Big Ten Wonk
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Reduced-calorie edition
Back with bounteous hearty prose Monday. Have a good holiday.

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Purdue beat Oklahoma 74-71 yesterday in consolation-bracket action at the EA-Sports Maui Invitational. In a game that was tight the whole way, Carl Landry scored 30 points on just 13 shots and hit 10-of-12 free throws. Sooners coach Jeff Capel was impressed: "Landry was a man out there today. He was by far the best player on the floor." Gordon Watt added 11 boards for the Boilers. (Box score.) The Boilers will play DePaul today at 2 ET (ESPN2).

Iowa State beat Minnesota 68-63 in Minneapolis last night. The Gophers led by 10 in the second half but Mike Taylor scored 25 of his 33 points after halftime to lead the Cyclones to the come-from-behind win. Confronted with long and aggressive perimeter defenders, Taylor hit upon a stratagem that coaches usually prohibit: simply bringing the ball up to the three-point line and launching a shot before the possession's first pass. On this night it worked. "There were plenty of times where guys had hands in his face," Lawrence McKenzie said of Taylor's performance. "Once he got in a zone it was hard to stop him." (Dan Monson wasn't so sure: "Defensively you have to dictate that guys don't get into a rhythm.") Spencer Tollackson recorded an admirable 24-13 dub-dub but appeared to fatigue down the stretch. McKenzie hit 4-of-6 threes but his teammates were 2-of-12 outside the arc. (Box score (pdf).)

Penn State beat Bucknell 63-60 in OT last night in State College. Mike Walker hit a three as the horn sounded to give the Nittany Lions the win. "I didn't know if there was 10 seconds left or if my shot didn't count," Walker said afterward. "You just hope to get it off in time." (Walker actually turned down a scholarship offer from Bucknell.) Penn State led by as many 13 in the second half but the Bison went on a 13-0 run to force the OT. The Lions attempted no fewer than 26 threes (and made nine) on only 39 overall FGAs. Ask me, I won't say no, how could I? Given the start in place of Walker, Danny Morrissey logged 42 minutes and led Penn State in shots and points (21). In a game where 46 fouls were whistled, two players from each team fouled out, including PSU's Brandon Hassell, who did so in just 22 minutes. (Box score (pdf).)...Injury note: freshman forward D.J. Jackson is expected to be out for "several weeks" with a stress fracture.

Northwestern beat Brown 64-40 in Evanston last night. Fact: Brown and Michigan State played a 51-possession game on November 8. Fact: Northwestern and DePaul played a 50-possession game last Tuesday. Conclusion: I thought there was a good chance that last night's contest between Northwestern and Brown might just attain that most extreme level of slowness and come in under 50 possessions, shattering the yawn barrier, as it were. Man, was I wrong! Instead the Wildcats and the Bears treated fans to no less than 58 possessions--it was a track meet! (Um, relatively speaking.) In a game where Bill Carmody's men, uncharacteristically, chose not to shoot threes, "playmaker" and "unconventional college basketball star" Tim Doyle led the 'Cats in minutes, shots, assists (eight), and points (17). Bold statistical extremist Tim Doyle, Wonk salutes you! And so does your coach--sort of: "He should play like that more often," Carmody said of Doyle. (Box score.) And if glacial slowness is your thing, it turns out that last night you needed to steer north of Chicago....

Wisconsin beat Delaware State 64-52 last night in Madison. Don't be fooled by the (kind of) normal point total: there were only 49 possessions in this game, making it the slowest game involving a Big Ten team since at least 2003-04. Alando Tucker stayed away from threes and had a good shooting night (10-of-16) to lead the Badgers with 25 points. Brian Butch added an 18-10 dub-dub for the home team. BONUS very sophisticated analysis! A dub-dub achieved in 27 minutes in a game with just 49 possessions is very good. ("Brian played a whale of a game," Bo Ryan said afterward.) Wisconsin also owned their offensive glass, pulling down 13 boards on 25 chances. On the down side, the Hornets shot far better than any other Badger opponent so far this season, giving Ryan some good need-for-improvement material to use with his players. "Anybody that's played knows what kind of game that was," Ryan said later. "The other team is hot, you're doing OK, shooting-wise....And if they're going to hit those (shots) for 40 minutes, you're on the right-hand (losing) side." (Box score (pdf).)

Michigan State beat Vermont 66-46 in East Lansing last night. Despite Drew Neitzel's best efforts (see below), the Spartans suffered through their poorest shooting of the year (41.9 effective FG pct.). Fortunately for the Breslin Center faithful the Catamounts were even worse from the field (34.8 eFG). Neitzel did his best Marchello Vealy imitation and had a night for the scrapbook, hitting 7-of-8 threes and leading MSU in minutes, shots, rebounds (eight--"I don't know what happened there," the "legit 5-11 3/4" Neitzel said afterward; "I don't know if I even got eight in a high school game"), and points (26). But Tom Izzo was focused on the rest of his team: "It's tough to win a game and not feel good about it, but I really don't." (Box score.)

Illinois beat Savannah State 81-34 last night in Champaign. Rich McBride returned from a four-game suspension stemming from his September DUI arrest and, playing like a man making up for lost time, came off the bench and shot 10 threes in 27 minutes (he made four). Chester Frazier led the Illini with 17 points in a game where nine Illinois players saw at least 11 minutes of action. The Tigers made three of 22 two-point shots. (Box score.)

Michigan plays Youngstown State tonight in Ann Arbor. Speaking of whom....

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

Basketball? In Ann Arbor? They've started?
Hey, John,

I'm a U of M alum who's yet to see a minute of our team this year. Our starting five is comprised of fairly known commodities, but I'm concerned about our bench. We are on the cusp of most NCAA tourney projections, and given recent history, that is about right.

I read the box score from the Harvard game the other day--looked like a few frosh got at least some PT, with Ekpe Udoh turning in a particularly pretty decent line. If we're going to break this tourney drought, we're going to need some significant contribution from the reserves. That may be especially true of Udoh as, after Courtney Sims, we're pretty thin down low.

What's your assessment of our kids on the pine?

Jay L.
Chicago, IL

P.S. A one-loss USC, Florida or Arkansas should play 01/08. Otherwise, I'd love another shot.

Standard it's-early disclaimer applies, of course....

Udoh appears to have established nice shot-blocking chops already and now needs to show that he can hit the boards. (By the way, I know he's not a reserve but I have to mention that Brent Petway's been a monster on the glass so far this season--22.2 rebound percentage.)

And if your query is open to non-freshmen on the pine, then let's note that Jevohn Shepherd's been a menace to opposing offenses, recording a laudably felonious 5.7 steals for every 100 possessions, albeit in limited action.

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