Big Ten Wonk
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Cream and Crimson but no White
Indiana big man D.J. White suffered a broken bone in his left foot during Saturday's game against Ohio State and will be out indefinitely. White missed the Hoosiers' first seven games while a different bone in the same foot healed after an injury suffered in IU's first exhibition on November 4. If White doesn't play again this season, he'll be eligible for a medical redshirt and can return next year as a sophomore.

IU loses, of course, the minutes and fouls that White could give to spell Marco Killingsworth--no small matter. ("When Marco fouled out against Ball State, D.J. was able to step in and we didn't miss a beat," notes Mike Davis.) They also lose interior D: this year the taller, rangier White was about twice as likely to block a shot in a given minute of floor time than is Killingsworth. (Ah, per-minute stats: as good as tempo-free stats, so long as you're doing teammate-to-teammate comparisons only.)

So how much of a difference will we see in Indiana's performance without White? Let's look first at how much of a difference we've seen. This season the Hoosiers played seven games without White (Nicholls State, Florida A&M, Western Illinois, Duke, Eastern Michigan, Indiana State, and Kentucky), followed by five with him (Charlotte, Butler, Ball State, Michigan, and Ohio State). Here's how the numbers stack up:

Indiana without White
Points per possession (PPP): 1.15
Effective FG pct.: 62.2
Offensive reb. pct.: 29.0
Turnover pct.: 21.5

Opp. PPP: 0.91
Opp. eFG pct.: 48.4
Defensive reb. pct.: 74.1
Opp. TO pct.: 24.4

Indiana with White
Points per possession (PPP): 1.14
Effective FG pct.: 60.9
Offensive reb. pct.: 31.6
Turnover pct.: 22.7

Opp. PPP: 0.93
Opp. eFG pct.: 42.1
Defensive reb. pct.: 66.0
Opp. TO pct.: 19.1

Note that the numbers here are skewed rather dramatically by IU's first three games, stat-stuffing blowouts against Nicholls State, Florida A&M, and Western Illinois--blowouts that White happened to miss out on. (So, no, I wouldn't say, for example, that Indiana is really so markedly less proficient at creating opponent TOs with White in action, as these numbers would seem to indicate.)

Even so, the numbers here suggest that in a couple of areas IU's performance actually improved, even against much tougher competition, with White available. Those two areas, perhaps not surprisingly, are field goal defense and offensive rebounding. A shot blocker helps your FG defense tremendously--this much we know and the numbers bear this out.

Another thing we know is that you'll get more offensive boards with two big men on the floor than you will with one. Alas, that's not to be and Hoosier fans are now likely to see their team become a true POT: perimeter oriented team. Offensive rebounds are nice, of course, but last year's Illinois team, for one, demonstrated how a POT can go 37-2 while ranking only sixth in the conference in oreb pct.: by hitting your shots and not turning the ball over.

Bottom line: without D.J. White, Indiana will (continue to) struggle on the offensive boards and will likely give their opponents more made FGs. On the plus side, the Hoosiers will turn the ball over less--White's 5.7 TOs per 100 possessions, while not as egregious as Killingsworth's league-worst 8.8, puts him among the most TO-happy 20 percent of Big Ten players. And that's precisely the point: IU will have to make up for this loss by taking care of the ball, hitting their shots (for they're unlikely to get the rebound), and outscoring their suddenly more productive opponents.

We'll see how Indiana does in all of the above categories right away. They face Michigan State tomorrow night in East Lansing.

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Minnesota plays Wisconsin tonight in Minneapolis (ESPN, 7 ET). Paging Thomas Hardy: Return-of-the-native-themed profiles of Badger point guard and Minneapolis native Kammron Taylor here, here, here, and here. (Wow. This frequent reader spies an unprecedented level of meme ubiquity!) Dueling blogger game previews here and here, courtesy of Gopher Hoops (despondently predicting a narrow Badger win) and Golden Gopher Hoops (pugnaciously forecasting a narrow Gopher triumph).

Northwestern coach Bill Carmody says, despite his 2-0 team being in a first-place tie in the conference race, he hasn't ordered up those "2006 Big Ten Champions" hats just yet: "It's not a two-game season this year, is it?"

Ohio State coach Thad Matta says winning on the road requires playing at a higher level: "When you go on the road, I want our guys to be in the mindset of knowing with the Big Ten the way it is, you've got to be eight points better than your opponent on a given night."

Purdue coach Matt Painter faces the rest of the year without 80 percent of his projected starting lineup: Tarrance Crump was suspended before the start of the season; and David Teague, Carl Landry, and Nate Minnoy are all out for the year with knee injuries. So what do you do now, coach? "You keep plugging away and hope your bad luck has run out."

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo says, despite seeing just 20 points total from Mo Ager in the first two Big Ten games, he still has faith in his senior guard: "We still have one of the best 2-guards in the country in Maurice Ager." Herb Gould of the Chicago Sun-Times says: "For all the preseason hype about the Spartans possibly reaching their second straight Final Four and fifth in eight years, Izzo's team has issues."

Illinois coach Bruce Weber says he needs more production from his bigs: "James (Augustine) has really struggled the first two Big Ten games. I'm sure he's disappointed. We're disappointed. We have to keep him out of foul trouble. Marcus Arnold has been disappointing the last few games. He played well for a stretch but now it's almost like he has to adjust to Big Ten basketball. Hopefully he'll come around in this next stretch."

BONUS Iowa-Illinois backfill! Canonical blogger Ryan Kobliska has posted his "tale of the tape" recap of Saturday's Hawkeye win over the Illini. Using a +/- system similar to that employed by the good people at 82 Games, Ryan is tracking Iowa's offensive and defensive efficiency alongside which five Hawks are in the game on each possession. The results are here: in the Illinois game, at least, Erek Hansen appears to have helped the Iowa D (which we know going in he does) much more than he hurt its offense (which we know going in he does). Indispensable stuff, as it always is from Hawkeye Hoops. Remember, folks: there's analysis--and then there's Ryanalysis!

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

Thanks for the kind words, Wonk!...Shut up, Wonk!
Yesterday I pointed out that Wisconsin doesn't play at Illinois or Indiana this season and that their visits to Michigan State and Iowa don't occur until the last two games of the year. So the Badgers' next 12 games would thus appear to be as welcoming as any 12 Big Ten contests could reasonably be--up to and including an "unlikely" chance that UW could win all 12. (Thus the phrase "run that table": emphasis on the words unlikely and that table--those 12 games--and not, repeat not, as I saw in some subsequent chat room comments forwarded my way yesterday, the table.) Wonk's readers respond!

Hey, Wonk-o,

Let me be the first Madisonian to chastise your Wonkness for a premature crowning of Bo's Bunch as the Big Ten's best (or luckiest as the schedule would have it).

Merely your mention of "running that table" this early in the season gives me visions of choking on Gopher hors d'oeuvres up in the Barn on Tuesday night before the entree even arrives. Keep in mind that home cookin' has led to the 12 Badger wins this year, while both attempts to leave the Kohl Center have resulted in roadkill.

These Badger pups (only one returning starter) can hardly be expected to consistently dodge traffic on road to the Big Ten championship. While I believe Bo can get it done (see 2001-02), I would prefer to fly under the radar a while longer.

Alex H.
Madison, WI

Wow, way to mix those metaphors, Alex! Anyway, no hex intended, believe me. I merely noted that Wisconsin has a sweet schedule: no Champaign, no Bloomington. What they do with that schedule is up to Bo and the boys.

<< 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