Friday, March 04, 2011

Called it... pretty much... maybe

Here' a retrospective on the offseason "BFD?" notes - Overall, I definitely over-rated MSU without Chris Allen (without foreknowledge of the losses of Lucious & Byrd), I slightly under-rated Purdue without Rob Hummel (we'll see how by much very soon), and I nailed how Northwestern would fare without Kevin Coble.

Coble's loss- This is exactly what I thought would happen. The offense suffered when Shurna was hurt (1.06 this season, down from 1.09), and the defense remained terrible -in fact slightly worse- than last season (1.15 in 2011 compared to 1.14 in 2010). In Coble's last season, with the Wildcats in 2009, the defense *only* allowed 1.07 per possession. Look at the defensive rebounding, steal, and block percentages from that season for the players who weren't on the next two incarnations of the Wildcats (Coble, Craig Moore, and Sterling Williams) here. Despite accusations of dubious one-on-one defensive ability, Coble has proven to be the defensive difference-maker for the Wildcats, and I do feel vindicated.

Chris Allen's dismissal- This has been worse than I thought, but I had also predicated that Izzo would have a lot of options. Not so much. Two and a half of the three options I outlined were also taken away. I think the Sparties were starting to get it together in conference play as Lucious rounded into shape, but then he got kicked off the team. Given that Russell Byrd was removed from the equation before the season began, and as Summers actually has seemed to regress, it is only now that Keith Appling has started to figure out his role on offense that MSU has started to look like a NCAA tourney team again. I was way off on how MSU would play this year, even though I guessed even if Summers failed to improve and Appling & Byrd weren't ready, the Lucious + Lucas backcourt option for replacing Allen might take MSU down a peg or two, but there was no way to know Korie Lucious and Russell Byrd would be out, or Summers would be worse in most statistical categories.* Allen's dismissal has been a BFD, indeed.

As for Rob Hummel's loss, the recovery by PU has been amazing. His loss has almost entirely mitigated by great leaps forward in performance by Lewis Jackson, DJ Byrd, & Ryne Smith. To use KenPom's numbers, as these role players from last year got increased usage, they all three made the rare feat of dramatically upping their offensive efficiency. Byrd's ORtg jumped 25 pts, Jackson's jumped 17.7, and Smith's went up 31.5!!! By comparison, Jordan Taylor's eye-popping improvement is measured at a 20.3 ORtg points. Could this be a championship-worthy squad without Hummel? They seem to have become better than the barely-borderline top-ten team I came to think they might be. We'll just have to see how they do in the NCAA's.

*Summers' three-point and block percentages are up, but those are counter-acted by worse 2-point and free-throw shooting and lower steal/rebounding percentages. His turnovers are down, but so are his assists. There's been no "senior improvement" here, which wasn't unreasonable to assume, but the fact that he's been slightly worse when the Sparties have needed him is really unfortunate.


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