In the 9th inning of the Wolfpack's 24-4 win over BC yesterday, the Eagles inserted pitcher Kurt Hayer. He...had some issues.
Hayer, K to p for Cozza, J. Lindsay lined out to rf (2-1). Roskopf singled to right field (1-1). Roskopf advanced to second on a passed ball. Poulk walked (3-1); Roskopf advanced to third on a wild pitch. Foschi walked (3-1); Poulk advanced to second. Florio singled to center field, RBI (1-2); Foschi advanced to second; Poulk advanced to third; Roskopf scored. Moore walked, RBI (3-2); Florio advanced to second; Foschi advanced to third; Poulk scored. Jones walked, RBI (3-1); Moore advanced to second; Florio advanced to third; Foschi scored. Payne flied out to rf (1-1). Jones advanced to second on a passed ball; Moore advanced to third; Florio scored. Howard walked (3-2). Lindsay flied out to lf (1-2). 4 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 3 LOB.
Five walks, two passed balls, and a wild pitch in one inning of work. He has surrendered 19 walks in 8 IP this season, which is 21.4 BB/9. I'm not sure about this pitching thing, Kurt. Can you hit?
You need not be good at all four factors in order to have a good offense, but, obviously, the more diversified your strengths, the better.
Herb Sendek's offenses relied on a high eFG% and a low TO%, eschewing offensive rebounds, and that worked out fine. But we lost one of those staples this season (the low TO%) and didn't make up for it by improving our offensive rebounding. Although this year's offense looks like it's in the same ballpark as the last three, it really isn't. Pomeroy's adjusted numbers give more weight to a team's most recent performances, so State's late-season surge provided a jolt that is misleading (particularly in comparison to last year's offense, which slumped at the end). We spent the majority of this year with an offense ranked in the 70s (still not bad, but not close to recent years, either).
The Wolfpack offense in conference play (conference rank in parenthesis):
[T]he Wolfpack haven't won a conference game when they had less than a 55 percent EFG.
That's our offense summed up in one line. Fifty-five percent isn't merely good shooting, it's great shooting. If we were anything less than great, we lost. Next year, it's all about finding a second leg to stand on, be it through a significant improvement in either TO% or OR%, or, more likely, an incremental improvement in both.
Goodridge's path to big-time college basketball was not pretty and it's one the NCAA would like to cut down on.
From his days roaming the halls at Erasmus, where he never was eligible in more than three years, to time spent at a pair of prep schools, Milford Academy and Philadelphia Lutheran Christian, that were in the NCAA's crosshairs after Goodridge left them, the 6-foot-9 center could have been the poster boy for wasted opportunity.
But the NCAA cleared him to play for Mississippi State shortly before his freshman year began in the summer of 2005 and tonight, he'll be with the Bulldogs as they face West Virginia in the NIT semifinals. Clemson faces Air Force in the other semifinal.
"I never thought I'd get here," Goodridge said. "There were so many things against me."
Timing, however, wasn't one of them. Goodridge got out of Philadelphia Lutheran before the NCAA's belated crackdown on prep schools that provide little more education than that found on a basketball court.
And while new prep schools open faster than the NCAA can keep up with them, Goodridge is lucky to be playing in the SEC, but he insists that he belongs there.
Brian at mgoblog was kind enough to post the third down data from every I-A school again this season. And it's all in a handy graphical format. I'm going to take a look at the NC State offense here, but you can find a lot more at mgoblog (2005 numbers, and defensive numbers as well). While you're over there, take a look at UNC's weird third down efficiency graph. The Heels were well below the national average in 3rd-and-less-than-5 and well above it in 3rd-and-everything-else.
I'm going to start with the Wolfpack's third down efficiency graph; here's a brief explanation from Brian:
First: Third down efficiency. The thick line in the center is the NCAA average (e.g., approximately 68% of third and ones were converted last year). There is a second line that represents an individual team's third down efficiency. Where there is a gap between the lines that gap is filled in with either red or green depending on whether it is "good" or "bad". Being above the line is good for offenses--you convert more often. Being above the line is bad for defenses--you are converted upon more often. You want to see a lot of green in these graphs.
(click images below for larger versions)
NC State converted 3rd-and-shorts at a rate higher than the national average, but that's it. We sit below the average at every other distance, and we especially struggled to convert in the 8-11 yard range. Even so, we showed some definite improvement over 2005. We were 6-of-16 on 3rd-and-1 last season (a conversion percentage that was waaay below average), 13-of-16 from that same distance this year (well above average). I don't have a good explanation for that. Better play calling? Improvements to the offensive line's technique?
Next up is third down distance. This graph illustrates what percentage of NC State's third downs occurred at the various distances listed on the x-axis. The green and red don't indicate "good" or "bad," just above or below average.
In 2005, State's offense had more third downs between 5-10 yards than average and fewer third downs between 1-5 yards than average. In 2006, that basically flip-flopped, with the offense getting a lot more third down opportunities between one and five yards. In particular, a whole bunch of 3rd-and-5s.
One reason for the change in third down distribution between 2005 and 2006 is probably play selection: we threw the ball on first down 49.2% of the time in '05, 59.6% of the time in '06.
This last graph displays the raw numbers. You can see, for example, that the Wolfpack had 19 3rd-and-5s:
What compelled the NCAA to finally begin to examine prep schools were a couple of investigations conducted by the New York Times and the Washington Post last February. You can find the Post article here and the NYT piece is here. I highly recommend both.
Since those reports, the NCAA has been conducting a widespread inquiry into preparatory schools. Its methods of inquiry have been both poorly-communicated and clumsy, and the results have in some cases been comical. In the NCAA's initial round of bannings, several institutions targeted by the NCAA did not even have basketball programs. Other instutions were no longer in operation. Based largely on the response to a questionnaire that it sent to prep schools, the NCAA compiled a watch list that included illegitmate and legitimate institutions both, and that pissed off a number of astonished administrators from the latter.
Since it announced July 5 that it had found more than 30 problematic private schools, the NCAA impugned schools that never have fielded basketball teams and punished schools that do not exist, administrators said. It confused two sets of schools with the same name. It sanctioned a program for special-needs children in Virginia and an alternative education program run by a California probation department.
This summer, it questioned the academics at two prominent Virginia schools, Oak Hill and Fork Union, and abruptly cleared them a couple weeks later. In at least one other case, the NCAA publicly tarnished a program, cleared it, yet did not announce the change.
But although the NCAA has had more than its share of problems getting this thing done, it has managed to identify and ban a couple of the worst offenders. Like the Christopher Robin Academy in New York, a school that Ed Cota attended. And, finally, Philadelphia's Lutheran Christian Academy (not even a faux-religious school name can protect you from Myles Brand's omnipresence!):
In a written statement, NCAA officials explained that Lutheran Christian Academy and Prince Avenue Prep were added to the list after reporting they used the Accelerated Christian Education program as their primary educational method. The statement said that while the ACE generally gives schools a status of "model" or "quality" for those schools that meet its standards, that Lutheran Christian Academy and Prince Avenue Prep had not achieved either level.
What is Lutheran Christian Academy? Read that Postinvestigation. This excerpt should give you an idea:
The school does not have its own building or formal classrooms, and it operates out of a community center in a ragged North Philadelphia neighborhood. It has just one full-time employee: the basketball coach, a former sanitation worker who founded the school. One former student, who attended the school for three months, said it did not use traditional textbooks and that the coach, Darryl Schofield, was the only teacher.
Most college coaches won't touch a kid from Philly Lutheran. It's not the kids, they tell me, but the school. Any list of prep schools thought to be grade-giving factories has to include Philly Lutheran, a bunch of college coaches tell me.
The Post went after Philly Lutheran hard, sending a couple of reporters to Philadelphia while having a couple more -- and a researcher -- working on it from Washington D.C. That's terrific.
As for any college coach who has had, does have, or will have a player on his roster from Philly Lutheran ... you deserve whatever scrutiny is coming your way.
One of the coaches who has been put under scrutiny is Mississippi State's Rick Stansbury. Stansbury's star player, Jamont Gordon, attended Philly Lutheran. This is from the NYT's article:
Jamont Gordon went to Lutheran after withdrawing from Oak Hill last April. Coach Smith said Gordon would have been a borderline prospect to qualify for college academically if he had completed the final quarter of his senior year at Oak Hill.
Gordon now leads Mississippi State in scoring as a freshman. Bulldogs Coach Rick Stansbury said Gordon had gone to Lutheran to "finish one class." Told that Gordon had left Oak Hill needing to complete all his classes, Coach Stansbury said: "He went there to finish. That's all. He did what he had to do to finish his academics."
Coach Stansbury, who refused several requests to allow Gordon to comment for this article, said he had no reason to check whether Lutheran, which has been open in various forms for eight years, was accredited. Despite Gordon's tenuous academic situation and the fact that Mississippi State's top recruit, Vernon Goodridge, also went there, Coach Stansbury said he neither visited Lutheran nor talked to teachers or guidance counselors. He did, however, go to the gym.
"We don't talk to teachers when we're recruiting kids," he said. "Everyone does it differently."
So Rick Stansbury went to Philadelphia, fingers in his ears and humming a tune the whole way.
"It's kinda weird, coach. We only have one teacher, and he's the bask--" "La la la la. I am not listening. La la la la."
Vernon Goodridge, mentioned above, also successfully enrolled at Mississippi State. Goodridge is a 23-year-old sophomore (he's older than all but one player on the MSU roster), but I'm sure that doesn't say anything about his academic credentials. Nah.
For now, at least, Stansbury and others (I'm looking at you, UTEP) are going to have to find their players elsewhere.
With the Pack's loss to UConn in the sweet sixteen, basketball season comes to a close. And Steven's liver rejoices.
Homer: The last bar in Springfield...if they don't let me in here, I'm going to have to quit drinking! Homer's liver: Yay! Homer: Shut up, liver! [punches it] Ow! My liver hurts... [walks in] I'd like a beer, please.
I'll show you yet, liver! Or more accurately, Elliott Avent's shaky managerial tactics will show you yet.
My thanks to all of you who've supported the blog this football/basketball season with regular visits, comments, and words of encouragement. It means a lot. I hope you'll continue to stop by during the offseason, because I don't plan on slowing down. In between the usual news and notes and whatever else may come up, I'm sure I'll find reason to bore everyone with some White Sox discussion (one more week 'til opening day!), and if the Hurricanes manage to sneak into the playoffs, I'll be covering them as well.
That makes the Huskies 19.7 points better than the Wolfpack per 100 possessions. Assuming the game Saturday has 72 possessions (right at each team's average pace), the Huskies will be 14 points better. I don't have enough data for the Predict-O-Meter to give me a score, but expect 14 to be the margin of victory for UConn. How far can intangibles carry you? I guess we're about to find out.
The Huskies have a balanced offense: all five starters average double-digit points, and four of five average between 14-16 field goal attempts per forty minutes.
Renee Montgomery (5-7) -- UConn's leading scorer and point guard. She's not the primary option--she just gets more minutes than the other major contributors, hence the higher PPG. Averages nearly 6 assists/40 minutes and has a 1.7 A:T ratio.
Mel Thomas (5-9) -- Low-usage long range bomber, and a very good one at that. She's 84-198 (.424) from behind the arc this season.
Kalana Greene (5-10) -- Good rebounder for her size, she scores efficiently on twos and won't turn the ball over often. Charde Houston (6-1) -- Hitting 55% of her shots, but a propensity for turnovers hurts her overall efficiency.
Tina Charles (6-4) -- Just a freshman and already a big time player. She shoots 60%, rebounds extraordinarily well at both ends of the court, is prone to neither turnovers nor fouls, and blocks a lot of shots. Her per-40-minute averages: 22.7 pts, 15 rebounds, 4.1 blocks. Charles, rightfully, is UConn's primary scoring option.
FREE BRITTANY HUNTER (6-3)!!! I beseech not Geno Auriemma, but the basketball gods, who've apparently seen fit to curse Brittany with a chronic knee problem. When she has been able to play this season (not often: 209 minutes), she's been awesome.
-- The story of the game: our surprising inability to make our twos. As a team, the Pack hit only 32.4% of its 2FGAs; individually, only Brandon Costner managed to hit at least half of his two point attempts. Grant hit 3-of-10, McCauley hit 2-of-8, and Horner hit 2-of-6. McCauley's ineffectiveness, which resulted in his benching during the second half, really hurt.
-- A round of applause to the guys for keeping the turnover rate under 20%. The Mountaineers were +2 in the turnover category this time, so they didn't have much of an advantage.
-- A round of applause also goes to the Predict-O-Meter, which predicted that the game would have 63.8 possessions. It ended up having 63.6.
-- The Wolfpack significantly outrebounded West Virginia. It was our best defensive rebounding performance against a power conference school this season (and second best overall). Leading the way were Costner and McCauley, who both posted high defensive rebounding percentages. At the other end, Dennis Horner had as many offensive rebounds (5) as the entire West Virginia team.
I mean, we actually out-shot-attempted a team, dudes. Fifty-six FGAs to their 54, and this even though we shot twice as many free throws.
-- With a four point edge late, I thought we were going to win the game, and then Frank Young banked in that three. I had an immediate flashback to John Gilchrist doing the same against us in the ACC tourney a few years back, and I think I blacked out for a second. Thank goodness Young's hot streak didn't conjure up memories of Matt Freije (damn you to hell, Freije!) else I'd have probably died right there.
"I just told those kids that this was one the most gratifying teams that I’ve been affiliated with in 16 years," Lowe said in the locker room afterwards. "Just the way they handled themselves, the way they approached the game, never complaining. They worked their tails off and probably exceeded all expectations that a lot of people had of them."
Amen to all of that. As difficult as the year was, it hasn't left a sour taste in my mouth. It isn't the rough spots that I associate with this team when I think back; it's the triumphs. Yeah, the standings say we were 20-16, but it doesn't feel like it.
-- Great game, Engin, and thanks for four enjoyable seasons. We'll miss you.
We got to our seats right when Carolina was warming up and Tyler “They Call Me Psycho T Because I’m Real Psycho and T is my Favorite Color” Hansbrough was alternately taking jumpers and fidgeting with his mask. I tried to get chants of “Cher’s Your Mom” and “Eric Stoltz” started but they didn’t catch on. I like to think that maybe it was just too early.
There is a certain amount of comfort that comes with playing West Virginia, comfort that is derived from this fact: the Mountaineers suck at rebounding just as much as we do. It's like finding a familiar face in a foreign town. "Boy am I glad to see you!"
Those other teams, they're tough. But not you, sweet, sweet West Virginia. Not you. You kindly offer opponents their missed shots while keeping none of your own for yourself.
When we played WVU back in early December, we had one of our best offensive rebounding performances of the season, grabbing 37% of our misses. Mountaineer opponents have posted an OR% over 40.0 eleven times this season (Wolfpack opponents have done it seven times). West Virginia has at least managed some improvement at the offensive end, upping its OR% from 21.3% to 30.4% this season. That's still terrible, but it's a step up from inept (and it's better than our OR%).
With the two teams shooting and rebounding about the same in the first meeting, turnovers meant the difference. NC State turned the ball over 17 times (nine of those were Gavin's) while WVU gave it away seven times. As I wrote prior to the game:
That turnover rate sure is an eye-opener. On the season, WVU opponents are averaging 23 turnovers per game; WVU, on the other hand, averages 11. That's a massive advantage, particularly in the low-possession games that West Virginia likes to play. They won't continue to force turnovers at their current pace--that's ridiculous--but last year's TO% shows that their ability to force a lot of mistakes is no early-season fluke. This is a huge key to the game. WVU's FG% defense is nothing special, and neither is its defensive rebounding. You take care of the ball against the Mountaineers and you're liable to have a nice day at the offensive end because you're forcing them to stop you with their weaknesses.
The numbers have changed since then (WVU's turnover advantage now stands at +5 per game), but the larger point remains applicable to Tuesday. Their 2FG% defense is atrocious (we hit 59.4% of our twos against them) and they give up numerous second opportunities--but you gotta hang onto the ball in order to take advantage of those defensive weaknesses. Our ability to protect the basketball is important not just because of the opportunities it presents us offensively, but also because we know the Mountaineers aren't going to give it away much themselves. They leverage turnover margin better than anybody; if you don't allow them to do that, you give yourself a great chance to beat them.
Now that we've had a chance to see and play against their 1-3-1 defense, and now that Atsur is back on the court, we should expect to see a lower turnover rate. A few notes:
-- With both teams in the top fifteen nationally in eFG%, the game has the potential to be an entertaining shootout. To the extent that a 60 possession game can be a shootout.
-- John Beilein has started the same five guys in every game. Seven West Virginia players average double digit minutes.
-- Darris Nichols has a 3.7:1 (!) assist-to-turnover ratio. Alex Ruoff's is 2.4:1.
-- Seven-footer Rob Summers rarely shoots, but when he does, he's money: 68.1% on twos.
-- And I thought the Drexel game officials were bad. I've never sat through a more painful two minutes of Wolfpack basketball than I did tonight. You had to start fouling early, didn't you, Marist? Well, you can Poughkeep on hackin' all the way home, you bricklaying jerks.
-- The Wolfpack hit 7.7% of its threes and 72.4% of its twos.
-- Dennis Horner didn't miss a shot, be it from the field or the line, and scored 13 points in 15 minutes--34.7 pts/40 minutes. Now that's some scoring punch off the bench.
-- Gavin put forth a brilliant rebounding effort: 12.5 OR%, 22.1 DR%. McCauley was just about as good rebounding at the offensive end, while Costner was excellent at the defensive end. With those three rebounding so well, I'm a little surprised we didn't have a more decisive rebounding edge.
-- Will Whittington launched 16 threes, hitting five. He wasn't just off; we did a good job covering him.
-- The Pack came in giving up steals on 11% of its possessions (263rd-worst in the nation) and gave up steals on 18.6% of its possessions tonight. You might could blame some of them on the officials, but mostly we were careless.
Although not as good overall as Drexel, I think Marist is much scarier on paper. The Red Foxes run an offense that is heavily perimeter-oriented: 44.4% of their field goal attempts are threes, the 15th-highest proportion in the nation. And they can definitely hit 'em. Considering that our perimeter D has been average at best and lackadaisical at worst, I am more than a little concerned. Marist doesn't commit many turnovers (and, if I may hit the broken record with a mallet one more time: we don't force any), so they're going to get their looks.
They lean on Will Whittington and Jared Jordan, the team's top two scorers--both average 37+ minutes per game. There's only one other guy on the team getting 30 minutes a night.
Jared Jordan (6-2, 187) -- If you want to know why Marist does such a good job taking care of the ball, look no further. Jordan has a turnover rate under 20%, which is fantastic for a full time point guard. He leads the nation in assist rate and has 282 assists on the season. He has a 2.7:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, averages 8.8 Ast/G and 9.3 Ast/40 min (fn. 1). Jordan is also the team's primary scoring option, which makes his huge assist total all the more impressive; he takes a lot of shots himself. And this is not a fast-paced team.
Will Whittington (6-3, 174) -- Seventy-five percent of his field goal attempts are threes and he's hitting 40% from beyond the arc. He averages 10 three-point attempts per game; gotta know where he is at all times.
Ben Farmer (6-5, 193) -- So uninvolved offensively, it's like he's not even there. He'd be a serious Soroye Award candidate were he in the ACC.
Ryan Stilphen (6-8, 222) -- Shooting 60.1% on the season, he's been an efficient scorer in the post. Not much of a rebounder, nor is he a shot blocker. He's the lone starter who won't be firing away from three-point range.
James Smith (7-0, 250) -- Ah, yes, Marist's seven-foot, 250 pound...third-leading three-pointer attempterer? Smith scores with frightening efficiency inside (58% on twos) and outside (40% on threes). He is well behind Jordan and Whittington in scoring, but this is largely due to him getting just 23.3 minutes a game. When he's on the court, he's the number two option behind Jordan. Great defensive rebounder, good shot blocker.
Three guys (for some reason it feels wrong to refer to them as Foxes) get double-digit minutes off the pine: Wilfred "Spongy" Benjamin (6-7, 228), Shae McNamara (6-8, 209), and Gerald Carter (6-4, 185).
Rearrange the letters in "Shae McNamara" and you get He's Maraca Man. Maybe he'll give us a little salsa shake every time he makes a basket.
Marist Defense 06-07
Off Reb Rate
They don't force turnovers and their interior defense looks suspect: opponents are hitting 50% of their twos.
Predict-O-Meter says Wolfpack 78, Red Foxes 69. Don't know about that.
1.) Quentin Thomas scoffs at your measly 9.3 asts/40, Jared. QT averages 11.4-per-40-minutes.
The NCAA doesn't want you to know this, but the Beer Pong Table Design Coefficient is a major component of the RPI. Keep that in mind the next time you're playing on your ill-suited kitchen table; when you don't take beer pong seriously, everyone loses.
This is wrong on so many levels that I don't even know where to begin. Okay, you don't have a table. But good heavens, y'all, put some distance between those cups. And tighten that rack, junior!
Here we have a non-school-themed table, but I had to highlight it because they're playing 100-cup pong. Hard core.
[The caption on this photo: "our beer pong winning streak was ruined by the stupid police." I hate it when that happens.]
Ranking the best of the best:
#6 A decent effort if a bit slim on the school pride. Hinges allow for easy folding and storage, and they've painted circles for each cup.
#5 Nice, big logo; hinges for easy storage.
#4 A simple paint scheme works, too. You can't go wrong with red. Check out my man on the left--that is an egregious elbow fault. I almost pushed this table to the bottom of the power poll for the violation. And is he bouncing it? Looks like he's about to get swatted.
#3 Similar to #5, but this one boasts a cleaner paint job.
#2 Bonus for originality here. The Marist logo is made from used bottle caps. We have a couple of beer pong violations which hurt the vibe, however. The blue and red cups aren't of the same manufacture and may not have the same diameter. That's grounds for having the game results thrown out. They're also stacking the cups, and that's a major misconduct.
#1 Well-crafted, solid design with a sweet paint job. This table boldly asserts itself as the permanent centerpiece of the room.
-- That's the fewest pts/poss we've allowed since way back in December. Keeping them off the offensive glass was important since they weren't hitting shots, and we did that. McCauley and Costner both posted excellent defensive rebounding numbers.
-- I can't say enough about our effort at the offensive end. To come into our fifth game in six days and shoot 55% and turn the ball over on less than 20% of our possessions--that's impressive. We've hit over 40% of our threes in five straight games.
-- Were those ACC officials doing the game last night? They were awful (for both teams). In the first half, they swallowed their whistles and allowed anything to go. Drexel took advantage by playing some seriously Duke-esque grabby defense. Then they decided to start calling the touch fouls down the stretch.
-- Going with the hack-a-Shaq strategy paid off huge in the last five minutes. Frank Elegar was nearly unstoppable in the post (and we never made a point to double him) but couldn't hit anything from the line.
-- Ben McCauley air-balled a free throw late in the game. D'oh.
-- BC wasn't as involved in the offense as he was last weekend, but his three point play with less than 90 seconds to go was the biggest of the game. You could see it coming, too. With the ball near the baseline, Elegar (who was guarding him) was cheating to Costner's right-hand side. Realizing this, Costner made a quick spin to his left, got around Elegar easily, took a couple dribbles down the baseline and scored. Sweet move.
Step into my office, baby I want to give you the job A chance of overtime Say, my place at nine?
Marist hangs on to beat Okie State, giving the Wolfpack a home game for round two of the NIT.
Thank you, Will Whittington, for dropping 31 on the Cowboys. And thank you, Josh Groban, you power pop (or whatever the hell style of music you play) troubadour, you, for scheduling a concert at the RBC Center on Friday. We have to play this game at Reynolds. Packed to the rafters, rockin' like old times...I'm wellin' up just thinking about it. That would kick so much ass.
We can move the gymnastics meet to the parking lot. Give them some extra padding and I'm sure they'll be fine.
I'll have more on the Drexel win tomorrow. In the meantime, have a look at these photos taken by a Dragons fan at the game.
And that's the S16 I'm going with in my bracket, save one difference: I'm taking Indiana over UCLA.
There are always teams I end up liking for one reason or another that end up burning me. I picked Kansas to win the title last season because they played great defense, and they promptly lost to Bradley in the first round. I'm taking the Jayhawks again this season...I don't think I have to worry about that opening game this time around. I'm also giving Notre Dame and Duke the opportunity to ruin my bracket this year.
Re: 5/12 upsets. Arkansas and Illinois are the most likely, and they wouldn't really be upsets. Illinois is a hair better than VPI according to the Pomeroy Ratings, and the Razorbacks are better than USC. Don't bother with LBSU over Tennessee; that's a lopsided affair. I don't think Butler will lose to ODU, either.
UNC has an extremely tough second round game against Michigan State on the horizon. The Spartans have a critical flaw--turnovers--but are excellent in the other facets. Should Michigan State manage to limit TOs against the Heels, the game will be close. I'm disappointed MSU is running into a #1 seed in the second round; I had planned on picking them to make a deep run, but I can't see them getting by the Tar Heels. Plus, I'm looking forward to UNC/Texas too much to go with Sparty.
The easiest road to the S16? Washington State's. Every pod has at least two teams in the top 50of the Pomeroy Ratings...except Wazzu's pod. The Cougars' potential second round opponents, Vandy and George Washington, are both over-seeded; those two are the weakest of the teams with their respective seeds in the NCAAs.
Dave Leitao should be sending a thank you card to the selection committee. Not only are the Cavaliers ridiculously over-seeded, their opponent (Albany) is by far the weakest of the 13-seeds. Merry freakin' Christmas. As much as I'll hate to be deprived of an epic Jason Cain/Greg Oden showdown, I'm taking Tennessee over UVA in the second round (out of spite, mainly).
I've got Notre Dame making a surprise run to Atlanta. Which makes Winthrop a lock to beat the Irish.
Final Four: Notre Dame, Kansas, UNC, Texas A&M. KU beats Roy Williams in the final.
There is some good news for our travel-weary team: the Dragons prefer a slower, halfcourt game; they're not going to want to run. They also lack depth--only seven guys average double-digit minutes. Expect all five starters to go 30+ minutes...unless they're beating the crap out of us or something.
Their offense is mediocre; they don't shoot well and they don't offensive rebound well, either, and that's always a bad combination. Drexel averages 101.8 pts/100 poss, which ranks 161st in the nation. Outside shooting has been a problem:
Bashir Mason (6-0, 185) -- Third scoring option behind Mejia and Elegar. He has a good defensive reputation and one of the best steal rates in the country.
Scott Rodgers (6-3, 205) -- Scott Rodgers, whose heroes include Ralph Mims, Anthony Harris, and Quentin Thomas, is a possession-waster extraordinaire. He can't shoot and compounds matters by turning the ball over a bunch. He gets 30.6 minutes per game, which he totally deserves. Rebounds? Nah. Assists? Meh. Just what, would you say, you do here, Scott?
Dominick Mejia (6-5, 200) -- By far the Dragons' most frequent three-point shooter, two-thirds of Mejia's field goal attempts this season have been threes. He's one of two players (Elegar being the other) on the team who takes an above average proportion of shots. As long as his underwelming shooting continues, it's to our benefit for him to shoot as often as possible. His 1.00 PPWS is among the lower figures on the team. Go stick it to us, Dom. Pull up from 25; that'd show us!
Frank Elegar (6-9, 220) -- The team's leading scorer and primary option. Elegar uses over 29% of the team's possessions and takes over 29% of the shots while he's on the court. He rebounds well at both ends of the floor, is a decent shot blocker, and does an excellent job getting to the free throw line (averages 9.1 FTA/40 min). He's a bit foul prone, so hopefully McCauley/Costner can get him in trouble.
Chaz Crawford (6-10, 235) -- Not going to be too involved offensively; he rebounds and blocks shots like crazy, though. His OR%, DR%, and block rate all rank in the top 50 nationally. Foul prone like Elegar.
Tramayne Hawthorne (6-0, 175) brings some much-needed efficient scoring to the table. He shoots a team-best 56% from the field.
Randy Oveneke (6-7, 220) brings a pulse to the table, and hey, sometimes that's underrated.
If we're lucky, we'll get brief guest appearances from Kenny Tribbett (6-9, 240), Matt Stevenson (6-7, 235) , and Lance Feurtado (6-5, 195). Stevenson has committed 15 fouls in 63 minutes played this season: 9.5 fouls/40 min. Hack you very much.
Drexel Defense 06-07
Off Reb Rate
Drexel's defense ranks 25th nationally in steal percentage. All of their guards--and Mason in particular--are proficient swipers. NC State, meanwhile, is one of the easiest teams to steal the ball from in the country (we rank 260th in opponents' steal percentage).
Opponents' Steal% in conference games only:
1.) NC State 12.2 2.) UNC 11.4 3.) BC 11.2 4.) Duke 10.9 5.) Clemson 10.7 6.) Wake 10.6
We allowed opponents to steal the ball on 12.2% of our possessions in conference play--the worst mark in the league.
If Engin's minutes are limited on Tuesday, it could be a nightmare.
The Predict-O-Meter has the Pack taking a close one, 68-64. But Drexel's home court advantage probably makes up that four point difference, and there's no telling whether or not we're going to come to play.
"See that ship over there? They're re-broadcasting Major League Baseball with implied oral consent, not express written consent -- or so the legend goes. They're also sending ESPNU's signal to the twelve people who get it."
[I have to commend theseteams for their awesome Simpsons references.]
I like our opening round draw; considering who the other #3 seeds are, we lucked out. By Pomeroy ranking:
Missouri St 41 DePaul 46 Michigan 49 Drexel 84
I understand the outrage over Drexel's exclusion from the NCAAs, because the Dragons' RPI was better than several of the at-large teams selected ahead of them. But are the Dragons actually better than any of those teams? No.
According to the Pomeroy Ratings, Drexel is the 20th-best team in the NIT. I'll have a preview up on Monday.
-- The defensive rebounding trend continues. Costner was nothing special on the defensive glass, and neither was the team. We were surprisingly successful at the other end, however; Duke is the best defensive rebounding team in the league. Their oponents averaged a 29.1 OR% in conference play.
-- We scored 1.17 pts/poss, our third-best performance against conference foes this year.
But I had heard the stories – bad language, commander-like orders and motivation skills like none other.
The stories couldn’t have been any more accurate.
At the 15:53 mark in the first half during the game’s first official timeout, Krzyzewski went to work.
“You’re not doing s*** David,” he told sophomore forward David McClure. “You’re not running the f****** floor…you’re not…”
It went on for a while.
The funny part is that he does a good job protecting himself. I caught wind of plenty of bad language while sitting directly behind him, but when he talks, the team forms the smallest huddle I have ever seen while the managers squeeze into every other crevice.
So shut up. Duke's not a dominant team. Are you just now getting that? The rest of us knew it from the beginning, and we love them anyway. We love the fact that you all hate Duke, because the best program in the country for the last 25 years and possibly the best program over a 10-year period in HISTORY is bound to be hated. Thank you for confirming the fact that we are the best. Of all time.
Sit down. Shut up. And be thankful that you're not getting your ass handed to you by Duke this year. Because you will again soon.
The Big Ten is the slowest major basketball conference in the country, with an average pace of 61.5 possessions per game. That's significantly slower than Herb's slowest NC State teams. And it's the average for every game. Can you imagine an ACC where every team plays the methodical style that Duke has adopted this season? That's pretty much the Big Ten.
In the today's B10 tourney opener, Michigan beat Minnesota 49-40 in front of approximately threeve people at the United Center. The game had 60 possessions.
Offense (ranked from hardest opponent defense to easiest): NC State - 104.09 Georgia Tech - 104.37 Miami - 104.82 Duke - 105.05 Clemson - 105.40 Florida State - 105.42 Virginia Tech - 105.43 Maryland - 105.45 Boston College - 105.47 North Carolina - 105.68 Wake Forest - 106.12 Virginia - 106.74
Defense (ranked from hardest opponent offense to easiest): Duke - 106.49 Clemson - 106.26 Wake Forest - 106.16 Virginia Tech - 105.46 NC State - 105.20 Maryland - 105.16 Boston College - 105.05 Virginia - 105.03 Georgia Tech - 104.94 Florida State - 104.94 North Carolina - 104.75 Miami - 104.54
We faced the toughest assortment of defenses in conference play and the fifth-toughest collection of offenses. Paul points out:
Wake's league worst offense came against the second easiest schedule of defenses, and Miami's league worst defense came against the easiest schedule of offenses - just amazing.
Truly astonishing. It wasn't their schedules making them look bad; in fact, their schedules make them look worse.
Paul uses efficiency margin to evaluate strength of schedule. Earlier this week, VaWolf examined SOS using opponents' wins. Two different methods with similar results. Here's how the two ranked the schedules:
Paul VaWolf Duke NCSU NCSU Duke Clem Clem GT VT Wake UMD VT GT Mia Mia UMD Wake BC BC FSU FSU UNC UNC UVA UVA
Maryland coach Gary Williams believes the North Carolina schools have an advantage playing close to home, so he supports moving the tournament around. Plus, it means reaching new fans.
"I think it's great exposure for the league for one thing in Florida …," Williams said. "It's good for all the people in Florida to see up close what's going on in the ACC, especially this year with the strength of the league."
Colleague Rick Maese, on the scene in Tampa, nailed it this morning. This may have the name "ACC Tournament,'' it may look like the ACC tournament, but it can't possibly feel like the ACC tournament. Gary Williams hates hearing that, but it's true.
Rick was where I was two years ago - his first tournament is in Tampa, mine was down the road in D.C. That was very convenient, and of course part of me can't disagree with the idea that the tournament can't live on Tobacco Road and that at least the longtime members ought to have a taste. Especially the ones in major markets, in which you can't find a Piggly Wiggly anywhere in the vicinity.
Yet it really, simply, still didn't feel the same. The ACC tournament belongs in a bustling downtown area just a little more than it does in a place like Tampa. I noticed it, and believe me, the visitors from Nawth Cakalacky noticed it - every morning when I pulled into one of the downtown parking garages and walked to then-MCI Center, I heard hundreds (probably thousands) of longtime ACC tourney-goers bitching up a storm about how they couldn't tailgate, how there weren't any places to eat (that is, eat what they wanted to eat, pulled pork and sweet tea), how it was just too crowded. I never actually heard the word "city-fied,'' but that was the general sentiment. No offense.
They did have a point - it felt like D.C., which is fine, but just not like the ACC tournament. Some feelings you just can't shake. Then, the next year, it was in Greensboro, and it really felt like what I figured it would. The tournament was the be-all and end-all of Carolina life that week. And, of course, Gary Williams spent much of the Wednesday practice cracking up the writers at courtside with a monologue about having to come there all the time, never coming to a real city, and comparing Maryland's metropolitan scope to Greensboro's.
Brandon Costner: The Key To NC State's Defensive Rebounding
Brandon Costner is NC State's best defensive rebounder, and I've had a growing suspicion of late that as he goes, so goes the team. That is, BC's defensive rebounding correlates to the team's defensive rebounding moreso than any other player. Do the numbers back that up?
Here's what I did: I categorized our sixteen conference games as either good or bad defensive rebounding performances. You'd expect there to be some gray area in a few cases, but there really was no in between for the Wolfpack this year. We either did a good job or a poor job. There are five games in the Good column: vs. Duke, vs. UNC, at Georgia Tech, vs. Virginia Tech, at Virginia Tech. The other 11 games go in the Bad column.
I then looked at defensive rebounding percentage for each NC State player in the good games and the bad games. So, how did each player's DR% change between the games in which State rebounded well as a team and the games in which it did not? There were three players whose defensive rebounding percentages were positively correlated with team DR%. These would seemingly be the guys who the team relies on to carry the defensive rebounding. The numbers are below. The first column (Good) lists each player's DR% in the Good games. The second column (Bad) lists their DR% in the Bad games. The last column gives the difference between the two.
Good Bad Diff Costner 29.0 14.7 +14.3 McCauley 15.6 12.5 +3.1 Grant 13.1 11.2 +1.9
Atsur, Fells, Nieman and Horner rebounded slightly better in the Bad games, so clearly they have had no impact on the team's overall defensive rebounding. No surprise there.
Individually, Grant and McCauley don't make much of a difference, either. Gavin's defensive rebounding has essentially been constant regardless of the team's level of success. McCauley's differential is more marked, but even when the team rebounds well, his DR% has not been exceptional. It's not these guys who carry our defensive rebounding.
It's Brandon Costner. His DR% in the Good is nearly double what it is in the Bad. He more than anyone else has stepped up his defensive rebounding in the games where the team has rebounded well defensively. That 29% is a huge number--if he averaged that for the entire season, he'd rank second nationally in DR%. The 14.7 figure, by contrast, is just okay. If he averaged that percentage for the entire season, he wouldn't even rank in the top 500.
In terms of defensive rebounds per 40 minutes:
Good Bad Costner 9.5 5.5 McCauley 5.1 4.6 Grant 4.3 4.2
Costner grabbed 40 of his 91 defensive rebounds in the five Good games (50 in the other 11).
Keep an eye on him at the defensive end tomorrow night. If he is active on the defensive glass, we'll more than likely rebound competitively as a team. His production hasn't been there of late--in the last four games of the season, he had a total of 15 defensive rebounds and never more than four in any one game--and the team has been getting crushed.
We deprived Duke of second chance opportunities once and we can do it again; it's all going to start with Brandon Costner.
Pts/40 Nelson 17.3 Scheyer 16.2 Henderson 15.7 Paulus 15.4 McRoberts 14.1 Pocius 9.4 Thomas 9.0 Zoubek 7.4 McClure 7.4
Gerald Henderson only got 20 minutes per game in conference play, but when he was on the court, he was more involved in Duke's offense than anyone save DeMarcus Nelson. And the third-most productive point scorer on a per-minute basis.
The man most likely to get extra minutes on Thursday is David McClure. McClure, in contrast to Henderson, was not someone the Blue Devils looked to for scoring during the season. His job is to do the other things: grab some rebounds, play tough defense, and generate some turnovers with steals and blocked shots. Maybe slap the court a few times. McClure logged 41 more minutes than did Henderson yet attempted 55 fewer shots. His 7.4 pts/40 is the lowest of anyone Duke is going to put on the court. That's not meant as a criticism--McClure plays his role effectively. The problem, which you can see illustrated in the above tables, is that Duke is seeing a big drop off in scoring regardless of who they plug into that fifth spot. None of the bench guys in the rotation do much shooting or scoring, nor are they used to playing significant minutes. Thomas got 14 min/g during the season, while Pocius and Zoubek got about 5 min/g apiece.
With Henderson on the floor, the Blue Devils are a threat to score from five positions; without him, they aren't. That's a big difference. Josh, for real this time, how about you take some more shots? It's absurd that there are four guys on the team who shoot more often than you do.
I don't expect to see more of Zoubek or Lance Thomas than usual, but the more we do see of them, the better.
Attacking them whenever they're on the court is a good idea. In the first meeting, Thomas had three fouls in 11 minutes; Zoubek had two in four. Nothing quite says "slow and uncoordinated" like averaging six turnovers and seven fouls for every forty minutes you play (in his defense, though, it's a small sample).
It was before Bird-Magic, before Jordan-Ewing. NCAA rules didn't permit dunking or provide 3-pointers, so there was nothing for ESPN. Just as well, since there wasn't ESPN.
"You can't explain the absurdity of only one of us going to the NCAA Tournament," Elmore said, "Or how we put up 203 points without a 3-pointer, without a dunk, with no shot clock. How do you explain this game?"
If then was now, Maryland, the loser that night, would, at worst, be a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Instead, they lost everything. The Terrapins were 24-4 before that night. N.C. State was 25-1. Both had lost to seven-time defending national champion UCLA that season. Both wanted the Bruins again.
Len Elmore was a senior. So was the 6-foot-11 McMillen. And there was Lucas, the amazing sophomore point guard, and Mo Howard, a slick shooter from Philadelphia.
But always there was State. Six times in two seasons, North Carolina State beat Maryland in close games.
"They were always just a sliver better," Elmore said.
Thompson, Burleson and Towe were a sight, and not only because they went 57-1 across two seasons.
"I compare that team to a circus," Towe said. "We had the giant. We had the midget and we had the high-wire act. And you had the ringmaster in Coach Sloan."
There was the 7-2 Burleson, listed as 7-4 by N.C. State sports publicity for bad measure. The 5-7 Towe, a junior, answered to Midge for Midget. Everyone answered to Sloan, who shouted orders over his deafening plaid jackets. And floating above them all was David O'Neil Thompson of Shelby, N.C. The Skywalker.
"David Thompson was Michael Jordan's idol," Mo Howard said.
They can still see the three-time All-American catching an alley-oop from Towe, him and his 44-inch vertical leap, before gently dropping the ball into the cylinder as if lowering a baby's head onto a pillow, all for those no-fun fools at the NCAA.
Now that the regular season is in the books, it's appropriate to start recognizing a few ACC players for what they accomplished this year. Without further delay...
The Ekene Ibekwe Award For hideous shooting in conference play.
The nominees are...
Keaton Copeland, Miami John Oates, Boston College Jason Cain, Virginia Jerel Allen, Florida State Mario West, Georgia Tech
And the winner is...
John Oates from Boston College! Oates was truly an exceptional performer this season, posting a 35.5 effective field goal percentage and scoring an unfortunate 0.84 points per weighted shot. You hit some, you miss some, John. That's life. Come on down and accept your award. You can put it next to your Oscar.
The Quentin Thomas Award For most turnover prone player in conference play.
The nominees are...
Ra'Sean Dickey, Georgia Tech Ishmael Smith, Wake Forest Ralph Mims, Florida State Trevor Booker, Clemson Ryan Reid, Florida State
And the winner is...
Ryan Reid from Florida State! If there is one thing you can say about Ryan Reid, it's that he's a giver. Some players greedily hang onto the ball when they are handed it; not Ryan. His turnover rate this season was a dazzling 32.4%. Come on down, Ryan.
The Tunji Soroye Hole In The Lineup Award For lowest possession usage in conference play.
The nominees are...
Tyrelle Blair, Boston College Dennis Horner, NC State Tunji Soroye, Virginia David McClure, Duke Marcus Ginyard, UNC
And the winner is...
Tyrelle Blair from Boston College! Another Eagle takes home some hardware. Blair was impressive in his invisibility this season, using a mere 8.8% of the team's possessions while on the court. He attempted 23 shots in 262 minutes, or one every 11.4 minutes. You know your role, Tyrelle, and you are always deferential to the ball hogs on your team. Come get your trophy.
The Anthony Harris Award For worst overall efficiency in conference play.
This is the big one, folks. Your nominees...
LD Williams, Wake Forest Courtney Fells, NC State Ishmael Smith, Wake Forest Lance Thomas, Duke Jason Cain, Virginia
The winner is...
Ishmael Smith of Wake Forest! In the end, the competition for this award wasn't close. Smith had no peer; not even the trophy's namesake could mount a challenge. A turnover rate over 28%, a 38.3 eFG%, a 44.1 FT%...put it all together and you get an offensive rating of 78.6. You've done Anthony Harris proud and then some, Ish. Come get your trophy.