Posts Tagged ‘draymond green’

Pop Quiz

Question: What was the defensive play that preceded The Dunk?

(While you’re thinking about it: I’ve decided that Summers’ throwdown is definitely worth of being labeled “The Dunk.”  The combination of the spectacularness of the play and the stage on which it was made make it the greatest dunk in the history of the program.  The Magic-to-Kelser dunk off the full-court pass in the 1979 championship game is iconic, but had no bearing on the outcome of the game.  The Cleaves-to-Peterson play against Iowa State was probably more key in terms of determing the game outcome, but I think of that more as an alley-oop than as a straight-up dunk.)

Answer: A defensive sequence in which 6’5″ (if that) Draymond Green was guarding 7’3″ Hasheem Thabeet.  UConn got the ball to Thabeet in the post.  But Green’s superb defensive positioning prevented Thabeet from getting into position to score.  Thabeet was forced to throw an awkward pass out to the perimeter, which was deflected by Raymar Morgan.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Other post-DVR-review thoughts:

  1. Apparently sitting so far from the action impaired by ability to write an accurate game recap.  Corrections/clarifications: The “team rebound” MSU got that Morgan scored off early in the game was Thabeet blocking Morgan’s first shot out of bounds.  Travis Walton recorded 8, not 9, assists (still, that’s equal to the total number of assists for the entire UConn team).  Suton’s backdoor pass to Summers came with 2 and a half minutes left, not in the final minute.  Gray’s dunk came off a Raymar Morgan pass.  Idong Ibok did more than just absorb fouls; he also had a couple very nice rebounds.
  2. Man, did we push the ball on offense.  I don’t think I’ve seen us that aggressive in transition since the 2005 Torbert/Brown/Ager/Anderson team.
  3. Just before Korie Lucious went on his 9-point scoring burst late in the first half, MSU trailed by 2 points, despite the fact they were only 2-10 from 3-point range at that point.  That’s perhaps the hallmark of this team relative to last year’s team: Even when they’re not hitting on all cylinders, they find ways to stay in the game and put themselves in position to win the game in the second half.
  4. I’ve read some criticism of Clark Kellogg in the last couple days–with some going so far as to say they miss Billy Packer.  I’m not quite sure where’s that’s coming from.  Kellogg provides solid analytical commentary, with just a touch of humor (fouling out equals a “Dairy Queen”).  I think he’s held back a little bit in terms of the depth of the analysis.  But that makes sense for someone calling games with large TV audiences, which include a lot of viewers who aren’t die-hard basketball fans.  The main thing is that he doesn’t superimpose his own strongly-held views on to the game.  (Unlike some other major network talking heads, for example, he pointed out early and often that MSU would do well to push the ball in transition in last night’s game.)  Plus, he gets props for revelaing that Draymond Green’s nickname is “Dancing Bear.”

Alright, on to North Carolina.  Less than 24 hours to go.


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MSU dismantles Louisville 64-52 in a 56-possession game to advance to the Final Four.  StatSheet box score.

After a performance as thoroughly impressive as this one, it’s hard to know where to start.  So let’s start with what each of the eight guys who played double-digit minutes today contributed:

  • Goran Suton: 19 points on 3-5 three-point shooting, 10 rebounds, 4 assists.  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.
  • Kalin Lucas: 10 points on 2-3 three-point shooting, 5 assists, 3 offensive rebounds.  He turned it over 4 times, but he handled the Louisville full-court pressure well and got the ball to the right players in the right places throughout the game.
  • Travis Walton: 8 points, 2 assists, 2 steals.  After scoring only 2 points on Friday, Walton shot the ball with confidence in this game.  He was steady at the helm for the 4-5 minute stretch that Lucas sat out in the final 6-7 minutes (why so long?).  And he absolutely shut down Terrence Williams (1-7 FG shooting).
  • Durrell Summers: 12 points on 6 FGA (2-3 from beyond the arc) and 3 rebounds.  One fast-break dunk.  Two key free throws.  Three silky smooth jumpers.
  • Draymond Green: 6 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals.  Is there anything this man can’t do?  At one point, he was helping Walton bring the ball up the court against full-court pressure.  He made a fantastic driving bank shot just a possession or two after having his shot blocked driving the lane.  No fear.  And how about that offensive put-back that seemed to hang on the rim for about 3 seconds before dropping in?
  • Chris Allen: Only 2 points, but he was our hustle/glue guy tonight.  4 rebounds, 3 assists.
  • Raymar Morgan: He didn’t score, but he absorbed some fouls against Earl Clark (to put it somewhat euphemistically).  He was sort of a perimeter version of Idong Ibok in this game.  He now has five full days to get used to the mask (which he took off at halftime?) and find his jumpshot:
  • Delvon Roe: Only 2 points–but it was a big basket.  He scored on a pass ahead on the fast break, on a play on which most big men wouldn’t have stayed under control, to put us back ahead after Terrence Williams had converted a potentially momentum-changing alley-oop dunk to tie the game early in the second half.

Put it all together, and MSU put up 1.14 points per possession against arguably the best defense in the country.  Only one other Louisville opponent (Notre Dame) exceeded that mark this season.  Hitting 8 of 16 shots from beyond the arc went along way toward scoring so efficiently against the Cardinal zone.

Defensively, MSU seemed to suck the confidence right out of the Louisville players.  Earl Clark was great, scoring 19 points on 8-17 FG shooting.  The rest of the Louisville players, however, combined for just 10 made field goals (in 30 attempts).  MSU matched their physicality (and then some, as evidenced by the foul count).  And the absence of bad turnovers against the Louisville pressure meant we didn’t give up a single fast-break basket.  Unable to create easy baskets in the paint or in transition, Louisville had nothing to fall back on.  Williams and Clark ended up taking some ill-advised off-balance jumpers in the final 10 minutes.  And Rick Pitino seemed to give up–not even attempting a miracle comeback by fouling intentionally when we were still in the one-and one.

(Speaking of Pitino, did he show us some respect by having his players not trap as aggressively in the back court?  It seemed like he knew Izzo would have a precise plan for creating easy baskets if he double-teamed our ball-handlers.)

OK, here’s your four-factor graph:

The one factor Louisville beat us at–free throw rate–turned out to not be a big deal, as the Cardinals made only 10 of their 18 FT attempts.

Eight hours after this game ended, the result still seems somewhat surreal.  Five Final Fours in 11 years.  Perhaps more impressively, Tom Izzo has now reached the Final Four with three completely distinct active rosters.  (To do list: Figure out how many coaches have achieved that feat.)

A great coach.  A great team.  A great weekend.  A great week ahead.  Stay tuned.

Next up: The University of Connecticut Huskies.  Saturday, 6:07 p.m.  You may have heard of the venue: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan.

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Pop Quiz

Among the players in MSU’s regular ten-man rotation:

  • Which player ranks 3rd on the team in offensive rating?
  • Which player ranks 2nd (tie) in defensive rebounding percentage?
  • Which player ranks 4th in assist rate?
  • Which player ranks 3rd in block percentage?
  • Which player ranks 2nd in steal percentage?
  • Which player ranks 2nd in free throw rate?

Hint: The same player is the answer to all six questions.

Got an answer yet?

No cheating.


Are you sure?


The answer is . . .

Draymond Green

Not bad for a guy that Tom Izzo was planning to redshirt up until preseason practices.  Green has obviously posted these tempo-free stats in fairly limited minutes*, but the stats indicate he’s been productive across the board when he’s been on the floor.

The simplest complimentary descriptor one cay apply to Green is “basketball player.”  He makes plays.

Green is the odds-on favorite to start next to Delvon Roe in the frontcourt next season.  For now, though, he’s gone from preseason afterthought to key postseason contributor in a span of four months.

*I find that individual tempo-free stats are actually more useful for bench players than for starters.  For a guy playing 30 minutes/game, we have a pretty good idea what 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game means.  For a guy playing 10 minutes a game, it’s harder to know what 3 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks per game means.  (Numbers are made up.)  The tempo-free numbers are, threrefore, more illuminating for the guy getting limited minutes per game–once you have a full season of data, at least.

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The Spartans bounce the Colonials 77-62 in a 65-possession game.  StatSheet box score.

The Kenpom prediction was a scoreline of 73-60, so the game result was in line with statistical expectations.  Robert Morris kept things close early by knocking down some 3-pointers, but eventually MSU’s size and athleticism were too much for the Colonials to handle.  Michigan State used a 21-point run spanning halftime to put the game out of reach with roughly 15 minutes to go.

The four factor graph shows MSU’s dominance on the boards and getting the ball inside to create situations in which the Colonials had to foul:

Five players hit double digits in scoring:

  • Raymar Morgan scored 16 points on 7-14 FG shooting.  He came out aggressively in the game and looks like he’s fully back to being the player he was before his illness.
  • Draymond Green also scored 16, converting 7 of 8 FG attempts.  Green took advantage of RMU’s small lineup to score in multiple ways around the basket.
  • Kalin Lucas had 13 points, knocking down his only 3-point attempt and hitting all 4 of his free throw attempts.
  • Goran Suton was a man among boys: 11 points and 17 rebounds.  He would have hit the 20-rebound mark if Izzo hadn’t pulled the starters with 5-6 minutes left.
  • Chris Allen scored 10 points on 2-4 three-point shooting.  Exactly the kind of game we need out of him; now the question is whether he can do it in back-to-back games.

Travis Walton did his usual number on the opponent’s top perimeter scorer, holding Jeremy Chappell to 11 points on 14 FG attempts (which was still the team high for RMU).

A positive resulting from putting the game effectively out of reach early in the second half is that no MSU player had to play more than 25 minutes.  Despite winning by 17, USC played three of its players for the full 40 minutes and a fourth player for 36 minutes.  Hopefully, that creates an advantage 40 hours from now.

Tonight’s win was a workmanlike effort–exactly the kind of performance you want as a high seed in the first round of the tournament.  It’s encouraging that multiple players contributed throughout the game.  Ten players played at least 11 minutes.  To make a deep run, we’re going to need productive minutes throughout the playing rotation.

Next up: An all-Greek affair, as the Spartans battle the Trojans on Sunday.  Game time is 5:00 p.m.  I’ll try to get a game preview up tomorrow, but it probably won’t be until late in the day.

P.S. For what it’s worth, only three of the top eight seeds in the Midwest region remain alive.  Of course, those three teams are the top three seeds: Louisville, MSU, and Kansas.

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Minnesota Game Recap

MSU advances past Minnesota 64-56 in a 64-possession game.  StatSheet box score.

Having digested 5 full hours of basketball since the game ended (we bolted at halftime of the last game), all I can give you is a graph:

And some bullets:

  • Disappointingly small rebounding advantage and a negative turnover differential.  Three-point shooting (41.7% vs. 18.8%) and FT shooting (61.3% vs. 48.3%) were the difference.  Thank goodness they shot even worse from the line than we did.
  • Remember when we all wanted Izzo to bench Chris Allen?  I told you we’d need him eventually.  17 points on 11 FG attempts in 26 minutes.  Zero turnovers.  Good to see both him and Lucas hitting from outside going into tomorrow’s game against the Ohio State zone.
  • Did Marquise Gray really only play 6 minutes?  I find this nearly impossible to believe.  11 points on 4 FG attempts to go with 6 rebounds.
  • Draymond Green did a nice job, too, with Suton and Morgan limited by fouls.  5 rebounds in 17 minutes.  Only 1 assist in the box score, but he had a couple nice passes to set Gray up to be fouled.

No style points for this one, but all that matters in the conference tournament is advancing.  Unlike most other teams in the conference, we can find ways to win even when our stars don’t play their best games.

Ohio State Open Thread/Mini-Preview

Saturday, 1:40.  Conseco Field House, Indianapolis.  CBS.

As I was watching the Ohio State-Wisconsin game, I had mixed feelings about who I wanted to win.  Wisconsin is, of course, our arch nemesis.  Losing to them again this year would have been the worst case scenario among all possible tournament results (at least from an emotional standpoint).  But from an X’s-and-O’s standpoint, you know what you’re getting with them.  They’re an efficient, but unspectacular, team.  If MSU played to their capability, they’d beat them.  If they didn’t, a loss would be likely.

The Buckeyes are more of an unknown.  They play zone defense almost exclusively, which puts a big premium on how well we shoot the ball from the outside.  Their small lineup, with Evan Turner playing at the 4 spot much of the time, will create match-up problems on defense.  And we can’t expect the Buckeyes to be exactly the same team we beat twice in the first half of the conference schedule; Ohio State is 8-4 since our last match-up.  Turner, William Buford, Jon Diebler, and B.J. Mullens are arguably the most talented offensive foursome in the league right now.  And P.J. Hill and Jeremie Simmons are looking more comfortable at point guard than they were when we last saw them.

Those are my concerns.  Nevertheless, it’s still our game to win.  We should have a big advantage on the boards.  And hopefully are deeper rotation will allow us to play at a higher intensity level, as Ohio State basically plays a 7-man rotation.  My guess is it will come down to whether we have the mental tenacity to execute against the zone for a full 40 minutes.

I have to go to bed now (staying up for all 6 OTs of the UConn-Syracuse game last night was worth it, but I’m paying the price tonight).  So I’ll leave the rest of the discussion to all of you out there in comment land.


P.S. Great Spartan turnout at Conseco today.  Clearly the second biggest fan contingent after Illinois (who always manage to flood the BTT venue with a sea of orange, regardless of where it’s played). The MSU section was full; our tickets (acquired through the MSU Ticket Office) are in an overflow area half way up the Minnesota section.

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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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Izzo over Crean 75-47 in a 69-possession game.  StatSheet box score.

The mind of Ed Hightower is an enigma wrapped in a riddle.

Due to the generosity of a professional acquaintance, I sat in the second row behind the scorer’s table today.  So I had an up-close view of the “nuts” incident.  If you have the game on DVR/tape, go back to when Ed Hightower goes to the monitor to review the play.  I’m the headless guy in the upper, left-hand corner of the screen with a white shirt on that says “Basketball” in the MSU jersey script.

Anyway, Hightower managed to look at the replay and conclude that there was nothing out of the ordinary to be observed, despite a national TV audience seeing a shot of the play that clearly showed Devon Dumes lowering his elbow and purposely going after Goran Suton’s unmentionables as they ran up the court.  In fact, a few minutes later, the officials at the scorer’s table were replaying the incident for their own enlightenment, and–even from my seat two rows back–I could see what happened.  So it’s not like Hightower didn’t have access to the right camera angle.  His brain just processed what he saw differently than other people’s brains did.  (Update: Per the comment section, our views about this particular replay incident–but not Ed Hightower generally–are currently under review.)

Bottom line: Ed Hightower’s standing with the Breslin faithful was lowered yet another notch.  And Devon Dumes, who was working with a clean slate, has taken no time at all to place himself squarely on the most-wanted list.  At least he was nice enough to take another cheap shot at a Spartan in the closing second of the game to get tagged with the ejection he so richly deserved.

On to the stats:

Despite only leading by 3 at the half a minute into the second half, MSU thoroughly dominated this game statistically.  Indiana was unable to generate any consistent offense.  You can’t ask for better defensive numbers than an eFG% of 34.5%, a TO% of 30.4%, and an OffReb% of 18.8%.  MSU’s physical defense led to a few too many free throw opportunities for the Hoosiers, but that’s a small gripe.  The only two IU players to get to double digits, Verdell Jones and Matt Roth, both did so by posting unimpressive 2-8 FG shooting lines.

The reason this game was fairly tight for the first 20 21 minutes was the MSU offense.  The Spartan players looked tentative in the first half, almost as if they knew they could dominate IU in multiple ways but couldn’t quite decide how to do it.  More concretely, they missed a number of open 3-point looks.  For the game, Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers missed all of the combined 11 shots they took from beyond the arc.  If a few of those go down, MSU would have built a 20-point lead much more quickly than they did.

In the end, MSU got the 28-point blowout they were supposed to get.  And they got two very good performances from a couple guys we might not have expected to play so well:

  • Chris Allen scored 16 points on 4-6 three-point shooting.  His shooting stroke appears to be back just in time to face the Wolverine 1-3-1 zone.  And he had 3 assists to boot.
  • Draymond Green had a career night, with 15 points and 12 rebounds against the undersized Hoosiers.  I don’t think we can expect similar levels of output against teams with more bulk inside, but he definitely earned himself some more minutes over the next few games.

Lucas’ and Summers’ poor shooting is something of a concern, but both guys strike me as players that can shake off a bad performance pretty quickly.  Despite playing limited minutes in most games up until the last couple weeks, Summers has not had two consecutive games without a 3-point make this season.

Any game in which you take 17 more shots from the field than your opponent does qualifies as a success in my book.

Next up: A trip to Ann Arbor next Tuesday night (7:00, ESPN) to play those rascally Wolverines.

P.S. I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble here, but I have to tell you that Tom Izzo’s sideline banter is definitely rated PG-13 R.  And some of the advice he gives the players is more straightforward than you might think.  After Delvon Roe missed two free throws, Izzo told him that next time he should “make the layup.”

Lastly, it was interesting to hear Marquise Gray give it right back to Izzo after Izzo yelled at him about a bad defensive sequence, with Gray telling the coach that he needed Roe to call out a switch.  I have no idea who was right about the situation, but I’m glad Gray hasn’t allowed himself to get beaten down–despite the fact that his last shot at being a major contributor as a Spartan seems to have slipped away.

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