Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Men's Hoops!

So, IU wins by 24, didn't shoot as well on threes ("only" 43% for the game) and Gordon gets big highlight reels. As for my other predictions, the surprisingly close halftime score? Not so much. Gordon is so good, that he's just bailing IU out as he can score pretty much whenever he wants. The other teams get that look that JJ Redick's foes used to get in their eyes where all of their fear and attention is concentrated on that one scorer, and then Indiana is able to move the ball around for DJ or DeAndre to get easy twos or Bassett and Crawford get easy threes.

Indiana's points per possession remained basically the same, although the defense continues to improve.
1.27 ppp/0.86 oppp= +0.41

Again, the competition is less than stellar, so this weekend's games with Illinois State (who beat UNC-W by 17) and then Kent State or Xavier (both should be NCAA tourney teams) should make the Hoosiers have to react a little more strategically than just waiting for Eric Gordon to be awesome.

I've signed up for Basketball State, which isn't going to be really cool until some solid data comes in, but it is a pretty amazing site. But what else would you expect from Kyle Whelliston? I'm hoping that the $20 subscription proves worth it so I can stop all of my "home-cooking" of stats.

I watched Michigan State-UCLA, and it was pretty much a display of two different teams in two different halves for the Spartans. I've watched UCLA in a couple of games now, and they are a legit #1 and Kevin Love is a legit lottery pick next spring. But they were playing without Darren Collison, and they were already weak in the backcourt after Michael Roll's injury. MSU definitely should've beat them, if they were a legit Final Four team. But I think they still could be, if Izzo's freshmen improve a little.

When the freshmen were confident and loose, they made MSU's offense look normal. You spread the floor with a shooter, allow your big men to screen and hit the glass, and if the shot clock's low, you give the ball to a wing and allow him to penetrate. MSU's frosh guards were able to do that as long as UCLA was behind. When UCLA made a strong push in the second half, MSU got nervous and went back to old habits of running Nietzel into the ground. Drew had to launch long threes with men in his face, or they had to wait for UCLA to slip up defensively so they could get a backdoor play. And UCLA isn't going to let that keep happening. MSU's best clutch offense seemed to be springing Drew Naymick for baseline jumpers. Don't get me wrong, Naymick's a good player with a nice jumper, but that's not an offense that's going to make defenses scared or react. Getting Durrell Summers or Chris Allen slashing to the bucket might.

Also watched a bit of Duke taking apart Illinois. The Illini look like they don't have any idea what they want to do on offense. It's hard to believe that Bruce Weber coached one of the most dynamic offenses ever just a few years ago. Duke took away Shaun Pruitt, and Alexander & Meachem couldn't hit threes, and that was it. Duke is not a top-ten team, but Illinois made them look pretty good. The one bright spot was that Brian Randle looked pretty good with his back to the basket

Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Northwestern finally got win, but it was over D-II Benedictine (it's gonna be a rough year in Evanston). Purdue barely squeaked by Lipscomb in West Lafayette. Perhaps projecting PU in the NIT was generous. Iowa moved to 4-0 with a win over Maryland-Eastern Shore. And while the Hawkeyes have done well to win without Tony Freeman (out with an injury), the competition's been pretty weak. The upcoming game at Bradley should provide a little clarity on their quality. Minnesota picked up probably the win of the night, beating Iowa State on the road. Of the new coaches, Tubby Smith has the best fit in personnel to succeed, I think.

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