Big Ten Wonk
Monday, November 08, 2004
Um, usually the statistic you use to lead the article isn’t this lame
The Des Moines Register opened its start-of-practice profile of the 2004-05 Iowa Hawkeyes in the following rather breathless fashion:

Adam Haluska grabbed a basketball. He walked with it to near the three-point line.


That, in a swish, is what the transfer from Iowa State hopes to bring to the Iowa basketball team this season.

"It'll be nice to be able to get out there and shoot again," Haluska said during the Hawkeyes' media day at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Wednesday.

Nice for Haluska and nice for a team that coach Steve Alford wants "to fly the floor" for fast-break layups and three-point baskets in quick transition.

As a true freshman at Iowa State in the 2003 season, Haluska made 40 of his 119 three-point attempts. Now, he is expected to be one of the primary long-range shooting threats for a team that has adopted "The Year of the Fastball" moniker.

So as a freshman, Adam Haluska went .336 on his three’s. Let’s see, how can Wonk broach this graciously….

That’s not very good.
Last year Northwestern’s Evan Seacat was 15th in the Big Ten (as low as they go in listing the “leaders”) in three-point FG percentage. He shot .347. Or, to quote Wonk’s favorite single stat from last season yet again: Michigan State as a team shot .434 on its three’s in conference play (.401 for the year). In fact, five entire teams (Michigan State, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio State, and Wisconsin) shot a higher percentage from behind the arc last year than Haluska did at Iowa State.

Wonk therefore offers a handy rewrite at no charge to the earnest yet statistically-challenged scriveners in Des Moines:

Adam Haluska grabbed a basketball. He walked with it to near the three-point line.


That, in a ricochet, is what the transfer from Iowa State is likely to bring the Iowa basketball team this season.

“It’ll be nice to be able to get out there and miss 79 of 119 three’s again,” Haluska shouted over his shoulder while chasing his miss behind the bleachers.

That being said, Wonk will not be at all surprised if carryover (Iowa is returning Pierre Pierce, Jeff Horner, and Greg Brunner) and the Big Ten’s single most favorable
schedule (they don’t go to Michigan State and Wisconsin doesn’t come to Iowa City) suffice to push the Hawkeyes from last year’s 9-7 to a 10-6 in conference this year, good enough for the big dance.

And, lest Wonk be misunderstood, who knows: Haluska may have a big year shooting the three. Deron Williams of Wonk's beloved Illinois made huge strides in this category between his freshman and sophomore years, going from .354 to .394 while more than doubling his number of attempts. (Wonk still remembers the look of shock on then-Western Kentucky coach Dennis Felton’s face when the then-freshman Williams sank three big three’s in the Illini’s
first-round NCAA tournament game against the Hilltoppers.) Yes, Haluska may turn out to be a valuable addition. But we don’t know, yet.

Until we do, let’s dial down on the one-word-paragraph hype pieces.


In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Wonk reads 'em so you don't have to!

Michigan defeated Division II Michigan Tech in the Wolverines' exhibition opener yesterday. Links
here, here, here, and here.

Penn State beat Division II East Stroudsburg in the exhibition opener and finale for the Nittany Lions yesterday. (Excitement is running high in Happy Valley if the crowd cheering on Aaron Johnson in this accompanying
photo is any indication.) This was the only exhibition game Penn State will play. They open against Illinois State this Sunday.

Purdue opens exhibition play tonight against Division II Washburn. Links
here and here.

(BONUS Washburn note: located in Topeka, Kansas, Washburn's men's teams are nicknamed the
Ichabods, while the women's teams are known as the Lady Blues, thus avoiding the oxymoronic but nevertheless cool-sounding moniker, "Lady Ichabods.")

Wisconsin held an intrasquad scrimmage
yesterday and Penn State transfer and Racine native Sharif Chambliss showed signs of continued progress as he comes back from surgery in April for a torn ACL.

Illinois coach Bruce Weber likes what he saw from the Illini in
Friday night's victory over Division II Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in the team's exhibition opener.

Illinois is overrated, Wisconsin is underrated, and both Mike Davis and Dan Monson could be looking at involuntary job searches in the near future. All this according to the Sporting News' admirably verb-less college basketball
preview for readers with ADD.

BONUS non-hoops note
Going by the photo on the sports page of today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin football coach Barry Alvarez eerily resembles Clemenza from "The Godfather."

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