Thursday, March 6, 2008

Ask and Receive

Yesterday, I suggested that Indiana needed to figure out how to play some D in their game against Minnesota (HD box). And figure it out they did, holding the Gophers to a mere 0.887 points per possession. While Minnesota is no offensive juggernaut, that was an excellent defensive performance. I don't know if it was that the Hoosiers finally recognized that Dan Dakich is the head coach now, or if it was something else, but they should try to remember what it was and do more of it.

Looking at the play-by-play, it's clear that the Hoosiers salted this game away by getting to the free throw line and hitting them down the stretch. Sure, Bassett hit a huge 3 (on nice drive and kick from Gordon), DJ hit a jumper, and Gordon had a layup, but, after the last tie at 48-48, Indiana reeled off a 14 - 2 run to put the game out of Minnesota's reach. Half of those 14 points came from the line. Gordon also scored 7 of the points in that run (and 20 for the game), proving once again that he is an absolute weapon down the stretch in games.  However, he was not the player of the game for IU last night. 

DJ White had another very good game last night. He wasn't able to rebound as well as he normally does, but he was still a beast, posting a 125.6 O rating while using a less-than-typical-for-him 23% of the team's possessions while he was on the floor.  That slightly smaller usage can be attributed to Minnesota running a 3-2 zone for most of the night to keep it out of his hands. Granted, DJ still put up 20 big points, but he was not the player of the game for the Hoosiers.

The player of the game for IU last night was none other than Jamarcus Ellis, the same player whom I had suggested might not be completely on board with the new coaching regime. He was marvelous last night.  He only used 14% of possessions on the offensive end while he was on the floor, but he was deadly efficient with them, putting up a 159.8 O rating. Also, he was a terror on the glass on a night when Minnesota worked hard to keep DJ from getting rebounds. Ellis pulled down 17% of possible offensive rebounds and 33% of possible defensive rebounds, both of which are excellent numbers. But I believe that Ellis's real value to the team lies on the defensive end. While thinking about that, I played with some of the HD box score numbers to figure out how the team did on offense and defense while players were on the floor and off of it. Sure, the +/- column shows how the team did overall, and Ellis's +/- is appropriately the highest on the team.  But we can break it down a little more, and here's how it breaks down for Ellis:


O Eff

D Eff

Eff Margin

On floor




Off floor









Remember that smaller numbers are better when talking about defensive efficiency. Thus, those numbers show that, while Ellis had a positive impact on the team's offense, his impact on the defense was much, much bigger. Goodonya, Jamarcus Ellis!

Overall, that game was just what the Hoosiers needed. If they can pull out a road win against scrappy Penn State on Sunday, and both Wisconsin and Purdue win their last conference games (in which they'll be prohibitive favorites), Indiana will have the #2 seed in the conference tournament.

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