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Posts Tagged ‘delvon roe’

I’ve decided not to post any commentary of a forward-looking nature until we get over to the new site. For now, let’s revel in the season that has been.

One of the things that made this season so special was the number of guys who stepped up at various times during the season to get the team to 31 wins, despite multiple injuries disrupting the regular lineup during the season.  For the season, nine different players led the team in scoring at least once, seven different players led the team in rebounding at least once, and five different players led the team in assists at least once (including ties in all three cases).

To look back at some of those contributions, I’ve put together a list of the top ten individual performances over the course of the season.  I’ve split the list into five regular season performances and five postseason performances.

Regular Season Performances

5. Raymar Morgan vs. Oklahoma State
29 points on 9-11 FG shooting and 11-13 FT shooting, 5 rebounds
Few MSU fans got to see this game, after MSU dropped the opener in the Old Spice Classic, but Morgan put up some huge numbers against a team that would eventually make the NCAA Tournament.

4. Delvon Roe at Michigan
14 points on 5-7 FG shooting, 10 rebounds
From the game recap: “Delvon Roe finally put together the kind of game we’ve been hoping for against a smaller lineup: 14 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes.  He took advantage of the mismatch against Zach Novak and the other guards that were matched up with him inside–and made 4 of 6 free throws to boot.”

3. Kalin Lucas at Illinois
18 points on 7-14 FG shooting, 4 assists, 1 turnovers
You could put Lucas on this list as many times as you wanted, but we’ll go with his extremely efficient performance in MSU’s best win of the Big Ten season.  That performance included a layup Lucas created out of nothing to put MSU ahead 60-58 with 5 minutes go after Illinois had rallied from a 7-point second-half deficit.

2. Durrell Summers at Ohio State
26 points on 6-9 three-point shooting, 4 rebounds
From the game recap: “The tale of the first half was Durrell Summers single-handedly keeping the team afloat, scoring 16 of the team’s 26 points as the rest of the team struggled with turnovers and 3-point shooting against the Ohio State 3-2 zone.”

1. Goran Suton vs. Wisconsin
16 points on 6-6 FT shooting, 10 rebounds, 2 assists
From the game recap: “Suton was a warrior.  After not starting the game (apparently to reward Tom Herzog–he of the graceful reverse layup–for his hard work in practice), Suton posted 16 points and 10 rebounds–most of them in the second half.  He pulled down a couple huge offensive rebounds, as did Raymar Morgan (5 rebounds in 17 minutes), during the comeback from 12 down.  Give Suton credit for keeping his composure after the airballed 3-pointer (his third 3-point miss of the game) and leading the team to victory.”

Honorable Mention: Travis Walton’s back-to-back 16-point performances at the Old Spice Classic.  Marquise Gray’s back-to-back 12-point performances in the same setting.  Suton’s 18-point performance against Texas in just his second game back from the knee injury.  Morgan’s 22-point/13-rebound performance against Northwestern to help MSU open the conference season with two road wins.  Chris Allen’s 17-point performance (on 4-7 three-point shooting) in the same game, against the 1-3-1 zone.  Lucas’ 21-point performance against Purdue in the regular season finale.  And just for Mrs. SW: Austin Thornton’s 9-point performance (on 3-3 three-point shooting) in the opener against Idaho.

Postseason Performances

5. Goran Suton vs. North Carolina
17 points on 3-4 three-point shooting, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks
While the outcome of the game was a disappointment, let’s not forget Suton went toe to toe with one of the most celebrated post players in the history of college basketball and matched him almost play for play.

4. Kalin Lucas vs. Kansas
18 points on 7-7 FT shooting, 7 assists, 4 steals
From the game recap: “Kalin Lucas could not be any more clutch.”  I think this play will forever pop into my head whenever I hear the phrase “and one.”

3. Raymar Morgan vs. UConn
18 points on 7-13 FG shooting, 9 rebounds, 5 steals
From the game recap: “Raymar Morgan played the best game of his career . . . against the very epitome of the kind of tall, athletic opponent he normally struggles against.  I thought his confidence would melt away after he had his first shot of the game blocked by Thabeet, but MSU retained the ball (on a team rebound) and Morgan came right back and knocked down a shot.  From there, his confidence swelled.”

2. Goran Suton vs. Louisville
19 points on 3-5 three-point shooting, 10 rebounds, 4 assists
From the game recap: “Tom Izzo’s game plan in the half-court offense was to put Suton in the middle of the top two defenders in Louisville’s 2-3 zone and use Suton’s shooting/passing skills to break down the defense.  Suton responded beautifully, almost single-handedly keeping MSU even with the Cardinals through the first 20 minutes.  On defense, he completely shut down Samardo Samuels.  On his first three touches of the ball in the post, Samuels traveled, missed a shot, and got called for an offensive foul.  Samuels never bounced back and went scoreless for the game.”

1. Travis Walton vs. USC
18 points on 8-13 FG shooting, 2 assists, 2 steals
From the game recap: “On the first possession of the game–when USC came out employing the box and one–Walton got the ball about 18 feet from the basket in an open spot in the zone.  Usually, you’d expect him to hesitate at least briefly before shooting the ball so early in the game.  But, instead, he immediately squared up and knocked down the shot.  From their, his confidence ballooned; eventually he knocked down a couple shots where he had to adjust the arc of the shot due to an onrushing USC defender.”

Honorable Mention: Chris Allen’s 17-point performance against Minnesota in the conference tournament.  Korie Lucious’ 16-point performance to try to mount a comeback against Ohio State in the conference tournament.  Draymond Green’s 16-point performance against Robert Morris.  Suton’s 20-point/9-rebound performance against Kansas.  Lucas’ 21-point/5-assist performance against UConn.

Who would have thought that Travis Walton, of all players, would end up making having arguably the key offensive performance of the entire season?  And we’re not even talking about his defense.  The games in which he locked down A.J. Abrams, Manny Harris, and A.J. Price could have easily been included on the lists above.

Coffee Talk: What do all of you think?  Which performance merits top billing?  What great individual performances did I miss?

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MSU guts out their 15th conference win 62-51 in a 68-possession.  StatSheet box score.

Raise your hand if you had us winning the conference by FOUR games:

TEAM CONFERENCE
OVERALL
Michigan State 15-3 25-5
Illinois 11-7 23-8
Purdue 11-7 22-9
Ohio State 10-8 20-9
Penn State 10-8 21-10
Wisconsin 10-8 19-11
Minnesota 9-9 21-9
Michigan 9-9 19-12
Northwestern 8-10 17-12
Iowa 5-13 15-16
Indiana 1-17 6-24

In a conference with 8 teams deserving of an NCAA bid–and a 9th team that will probably end up a couple blown leads away from the Big Dance–only one team managed to finish the conference season more than two games above the 9-9 mark.

I, of course, foresaw MSU’s precise conference record before the season even began:

In conference play, this team should be good enough to hold court against the entire league for a 9-0 home record.  Road games against Purdue and Ohio State lean toward losses.  Thankfully, we don’t play in Madison this season.  Toss in one more road loss against the middle of the league (Minnesota/Illinois/Penn State/Michigan) and you get a conference record of 15-3.

I was way off on the home/road splits, but let’s ignore that since the overall result might just be the first correct prediction I’ve made in the 16 months this blog has existed.

OK. let’s talk about today’s game.  Purdue grabbed a 2-point halftime lead as E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson took advantage of a series of MSU defensive lapses to score a combined 19 points on 14 FG attempts.  The MSU defense tightened up considerably in the second half, to say the least, holding Purdue to just 4 points over the first 14 minutes of the half.  Purdue shot just 6-32 from the field in the second half, as the Spartans consistently forced them into taking tough shots from the perimeter.  Once again, MSU forced their opponent to beat them with one-on-one moves, as Purdue recorded an assist on only 6 of 17 made FG attempts.  And, thankfully, we managed to catch Robbie Hummel on a cold shooting night (2-7 from beyond the arc).

Michigan State took advantage of their size advantage throughout the game, outrebounding the Boilermakers 50-32, offsetting some turnover issues.  The result is this bar graph:

Perhaps the most encouraging thing about this game was the big advantage in free throw attempts for MSU.  After getting the bad end of some typically uneven Hightower-led officiating in the first half (at least in the view of me and the 14,000 other people at the Breslin Center), Michigan State kepts its composure and ended up adjusting to the tight officiating in the second half better than Purdue did.  For the game, 5 different Spartans got to the free throw line at least 4 times (Lucas/Roe/Suton/Allen/Morgan).

In the final analysis, though, this game was won on defense.  MSU held Purdue to its lowest offensive efficiency mark (75.0) of the season.  Winning a defensive battle against a team that’s as good on defense as the Boilermakers is no small feat.

Player bullets:

  • Kalin Lucas for Big Ten Player of the Year: 21 points on 14 FG attempts to go with 4 assists and 5 rebounds (4 of them offensively).  The Purdue guards did manage to fluster Lucas a bit once again, though, as he turned it over 6 times.
  • Travis Walton put on a defensive show during a series of possessions in the first half, knocking the ball out of the Purdue ball-handlers’ hands several times and eventually forcing a crowd-pleasing turnover.  He finished with 3 steals.
  • Raymar Morgan never got into an offensive rhythm, finishing with 7 points and 7 rebounds in 29 minutes.  On defense, he helped keep Hummel in check.
  • Goran Suton very appropriately ended his Breslin Center career with a double double: 10 points and 11 rebounds.  He got what was perhaps the loudest ovation of the night when he departed the game after fouling out.
  • Durrell Summers’ jumpshot has gone missing, but he chipped in 4 rebounds and a dunk that stretched the lead to 12 with a minute and a half to go.
  • Delvon Roe was a beast 9 points and 8 rebounds, 4 of them on offense.  The backward layup he converted as part of a 3-point play may have been the play of the day.  He did a much better job sticking to Hummel early in the game that he did in the last meeting.
  • Chris Allen played his role well today.  7 points on a 3-pointer and 4 free throw makes in the final 2 minutes.  Zero turnovers.
  • Draymond Green: 2 points, a rebound, and an assist in 10 minutes.  Did you notice how Izzo put him in the final minutes for ball-handling after Lucas turned it over in the corner?  He’s quickly earned the coach’s trust.
  • Marquise Gray contributed a great hustle play: the offensive rebound and tip to Kalin Lucas for a 3-pointer toward the end of the first half.
  • Idong Ibok managed to avoid picking up any stats in the 7 minutes he played.  That includes not picking up a foul, which is pretty impressive given that he didn’t match up well with Purdue and was presuably only playing because it was Senior Day.
  • Korie Lucious is still sick, I assume?

The Senior Day festivities following the game were well done.  All four seniors made brief comments, focusing  on the sense of family that exists in the MSU basketball program.  (Most poignantly, Lupe Izzo accompanied Ibok on to the floor, since his family was unable to be present.)  They got to raise a banner and–after the Izzone was invited to take the floor–cut down the nets.  A pretty good way to go out.

Up Next: We play the noon game on Friday in Indy against the Minnesota/Northwestern winner.

P.S. Jamil Wilson has decided to be a Duck.  That’s a disappointment from a personnel standpoint, as he would have fit the Alan Anderson/Raymar Morgan versatile forward role very nicely.  I tend to take the view, though, that, if a guy doesn’t want to be here, it’s probably best that he won’t be.  If you don’t click with Tom Izzo during the recruting phase, you’re probably not going to click with him once you get on campus.  Joining a team that went just 2-16 in the Pac 10 this year, perhaps Wilson is looking to be a major contributor at the college level right off the bat.

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Iowa Game Recap

MSU scoots by Iowa 62-54 in a 59-possession game.  StatSheet box score.

The reflexive thing to say after you’ve beat a vastly inferior team by just 8 points at home is to say the team “lost focus” or “didn’t keep their foot on the pedal.”  I’m going to resist that temptation and say MSU did exactly what it needed to do:

  • Dominated the glass.
  • Won the turnover battle.
  • Forced Iowa to take tough shots late in the shot clock.

The only glitch was that Iowa made a bunch of those tough shots–led by Jake Kelly, who scored 20 points on 13 FG attempts by converting a series of very difficult jumpshots–to keep themselves within single digits.  To me, this outcome is still preferable to winning by a larger margin because your opponent missed a lot of open looks you allowed them to get free for.  Iowa recorded an assist on only 7 of 18 made FG attempts–a sign that their points were the result of good individual plays, rather than defensive breakdowns by MSU.

Your bar graph:

Your bullets:

  • Delvon Roe continues to be more and more of a factor offensively.  16 points on 6-7 FG shooting tonight.  Over the last 7 games, Roe is averaging 8.0 points and 6.1 rebounds in 23.4 minutes per game.  Those are nice numbers for the second low-post player on a Tom Izzo team.
  • 12 points on 4-7 three-point shooting for Korie Lucious.  He needs to shoot more, as he seems just as good (if not better) when he’s not completely set.
  • Quiet game for Kalin Lucas: 4 points, 6 assists, and 3 turnovers.  He only took 6 shots, though, as MSU was generally able to create good looks at the basket early in the shot clock.
  • Raymar Morgan still looks a ways off from being back near his peak playing level: 2-7 FG shooting and 5 personal fouls.  (Somehow I missed him fouling out.)  His jumpshot is out of whack.
  • Travis Walton should not handle the ball late in close games.
  • Nice game for Draymond Green: 4 points and 5 rebounds in 15 minutes.
  • Another game in which Chris Allen turns the ball over too much (3) and shows glimpses of his jumpshot returning (8 points on 2-6 three-point shooting).
  • Goran Suton (9 points on 7-8 FT shooting) has exellent touch on free throws that hit the rim.

The main concern coming out of this game is whether Durrell Summers did anything serious to his ankle.  On the plus side, he came back and played about 4 minutes late in the first half and didn’t look perplexed on the bench.  On the negative side, he didn’t play at all in the second half.  Hopefully, that was just the training/coaching staff being extra cautious.

Onward and forward.

Next up: A road game of the cringe-inducing variety in Champaign on Sunday (4:00, CBS).

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I’m back–like a bad rash.

Rankings Update

Crashing the Dance has us as the highest of the #2 seeds.  So grabbing a #1 seed is possible–but far from probable.  Pitt beating UConn tonight doesn’t help, as it bumps them up from #4 in the nation, but doesn’t move UConn down that far from #1 in the nation.

I don’t think we can lose more than one game from here on out (not counting the BTT final) and be in the conversation for a #1 seed.  And really, it’s probably still too early to even be talking about it (but that’s what blogs are for, right?).

Monday Night Links

Purdue Game Preview

7:00 Tuesday.  Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana.  ESPN (Vitale/Shulman/Andrews).

With MSU having opened up a two-game lead on the rest of the league, this game doesn’t look quite as enormous as it might have when the season started.  But it’s still pretty big: Win it and and we can start eyeing where that league championship trophy should go in the display case; lose it and it’s a whole new ballgame.

Purdue comes in at 8-4 in league play, having won 8 of its last 10 games.  Most recently, they squeaked by Iowa 49-45 on Saturday.  After sitting out the previous three games due to his continued back issues, Robbie Hummel played 24 minutes, but scored only 2 points.

Our all-conference forward, meanwhile, has also missed the last three games (and played very limited minutes in the two prior games).  The extent to which Morgan and Hummel can play–and play effectively–tomorrow night will have a big impact on match-ups on both ends of the court.  But I think it’s safe to say Purdue needs Hummel more than we need Morgan.

Tempo-free evidence (conference-only numbers):

MSU Off Rk Pur Def Rk
PPP 1.11 1 0.94 2t
TO% 21.0 7 19.1 8
eFG% 49.9 6 44.9 2
FTR 38.6 2 27.2 1t
OReb% 44.5 1 29.1 5
Pur Off Rk MSU Def Rk
PPP 1.00 6t 0.94 2t
TO% 19.4 5 20.4 4
eFG% 50.9 2 47.9 4
FTR 34.9 4 34.2 7
OReb% 26.5 9 26.3 2

Having held each of our last three opponents under 0.80 points per possession, MSU now ranks as an equal of Purdue defensively.  Offensively, though, Purdue remains in the middle of the pack.  Whether Hummel can play at his standard level of production will be a major factor, given how reliant the Purdue offense is on him and JaJuan Johnson.  Among the eight Purdue players playing at least 40% of the team’s minutes, those two are the only players with an offensive rating above 102 for the full season.

Johnson has become a monster in conference play, averaging 14.7 points/game on 55.8% FG shooting to go with 7.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.  Those numbers are even more impressive considering how inconsistent the Purdue perimeter players have been.  E’Twaun Moore is averaging 12.7 points/game, but shooting just 31.0% from beyond the arc.  Keaton Grant is averaging only 7.6 points/game on 35.4% FG shooting.  Lewis Jackson is averaging 3.7 assists, but also 2.5 turnovers, per game.

Defensively, MSU has to find a way to contain Johnson.  Goran Suton may not be athletic enough, particularly with his recent knee issue.  So Delvon Roe will need to play some tough minutes inside and keep Johnson from using his length and explosiveness to create easy baskets.

Beyond that, it’s a familiar story: Stick with the opponent’s smaller perimeter players, force a tough 3-point look, and secure the rebound.  The last part of that equation shouldn’t be too tough, as Purdue ranks just 9th in the league in offensive rebounding percentage.  The first and second parts of the equation may be a little tougher, as either Suton or Roe will have to guard either Hummel or one of the Purdue guards for most of the game.  This is where 10-15 minutes of Raymar Morgan could help; he should be able to guard on the perimter for short stretches while still providing an advantage in the post and on the boards on the offensive end.

Again, whether Hummel can play most of the game will make a big difference.  For the full conference season, Purdue is shooting a respectable 36.0% from beyond the arc.  In their last three games, with Hummel out, Purdue has shot just 11-48 on 3-pointers (22.9%).  MSU, meanwhile, now ranks first in the league in opponent’s 3-point shooting percentage at 30.6%.  (How is that we’re bigger than everyone else, yet our perimeter defense is better than our interior defense?)

On offense, MSU will again to look to take advantage of its size.  Another double-digit scoring game from Delvon Roe against undersized defenders would be a great help.  And we need to get back to 40% territory on the offensive boards.  Purdue doesn’t give up easy looks at the basket, and they don’t foul much, so getting some second-chance points will be key.  Despite their lack of interior depth, though, the Boilermakers have only allowed one of 12 conference opponents to get to the 40% offensive rebounding percentage mark.

The good news is that Purdue isn’t forcing as many turnovers as they once did.  Only three conference opponents have turned it over on more than 25% of their possessions.  Chris Kramer remains a menace, though; he’s averaging 1.7 steals/game in league play.

Kenpom predicts a 66-63 Purdue win in a 67-possession game.  I really have no gut feeling going into this game.  The Hummel/Morgan situations add an additional level of intrigue.  If Hummel plays 20+ minutes effectively and MSU still finds a way to win, we’ll have real reason to believe this team could be headed toward something special.  (Of course, if Hummel doesn’t play effectively and we win, we’ll take it.)

P.S. Maybe Kalin Lucas will feel slighted by the focus being on the other two all-conference performers in the game and come up big.  Off the Tracks notes that Lucas scored a combined 36 points in the two games against Purdue last season.  The Boilermakers didn’t have the equally-quick Lewis Jackson last season–but Lucas may be able to use his strength to create good looks at the basket in the lane against the smaller Jackson.

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The Spartans battle past the Wolverines 54-42 in a 55-possession game.  StatSheet box score.

This is not the bar graph we were expecting:

They turned the ball over more than we did.  And we barely outrebounded them.

In the end, it came down to creating scoring opportunities.  We converted 2 more field goals and 9 more free throws against their zone defenses than they did against our man-to-man defense.

Travis Walton defended Manny Harris as well as any human alive possibly could have.  He stuck to him like glue when Harris tried to run off screens in the first half.  Eventually Harris resorted to trying to take Walton one on one.  But, outside of one pull-up 3-pointer, he was unsuccessful.  Without any consistent Wolverine shooting threats, the MSU defenders were free to sag off their men and cut Harris off from getting into the lane.  Harris finished 2-10 from the field, with 4 turnovers.

DeShawn Sims was the only Wolverine to score in double digits, posting 18 points on 9-14 shooting.  Some of those scores came off excellent post moves.  Some of them were a function of the MSU defense being focused on staying extended out on the 4 perimeter players Michigan had on the floor at any given time.

Subtract the contributions of the two UM big men (Sims and Zach Gibson) and the Wolverines shot just 5-28 from the field.  21 of those shots came from 3-point range.  The MSU defense gave the Michigan guards no breathing room whatsoever to operate in.

On the other end of the court, Delvon Roe finally put together the kind of game we’ve been hoping for against a smaller lineup: 14 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes.  He took advantage of the mismatch against Zach Novak and the other guards that were matched up with him inside–and made 4 of 6 free throws to boot.

Other thoughts:

  • How about the Kalin Lucas 3-pointer to stretch the lead back to 7?  Remarkable confidence shooting the ball off the screen, given that Lucas was 0-2 and the team was 2-13 on 3-pointers up to that point.
  • I love Austin Thornton as much as anyone, but I don’t think inserting him into the game against the 1-3-1 with 28 minutes already gone by in the game was a great move.  The offense had a couple rough possessions with Thornton in the game, when the opportunity was there to extend the lead back to double digits.
  • Marquise Gray may be out of a job.  He played just 2 minutes, getting yanked after a defensive lapse that allowed DeShawn Sims to dunk the ball.  Meanwhile, Draymond Green got 17 minutes down the stretch and scored what was perhaps the back-breaking basket off a set play against the 1-3-1 with two and a half minutes left.  Green had 3 assists, too, helping to attack the interior of the UM defense.

This was a much uglier win that we might have hoped for, but it’s a win nonetheless.  I’m disappointed we didn’t have a more efficient way to attack the 1-3-1.  At least we’re done playing teams that employ it (until the conference tournament, at least).

At 10-2, we can sit back, watch our competitors play a couple games, get healthy, and prepare for the game in West Lafayette next Tuesday (7:00, ESPN).

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The Spartans bury the Gophers 76-47 in a 65-possession game.  StatSheet box score.

A very impressive start to the new home-court winning streak, to say the least.  MSU did everything we thought they needed to do, and they did it in abundance:

  • Knocked down perimeters shots (7-12 on 3-pointers).
  • Controlled both the offensive and defensive glass (42-26 overall rebounding advantage).
  • Played lock-down man-to-man defense (15-52 FG shooting for the Gophers).

Even when Minnesota did score some points in the second half, they had to make tough shots to do it.  The Gophers posted just 6 assists for the entire game; MSU forced them to play one on one.  The MSU interior defense was particularly good, as the Gopher big men were held to a collective 5-22 shooting line.  Kudos to Delvon Roe, Idong Ibok, Marquise Gray, and Draymond Green for avoiding any breakdowns inside leading to easy baskets.

Your bar graph:

Lots of positives to talk about in terms of individual players in a game in which 14 Spartans saw the court and 11 of those players scored.  The highlights:

  • Durrell Summers was, once again, the go-to guy on offense.  21 points on 10 FG attempts.  He was hot early, and when he’s hot, he’s very hard to stop.  6’4″ players who can jump really, really high and knock down 3-pointers consistently are a rare asset.
  • Goran Suton didn’t look too hampered by the knee problem: 6 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a block in 19 minutes.  A major benefit to the blow-out win was that Izzo could rest Suton for most of the second half.
  • Delvon Roe showed some flashes of playmaking in the paint that have been pretty rare in recent games.  6 points and 7 rebounds in 19 minutes, mirroring Suton’s output.
  • Chris Allen: 13 points on 7 FG attempts.  He still looks a little out of synch, but is at least playing with a modicum of confidence.
  • Korie Lucious: 5 points, 3 assists, 1 turnovers.  I was actually most impressed with Lucious’ defense; he did a good job of staying in front of Al Nolen when Nolen tried to drive the lane in the second half.

If there was a negative in this game it was that Kalin Lucas looked a little off kilter, making just 4 of 14 FG attempts and turning the ball over 3 times.  That’s a very small concern in a 31-point win, though, especially given that Lucas is coming off four consecutive 20-point outings.

This game was just what the doctor ordered.  A home game against Indiana on Saturday (4:00, ESPN) should provide another chance to keep Raymar Morgan on the bench and limit Suton’s minutes (the Hoosiers’ big win tonight notwithstanding).  With any luck, we’ll be back at full strength for next Tuesday’s trip down I-96.

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Rankings Update

The human voters now agree that we’re the best two-loss, non-UNC team in the country.  Sagarin basically agrees (with one-loss Clemson ranked a spot ahead of us there) and has us with the most wins in the country against top 50 opponent with seven: Illinois, Texas, Minnesota, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Northwestern (!), Maryland Ohio State.

Nice to see Illinois move into both the AP and coaches’ top 25 despite losing to us on Saturday.

Monday Night Links

A Link Worth Highlighting

Eric Lacy had a nice piece over the weekend on Tom Izzo’s willingness to give the players more freedom on offense this season.

“I don’t want to be known as just a physical team,” Izzo said. “I don’t want to be known as just a defensive team. I want us to put the whole package together — now.”

That means more 3-pointers and jump shots — often earlier in the shot clock — more plays that spread the floor, more screens and a livelier transition game.

It’s not monumental change, but it’s significant enough that it forces opponents to show more respect defensively to the Spartans’ entire playing group.

The article notes that part of the adjustment in philosophy on offense is recruiting-driven (guys want to play an NBA-style game) and part of it is adjusting to personnel.  Last year, I complained several times that the players didn’t have enough freedom on offense and, therefore, couldn’t react well when confronted with defensive pressure.

This season, we’re seeing a few more bad shots early in the shot clock, but we’re also seeing less tentativeness with the ball when a defense puts pressure on us (putting aside the first half against Illinois).  The result, I think, has been fewer turnovers of the boneheaded variety.

(I don’t have any hard proof of this, mind you; our turnover percentage is only down by 0.6 points from last year.  It’s just a general sense that more of our turnovers have been committed in the process of trying to initiate scoring opportunities.)

Crashing the Glass

During the long offseason, we speculated that Tom Izzo might finally have another complete roster of players that would allow him to play the no-holds-barred style he prefers on both ends of the court.  The highest-profile aspect of that style, of course, is offensive rebounding.  On paper, this team looked like it could be not just a good rebounding team, but a great one.  Unfortunately, injuries to Delvon Roe and Goran Suton put a damper on those plans for a while.

With Suton back in the lineup, and Roe getting closer to full strength, the rebounding attack is now finally in full swing.  MSU has posted a monstrous offensive rebounding percentage of 50.3% in conference play–almost 14 percentage points than the second best team in the league (Minnesota).

While that number is based on just a five-game sample, the Spartans’ consistency is telling: Over the last seven games (including the Oakland and Kansas games, as well), MSU’s offensive rebounding percentage has been above 45% in five games and has been no lower than 38% in any game.  Offensive rebounding was arguable the difference between a win and a loss in each of the last two games.

Here’s a look at which players are contributing the most on the offensive glass (stats are for the five conference games only):

Player Mins/G OffReb OffReb/G OffReb%
Lucas 34.0 3 0.6 1.9
Morgan 30.8 12 2.4 8.6
Walton 28.0 5 1.0 3.9
Suton 27.6 16 3.2 12.8
Allen 20.4 8 1.6 8.7
Summers 17.2 8 1.6 10.3
Roe 14.6 14 2.8 21.2
Gray 11.2 4 0.8 7.9
Lucious 6.8 0 0.0 0.0
Green 4.8 2 0.4 9.2
Ibok 3.8 2 0.4 11.6

Bullets:

  • Suton is picking up right where he left off last season, with an offensive rebounding percentage of 12.8%.
  • Roe, meanwhile, has simply been a monster on the offensive glass.  21.2% would be a very good defensive rebounding percentage. Despite averaging just 15 minutes/game (dragged down by playing only five minutes against Minneosta), Roe is pulling down nearly three offensive rebounds per game.
  • Both Suton and Morgan are averaging 9.2 rebounds per game.  (Morgan is excelling on the defensive glass, with a rebounding percentage of 24.4% on that end of the floor).
  • Every non-point guard in the playing rotation has an offensive rebounding percentage of 8.0 or better (rounding Gray’s up).
  • Six players are pulling down at least one offensive board per game.

Let’s revel in that last bullet for a moment.  Here’s a segment from my post on MSU’s rebounding stats during the Izzo era from last June:

MSU ranked in the top 6 nationally during the four Big Ten championship seasons from 1997-98 to 2000-01, putting up an offensive rebounding percentage of 42% or higher in each season. While Antonio Smith was certainly a key factor in the Spartans’ offensive rebounding prowess, rebounding is ultimately a team effort (and Smith was only on the first two of those four teams). Here’s the number of players pulling down at least one offensive rebound per game in those four seasons:

  • 1997-98: 7 (Smith, Bell, Hutson, Thomas, Peterson, Klein, Wiley)
  • 1998-99: 6 (Smith, Peterson, Hutson, Granger, Bell, Klein)
  • 1999-2000: 6 (Hutson, Peterson, Richardson, Anagonye, Bell, Granger)
  • 2000-01: 6 (Randolph, Hutson, Thomas, Richardson, Anagonye, Bell)

There’s plenty of perimeter players on those lists: Bell, Peterson, Thomas, Klein, Richardson. The philosophy was simple: send four guys to the offensive glass on just about everything offensive shot . . .

You know what else those four seasons have in common?  Here’s a hint: Take a look at the banners hanging from the rafters the next time you’re at the Breslin Center.

P.S. Who says government holidays don’t benefit society?  Check out the blogging output today, baby.

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