Posts Tagged ‘goran suton’

The Spartans stick it to the Badgers 60-51 in a 59-possessions game.  StatSheet box score.

Let’s start with what still worries me after this game: Three-point shooting.  MSU made just 2 of 9 attempts from beyond the arc, with both makes coming in the final minutes of the game.  That’s our fourth straight game with 3 or fewer 3-point makes.  That’s not sustainable.  Ultimately, we have to have a couple 3-point shooting threats to keep defenses honest.  Otherwise, you have to execute with near perfection to create good looks near the basket.

The good news?  We did execute with near perfection for the final 12 minutes of today’s game.  Here are some of the stats from the second half:

  • 12-19 two-point shooting vs. 2-8 for Wisconsin.
  • An 18-10 advantage on the boards.
  • An 8-4 advantage in turnovers.

Combined with the (much less stellar) first half stats, you get this:

I thought MSU’s defense was very good for all 40 minutes.  There were a few lapses that lead to open 3-point looks for the Badgers, but for the most part MSU stayed in front of the Badgers and forced them to try to create shots one on one late in the shot clock.  Take away the 10 or so points we gave Wisconsin on bad turnovers and free throws off MSU fouls on the offensive end, and the Badgers’ offensive stats would look even more anemic.

Despite only scoring 2 points, Travis Walton made huge contributions on both ends of the court–particularly in the final 12 minutes.  He made 4 steals, leading the defensive pressure that flustered Wisconsin and helped turn the momentum to our advantage in the second half.  And he had 6 assists against zero turnovers.  That play Izzo ran three straight trips down the court with Walton sprinting through screens like Drew Neitzel was bizarre to watch, but it worked, as Walton made superb entry passes to Goran Suton to create easy baskets.

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.

Kalin Lucas added another Player-of-the-Year performance to his resume’, scoring 17 points on 8-14 FG shooting.  (It seemed like Izzo sat him for a couple long stretches, but the box score says he played 34 minutes.)  In a defensive struggle, Lucas was one of only two players on either team (Delvon Roe was the other) to make more than half of his FG attempts.

Finally, let’s talk about Chris Allen.  All game, my brother-in-law and I wanted Allen to just shoot the ball when he first caught the ball behind the 3-point line.  Instead, he’d put in on the floor and allow the defense to adjust.  When he did finally shoot a 3-pointer directly off the pass, he nailed it.  Maybe this game can be the start of Allen’s resurgence: 8 points on 7 FG attempts and 4 assists in 23 minutes.  Hard to believe he only turned it over once, though, as he looked shaky with the ball on numerous occasions.

This was an enormous win.  When Marcus Landry hit the 3-pointer to put Wisconsin up 12, I thought we were done.  A loss would have been a huge psychological blow.  But I underestimated this team’s resilience.  All season, they’ve shown the uncanny ability to score points in the clutch.  Of our five losses, 3 were blowouts and 2 were the result of giving up too many points late (many of them of the fluky kind)–not a result of scoring too few points.

This game doesn’t make up for the Big Ten Tournament loss last year–but it helps.  And, just maybe, this win will be the difference in winning a Big Ten championship (or winning it outright).

Next up: A home game against Iowa Wednesday night (8:30, BTN).

P.S. Blake and GBBound tied for the DVD, both picking Lucas to score 17 points.  Given my current state of exuberance, I can’t stand the thought of denying the prize to either of them.  So they both win.  I’ll have to come up with another prize for one of the postseason contests.  Send me your mailing addresses, sirs.


Read Full Post »

MSU in games in which Goran Suton or Raymar Morgan have been out/limited:

  • 8-4 record
  • Offensive efficiency of 105.0
  • Defensive efficiency of 96.3

MSU in games in which Goran Suton and Raymar Morgan have both been at/near full strength:

  • 12-0 record
  • Offensive efficiency of 118.4
  • Defensive efficiency of 93.8

The schedule for the second set of games is slightly easier (4-5 pushovers vs. 2-3 in the first set).  But the second set includes three conference road games, the “neutral” site game vs. Texas, and home games against Kansas/Ohio State/Illinois.

Read Full Post »

Rankings Update

Purdue is ranked one spot ahead of us in both the human polls, reflecting that we’re now basically back to being dead even with them.  Kenpom currently projects a 13-5 conference finish for both teams, with Illinois (12-6) and Minnesota (11-7) also in the mix.

I’ve added Crashing the Dance to the list.  As you’ll recall from last year, the site uses quantitative methods to try to predict the behavior of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee based on past results.

Monday Night Links

Conference Midseason Review: The Teams

Here’s your up-to-the-minute, conference-only tempo-free aerial:

b10 tfa feb2

I’ve used 1.03 points per possession–the conference average to date this season–as the midpoint for each axis.  While the 10 non-IU teams have sorted themselves out a lot more neatly than they did in nonconference play, no team has grabbed the mantle of “solidly above average on both ends of the court.”  MSU has the best offense in the league, but is basically average on defense.  Purdue and Illinois have been the class of the league defensively, but mediocre on offense.  Same deal, with a somewhat less stout defense, for Minnesota.

The simplest way to frame the conference race from a statistical standpoint is this: Which happens first in the second half of league play? MSU playing improved defense or Purdue scoring more efficiently?  Can one (or both) of them move their dot into middle of the upper, right-hand quadrant?

The two big surprises relative to nonconference performance are:

  • Ohio State, which has leapt from the good defense/bad offense quadrant to the good offense/bad defense quadrant (they’re currently exactly where Penn State is).  The improvement in offense has been fueled by the development of freshmen B.J. Mullens and William Buford.  On defense, opponents are making 38.2% of their three-point attempts–not good for a team that tries to force perimeter shots with its zone defense.
  • Michigan, which has gone from the being best offensive Big Ten team in nonconference play, by a healthy margin, to hanging out in tempo-free land with the Hawkeyes and Wildcats in.  (More on that below.)

Final note: While conference-only data are the analytical ideal, my sense is that the midseason data are less reliable than they might have been in years past.  It used to be that you played nine different teams in your first nine games, as the conference employed an out-and-back scheduling scheme.  For whatever reason, teams now regularly play the same oppnent twice in the first half of the schedule.  MSU, for example, has already played Northwestern, Ohio State, and Penn State twice each–meaning they’ve played only 6 of 10 total conference opponents to date.  Given that all three of those teams are below-average on defense, MSU’s offense may not be quite as dominant as the numbers currently indicate.

Conference Midseason Review: The Players

Here’s your Spartans Weblog Midseason All-Conference Team, based exclusively on in-conference stats/performance:

  • Talor Battle (Penn State)
    18.7 points/game, 39.0% 3pt%, 44.0% FT rate, 5.0 assists/game, 2.4 TOs/game
    I don’t think anyone who saw Sunday’s game needs me to throw any more superlatives Battle’s way.  The conference player of the year to date.
  • Kalin Lucas (Michigan State)
    19.2 points/game, 38.2% 3pt%, 46.7% FT rate, 3.7 assista/game, 2.4 TOs/game
    Assists are down, but scoring is way up since the nonconference season.  Shooting a very good 46.2% on 2-pointer given the number of shots he takes late in the shot clock (well above the 40% threshold I set for him during his early-season slump).
  • Lawrence Westbrook (Minnesota)
    15.0 points/game, 57.8% eFG%, 88.9% FT%, 1.6 TOs/game
    Westbrook has been a model on consistency for a Gophers team that was looking for a go-to player going into the conference season; he’s scored in double digits in every conference game.
  • Goran Suton (Michigan State)
    10.7 points/game, 60.0% eFG%, 9.9 rebounds/game, 13.8 OffReb%, 27.0% DefReb%
    I’ll confess to a bit of homerism here.  But Mr. Suton has been utterly dominant on the glass, ranking 2nd in the league in offensive rebounding percentage and first in defensive rebounding percentage.
  • JaJuan Johnson (Purdue)
    12.8 points/game, 53.8% 2pt%, 70.7% FT rate, 7.4 rebounds/game, 11.2% OffReb%, 10.1% Block%
    The best all-around post player in the league, despite having to play surrouneded by four guards for large stretches of time.

Battle is the only returnee from my pre-conference season all-conference team, although you could make a pretty good case for Robbie Hummel (despite missed time due to his back issues) and Evan Turner.  Battle, Lucas, and Johnson are the only first-team locks.  Westbrook just edged out Northwestern’s Craig Moore (40.0% on a league-leading 82 three-point attempts).

As for the two other players on the pre-conference season version of the team, the numbers are not as pretty as they once were:

  • Manny Harris: 14.0 points/game, 41.1% eFG%, 7.2 rebounds/game, 3.3 assists/game, 3.9 turnovers/game
  • DeShawn Sims: 13.3 points/game, 48.3 eFG%, 5.9 rebounds/game, 8.6% OffReb%, 17.2% DefReb%

Harris has basically reverted to the freshman version of himself statistically (except for a big jump in rebounds).  Sims’ production hasn’t plummeted quite as far, but his 2-point shooting percentage has dropped 9 points and he’s lost 2-3 percentage points on his rebounding percentages.  Without these two guys playing at the stratospheric levels they achieved during nonconfernce play, Michigan’s offense has fallen to NIT-quality levels, if not below.

Coffee Talk: Who’s impressed you the most in conference play to date (teams or players)?  Who did I miss on the all-conference team?  Does anyone out there (besides his mother) love Goran Suton as much as I do?

Read Full Post »

MSU accelerates past Ohio State 78-67 in a 60-possession game.  Statsheet box score.

This was, of course, a tale of two halves.

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.  Even with Summers’ hot hand, I think many of us were right on the verge of abandoning hope, with nightmarish visions of every Big Ten team from here on out playing a zone defense against us for the next two months.

(Note: It occurred to me during the game that we’ve talked very little about missing Drew Neitzel this season.  But we may have forgotten what a big factor his shooting/passing prowess was when teams zoned us up.)

The tale of the second half was as dominant a performance as you could possibly hope for in a Big Ten road game.  MSU outscored Ohio State 52-36, led by Kalin Lucas’ 20 points, all of which came after the break.  (Note: I trust Lucas will correct whatever academic issues led to his benching to start the game; his absence from the court for the first six minutes could have resulted in an even larger hole that MSU wouldn’t have overcome.)

Put it all together and you get this:

Rebounding was the only constant.  MSU actually held the Buckeyes without a single offensive rebound in the first half.  For the game, MSU put up yet another 50% offensive rebounding percentage figure.  Rebounding is to basketball what base running is to baseball: It doesn’t go away when you’re in a shooting/hitting slump.  Today, it led to 15 more field goal attempts for MSU than for Ohio State.

Goran Suton led the way with 9 rebounds, 5 of them offensively.  Durrell Summers chipped in 3 offensive board to go with his career-high 26 points (on 6-9 three-point shooting).

Kalin Lucas was simply masterful in the second half, making five two-point shots–nearly all of them of the spectacular nature–and scoring seven points from the line.

Defensively, this wasn’t a great game for our Spartans.  Ohio State scored over 1.10 points per possession.  Evan Turner (19 points on 6-8 FG shooting), Jon Dielber (12 on 3-6 three-point shooting), William Buford (11 on 3-7 three-point shooting), and B.J. Mullens (12 on 5-9 FG shooting) all got more good looks at the basket than they should have.

But the defense held when it needed to, limiting Ohio State to just one field goal during a five-minute stretch starting at the 12-minute mark of the second half.  MSU, meanwhile, scored 30 point over the game’s final 12 minutes.  The difference in the two teams’ point-guard situations was evident late in the game.

Kudos to Suton, in particular, for his savvy defense on Mullens, who Roe, Ibok, and Gray had all been unable to guard.

And, remarkably, Ohio State actually ended up turning the ball over one more time than we did for the full game.

I’d guess many of the news stories about this game will talk about MSU “growing up” or “getting tougher” today.  But let’s keep in mind this team is now 4-0 on the road in conference play; that’s more conference road wins than they accumulated in nine attempts last season.

This team was already tough.  Wednesday night didn’t change that.

Next up: Another road game–this one at the scene of last year’s greatest tragedy, Iowa City.  Thursday night, 7:00, ESPN/ESPN2 (still hasn’t been finalized, apparently).

P.S. There’s a lot of sentiment out there for basically benching Chris Allen in favor of Summers.  I agree Summers should now clearly be the first perimeter guy off the bench.  But Allen will need to be a factor at some point.  Shooting strokes do come back, and Izzo depth cannot be abandoned.

That being said, the road back for Allen looks pretty long.  He was pump faking and dribbling into double teams today in situations in which he normally would have shot the ball.

Read Full Post »

The Wildcats stun the Spartans 70-63 in a 63-possession game.  StatSheet box score.

The Spartan fan half of my brain is pretty mad about this one.  We lost to Northwestern, of all teams, to end a 28-game home court winning streak and ruin a perfect conference record.  And we did it by completely losing our composure for long stretches, throwing pass after pass into the stands or the hands of the opposition.

The basketball analyst in me. meanwhile, thinks this result was pretty fluky.  Witness:

  • Our leading scorer not attempting a single field goal (as far as the box score is concerned) in 18 minutes of play due to the flu.
  • Our perimeter shooting specialist missing all eight of his 3-point attempts.
  • Multiple Wildcat players knocking down three-pointers from 3-6 feet behind the line–two of those shots coming with the game on the line in the final minutes.

Given Morgan’s and Allen’s struggles, it was a uphill battle just to have a shot at the end.  Kalin Lucas (20 points on 7-12 FG shooting) and Goran Suton (15 points, 14 rebounds) were the only playmakers against the zone.  And Lucas had a very un-Lucas like six turnovers.  That wouldn’t be so bad, except that Chris Allen managed to top him by coughing the ball up seven times.

Hence this graph:

I’m at a loss to explain the problems against the Wildcat 1-3-1 zone.  The coaches and players knew it was coming, and Tom Izzo is usually among the best in the game at preparing for zone defenses.  There were a few miscues early, but once they settled in MSU made quick, decisive passes to create good shots in the first half.

In the second half, the guards and Allen suddenly lost their bearings, making a series of bizarre passes on the perimeter, rather than trying to get the ball into the middle of the zone.

I give Northwestern all the credit in the world.  They played their defensive system to perfection, and Kevin Coble, Michael Thompson, and Craig Moore showed no hesitation whatsoever in knocking down big shots down the stretch.  Northwestern probably had a win in a close game coming to them, and we probably had a loss in a close game coming to us.

But this is a game MSU wins by 10 points under normal circumstances.  If I were Tom Izzo (and thank goodness I’m not), I’d burn the game film and move on.

That’s all for tonight.  After two hours of watching the MSU offense in 1-3-1 land and another two hours of watching the Losties in time-shifting land, I’m pretty disoriented.

Next up: A trip to Columbus on Sunday (3:45, CBS).

Read Full Post »

Following up on yesterday’s attempt to invent a statistic, here are the current Points Over Replacement Per Adjusted Game (PORPAG) numbers for the MSU players listed at Kenpom:

Player Min% OffRtg %Poss PORPAG
Lucas 76.0 121.3 23.0 3.90
Morgan 67.3 112.7 25.6 2.88
Allen 49.8 108.9 24.0 1.70
Suton 35.5 123.6 17.4 1.47
Summers 50.2 104.6 20.0 1.15
Walton 68.8 98.1 15.3 0.76
Roe 41.7 99.3 20.0 0.67
Green 21.7 110.6 15.2 0.51
Gray 33.0 99.5 18.6 0.50
Thornton 10.8 109.9 17.6 0.28
Lucious 20.7 91.0 24.8 0.13
Ibok 16.8 78.1 8.8 -0.09
TOTAL 13.86

Michigan State’s current (raw) offensive efficiency figure is 112.0.  So in a 65-possession game, they’d be expected to score 72.8 points.  A team of replacement level players (offensive efficiency=88.0), meanwhile, would be expected to score 57.2 points.  That’s a gap of 15.6 points–which is 1.7 points higher than the total PORPAG shown above.  That difference must be some function of:

1) Contributions by the guys at the end of the bench (who are actually shooting a combined 7-12 from the field).  I think this is probably not too significant.

2) A potential advantage MSU might have in terms of team rebounds on offense, which would be the only offensive stat that doesn’t show up in the individual offensive ratings.  This might be significant, but probably doesn’t account for 1.7 points/game.

3) Some missing mathematical piece in the formula I don’t have a grasp of.

Anyway, I think the formula gets pretty darn close to divvying up team offensive performance among individual players–as far as that’s possible, given that basketball is inherently a team sport.

Other notes:

  • Together, Kalin Lucas and Raymar Morgan account for almost exactly half of MSU’s performance above replacement level.
  • Goran Suton, despite only having played a little over a third of available minutes this season, still ranks 4th in his absolute contributions to the offense.
  • Travis Walton, despite ranking second on the team in minutes played, ranks only sixth in PORPAG.  The question is whether his defense and leadership makes up for that.  My intuitive judgment is that it does, given how well he’s hounded opposing guards this season.  (On my to-do list: Compile a game log of offensive performances by opposing team’s top perimeter scoring threats.)

Read Full Post »

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


  • 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.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »