Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hoosiers Thunder Like Bison, Beat Them

Tom Crean keeps talking about wanting to push the pace and play up-tempo (an idea that John Gasaway thinks will be nothing but good for the typically ploddingly-paced Big 10), and the Hoosiers did just that against Howard (HD Box), to the tune of 74 possessions. It remains to be seen if the Hoosiers are able to push the pace the rest of the year, as last year’s team managed  86 possessions in their opening game win over Northwestern St.

Everyone’s talking about how the freshmen on this squad hit the ground running, and they definitely did, but there aren’t many other options, really. Those freshmen are 6 of the 16 players on the roster. So it’s no surprise that the young ‘uns are contributing.

There are a couple of things that stood out to me from the game, though:

  • It wasn’t just that he hit all but his last shot, but I loved Derek Elston’s game. He seemed to want to hustle for  boards and take what came to him. Plus, for a big man, he’s quick and has a nice stroke.
  • The Hoosiers seem to have real trouble guarding the interior. Both early against Howard and in the exhibition games, it felt like when the opponents got the ball inside, they either got an easy shot (which they often missed in the exhibitions) or went to the line. The 2-1-2 and 2-3 zones seemed to help clog up the lane against Howard, but it bears watching this season. Those zones also helped encourage the cold-shooting Bison to hoist 22 of their 53 field goal attempts from beyond the arc, of which they hit only four (“a number so small you can spell it” as Gasaway might say). I did think that a lot of those 3’s were open. So a team with shooters would obviously fare better. However, saying that it will be tough to defend a team that can score in the paint and shoot the 3 is about as revelatory as telling you that there’s a different strain of the flu out and about this year, so we’ll not belabor that point.
  • Christian Watford grabbed 9 of the 22 shots that the Bison missed while he was on the floor. That’s a pretty sick 41% of all the possible defensive rebounds available to him. If that’s in any way an indicator that he has some defensive rebounding prowess, he could form a potent combination with the offensive rebounding skills of frontcourt mate Tom Pritchard.
  • At first blush, Jordan Hulls didn’t seem to do much on offense. And the numbers bear that out (see efficiency numbers below), but he sure didn’t do much to hurt the team. He only took 2 shots – and hit one of them – but he still found away to collect 5 assists without turning the ball over. According to the efficiency numbers, that comes out to a tidy 178 ORating while using a miniscule 10% of the possessions while he was on the floor. Good stuff. His usage will probably increase and his rating will drop, but there’s some room for both of those to happen.

Here are the efficiency calculations for the Hoosiers (sorted by minutes played):

Indiana                 ScPoss  Poss    PtsProd FlrPct  ORat    Usage
Rivers, Jeremiah 3.80 11.66 8.61 0.33 73.79 25.35
Watford, Christian 5.84 9.12 13.64 0.64 149.54 19.41
Creek, Maurice 6.74 10.20 15.76 0.66 154.51 22.17
Jones III, Verdell 3.84 9.99 9.31 0.38 93.23 23.23
Pritchard, Tom 4.98 5.62 10.85 0.89 192.88 15.20
Hulls, Jordan 2.19 2.84 5.06 0.77 178.46 9.45
Elston, Derek 2.67 3.31 6.60 0.81 199.43 14.39
Dumes, Devan 2.89 8.12 7.15 0.36 88.07 33.85
Capobianco, Bobby 0.29 3.58 0.69 0.08 19.23 23.83
Roth, Matt 0.60 1.60 1.31 0.38 81.37 11.46
Muniru, Bawa 0.58 1.53 1.26 0.38 82.03 15.31
Moore, Daniel 0.00 1.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 10.00
Finkelmeier, Brett 0.30 0.30 0.64 1.00 211.40 7.57
Jobe, Tijan 0.00 0.00 0.00 NaN NaN 0.00
Barnett, Kory 0.00 0.00 0.00 NaN NaN 0.00
Gambles, Steven 0.00 1.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 33.33

So Maurice Creek was the only high usage player (more than 20%) who was particularly efficient. I suspect we’ll see better numbers out of Rivers, Jones, and Dumes, and worse out of the other guys, but I like the roles of the team so far.

All in all, it was a good start. I’m thrilled to have hoops to watch and think about, and I’m even more glad to see the Hoosiers with more than 7 guys to contribute.

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