Sunday, November 16, 2008

Good enough: Indiana 83, Northwestern State 65.

Here's the box score. IU led for most of the game. Much like the football team's early warmups, this game doesn't tell us much: a game like this can deliver only bad news. First, this game was played at a blistering pace: roughly 86 possessions per my count (ps: Ken Pomeroy updated his site before I came back to finish the post, and Ken puts this game at 85.9 possessions per game, so that is correct). That means, of course, that viewed through the prism of tempo-free, IU's 83 points aren't as good as that number ordinarily would suggest and the 23 turnovers, while bad, aren't as bad as in a typically paced game (although this would have been IU's third-worst performance of 2007-08 in that regard). Kenpom's gameplan numbers go back only two years, but IU never played in an 80 possession game in either 2007-08 or 2006-07.

By the way, for those of you who are new to the site and unfamiliar with tempo-free stats, Ken Pomeroy's website is the place to go. Pomeroy tells a mixed story about IU's first game. Of course, Northwestern State likes to run, and so the 86 possession game may not be the standard. Nevertheless, it also shows that IU's 83 points wasn't terribly efficient, and amounted to less than a point per possession. IU's shooting percentage, about 45 percent, isn't bad, but IU's 68 percent shooting on 41 free throw attempts had a big effect on IU's bottom line. On the other hand, IU's defense was quite effective, limiting NSU to 31 percent from the field. Also, IU forced 30 turnovers, which even in a fast paced game amounted to a remarkable 36.1 turnover percentage.

Finally, Crean-coached teams, like those of his mentor Tom Izzo, focus on rebounding. The very nature of IU's roster this year is going to lead to some frustration for the coach. Certainly, NSU's poor shooting percentage gave the Demons more opportunities for offensive rebounds, but by any measure, IU did not rebound well on the defensive end. NSU rebounded 49 percent of its own misses, which, if repeated all season, would put IU well into the 200s of the 320 or so Division I teams. It's difficult to draw many conclusions from a single game, but IU's size, or lack thereof, could create some problems in rebounding.

As for the individuals:
  • Tom Pritchard played well, shooting 5-8 from the field, grabbing 10 rebounds, including 4 offensive boards, and scoring 13 points.
  • Kyle Taber was 2-6 from the field. Taber was excellent in his limited role last year, and his four missed field goals in the NSU game exceed the number of field goals he missed in 2007-08 (he was 11-14 from the field). The efficiency that Tabor demonstrated last year is unlikely to repeat itself now that he has been forced into a more significant role.
  • Devan Dumes, who with his year at Eastern Michigan and year at Vincennes JC is IU's most experienced player, led the way with 21 points on 10 shots from the field. He shot 6-10 from the field, including 4-8 from three point range, and shot 10-13 from the line.
  • Nick Williams, IU's most highly regarded recruit, did not fare as well. He scored 6 points on 2-5 shooting and turned the ball over 6 times.
This game doesn't say much about IU's future. It tells us that IU can win comfortably against a middle-of-the pack team from a low Division I conference. The game also presents some red flags. Still, any IU fan would have been happy to take an 18 point win.

2 comments:

Michael said...

I think Dumes played at Eastern Michigan

John M said...

Thanks for the correction. I was picturing green uniforms and thinking Eastern, but typed Western.