Tonight Is Not Your Night
Here's the unofficial box. More tomorrow.
Cheering For Anyone Else Is For Quitters
College Hoops Links
Basketball Stats Primers & Info
Other Hugely Important Destinations
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Tonight Is Not Your Night
Here's the unofficial box. More tomorrow.
Liveblog! NC State @ Duke -- First Half
[8:58PM] Carolina just put the finishing touches on its blowout of Boston College. John Edwards looked mighty pleased--and quite sharp in those traitorous colors.
Over on ESPN2, Providence has been playing this guy named Ray Hall, and he doesn't look a day under 35. Can't find a good photo, unfortunately.
[9:04PM] I've never been happier for the ESPN blackout. My night will be Mike Patrick free, so there's that, at least. And I totally understand why Billy Packer's cantankery bothers people, but I have to say, it just wouldn't seem like ACC basketball without him.
You guys can help me hand out ScreamoK's when Duke players display exemplary hustle.
"Break that asshole's nose, yeah! WOOOOOOO!"
[9:07PM] Yes, sir! We go right inside and get a basket. Henderson ties it quickly, and now we get to bring it up the full court for the first time. Ben freakin' McCauley is dribbling it up for some reason, and whaddya know, it's a turnover.
[9:09PM] Two turnovers in three possessions. The decision to give them the ball every time down is a bold one--let's see if it pays off for us.
The entire extent of Greg Paulus's "defense" is hand checking.
[9:10PM] Four turnovers in three minutes. I really did not see this coming at all.
[9:12PM] Javi's in after the early unpleasantness. Hickson is fouled by McClure, McClure receives congratulatory man hug from Singler. For whatever reason. Yeah, way to get yourself on the stat sheet, man!
[9:14PM] Good help D by Duke forces Ben to go to his left hand, which does not work out so well.
[9:17PM] BC enters for the first time. We'll see how this goes.
Jesus, Hickson missed like three attempts from two feet. Looked like he was hit on the first one. But we are grabbin' some offensive boards here early.
Great finish by Javi! Didn't know he had that in him.
[9:19PM] Figures. Fells misses a dunk and Duke immediately turns that mistake into a bucket.
Costner hits a three, his first attempt of the game. Good show.
[9:22PM] "Loafin' on Grant's part." -- Packer. Our transition defense is horrible.
[9:25PM] King hits the deck, Gavin gets and hits a wide open three. Eight minutes in, only down a point. Although this is about the time it went south in Chapel Hill.
King, way to scrap, son. You're a grinder. That's a ScreamoK.
[9:27PM] Dammit, there's an offensive board and a score by Thomas, who immediately commits a foul at the defensive end. We can't just hold our own on the glass tonight, we've got to dominate to have a shot.
[9:30PM] Paulus fouls Fells at Duke's offensive end, no call, but we got control of the basketball anyway. Gavin takes it to the rim and gets the call.
Duke's not setting the world on fire from the field so far, which is nice--and there's Gavin with another three!
[9:32PM] Marques just ain't ready for this. And good lord, Gavin has the ball swiped as he's dribbling in the back court. How large is the turnover margin at this point? And we're winning?
[9:33PM] Gavin puts us up four, and we have a Lance Thomas field goal attempt. You take all those you want, Lance.
Great take by JJ. Wow.
[9:35PM] Big Ben joins the party. DeMarcus Nelson dribbles the ball off his foot out of bounds, taking us to the TV timeout. We need like 12 of those, DeMarcus. 'Preciate it.
[9:38PM] Gavin. Fuckin'. Grant.
[9:39PM] Oh, good, an unnecessary delay. This is what we need.
[9:41PM] Let the foul parade begin! You are such a vagina, Paulus.
McClure flops big time--horrible call. But totally expected. ScreamoK.
[9:43PM] These last five minutes will take a good half hour, with Duke getting two FTs every time down. Unbelievable--you want to know how Paulus "earns" those five second calls (and I'm not sure that was one)? Cheating! Call a goddamn foul.
[9:45PM] Paulus fouls Costner hard, BC takes exception. We have got to get Gavin back in the game for Horner, who, by the way, now has the worst net +/- number on the team.
[9:49PM] BC hits 'em both. Four point lead. DeMarcus Nelson drives around Simon Harris, gets fouled. I look forward to our inevitable and crippling foul trouble.
[9:50PM] Did you see Costner bank in that three, nonchalant-style, after Thomas fouled him? Maybe that's an omen.
[9:52PM] Singler hits the floor but is awarded no credit after fouling Costner behind the three point line. I hope everyone likes free throws.
[9:54PM] Costner hits a pair and that's 40 (!) in the first half for the Wolfpack. Holy shit.
[9:55PM] Duke has a handful of white boys, and they all pretty much have the same buzz haircut. How much trouble do you think Mike Patrick is having distinguishing them right now? He's not even front and center; this being Cameron, he's way up in the rafters. He probably can't even read the scoreboard.
[9:56PM] Renewed effort from Duke on the offensive glass after that timeout.
[9:57PM] That McCauley shot sat on the rim forever. Thought for sure we'd get a flop from Paulus on that one.
[10:01PM] Oh man. Ha. Nice layup try there, Greg. You're so talented.
Pack 46, Duke 37 at the half. Forty-six points!
[10:32PM] And we're back. I'm so sorry.
[10:33PM] We have got to get some stops. Scheyer drives right past Dennis Horner again, and that's Dennis's third foul.
[10:36PM] Paulus goes out. Thank god.
Horner is way off on a three, and we're officially in the danger zone.
[10:37PM] Shots aren't falling anymore. And I agree with Billy--we need to get Hickson back in the game and not concern ourselves with foul trouble.
[10:40PM] Hickson gets the ball, forces it. Have to stay patient, fellas.
[10:41PM] Fells gets pushed, which of course means he traveled. Uh huh. Yep.
Duke's hitting everything.
[10:42PM] Lance Thomas, foul machine. It is barely possible to suck more than he sucks. But Hickson misses the front end...
[10:45PM] Well, guys, I'm afraid it's slipped away. Duke is getting open shots every time down and they are not missing. Why did I let myself get so excited after that first half?
[10:48PM] It doesn't seem like Duke has missed a shot this half.
[10:54PM] Eleven points is the deficit, seven minutes left. K is complaining about something, and he absolutely has the right to complain about things, because, dude, it's just so unfair.
[10:56PM] Nelson is fouled by Grant, extends the lead back to 11. Whatever, I'm over it. (I'm not actually over it.)
[10:59PM] Lance Thomas fouls out. In the huddle, he points a finger at Singler and attempts, I don't know, leadership or something. I'm sure you have his complete respect, Lance.
[11:01PM] 84-67. Honestly, how did this happen?
[11:10PM] Jordan Davidson.
[11:12PM] Thanks for hanging out tonight. I should not feel this depressed.
I'll be liveblogging the game tonight. Should be excruciating; I can't wait.
Also, the player pairs post is updated with conference-only numbers.
Sir, your hand is in my face.
Chip Alexander writes about the respective defensive philosophies of State and Duke:
Duke, which faces the Pack tonight at Cameron Indoor Stadium, takes a different defensive tack. The third-ranked Devils get out and attack. They're all arms and bodies and quick hands, jumping into the passing lanes, trapping, bumping, looking to disrupt.
What Courtney said is especially true in regards to three point attempts. They completely take those shots away. I mean, check out their opponents' 3FGA/FGA ratio over the last several years:
2004: 25.2 (ranked 4th nationally)
2005: 20.8 (1)
2006: 21.3 (1)
2007: 24.3 (2)
2008: 26.5 (4)
In general, ACC schools prefer not to take threes, but these numbers are much more a reflection of Duke's "hustle" (fn. 1) along the perimeter.
1.) Now, you may be saying to yourself, "I sure do wish I could hustle like Duke does." My friend, I am here to tell you that you can. All that's required is your adherence to the hustle pyramid below.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Today's college hoops closer over at Deadspin reminisces about the Hodge/Paul incident and lists some of his best quotations.
I was in the student section near mid court for that Wake game. After Julius got up off the floor and started walking back to the State bench, he turned to Chris Paul, pointed at him, and said, "I will fuck you up." Never gonna forget that.
2008 Scouting Report / 2008 Game Plan
Run away! Run away!
A certain amount of grudging respect must be granted to the Blue Devils for the way they have reinvented themselves this season. They made a dramatic change to their approach that you don't see very often, upping their pace from 66 possessions per game a year ago to nearly 75 this season. While their offensive rebounding is down thanks to a lack of height and an increased reliance on three-pointers, they've made that irrelevant by shooting and protecting the basketball extremely well.
Greg Paulus (6-1, 185) -- As Ken Pomeroy noted, Paulus has become a smaller part of the offense this season; he's taking a little over 16% of Duke's shots while he's on the court, down from 20.3% a year ago. He's also become more of a three-point specialist, devoting about 69% of his attempts to threes. To his credit, he has decreased his turnover rate to the point where he can no longer be considered a liability here, though how much of that is just a function of his decreased role I do not know (the assist rate is down, too). Paulus is one of four Blue Devils who shoot threes regularly and hit over 40% of them.
DeMarcus Nelson (6-4, 200) -- Shooting 42.3% from outside, which I would think has to start coming down at some point. But he does most of his scoring inside of the arc, where he is--and can be expected to remain--a guy who shoots better than 50%.
Gerald Henderson (6-4, 210) -- He has become an offensive focal point, using 26% of the possessions and taking 27.1% of the shots; the increased involvement has made him the least efficient of the primary scorers. Nelson and Singler could stand to take some of his workload.
Kyle Singler (6-8, 220) -- A very efficient shooter from inside the arc (57.8%). Offensive rebounds pretty well, but the defensive rebounding needs a lot of work (he rebounds like Ben McCauley, basically). He's had a bit of a problem with fouls (4.6 per 40 minutes), which isn't surprising under the circumstances.
Lance Thomas (6-8, 220) -- The most glaring liability in the rotation, he's still very much a work in progress. Duke has no choice but to use him; with Zoubek sidelined, Thomas and Singler are the only healthy players who are 6-8 or taller. His role is kept to a bare minimum which prevents him from doing too much damage.
Jon Scheyer's (6-5, 180) role and minutes have decreased, but he is uber-efficient. Another 40+% outside shooter. God, this game is gonna hurt.
Taylor King (6-6, 230) only gets about 13 minutes a night but leads the Blue Devils in three point attempts. When he comes in, it's bombs away, baby: 14.8 3FGAs per 40 minutes. His fearless and accurate shooting have helped him average 27.1 points per 40 minutes. That's incredible.
Nolan Smith (6-2, 180) has an assist rate that's comparable to Paulus's, but he is more turnover prone and the outside shooting isn't there yet.
Here we are with this wealth of height struggling to grab the other team's misses. And here's Duke, with just a few tall guys, limiting opponents to 31.5% of their misses. Must be nice to have a well-coached basketball team.
It looks like Duke's up-and-down style is getting to the opposition. They're blocking fewer shots and their steal rate hasn't increased much, but they're forcing a lot more turnovers, which suggests that the pressure is having a major effect. When we played Duke without Atsur last season, we turned the ball over on 29% of our possessions. As we are without a point guard this time around as well, I'd expect a similar figure.
And if that happens, Duke's expected margin of victory (21) might be on the conservative side.
I'm not normally a praying man, but if you're up there, please save us, Superman.
[Photo is borrowed from the Scheyerface thread.]
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
-- John Gasaway looks at how things have shaped up in conference play so far. You may not want to click on that link, actually.
While all the indicators point to us floundering down the stretch, there's still a tiny voice in the back of my mind considering a different possibility. We've had some incredibly good fortune to this point (13th in luck factor, or as I prefer it, Grant Score), and we're big time frauds even at a modest 13-6 (2-3). Five-and-eleven or 6-10 seem the most likely outcomes, but there are so many indistinguishably so-so teams in the league that it's at least slightly possible we luck our way to 8-8 via a handful of close wins. That's what I'm going to keep telling myself, anyway. It's easier to be in denial.
[Update: More discussion along these lines goin' on at SFN today.]
-- The New York Times profiles Daryl Morey, GM of the Houston Rockets:
“We track everything imaginable,” Morey said. “Each pick-and-roll, what’s the result of it? Each guy on the floor, how efficient they are. A lot of it, we end up not using. But we track it so that we have it available in case the question comes up where it becomes relevant.”
The Houston Press also wrote an excellent piece on Morey back in November. (My thanks to the APBRmetrics forum for the head's up on both.)
-- I enjoyed this from Bambale Osby:
"It wouldn’t be nothing for me to go back to the ghetto," said Osby, who said he grew up in a violent section of Richmond. "That’s where my mom lives, so if [the fan] wants to come on down, she can join me. It’s just ignorance. Going back to the ghetto, who knows where all of us are from? All of us could be from Alaska or something."
There are no coulds about it, if you ask Gary Williams.
-- NC State wrestler Ty Roach pretty smart:
While he doesn't remember his SAT score, he said he took an IQ test in 10th grade and received a score of 151.
Monday, January 28, 2008
I'd hoped to have the player pairs data ready to go today, but I ran into some inconsistencies that I'm still sorting through. In the mean time, here's a taste:
OffPoss DefPoss PtsSco PtsAllow Off_Eff Def_Eff
Update: The table above is now up to date, and the conference-only numbers are below.
OffPoss DefPoss PtsSco PtsAllow Off_Eff Def_Eff
Saturday, January 26, 2008
NC State 69, FSU 66
Pts Poss Off_Eff Def_Eff
-- Florida State isolated Toney Douglas with Javi Gonzalez twice in the final minute. The first time, Douglas drove around Gonzalez and scored an easy one. No one rotated to help. Just another example of how we shoot ourselves in the foot either by failing to understand or failing to execute the basics. After we got the ball back and called timeout, Sidney Lowe walked up to JJ Hickson and asked, "where are you?" Hickson didn't make the same mistake the second time around, Douglas had to pull up, and he missed. (Javi actually bumped his elbow during the shot, and I was shocked at the no call considering the way the second half had been officiated.)
-- We allowed a mediocre offensive rebounding team to grab almost 45% of its misses. Nothing makes me want to hurl objects (or just hurl in general, really) at the television like our defensive rebounding.
-- At this point, Brandon Costner's mental state is as big of a concern as his physical one. We need you and we're pulling for you, BC. Please get through this.
-- The Noles made only 14 of 40 (35%) two-point attempts.
-- According to a Pack Pride poster, the News and Observer had an insert or box or whatever in today's print edition that compared Gonzalez/Johnson using per-40-minute stats. Can anyone confirm that? Awesome if true.
-- If you rearrange the letters in "Courtney Fells," you get Score Fluently.
-- I anxiously await Lenox Rawlings's piece on how Javi Lopez led the Pack to a thrilling triple-overtime win over the Seminoles in the opening round of the Jack Daniels Classic.
It's a pulse!
Nice finish to the first half there, to say the least.
First half shootin':
[Post-game update: Holy banked-in three ball! Better to be lucky than good, right? I'll have more once the box is posted.]
Friday, January 25, 2008
Previewing Florida State
2008 Scouting Report / 2008 Game Plan
Aw, man, we have to play basketball again? Already? Where are those week-long layoffs when you want them?
Florida State is kind of a Seton Hall lite. The four guys who have gotten the most minutes for the Noles this season are all guards, all 6-3 or shorter. They've got more height to work with than SHU does; the problem is that most of FSU's forwards are young, ineffective, or both.
Replacing Al Thornton's contributions has been tough, as you would expect, although I have to say I thought it would be a much larger disaster than it has been. Rather than assume the "man" status this season, Toney Douglas has actually decreased his involvement slightly, and the result is a team that is balanced from one to five:
All five average double figures.
Toney Douglas (6-1, 200) -- Since they score by committee, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they pass by committee, too. Douglas has a modest assist rate, but he spends a lot of time playing with several other guards who are decent passers as well. Matching the team trend, Douglas is shooting threes more frequently in 2008. He doesn't go to the line often and rebounds like a 5-9 guy; good steal rate, though.
Isaiah Swann (6-2, 198) -- Averaging nearly 7 3FGA/40 minutes, and he'll hit 'em. After shooting 41% from outside in '07, he's at 39.8% this season.
Jason Rich (6-3, 211) -- Among FSU's guards, he is the least inclined to shoot threes, devoting less than a quarter of his attempts to them. Unfortunately, his 2FG% is way down, and he sports the lowest eFG% among the regulars.
Ryan Reid (6-8, 237) -- Very possibly won't start, and he's hardly been involved in the offense at all, but I'm going to assume Leonard Hamilton will want two forwards in there most of the time. He's good at being a tall person, which is about the extent of his strengths.
Uche Echefu (6-9, 225) -- Thank goodness for Uche. When it comes to reliable contributors in the front court, he's pretty much it.
Ralph Mims (6-3, 205) is an upstanding individual and a fine American. Please don't hurt us again, Ralph.
Julian Vaughn (6-10, 239) and Jordan Demercy (6-7, 204) will see some time out of necessity. Neither will shoot often, both are turnover prone.
FSU's defense ranks 24th in steal percentage, which is great, just freakin' great.
Pomeroy has the Noles by seven.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
-- Javi ended up taking the last shot of the game thanks to a miscommunication. Gavin's right, though--the game was lost well before that. Also in the article:
Toward the tail end of the Wolfpack’s postgame press conference, as Lowe talked about his team’s mental errors, the State logo on the front of the lectern came unfastened, swaying from side to side, then falling to the carpet with a thud.
That works on so many levels.
-- Kudos to Ken White, who manages to find the positives in last night's loss. I wish I could, too. But all this losing stuff wears you down after a while.
-- Tech's strategy: defend State like it defended UNC. In other words, not well. How laudable. Even with the turnovers, both Carolina and State had good days against the Jackets; our performance, 1.10 pts/poss, happened to be our best in conference play so far. Tech, by the way, has the worst defense in the league.
-- Speaking of defense...
The Pack lost the game on the defensive end in the final minutes. With 3:41 left in the game Fells completed a three-point play to give State a 65-63 lead. But the Pack would allow the Yellow Jackets to score on every possession in the last three minutes, turning a lead into a four-point deficit by the two minutes mark.
By my count, Tech scored 14 points on its final eight possessions.
I'm beginning to wonder if we are going to be able to stop anybody in the ACC. Our average defensive efficiency in the four games thus far stands at 112.6. That's not excused by the fact that we've faced a tough slate of offenses.
-- It could have been worse.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Georgia Tech 77, NC State74
Pts Poss Off_Eff Def_Eff
-- If you'd have shown me those respective offensive rebounding and free throw rates before the game, I'd have said we'd won for sure. Go figure.
-- Rather than take my frustration out on the players, I'll do so on Mike Patrick, who I cannot stand. He consistently mis-calls the action on the court, incorrectly identifies players as a matter of course, and gets totally way over the top excited about totally not exciting things. In the first half, State was inbounding the ball from its own baseline; the ball ended up caroming off a Wolfpack player out of bounds. Inexplicably, Patrick said a five second call had been made; how such an infraction would be possible in this case only he knows. And let's not forget this brilliant exchange after Marcus Ginyard hurt himself against us:
[Ginyard receives ball, attempts to drive, collapses in pain.]
Patrick: "Is that Thompson?"
[Ginyard sits up, making himself more easily identifiable.]
Patrick: "No, it's Green."
Elmore: "It's Ginyard."
"What is Britney doing with her life?" On point, as always.
-- Seventy four points on 67 possessions is encouraging...the defense, not so much.
-- Save yourself the trouble and dispense with any thoughts of the NCAA tournament. We weren't making it prior to tonight, we certainly aren't making it after. It's the performance that's important, not the results. We stink.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Previewing Georgia Tech
2008 Scouting Report / 2008 Game Plan
You'd have a hard time finding a better team with a sub-.500 record.
With three very good offensive rebounders among Tech's top four minutes-getters in 2007, the Jackets had one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country. Two of the three--Thaddeus Young and Ra'Sean Dickey--are gone, and although their replacements have rebounded just as well, Paul Hewitt isn't allocating as many minutes to front court, and that has resulted in a significant slide here. But that's hardly a crisis; the Jackets continue to maintain an excellent offense overall.
Maurice Miller (6-1, 181) -- Hewitt has done a little tinkering lately, giving the starting nod to Miller rather than Causey. Miller hasn't been as prolific at dealing assists as Causey has, but Miller has taken better care of the basketball. He also does a better job getting to the line
Anthony Morrow (6-5, 210) -- Looks like he's going to shoot better than 40% from beyond the arc for the third consecutive season. In addition to fantastic shooting from outside and from the FT line, he never turns the ball over, which makes him an incredibly efficient (if limited) player.
D'Andre Bell (6-5, 210) -- Bell has also found his way into the starting rotation recently; his insertion here costs the Jackets some offense, but it does allow Morrow to play his more natural position. Bell, the last few seasons:
eFG% TO%He's only an occasional factor in the offense, with good reason, clearly.
Gani Lawal (6-8, 216) -- Hasn't been the instant impact player that some may have expected him to be, but who knows, that might actually be something of a relief, as I'm sure Paul Hewitt is growing weary of one-and-done players throwing his program into disarray. The shooting (from the field, anyway; his FT% is not so good) and rebounding are there, but turnovers have been an issue, and that's coupled with a paltry 3.7% assist rate. In this battle of poor passing freshmen big men, Lawal beats Hickson easily.
Jeremis Smith (6-8, 236) -- Continues to do an outstanding job of drawing contact and getting to the line; to go with that, he's finally hitting a decent percentage of his FTs. He's a good defender and an excellent all-around rebounder.
Matt Causey (6-0, 186), Lewis Clinch (6-3, 195), Alade Aminu (6-10, 225), Zach Peacock (6-8, 235) round things out.
Causey has given the Jackets exactly what I'd hoped our point guards would give us this season. The turnovers have come with great frequency, but so have the assists: 8.5 per 40 minutes. He's also proven he can knock down the open threes when they come his way.
No one has benefited from Tech's depleted front court more than Aminu, who has seen his playing time increase significantly. He's providing the same things he did in limited action last season; he'll rebound, block some shots, and shoot reasonably well in the post.
Defense has been a serious problem, as opponents are shooting well on them both inside and out. They're also one of the most foul-prone teams in the country.
PF/40minCall it a coin flip. Pomeroy has the Wolfpack by one.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Get Yourself A Large Grain Of Salt And Proceed
This took forever, but I've finally got all of the plus/minus data compiled here.
The first tab is a quick overview. The numbers are arranged in two different ways, per 40 minutes, and in raw form.
The second tab goes in depth and includes the team's offensive and defensive efficiencies with each player on/off the court.
-- I left Marques Johnson and Farnold Degand out for the time being while I figure out the best way to handle their special cases. For everyone else, every game of the season is included in the +/- calculations; in Johnson's and Degand's cases, however, it doesn't seem proper to do that, as there are a certain number of games for which they were unavailable. I can present their information in whatever way you guys want to see it. Open to suggestions.
-- There is a lot of noise here, especially for the guys who only play sparingly. Something to bear in mind.
-- Ben McCauley is interesting because his time on and off the court is split nearly 50/50. We've been significantly better defensively with him off the court, a 91.5 Def Eff with him on the bench versus 104.1 with him in the lineup. For what it's worth, his apparently poor defense is corroborated by his DRtg and PAPER. Oh, and my eyes. He doesn't defensive rebound well, nor does he block shots or steal the ball at decent levels. So when he's not contributing efficient scoring, he hurts the team. A lot.
-- Perhaps indicative of the problems we've had integrating JJ Hickson, the offense has been better with him on the bench. The defense, on the other hand, takes a huge hit when he's not out there.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
NC State 79, Miami 77
Pts Poss Off_Eff Def_Eff
-- I don't know what it is about the Hurricanes that brings out the best in our perimeter shooting. In five conference games against Miami, NC State is 54-107 (50.5%) from three. We've hit at least 10 in four of the five. No question it saved us tonight, as we were terrible from two (36.8%).
-- Earlier I was pondering how amazing it is that I've gone from being frightened every time Gavin Grant has the ball in his hands to trusting him completely. He's always been aggressive with the dribble-drive, but all too often in the early parts of his career he'd dribble into trouble he couldn't get out of. These days, the turnovers are no where to be found and (for the most part) the bad shots are gone, too. On a team with a couple of point guards who never attack the basket, Gavin's mindset and his improved execution are critical.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
2008 Scouting Report / 2008 Game Plan
The Hurricanes were the worst road team in conference play last season, mainly because their offense was significantly less efficient away from Coral Gables:
Road OFF_EFF: 96.3 (11th worst road offense)
Home OFF_EFF: 115.4 (3rd best home offense)
In order to put themselves in position to make the NCAA tournament in 2008, Miami needed to drastically improve its defense and find a way to score on the road. They maybe possibly have accomplished the former, but we won't know about the latter for a while.
The off-season saw Miami lose both of its point guards. Anthony Harris, regrettably, ran out of eligibility; Denis Clemente transferred to Kansas State, where he'll be free to smoke as much pot as he wants. As a result, Frank Haith had to shift Jack McClinton from his comfy shooting guard role to the point. What happens when a player moves from SG to PG? Usually something along the lines of what's happened to McClinton:
His '08 numbers are passable, but I have to wonder how they'll hold up as the team plays through the conference slate considering the relatively weak schedule the Canes have played thus far. The problem gets serious behind McClinton; Miami's backup options at point guard include a freshman and a juco transfer, neither of whom are playing well.
Jack McClinton (6-1, 185) -- While the assist and turnover portions of profile have changed along with his role, he's otherwise the same player he was a year ago. He rarely grabs a rebound, doesn't play particularly good defense, doesn't get to the line. His shooting has been unsustainably good and will slide plenty in conference play, just as it did in 2007.
James Dews (6-3, 198) -- Dews has been a huge pleasant surprise, and both his minutes and his role in the offense have increased a lot. But considering his limited track record--and how far he's diverged from it in '08--he remains an unknown.
Brian Asbury (6-7, 215) -- Proved himself an efficient scorer from inside the arc during his breakout last season, and he's carried that forward into 2008. Like every forward on this roster, he is an offensive rebounding threat.
Jimmy Graham (6-8, 245) -- Starts frequently but tends to be the odd man out in a crowded front court. In limited action over the last two years, he's rebounded well and blocked a lot of shots. Turnovers are a problem.
Anthony King (6-9, 242) -- King, now in his 12th season with the Hurricanes, isn't quite back to where he was prior to the injury that ended his 2007 season, but I suspect his return has been a big reason for Miami's defensive resurgence. His shooting is down in '08, which I don't think is much of a concern--he has been an efficient scorer throughout his career, and he'll come around. What hasn't dropped off is his rebounding, which is excellent at both ends. He also blocks a lot of shots.
Dwayne Collins (6-8, 232), Eddie Rios (6-0, 193), Ray Hicks (6-7, 238), and Lance Hurdle (6-2, 180) round out the rotation.
Rios and Hurdle have assist rates comparable to McClinton's, but both have been somewhat offensively challenged (to put it gently). Hurdle is going to come around, I think, and that'll be a nice boost to the back court when it happens.
Dwayne Collins is the best offensive rebounder in the ACC--with an OR% north of 15%, he is averaging 6.1 OR/40 minutes.
In 2007, injuries along the front line turned what had been Miami's biggest defensive strength (interior defense) into a liability. That coupled with their traditionally poor perimeter defense made for an epic disaster--a defense that gave up an average 117 pts/100 poss to conference foes. Historically bad, that.
They're mediocre in the TO% and defensive rebounding areas, so the big question is, can they continue to force enough misses? While the interior defense should be fine as long as they stay healthy, they've never displayed an ability to slow down opponents' outside shooting. It could be that this is a house of cards on the brink of collapse, and if that happens, they'll come up short of the NCAAs.
Pomeroy has Miami by three; I've got them by six.
Point Guard +/-
These are up to date. Numbers are on-court only:
PtsFor OffPoss OFF_EFF PtsAllow DefPoss DEF_EFF +/-
More to come.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
-- Sounds familiar:
The Hurricanes have simply been out of rhythm -- at least in the early part of both of their ACC games. What's causing it? Good coaching on the other side and the fact this team doesn't have a true point guard. Even though Haith was hoping freshman Eddie Rios, who played one minute Tuesday, might develop and be able to handle more minutes come January, it hasn't happen. Rios has shown he's not ready yet to see significant minutes at the point. Tuesday, for about the first 10 minutes of the game, Miami's offense looked like a chicken with its head cut off. Instead of going toward the basket, McClinton and Dews would keep coming back to retrieve the ball from each other or from their post men.
For starters, the Hurricanes have struggled with pressure defense all season. It seems when a team turns up the defense _ for example, a full-court press _ UM can't even get in its offense. We saw it happen against North Carolina A & T. Last night against BC, there were times the Hurricanes weren't able to run an offensive play until less than 15 seconds remained on the shot clock. That's why the shot-selection was so poor and we saw so many three-pointers attempted.
Their point guard problem isn't nearly as damaging as ours, though.
-- Maybe I imagined this last night; I'm not sure. While Jimmy Dykes was extolling the virtues of Tyler Hansbrough, he noted that Hansbrough works extra hard both on and off the court. To back up the bit about his off court work, Dykes cited, among other things, the "stretching and icing" Hansbrough does. Icing? So Hansbrough ices his joints more than anyone else? Really drove the point home there, Jimmy, thanks.
-- A huge tip of the cap to Wil Wheaton for pointing me in this direction. The Library of Congress has uploaded thousands of photographs to flickr, all of them from the first half of the 20th century. Shoeless Joe Jackson ... spectators at Shibe Park ... the USS North Carolina and other warships ... Paris liberated, 1944 ... have a PBR ...
-- I hope to post something on the +/- numbers tonight. The Miami preview will be up tomorrow.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
How long until pitchers and catchers?
Pts Poss Off_Eff Def_Eff
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
-- From the Virginian-Pilot comes this piece about Khadijah Whittington and her father, who has ALS.
His eyes move at times -- right to left, left to right -- but nothing more. All other motion has stopped for the 55-year-old, who has lain in a bed like this one since Nov. 13, 2003, the day the Hampton Veterans Administration Medical Center's extended-care unit became the home Mohammed probably will never leave. Betrayed by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis -- Lou Gehrig's disease -- Mohammed doesn't talk anymore. Many of the stories written about Whittington say he no longer communicates, either.
-- Barry Jacobs: Rush To Judgment Predictable But Apt.
After witnessing the dismemberment of the Wolfpack at Chapel Hill on Saturday -- a result that still had Triangle basketball fans buzzing days later -- it was virtually impossible to imagine what possessed anyone to pick the Pack to finish third in the conference.
-- The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Van Valkenburg has had just about enough of your lip:
You, Philip Rivers, might be the biggest offender. I once watched to you talk trash and try to start a fight -- right after you'd lost for the fourth straight time to Maryland. On the same day N.C. State retired your jersey. Before the game. You were a clown then, and you remain one today. This weekend, you were talking trash even though you didn't even play for much of the fourth quarter. Enough.
Monday, January 14, 2008
2008 Scouting Report / 2008 Game Plan
The Tigers weren't noteworthy from beyond the arc in 2007, shooting a modest 34.2%; so far in 2008, however, they're hitting 40.1% of their threes, a percentage that ranks 23rd nationally. It helps when you replace Vernon Hamilton's shooting with Terrence Oglesby's:
2007 3FGA 3FG%
2008 3FGA 3FG%
About 32% of their field goal attempts come from three, so while it's a good outside shooting team, it's also an infrequent outside shooting team.
Demontez Stitt (6-2, 170) -- The freshman has had a rough introduction to college basketball; his shots aren't falling and he's been a turnover machine. But he gets to the line often and hits a high percentage of his free throws, and on a team that does neither, that's valuable.
Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 200) -- Ken Pomeroy has found a decent relationship between one's free throw percentage and one's outside shooting. If you're bad at the line, that indicates you probably lack the touch to be a good outside shooter. Hammonds proved this point as a sophomore in 2006, but he's been busy defying it ever since. This season, his 42.9 3FG% is accompanied by a 36.0 (9-25) FT%.
His assist-to-turnover ratio is nearly 3-to-1, but this is more due to the fact that he never turns the ball over; his assist rate isn't anything special.
KC Rivers (6-5, 215) -- So far, Rivers looks to have made some solid improvement to his overall game. For one thing, his rebounding at both ends of the court is dramatically better. He also has a turnover rate below 10%, which is rare for anyone but especially so for a player who isn't completely perimeter-oriented.
Trevor Booker (6-7, 240) -- Hasn't scored as efficiently as he did in his outstanding freshman season, and he remains a bit on the turnover-prone side, but those are far from serious concerns. He is a rebounding monster, especially on the defensive glass.
James Mays (6-9, 230) -- Mays has been battling injuries all season; he missed a handful of games thanks to a hip problem and he's currently playing with a broken bone in his hand. Despite the bruises, he has remained as involved in the Clemson offense as anyone, averaging 16 FGA/40 minutes.
Terrence Oglesby (6-2, 185), Raymond Sykes (6-9, 220), David Potter (6-6, 205), and Jerai Grant (6-8, 215) will see most of the time.
Oglesby has been outstanding as a three-point specialist. Sykes shoots well from two and rebounds well offensively but is a turnover machine.
Pomeroy has the Tigers by 15.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Let me come over, I can waste your time I'm bored.
Pts Poss Off_Eff Def_Eff
You're tellin' me, Ben.
"I'm kind of speechless because I didn't see that coming," said Ben McCauley, who had eight points and four rebounds for N.C. State.
From Austin's game story:
"I thought that we just made some poor decisions," Lowe said. "There is no need for me to come in there yelling."
This is astounding to me. Based on the way we came out in the second half, I assumed he threw some chairs around the locker room. He's right--"some poor decisions" aren't worth yelling about, but that's a rather generous summary of the half. The lack of focus, the pathetic rebounding, the laziness--those things are worth yelling about. We almost literally forgot how to play basketball for more than ten minutes; they scored a few in a row, we folded under the mounting pressure, and everything went to hell. It was appalling.
A comment from a Deadspin post about the game:
I'm going to go have a nice discussion with my good friends Mr. Beam and Mr. Daniels right now.
I could use a chat myself.
Sentiments I echo:
It's more embarrassing than embarrassing, really.
Liveblog! NC State @ UNC -- Second Half
[1:04PM] I'm tired, I'm hungover, but I'm not about to miss the rest of this herculean performance.
[1:07PM] Hey, there's a quick bucket to start the second half. Pace yourselves, guys.
Javi doesn't bother to guard Lawson outside, Lawson hits an NBA three.
[1:08PM] Mike Patrick notes that Ty is not a good three-point shooter, as he's only "twelve out of thirty-six percent." Exactly.
[1:09PM] Costner picks up his third foul, returns to the bench where he'll be only slightly less noticeable.
[1:11PM] Nine points in four minutes! It's an offensive explosion! Too bad Carolina has 12 over the same span.
[1:15PM] We're back to within 30 after a Hickson free throw. McCauley is fouled and he'll shoot two.
[1:17PM] Three-pointer from Horner. Man, is that nice to see. 57-29.
[1:21PM] Ben gets caught just kind of watching the basketball, Ginyard scores on a reverse layup and gets fouled.
Ginyard rolls his ankle, Mike Patrick cycles through the entire Carolina roster and eventually correctly identifies him.
[1:23PM] 63-32, 11:40 to go. That's 19 points for the Pack in the first 8:20.
[1:27PM] We're making shots, but we aren't getting any stops. Winning this half, though!
[1:32PM] Hickson scores a layup and we've broken 40. Wasn't sure we were going to get here.
[1:35PM] Beautiful shot by JJ in the lane, then Gavin steals the inbounds. Costner going to the line after the media timeout.
In this second half, we're being aggressive, pushing tempo, passing well, hitting open shots...how is it possible to play so differently from one half to another?
[1:37PM] Lowe says "box and one." His blazer says "I'm an ironic joke!"
[1:39PM] Quentin Thomas scores again. Awesome.
[1:42PM] 41-38 Carolina this half.
[1:52PM] 93-62, final.
Liveblog! NC State @ UNC -- First Half
[12:00PM] Let the hurtin' begin.
[12:02PM] Fells is playing, so that's good news. Honestly didn't think there was any way he'd be able to go considering the way he limped off the court on Wednesday.
[12:04PM] Marcus Ginyard tries to take the ball to the rim...for some reason. He turns it over, Fells scores the game's first bucket at the other end. Ellington answers quickly.
There's JJ. One touch, one basket, one foul on Hansbrough.
[12:06PM] Hansbrough, backing in on Hickson, "who is not known for his defense." Because you would totally know, Mike Patrick. Carolina's actually playing man-to-man right now, which is lunacy on their part.
[12:08PM] Costner drives, beats his man, misses layup, complains about no foul call...not that there was a foul.
[12:10PM] Definitely not shooting the lights out to start this thing. After Gavin misses a three, the Heels come down and get like 12 shots at the basket. They had at least three offensive boards on that possession. Ben, Dennis, Marques check in. And QT!
[12:12PM] Quentin Thomas, makin' things happen as usual, this time with a nice dish to Ellington. McCauley gets his second basket at the other end to re-tie the game. 9-9, 14:26 to go.
[12:16PM] Gavin fouled Hansbrough so hard he lost a contact. Let the Psycho-T free throw parade begin. Carolina shows a press after the FTs, but we break it easily. McCauley forces a shot in the lane, gets blocked.
[12:18PM] I'd criticize, but I didn't realize the shot clock was running low, either. Carolina still in the man-to-man. The Heels score off a tip in, it's 15-9. Not shooting well, not rebounding, and there's a Wolfpack turnover.
[12:19PM] Good lord, that was comical. Box out, guys, for the love of god.
[12:21PM] After a McCauley offensive rebound, Hickson gets several chances in close but can't convert. When was the last time we scored?
[12:23PM] Mike Patrick doesn't like our socks. JJ hits a jumper.
[12:27PM] Wonderful possession. Javi dribbles for 15 seconds, passes to Hickson, ball goes off a Tar Heel's shoe out of bounds. Gavin then takes the ball in the post and attempts to score against Green and Hansbrough...it ends poorly.
Carolina is starting to get some opportunities to run off of our missed shots as our laziness sets in. Lowe calls a timeout, and he's clearly not happy with Javi at the moment.
[12:29PM] JJ needs to chill out a bit. I know it must feel amazing not to be surrounded by three guys while he's posting up, but that's no excuse for forcing it.
[12:32PM] Carolina has us on complete lock down. We look like NC Central. I thought we might look decent if the Heels decided to play man-to-man, which they have, but we can't even manage a decent look at the basket.
[12:35PM] 27-11. "State's not even guarding underneath" -- Elmore.
[12:39PM] Haven't hit a shot in about seven minutes. Heels get another layup. I'm really enjoying this.
[12:41PM] I don't know what it is we're doing offensively...it could only be described as vaguely organized. We've quit trying to run the offense, so from here, who knows how bad it's gonna get.
[12:44PM] We're 1-21 after starting 4-8. Gavin misses a wide open layup, then a three. And, oh snap, QT has scored. It's officially an embarrassment.
[12:45PM] This is the most pathetic and inept performance by an NC State basketball team that I've ever seen.
[12:47PM] Settlin' for jumpers, not getting back on D. Can we just go home now?
And there's Courtney with a basket! Wooo!!!!!!!!1111111111 Sarcastic cheers for the Tar Heel crowd.
[12:50PM] This is Austin logging in live from the Dean Dome where my mood can best be described as borderline suicidal. Carolina has even done the Pack the courtesy of playing zone, but State has pretty much rolled over. I agree, worst NC State performance ever.
[12:53PM] Thanks for checking in...I'm sorry you have to witness this in person. Ugh. -- Steven
Friday, January 11, 2008
Previewing North Carolina
2008 Scouting Report / 2008 Game Plan
The big question heading into '08 was "can they replace Brandan Wright?" They didn't really need to, though. Deon Thompson hasn't come close to matching Wright's efficient production, but the Heels once again have one of the best offenses in the country. The guys who carried the offense in 2007--Hansbrough and Ellington, namely--didn't go anywhere, and both are in the midst of career years. Toss in Danny Green, who is the best sixth man in the country and among the more under-appreciated players around, and, yeah, there are no problems here.
The Tar Heels shoot well from everywhere--inside, outside, the free throw line--and when they do bother to miss, they give themselves a lot of second chances. A big reason we were able to upset them last year, aside from our 69.8% shooting, was because we kept them off the offensive glass. That'll be a huge key again since we obviously won't be forcing them to turn the ball over. They're plenty good with just one shot at the basket on a given possession, thank you.
Ty Lawson (5-11, 195) -- He's more involved in the scoring this season, averaging 20.7 pts/40 min, but his assist rate is down a hair (but still fantastic) and his turnover rate is up.
Wayne Ellington (6-4, 200) -- As far as shooting guards go, there's none better. He's become more versatile, scoring more often from inside the arc, and he'll rarely turn the ball over.
Marcus Ginyard (6-5, 218) -- Ginyard is doing his usual thing--providing some intermittent scoring, grabbing offensive rebounds, playing good defense.
Deon Thompson (6-8, 240) -- A bigger role in the offense has hurt his shooting, but he's improved his rebounding while cutting his turnover rate.
Tyler Hansbrough (6-9, 250) -- What follows is an excerpt from My Will, My Way: The Tyler Hansbrough Story by Jimmy Dykes. Available from ESPN The Publisher this May.
College basketball is a game of passion. And Tyler Hansbrough's game is passion. It's fitting that a kid from the Show Me State wasn't content merely to talk, or try or attempt; he did. He worked tirelessly. And he showed everyone. Talent matters, sure. But what's more important is that desire, that will to succeed. Tyler Hansbrough has always had the Drive. He's also become best college basketball player in the game's long and storied history. Which is hardly coincidental.
Danny Green (6-6, 210), Alex Stepheson (6-9, 235), and Quentin Thomas (6-3, 190) compose the bulk of the bench.
ORtg eFG% %Poss %Shots Pts/40It's nice to see him getting significant minutes without having to take a club to one of Marcus Ginyard's knees. (Call me, Danny. If it needs to be done, it needs to be done.) He's definitely making the most of them, even if the shooting percentage is unsustainable.
Quentin Thomas's assist rate is down from an astounding 11.5-per-40-minutes in 2007 to a modest 7.8/40 this year. I blame his no good teammates. When QT makes an exquisite pass--which he does as a matter of course--and you're wide the hell open, the least you can do is make the basket! You missed that shot from the elbow on purpose, Thompson, I can tell. Resentment isn't healthy, and it's counterproductive. It's not Quentin's fault that he rules.
Pomeroy says Carolina 82, State 63.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
It's a good thing we like a challenge.
This weekend, NC State will almost certainly be without the services of its irreplaceable shooting guard, who was on crutches after the Central game last night, and probably without Dennis Horner as well.
The challenge: how to modify the rotation so that Trevor Ferguson doesn't see any court time? Apparently the rotation at the 4/5 isn't going to change significantly--Lowe said after the game last night that a Costner-McCauley-Hickson lineup wasn't going to happen.
If Dennis can play, I'm sticking Gavin at the two all night (he'll have to play the full 40) and taking my chances with Horner/Harris at the three. If we have to go zone, so be it.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
NC State 54, NC Central 29
Pts Poss Off_Eff Def_Eff
-- I'm sure that holding a team to 29 points on 60 possessions is the best defensive performance we've had since I've been tracking these things, so there's that at least.
-- I was about ready to go home at the midway point of the first half. Central's comedy of errors was mildly entertaining, and I got a kick out of their cheerleaders chanting "de-fense! de-fense" while we were shooting free throws (get after it, Rim, you lazy piece of metal!). Other than that, ugh, what a yawner. I don't know, maybe we need an intense environment and a tough opponent to spark some intensity and help us pick ourselves up. That seems silly on its surface, but I'm reaching for anything right now.
-- Courtney Fells has the best cumulative +/- on the team this season, and it isn't close. Which goes to show just how inadequate his replacements are considering he hasn't played all that well--not consistently, anyway.
A Few Items
-- Austin's written an excellent article that offers a snapshot of each ACC basketball team.
The Pack does two things really well - get to the line and keep opponents off the line. They are basically the best team in the nation at it. They also do a good job of forcing bad shots, as opponents shoot under 40 percent against them. Of course, they are basically the worse team in the nation at forcing turnovers and they rebound like a team of 5’10” guys even though they are the tallest team in the nation. So, maybe a little more aggressive play would be a good thing even if it means picking up a few more fouls.
Amen to that last bit.
I was glancing through the scouting reports and among the things that caught my eye: Ish Smith's .320 FT% (8-25). He is 12-35 (.343) from three-point range.
-- Dan Wiederer outlines a few reasons why Wolfpack fans should be worried.
Saturday’s boo-inducing first half dud featured a Wolfpack team that looked disinterested and disjointed, not the one picked in October to challenge UNC and Duke for ACC supremacy.
What's frustrating is, okay, they've recognized this problem--so why haven't they done anything about it?
-- DaJuan Morgan is outta here:
"The NFL gave me a fourth-round grade," said Morgan. "I was a junior and they said that was a safe projection.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
A squirrel caused a campus-wide power outage early Tuesday evening on the main campus of North Carolina State University, Progress Energy said.
-- Tim Peeler spoke with Bobby Purcell about the Wolfpack Club:
We are a very goal-oriented organization and every year we have a theme. In 2007, it was the “Quest for 20,000” and in 2008 it is going to be “Red, White and You.” It gives us a focus for the coming year. As we started growing the Wolfpack Club in numbers, we realized there were very few schools in the country that have ever reached the 20,000-member milestone. So we set that as a long-term goal in 2000, when our membership was 14,898. That’s when we began talking about it. We were very confident that we could get it done, and ’07 seemed like the year that if we did everything we could to the best of our ability, that we could reach the goal.
The "Red, White and You" campaign's accompanying leaflet is entitled The Shame Spiral And You.
-- There's a free preview of ESPN Full Court going on currently.
-- Some interesting college football number-crunching.
-- Andy Glockner looked at the last four Final Fours and found that 2FG% offense/defense appears to be the biggest key (among the major factors--shooting, rebounding, turnovers) to success. A good read, even if I don't feel entirely comfortable with the conclusions. Although I'm down with anything that counters "college basketball is a guard-dominated game!"
-- It's been a week and I'm still having trouble coming to terms with what TSN's Gerry Fraley said about Tim Raines.
Raines’ case was hurt by his reluctance to run in all situations, as Rickey Henderson did. Raines seemed at times too concerned about preserving his stolen-base percentage.
That's one of the most preposterous criticisms I've ever read.
Monday, January 07, 2008
Previewing NC Central
2008 Scouting Report / 2008 Game Plan
NC Central is in its first season at the I-A level and, I have to say, the transition could be going better. At least Presbyterian's gotten some national press out of the deal.
Statistically, anyway, Central is far more interesting. Because, my god, the horror (Edvard Munch-level horror, John Gasaway would note). I was going to do this thing tomorrow, but such copious amounts of horridity wait for no man.
Wouldn't you say, Duke shooting guard Jon Scheyer?
Exactly. (Sidenote: this man has won the internet.)
The Eagles offense has not managed to score more than a point per possession in any game this season; they've only managed .90 or better three times in 20 opportunities. The low point for NCCU occurred on December 22nd--a 71-28 loss to Nebraska in which the Eagles shot 26.1% (that's eFG) and turned the ball over on 38.9% of their possessions. To wit:
North Carolina Central turned the ball over 18 times in the first half, including a stretch of 10 straight possessions that ended in turnovers.
That's actually kind of awesome.
They don't so much dribble as mimic, for brief periods of time, what is generally understood to constitute a dribbling motion. They don't so much shoot as just sorta hurl the ball at the rim and hope for a helpful carom or an act of god. Nor do they rebound, because, shit, man, who even really cares at this point? You can have the damn basketball. That infernal thing only serves to further the soul's agony.
J'Mell Walters (5-10, 170) -- Constantly looking for his misplaced car keys.
Bryan Ayala (6-3, 190) -- Has the highest workload on the team, using 30% of the possessions and taking 32.4% of the shots. Sports a good assist rate and is a model of ball security relative to his teammates.
Tremain Holloway (6-5, 205) -- How ya doin' there, guy? Good? Good.
Charles Futrell (6-6, 205) -- The other main scoring option. Has the best effective field goal percentage on the team.
Marius Vaskys (6-9, 220) -- The Lithuanian invasion. You just try and stop it. Today, our historically black colleges and universities. Tomorrow, Congress.