Saturday, November 19, 2005
News and Notes
It's finally starting to feel like basketball season, what with the temperature plunging, the plethora of games just a remote click away, and the expert predictions already falling apart. It's also the time of year when remarks like "Hey buddy, let's go see that new movie," and "Here's my phone number, we should go out some time," start to get answered with "Yeah, I'll get back to you.....[in April]." I'm sure you can relate.
I didn't have anything specific lined up to write about today, so I'll just throw together a list of thoughts and observations from the games I watched over the past few nights. You're thrilled, I'm sure.
- It's been kind of cool to see the newer basketball stats slowly get their foot in the door. One of the ESPN announcers used "efficient" and "inefficient" to describe some players (probably Taurean Green and Justin Gray, heh). One graphic showed how many points and possessions each team had up to that point (though the teams were about four possessions apart, not sure how they calculated their numbers). Fran Fraschilla even threw out a "Joey Dorsey averaged 16 rebounds per game per 40 minutes last year." We knew what you meant, big guy. Keep reading your Ken Pomeroy; you'll get the hang of it.
- Did anybody see Steve Lavin's All-America team on Tuesday night? Dee Brown, Gerry Mac, Adam Morrison, Nick Fazekas, and Eric Williams. All good players, to be sure, but is there any logical way one can leave off both Redick and Shelden Williams? Good luck landing that next coaching job, Steve.
- Well, I've seen enough. Gonzaga struggled with Idaho Friday and is offically O-VER-RA-TED! You heard it here first. I gotta admit, though, that I'm excited to see Morrison try to bring back the moustache.
- Did the Michigan coaching staff stumble across the mgblog or Hawkeye Hoops preview of the Wolverines? Both suggested that Daniel Horton needed to tone it down and emphasize involving his teammates, and that plan worked perfectly in Michigan's opener. Daniel Horton took only four shots in 27 minutes, while teammates Courtney Sims, Lester Abram, and Dion Harris combined for 52 points on 20-28 shooting, leading to the team's 69 eFG%. They won't have the same degree of success against tougher opponents, but I'd still follow the same strategy.
- With Curtis Sumpter out after tearing an ACL, Villanova went with an interesting lineup. They started four guards, each at 6-3 or shorter, and teamed them with Will Sheridan, a 6-8 forward. The Wildcats used a similar lineup against North Carolina in last year's NCAA tournament. 'Nova was one of the country's best defensive teams last year, and should be again, especially if Jason Fraser can handle a few more minutes. Sumpter's absence will be more apparent at the offensive end - even in the 43-point opening night win, Villanova had only three players attempt more than three shots.
- Is Justin Gray the new Pierre Pierce? Watching the Wake Forest guard redeem himself with the clutch threes against Texas Tech while shooting 5-18 with 10 turnovers took me right back to Pierce hitting the game winner against Texas in last year's Maui tournament. As for the other similarities, Gray is 21-58 (36 fg%, 43 eFG%) and has 29 turnovers in four games.
- I know I'm firmly in the minority on this one, but it's time to come out of the closet - I'm actually a Dickie V fan. Sure, his phrases get a little tiresome, and he's pretty blind when he strays too far from the ACC, and he brings up Duke during every game he broadcasts, but he embodies the qualities that people love about college basketball - passion, enthusiasm, excitement. [Speaking of Vitale, this parody of ESPN personalities by Cracked is hilarious. Props to Bonny for pointing that one out.]
- Florida might be a fun team to watch, huh? They're 4-0 after knocking off Wake Forest and Syracuse in the Coaches vs Cancer Classic. Taurean Green had 23 points and 5 assists in both of those games. The Gators been getting it done on defense, holding their opponents to 93 PPP and forcing a 26% TO rate. They'll no doubt get a few more votes in the next poll.
- With so many new faces in this year's lineup, it was hard to project Illinois's season, but their offense will be a lot better than I expected if Rich McBride and freshman Jamar Smith keep up the hot shooting. When counting the two exhibition games and Friday's opener, the two are 7-14 and 7-15 from downtown. Since the defense is already expected to be quite good, Illinois could be a force in the Big Ten once again.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Iowa 73, Colgate 51
Game Thoughts and Notes: Judgment-clouded-by-eternal-optimism Edition
- Erek Hansen came to play Tuesday night! He actually fought for (and grabbed) a few rebounds in traffic, and he set career marks with six defensive and eight total rebounds. [Yes, non-Iowa fans, our starting center never grabbed more than seven rebounds before this game.] Hansen also knocked down some short jumpers and finished with 11 points in just 20 minutes. It should be noted that none of Colgate's regulars were taller than 6-9, but let's enjoy the buzz on this one for a few more days.
- Mike Henderson took offense to my criticism of his passing and probably had the pass of the night. He drove hard to the baseline, drew a help defender, and split two Colgate players with an assist to a big man (Hansen or Brunner, I think). He was also one of four Hawkeyes to hit a three-pointer, and continues to impress observers with his harrassing on-the-ball defense. Let's hope he's ready to handle Rajon Rondo when Iowa plays Kentucky on Monday.
- Iowa's offense was smoking coming out of the gates. They scored on 10 of their first 13 possessions, and ended the first half with 42 points on only 31 possessions, or 136(!) per 100. Then it was Colgate's to start the second half. The Raiders scored on 9 of their first 11 trips down the floor and trimmed an 18 point halftime deficit to a 49-43 margin with about 13 and a half minutes left. Hawk fans were a little anxious by this point, but Iowa went on a 19-2 run of their own to put the game out of reach.
- Iowa "only" had 14 turnovers in this game, but with Colgate running the shot clock down on most of their possessions, Iowa only had the ball 66 times, which means they turned it over 22% of the time. That raises their season total to 21 turnovers per 100 possession against two less-than-stellar defenses. This is a red flag heading into Monday, since Rondo and Kentucky were among the country's best at forcing turnovers last year.
- It was nice to see the Hawks make a few more threes on Tuesday, though Jeff Horner and Adam Haluska only combined to hit 5 of 14. The pair is 9-23 (39%) for the year.
- Greg Brunner won Iowa City regional MVP honors for averaging 16 points and 7.5 rebounds in Iowa's first two games of the Guardian's Classic, and rightly so. I'm working on some plus/minus numbers for Iowa this year, which simply tell you how well the team does when a certain player is either on or off the floor. With Brunner, for example, Iowa's offensive efficiency is 113, but only 99 when he's on the bench. The defense allowed 60 points per 100 possessions (PPP) when he played, and 73 when he didn't. The sample sizes are of course very small at this point of the year, but I'll be updating this as the season progresses.
- With little doubt about the outcome of the game, many TV-viewers had their attention diverted by a female fan enjoying her friend's ice cream cone. The cameraman, apparently aware of his station's target market, filmed the scene for a full ten or fifteen seconds. Message boards were in an uproar. We sent the research staff to work and came up with this.
- Brunner had a monster put-back dunk but missed when he tried later in the game, and has made only one of his three dunk attempts. The season dunk tally is now - Thomas -2, Brunner - 1, Thompson -1, Gorney -1. Horner took a charge for the second straight game, and leads the team with two. Thomas and Brunner each have one.
Later this week/end - I'll take a look at the Iowa / Kentucky matchup, and hopefully finish my in-depth Iowa preview by the end of the weekend.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Iowa withstood an early second half rally and rolled past Colgate last night, 73-51. You can find recaps at the following links.
IC Press-Citizen ("Iowa Pastes Colgate"? Havnen't we heard enough lame toothpaste puns already?)
I'll add my own thoughts when I get a chance later today.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Ask and you shall receive.
Not knowing my small-conference east coast basketball that well, I sought out someone who did, in order to determine what to expect from these Colgate Raiders. My search ended quickly as Matt B of the Patriot League Hoops Blog obliged my request for assistance. Here are his thoughts on Colgate -
A bit of background on who Colgate is and what their past was. They areIowa plays Colgate after the conclusion of Maryland-Eastern Shore vs Utah Valley State, which means tip off is set for about 7:30.
most well known for their football and hockey programs, but produced an NBA
player in Adonal Foyle, who more or less went there only
because his parents were profs or something at the school. Since Foyle,
they haven't had a lot going on. The school is in Hamilton, NY, which is
actually one of the few places colder than Iowa during the winter. I have
been to Hamilton exactly once and almost died. It is in the middle of
nowhere, about 1.5 hrs south of Syracuse.
Last year, they finished
in the middle of the league, and didn't really beat anyone of special
note. Their biggest win was over my alma mater, American University, so
that ought to tell you something. They dropped their first round Patriot
League Tournament game to Lehigh.
They are probably the fourth or
fifth best program in the league, usually finishing between 9-7 and 7-9.
This year no one expects them to make the postseason, but it could be a
possibility since they have a lot of unknowns going on that could help them make
Their best offensive weapon, Kendall
Chones, sat out last year because of academic ineligibility, as did his
triplet brother Kyle. I think they have another brother
attending Princeton, but I could be wrong. Kendall and Kyle will get lots
of minutes up front and have the ability to push the ball as big men, something
that you don't see every day in the Patriot League. They also both do that
stupid Darius Miles head banging "in the zone" thing sometimes. Feel free
to boo them if they have continued that tradition.
They also have
a decent backcourt, with Alvin Reed and Kyle
Roemer anchoring. Neither one is spectacular, but they don't turn
the ball over much and have some slashing ability.
In all, if Iowa
can contain Roemer and Kendall Chones, there isn't a whole lot that Colgate will
be able to do on the scoring end. Iowa would probably be well served
to use their size down low to get some easy buckets as well. Fast breaks
might not be as successful, as Colgate is a decent athletic squad.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Iowa 86, Maryland-Eastern Shore 41
The journey to Kansas City begins with a single step. Or a major stomping. Or something like that.
The Hawkeyes got their season started on the right foot with an easy win against a team that was one of Division I's worst the past two years, and will advance to the second round of the Guardian's Classic. They'll play Colgate tonight, and a win will earn them a trip to KC to face #9 Kentucky.
Iowa's offense came out slow last night, but the defense played strong enough all game that the Hawkeyes didn't need much scoring punch anyway. Iowa only came away with four points on its first nine trips down the floor, but their defensive intensity and UMES's inexperience ensured that Iowa never trailed.
Senior forward Doug Thomas and freshman guard Tony Freeman came off the bench early in the game and sparked a 19-8 run and opened a lead that continued to grow throughout the contest. The two hooked up late in the first half on the play game. Freeman stole a pass, then led a 4-on-2 fast break the other way. Seeing that he had Thomas trailing, Freeman underhanded a pass off the backboard from the right elbow, which Thomas caught in midair and hammered home. I've never heard that small of a crowd (announced as 8,000+) make so much noise. Iowa took a 44-20 lead into halftime.
The shooting only got better in the second half, both offensively and defensively. Iowa hit 60% of their field goals and held UMES to 27% shooting in the final 20 minutes. The big men were a major reason for the efficiency - Greg Brunner, Thomas, Erek Hansen, and Seth Gorney combined to shoot 15 of 21 for the game. With the outcome never in doubt, Coach Alford was able to give double-digit minutes to nine of his players, and five of them scored at least 10 points.
Notes and Thoughts
- Iowa's offense struggled early on, but it wasn't for lack of good looks. They missed a lot of bunnies, which one would hope start to fall as the season progresses. What was a little more concerning, though, was the turnovers. UMES was one of the worst teams in the country at forcing turnovers last year, but Iowa still lost the ball on about 20% of its possessions. Many of the mistakes were completely unforced, too - Adam Haluska dropped a pass out of bounds, Jeff Horner lost control of a dribble without any pressure, Hansen travelled once, the team got called for a 3 second violation, etc. Iowa will need to see progress in this area as the season advances.
- Many fans are excited by the debut of Tony Freeman, including myself. His line included six assists, three steals and a three pointer. He should give the Hawkeye backcourt another capable defender and ballhandler. One of my biggest beefs with Mike Henderson is that his passes never set his teammates up for good shots, while Freeman accomplished that several times in his first game. If he can hit the three like he did this summer, Iowa will be in position to make big improvements on offense this year.
- Foul trouble was a major issue keeping Erek Hansen and Doug Thomas from playing time last year - they finished first and second in the Big Ten in fouls per minute. Monday night was no different. Iowa's lanky center drew his second foul 2:30 into the game and came out to make way for Thomas. Hansen sat for ten minutes, then picked up his third foul after playing only another 1:30. That's a total of three fouls in four first half minutes. Thomas picked his fouls up after halftime, and had four in his 19 minutes of PT.
- Iowa's student section looked a lot bigger than this time last year, yet they've been allotted far fewer seats than last year. What gives? Sections L and M were GA for students last year, but now we only get the first few rows of those two sections, and the overflow is forced into the corner and behind the basket. Boo.
- Doug Thomas takes the early team lead for dunks on the season. He has two, and Alex Thompson and Gorney each added one. Thomas also leads the team with one charge taken. We'll keep an eye on those two stats this year.
- Horner and Brunner were their solid selves. Bru's spin moves were just about unguardable, and Horner's passing was, on the whole, very good. The seniors tied to lead Iowa with 16 points each.
Other recaps available at the DM Register, IC Press-Citizen, QC Times, and Daily Iowan.
Gameday: Maryland - Eastern Shore
Here we go - the first official game of Iowa's 2005-06 basketball season tips off tonight at 7:35. They start with two home games as part of the Guardian's Classic, and will likely face Kentucky in Kansas City one week from today.
First, they'll have to get through Maryland-Eastern Shore and the winner of Colgate vs Utah Valley State, which precedes the Iowa game and starts around 5:00 tonight. It will be easy for the Hawkeyes to look past M-ES, as they were the worst team in D-I basketball last year, according to Ken Pomeroy's Pythagorean winning percentage, which compares a team's points scored and allowed to estimate how many games it should win. M-ES's offensive efficiency ranked 329th of 330 teams, and their defense was more porous than any team in the country, which explains why most of their 26 losses weren't even close.
Last year's stats are almost irrelevant, though, as the Fighting Hawks come to Iowa City with 10 new faces on their roster, eight of which are freshmen. 6-9 Tim Parham returns after entering and withdrawing from last year's NBA draft. He's a solid rebounder (16.4 reb% overall, 18.2% in conference), but his 47 FG% and 55 FT% certainly don't look NBA-worthy.
Parham will welcome the addition of Qavotstaraj Waddell, a 6-11 redshirt freshman center. Reports seem to indicate that he's the athletic-but-unrefined type. According to the Blue Ribbon Yearbook, M-ES coach Larry Lessett is already getting calls from NBA teams about his new big man.
The three other players who started in the team's exhibition game were 6-2 freshman Ed Tyson, 6-1 freshman Jesse Brooks, and 6-5 junior college transfer Antonio McMillion. M-ES was sorely lacking in outside shooters last year, but Brooks hit 5 threes in the exhibition.
- Shawn Yonkers of the Salisbury, MD based Daily Times wades through the deep pool of new talent at UMES. Coach Lessett seems confident that his team's scoring will be improved (though it would be difficult to be worse than last year).
- Susan Harman has a preview of the game.
- Andrew Logue and Steve Batterson weigh in on Iowa's declining ticket sales. Logue focuses on the doubling of student season tickets, while Batterson paints a fuller picture.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Borrowing An Idea
As you might have noticed, Sports Illustrated.com's basketball preview includes a fun profile of certain "prototypes" of college basketball. The series of articles highlight schools that repeatedly produce players with similar characteristics, and who continue to do so today. Articles include The Hated Dukie (Danny Ferry, Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, J.J. Redick, etc), The Arizona Point Guard (Damon Stoudamire, Mike Bibby, Gilbert Arenas, Mustafa Shakur, etc) and The Michigan State Athlete (Magic Johnson, Jason Richardson, Shannon Brown, Maurice Ager, etc), among others. Lacking any creativity of my own, I decided to produce my own Iowa-based spin-off. And so I introduce to you.....
The Western Iowa Marksman
|Fred Hoiberg||Iowa State||1991-1995||Ames|
|Kirk Hinrich||Kansas||1999-2003||Sioux City West|
|Ben Jacobson||Northern Iowa||2002-2006||Sioux City East|
|Nate Funk||Creighton||2002-2006||Sioux City Heelan|
As you head west across the state of Iowa, you invariably notice two things: flatter ground and decreasing population density. Perhaps it is this dull, repetitious environment that breeds the day-in and day-out, hard-working mentality requisite of the college basketball sharpshooter, or perhaps it is just random chance, but one thing is certain - some of the Midwest's best shooters of the past 20 years were developed between I-35 and the Missouri River.
This is a brief look at the college and professional accomplishments of some of those great shooters.
eFG% is regular FG% adjusted for three pointers.
TS% is a measure of shooting efficiency from field goals and free throws.
3a/fga measures the percentage of shots which were three pointers.
Fred Hoiberg - Iowa State, Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves
The Mayor was certainly among the best basketball players to pass through Iowa State University. His uber-efficient scoring came closer to the basket early on, as he only made 35 threes his first two seasons. He took (and made) many more threes in his final two seasons, and finished his ISU career with a 40% mark from downtown. Hoiberg was taken in the second round of the 1995 NBA draft by Indiana. He found his niche in Minnesota recently, becoming one of the NBA's best shooters. Hoiberg finished #4 in 3pt% in 2004 and led the league last year, hitting 48%. His NBA career marks include 40% on threes and 85% at the line.
Kirk Hinrich - Kansas, Chicago Bulls
Hinrich posted two outstanding shooting seasons when he still had Drew Gooden and Jeff Boschee on the team, but the numbers came back down to earth his senior season when he had to take a lot more shots. Looking back on it, some of those Kansas squads were loaded. The 2002 team included Gooden, Nick Collison, Hinrich, Boschee, Wayne Simien, Keith Langford, and Aaron Miles. Not a bad seven man rotation.
Hinrich was drafted seventh overall by Chicago in 2003. He made the All-Rookie team, and was the starting point guard last year for the first Bulls team since the Jordan era to make the playoffs.
Kyle Korver - Creighton, Philadelphis 76ers
If you're not too busy, take a minute to let those numbers sink in. Korver's 371 made threes rank 8th in NCAA history. None of the players ahead of him can match his career 45% three point shooting, which ranks 14th. Korver was also historically dependable at the line - his career 89% free throw shooting is 10th all-time. If that weren't enough, over 2/3 of his shots were coming from behind the arc, so his career eFG% and TS% are flat-out stupid.
A 6-7 guy who can stroke the three seems like a reasonably valuable NBA commodity, and Korver was no exception. He was selected late in the second round of the 2003 NBA draft, and is in his third season with Philadelphia. He's made 40% of his NBA threes, and led the league with 226 made last year.
Ben Jacobson - Northern Iowa
Jacobson isn't quite as gung-ho from downtown as some of the other guys in this group, as he gets a higher percentage of his points from two-pointers (51%) than anyone else. Still, his 45% three point shooting helped him elevate his scoring last season, and he looks poised for another big year. He's been picked as Missouri Valley Conference preseason POY, and looks to lead UNI back to the NCAA tournament for the third straight year.
Nate Funk - Creighton
Funk's junior season was similar in many respects to Jacobson's, though the Creighton star's scoring was a bit more efficient. It seems that every publication has Jacobson slotted as MVC MVP, but Funk should make voting difficult by season's end, as his shooting accuracy was almost Korver-good last year. Funk has been to the big tournament two of the last three years, and is in good shape to make another strong run.
Note - Make sure you vote in the poll over in the top right corner of the blog - we're off to a slow start so far (though it never helps to start those on a weekend).