Big East Hoops

Archive for the 'West Virginia' category

There’s a game tonight?!?

February 13, 2009 2:31 pm by donald

Not only is there a game tonight (strange, as usually only the Ivies play on Friday night — can anyone explain why there’s a game tonight?), but it might be the best game this week — Villanova goes to West Virginia.

Let’s look at the facts.

Villanova comes into the game smoking hot offensively, having scored 94 against Providence, 102 against Syracuse, and 102 against Marquette, and not surprisingly, having won all three games. Indeed, they haven’t lost since they played UConn close on January 21st. They’re ranked #13 in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls. Also, Big Willie Style fears them. Anything that puts fear in the heart of Big Willie puts fear into my heart.

On the other hand, West Virginia comes in ranked #7 in the country by Ken Pomeroy — above teams such as Oklahoma and Wake Forest (ranked #2 and #7 respectively by the AP), and namely above Villanova, ranked #12. They’re predicted by Pomeroy to win the rest of their games, including tonight against Villanova, their next game against Notre Dame, and their last game against Louisville (all notably at home). And Dan’l B fears them. Anything that puts fear in the heart of Dan’l B puts fear in my own heart.

What this game (and how West Virgina does for the rest of the season) represents is new school vs. old school. New school is Ken Pomeroy, Dan’l B, tempo-free statistics, favoring close losses over good teams over big wins over bad teams, and believing there’s no such thing as clutch play. Old school is Big Willie Style, watching tape, gut instincts, valuing any type of win over any type of loss, and believing that some players rise to the occasion when others do not. And New School and Old School just don’t agree on West Virginia — they don’t even get one measly vote in the AP poll, but they’re ranked 7th in the country by Ken Pomeroy.

New School vs. Old School. Who do you like tonight?

Let the good times roll

February 11, 2009 5:36 pm by Dan'l B

[Monday, March 9] What a run. At 16-8 (5-6) four short weeks ago, West Virginia looked like a bubble team in the making. They’d lost 4 of 6 and were struggling at both ends of the court. Seven solid-if-not-spectacular straight wins later, at 23-8, WVU will enter the NCAA tournament in a week as a #4 or #5 regardless of the outcome in Madison Square Garden. If they’re still playing Saturday, they could see a #3 Sunday night by their name.

Don’t be too surprised to see the above post in 26 days.

#1?

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.

Georgetown

#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.

Pittsburgh

#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).

Connecticut

#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.

Louisville

#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.

Cincinnati

#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.

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#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.

The Second Five

November 11, 2008 10:39 am by Coach O

the first five teams are all serious contenders for the Big East title. That doesn’t mean that the next group should be counted out. Each of the 2nd five could rise up to challenge UConn or Louisville for the championship.

6. Syracuse –

Frontcourt – The loss of Donte Green will take its toll on the SU frontline. Arinze Onuaku was a pleasant surprise in the low post for the Orange. He averaged 12.8 ppg and 8.1 rg and played tough in the paint. The other man in the frontcourt is still in doubt. Because of the plethora of guards available, Boeheim may use 6-5 Paul Harris as the power forward. A voracious rebounder and a 14.5 ppg scorer, Harris also averaged over 8 boards a game. The problem with that is a lack of height. If Harris moves to the ’3′ position, Krostof Ongenaet has starting experience and is 6-8. Grade – B

Backcourt – Jonny Flynn was Big East co-rookie of the year last season. He is a proven point man and also contributed 15.7 ppg. Eric Devendorf is back and will try to continue his 17 ppg average that he had when he went down last year. So now with Devendorf and Flynn that should be enough, right? No….. Andy Rautins, a sharpshooting small forward is returning after a year off with injury. So a backcourt of Flynn, Devendorf and Rautins would force a move of Harris to the ’3′ position. Grade – A

Coaching  – Jim Boeheim still gets the most out of his players. He is a Hall of Fame and National Championship coach and has a very talented group here this year. Grade – A-

OVERALL  – SU can give some teams fits this year and have the talent to make a run at the title. Will they miss Donte Green? Probably. Will they miss his crazy shot selection and defensive indifference? Not at all. If the orange can improve their defense this season they will finish higher than 5th. If not, I see them in 6th place. Grade B+

 

Villanova

Frontcourt – Dante Cunningham had a solid season last year. he averaged in double figures and over 6 rpg. Antonio Pena and Shane Clark are adequate post men and Casiem Drummond will backup both post positions. All major players down  low are 6-8 except Drummond who is 6-10. The Cats hold their own down low but will have trouble with the frontlines of the top rated teams. Grade – B-

Backcourt  – Scottie Reynolds will win some games for Nova. He will also lose some. Sometimes Reynolds needs to involve teammates when his game goes south. He is one of the most talented and exciting guards in the country. Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes will split time at the point. The problem here is that Reynolds controls the ball most of the time and the point guard occasionally gets involved in his offense. Dwayne Anderson will start at the ’3′. His outside shooting won some key contests for the Cats last year. When Anderson and Reynolds are on their game, Nova can beat anyone. Reggie Redding lends experience behind Anderson. Grade A-

Coaching – Jay Wright is a great coach. He has shunned the NBA and isenjoying his stay in Philly. He will get the most out of his group and probably lose some hair when Reynolds gets out of control. Grade – A-

OVERALL  – Nova is a dangerous team. They went to the Sweet Sixteen last year and did not lose any key players from that team. But they will also lose a game or two that should be easy wins. Grade – B

Georgetown

Frontcourt – Roy Hibbert will be missed. His steady play (and 3 point shooting) was a plus for the Hoyas. But DaJuan Summers is a talented player and can take his game to the outside if necessary. 6-10 Greg Monroe looks to start at center but he is a Freshman. FSU Transfer Julian Vaughn and Henry Sims (Fr) will backup down low. Grade C+

Backcourt – Jesse Sapp returns after averaging 9.7 ppg last year. Austin Freeman had a great freshman year and brings experience on the perimeter. Chris Wright recovered from his injury to get valuable minutes last season. But Jonathan Wallace will be sorely missed by GTown this year and no one will immediately take his leadership place. Grade – B

Coaching – JT3 was the media darling two years ago when he led the Hoyas to the Final Four. Last year was more of a struggle as teams worked on getting Hibbert into foul trouble. This year there are some question marks. Can Summers lead this team into the top 5? Don’t think so. Losing Wallace and Hibbert may be too much to overcome. 7th or 8th looks about right. Grade – B-

West Virginia

Frontcourt – Year two of the Huggins reign is here and Joe Alexander is gone. Good news and Bad News. Da’Sean Butler returns, but at 6-7 he is more a swing player than low post presence. Wellington Smith, John Flowers, and Cam Thoroughman are names that really don’t strike fear in opponents eyes down low. Devin Ebanks is a freshman that may make an impact. Grade C-

Backcourt – Alex Ruoff returns and will be a top long range shooter for the Neers. Joe Mazzulla should take over the point after logging impressive minutes last year. That leaves the ’3′ where Butler should play if he is not needed at the power forward. Grade – B-

Coaching – Huggins didn’t take long to get WVU going last year in his style. It makes sense that they should be familiar with the new tough man to man D and hard-nosed offense. He always has his teams playing hard. Grade B+

OVERALL – Losing Alexander and Darris Nichols may be too much to overcome in this tough league this year. WVU should be in the top 10 in the BE but barely. Grade C+

Cincinnati

Frontcourt – Mick Cronin has done a marvelous job taking a team with only a handful of scholarship players two years ago and making them a respectable foe last year. Mike Williams transferred from Texas and then was injured all last season. He is expected to anchor the low post in the absence of John Williamson. Anthony McClain and Kenny Belton will man the center position but neither has shown any flashes of brilliance thus far. Yancy Gates is a freshman who may break into the starting lineup during the season. Grade C-

Backcourt – Deonta Vaughn is one of the most exciting players in the league. Vaughn won some games on his own last year and may have to do the same this season. Larry Davis has experience but brings a 4.3 ppg average which doesn’t compliment Vaughn too well. Rashad Bishop should be the small forward this season after starting 20 games last year. Grade B

Coaching- As said earlier, Cronin has to be admired after what he has done to bring this program back from the disaster of two years ago. He shows enthusiasm on the bench and that translates to his players. He has also been successful in his recruiting efforts. Grade – B

OVERALL - Vaughn will draw most of the attention from opponents and will have to work for every point he gets this year. There is some talent here but not enough to compete with the big boys at the top of the conference. Top 10 finish will be a struggle. Grade – C

 

 

Monday’s heroes

March 4, 2008 3:09 am by donald

Monday’s heroes are Joe Alexander and Tom Crean.

Joe Alexander tied a career high with 32 points. I was totally wrong (as usual). He showed up big time and West Virginia dominated Pittsburgh 76-62. A few of the pundits have Pittsburgh in no matter what, but I don’t buy that. If that’s really the case and if WVU wins two more games, it would be wrong for the Big East to get any less than seven teams into the tournament: Louisville, G’town, UConn, ND, Marquette, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia. That would be awesome.

Highlights of the WVU-Pitt game, courtesy of ESPN.



And a few links from the blogosphere: The Mountain Top, and Pitt Blather.

Why is Tom Crean a hero? Look who Marquette is playing Tuesday: Florida Gulf Coast, currently 10-20 (and 6-10 in the Atlantic Sun conference). Why schedule a gimme game so late? Charles Rich breaks it down for us: Tom Crean scheduled a game in March against Florida Gulf Coast to game the system on the “last 10 games.”. And for that, Tom Crean is our hero.