Big Ten Wonk
Friday, December 29, 2006
Posting has now concluded for 2006
As for the new year....

COMING Wednesday!
Start your 2007 with a special double-issue conference-season-kickoff blogtacular, featuring state-of-the-team addresses on each and every Big Ten team--even the bad ones! It's an annual tradition! (Or would be if I'd done one last year.)
Every rebound needs an adjective
We gather here today to pay our last respects to the term "rebounding."

True, "rebounding" had a good life. But its time has long since passed. For example....

In the wake of Florida's mauling of Ohio State last Saturday, it was said that the Buckeyes' "rebounding" has to improve. After all, Ohio State was outrebounded 43-25 in that game. Outrageous!

Only problem: you can't get any rebounds if the other team doesn't miss. The Gators made 20 of 28 shots after halftime.

And there's a corollary: your opponent's "rebounding" is going to look artificially good if your own shooting is terrible. Recall that Wisconsin's rebounding was also criticized last year after the Badgers' loss at home to North Dakota State. After all, Wisconsin was outrebounded 45-39 in that game. Outrageous!

Of course the Badgers were outrebounded in that game. They missed 56 shots. The Bison practically had rebounds forced on them.

So when I hear "rebounding," I'm puzzled. I don't know what "rebounding" is. There are only offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds.

And they may not be created equal.

Offensive rebounds are rare--and may be less important than defensive boards
Most rebounds in a game are defensive rebounds. Last year in "power"-conference play, 65.7 percent of all rebounds were defensive boards.

What's more, in these same major-conference games in 2006 there was a much stronger statistical correlation between defensive rebounding and good defense than there was between offensive rebounding and good offense. Which leads to our first new hypothesis in many a moon, the Rebounds Act Defensively Hypothesis:

Defensive rebounds are more important to defense than offensive rebounds are to offense.

And not for the "well, duh" reason, either. Obviously it's always better to make a shot than to record an offensive rebound. But what we're talking about are ratios and not sheer numbers: the possibility that it may be more important to gather in a higher percentage of the available defensive rebounds than it is to secure a higher proportion of the available offensive boards.

In a post at the beginning of the season I hazarded a view, based on the data from 594 major-conference regular-season games in 2006, that the key offensive variables are as follows (from most- to least-important):

1. Shooting (eFG pct.)
2. Turnover percentage
3. Offensive rebounding

But on defense the hierarchy of variables looks like this:

1. Opponent's shooting
2. Defensive rebounding
3. Opponent's TO pct.

Maybe there's a different "well, duh" reason that explains why getting the rebound would be more important on D. In effect, 100 percent of defensive rebounds accomplish what they're supposed to: they end an opponent's possession. (Obviously there are times when the ball's immediately stolen back. But that's a steal, not an offensive board by the opponent.)

But a smaller percentage of offensive rebounds accomplish what they're supposed to: scoring points on a given possession. Sometimes an offensive board leads directly to a put-back. But sometimes it leads to a fresh shot clock and an eventual defensive rebound by the opponent. And sometimes it's the prelude to a turnover.

Just a thought.

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Indiana State beat Purdue 89-70 in Terre Haute last night. The Boilermakers actually played something close to their standard game on offense (Carl Landry: 22 points on 11 FGAs and seven FTAs) but suffered a total collapse on the defensive glass, allowing the Sycamores to rebound half of their own misses. Marico Stinson came off the bench to lead ISU with 24 points in 25 minutes. (Box score.)

Michigan beat Army 62-50 last night in Ann Arbor. Tommy Amaker started the bench or benched the starters, depending on your point of view. In any case, last night's starting five was: DeShawn Sims, Ekpe Udoh, Jerret Smith, Reed Baker, and Jevohn Shepherd. And it says here that the new-look starters "shined," which is certainly true for Udoh, who blocked nine shots in 29 minutes. Otherwise, "shined" may be a tad generous for a team that gave the ball away 22 times in a 66-possession game and made just 10-of-30 twos. But it's a win. Baker made 5-of-7 threes and led Michigan with 19 points. (Box score.)

Hoops tonight!
Illinois plays Xavier at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati (ESPN2, 9ET).

Hoops tomorrow!
Michigan plays Georgetown in Ann Arbor (ESPN2, noon ET).

Ohio State plays Coppin State in Columbus.

Michigan State plays Loyola College (MD) in East Lansing.

Indiana plays Ball State in Bloomington.

Purdue plays Southeast Missouri State in West Lafayette.

Penn State plays VMI in State College.

Iowa plays Cornell in Iowa City.

Minnesota plays Southeastern Louisiana in Minneapolis.

Hoops Sunday!
Wisconsin plays Georgia in Athens.

Northwestern plays Northwestern State in Evanston.

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

At some point, yesterday's post will be timely
UNLV beat Texas Tech 74-66 in Lubbock last night so Bob Knight did not pass Dean Smith in career wins. But I didn't know that yesterday so I wrote about Knight anyway. The readers respond!

Hey, John,

I get the feeling you have a lot more boiling under the surface that you'd like to unleash regarding Bob Knight. I say let 'er rip. There is no denying his accomplishments, but there's a difference between programs that operate on the love of the game and programs rooted in fear.

A lot of Big Ten coaches run tight ships (including my main man, Tom Izzo), but at the end of the day they know they must represent their schools with class and keep a solid relationship with their players.

Bottom line: I want a tough coach, but not someone who is going to embarrass himself and my school, leaving us all wondering what he's going to pull next. The Spartan nation went through this with John L. Smith, though he at least slapped himself rather than his players.

The positive press Knight is getting now for turning his players into "gentlemen" is absolutely ludicrous.

Spartanly Yours,
Bryan D.

Boiling under the surface? Moi? Au contraire! If I were really such a Stanley Kowalski-ish coil of tightly wound mephitic rage, I probably wouldn't fret too much about defensive rebound percentages. No, I just think Knight is a brilliant coach prone to moments of self-destructively myopic bullying egomania. Neither precludes the other.

And with that we bring 2006 to a close, y'all. See you in '07!
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Ohio State update
The following passage has been yanked out of the original December 28 post for ease of linking....

Florida beat Ohio State 86-60 Saturday in Gainesville. I've said some nice things this season about the Buckeyes--nice things that were predicated, in part, on a key assumption: that Thad Matta would be able to get a level of defense out of talented players he recruited that is equal or superior to the defense he got out of less-talented players that he didn't recruit. Saturday's game legitimately calls this assumption into question. The game was tied at 40 early in the second half, at which point the Gators feasted on a trapping OSU defense that wasn't really trapping anyone--it was just creating open shots. And Florida hit them.

Should Matta have been trapping? Tough call. If I were tied with Florida on the road early in the second half I might be content to pack the paint and keep the ball in front of me. But say this for Matta: he danced with the girl that brung him. A one-handed Greg Oden's raison d'être is precisely to enable this kind of aggressiveness on the perimeter. (And in any case the concept was more defensible than the execution, which was above all else listless--something I'm not sure I've seen before in the Matta era.) The Gators, however, responded brilliantly, passing out of the traps and stopping for open 17-foot looks before entering Oden territory down low.

The good news for Ohio State is that, realistically, there's only one team in the Big Ten this season that has the talent on the floor to profit from watching this tape closely. The bad news for Ohio State is that that team is Wisconsin. (Box score.)
My streak of consecutive posts without a pun on Bob Knight's name continues!
Bob Knight will break Dean Smith's record for career wins tonight in Lubbock if Texas Tech can defeat UNLV.

Knight has always provided a welcome opportunity for sportswriters swinging for the fences who want to label someone, anyone, as "complex." (You and I might similarly value "complexity" far beyond its intrinsic worth if we spent as much time with 19-year-olds as do beat writers.) But is "the General" really so very complex?

I've never thought so. Being outstanding beyond question in your chosen profession (winning three national titles) while choosing to behave like a self-centered nine-year-old is surely not so very complex. Such may be the mark of a Fortune 500 CEO; it is hardly the stuff of Shakespeare.

Knight is one of the greatest college coaches in the history of the game. But I think it was within his grasp to be the greatest, had he not stood in his own way. His unchecked self-indulgent pyrotechnics sent an entire generation of blue-chip recruits to points east, west, north, and south--anywhere but Bloomington. (This was the one grain of truth in the otherwise fatuous refrain which held that Mike Davis "had no chance" as Knight's successor. By the time Davis struggled to land top in-state prospects, Hoosier fans were well into a years-long recruiting drought and in no mood to suffer such a continuation gladly.)

True, Knight's generous to a fault to his former players and to fellow coaches. He's witty. And he's a student of the game. By this time tomorrow he may be the winningest coach in D-I college basketball history.

But he could have been more, much more. That's not complex and it's definitely not tragic. It's just the way it happened.

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Behold holiday hoops, past and (near) future....

Indiana beat IUPUI 86-57 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Hoosiers dominated the offensive glass (15 offensive boards in 27 chances), shot better than they have since their first game of the year, and took care of the ball. Earl Calloway and Lance Stemler each scored 21 points for IU. (Box score.)

Purdue beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 79-61 in West Lafayette. Carl Landry was Carl Landry: 21 points on 11 shots and 15 FTAs in 21 minutes. Last year Ron Lewis of Ohio State led the Big Ten in free throw proficiency with a .450 FTM/FGA. Landry so far this year: .725 FTM/FGA. Wow. (Box score.)

UNLV beat Minnesota 62-58 in Las Vegas. The Gophers trailed by 10 with four minutes to play but rallied to make it interesting at the end. Minnesota actually outshot the Rebels by a wide margin but once again could not control their defensive glass. The 25-7 disparity in FTAs in favor of the home team didn't help either. Spencer Tollackson led the Gophers with 13 points on 13 shots. (Box score (pdf).)

Florida beat Ohio State 86-60 Saturday in Gainesville. I've said some nice things this season about the Buckeyes--nice things that were predicated, in part, on a key assumption: that Thad Matta would be able to get a level of defense out of talented players he recruited that is equal or superior to the defense he got out of less-talented players that he didn't recruit. Saturday's game legitimately calls this assumption into question. The game was tied at 40 early in the second half, at which point the Gators feasted on a trapping OSU defense that wasn't really trapping anyone--it was just creating open shots. And Florida hit them.

Should Matta have been trapping? Tough call. If I were tied with Florida on the road early in the second half I might be content to pack the paint and keep the ball in front of me. But say this for Matta: he danced with the girl that brung him. A one-handed Greg Oden's raison d'être is precisely to enable this kind of aggressiveness on the perimeter. (And in any case the concept was more defensible than the execution, which was above all else listless--something I'm not sure I've seen before in the Matta era.) The Gators, however, responded brilliantly, passing out of the traps and stopping for open 17-foot looks before entering Oden territory down low.

The good news for Ohio State is that, realistically, there's only one team in the Big Ten this season that has the talent on the floor to profit from watching this tape closely. The bad news for Ohio State is that that team is Wisconsin. (Box score.)

UCLA beat Michigan 92-55 in L.A. No one can begrudge the Wolverines losing on the road to the number 1 team in the nation, of course, but Tommy Amaker's team appeared to give up in this game. They went down cowering. And if there is any future Michigan opponent that sees this tape and then chooses not to double-team Courtney Sims, I cannot for the life of me understand why. (Box score.)

Wisconsin beat Pacific 83-47 in Madison. Kammron Taylor made 3-of-4 threes and led the Badgers with 17 points. (Box score.)...Mickey Perry has announced he's leaving Wisconsin and will transfer to another program.

Michigan State beat Wisconsin-Green Bay 76-64 in East Lansing. This was a two-point game with 13 minutes to play but the Spartans then went on a 17-7 run to secure the win. Goran Suton posted a 14-15 dub-dub, while Drew Neitzel led MSU in shots (17) and points (22). Travis Walton recorded eight assists and zero turnovers. This is the highest level of efficiency (1.12 points per possession) that any offense has achieved against Michigan State--better than Maryland (0.99) or Boston College (1.01). (Box score.)

Penn State beat Maine 75-42 in State College. Geary Claxton led the Nittany Lions with 21 points on 12 shots. (Box score.)

Iowa beat Texas-Southern 90-63. Tyler Smith led the Hawkeyes with 25 points on 15 shots. (Box score.)

Last night
Wisconsin beat Gardner-Webb 98-40 in Madison. Brian Butch made 3-of-3 threes and posted a 17-12 dub-dub in just 19 minutes. (Box score (pdf).)

Northwestern beat Loyola College (MD) 66-60 in Evanston, a game in which the Wildcats trailed by seven at the half. Vince Scott went 7-of-7 from the field and led the 'Cats with 16 points. (Box score.)

Hoops tonight!
Purdue plays Indiana State in Terre Haute.

Michigan plays Army in Ann Arbor.

COMING next week!
Start your 2007 with a special double-issue conference-season-kickoff blogtacular, featuring state-of-the-team addresses on each and every Big Ten team--even the bad ones! It's an annual tradition! (Or would be if I'd done one last year.)

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

Whither Michigan? Wither Michigan?
As a Michigan fan I think that our major flaws were exposed against UCLA. We’re slow and don’t have anyone who is comfortable driving to the basket.

A lot of Amaker’s critics say that his team has all kinds of talent but underperforms, but I tend to think that the talent level is overrated. Sims, Petway, Harris and Abram are pretty good players, but none of them shows any leadership or the ability to take over a game.

Anyway, I wondered if you think that the UCLA showed the real Michigan (meaning an NIT bid at best), or if I’m putting too much stock in one terrible performance.

Peter M.

I think there is no force on earth that can prevent yet another repeat of the bubble agony in Ann Arbor: the Wolverines will not be good enough to make the NCAA tournament with ease, nor will they be bad enough to miss it by a mile.


Who's a "passing big man"?
In last Friday's post I said Joakim Noah is a passing big man and that the Big Ten really doesn't have such a thing this year. The readers respond!

What about Goran Suton? MSU's big Euro (6-10, 245) had a 18.9 assist% (per before he dropped five more dimes in the UW-Green Bay game. Coach Izzo has praised him for his deft passing touch, and the numbers bear it out.


Joshua D.

I say: Suton's close. He records 5.9 assists for every 100 possessions he plays. (So too does another big man: Vince Scott of Northwestern). Again, the impressive thing about Noah is that he chips in better than eight assists per 100 possessions while also doing better on the boards (19.2 reb. pct.) than Suton (16.6). Noah's thus both more Euro and un-Euro than the Euro.

Thanks, Joshua.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Back tomorrow
See you then.

COMING next week!
Start your 2007 with a special double-issue conference-season-kickoff blogtacular, featuring state-of-the-team addresses on each and every Big Ten team--even the bad ones! It's an annual tradition! (Or would be if I'd done one last year.)
Friday, December 22, 2006
Florida's dropped a couple close games. So what?
Ohio State vs. Florida: Gainesville (CBS, 4 ET Saturday)
The Gators are still the defending national champions. But then you may have heard that already. So here are some things that might be news to you....

On paper the strength of this Florida team is, um, everything.
Literally. Ohio State ain't exactly your standard December cupcake and yet with the exception of opponent 3FG pct., there is not one tempo-free statistical category in which the Buckeyes outperform the Gators. Billy Donovan's team shoots better (both inside and outside the arc), turns the ball over less, rebounds more misses at both ends of the floor, and allows fewer points.

And when confronted with a team that's superior across the board on paper what do we do? Doubt the paper!

Florida's schedule has been execrable. Keep in mind they've played Kansas and Florida State--and yet their overall strength-of-schedule has still been so soft that the Gators awoke this morning with an RPI in the high 80s, right there between George Washington and UMass. (They're a bubble team! Donovan may have to get some tips on shamelessly self-interested lobbying from Urban Meyer just to get his plucky kids to the dance!)

Not having Al Horford for this game would be huge.
If he plays, Horford will be the best rebounder on the floor--better even than Greg Oden or Joakim Noah. But Horford's recovering from a high ankle sprain and his start may go to Chris Richard, who's not even as good on the boards (9.8 reb. pct.) as Corey Brewer (11.7) or Ivan Harris (11.1), much less Oden or Noah. Without Horford, offensive rebounds will be available for the Buckeyes--and it's not just Oden who would benefit. Gator fans, meet Othello Hunter, the best offensive rebounder (20.2 offensive reb. pct.) from either team.

Noah, like Dee Brown in 2005, represents the rare confluence of hype and actual performance.
Noah's attracted a level of mindless column-inch-devouring fawning that I thought was the exclusive preserve of the Durham princes. Mindless it may be--but that's not Noah's fault. He is in fact the best example extant of a player that is invoked far more often than he is actually sighted: the passing big man. (For instance: there is no such player in the Big Ten this year. Marco Killingsworth and James Augustine would be the closest recent examples.) Noah is both skilled enough to record almost eight assists per 100 possessions and strong enough to personally haul in one out of every four of the opponent's missed shots. Plus he's a load down low (66.3 2 FG pct.). Now he's about to meet Mr. Oden. Sit back and enjoy the collision.

Ponder the paradox: the Gators don't shoot many threes--but when they do they don't miss.
Sophomore Walter Hodge represents the paradox well all by himself: he's attempting fewer than three treys a game but he's made 70 percent of those attempts. BONUS very sophisticated analysis! Making 70 percent of your threes is really good! But Hodge isn't alone. Taurean Green is hitting 44.4 percent from outside the arc, a level of marksmanship that has to some extent offset Lee Humphrey's surprisingly meh (for him) 39.4 3FG pct.

For the first time this season Ohio State walks onto the floor as the inferior perimeter shooting team. Still, Thad Matta has told his team that if they see Dan Werner (23.7 3FG pct.) about to launch a three, don't discourage the young man too much.

Shorthand for today's fast-paced fans: Corey Brewer = Mike Conley.
An equation that does credit to both, for here are two outstanding players. Neither has gotten it going from the outside yet and both turn the ball over a smidge more than their coaches would prefer. But otherwise the numbers are uniformly gaudy: Brewer and Conley both make the right pass with unerring regularity, display wisdom beyond their years by abstaining from threes they can't hit, and harass opposing backcourts into torrents of TOs. Here is yet another collision that should merit DVR'ing for repeated viewings.

Now, about that other team....
The Buckeyes have now played four games with Oden, which gives us enough possessions to plunge in and say with customarily premature certainty what the Oden-effects have, and have not, been. There have been two upticks:

--Significantly improved interior D. Pre-Oden opponents hit 44 percent of their twos. Now: 39 percent.
--Slightly improved offensive rebounding.

Conclusion: a one-handed Oden can scare opponents, block shots, get some tip-ins, and hit bunnies. When he has two hands we should also see defensive rebounds, a vastly increased capacity for offensive destruction, and maybe even an assist or two.

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Northwestern beat Utah 77-44 yesterday in the fifth-place game of the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico. This--77 points in a customarily slow (56-possession) NU game--can only be explained as a holiday miracle. I hope Bill Carmody ran off the court shouting, "Merry Christmas, you old building and loan!" because his guardian angel really came through this time. The Wildcats posted an I've-never-seen-this-before 82.1 effective FG pct., the best shooting by or against a Big Ten team in any game since at least 2004-05. Northwestern made 11-of-15 threes and 18-of-27 twos. Freshman stud Kevin Coble hit all five of his threes and led the 'Cats with 22 points. Tim Doyle went 7-of-8 from the field and added 18. In the locker room afterward, Doyle reportedly noted a bell ringing mysteriously--as if of its own volition--on the Wildcats' tiny purple Christmas tree, turned to Coble, and said: "Look, Kevin. Coach says every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings." Attaboy, Clarence! (Box score.)

Illinois beat Idaho State 71-60 last night in Champaign, a game in which the Illini trailed by six with 12 minutes left. This was a very slow game (55 possessions) and that buzz-garnering ISU rotating zone D you may have heard about pushed Illinois into shooting threes almost exclusively (34 of them). Jamar Smith was 5-of-13 outside the arc, Chester Frazier was 4-of-6, and Rich McBride was 2-of-9. Warren Carter sat out with a hip flexor suffered in the closing moments of the Missouri game. (Box score.)

Hoops tonight!
Minnesota plays UNLV in Las Vegas.

Indiana plays IUPUI at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Purdue plays Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in West Lafayette.

Programming note
Off until Wednesday. Best to you and yours.

BONUS all-about-the-Wolverines edition of Wonk back!
Don't just mutter ineffectually; email me!

What's this? There's another game this weekend?
This week's mail has brought a steady stream of the following:

How about copious advance coverage of Saturday's Michigan-UCLA game? If the ball is round, there is a chance.


And indeed the ball is round! In fact, the Wolverines winning this game at Pauley Pavilion (CBS, 2 ET) wouldn't exactly be of Hickory-over-Muncie Central proportions. The Bruins, clearly an outstanding team, have nevertheless risen to number 1 by default ("default" being, as Homer Simpson reminds us, "the two sweetest words in the English language") and will find Michigan to be their equal in size and athleticism. So I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a giddy opening ten minutes wherein the men in maize and blue are hitting shots and making the home crowd nervous.

But games as disparate as last year's Ohio State tilt in Ann Arbor and this year's NC State game suggest that the danger time for Tommy Amaker's team is the middle 20 minutes. I expect the Bruins to remove Courtney Sims from the equation entirely, as they did last year. And, whatever what you might think of Sims' overall prowess (and I would agree with you), that is in fact bad news for Michigan fans, for this team has struggled mightily with its perimeter shooting (33.5 3FG pct.).

So the odds are indeed long. Amaker should savor this rare no-lose situation, instead of ridiculously maintaining that his team's schedule to date--far and away the easiest of any Big Ten team--at least looked "difficult" on paper before the season began.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Winner of the Most Improved Team Award. So far.
Purdue stands at 9-2 this morning, their only losses coming to Georgia Tech and Butler. And they have wins over Oklahoma, DePaul, Virginia, and Missouri.

Not a bad resume for a team that went 9-19 last year. But then of course that's the point: this isn't the same team. Chris Lutz still starts and Marcus Green gets some minutes but otherwise there's essentially no overlap in personnel between the two teams.

Carl Landry has picked up precisely where he left off in 2005: the man is a monster of interior scoring efficiency (1.35 PPWS, a number that would be even higher if not for Landry's mediocre 70 percent FT shooting). He's fouled with astonishing frequency (he's actually attempted more free throws than field goals this season) but on those rare occasions when he goes un-hacked on his post move, the ball goes in.

On offense, then, the rest of the Boilermakers have two jobs: 1) don't turn the ball over, and 2) get the ball to Landry. Job 1 is vital and, indeed, the Boilers' scoring will rise or fall this year according to how well it's carried out. Because as it happens Landry turns the ball over a lot (six TOs per 100 possessions)--and will continue to. That might fairly be termed the cost of doing business for an undersized post player who scores 26 percent of his team's points by himself. But it does mean the other four players on the floor have to hold on to the ball at all times. So far the non-Landrys have done OK, but keep an eye on the TO percentages for starter Tarrance Crump (5.0) and reserve Keaton Grant (5.3).

Making an occasional three, of course, doesn't hurt either. Lutz has displayed a nice touch thus far (52.3 3FG pct.) but he's part of a rotating platoon (Crump, Grant, Green, and Chris Kramer) wherein each player is only on the floor about half the time. (Matt Painter's core threesome consists of Landry, David Teague, and Gordon Watt.)

On defense Purdue has benefited greatly from the generosity of their opponents, who've coughed the ball up on 26.5 percent of their possessions. In fact, Kramer recorded six steals all by himself in just 17 minutes the other night against Wagner, thus rocketing his tempo-free number for steals to an outrageous (and unsustainable) plateau: 8.3 per 100 possessions. Still, the underlying tendency appears to be genuine: Kramer is a threat to opposing teams' possessions.

One thing that's about to change. Purdue's opponents thus far have done exactly what Painter would wish, in that they've devoted almost 39 percent of their shots to attempted threes. Watch for that number to plummet in conference play, as less-kind opponents (Oden, Butch, White, Sims, Pruitt, Gray, et. al.) go right at the not-known-for-his-D Landry in an attempt to wear him down.

And yet, with depth on the perimeter, a healthy knee on Landry, and a highly-touted recruiting class on the books for next year, the overall outlook is undeniably bright in West Lafayette. Newly resurgent Boilermakers of Purdue, Wonk salutes you!

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Indiana beat Western Michigan 77-69 in Bloomington last night. The Broncos led this game at the half but Earl Calloway scored 16 points after the intermission (going 8-of-9 from the line) to lead the Hoosiers. D.J. White posted a 16-12 dub-dub with five blocks. (
Box score.)

BONUS rebounding clarification! Last night the ESPN Plus announcers in Assembly Hall praised Indiana for "leading the Big Ten in offensive rebounding," noting that the Hoosiers, going into last night, averaged nearly 14 offensive boards a game.

Forgive me, but (insert throat-clearing noise here): Aaaaaiiiiieeeeee!

Why, at this late date, do announcers still talk like this? This cannot be a complex concept: a high number of offensive rebounds indicates a high number of missed shots. What's important, of course, is not the number of offensive rebounds but the ratio of offensive rebounds to misses....

Offensive rebound pct. (through games of Dec. 20)
1. Illinois (43.6)
2. Michigan State (41.4)
3. Wisconsin (40.2)
4. Michigan (40.1)
5. Indiana (39.9)
6. Penn State (38.8)
7. Ohio State (36.2)
8. Purdue (36.0)
9. Iowa (33.7)
10. Minnesota (29.8)
11. Northwestern (25.5)

Iowa beat Georgia State 101-59 last night in Iowa City. This was actually a game for the first seven minutes but from that point on the Hawkeyes outscored the visitors 87-44. Adam Haluska hit 6-of-11 threes and scored 36 points on 19 shots. Iowa, a poor offensive rebounding team, was a great offensive rebounding team last night, hauling down 17 offensive boards in 37 chances. Kurt Looby led the way with six offensive rebounds in just 14 minutes. (Box score.)

Northwestern beat UPR-Mayaguez 62-55 at the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico last night. The Wildcats saw a 13-point lead with six minutes to play shrink to a four-point lead with 1:33 left before a Sterling Williams steal helped seal the W. Kevin Coble led NU in shots (12) and points (16). UPR-Mayaguez is now 0-8. The 'Cats play Utah in the Shootout today. (Box score.)

Hoops tonight!
plays Idaho State in Champaign.

COMING tomorrow!
Copious advance coverage of Saturday's Ohio State-Florida game, including a Wonking-on-the-Other-325 look at the Gators. (Content to be certified as 100 percent free of cloying nudge-nudge references to the upcoming OSU-UF contest in that, um, other sport.)

Tell your SEC friends: y'all come!

In addition to typing words, I can occasionally speak them....
I'll be talking hoops with
Steve "The Homer" True on Milwaukee's ESPN Radio this evening around 6:20 ET. Tune in and listen to me wing it. (Yes, I know I said the same thing Tuesday--those of you who tuned in got to hear me do my best Brooks Bollinger impression. Uncanny, huh? Yeah, I got bumped.)

BONUS all-Illini edition of Wonk back!
Don't just mutter ineffectually; email me!

But just think of the upside!
Yesterday I said Illinois didn't look very good in beating Missouri 73-70 in St. Louis Tuesday night. The readers respond!

I want to commend you on a very nice website. I enjoy reading your stuff. But I think you're being a bit harsh on the Illini.

Even though they do have their injured players back healthy, they're still trying to get back up to game-speed (especially Randle) and the rotation is off because of the lack of playing time with each other. I agree with you that the inability to stop quick guards driving to the hoop is a problem but I certainly don't blame that on the interior defense. The Illini let a few easy drives happen in the game vs. Mizzou, but I don't think they were awful in that respect.

Overall, I think this Illini team has the potential to make some noise in the tournament. Just my two cents. Keep up the nice work.

Dave H.

Thanks, Dave! A point of clarification on "interior defense" and stopping drives. This is one of those cases where the box score can mislead: Missouri had a nice 2FG pct. the other night absent any true post presence (although Kalen Grimes did make one nice post move) because they drove to the paint relentlessly, especially in the first half. I use "interior defense" to mean how well all five players defend two-point shots--and their occasional antecedents, drives.

And it merits scrutiny because opponent 2FG pct. is the single most important indicator of overall defensive success, or lack thereof.

I was at the game and will offer a few more thoughts, if I may.

As you note, Illinois’ interior defense is very suspect.

I, too, wonder where Quin Snyder will land. It’s abundantly clear now that blaming all his problems on Norm Stewart nostalgia won’t cut it.

Jamar Smith does not appear to be fully back yet. While he hit some shots, he appeared very tentative and passed up open threes. At least twice he dribbled to just inside the three point line and launched a shot which missed. Weird. I also wonder if Brian Randle is fully up to speed yet.

The Illini faithful where I was sitting were very down on Rich McBride every time he entered the game.

There were a couple of Kansas alums sitting behind me. Their general consensus was that Bruce Weber can coach while his recruiting ability is somewhat suspect, whereas Bill Self can recruit while his coaching ability is somewhat suspect.

Anyway, the game was a lot of fun. I took my daughter, a junior in high school who is strongly leaning towards Illinois right now, and she bought an Illinois jersey with number 42 on it. Of course, Randle won’t be around by the time she gets there.

Keep up the good work!
Charles A.

Thanks for the on-site report, Charles! (Can your daughter stop drives into the paint? If so, have her call Weber.)

Your post on Illinois-Missouri was right on. But I still believe that Illinois' defense will improve because Smith and Randle still are not 100 percent out there with their leg speed.

Also, you are right again, old wise one, that Pruitt could have had 30 points or more if the Illinois guards would have tried to hit him with quicker passes.

You mentioned Quin Snyder. I told my Missouri friends he was a bad coach the first year he was there. How many Mike Andersons and Bruce Webers have been career assistants because of AD's going after some assistant coach with NO experience just because he's from...I cannot get myself to type the, a high-profile program.

Anderson can flat-out coach. And we all know about Coach Weber. Just give these guys a chance.

Jim M.

Thanks, Jim!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006
A win's a win...right?
Six thoughts on last night's Illinois-Missouri game in St. Louis, a contest won by the Illini 73-70....

1. Man, was Quin Snyder a bad coach. Dealt similar talent, Mike Anderson put a team on the floor last night that played with unrelenting intensity and, for much of the night, intelligence. In retrospect it's amazing Snyder lasted as long as he did. He is the Frank Abagnale Jr. of coaching.

2. Here's what I said seven weeks ago about Illinois and their defense:

As for this year's defense, Illinois would appear to be in good shape. They have speed, length, a modicum of depth, and a former Gene Keady protégé yelling hoarse epithets at them daily. Barring injury, that should net out to another year of opponents scoring less than a point per possession.

Wrong. They've got great numbers thus far, of course (allowing opponents 0.86 points per possession), but that's purely a function of their schedule. (The three "power"-conference opponents that Illinois has played--Maryland, Arizona, and now Missouri--have scored a cumulative 1.10 PPP.) Problem is: this team is big without the benefits of being big (rebounding aside, of course--see below). The Tigers drove to the rim at will last night for the first 25 minutes. They should have stuck with it. Making threes was almost bad news for Missouri--it lured them away from what was working. Quick teams, it appears, will give the Illini trouble. (In Rick Majerus terms, they do not level off the dribble.) And the results come in the paint: having allowed three "power"-conference opponents to hit 53.6 percent of their two-point shots, the Illinois interior D is officially suspect. Very.

3. I like that left-handed swooping drive that Brian Randle does. But, aside from one nice block, Randle's defense simply isn't there yet. And Randle--the only Illinois player who's both long and quick--is the straw that stirs the D's drink, as it were.

4. Shaun Pruitt ain't Dwight Howard, goodness knows, but as it happened there was a mismatch to be had last night and Illinois too often chose not to exploit it, particularly late in the first half. Pruitt scored 19. He could have had 30 if the Illini offense had displayed the ability to recognize opportunities.

5. Size hurt Illinois on D but it sure helped on the offensive glass. In fact, it won the Illini the game (17 offensive boards in 39 chances) on a night when they were outshot by their opponent. Rebounding is the strength of this team.

6. Illinois gave away 14 turnovers in a 66-possession game last night, which is better than their average this year--but not as good as last year. So far this year Bruce Weber's team has turned the ball over on 23.1 percent of their possessions--a long way from last year's 18.2 TO pct. in-conference. And it's the starters that are the problem: Randle (5.8 TO pct.), Chester Frazier (5.2), Pruitt (4.7), Warren Carter (4.6)--pretty much everyone except Rich McBride.

Last night's game was tight throughout and, to say the least, hard-fought. And the Braggin' Rights ambience, with the evenly split capacity crowd, is always outstanding. So this was a fun game to watch. But as far as what happens now....

Bruce Weber's team has, with unimpeachable good reason, spent the bulk of its season to date saying: just wait until we have everybody back. Well, everybody's back now. And, with the notable exception of rebounding, it doesn't look good.

(Box score.)

Others have chosen not to fret about the future yet....
Oracular Illini observer Mark Tupper is notably more upbeat ("a thriller") than I. "This was a sensational college basketball game." St. Louis Post Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell agrees with Tupper: "wildly entertaining." And Bernie Miklasz, Burwell's fellow columnist at the Post Dispatch, salutes the first-year Mizzou coach: "Anderson coaches the style known as 40 Minutes of Hell, but what he needs now is 40 Minutes of Height."

Peoria Journal Star columnist Kirk Wessler agrees with my first thought, above:

For the past six years, "Braggin' Rights" has been a misnomer. Illinois turned this into the Quin Snyder Butt-Kickin' Rights Game, an annual coaching mismatch that reached its nadir in a 32-point wipeout last year. Snyder had won his series debut in '99, but for the next six years he managed his hairstyle and little else as the Mizzou program spiraled into an abyss of rules violations off the court and fundamental violations on it.

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Ohio State beat Iowa State 75-56 last night in Columbus. The Cyclones slowed the pace (59 possessions), shot threes (26 of them), and made enough of them (10) to hang around peskily all the way to the under-8 timeout in the second half. At that point, however, three ISU turnovers in four possessions at long last brought forth the onset of reality. Daequan Cook led the Buckeyes with 21 points while Greg Oden had far and away his most mortal stat line to date: 18 points, nine boards, and just one block in 35 minutes. BONUS fun fact! No opponent has held Ohio State to under one point per possession so far this year. Their worst offensive outing (1.06 PPP) came against Cincinnati--and they won by 22. (Box score.)

Michigan State beat Belmont 67-58 in East Lansing last night. Drew Neitzel led the Spartans with 20 points on 15 shots but coughed the ball up five times. (As did Goran Suton and he played 10 fewer minutes.) MSU's 17 turnovers translated into a surprisingly close contest. The Spartans played this game without Raymar Morgan (shin) and Maurice Joseph (foot), both of whom are expected back for the conference season. (Box score.)

Tennessee Tech beat Northwestern 66-65 at the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico. Kevin Coble led the Wildcats in shots (20) and points (23) but his three at the buzzer was off. The 'Cats have now played nine games and seven have been decided by five points or less. NU will play UPR-Mayaguez tonight. (Box score.)

Purdue beat Wagner 95-56 last night in West Lafayette, a game in which the Boilers had 53 points by halftime. Carl Landry was Carl Landry: 26 points in 22 minutes. (Box score.)

Hoops tonight!
Indiana plays Western Michigan in Bloomington.

Iowa plays Georgia State in Iowa City.

COMING Friday!
Copious advance coverage of Saturday's Ohio State-Florida game, including a Wonking-on-the-Other-325 look at the Gators. Tune in Friday!

Wonk back!
Don't just mutter ineffectually; email me!
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The difference in the Badgers
Wisconsin 89, Pitt 75
Clearly, there's a difference. You don't go from being taken to OT at home by Winthrop to beating the number 2 team in the country by 14 without something being different.

Well, one difference is (duh) Brian Butch. I've said some nice things about the guy but that doesn't mean I was prepared for 27 points and 11 boards in 29 minutes. Alando Tucker, of course, was outstanding as well (32-10 dub-dub with eight more minutes and six more FGAs than Butch). But we expect that from Tucker--it's his role. Butch, on the other hand, might be auditioning for a new role of his own.

The other difference--and it's just as big--is offensive rebounding. On Saturday, a day when the Badgers shot almost exactly as well as they have all year, Bo Ryan's team in effect turbo-charged their offense by grabbing 14 offensive boards in 32 opportunities. (Another reason to distrust straight rebounding numbers. Pitt had 13 offensive rebounds, which sounds almost identical--but that was out of 40 chances.) Rebounding 44 percent of your misses and turning the ball over on just 11.5 percent of your possessions. That will win you some games. (No, the 44 FTA's didn't hurt either.)

Not that we should make too much of this, mind you. Wisconsin had the very good fortune of getting the number 2 team in the country on their home floor in December. But for one day, at least, this team demonstrated to future opponents the importance of defensive rebounding against the Badgers. (Box score (pdf).)

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Hoops tonight!
Illinois plays Missouri tonight at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis in the 26th annual Braggin' Rights game (ESPN, 9ET). Chester Frazier reportedly has the basketball equivalent of turf toe (parquet piggie) but is going to tough it out.

Ohio State plays Iowa State in Columbus. Greg Oden says his return has meant that his teammates have "kind of slowed their game down." Egad! The young man's correct! Pre-Oden: 74 possessions per game. With Oden: 67. Tempo-conscious hoops analyst Greg Oden, Wonk salutes you!

Michigan State plays Belmont in East Lansing.

Purdue plays Wagner in West Lafayette.

And now, a tribute to hoops played while I was on hiatus. Ah, so many (box score-linked) memories....

Minnesota 74, Central Florida 63 (pdf). In Minneapolis: Told by mischievous Gopher fans that Dan Coleman is actually Carl Landry, the gullible Golden Knights send the hitherto little-noticed forward to the line 12 times, enabling him to score 29 points.

Wisconsin 68, Wisconsin-Milwaukee 49. In Madison: Alando Tucker leads the Badgers with 20 points on 16 shots.

Penn State 66, Long Island 45 (pdf). In State College: Geary Claxton posts a 21-13 dub-dub.

Northwestern 41, Wheaton 39. In Evanston: The Wildcats have now played eight games and six of them have been decided by five points or less. It doesn't matter if the opponent is a "power"-conference team playing on their home floor (Stanford) or a D-III team visiting Welsh-Ryan (Wheaton). The game will be close.

Ohio State 72, Cincinnati 50. At Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis: Scary thing is, this is as bad as the Buckeyes' shooting can get. And they won by 22 because the Bearcats shot like Wisconsin against North Dakota State last year. Greg Oden: 14-11 dub-dub with five blocks in 27 minutes.

Butler 68, Purdue 65. At Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis: Congratulations to the Bulldogs, the first team to score more than one point per possession on the mainland against the Boilers. Carl Landry attempted just five shots from the field--Purdue opponents will take that, believe me.

Drake 75, Iowa 59. In Des Moines: Ajay Calvin posts a 21-13 dub-dub as the Bulldogs beat the Hawkeyes for the first time since 1978. Handily.

SE Louisiana 69, Penn State 66 (pdf). In State College: Daryl Cohen wins this week's Marchello Vealy Award for unconscionably hot shooting from a now-former who-dat. See: 29 points on 7-of-10 shooting outside the arc--the seventh of which occurred as time expired.

Michigan 67, Northern Illinois 52. In Ann Arbor: Canonical blogger Brian Cook relates that the announcers for this game were saying how eagerly they anticipate an upcoming show-down between Courtney Sims (21-13 dub-dub on this day) and Greg Oden. Please. For three-plus seasons now, Sims' undeniably impressive cumulative numbers have masked the more quotidian truth: the man's a canary in the weak-opponent coal mine. If he has a good game, chances are excellent that there's a compass-point in the opponent's name. (Exceptions granted.)

Michigan State 69, Chicago State 61. In East Lansing: Drew Neitzel scores 32 points by attempting 12 threes (he made six) and going 10-of-10 at the line. The Spartans cough the ball up 21 times in a 62-possession game while the Cougars haul in 16 offensive boards (out of 35 possible) and tie Boston College for the best offensive performance by an MSU opponent this year--1.01 points per possession.

By the way, the official recap of this game is well worth reading:

Chicago State coach Kevin Jones said he was physically challenged by guard Cam-Ron Clay at halftime and wouldn't have him back on the team. Jones wanted school officials to find alternate transportation home for Clay, whom he said should join the military if he wanted a battle.

"He has a problem with constructive criticism," Jones said. "He (swore) and wanted to fight. I'm a former Marine. But I don't want him on the bus going home. My young son will be on that bus."

Illinois 77, Belmont 51. In Champaign: Chester Frazier leads the Illini with 11 boards. (Yes. Chester Frazier.)

Indiana 57, Southern Illinois 47. In Bloomington: At just 58 possessions, this is the Hoosiers' slowest game of the year. So A.J. Ratliff "leads" IU with just 14 points. (Kind of like Tim Doyle usually does for Northwestern.)

In addition to typing words, I can occasionally speak them....
I'll be talking hoops with Steve "The Homer" True on Milwaukee's ESPN Radio this evening around 6:20 ET. Tune in and listen to me wing it.

Wonk back!
Don't just mutter ineffectually; email me!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
On hiatus
Until Tuesday, the 19th. See you then.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
John Wooden's true legacy
Slate has posted a piece on John Wooden this morning in which Tommy Craggs establishes the following:

1. Writers say silly things about Wooden (the coach has been compared to Christ).

2. Wooden speaks in a quaint sepia-toned patois ("dunkshot").

3. Wooden was a bit of a control freak (prescribing his players' food intake right down to the correct number of celery stalks).

Well, I don't see a problem here so far....

1. Writers and other people say silly things often. And it's precisely those figures most worthy of our adulation that, paradoxically, have the silliest things said about them.

2. The former UCLA coach was born two years before the Titanic went down. Come interview me when I'm 96 and see how many "dunkshot" equivalents I mutter.

3. Wooden was a bit of a control freak. Those recur fairly often in his profession.

Yet Cragg's piece, it would appear, aspires to more. For this is meant to be one of those haul-down-the-statuary exercises that Slate, probably the most consistently outstanding provider of content online or in print, does so well. (The locus classicus in this vein was perhaps David Plotz's brilliant deflating of the brief but intense popular historical attention paid to Lewis & Clark.)

So, in Craggs' account, this awe that Wooden inspires is not merely a case of overkill. It's something more....

This would be merely risible if there weren't something uglier lurking here. To sportswriters, he has always offered a perfect foil for whatever pernicious elements happen to be ruining basketball at the moment. They always look to Wooden, a fixed point from which to plot the sport's fall from some imagined (and, let's be honest, whiter) state of grace.

Wooden, "the basketball moralist" in Craggs' telling, has bequeathed to us "a boring and blinkered way of watching a basketball game."

Damning charges, surely, if true. So let us be clear. I, like Craggs, want my basketball to be fun. I, like Craggs, think it's the acme of Monty Python-level childishness for the NBA to worry about whether or not Ben Wallace wears a headband.

Where Craggs errs, however, is in conflating biography with legacy. Wooden in 2006 can be quoted to sound like a cranky old guy, surely. But his triumph was precisely to achieve demonstrably masterful leadership (winning 10 national championships is fun!) in that most improvisational and leader-impervious of sports, basketball. (This is the germ of truth in corporate America's otherwise daffy over-the-top genuflecting toward Mike Krzyzewski. It's probably not a good idea to make any sports coach your model of leadership. But if you're going to head down that road, it's at least more plausible to make a basketball coach such a model. A basketball coach leads without having to dictate precise instructions--the play-call in football, the pitch in baseball--immediately preceding every discretionary increment.)

And as for being a basketball moralist, aren't we all? If you shoot with three defenders on you, you've made a choice that is not just tactically flawed but morally dubious: putting your own welfare above your team's. Such is the antipode of the Wooden legacy.

There is no play in sports that combines athletic skill, tactical intelligence, and an exemplary moral valence the way an assist does in basketball. (An assist even elicits a different sound from a crowd. It's not an explosive cheer like a dunk. It's a note of surprised delight--an "ooohhh"--that says something more adulatory and enduring than: wow, you jump high!) Baseball fans glimpse rare displays of cross-player teamwork in the turning of a double-play and football fans wax ecstatic when a wide receiver (!) blocks downfield for the good of his teammate. But while it may be a rarity in other sports, this kind of selflessness in motion is the very warp and woof of hoops. At its best basketball's a symphony of altruists--and no one has ever spoken to this quality better than the conductor emeritus himself, John Wooden.

In the 2004 edition of the Wooden Tradition, Illinois played Gonzaga in Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Illini, featuring four African-American starters and without question the most prominent headband in recent college basketball history, prevailed in a fast-paced game that showcased a flurry of threes (the archetype of post-Wooden disruptive innovation) and dunks. If Wooden were really the hoary old blinkered troglodyte Craggs would have us believe, he would have decried the "dunkshots" and baggy shorts and exhorted Deron Williams and Adam Morrison to eat their celery.

Instead he said this: "I thought that was one of the finest performances I've seen in a while, especially in the first half."

For Wooden, it's about the game, however numerous the headbands or baggy the shorts. Would that it were true for basketball fans and writers.

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
After yesterday's blogging holiday I need to catch up on the weekend's results....

The weekend in Big Ten hoops--Friday!
Iowa beat Iowa State 77-59 in Iowa City. Rarely will you see such excellence in rebounding joined in time, space, and uniform with such woeful ball-handling. The Cyclones were absolute monsters on the offensive glass (20 offensive rebounds out of 37 possible) but they handled the ball like it was a biohazard, giving the rock away 26 times in a 68-possession game. Mike Taylor, last seen in this space pretty much single-handedly beating Minnesota in Minneapolis, committed eight TOs all by his lonesome. Adam Haluska led the Hawkeyes with 18 points on 14 shots. (Box score.)

The weekend in Big Ten hoops--Saturday!
Wisconsin beat Marquette 70-66 in Milwaukee. Goodness Tom Crean's team struggles to put the ball in the hole. This one wouldn't have been this close if not for a highly uncharacteristic 22 Badger turnovers (most unforced, though Jerel McNeal did execute the prettiest straight steal I've seen in a very long while, much to the sorrow of Kammron Taylor). Marcus Landry scored just 11 points but don't be fooled: he was a man possessed, blocking four shots with notable emphasis. Alando Tucker led Wisconsin with 28 points on 22 shots. (Box score.)

Kentucky beat Indiana 59-54 in Lexington. The Hoosiers needed no less than 72 attempts from the field to get those measly 54 points--only their beastly offensive rebounding (22 in 51 chances) kept them in a game where they suffered through their worst shooting of the year by far. D.J. White led IU with 23 points on 19 shots. (Box score.)

Purdue beat Missouri 79-62 in West Lafayette. Until further notice it would appear the following words can be put into auto-text: Carl Landry was a beast. He shot 18 free throws and, while he only made nine of them, he led the Boilers with a 23-12 dub-dub. Purdue shot just nine threes in this game, choosing instead to feed Landry in the post. It worked. (Box score.)

Seton Hall beat Penn State 69-59 in East Rutherford, N.J. The Nittany Lions led by 12 in the second half and shot significantly better than the Pirates in this game--and lost by 10. The host team had many offensive boards (21 out of 51 possible) while the visitors had many turnovers (21 in a 71-possession game). End of story. Geary Claxton had his best game of the year so far, posting a 29-11 dub-dub. Alas, Ben Luber and David Jackson recorded six turnovers each. (Box score.)

Michigan State beat BYU 76-61 at the Palace in Auburn Hills, MI. Not counting the laugher against Youngstown State, this was the best shooting displayed by the Spartans this season. Drew Netizel (22 points with seven assists and no turnovers) and Goran Suton (a rare ascending-numbers 10-11 dub-dub) were a merely normal 11-of-27--the rest of the team was 18-of-30. The "rest of the team" included an encouraging 15-12 dub-dub from Marquise Gray. (Box score.)

Ohio State beat Cleveland State 78-57 in Columbus. Greg Oden made his first start and scored 16 points on 8-of-8 shooting in 22 minutes. Othello Hunter posted a 17-11 dub-dub in 13 notably active minutes. And Ivan Harris had...10 rebounds? Zounds! Wonders never cease in Columbus. (Box score.)

Illinois beat Illinois-Chicago 71-66 at the United Center in Chicago. Notably anemic play on the interior for the Illini (a 41.0 2FG pct.?) and good outside shooting by the Flames (10-of-22 on their threes) turned a 15-point Illinois halftime lead into a close game down the stretch. Rich McBride led the Illini with 13 points. Brian Randle played for the first time since the season-opener and recorded nine points and nine boards in 16 minutes. (Box score.)

Northwestern beat Western Michigan 77-75 in OT in Evanston. Both teams shot very well in a game that truly was close throughout (neither team had a lead larger than six points). Craig Moore made 6-of-9 threes and led the Wildcats with 26 points, while Kevin Coble added 25. (Box score.)

Michigan beat Delaware State 70-43 in Ann Arbor. Dion Harris made 4-of-6 threes and led the Wolverines with 16 points. Brent Petway posted a 12-10 dub-dub. (Box score.)

Arkansas-Little Rock beat Minnesota 67-66 in Minneapolis. Steven Moore drove the length of the court and sank a runner with 4.3 seconds left to give the Trojans the win. One might ask how you can lose a home game where you shoot better than the opponent and turn the ball over just nine times in a 62-possession game. The answer would be defensive rebounds, specifically the lack thereof. UALR hauled in 18 offensive boards out of 31 chances and it won them the game. Lawrence McKenzie made 4-of-8 threes and led the Gophers with 24 points. (Box score (pdf).)

Programming note
I'll be out for a few days. Today's post will be the last one until next Tuesday.

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

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