The renaissance of Wisconsin's basketball program in the last decade under the direction of Dick Bennett and Bo Ryan is one of the most remarkable turnarounds in Big Ten history, perhaps second only to Gary Barnett's accomplishments with the Northwestern football program. The Badgers give me hope for IU football. Wisconsin won the fourth-ever NCAA Tournament in 1942 and qualified again in 1947, but did not return to the NCAA field again until 1994. Since that return, the Badgers have become NCAA fixtures. From 1994 to present, the Badgers have played in the NCAA Tournament 11 times in 14 years, including the last nine years. IU's record against the Badgers has coincided with UW's success. Wisconsin beat IU on January 5, 1980 in Madison. IU then won the next 31 in a row, home and away, before losing at Madison on January 4, 1997, 17 years later. Since then, the Badgers and Hoosiers have been nearly even (IU leads 9-8 from 1997 to present). IU won 69-59 at the Kohl Center on January 25, 1998, just a week after the Badgers played their first game in the facility. Since then, IU has lost six in a row in Madison. The Hoosiers have been competitive in three of the games there (most infamously the 62-60 loss in 2005 officiated by Northern Iowa athletic director Rick Hartzell), but IU's only longer road drought in the conference is at MSU.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
- Eric Gordon had his worst game as a Hoosier. 14 points on 16 shots, 1-5 from three point range, 3-4 from the line. Gordon and DJ White were the only Hoosiers who shot free throws.
- DJ White had 13 points on 13 shots and had 10 rebounds.
- Armon Bassett continues to play well, with 18 points on 10 shots.
- Jordan Crawford was solid as well, with 10 points on 8 shots.
This game probably shows the limitations of stats. Pomeroy's numbers predicted a comfortable win for IU even before UConn lost two guards to suspension. Still, it was clear that UConn's formidable front line affected every two point shot that IU took, even the open ones. As far as losses go, however, I can handle this one. As bad as it was, by the end of Saturday IU was in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten, thanks to Purdue's home win against Wisconsin. Wisconsin has some decent size as well, so the Hoosiers have a tough job up in Madison, but we shall see.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
- The big news, of course, is that two of UConn's guards, Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins, have been suspended indefinitely.
- I really loathe the "whiteouts." Crimson is a great color. Why would we want to erase it from the palate when we play a big game on national TV? Maddening. And perhaps it's my Knight-era old school notions, but the game should be about basketball. Wear what you want, cheer like crazy for the team. Assembly Hall doesn't need gimmicks.
- 18:05. 6-0, timeout UConn. Nothing to complain about so far, except a quick foul on Gordon, again. DJ manufactured a nice look, although it didn't go in.
- 16:43, 9-0. If they can't guard us on the perimeter, Thabeet won't matter.
- First TV timeout. 9-1. Liveblogging basketball is hard. Not as much predictable dead time as football. All is well so far except for four personal fouls, one each against Gordon, White, White, and Bassett.
- 9-3 14:22. You can tell that Thabeet is in their heads, but they are reacting smartly so far.
- Connecticut's uniforms are hideous.
- Second TV timeout, 15-9. Treading water for a few minutes, some bad bounces and bad decisions.
- 7:26, 16-17. Shooting 5-19 from the field, not getting good shots, missing the few they get. Where's Eric Gordon?
- 5:45--effective out of the timeout. Thomas had two good looks that he missed, nice move by Gordon.
- 3:39. Tied at 19, now back to 19-24. Missing open shots, and lots of them. As Packer notes, Thabeet seems lost out there, and we haven't taken advantage.
- 2:10 22-26. Bassett bailed us out with a 3, but about to give it right back by failing to rebound.
- Holy crap. Someone finally fell for the count.
- And wasted, just like every opportunity of the half.
- 24-29 at halftime.
Halftime: Very ugly performance by IU against a talented but undermanned Connecticut team. IU is going to have to play very well in the second half to win, and to overcome the notion that the 17-1 record is the function of nothing but an easy schedule. IU is shooting terribly--4/22 from two point range, but 4-7 from three point range. UConn is shooting 46 percent from the field. Despite loads of misses, IU has onlt 4 offensive rebounds. Turnover problems are under control, but that's about it. Gordon is 2-8 from the field, White is 3-9. Armon Bassett is 2-3.
- Armon is keeping us in this game. And as many breaks as home teams often get from the refs, I hate to complain, but IU can't guy a FG and they miss a flagrant goaltend? Come on!
- First TV timeout, 27-33. We have played 55 minutes against good teams this year, and have looked like garbage for about 52 of those minutes.
- 36-31 Signs of life, now we need some rebounding.
- Nice look, missed bunny, UConn makes us pay. Story of the game.
- 40-31, under 12 minutes. We will lose badly. UConn played a tough game in Cincinnati Wednesdya, flew back to Connecticut, flew back to the midwest, and IU looks like the jetlagged team. I hope I'm wrong, but I think 36-31 was our last stand.
- 10:10 42-37 As I said, we're just a couple of threes from getting back into this thing.
- 7:22. Pathetic, pathetic performance.
- Well, 44-52. Somehow we are staying just close enough to keep it interesting, but we have no answer inside.
- 2:58, 50-56, Thabeet going to the line. Still sticking around.
- 55-60, 1:27. Probably prolonging the agony, but so be it.
- Good to see that Jim Burr still sucks. The smug grin is a nice touch.
- Well, too bad we were so tenative for most of the game.
- 45.4. And it's over. Gordon passed up an open shot well within his range and exacerbated it with a bad pass.
- Yeah, I'm never doing this again. More later.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
- 17 points on 11 shots for Eric Gordon. Gordon was 0-3 from behind the arc but 7-8 on two point shots (his drives resulted in layups rather than free throws (4-4)). Three assists, 2 turnovers, 3 blocks, 4 steals. His defensive effort and performance was outstanding.
- DJ White had 19 points on 13 shots, but an unusually low 4 rebounds.
- Jamarcus Ellis had another all-everything game. Ellis scored 12 points on 7 shots (thanks to 6-7 from the line), 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 turnovers, 4 steals.
- Deandre Thomas played 19 minutes, but managed only two points on two shots and turned the ball over 4 times.
- Armon Bassett continued his feast-or-famine trend: 8 points on 3-3 from the field, 3 assists, no turnovers, 2 steals.
- Jordan Crawford continues to be a bit out of control. Five points on 5 shots, 2 assists, 4 turnovers.
- Lance Stemler cooled off again. He was scoreless on 0-3 from the field/three point range.
This probably was IU's most complete victory of the season. Of IU's next eight games, seven are very challenging: Connecticut, @ Wisconsin, Northwestern, at Illinois, @ Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Purdue. Within three weeks, we will have an idea of whether 17-1 is a function of IU's less-than-challenging schedule or whether it is an accurate statement of the team's quality.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Eric Gordon and Co. are gaining on Calbert Cheaney. Indiana climbed two spots to No. 7 in The Associated Press men's college basketball poll released Monday. It's the
Hoosiers' highest ranking since March 15, 1993, when Cheaney and the Hoosiers entered the NCAA Tournament ranked No. 1.
1/17/94: 8Preseason 1995: 912/2/96: 812/15/98: 1012/22/98: 1012/29/98: 81/3/00: 101/10/00: 92/7/00: 102/14/00: 10Final 2002: 312/2/02: 1012/9/02: 712/16/02: 6
Monday, January 21, 2008
- When Jamarcus Ellis shoots well, it just isn't fair, given how well he does everything else. The only blemish on Ellis's line is 3 turnovers. Otherwise, he scored 12 points on 5-6 from the field, had 8 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals.
- Eric Gordon was his efficient self, with 25 points on 17 shots. Uncharacteristically, Gordon shot only 4 free throws (third lowest total of the season), but made up for it with 5-11 from three point range.
- DJ White scored 22 points on 8-11 from the field. He had only 7 rebounds, so the double-double streak did not continue, and had three turnovers, but DJ turned in another solid performance.
- Armon Bassett scored 17 points on 8 shots, including 5-6 from three point range.
- Lance Stemler continues to shoot well. Stemler took only one shot but made it from three point range, and added 5 rebounds and no turnovers in 28 minutes.
- AJ Ratliff still hasn't rediscovered his shot. Ratliff was 0-2 from three point range, dragging his season average down to 20 percent. Ratliff shot 41 percent from behind the arc last season and 44 percent as a freshman (but only 31 percent as a sophomore). Hopefully AJ will be back soon, particularly in time for Wisconsin. Ratliff's return to offensive efficiency will be a key storyline of the Big Ten season. Eric Gordon has sometimes found himself in foul trouble. At his best, Ratliff can replace a significant portion of Gordon's offense if Gordon finds himself on the bench.
2. Wisconsin (15-2, 5-0). Last week: 2. Strong performance against weak competition.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
- Efficiency. IU scored 1.38 points per shot. Minnesota only 1.03.
- Three point shooting. IU was 9-22, Minnesota was 3-17.
- Free throws. IU was 12-14, Minnesota was 11-21, including 0-7 by Spencer Tollackson.
- Rebounding. IU corralled 40 percent of its OR opportunities, 11 of 27 misses. Minnesota grabbed only 10 of its 41 misses, 24 percent. This is why IU, despite 15 fewer non-turnover possessions, managed to close the gap a bit.
In sum, IU was significantly better than Minnesota in every meaningful category other than turnovers, enough to eek out a win despite dramatically fewer scoring opportunities than the Gophers. One interesting stat: IU was credited with assists on 18 of 22 made baskets, an absurdly high total for a team that ranks sub 200 in the category at about 55 percent. IU's 18/22 is about 81 percent. The nation's leader, Utah State, averages 72.3 percent. Perhaps the scorer at Minnesota is the long-lost twin of his counterpart at Texas A&M.
How about the individuals?
- Eric Gordon had his least productive game as a Hoosier. He was called for three fouls in the first half and played only nine minutes. Still, while his output of 12 points wasn't great, and his turnovers (7 in this game) remain a problem. He wasn't all that bad. He was 3-8 from the field, 2-6 from behind the arc, and 4-5 from the line. Gordon, thus far, has avoided what really consititutes a bad night for a guard, a 6-20, 14 point performance. Gordon does a good enough job of getting to the line (and shoots 85 percent there) that he seems nearly incapable of having a game in which he is a black hole.
- Jordan Crawford saved the day. I have noted before that Jordan really likes to shoot, and with Gordon on the bench for the last eight minutes of the first half, Crawford hit 4-5 three pointers (4-6 on the game). Overall, he scored 16 points on 12 shots.
- Jamarcus Ellis scored onlt 2 points and was 0-5 from the field, but he contributed elsewhere, with nine rebounds, 6 assists, and "only" two turnovers in 36 minutes (better than any other Hoosier ballhandler).
- DJ White was DJ White. 7-12, 10 rebounds, 17 points, 2 blocks. But you already knew that, even if you didn't watch the game. We have the two best players in the Big Ten, so we better win it this year.
- Deandre Thomas may have had the best line of the night. In 12 minutes, Thomas scored five points on two shots, two rebounds, no turnovers, one steal.
- Lance Stemler was perfect from the field: 8 points on 2-2 from three point range and from the line. His three pointer gave the Hoosiers their final lead of the game. Lance seems to have it back, finally.
Minnesota may not even be an NCAA Tournament team, but this feels like IU's best road win in some time. The Barn is tough on the Hoosiers, and the Gophers are well-coached and did a great job of exploiting IU's weaknesses, yet not effectively enough to win. Last year, the Hoosiers were 2-6 on the road in conference. This year, they are 3-0 already with trips to Evanston and State College remaining. Also, as I noted last night, the game at Wisconsin on January 31 is shaping up as a major showdown. Solid win, Hoosiers, but let's take better care of the ball in Madison and East Lansing.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
PJS: Tubby is in the middle of one hell of a honeymoon period right now. And he used some of the capital that comes along with that to drop a bomb on many Minnesota fans. What was it? He suggested that the University ought to think long-term about replacing historical Williams Arena.
You're right to want to see a game there. The atmosphere can be electric when the team is playing well. The raised floor has a strange charm to it. And the building--though not without its drawbacks and blind spots--means more to many Minnesota basketball fans than any one coach will ever be. While this conversation came and went in the blogosphere and on the message boards quickly, it caused some online pundits I respect to say they'd rather jettison Tubby than raze the Barn if it came to that.
I personally don't agree with that position. Tubby is thinking about building Minnesota into a perennial national contender. To do that, he wants top notch facilities across the board. His first task is to bring Minnesota a practice facility on par with other top notch power conference schools. Eventually, he sees a day when a 14,000-plus arena will render a program non-competitive. I don't know if he is right or wrong, but I think most Minnesota fans would put up one hell of a fight if talk of replacing the Barn got serious. Me? I'm willing to listen. If there is a middle ground, a new Williams Arena, if we can keep the floor, I'd listen.
On to the game Thursday. It's nationally televised. The Gophers are returning home fresh off a confidence-boosting win on the road. Indiana is coming off a surprisingly hard fought game at home against Illinois. So, how did Illinois hang around? What did they do to slow Eric Gordon? And what do you see as Indiana's weaknesses? Where should Minnesota attack IU, and what types of defenses have slowed the Hoosiers so far?
It's clear from above and from my other posts about Illinois that I'm not a fan of Bruce Weber. I do respect him immensely as a coach, however. This year's Illinois team defends well, rebounds well, and takes care of the ball, but can't throw it in the ocean from the beach. I'm not much of an x's and o's guy, but I thought Illinois did a great job against Gordon, who hopefully learned that especially at home, he should take it to the basket constantly against an aggressive defensive team. At times it seemed like Illinois had seven guys on the floor: two on White, two on Gordon, man to man on everyone else. They did a great job doubling those guys whenever they had the ball. Also, Illinois made its first 6 shots and had a 13-4 lead four minutes into the game (those six field goals were nearly a third of the 19 Illinois hit in the game). Combine that with a below-average night from behind the arc, and the Hoosiers were forced into a nailbiter. If there is a knock on Sampson tactically, it's that his teams don't necessarily respond well to new or novel defenses and IU's best players are too prone to turnover problems. If I were coaching against IU I would take the kitchen sink approach and mix up the defensive looks to cause some discomfort (as if anyone could be "comfortable" playing on that platform!)
So, a little basketball talk back at you. What will Minnesota have to do to win? Which Gophers hold the key to defeating the Hoosiers?
PJS: The Gophers are going to need big games from a number of players to pull the upset. This starts with our trio of seniors. Of that group, Dan Coleman is the most talented of the bunch. He scores almost at will against inferior competition but tends to disappear in tight battles. During the Dan Monson era, Coleman played primarily on the perieter offensively despite playing power forward. Tubby Smith has worked to get Coleman to take the ball to the basket and attack. If Coleman is doing that, and getting to the foul line, I like our chances. Fellow seniors Lawrence McKenzie (who played for Sampson at Oklahoma before trasnferring to his home state) and Spencer Tollackson also need to find ways to score.
Aside from the seniors, the Gophers need freshman Blake Hoffarber, who is shooting an amazing 40-81 from three point range. If he gest hot, watch out. And his ability to hit from deep alone could open things up on the inside for the Gophers. I think you'll see Tubby change his defenses like you suggested above. He did that to much success during the 16-point comeback at Penn State last weekend. Tubby is known for his ball-line, hand-in-the-passing=lane defense that creates turnovers and easy points. Beacuse IU shoots well from outside and rebounds well, I don't see the Gophers playing too much zone.
More than anything else, the Gophers need to create turnovers. We don't have the playmaker like Eric Gordon who can score at will, so we need to create opportunities. If IU doesn't protect the ball, the Gophers can pull off this upset.
You have a prediction for Gophers fans who are all of a sudden thinking about an NCAA tournament berth?
HR: While the Xavier game that you mention was a neutral site game, IU has had only one road game against a respectable team, the win at disappointing Southern Illinois. As you note, the Barn has not been kind to the Hoosiers: the 50 point loss in 1994, the come-from-ahead loss to the probation-ravaged Gophers in 2000, the pathetic laydown in 2006...my hope is that this is the year that IU starts winning these games for the first time since the early 1990s. But until I see it, Minnesota 80, Indiana 72.
One final question and we can wrap this up: you allude to the Gopher's NCAA hopes. If my memory is correct, 2005 is the only time the Gophers have been there since the scandal. Will it happen in 2008?
PJS: NCAA? The optimist in me says yes. The Gophers could win 20 games. But the non-conference schedule didn't yield a good win. Without beating someone like Indiana, MSU or Wisconsin, I don't see it. If the Gophers win as you and I predict, the outlook will improve dramatically. I pick the Gophers over Indiana by two, 77-75.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
- Ho hum. DJ White picked up another BTPOW award. After a 22-rebound performance at Michigan, White was his efficient self: 15 points on 9 shots, 5-6 from the line, 10 rebounds (close to a third of Illinois's 32 misses).
- Eric Gordon posted his usual "bad game" totals. Gordon was only 4-10 from the field but was 8-10 from the line and finished with 17 points. Again, too many turnovers (4), but this guy's ability to be productive even on bad shooting nights is what makes him one of the best players in the country.
- Mike White, in 19 minutes, posted a solid line: 4 points on three shots, 6 rebounds (the bad: 0-3 from the line).
- Armon Bassett was excellent in his return to meaningful action: 3-5 from the field including 3-4 from three point range, 11 points.
- Jamarcus Ellis struggled to 1-6 from the field and 3 turnovers.
- Jordan Crawford shot abysmally, four points on 2-8 from the field.
- AJ Ratliff, who has played well in some respects, can't quite find his shot. I'm sure he will.
Like all of IU's three Big Ten wins, IU won despite not playing particularly well. That will have to change Thursday at Minnesota.
Monday, January 14, 2008
2. Wisconsin (13-2, 3-0). Last week: 3. The Badgers continue to roll, and had the league's best non-conference win over Texas.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Now that Eric Gordon has decided he wants to wear candystripe pants and play for a coach (Kelvin Sampson) who has as much to do with the NHL as he does the NBA, we thought we'd dedicate this week's (NFL) Lines to that steaming pile of two-guard.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
This isn't an original thought (I think I owe IUTerry a hat tip), but it is worth noting: the Big Ten's various "tiers" are extremely well defined this year. Ohio State (14-1) and Wisconsin (12-3) are the top tier; Minnesota (3-12), Northwestern (2-12), and Penn State (1-13) are the bottom tier; and Illinois (9-6), IU (8-6), Iowa (8-6), Michigan State (8-7), Michigan (8-7), and Purdue (7-7) are the middle tier. What is so unusual isn't that there are obvious dividing points, but that the outcomes are almost entirely predictable by tier. Ohio State and Wisconsin went 1-1 against each other and 24-2 against the rest of the league. Wisconsin lost at IU and and at MSU. The bottom tier's results are nearly as uniform. Minnesota, Northwestern, and Penn State have combined for six wins. Purdue's loss at the Barn is the only win that the "little three" have claimed against any team but each other, at home or on the road. The muddled six have held serve against each other, winning at home and losing on the road, almost as a rule. Iowa won at Michigan, and that's it [actually, after this post, Iowa lost to Penn State]. As I type this post, Michigan is finishing a home win over MSU.
It's not particularly noteworthy that those tiers exist right now, only two or three games into the Big Ten season. But in this week's voting, there seems to be some solid consensus.
1. Tier one: Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin. On the ballots I could find, every single voter had these three teams as the top three.
2. Tier two: Ohio State, Minnesota, Purdue, Penn State. Nearly every ballot (see below re Off the Tracks) listed these teams in slots four through seven. Of the four, only Ohio State would seem to be a realistic threat to break into championship contention.
3. Tier Illinois: Illinois. With the exception of Off the Tracks, which seemed to have the Illini in the middle somewhere (his numbers didn't match the order), every ballot listed Illinois precisely eighth. No one really expected the Illini to be as bad as that of the conference dregs, but their performance has been very dreg-like so far, with home losses to two middle tier teams (Ohio State and Penn State). It wouldn't be a surprise if Illinois salvages its season, but right now the Illini, if record is compared to strength of schedule and home/away, have been worse than anyone else.
4. Tier hopeless: Iowa, Northwestern, Michigan. All of these teams are winless, and none have much hope of postseason play. Every ballot lists these teams as the bottom three.
Again, it's early, but I'll keep an eye on this as the season progresses. There aren't many surprises in the poll right now. I have no argument with IU's position at #2. It's where I voted the Hoosiers. I do disagree with the voters who docked IU for the margin of victory against Iowa. IU didn't dominate Iowa, but with 2:10 remaining, IU led 70-57 and had held Iowa to 26 percent shooting on the half. IU's offense did not shut down at that point. The Hoosiers scored 9 more points. But thanks to the most improbably amazing three point shooting I have seen, Iowa pulled to within three and actually had the ball with a chance to tie before committing a turnover as time expired. Justin Johnson was 6-6 from three point range in the last two minutes and added a free throw for all 19 of Iowa's points in that last two minutes. The final score was an outlier, and if the game were played 20 times it wouldn't play out like that again. To be clear, I voted IU #2, so I have no problem with the ranking, but the Iowa margin of victory should be a major consideration.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
- Pace: 73 possessions. Definitely more IU's game than Michigan's.
- Eric Gordon's most formidable opponent for Big Ten player of the year honors may be his own teammate. DJ White scored 21 points on 13 shots and grabbed 22 rebounds, the most by any Hoosier since Alan Henderson has 28 rebounds in 1992. Certainly, that number is skewed a bit by Michigan's terrible shooting, but White's total included 8 offensive rebounds. On his own, White rebounded 32 percent of Michigan's missed shots and 20 percent of IU's missed shots.
- Despite a very low number of free throw attempts (1-2), Eric Gordon managed 23 points on 16 shots, thanks to 4-7 from three point range. He turned the ball over 5 times, however, which will have to get better as the quality of IU's competition improves.
- Jamarcus Ellis scored 7 points on 5 shots and had 6 assists and one turnover.
- Jordan Crawford is taking a much deserved beating for his first half play, but he did seem to tone it down in the second half. Crawford was only 5-15 from the field and turned the ball over 7 times.
- My sense in watching the game was that IU was moving the ball pretty well and the box score supports that: 18 assists on 30 field goals. Playing against a zone will do that, I suppose. On the other side, Michigan had 17 assists on 19 field goals.
- While Crawford is taking much of the beating, AJ Ratliff still hasn't found his shot. Only three points on 6 shots. He did have six assists, however.
- Lance Stemler hit a contested three pointer.
- I was glad that Sampson chewed out Brandon McGee for his stupid (and poorly executed) dunk attempt, but Michigan, which was pressing while down 17 and with Adam Ahlfeld in the game for IU, has no standing to complain (and Beilein didn't seem all that upset about it).
- Michigan shot only 31 percent. IU's defense was okay, but the Wolverines missed loads of open shots. Not a single Wolverine shot 50 percent from the field. Of the eight Michigan players who took four or more shots, only four made more than one shot.
- Manny Harris was about to form. Just a hair over a point per shot, despite poor shooting from the field and because of free throws.
- Deshawn Sims made the most memorable shot of the night (the half-ending three pointer from beyond halfcourt) but produced five of Michigan's turnovers all by himself.
- Michigan's best shooter, Kelvin Grady, followed the team trend and wasn't very good: 3 points on 1-5 from the field.
Well? A win, and more comfortable than the last one. I don't know that we learned much about the Hoosiers last night. As noted above, we are off to a good start on the road in the Big Ten, but the atmospheres at Carver-Hawkeye and Crisler aren't what they used to be. The Barn next Thursday will be a different story. The Hoosiers play Illinois before that, however.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
- John Gasaway at Basketball Prospectus takes a quick look at the Big Ten contenders, as well as the other conferences.
- This was written before Michigan's game at Purdue, but Maize-n-Brew takes a hard look at the statistical reality of the Wolverine program. He also discusses the serious attrition of the last few months, not unusual for a program with a new coach.
- Armon Bassett likely will not play against Michigan because of bone chips in his ankle. Obviously, this may be an issue for the rest of the season.
Monday, January 7, 2008
- The 1993 game. During the aforementioned 1992-1993 season, IU won both of the matchups by one point. That doesn't really tell the story of the game in Bloomington. IU led that game by ten with about a minute remaining but Chris Webber made three 3-pointers in the last minute, including one as time expired, to tighten things up at the end, but IU was in no real danger of losing at the end. The game in Ann Arbor, on the other hand, was every bit as close as the score would indicate. As the linked article says, Alan Henderson blocked Chris Webber's attempted putback and IU escaped with a one point win and ultimately won the Big Ten with a 17-1 record.
- The 1997 game. This IU team ultimately disappointed, but not nearly as much as the Wolverines. This was Steve Fisher's last Michigan team, and despite a roster that included Robert Traylor and Maurice Taylor, the Wolverines somehow ended up in the NIT. The IU game certainly contributed to the Wolverines' demise. IU trailed by 20 early in the second half but worked back to within three points at the end of the second half. Freshman AJ Guyton, who scored 31 points in the game, buried a three pointer with 2.1 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime. I have linked the Michigan Daily's coverage above. Bob Knight said that other than Keith Smart's shot in the 1987 NCAA title game, "[t]hat's as good a play as I've ever had a kid make under that kind of pressure."
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, Chris Webber isn't walking through that door. None of Michigan's tempo-free numbers look particularly good, although the tough schedule means that the adjusted numbers are prettier than the raw numbers. Michigan's raw offensive efficiency rank is #177, but adjusted it's a respectable #102. While the Wolverines don't shoot particularly well, they take care of the ball (19.9 turnover percentage, #69 nationally; 8.1 steal percentage, #45 nationally). Michigan capitalizes on 35.1 percent of offensive rebound opportunities, #116 nationally. Defensively, it's uglier. Michigan allows 1.08 points per possession (#302 nationally), and even the weighted defensive efficiency number ranks #183 nationally. The Wolverines block a lot of shots (#30 nationally per possession) and keep opponents from getting to the line (#17 nationally). The low number of freethrow attempts may be attributable to the Wolverines' part-time use of Beilein's famous 1-3-1 zone. On the flip side, Michigan's opponents shoot over 42 percent from behind the arc (that's #329, almost dead last nationally), so why take it to the hoop?
For an update on IU's tempo-free numbers, go here. Of course, IU's strength offensively has been getting to the free throw line (IU is #2 nationally in free throws made per possession), while Michigan opponents haven't been able to do so. Despite the excellence of Eric Gordon, IU has been a good but not overwhelming three point shooting team (37.4, #90 nationally) and only 30 percent of IU's attempts are three point shots (#255 nationally). IU ranks #20 in both 2-point field goal percentage and free throw percentage. On the defensive side, IU again is above average nationally across the board, but the Hoosiers' weakest category defensively is turnover percentage. IU should win this game, but it seems that Michigan's strength (taking care of the ball) lines up against IU's defensive weakness. And while Michigan isn't a good defensive team, the Wolverines have lost because of opponents' three point shooting, which hasn't been the dominant focus of IU's offense. It will be interesting to see whose game these teams play.
I'll discuss Michigan's roster tomorrow.
Saturday, January 5, 2008
- DJ White shot more poorly than he has in a white, only 6-13 from the field, but still managed 16 points and 15 rebounds.
- Jamarcus Ellis was fantastic. 15 points on 10 shots, 7 assists, one turnover.
- Gordon posted his usual, ho-hum, 25 points on 12 shots. The Christmas break version of Carver Hawkeye isn't exactly imposing, but it's nice to see that Gordon was able to get to the line on the road in the Big Ten.
- Those two three pointers must have been well-timed, because I was stunned to read that Freeman was only 3-14 from the field. But until Justin Johnson's outburst, he was Iowa's leading scorer. That says something about IU's defense for the most part.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Iowa is not a good team. The Hawks are 7-6 against what Pomeroy rates as the #276 schedule in the country. As noted above, Iowa enters Big Ten play with Sagarin and RPI numbers more appropriate for a team from the SWAC or the Ivy League. Pomeroy predicts a 4-14 conference record for Iowa, and give the Hawks better-than-even odds only in their home games against Northwestern and Michigan.