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Saturday, July 23, 2005
 
USA Basketball Update
Tryouts for the USA under-21 team are currently taking place in Dallas. The 20 invited players started two-a-day practices on Thursday, and those go through today. The roster will be narrowed down to the final 12 players this weekend, and that team will compete in the World Championships in Argentina in early August. Andy Katz and Luke Winn have updates on the competition; Katz profiles LSU's 300+ lb Glen Davis here, which includes this great exchange-

"I play my best at 285," Davis said.
This begs the question: When was Davis 285?
"Never," Davis said with a laugh.
The roster of players at the tryouts can be found here. The USA Basketball site has interviews with Nevada's Nick Fazekas as well as Oregon's Aaron Brooks, Duke's J.J. Redick, Wake Forest's Justin Gray, and Charlotte's Curtis Withers.

This tryout is indirectly related to Iowa basketball because the eight players who don't make the cut for the U-21 team are invited to tryout for the USA World University Games team. As you probably know, Iowa's Greg Brunner and Jeff Horner will both be attending that tryout, which will be held July 28 - August 4 in Colorado Springs. Check the roster for the other players invited to the World University Games tryout.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
 
Finished Some Homework
I got around to adding a few individual stats to the Stats Primer I was working on. Nothing groundbreaking there.
 
All DI, All The Time
I wasn't in North Liberty to see the PTL last night, but fortunately the Daily Iowan was, and they covered Team Three's victory here and Team Four's here. Greg Brunner's Team One and the Erek Hansen/Ben Jacobson-led Team Six were also victorious.

The semifinals are set for Monday night. Team Three (Adam Haluska) will play Team Four (Mike Henderson/Doug Thomas) at 6:00, followed by Team One (Brunner) against Team Six (Hansen/Jacobson).
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
 
No Update Tonight
I couldn't make it to the PTL games tonight, so I can't provide my usual recap, scoring report, etc. I can, however, pass along a link to an article in the QC Times. Apparently Adam Haluska isn't satisfied with his current ability to score off of drives, and is working to improve his finishing around the basket. I'd be equally pleased to hear that he was working on his three point shot, but either way, I think Haluska is primed for a big season.

I posted several times last season that Haluska was at his best when Pierce was off the team and Adam, rather than camp out at the arc, had more space to attack the basket. It showed up in his numbers, too. The following are from Iowa's conference games last year (16 regular season plus 3 tournament games).

Games

3pt Att.

FGA

3A/FGA

O Rtg

TS%

7 w/ PP

29

56

0.52

102

52.2%

12 w/o PP

57

143

0.40

126

63.3%


This table oversimplifies things, but it seems to me that people give Haluska too much credit as a shooter. He's decent out there, but his real strength lies in using his size, strength, and quickness to punish smaller and slower guards close to the basket.
 
PTL Playoffs Tonight
The first round of the Prime Time League playoffs takes place tonight. The matchups are as follows -

#2 Team Three (Haluska) vs. #7 Team 2 (Horner), 6:00, Old Gym
#3 Team Four (Henderson) vs. #6 Team Seven (Crawford, UNI), 6:00, New Gym
#1 Team One (Brunner) vs. #8 Team Eight (Gorney/Reed), 7:30, Old Gym
#4 Team Five (Thompson/Freeman) vs. #5 Team Six (Hansen/Jacobson, UNI), 7:30, New Gym

Looks like I tried to make that as confusing as I could. The # preceding each team is their tournament seed.

The Daily Iowan continues to be the only free newspaper to show much interest in the league, and their's is only intermittent. Andrew Shank weighs in with a preview and predictions for each game. (Note to Andrew - Eric Coleman will be rehabbing for at least another six weeks.)

And what's up with the PTL never updating their website? If they needed some basketball-obsessed number crunchers, I'm always just an email away.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
 
All-Iowa State School Team
It's about time I reveal the team I chose in response to the question I posted on Friday - which five players from UNI, ISU, and Iowa would form a team with the best chance of winning?

My initial thought was that Greg Brunner, Adam Haluska, and Curtis Stinson would be locks for my team. Naturally, though, I couldn't answer a question like this without some extensive statistical research. Here are some numbers for each of the nine players I considered for my squad.

Note - I couldn't track down stats for the 2002-03 UNI team or the 2003-04 ISU team in the time that I had to work on this.

New Readers - Read This (otherwise skip ahead)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I often use stats that are confusing the first time they're encountered. Here's a brief explanation of the one's used today.

%Min - how much a guy played (e.g., 30 minutes would be 75% of a regulation game).

O Rtg - Offensive Rating. The points a player produces per 100 possessions, as estimated by some complicated formulas in this book. Points are produced through points scored, assists, and offensive rebounds.

%Poss - the fraction of a team's offense a player uses while he's in the game. 20% is average (by definition....1 out of 5 players). Above 25% is pretty significant, guys near 30% are practically one-man shows (think Pierre Pierce, Bracey Wright), and guys much below 20% are usually considered role players. A player's offensive rating tends to suffer when he's using more of the team's possessions.

Reb% - the best stat for measuring a player's rebounding ability, though some estimation is involved. It's the percentage of missed shots a player rebounds while he's in the game.

TO/poss - turnovers per possession (I used "TO%" to narrow down the table).

TS% - John Hollinger's "true shot percentage." It measure efficiency in scoring points from the field and the free throw line.

FT/FG - a measure of how often a player gets to the free throw line.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Ben Jacobson, UNI

Year

%Min

O Rtg

%Poss

Reb%

TO%

TS%

3pt%

FT%

FT/FG

PPG

RPG

APG

2003-04

0.84

103

22.6%

6.8%

0.16

53.6%

39.2%

76.8%

0.28

14.0

4.0

2.4

2004-05

0.85

114

25.3%

6.8%

0.15

60.2%

45.2%

80.6%

0.23

17.9

3.8

2.7



These numbers are from Jacobson's sophomore and junior seasons. Things that stand out to me - Jacobson takes care of the ball (low turnover rate), he doesn't get to the free throw line a lot (low FT/FG numbers), and he's a deadly three point shooter. He also had a solid offensive rating while using a fourth of UNI's possessions, which is not easy to do. From observing him in the PTL, I'd say he's a decent ballhandler and capable of bringing the ball up the court.



Grant Stout, UNI

Year

%Min

O Rtg

%Poss

Reb%

TO%

TS%

3pt%

FT%

FT/FG

PPG

RPG

APG

2003-04

0.29

109

15.0%

16.9%

0.21

58.2%

20.0%

60.9%

0.34

2.9

3.3

0.3

2004-05

0.78

123

17.7%

14.8%

0.15

62.3%

32.3%

78.0%

0.50

11.3

7.7

1.2



Stout isn't a major part of the Panther offense, but he takes advantage of his opportunities by shooting a high percentage and not committing many turnovers. He also draws plenty of fouls, allowing him to take advantage of a good FT% for a big man. He's very tough on the defensive end - he actually has a higher defensive rebounding rate than Brunner, and he blocked 3 shots per 40 minutes last year. I recently read that he's already added 20 pounds of muscle since the end of last season, and it's shown in the PTL, where he's been a force in the paint. I'm excited about his potential for a big junior campaign.



Erik Crawford, UNI

Year

%Min

O Rtg

%Poss

Reb%

TO%

TS%

3pt%

FT%

FT/FG

PPG

RPG

APG

2003-04

0.74

108

20.3%

10.0%

0.19

55.6%

35.4%

83.7%

0.43

10.4

5.2

2.7

2004-05

0.82

114

20.7%

9.1%

0.15

58.0%

39.0%

70.0%

0.24

13.3

4.9

2.6




Crawford improved his efficiency in his junior season by cutting his turnvovers and shooting more threes. 44% of his shots last year were threes, up from 33% the previous year, which contributed to the big drop in free throw attempts. Crawford, like Haluska, is a big, athletic guard, which helps him excel at rebounding, especially defensively. He's been one of the PTL's most consistently solid three point shooters this summer.


Eric Coleman, UNI

Year

%Min

O Rtg

%Poss

Reb%

TO%

TS%

3pt%

FT%

FT/FG

PPG

RPG

APG

2004-05

0.61

111

25.0%

16.1%

0.17

56.8%

0.0%

47.7%

0.43

10.7

6.4

2.0



To continue the pattern, Coleman has a nice turnover rate. He's also a fairly efficient scorer, despite shooting a lot of free throws at a terrible rate, because he made 57% of his field goal attempts. His explosiveness in the paint and control of the backboard make me think of Doug Thomas with offensive polish. Scary. It's too bad he had to suffer the elbow injury this summer, but he should be back for the start of the season.


Will Blalock, Iowa State

Year

%Min

O Rtg

%Poss

Reb%

TO%

TS%

3pt%

FT%

FT/FG

PPG

RPG

APG

2004-05

0.88

102

20.6%

5.0%

0.20

49.9%

26.4%

78.0%

0.34

12.3

3.2

4.9



Will would make a solid point guard for just about any team, with quick penetration, heads-up passing and durability. His long arms help disrupt passes and put him near the top of the Big XII in steals. What hurts his chances of making my team is the lack of an outside shot.


Curtis Stinson, Iowa State

Year

%Min

O Rtg

%Poss

Reb%

TO%

TS%

3pt%

FT%

FT/FG

PPG

RPG

APG

2004-05

0.88

101

28.7%

8.7%

0.19

50.4%

25.6%

69.4%

0.34

17.2

5.5

4.5



Stinson's %Poss number last year was very high, reaching into Pierre Pierce territory. He may have scored a lot of points, but he also took (and missed) a lot of shots. That said, Stinson has undeniable talent. He can shut down leading scorers, consistently find open teammates, and might be one of the best inch-for-inch rebounders in the country. I usually ignore claims that performing "in the clutch" is a skill, but Stinson is one guy who keeps the debate alive. He's already had a career's worth of huge, late-game scores and steals, and he still has two years to go.



Adam Haluska, Iowa State & Iowa

Year

%Min

O Rtg

%Poss

Reb%

TO%

TS%

3pt%

FT%

FT/FG

PPG

RPG

APG

2002-03

0.72

102

17.2%

7.2%

0.15

50.5%

33.6%

76.0%

0.19

9.2

3.6

1.0

2004-05

0.75

122

19.7%

7.4%

0.14

62.2%

38.9%

80.8%

0.41

14.2

4.0

1.6



Haluska's numbers for last season as a whole are already very good - high shooting percentage, low turnover rate, and frequent trips to the line. His performance was even better in the 12 games played after the dismissal of Pierce (Cincinnati not included). His turnover rate dropped below 14%, which hiked his O Rtg to 126, and he led the team in scoring at 17.4 ppg. His three point shooting received a lot more praise than it deserved, but it was still respectable, and he shot fewer threes with Pierce gone and the lane open for the taking. He did seem to disappear at times, but I think he's the best of the guards at scoring close to the basket.


Jeff Horner, Iowa

Year

%Min

O Rtg

%Poss

Reb%

TO%

TS%

3pt%

FT%

FT/FG

PPG

RPG

APG

2002-03

0.88

96

17.0%

N/A

0.25

47.2%

27.7%

76.7%

0.31

8.2

4.4

4.5

2003-04

0.92

117

17.5%

8.0%

0.23

64.3%

42.5%

86.0%

0.47

13.0

5.3

4.2

2004-05

0.91

114

20.9%

7.0%

0.20

56.9%

40.8%

78.7%

0.30

14.0

4.5

5.5



Jeff is well on his way to becoming one of Iowa's best ever all-around point guards. He consistently puts up good scoring, rebounding, and passing numbers. It's nice to see that his turnover rate has dropped significantly each season; let's hope the trend continues for one more year. Horner had a great TS% as a sophopmore, but was forced into many more bad shots last year as he became one of the offense's main options. He also got to the free throw line a lot less often, which means a lot fewer easy points. My biggest complaint with Jeff is shot selection - I think he takes too many threes from 25 feet for no other reason than he thinks he's going to make it.


Greg Brunner, Iowa

Year

%Min

O Rtg

%Poss

Reb%

TO%

TS%

3pt%

FT%

FT/FG

PPG

RPG

APG

2002-03

0.60

105

18.0%

N/A

0.23

56.6%

21.9%

58.4%

0.45

7.5

5.2

1.5

2003-04

0.71

110

20.1%

16.1%

0.19

57.5%

35.3%

55.7%

0.51

10.9

8.2

1.5

2004-05

0.79

112

23.8%

14.9%

0.19

58.1%

35.4%

69.0%

0.50

14.7

8.3

1.9



Brunner is definitely the talk of Hawkeye basketball fans these days, thanks to a slimmer frame and an increasingly diverse offensive repertoire. In the PTL, he's looked as comfortable raining threes and guarding wings as he does banging with the big men. The weight loss should improve Greg's stamina - I bet Alford probably wants his star on the court more than the 32 mpg he got out of him last year.

Brunner was already a decent three point shooter (for a big man) at 35% the past two years. Further improvement there this season would make it likely that Greg will improve his offensive rating for a third straight season. He's still susceptible to quick-handed defenders when he puts the ball on the floor (even in the PTL).

DECISION TIME
At the outset, I felt that Stinson, Brunner, and Haluska were locks. After reviewing the stats, I still want these guys on my team. Haluska is a versatile scorer who can defend, Brunner is the most polished post player of the group, and looks improved, and Stinson can provide excellent defense and unstoppable bursts of offense. That gives us the following -

G - Stinson
G/F - Haluska
F - Brunner

One of my previous posters (Ben) went with a four guard lineup, with Brunner as the only post player. That's an interesting strategy, but one I can't agree with. First, that team would have a hell of a time rebounding against taller lineups. Haluska might be athletic, but at 6'5", I think he'd be overmatched down low. Also, Brunner didn't do a great job defending the post last year - Iowa gave up a lot of big games to even marginally talented power forwards and centers. Making him the team's only big guy would leave them wide open to exploitation by a team with some tall players.

I want a big guy who can help Brunner on defense and clean up on the glass. Stout looks like the perfect fit - he's a tough defender who also excels at rebounding. On top of that, he's a very efficient offensive player who won't expect a lot of shots, which might be important on a team full of stars. Coleman would be a decent pick too, but Stout looks a lot more rounded at this point in time. Now we have this team -

G - Stinson
G/F - Haluska
F - Brunner
F - Stout

That leaves me with one spot to fill. I don't have a great shooter yet, and I think most good teams have at least one guy who can light it up from the outside and spread the defense. There are still plenty of good guards to choose from - Jacobson, Horner, Blalock, and Crawford. Blalock is the first to go, since I already have a quick penetrator in Stinson, and more importantly, he's the worst shooter of the bunch. Most people would say Crawford should be the next to go, but I wouldn't be so quick to make that judgment. He and Horner have the same 3pt% and identical offensive ratings. Crawford is the best rebounder of the three remaining guards, and (I'm assuming) his athleticism/quickness make him a better defender than Horner and Jacobson. All that is moot, though, because my top priority for this spot is pure shooting ability, and Jacobson wins out there. You could argue that Horner would be as good of a shooter if he were moved to SG, which could happen in this lineup, but I'm still not fond of his shot selection. On top of all that, Ben doesn't turn the ball over. Jacobson is my man.

Finally, here's my All-Iowa State School lineup -

PG - Curtis Stinson, Iowa State
SG - Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa
SF - Adam Haluska, Iowa
PF - Greg Brunner, Iowa
PF - Grant Stout, Northern Iowa

How did I do? I welcome your comments and additional submissions (I've only heard from three of you so far!).
Monday, July 18, 2005
 
PTL Recap - July 18
I can't spend a lot of time on this tonight, so let's get right to it.

In the 6:00 round I watched Greg Brunner's team (1) play yet again. Team 1 went on a 12 point run to open up a 33-20 lead in the first half and kept the lead near double digits for most of the game. Matt Schneiderman tried to bring Team 7 back with a hot streak in the second half, and Erik Crawford was solid from start to finish, but in the end there was just too much Brunner.

As in most other PTL games, it quickly became apparent that Brunner was the best player on the court and could pretty much have his way throughout the game. Team 7 tried to guard him with Schneiderman, who wasn't physical enough, and Ev Pedescleaux, who was too slow. Iowa's follicly challenged PF had his full arsenal back on display. He hit four threes, all in the first half, and mixed in all kinds of baskets from mid-range jumpers, post moves, put backs, and fast breaks. Marcus Leloux (ex-NW College) had another strong game with 20 points. I've really enjoyed seeing this guy play because he's so versatile. He's effective from deep, scores a lot in transition, and has some good size and athleticism for a guard. Looking back, it's hard to believe he fell to the start of the fifth round in the league's draft.

Team 7........41.....57......98
Team 1........58.....49.....107

Leading Scorers, Team 7
Erik Crawford, 27
Matt Schneiderman, 19
Travis Brown, 18
Ev Pedescleaux, 12
Jared Josten, 10
David Haywood, 6
Daniel Bohall, 3
Nick Iversen, 2

Leading Scorers, Team 1
Greg Brunner, 44
Marcus Leloux, 20
Kevin Sams, 17
Brooks McKowan, 12
Rodney Jackson, 5
Woody Orne, 4
Oral Wright, 2

The other game I saw was Team 2 taking on Team 5. As I mentioned last week, this game featured Iowa's point guard of the last three seasons, Jeff Horner, against the man who hopes to earn minutes at the position this year, Tony Freeman. Things looked a little intense early on, as Freeman drove right at Horner the first chance he got. I don't know if anyone else thought the same thing, but those two seemed to be pushing a little extra hard to try and get the better of one another. Tony's high energy might've had something to do with the bad shots he took early on, but he made up for it with some solid defense throughout the game. Horner played a decent game too, hitting four threes, though I still think he's way too eager to pull up and shoot the 26-footer when the offense isn't even set up.

Team 5 only had six guys suit up for the game, but it didn't seem to matter because they had two big mismatches in their favor. Team 2 couldn't find a way to stop Alex Thompson or Duez Henderson all night. Henderson was big enough to post up Kyle Schlaak, and his range and quickness were too much for Andrew Naeve to handle. Duez opened with a 23 point first half on his way to a 38 point game. Thompson had a surprisingly quiet 32 points - he benefitted from good passing by Freeman and Jason Price and was able to put back several of his many rebounds.

Play of the night goes to Duez Henderson. Price had the ball in the left corner on a fast break and lofted a pass to Henderson, who was streaking in from the right wing. Duez jumped, caught the ball well above his head with his right hand, and hammered it home for a big crowd-pleaser.

Team 2........52.....59.....111
Team 5........55.....63.....118

I can't promise these scores are completely accurate - I did miss a couple baskets during this game.

Leading Scorers, Team 2
Jeff Horner, 25
Darryl Moore, 23
Kyle Schlaak, 17
Ali Farokhmanesh, 13
Bruce Sain, 11
John Little, 11
Andrew Naeve, 2
Matt Brown, 2
Ryan Kennedy, 2

Leading Scorers, Team 5
Duez Henderson, 38
Alex Thompson, 32
Nate Swetalla, 17
Jason Price, 12
Keaton Frye, 12
Tony Freeman, 10
 
Does This Mean Anything?
Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune ended his Sunday column with this tidbit -
Isaiah Dahlman, the heavily recruited Braham basketball player, made the
All-Star team at the recent Nike camp in Indianapolis. Dahlman is leaning toward
Iowa, but the Gophers are still recruiting him.
I'm excited if that's true, because Dahlman sounds like quite a player. He's a 6'6"-6'7" wing player who's supposed to have a good jump shot. Still, this article feels very similar to something Peter Gammons would write, where he throws out the "Player A is having a great spring training; he could be the next Roger Clemens," and offers absolutely no evidence to support his statement. If you want to believe Hartman, you just have to assume he's got a good source. In the meantime I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Scout has Dahlman ranked #34 in their class of '06 list. He's also interested in Michigan State and Minnesota. Thanks to MinnHawk01 on the Hawkeye Report board for pointing out the article.
 
It's a PTL Day
Just a reminder - tonight is the last round of Prime Time League games before the playoffs start on Wednesday.

Tonight's matchups
3 vs 4, 6:00
1 vs 7, 6:00
6 vs 8, 7:30
2 vs 5, 7:30

Primary Players
1 - Greg Brunner, Kevin Sams (Drake, early 90's), Brooks McKowen (UNI), Kenyon Murray
2 - Jeff Horner, Darryl Moore (ex-Iowa), John Little (UNI)
3 - Adam Haluska, Grant Stout (UNI)
4 - Mike Henderson, Kurt Spurgeon (ex-Iowa)
5 - Alex Thompson, Tony Freeman, Duez Henderson (ex-Iowa), Jason Price (ex-Iowa)
6 - Erek Hansen, Ben Jacobson (UNI), Dean Oliver, Jordan Eglseder (UNI, '06), Jason Bohannon (Wisconsin, '06)
7 - Erik Crawford (UNI), Matt Scneiderman (ex-UNI)
8 - Seth Gorney, Carlton Reed, Matt Burks (Highland CC)

Once again, I should be in attendance tonight, so I should have a recap of the games I watch posted sometime late tonight. By the way, whatever happened to the PTL's promise of "all stats will be up for all games by Friday [7/15]?" They're about as reliable as me promising to post on a regular basis.

Also, if you're looking for my All-Iowa State School Team, I should have it up later today. I was planning to finish it over the weekend, but the Iowa Games wore me out more than I expected, and I opted for some extra sleep instead. In the meantime, feel free to weigh in with your own picks.

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