Big Ten Wonk
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
BONUS thoroughly Socratic edition!
Research continues (indefatigably!) for the All-Wonk Team (2.0), to be announced March 8. Toward that end: some new questions....

(All stats: all games, through February 20)

Q. Who's played the most minutes?
Percent of total minutes played
1. Dee Brown, Illinois (88.3)
2. Adam Boone, Minnesota (87.9)
3. Vedran Vukusic, Northwestern (86.7)
4. Kammron Taylor, Wisconsin (86.2)
5. Robert Vaden, Indiana (85.5)
6. Adam Haluska, Iowa (85.2)
7. Shannon Brown, Michigan State (84.7)
8. Geary Claxton, Penn State (84.6)
9. Daniel Horton, Michigan (84.0)
10. Mo Ager, Michigan State (83.6)

At this point I should tut-tut sternly and forecast that Brown, Boone, and Vukusic will all collapse into a heap within a game or two. Thing is, I did this same list last year on the eve of the Final Four for every player who'd made it to St. Louis. The leaders in minutes played were Deron Williams and Luther Head. And they didn't look too bad.

Q. Who's most efficient at getting to the line and knocking them down?
1. Ron Lewis, Ohio State (.471)
2. Travis Walton, Michigan State (.425)
3. Paul Davis, Michigan State (.423)
4. Jason Chappell, Wisconsin (.422)
5. Earl Calloway, Indiana (.400)
6. Vincent Grier, Minnesota (.389)
7. Jamar Butler, Ohio State (.389)
8. Michael Flowers, Wisconsin (.370)
9. Greg Brunner, Iowa (.369)
10. Courtney Sims, Michigan (.363)

Jamar Butler intrigues me. He gets to the line and yet never turns the ball over. Those two activities are usually mutually exclusive--the stolid high-assist low-TO point guard customarily never gets to the line. (Also note that players like Walton, Chappell, and Flowers--and, to a lesser extent, Calloway--net out well on an FTM/FGA list because they have no FGAs.)

Q. Who shoots the most threes?
1. Craig Moore, Northwestern (.879)
2. Rich McBride, Illinois (.780)
3. Jamar Smith, Illinois (.766)
4. Ray Nixon, Wisconsin (.763)
5. Mike Walker, Penn State (.693)
6. Chris Lutz, Purdue (.670)
7. Michael Jenkins, Northwestern (.667)
8. Adam Boone, Minnesota (.667)
9. Je'Kel Foster, Ohio State (.650)
10. Tony Freeman, Iowa (.610)

Heavens to murgatroid: very nearly nine out of every ten shots Craig Moore attempts are threes. Moore makes Rich McBride looks like Graham Brown.

And now, a couple new answers to a couple old questions....

Scoring efficiency: PPWS (more about this stat)
1. Je'Kel Foster, Ohio State (1.42)
2. Jamar Smith, Illinois (1.35)
3. Courtney Sims, Michigan (1.32)
4. Graham Brown, Michigan (1.32)
5. Paul Davis, Michigan State (1.30)
6. Marshall Strickland, Indiana (1.30)
7. Jamar Butler, Ohio State (1.27)
8. James Augustine, Illinois (1.27)
9. Ron Lewis, Ohio State (1.25)
10. Shannon Brown, Michigan State (1.25)

J.J. Redick's PPWS as of this morning: 1.36. (Zounds! Prolific and efficient!) Adam Morrison's: 1.26.

Rebound pct. (more about this stat)
1. Graham Brown, Michigan (19.2)
2. Paul Davis, Michigan State (18.8)
3. Greg Brunner, Iowa (17.3)
4. Courtney Sims, Michigan (17.1)
5. Marco Killingsworth, Indiana (17.0)
6. James Augustine, Illinois (16.6)
7. Matt Kiefer, Purdue (16.5)
8. Shaun Pruitt, Illinois (16.2)
9. Terence Dials, Ohio State (16.2)
10. J'son Stamper, Minnesota (15.3)

Q. Graham Brown is the best rebounder in the Big Ten--so why isn't he even in the top five in rebounds per game? Because Brown's team shoots very well--and so do his team's opponents. There simply aren't a lot of rebounds to be had. Greg Brunner, conversely, has the (rebounding) luxury of playing for a team that doesn't shoot very well--nor do Hawkeye opponents. Thus Brunner "leads" the conference with 10.0 rebounds per game. Be of good cheer, hoops fans! One day soon, rebounds will be measured the way they should be measured: by ratio (like a batting average) instead of by volume ("hits per game"?).

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Michigan plays Illinois tonight in Ann Arbor (ESPN, 7 ET). The Wolverines have lost 11 straight to the Illini. Tommy Amaker's team will be without the services of Chris Hunter, who suffered a partial MCL tear in his left knee Saturday against Michigan State and is out indefinitely. (Lester Abram is also still out with an injured ankle and will not play. On the Illinois side of the ledger, Brian Randle's wrist, injured against Indiana, is fine.) Bruce Weber says limiting the prolific Michigan offense will be his team's main objective tonight: "They have struggled on the defensive end. But they have a lot of offensive weapons. Daniel Horton is playing like people thought he could. He is going to get his points. If we can control Courtney Sims and Graham Brown inside, that will be the key to the game." Weber also says he wouldn't mind seeing Dee Brown hit some shots tonight: "We're going to have to hit threes....If he's going to click it on, I'd sure love him to do it the next couple of weeks."...It's the college equivalent of an NBA back-to-back! Illinois is playing its second game in three days. Link here to see how other Big Ten teams have fared this season when faced with the two-in-three.

As noted here yesterday, Michigan State power forward Matt Trannon suffered a broken jaw in Saturday's game against Michigan and could miss the rest of the season. "There doesn't seem to be a lot of hope that he'll be able to play for quite a few weeks, maybe three, maybe six to eight," says Tom Izzo. "We're going to the nth degree to find out anything we can that would give us a better chance to get him back quickly." What will this mean? It thins an already thin roster, of course, and that's ominous enough right there. Moreover, Izzo's on the record as saying that Trannon's value was that he could defend multiple opposing players--2s, 3s, or 4s. (With Izzo saying this could mean more minutes for Jason Aerts, this is one injury whose significance shouldn't be minimized.) One thing to keep in mind, though: as noted here last week, Trannon's rebounding, for whatever reason, had fallen off dramatically this season. (I have him as only the 19th best defensive rebounder in the Big Ten (all games), behind not only the usual suspects--Brown, Davis, Brunner, et. al.--but also behind the slimmer and/or shorter likes of Mohamed Hachad, J.J. Sullinger, Vincent Grier, and Joe Krabbenhoft.) And in East Lansing, at least this season, defense is synonymous with and powered by defensive rebounding. (State rates in the middle of the pack as far as FG defense and near the bottom in creating opponent TOs.) So maybe MSU's D won't take as big a hit as we think. We'll see....Lansing State Journal columnist Todd Schulz looks at Saturday's pregame incident (in which a Spartan fan approached Michigan reserve Amadou Ba and was shoved to the floor) and says there's enough blame to go around--but start with the fan: "Ba had a reason and a right to be there. The fan had neither--and MSU failed in its responsibility to keep him from crossing the line."

Indiana, you may have heard, has a coaching vacancy for next year. And, though it's only February, the dots are already being connected. Here's oracular Illini observer Mark Tupper: "Mike Davis said Monday he wants to coach next season (rather than sit out a year to refresh his spirits). If Mike Anderson leaves Alabama-Birmingham (possibly to Missouri?), Davis would be a good match there. And in that instance, I could see him taking D.J. White with him." (More such here from Herb Gould of the Chicago Sun-Times.)

Purdue is facing more zone defenses and Boiler freshman Bobby Riddell (no, not the guy who was in Bye Bye Birdie) thinks he knows why: "A zone is a great way of neutralizing big guys. We have three really good big men, and against a zone, it's a little bit tougher to get them the ball inside."

This blog's streak of consecutive posts without a Knight-based pun continues!
"Knight School," ESPN's new reality show depicting a walk-on tryout conducted by Texas Tech coach Bob Knight, premiered Sunday night and canonical blogger Chris West proclaims it bomb-diggity: "After catching just a small portion of [the first show], I’m pretty sure that this is the greatest television program in history." Fellow blogger Matt May sounds inclined to agree--up to a point: "Watching Knight teach the game of basketball and the game of life (he was shown ruminating on Kipling's 'If') is riveting enough and the distracting 'reality' aspects of the show can hopefully be ignored." And former Knight player Steve Alford says the reality show is indeed realistic: "The first topic in defense. He talks about how it may not be the best player, or the best athlete, but who is going to be the best fit for his program. I think that's why he has been so highly successful over the years. He doesn't pay any attention to the rankings of these experts that rank high school players and junior college players. He tries to find the best fit for his puzzle."

BONUS Kipling's "If" note! What Hitchcock classic uses a snippet (visually!) from this cherished warhorse of high school lit classes? (Obligatory old geezer rant: Not that they still read Kipling in high school. In my day, we read things! Nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. "Gimme five bees for a quarter," you'd say. Etc., etc.)

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

The Mohamed Hachad-for-National-POY campaign is picking up steam!
A few days ago I was flattered to hear once again from this blog's most illustrious reader (and vocal Michigan fan), Jon Chait of The New Republic. Jon responded to Friday's whimsical little PPWS item with the following:

Abram tends to shoot when other players have created an open look for him. Sims and Brown are selective with their shots because they have to be. If they took tough shots their efficiency would plummet. But that’s the point: somebody has to take the tough shots sometimes.

No objections here, Jon! In fact, here are a couple of amens from my own archives. (Take note, alert reader Max Z.! Archives back to Day 1 of this blog over in the sidebar!) First, from January 4:

By the way, that thud you just heard was Courtney Sims officially falling off the All-Wonk Team. (The guy's a one-man assault on the very concept of stats: he looks good on paper because he stockpiles inordinately beautiful numbers against inferior opponents.)

And from this blog's handy intro to PPWS:

Word of caution: PPWS is a more reliable tool for criticism than for praise. A low PPWS, given enough games, will always serve as a reliable indicator that, for whatever reason, a player is not scoring efficiently. A high PPWS, on the other hand, can be misleading. Players who average single digits in points-per-game can post very nice PPWS numbers—a situation which may mean said player is a budding star waiting to be discovered but which may also mean said player is terrified of shooting and attempts a field goal only when they are wide open for a dunk or a three. The trick, of course, is to score a lot of points and to do so efficiently.

The point of Friday's post was a pedestrian one: the largest difference between Adam Morrison and at least 13 Big Ten players is in the number of shots taken, not in scoring prowess. This is not to imply that Tommy Amaker should literally feed the ball to Graham Brown on every possession or that Brown is in fact a nascent Kobe Bryant suffering from widespread misapprehension. Much less that Morrison isn't a great player--he is. Simply that this particular great player shoots a ton of shots.

A Pomeroyean aside: the expectation and manifest hope here is that hoops fans will soon adopt (to wax Rortyean) the same relaxed naturalistic attitude toward tempo-free goodies that baseball fans do toward their stats. No (interesting) baseball fan responds to a reference to a .300 hitter with (only): "Batting average is misleading" or "Batting average only tells part of the story." Because decades of baseball small talk has left us with a common cognitive DNA here: it is understood and assumed (and would be dull to point out) that of course batting average only tells part of the story and is indeed misleading on occasion. The talk begins there.

<< 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