Big East Hoops

Archive for December, 2008

Syracuse or Georgetown?

December 30, 2008 10:57 pm by Big Willie Style

Both had impressive wins to start the Big East season. After the Hoyas dismantled #2 UConn the other night, the Orange fouled it up with an impressive 24 point victory against Seton Hall. While the Pirates are not as impressive as the Huskies, they’re not a total scrub, and have already defeated Virginia Tech and nationally ranked USC so far this year.

While most will be impressed with the Hoyas “upset” (although some disagree), give me the Orange right now. Routins scored 26 points, including 7-10 3 point shooting, and Devendorf had 20 himself. Don’t get me wrong, this is real close, but it’s always fun to compare the Orange and Hoyas. And for now, I think Syracuse has had the slightly more impressive start. As a bonus, we get to see this classic matchup in just about 15 days.

Big East Beatdown

December 29, 2008 9:25 pm by Big Willie Style

After one Big East game this season, we now know that we should not forget about the two time defending regular season champions. As ESPN announcer Jay Bilas said during the broadcast, “It isn’t shocking that Georgetown came into Hartford and won. What was shocking was the ease in which they did so.” And for that, he was exactly right. The Hoyas 11 point victory was about as smooth a victory you could imagine for an opponent facing a #2 ranked team in the conference opener.

For those of you who didn’t see the game, Georgetown opened with a 15-1 lead. The Huskies quickly climbed back in the first half cutting the lead to 4 and eventually trailing at halftime by 9. At the half the Hoyas were still in control, but a UConn victory would not have been surprising at all. The Huskies immediately closed the gap and the usual docile XL Center crowd finally made some noise. It appeared as if UConn would blow pass the Hoyas, however, the young Georgetown players remained calm, and their 2-3 zone eventually squeezed the life out of the UConn offense. Georgetown’s fantastic foul shooting helped the cruise to a victory in the opening Big East game of the year.

What do I take from this game?
-A good zone will stop UConn.
-Greg Monroe is a very impressive player, and is years ahead of Hasheem Thabeet.
-Georgetown’s bench is very weak. If you can get them in foul trouble, they’re very vulnerable.
-In order to win in postseason tournaments, UConn will have to be able to make outside shots.
-Chris Wright will be discussed in first team All-Big talks. Keep in mind, the 1st team is like, 10 players.
-Georgetown will be a very difficult team to to come back on. Thinking of their free throw shooting as if they have a good bullpen. Once they get a lead, they should be able to hang on to it and slam the door on their opponents, as they did tonight.
-In the Big East this year, if you show up with anything less than 100% energy, you’re going to get beat. I’m not knocking the UConn effort, I thought the players played very hard. However, they were clearly outworked by the Hoyas.
-JTIII is a better coach the Jim Calhoun. UConn has better recruiting, and better athletes. But G’town plays better basketball.

Bringing the pain

11:33 am by donald

Georgetown’s next three games:

  1. Today (Dec. 29) at Connecticut (#2)
  2. 1/3/2009 vs. Pittsburgh (#3)
  3. 1/5/2009 at Notre Dame (#8)

That’s as hard a three-game schedule as they get. But this will be commonplace in the Beast this year. Look at how Marquette ends their Big East schedule:

  1. 2/21/2009 at Georgetown (#12)
  2. 2/25/2009 vs Connecticut (#2)
  3. 3/1/2009 at Louisville (#19)
  4. 3/4/2009 at Pittsburgh (#3)
  5. 3/7/2009 vs Syracuse (#17)

I just hope that Big East teams will have something left for the NCAAs.

Addendum: It looks like I missed Rutgers, who lost against UNC this weekend, and is playing Pittsburgh (#3), and UCONN (#2) this week. Apparently, this is the first time that’s ever happened (three consecutive games against the top three ranked teams). Read more here.


December 22, 2008 6:00 pm by Dan'l B

UNC has as firm a hold as you can have on #1 in the voters’ minds, but there’s plenty of statistical rankings that list Big East teams on top. Hopefully this won’t read like a Jayson Stark entry, if you know what I mean. Some of these measures are highly indicative of strengths and weaknesses.


#1 Pythagorean rating belongs to the Hoyas. Believe it or not, UNC is #4 in the Pomeroy ratings, trailing the Hoyas, Zags, and Panthers. The numbers are adjusted for the usual list of everything context related. JTIII has his…

#1 adjusted offense to thank for the highest rating. We’d have a very pedestrian offense (#168 turnover rate, #204 offensive rebound rate) leading the Big East if not for two particularly good skills: the 3rd highest rate of free throws made per field goal attempted and the…

#1 2-point FG%, which translates to their high effective field goal percentage. This is what happens when your offensive game consistently translates into layups and dunks. Not only that, the Hoyas must practice against themselves in practice (duh.). On defense, they do the same two things particularly well: in this case, they avoid fouling the enemy and limit opposing offenses to the…

#1 lowest effective FG% against. Just like on offense, the Hoyas are pedestrian to downright awful elsewhere (#85 turnover rate, #295 offensive rebound rate). If they’d just corral all those missed shots, the Hoyas would be unstoppable on defense.


#1 offensive rebounder in the country? He’s probably 7′ 3″ tall, right? Not so much. All 6′ 7″ of Mr. DeJuan Blair currently lead the nation in offensive rebounding rate, and it’s no surprise that he’s Top-10 in defensive rebounding. In fact, by collecting 25.8% of available offensive rebounds, he’d rank in the Top-40 among defensive rebounders. When Pitt is on offense, you should expect Blair to be the most likely rebounder of missed shots. That’s both incredible and, uhh, unsustainable. His ranking is probably sustainable however–only two other players throughout the NCAA clear 20% and both are barely above that. Blair could record zero offensive boards for his next 100 minutes and likely remain #1. As a team, Pitt does nearly everything well, leaving them without any other #1 rankings. The only hole in their game is earning trips to the free throw line (#222) and converting them efficiently (#214).


#1 lowest free throw rate against. UConn has been so good at getting to the line and avoiding fouls that their worst FT rate game–36.1%–was better than their worst FT rate against game–33.3%. Are the Huskies really good at avoiding fouls or too careful and tentative? So far, the overall defensive numbers aren’t very good (only #29 defense). One measure that suggests they’re not aggressive enough is the #300 ranking in turnover rate. Opposing offenses are operating too freely. Perhaps UConn relies too much on their…

#1 tallest center in NCAA basketball, weighted by minutes played. Sitting back and waiting for Thabeet et al to block shots isn’t working well enough unless you’re happy with the #29 defensive efficiency. Considering all the backcourt quickness, I’d expect better turnover numbers than they’re generating so far.

West Virginia

#1 tallest shooting guard(s) belong to the Mountaineers. Obviously, there’s some subjectivity here in selecting “positions,” but the average NCAA shooting guard is in the neighborhood of 6′ 2″, and Alex Ruoff is about as short as it gets at SG for WVU. He’s 6′ 6″ and the rotation is 6′ 7″ otherwise. Ken Pomeroy discussed the impact of height last January and found that having a backcourt height advantage does not translate to better defense. He found that correlation is only strong for teams with advantages at the 4 and 5. As he concluded, “At least on the defensive end, basketball really is a big man’s game.” Fortunately, WVU is above average at every position, and their efficiency (#6 defense) agrees with expectations.


#1 defensive effiency resides here. The Big East is home to the best offense (Georgetown) and best defense thus far. For Louisville, it’s a crutch. Take away Padgett et al and roll forward a year and this offense stinks. #131 hurts. The defense comes from two key attributes–they limit field goal percentage (#8 effective FG%, #3 3-point FG%) and when opponents miss, the Cardinals rebound the ball (#6 best offensive rebounding rate against.

Notre Dame

#1 steal rate on offense. This quirky statistic might have more to do with who they’ve played than whether ND particularly avoids getting the ball stolen. Either way, the Irish are very protective of the ball, as their #2 rank in turnover rate suggests. If not for UConn, ND would be #1 in free throw rate against. They trail UConn by 0.4%. And wouldn’t you know it, like UConn, ND is terrible at generating turnovers. They’re one spot worse than UConn here (#301). Take it another step to #3. It’s another Big East brother, Syracuse! And wouldn’t you freaking know it, they’re also bad at generating turnovers (#295). That’s three strikes against keeping opponents off the charity stripe.


#1 offensive rebounding team. Cincy pulls down 47.4% of their available misses. Obviously, that’s impressive, and it props up an otherwise poor offense (#105 effective FG%, #261 turnover rate, #237 free throw rate). An average offense collects about 1 in 3 available offensive rebounds. The Bearcats have bested that measure every time on the floor, with a worst mark of 35.7% against Mississippi St.


#1 conference in the country? Well, if we pretend this is a conference of eight, yes, but you have to take the best with the worst. Sagarin likes the ACC and Big Ten better, even though the Big East would obliterate every conference if they played 1v1, 2v2, etc.

Connecticut-Gonzaga thoughts

December 21, 2008 2:24 am by donald
  • In Price we Trust?: The amount that Connecticut depends on AJ Price is not sustainable. Late in the game, he really willed the team to victory. It was clear that he was the only UConn player with enough confidence to win the game. UConn needs another player to step up, at least in terms of confidence, if not in terms of skill.
  • Gonzaga’s game to lose: Gonzaga ought to have won that game. I came away quite impressed — Pargo, Gray, and especially Daye are serious talents. It’s damn impressive that Gonzaga has gone from a mid-major team to a possible “program”. It will be interesting to see if they can maintain the tradition.
  • Fouling out: While there was constant focus by the announcing crew on Thabeet’s foul trouble and Calhoun’s decisions to play him or not there was little talk about how Mark Few let one big man after another foul out. That was a large part of UConn’s victory.
  • Gavin Edwards’ mom: I would bet that his mom is/was totally hot. Just a hunch.