Monday, January 08, 2007

Nicely done, Hoosiers!

Last night's contest was one that turned the meta-narrative (that has been developed of the MSU-IU games) squarely on its head. Over the last 10+ years, the final Bob Knight squads and the Mike Davis squads would play Michigan State tough in Assembly Hall by simply out-shooting Tom Izzo's squads, while Tom Izzo's squads would "pwn" Indiana in the rebounding and overall defense categories. Also, generally the refs pay attention to MSU's key players, and a Paul Davis-type would get some significant foul trouble at the end of the game.

The refereeing just didn't figure in this one (if anything, they let 'em play), and Tom Izzo just had no answer for IU's tough defense. We knew that Michigan State hadn't really proven all that much outside of a nice win over Texas, that Maurice Joseph and Raymar Morgan would be rusty in their first game back from injuries, and that MSU turns the ball over WAAAY too much for starting two point guards. I thought that IU would make some Kentucky-style runs on MSU, feasting on Spartan turnovers, but what I really did not expect is the way that Indiana, particularly Lance Stemler in guarding Goran Suton, would kick MSU's ass in rebounding. Izzo's going to be showing this tape to Goran and rest of the Sparties, for sure.

But what I'm really happy about (especially after the sweet-shooting in the loss at OSU) is the way Indiana executed in every aspect of the game and beat a decent team while only shooting 3-17 from behind the arc. If Stemler and IU in general had hit at their normal rate, this would've been at least 30-point blowout going into the final minute, instead of the 20-point thrashing that it was. The shooting will come and go, but tough defense, holding on to the ball, and good rebounding will keep you in many a game.

What was surprising in IU's tough defense/rebounding performance was that DJ White only had three rebounds. He & Wilmont have been our rock in that department, and that's been one of the bulwarks of DJ's productive efficiency. Also, he recorded zero assists, but that was mostly due to Stemler's poor perimeter shooting. So while DJ's scoring was up (which is a very good thing), his overall effective productivity was down, but even that would've been fixed by Stemler hitting a couple of threes. Let's hope that Lance is saving those for Purdue, if not for a crucial road game down the stretch.

Running my new Hper ratings this weekend across the conference board, DJ is surprisingly good per possession, coming in over .5000 with just a few players. Ohio State dominates the group with Greg Oden, Mike Conley, and Othello Hunter (!), but Brian Butch also surfaces as exceedingly efficient. Wolverine frosh Ekpe Udoh was also frightening efficient, and if he sticks around for a couple of years, he could be a pretty good player. Again, I don't want to make too much of these stats until a few conference games are available for dissection (due to strength of schedule variables), but Ohio State's personnel does look pretty great. I'm not sure if it's due to a fairly weak schedule, flaws in my rating system, or just plain ol' awesomeness, but I'll be keeping an eye on it as the season progresses.


Running my numbers through after this last week's conference games, Landry had a couple of amazingly efficient games (28.8hpg, and a .5311 hpps), and DJ's games were considerably less so (19.3 hpg, .4007). So right now, Landry does have better numbers than DJ (.5131 to .4427: Big reversal!). However, IU faced arguably 2 of the conference's top 3 teams, and Purdue faced arguably two of the conference's worst. And both teams came out with a 1-1 record.
But I've made my case for DJ White's inclusion for All-Big 10 based on the preconference numbers, and we'll see how it holds up in Big 10 play.


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