Friday, August 27, 2010

Next Season on Hoosier Hoops

The schedule came out, so I took a look-over. I know nobody's gonna be impressed by all the easy W's on the schedule, but it's not just creampuffs. I mean, the nearest comparable team in the conference is probably Penn State, and their schedule is even lighter. A confidence-building wins should probably help these guys- they've had enough tough losses and "moral victories" over the last two years. In fact, I think the Hoosiers will probably be 10-3 in their nonconference games. The Big Ten schedule actually isn't too brutal, considering how many decent teams there are in the conference, I think Hoosiers should be able to scrape together seven wins there. Possibly even eight, but I suspect these young players will probably blow at least one game they should win. So, that's a prediction of 17-14 going into the Big Ten Tourney? That's a decent shot at the NIT, and at least a bid in the CBI if that prediction holds up.

A mention by Tom Crean of Guy-Marc Michel as being in all the players' "top eight" sparked an interesting convo on some IU blogs. My top eight... it's actually pretty tough to pick just eight, because of there'll be five players alone in the rotation at the four and five spots (Michel, Capobianco, Pritchard, Elston, and Watford). I think I'll go without Michel, who I believe will be a nominal starter but Capobianco and Pritch will probably still average more minutes. Maurice Creek won't be 100%, but he still be worthy of starting minutes at one wing spot. Point duties will switch back to Verdell Jones, which I think will be a positive. The other wing spot I'm guessing will go to Rivers first as the kid can bring a lot to the table with defense and rebounding. Jordy Hulls will be the primary back-up guard next year, but I'm betting Matt Roth sees more minutes than Victor Oladipo next season, making the redshirt sophomore #9 in the rotation.
I've mentioned 11 players, and I would guess either Will Sheehey's good enough to get some spot minutes or Daniel Moore gets them and Sheehey redshirts. Really, I don't think there'll be just an 8-man rotation. The only time since 2005 Crean has gone with such a short bench was his first year at IU, when he was playing Daniel Moore heavy minutes. My guess is there'll be at least a nine-man rotation next season, and the tenth if Michel really is Big Ten ready.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Final 2010 Big Ten Effiiciency ratings

The efficiency ratings for 117 players, Big Ten games only, are done. There wasn't a ton of difference from my early ratings, but it is interesting to see who bounced back after rough starts the conference season, etc. This year, I chose 3 possessions per game as my over/under line for inclusion as there were a lot less statistical outliers than usual.

The ratings can be found here. My team-by-team thoughts and top 15's an be found here.

Evan Turner was quite clearly player of the year, even though Draymond Green had the highest per-possession efficiency rating in the conference. And Robbie Hummel was in the conversation as well despite having his season cut short by injury. I would go with Hummel for player of the year next season, unless he's not fully recovered. Rounding the all-conference first team for 2011 would be Demetri McCamey, William Buford, and Jon Leuer.

Freshman of the Year I would award to Drew Crawford, who got a lot of minutes on an up-and-coming Northwestern team. Still, I really don't see how DJ Richardson got the FOY award. I mean, he ranked third in per-possession efficiency among freshmen on his own team! Richardson could shoot threes, but really didn't add anything else while he was on the floor. Teammate Tyler Griffey did have the highest per-possession ranking among freshmen, but didn't get a lot of minutes. Minnesota's Rodney Williams, Michigan State's Derrick Nix, and Indiana's Derek Elston were some of the other freshmen to watch.

Overall, after crunching the numbers, I feel lot more confident about Indiana's ability to win more games next season, about Michigan State's title (national & conference) chances, and Penn State's NIT chances. I also now think Northwestern, Ohio State, and Minnesota are all in a very close group for the final NCAA tourney bids. I'm a lot less sure which of the those three is going to go the NIT than I was before looking over the efficiency statistics.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Allen leaves MSU... BFD? IDK.

Well, immediately after Chris Allen got booted from the team, the Only Colors and this guy's thoughts about it seemed to be "it's an unfortunate situation, but it'll be good for chemistry." Indeed, he appears to be the first Spartan ever to get the boot from Izzo, a shocking fact in and of itself. So, it's possible that this loss will be an addition through subtraction, I suppose.

However, Allen seemed to play well in the tournament, especially in terms of giving the Spartans some consistent perimeter defense that Korie Lucious and Durrell Summers (or for that matter, Kalin Lucas when he's healthy) don't always seem that interested in. Furthermore, Allen rediscovered his three-point stroke last season, shooting .398 on 133 attempts. No other Spartan was anywhere near that good, and of the returnees only Lucas (.354) and Summers (.358) will cause concern for opposing offenses.

In my way-too-early pre-season rankings, I've been very high on the Spartans. Allen's loss will hurt their rankings- losing an experienced senior with some size and very good offensive rating will do that. Will cost them championships (conference and/or NCAA) or another Final Four berth? I couldn't possibly guess. But here's what I would say to keep an eye on:

1) The freshmen- I've seen a lot of talk along the lines of "McDonald's All-American Keith Appling has to produce immediately." And so it should be- if you're playing in the McDonald's All-American game, you should generally expect to be starting wherever you're playing the next fall. However, freshmen guards tend to also bring turnovers with them, and that's one thing that Izzo doesn't need. Russell Byrd was a very highly ranked 6-7 shooting guard as well that people seem to have forgotten about since he broke his foot last May. With Allen gone, and Byrd coming in with a reputation as a sniper, we may see Byrd getting a lot of minutes, especially if Summers can defend shooting guards.

2) Durell Summers- if Summers really focuses, he has the athletic ability to be a very good defender. He's already a pretty decent shooter, so perhaps Izzo can just have him can pick up where Allen left off. Still, someone else, probably Appling, needs to pick up Summer's role capably.

3) Korie Lucious- if Izzo starts utilizing Lucious more to free up Lucas for shots (the memorable end to the Michigan game comes to mind, where you could tell the wolverines knew what was coming but just were unable to stop Lucas from getting free long enough to hit the game-winning shot), then perhaps it's not such a bad trade-off in the end. MSU might be able to simply out-score opponents in a series of high-octane games. However, I'm sure Izzo is still rather fond of defense, so I imagine this is the last option.

Anyway, it all may be fine. As we can see, Izzo has some options. However, there's now more questions about the team, so we'll need to see some answers before we can consider MSU the 2011 title favorite for the conference or the country.