Big Ten Wonk
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Wonk 360: Iowa in Auburn Hills
A look at the teams competing against Iowa in Auburn Hills this weekend to make it to Atlanta and the Sweet 16.

(3) Iowa Hawkeyes (25-8, 11-5 Big Ten)
Feast your eyes: With one of the nation's top shot-blockers in Erek Hansen, the Hawkeyes have one of the best defenses in the country. In conference games Iowa's opponents shot a woeful 43.9 percent on their twos (the Big Ten average is 49.5). The Hawks are also an outstanding defensive rebounding team, with Greg Brunner and key reserve Doug Thomas doing the bulk of the work.

Look the other way: Iowa had only the seventh-best offense in the Big Ten this season. In fact, as a team the Hawks were less efficient in their scoring than Penn State. Moreover, this level of offensive mediocrity is systemic. Shooting, holding on to the ball, offensive rebounding, you name it: Iowa ranks no higher than 198th nationally in any of the above. (Their best results often come from feeding Brunner in the post. Though small, the oft-fouled Brunner is tenacious and has nice footwork.)

Etc. Big Ten opponents connected on 34.8 percent of their threes against Iowa. What's interesting about that? It's just surprising that a defense this good allows opponents a success rate on threes that is almost exactly the conference average....Mike Henderson gets many open looks from defenses concentrating on Jeff Horner and Adam Haluska. And, albeit slowly, Henderson of late has been showing more of an ability to translate those looks into points.

(14) Northwestern St. Demons (25-7, 15-1 Southland)
Feast your eyes: With ten players averaging at least 13 minutes a game, the Demons play an up-tempo style that forces turnovers. Starting point guard Tyronn Mitchell is one of the top ten players in the country at creating TOs. Northwestern St. is also very good on the offensive glass--and their best offensive rebounder is 6-1 guard (!) Luke Rogers.

Look the other way: The first thing a Northwestern St. player does when he gets out of bed in the morning is to find the nearest person and foul them, often with a loud skin-on-skin slap that no ref could miss. These guys hack a ton. (And I can't think of a worse characteristic for an Iowa opponent to have: the Hawkeyes' otherwise middling offense thrives on free throws.) They're also shaky at the free throw line, hitting just 67.2 percent.

Etc. The Demons are a surprisingly popular pick to knock off the Hawkeyes. After all, it is said, they won at Oklahoma State. Well, yeah, they did. Then again, they also lost at Sam Houston State. Sorry, I'm just not seeing it.

(6) West Virginia Mountaineers (20-10, 11-5 Big East)
Feast your eyes: The Mountaineers' strength is their offense--albeit, a strikingly unconventional offense. For instance, they shoot a very high number of threes (slightly more than half their shots) even though their accuracy from beyond the arc is merely average. But they hit the twos with a vengeance and so their overall effective FG percentage is quite good. Sure Kevin Pittsnogle gets most of the ink but kindly direct your attention toward Mike Gansey, a veritable freak of offensive nature. (You've been Gansied!) If you think you have the 6-4 Gansey pegged because he's an excellent (44.3) three-point shooter, think again. His 65.8 2FG percentage puts him ahead of Terence Dials, Paul Davis, James Augustine, Marco Killingsworth, or Courtney Sims. (And Gansey shoots roughly equal numbers of twos and threes--as I said, a freak.) What's more, WVU never turns the ball over. I mean like near-Temple-never: only 12.7 percent of WVU possessions end in a turnover. For the uninitiated, let me translate: that is just sick.

Look the other way: The Mountaineers simply don't bother with offensive rebounds (332nd out of 334 Division I teams--yes, Northwestern's even worse!) or going to the line (333rd). Numbers this bad are a conscious choice and Mountaineer coach John Beilein plainly feels WVU's system offsets these deficiencies. For the most part this season, he's been correct. (Truth be known, the Mountaineers do without rebounding, period--their numbers on the defensive glass are almost as bad.)

Etc. If the WVU defense doesn't force a turnover, which they do quite well, and if they don't block the shot, which they also do quite well, then you're likely about to see a score--because the Mountaineers' FG defense is woeful. As I said, this is a team of extremes: they do just about everything either very well or very poorly.

(11) Southern Illinois Salukis (22-10, 12-6 Missouri Valley)
Feast your eyes: The Salukis are all about defense. (If Iowa and SIU both win in the first round and play each other the game may involve a total of about 12 points.) They force their opponents into an incredible number of turnovers: more than 27 percent of SIU's defensive possessions end with the Salukis taking the ball away. Keep an eye on point guard Bryan Mullins: only Mario Chalmers of Kansas produces more steals in tempo-free terms.

Look the other way: Leading scorer Jamaal Tatum has shot 155 threes this season. He's made 45. This may be a good time for some tactful guidance from the coach, no? Tatum's struggles are emblematic of a team that has real trouble putting the ball in the basket. (Need a Big Ten shorthand for the Salukis? Think Minnesota last year.)

Etc. Southern likes a very slow pace, about 62 possessions per 40 minutes. Slow pace and outstanding D: their games won't be things of beauty.

<< 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