Documented media effects at NorthwesternWhen last we left Bill Carmody and his pointedly slow-paced perimeter-oriented group in Evanston, they were being treated to a bit of didactic theater. But then of course it's said that theater shouldn't be didactic, that if you've got a message you should send a telegram....WBO55 DL PDNORTHWESTERN WILDCATSOUT BY THE THREE-POINT LINEWELSH-RYAN ARENAEVANSTON IL2006 NOV 10 AM 6 53 YOU ARE NOT CONNECTICUT STOP YOU ARE NOT LOOKING TO RUN THE BREAK OR POUND THE BALL IN THE POST WHEN THE BREAK IS NOT THERE STOP SO THERE IS NO REASON FOR YOU TO TURN THE BALL OVER AS MUCH AS YOU DID LAST YEAR STOP SO WHEN PEOPLE WROTE TELEGRAMS WHAT HAPPENED IF THE LAST WORD OF THEIR SENTENCE REALLY WAS STOP STOP I WANT THIS TO STOP STOPWhat hath Wonk wrought!...Turnover percentage (through games of December 6)1. Northwestern (17.6)2. Wisconsin (18.8)3. Ohio State (19.9)4. Purdue (20.7)5. Iowa (21.9)6. Michigan (22.5)7. Illinois (22.6)8. Indiana (23.1)9. Minnesota (23.3)10. Penn State (24.2)11. Michigan State (24.5)Northwestern's shooting last year was mediocre and it is again so far this year. But they're getting more shots because: 1) as seen here they're holding on to the ball, and 2) their offensive rebounding's better than last year. The 'Cats will never be confused with Connecticut on the offensive glass, of course. They're a POT and their style works against second chances. Still, within these constraints the uptick in NU's numbers on the offensive boards has been significant. Lastly, Northwestern's defense has improved. True, part of this change will prove to be chimerical: opponents will not continue to turn the ball over on 27 percent (!) of their possessions. But part of it may turn out to be more durable: the Wildcats' interior defense is much better than it was at the same point in the season a year ago.Not that we should get too giddy about a team that beat North Florida at home by one, mind you. But the trend lines are positive: this team bids fair to be better than last year's more talented team. And better performance with less talent always seems to surprise us. More than it should. In today's less Wonk-ish venues.... Michigan State beat IPFW 80-43 in East Lansing last night. The Mastodons were overmatched. Maurice Joseph, Marquise Gray, and Drew Neitzel each had 13 points for the Spartans. No comment on the game yet from the blog of Mastodon coach Dane Fife. (Box score.)Indiana beat Western Illinois 92-40 last night in Bloomington. The Leathernecks were overmatched. The Hoosiers, rapped on the knuckles in this space yesterday for leading the Big Ten in turnovers, committed three TOs in a 62-possession game. Three. Roderick Wilmont posted a 20-10 dub-dub on 12 shots in 26 minutes. (Box score.)Illinois beat IUPUI 87-59 in Champaign last night. The Jaguars were overmatched. Warren Carter led the Illini in shots and points (21). Rich McBride went 6-of-9 on his threes and Jamar Smith returned healthier-looking, hitting all five of his shots beyond the arc. Chester Frazier recorded 11 assists....Freshman Richard Semrau will likely be a medical redshirt this year. He is suffering from an internal infection and is out indefinitely. (Box score.)Penn State beat Hartford 56-55 last night in State College. The Hawks were not overmatched: this was a strange game where neither team scored over the final two-and-a-half minutes. Freshman Joe Zeglinski missed two free throws with 1:07 left and a three in the final seconds to enable the Nittany Lions to escape with the win. On the strength of eight offensive rebounds, Geary Claxton posted a 16-10 dub-dub for PSU. (Box score (pdf).)Michigan plays Miami of Ohio in Oxford, OH tonight.Minnesota plays South Dakota State tonight in Minneapolis.Latest comprehensive update on every D-I team within walking distance of my houseRegular readers know I moved to Indy four months ago and now live within easy walking distance of Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University. Last night I again put the Butler-T-shirt-sporting four-year-old Official Wonk Son on my shoulders and headed down the hill on 52nd Street to see the Bulldogs take on Ball State.The sea change that's taken place in the level of interest devoted to this team is apparent once my companion and I have strolled past the football field and rounded the corner of the Fieldhouse on our way to the ticket window. On two prior occasions we've been able to walk right up to the door. Tonight the line stretches out the door and into the parking lot. As we at last enter the arena and our tickets are torn (no turnstiles at Hinkle), a small flyer is thrust into my hand:"Hinkle" BrickhouseListen for the Butler Band & Cheerleaders to lead you in the NEW Hinkle version tonight!It's a Brick...House!It's Mighty Mighty, the place where the Dog hang out,Yeah, it's a Brick...House!The Dogs are back, that's a fact,and we ain't holding nothing back, Let's Go!I find myself mentally composing a me-too ditty for my beloved Fighting Illini and their singular home venue....It's a Mush...room!It's dark and orange, a spaceship in da corn,Yeah, it's a Mush...room!After being on hand for sparsely-attended home games against Illinois-Springfield (pre-bandwagon) and Kent State (holiday weekend), this is the first time I see Hinkle in its true near-capacity glory--and it is wondrous. The actual number of people in attendance (reported as 7,051) is nothing, of course, compared to the crowds in larger venues. But crowd noise isn't purely a product of numbers; it's a ratio between numbers and space. And tonight Butler's made threes trigger sudden euphoric roars--so startling to a four-year-old--that bounce off the steel rafters in this storied 1920s-vintage barn to wonderful old-school effect. Ball State was overmatched. The Bulldogs looked tenacious on D and methodically efficient on offense (Todd Lickliter has the benefit, at almost any given moment, of four players on the floor perfectly capable of making the right pass) but then again the Cardinals weren't much of a challenge for the home team on this night. Butler won, 65-41. (Box score.)BONUS scouting note for Matt Painter and other future opposing coaches! For a team that works at a deliberate pace, Butler actually likes to take a gander at opportunities on the secondary break. A.J. Graves brings the ball up at three-quarters speed, then turns on the jets between the circles and goes baseline. The other four Bulldogs dutifully spot up in nicely-spaced increments around the arc. Graves drives baseline and you're thinking "He can't finish down there." You're right! He flips the ball to the weak-side corner and from there it's a matter of swinging it around the arc as many times as necessary to find the spot to which the D hasn't rotated yet: open three.Introducing the A.J. Graves Dang-Scary FT Accuracy Watch (AJGDSFTAW)! Graves made all six of his free throws last night; his numbers for the year now stand at 55-of-56, 98.2 percent.Wonk back! Don't just mutter ineffectually; email me! Monson's still voting in the coaches poll? What is this, Chicago? In today's ESPN-USA Today Coaches Poll, they still list Dan Monson as one of the panel. Does Dan Monson still get to vote in the coaches' poll, even though he is no longer a head coach?
Eric K.Oshkosh, WISo Monson's ballot was the one that had a top five of Marist, Southern Illinois, Montana, Clemson, and Iowa State, right?Eric, I forwarded your question to oracular Gopher observer Jeff Shelman, who covers Minnesota for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Jeff informs me that Monson's place in the virtual polling booth is now to be given to Purdue coach Matt Painter.But who really gets to the line the most?You mentioned something about Ron Lewis as the Big Ten's most frequent free throw shooter (in your write-up on Oden's return). Isn't he slightly dwarfed by Carl Landry's ridiculousness?R.K.Wow, when I speak historically (Lewis led the Big Ten in FTM/FGA last year) and not currently, the alert readers catch me! By gar, you all are danged smart! (D'oh!)So let's be current. Including games played last night the tippy-top of the FTM/FGA list (15+ min. per game) is currently occupied by the likes of Indiana's Joey Shaw (.913) and Wisconsin's Jason Chappell (.762). Wha?Chappell, of course, tends to do well on this stat because if he actually attempts a shot from the field, fans in the Kohl Center hurriedly grab their cameras and cell phones and record the moment as though they've glimpsed Nessie herself.But as far as players who actually attempt FGs on occasion, yes, Carl Landry rules the field: a correctly-termed ridiculous .639 FTM/FGA, far superior to Ron Lewis's anemic little .329. Good catch, R.K.!