Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Big Ten Preview notes

Espn's summer shootaround for the the Big Ten is up, and I have a few thoughts about it.

1) Their expected hierarchy of Big 10 teams this season is not surprising, while they believe in Minnesota a little less than I do and in Ohio State a lot more, but otherwise it looked pretty similar to my own thoughts on the subject.

2) Ohio State is thought to be a title contender, and a significant justification is that the loss of BJ Mullens will mean almost nothing. My own per-possession efficiency numbers saw Mullens as a significant contributor to the Buckeyes (in fact, one of the best in the Big 10). Furthermore, I would suggest that in fact the loss of a top-notch seven-footer without a significant replacement (count me as dubious about Sarkipoulos' ability to be a major impact in the conference) is going to *really* hurt the Buckeyes' balance on offense. A team that has only perimeter options on offense usually ends up in the NIT. There were plenty of conference games I saw where Mullens came in and made big plays, and unbalanced opposing defenses. It's great example of per-possession versus per-game impact. I do think the Buckeyes will squeak into the NCAA's, because the defense will be balanced enough due to the return of Lighty and Lauderdale ,and because Matta's a stellar coach. But they're a year away from title contention.

3) Part of the undervaluing of Minnesota is seen right there in Doug Gottlieb's surprise that forward Paul Carter could be an up-and-comer. Referring back to the per-possession stats again, Carter was actually second-best in the entire Big 10 during conference play. Gottlieb refers to Carter's 21% shooting, but that's actually just Carter's 3-point shooting, of which he thankfully didn't do too much. Carter's shooting percentage was still mediocre 38% on twos, but his FT% was a solid 77% and he made more free-throws than field goals. Carter wasn't a great passer, but his real value was in having a nice steal/block combo and his furious rebounding ability, getting 4.5 and an eye-opening 2 off. rebs/game despite playing only 16 min./game. Freshman Royce White will probably start for the Gophers, but that's a testament to how deep Tubby's squad is going to be this season. It's no surprise to me that Carter did well when given minutes this summer.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

The weeks are dwindling until the return of football, which for me, means at least there'll be some interesting sports chatter. I don't really expect any wins out of IU Football. However I do expect some wins out of IU Men's Soccer.

The Hoosier kickers are rated #7, and so they should be a contender again for the College Cup. However, watching some DVR'd games from last season, the IU offense just seems to bog down, and has been prone to do so since Lee Nguyen jumped to the pros. There's a lot of talent on this team, and certainly the talented freshmen might give a spark or Will Bruin might put it all together this year and become the new Chris Klein, but the midfield currently worries me a little bit. Alexander and Adlard are tough and have some touch, but there's precious little jogo bonito in their games. Unless frosh Bick or Basecke, or maybe even local boy Konstanski can jump-start the transition attack, I think these Hoosiers are a longshot for getting to the title game. But I'm still excited to see what this team can deliver.

In IU Basketball news, another recruit joins Matt Carlino for the 2011 class. Top 100 recruit 6-6 Austin Etherington looks to be a solid piece of the Hoosier rotation in his time at IU. Also, the Puerto Rico tipoff bracket is now online. Looking at the match-ups, it's hard to see the Hoosiers walking away with 2 wins here. I'd guess that 1-2 is the most likely outcome, but maybe a little luck and pluck combined with the endless energy of freshmen nets Crean a surprise victory there.