, 0.12
Michigan State, 0.12
Penn State, 0.10
Northwestern, 0.04
Purdue, -0.02

Jeff I.

Thanks, Jeff. So much for the short-answer portion of the test. Now for the essay....


If your post on Wednesday were a 10-point essay question, I believe a 10-point answer would be:

In claiming that Michigan State has more possibilities than problems heading into the Big Ten season, Lansing State Journal columnist Todd Schulz briefly hints at the Spartans' true problem, defense--but then sweeps it under the rug.

It is in fact clear that, unlike in years past, defense truly is the problem for the Spartans. While Schulz is correct to point out that Michigan State is last in the Big Ten in defense at 75 points allowed per game, he claims that this number is inflated due to tempo and the overtime games that they have played.

However, despite these overtime contests, Izzo's squad has played at a pace of only 69.4 possessions per game, which ranks fifth, right in the middle, of the Big Ten. And according to Ken Pomeroy, Michigan State ranks 189th in the country in possessions per game, not exactly the speedsters Schulz claims they are.

Another point that Schulz tries to make is that with the holiday break Michigan State will have plenty of practice time to correct their defensive inadequacies. But the Spartans have underperformed in almost every aspect of the defensive game. They don't force turnovers (dead last in the Big Ten and a ghastly 319th in the nation). Nor do they defend the three-point shot (ninth in the conference) or the two-point shot (eighth). In their defense, no pun intended, their rebounding has been passable: a 70.2 defensive rebounding percentage that ranks fourth in the Big Ten.

So if Izzo can just teach his team to create turnovers, defend on the interior, and defend the three-point shot--all in a week and a half--the Spartans' defense will be just fine heading into conference play.

Grant Peterson
Gopher Hoops

Ten points, Grant! But we're just getting started. Tune in tomorrow, alert readers, when longtime Wonk-backer and die-hard Sparty Shawn M. will give his customarily excellent everything's-fine rebuttal.

And then next week I'll give myself the last word--because it's my blog. So there.

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Teams schedule their softest games in between Christmas and New Year's. Last night 11 top-25 teams were in action. They went 11-0 and won by an average of 21 points. The Big Ten was no exception to this trend....

Michigan beat Coppin State 81-53 last night in Ann Arbor. Dion Harris went 5-of-7 on his threes and led the Wolverines in both FGAs (12) and points (21). Daniel Horton notched the rare points-assists dub-dub with 11 and 10, respectively--and, with no fewer than six turnovers, Horton was just four TOs short of a tri-dub, as it were. Still, Tommy Amaker was pleased with how his team passed the rock: "I was really happy [with] the way we shared the ball." Brent Petway did not play and is expected to make his first appearance of the season Tuesday at Indiana. Petway was ruled academically ineligible for the first semester. (Box score.)

Michigan State beat Tennessee Tech 80-63 in East Lansing last night. The Spartans were held to just 28 first-half points and led by only three at the break. Mo Ager made 11 trips to the line and led the Spartans with 23 points. Matt Trannon sat out the game with a sprained ankle suffered in practice on Tuesday. Tom Izzo says this 10-game win streak is nice and all but he's worried about State playing four of its first six conference games on the road: "I know there's a train wreck coming. My job is to make sure we're ready for it. It is a brutal, brutal schedule." Not that Izzo's looking past MSU's last non-conference game, against Coppin State on Saturday: "I'm not looking ahead to those [conference] games, but I'm coaching for those games." (Box score.)

Penn State beat IPFW last night in State College. This was a tight game until the final five minutes when a 14-3 run sealed the victory for the Nittany Lions, who gave the Mastodons 19 turnovers in a game that wasn't especially fast (65 possessions). Travis Parker led PSU with a 17-10 dub-dub. Penn State is now 7-0 against teams outside the "major" conferences--and 0-3 against "power"-conference foes. (Box score.)

Illinois beat Southeast Missouri State 89-64 in Champaign last night. After falling behind 20-5, the Redhawks pulled within three midway through the first half and trailed by just nine at the half. But a 13-2 Illini run early in the second half put the game out of reach. Bruce Weber's team put up some notably gaudy rebounding numbers: a 47.1 offensive rebound pct. and an 84.2 on the defensive end. Dee Brown took a lot of shots (17) and led Illinois with 16 points. He had nothing on the Redhawks' Roy Booker, who did a pretty fair imitation of Adam Morrison: jacking up a ton of shots (20) and scoring plenty o' points (26). Backup point guard Chester Frazier returned to action for Weber and recorded five assists in only 13 minutes. Oracular Illini observer Mark Tupper says the Illinois bench enjoyed "one of its best games of the season." Warren Carter scored a career-high 14 points and Jamar ("Shooting is my job") Smith hit all four of his threes. Smith, says Tupper in the latest posting to his blog, "has become one of those players who shoots the ball and you’re practically stunned when it doesn’t go in." Weber sums up his team thusly: "I've told the guys, we're a good team. We don't have great players like we did last year. But if we play hard and play defense and play together, we can be a great team." (Box score.)

Ohio State beat Gardner-Webb 87-58 last night in Columbus. The Buckeyes were actually outrebounded in this game but turned the ball over just five times in a 71-possession game while holding the Bulldogs to an effective FG pct. of just 39.3. Terence Dials at last got some touches and responded like a man possessed: 23 points and nine boards in only 22 minutes. See the spanking good recaps to be had courtesy of the diligent bloggers at Buckeye Commentary (where this morning Wonk's been made into an adjective--cool!) and at Buckeye Sports Blitz. (Box score.)

Purdue beat Tennessee-Martin 62-54 in West Lafayette last night. The Boilers gave away 20 turnovers in a 68-possession game and made just three of 15 threes--and won, thanks in part to 1-of-13 shooting outside the arc by the Skyhawks. In a performance termed "brilliant" by at least one observer, Matt Kiefer recorded a 14-11 dub-dub for the home team. (BONUS Noam Chomsky note! I'm fairly confident this marks the first application of the adjective "brilliant" to this particular noun.) Skyhawks coach Brett Campbell offered the victors some highly qualified love after the game: "Purdue isn't the Big Ten's most talented team, but coach Painter has them playing the right way." (Box score.)

Wisconsin beat Louisiana Tech 78-52 last night in Madison. Brian Butch led four Badgers in double-figures and recorded an 18-10 dub-dub. Ray Nixon did his best Je'Kel Foster imitation and hit 4-of-5 threes. Tech's 6-8 all-around stud Paul Millsap, who came into the game averaging a double-double, was held largely in check, a result attributed by onlookers to the fact that Wisconsin's really tall. (Well, duh.) The Bulldogs had travel woes and didn't arrive in Madison until six hours before tip-off. (Box score.)

Wonk back!
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When you know what Wonk means, please overlook silly little things like accuracy

IPFW--"fast becoming the New Jersey Generals of the Big Ten"

Why? Is Donald Trump purchasing the school? Or maybe Herschel Walker is coming back to use his final year of eligibility playing hoops for IPFW?

Or perhaps, just maybe, you meant the Washington Generals?

Seriously though, just found your site and am enjoying it immensely,


D'oh! Onerous deadline pressures, editors' fault, not mine, etc., etc.

No, really, good catch. Thanks.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Reprinted without comment
The following comes from a Christmas Day piece penned by columnist Todd Schulz of the Lansing State Journal:

By this point in a typical Michigan State basketball season, there's usually plenty of danger, real or perceived, to shout about.

By this point, enemies have been spotted on the horizon or spilling over the gates of the Spartans' stronghold.

By this point, MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo is usually in full crisis-management mode, convinced his carefully constructed kingdom is collapsing around him....

By comparison, this season's MSU squad can stand on the ramparts, scan the skies and see many more possibilities than problems....

There is, of course, a small blip on Izzo's radar. At last check, the Spartans ranked last in the Big Ten - yes, last - in scoring defense, surrendering almost 75 points per game.

In seasons past, this stat would have set off sirens at MSU, where defense is a pillar of the program.

Now that he's issued the appropriate stern warnings, Izzo is trying not to panic. He knows the number is inflated by overtime games and MSU's up-tempo style of play. And he knows his team can improve, especially with increased practice time during the holiday break.

For a change, Izzo has the luxury of focusing on possibilities instead of problems. That's the best Christmas present he--and MSU fans--could hope for this year.

OK, this is a test. I want to see how closely you've been reading your Wonk. Send me your response to this piece.

How Socratic! Or lazy, one of the two....

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Team stats have been updated. They're current through December 27! They're tempo-free! They reflect wildly varying levels of opposition! Get on over to the sidebar and enjoy.

In other news, there's officially been some hoops played since my last post....

The holiday in hoops--last Wednesday!
Illinois beat Missouri 82-50 at the Savvis Center in St. Louis. The Illini played Iowa-level D, holding the Tigers to an effective FG pct. of just 37.5 and only 50 points in a 71-possession game. Dee Brown led Illinois with 17 points (hitting 4-of-7 threes) and seven assists. (Box score.)

Michigan State beat Wisconsin-Green Bay 98-69 in Green Bay. This was the most dominant offensive performance achieved by the Spartans so far this year: 98 points in a game with just 72 possessions. Shannon Brown (26 points), Mo Ager (25) and Paul Davis (25) scored 76 points between them--and needed only 39 FGAs to do so. (Brown even added eight assists.) State was actually fairly generous in giving the ball away (16 TOs) but it mattered not one whit because just about anything they threw up went in and, in the rare instance of a miss, they pounded the offensive glass (40.9 oreb pct.). (Box score.)

Minnesota beat Grambling 88-64 in Minneapolis. This is what Vincent Grier does: scores 25 points thanks in large part to 13 trips to the line. Moe Hargrow sat this one out due to "a violation of team policy." Two spanking good recaps of this one to choose from: one here over at Gopher Hoops and another one here courtesy of Golden Gopher Hoops. Make haste! (Box score.)

The holiday in hoops--last Thursday!
Iowa beat Robert Morris 73-51 in Iowa City. Defense again got it done for the Hawkeyes, as they held their opponent to an effective FG pct. of under 40 (in this instance 33.9) for the sixth time in 12 games. Indeed, the field goal D that Steve Alford's men are inflicting on opposing teams is becoming borderline ridiculous. Meanwhile, on the offensive side of the ledger, Adam Haluska led the home team with 18 points and hit 4-of-7 threes. And Greg Brunner got his 15-10 dub-dub in just 28 minutes and then promptly took a seat on the bench--who says coaches aren't looking at the stats during the game? (Box score.)

Michigan beat Miami of Ohio 87-80 in Ann Arbor. What a weird game. On the one hand, this is the most efficient 40 minutes of offense that any Big Ten team has played in any game this year: 87 points in a really slow game (57 possessions) nets out to 1.52 points per possession. Wow. (For comparison's sake, Wake Forest led all "major"-conference teams last year--even Illinois--with 1.20 points per possession in-conference.) The Wolverines turned the ball over just six times and shot better than any Big Ten team has shot this year (a 75.0 effective FG pct.)....Only problem being, of course, that the mere seven-point margin of victory means Tommy Amaker's team also gave the RedHawks an astounding 1.40 PPP. Granted, the final score was misleading--Michigan led by 15 late and Miami made things a little more interesting with five threes in the final four minutes. Still, considering Michigan's been getting it done with D thus far this season (UCLA beat the Wolverines scoring just 0.99 PPP), this could be an ominous development--or just weird low-attendance holiday nuttiness. Stay tuned. (Box score.) BONUS RedHawks note! "RedHawks." Not a typo! In fact, Miami is reportedly canvassing well-to-do alumni to establish an endowment fund for a space.

The holiday in hoops--last Friday!
Indiana beat Butler 73-55 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Marco Killingsworth and Robert Vaden contributed some interesting stats, namely: a combined 49 points (including a combined 11-of-12 from the line (!)) and 10 turnovers. D.J. White played just 11 minutes. In a slow game (59 possessions), the Bulldogs still managed to shoot 26 threes--but made only five. (Box score.)

Minnesota beat South Dakota State 80-61 in Minneapolis. Adam Boone recorded 12 (count 'em, 12) assists. The Jackrabbits turned the ball over 24 times. Vincent Grier sat this one out due to "a violation of team policy." Once again, two dang handy recaps of this one to choose from: one here over at Gopher Hoops and another one here courtesy of Golden Gopher Hoops. (Box score.)

Ohio State beat Tennessee State 74-65 in Columbus. I've been waggling a finger at the Buckeyes of late, saying their hot shooting can't last forever. Sure enough, it ended Friday night (TSU actually shot better than the home team) but it didn't matter: OSU shot 25 free throws and the Tigers attempted just six. Ballgame. (Box score.)

Northwestern beat Division III DePauw 69-36 in Evanston. Nothing to be said, except: why was this scheduled? (Box score.)

The holiday in hoops--tonight!
Michigan plays Coppin State in Ann Arbor. Wolverine officials plan to show the Alamo Bowl (Michigan vs. Nebraska) on Crisler Arena's big screens immediately following the game.

Michigan State plays Tennessee Tech in East Lansing. Spartan point guard Drew Neitzel says he thinks he needs to work on his D. "I'm pretty disappointed in the way I've been playing defense lately....That's my main emphasis right now, even more than running the team."

Penn State plays IPFW (fast becoming the New Jersey Generals of the Big Ten) in State College. Nittany Lion coach Ed DeChellis says his young team is working hard to get ready for Big Ten play: "The next 6-7 days are about us trying to show improvement."

Illinois plays Southeast Missouri State in Champaign. Backup Illini point guard Chester Frazier is expected to return to action after missing the last three weeks with a torn left quad. As regards the starter at that position, Bruce Weber has proclaimed himself satisfied with the play of Dee Brown: "Dee has settled into becoming a solid point guard. He's not forcing things like he sometimes did early."

Ohio State plays Gardner-Webb in Columbus. Get your nifty game preview here, courtesy of the Buckeye Sports Blitz blog.

Purdue plays Tennessee-Martin in West Lafayette. Boiler big man Gary Ware is getting more minutes in Carl Landry's absence and he says he's ready for the challenge! WARNING. The Stamp Out "Step Up" Vigilance Committee (SOSUVC) has reviewed this link and can certify only the first ten paragraphs as "step up"-free. After that, reader discretion is advised.

Wisconsin plays Louisiana Tech in Madison. Bo Ryan says he thinks his team's been "solid" on the boards. "But you can always get better."

Tempo-free stats world domination update (hereafter TFSWDU)
Take a bow, West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference! Your first-in-the-nation decision to post tempo-free stats to your official men's basketball page has presaged a notable upswing in TFS talk. Over the holidays Luke Winn at used these wacky newfangled stats to see if he could divine who's going to be heard from in March. Then just yesterday, Rob Schultz at the (Madison) Capital Times noted that Bo Ryan's been using points-per-possession for years. "That tells more than any other statistic if you've been successful or not," says Ryan of PPP. Schultz then took Ryan at his word and looked at the Badgers' season thus far from a PPP perspective. Good stuff!

Wonk back!
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BONUS pre-holiday backfill!
Greg Oden, Eric Gordon, Derrick Rose--these oft-mentioned high school ballers were all in action in Indy a couple weeks back. Wonk's readers respond!


Your roving reporter and his sidekick--son Nathan, 11--pulled themselves off the sports couch and hauled their rears to a local showing of some incredible Midwestern High school (and future Big Ten) talent at the Circle City Classic in Indianapolis on December 17. Nathan and I wore our Illini orange and were awestruck at the amount of orange gracing the fieldhouse at suburban Southport, Indiana. We saw the final two (and most anticipated) games of the classic that Saturday night.

The first game pitted Eric Gordon’s North Central High School (Indy) vs. his friend Derrick Rose’s Chicago Simeon team. Illinois has Gordon and wants his friend Rose. Rose tried to make a statement early, showing off his blazing speed with the ball. Though he made some superb passes for easy baskets, when he went one-on-one he was called for traveling and mishandled the ball numerous times in the first half. Though his team did well, he seemed listless and tame in the second half. Still, he’ll make a great point guard with his passing skills.

Gordon, on the other hand, was a revelation. After starting slow—allowing his team to get in gear—he dominated the second half. At a key point in that half North Central switched to a zone, which allowed Gordon to pick off two passes in a row, dunking both of them at then other end. The second one, especially, while flying over a Simeon guard under the rim, shot the Illini faithful to their feet, roaring and clapping like we were in Champaign. Look forward to great times with Gordon, Illini fans! He can score inside and outside, he can pass, he can play great defense, he can dribble and drive, he can jump and rebound!

The second game saw future Illini Brian Carlwell’s Proviso East vs. the cream of Indiana basketball, Lawrence North with Greg Oden and Mike Conley, who both go next year to Ohio State. Before the game, the papers quoted Carlwell saying he would prove he was better than Oden—the kind of bragging Bruce Weber will never allow him to do next year. And here’s why: Oden—who confessed to reading what Carlwell said—completely dominated him, trash talking him under his breath. Oden seemed possessed while hustling down the court, getting position on Carlwell, outrebounding and outscoring him. Carlwell was easily flustered and got too mad at his teammates, though he has the skills. If we can’t get Oden, we Illini will take him!

Conley also had some good moves to the basket. At one point, Oden hurt his knee and limped to the bench. Hearts stopped. Somewhere, Thad Matta was having a seizure, we Illini joked from the sidelines. But we were just jealous. Oden went back in the game, and Ohio State will do VERY well for the year or two that Oden is a Buckeye.

Bonus: we sat near Bruce Weber and my son and I got his autograph. I wished his leg well and he laughed when I said, “Wouldn’t it be great to have both Gordon and Rose?”

Your Unsolicited Reporter,

David H.
Fishers, IN

Well-scouted, David. Thanks!
Offensive efficiency: points per possession (PPP--more about this stat)
Thru December 27
1. Michigan State (1.15)
2. Indiana (1.15)
3. Ohio State (1.15)
4. Wisconsin (1.15)
5. Illinois (1.13)
6. Michigan (1.11)
7. Penn State (1.07)
8. Minnesota (1.05)
9. Purdue (0.97)
10. Iowa (0.97)
11. Northwestern (0.97)
Defensive efficiency: opponent points per possession (Opp. PPP--more about this stat)
Thru December 27
1. Iowa (0.80)
2. Illinois (0.85)
3. Indiana (0.90)
4. Northwestern (0.93)
5. Minnesota (0.93)
6. Michigan (0.93)
7. Ohio State (0.94)
8. Wisconsin (0.96)
9. Penn State (0.97)
10. Purdue (0.99)
11. Michigan State (1.03)
Efficiency margin: points per possession (PPP) minus opponent PPP (more about these stats)
Thru December 27
1. Illinois (+0.28)
2. Indiana (+0.25)
3. Ohio State (+0.21)
4. Wisconsin (+0.19)
5. Michigan (+0.18)
6. Iowa (+0.17)
7. Minnesota (+(0.12)
8. Michigan State (+0.12)
9. Penn State (+0.10)
10. Northwestern (+0.04)
11. Purdue (-0.02)
Effective FG pct. (eFG pct.)
eFG pct. = (FGM + (0.5 x 3PM))/FGA

Thru December 27
1. Indiana (62.5)
2. Ohio State (58.0)
3. Michigan State (57.2)
4. Michigan (55.5)
5. Illinois (53.0)
6. Wisconsin (52.6)
7. Minnesota (52.2)
8. Penn State (51.5)
9. Purdue (50.9)
10. Northwestern (50.0)
11. Iowa (46.7)

Opponent eFG pct.
Thru December 27
1. Iowa (40.6)
2. Illinois (43.3)
3. Indiana (45.7)
4. Northwestern (45.8)
5. Michigan (47.4)
6. Wisconsin (47.5)
7. Ohio State (47.9)
8. Minnesota (48.6)
9. Penn State (49.3)
10. Michigan State (49.4)
11. Purdue (49.7)
3FG pct.
Thru December 27
1. Indiana (48.0)
2. Ohio State (44.1)
3. Michigan State (43.1)
4. Michigan (39.7)
5. Wisconsin (38.6)
6. Illinois (37.8)
7. Minnesota (37.7)
8. Penn State (34.9)
9. Purdue (31.6)
10. Iowa (29.6)
11. Northwestern (27.4)

Opponent 3FG pct.
Thru December 27
1. Illinois (27.3)
2. Northwestern (28.9)
3. Iowa (30.3)
4. Indiana (31.7)
5. Penn State (33.0)
6. Michigan (34.1)
7. Wisconsin (34.2)
8. Ohio State (36.6)
9. Michigan State (37.1)
10. Purdue (39.7)
11. Minnesota (40.1)
2FG pct.
Thru December 27
1. Indiana (57.3)
2. Northwestern (56.6)
3. Michigan State (54.3)
4. Michigan (53.7)
5. Ohio State (52.9)
6. Purdue (52.6)
7. Penn State (51.3)
8. Illinois (50.9)
9. Minnesota (50.7)
10. Wisconsin (50.4)
11. Iowa (47.7)

Opponent 2FG pct.
Thru December 27
1. Iowa (38.4)
2. Minnesota (43.4)
3. Illinois (44.3)
4. Purdue (44.4)
5. Indiana (44.6)
6. Ohio State (44.6)
7. Michigan (45.4)
8. Wisconsin (45.5)
9. Michigan State (46.0)
10. Northwestern (47.4)
11. Penn State (49.1)
Turnover percentage
TOs/team possessions

Thru December 27
1. Wisconsin (17.3)
2. Northwestern (20.2)
3. Illinois (20.4)
4. Penn State (20.7)
5. Michigan State (21.3)
6. Ohio State (21.6)
7. Michigan (21.9)
8. Indiana (22.0)
9. Iowa (22.5)
10. Minnesota (22.8)
11. Purdue (27.9)

Opponent turnover percentage
Thru December 27
1. Minnesota (25.7)
2. Iowa (25.1)
3. Illinois (24.2)
4. Northwestern (23.7)
5. Indiana (22.3)
6. Purdue (22.1)
7. Wisconsin (22.0)
8. Michigan (21.7)
9. Penn State (21.5)
10. Ohio State (20.7)
11. Michigan State (19.5)
Offensive rebound pct.
Oreb pct. = orebs/(orebs + opp. drebs)
(More about this stat)

Thru December 27
1. Illinois (43.7)
2. Minnesota (40.5)
3. Wisconsin (39.2)
4. Penn State (38.1)
5. Purdue (38.0)
6. Michigan State (36.5)
7. Michigan (35.7)
8. Iowa (34.6)
9. Ohio State (34.2)
10. Indiana (30.0)
11. Northwestern (24.4)
Defensive rebound pct.
Dreb pct. = drebs/(drebs + opp. orebs)
(More about this stat)

Thru December 27
1. Indiana (73.4)
2. Michigan (72.7)
3. Michigan State (70.2)
4. Iowa (70.0)
5. Ohio State (70.0)
6. Purdue (70.0)
7. Illinois (68.9)
8. Minnesota (68.8)
9. Penn State (68.4)
10. Wisconsin (68.4)
11. Northwestern (67.8)
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!
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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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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

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big east
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geek chorus
intro to tempo-free stats
2007 big ten team tempo-free stats
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