Thursday, March 31, 2011

Guest Contributor: Ray Floriani The NIT Semi-Finals

by Ray Floriani

NEW YORK CITY - The NIT semifinals were a bit reminiscent of the recently completed Newark Regional semis. A blowout followed by a down to the wire game won by an SEC school.

They didn't stay long but Washington State fans had enthusiasm.

The scores...

Wichita State7544Washington State

A moderate pace with not a great deal of transition. Wichita State with a +45 efficiency margin simply excelled on both the offensive and defensive ends.

MSG during game action

The pace and efficiency:

Wichita State66114
Washington State6469

The Four Factors:

Wichita State50154918
Washington State29281514

At least they had a good showing in the TO rate department. Taking the positive spin that was about all you could say on the upbeat side regarding Washington state. The man to man defense of Wichita State was outstanding. They did not allow the Pac 10 representatives to hit a single attempt beyond the arc (the Cougars were 0 for 10). They also held Klay Thompson, a 22 point per game scorer, to a 6 point night (1 of 10 from the floor). Thompson had foul trouble and never got into a rhythm playing only 25 minutes. One reason he was in foul trouble was the Wichita State staff noticed in films that the 6-6 junior guard liked to drive hard to the basket. The Shocker defenders stood their ground and drew a few early charges on Thompson. Again, credit the Wichita State defense.

Washington State was concerned about Wichita's rebounding. A look at the numbers shows coach Ken Bone's fears were justified and soon a reality. Gabe Blair had a nine rebound effort but the surprise on the boards and overall was Garrett Stutz. A 7-foot junior, Stutz entered New York averaging just over 6 points a game for the Shockers. Maybe it was the bright lights of MSG, whatever the case, Stutz enjoyed a great 24 point, 11 rebound outing in 25 minutes. Both his scoring and rebounding were game highs. Stutz shot 10 of 13 from the field and added two blocks. In raw numbers Washington State was beaten 52-25 on the glass.

Washington State cheerleaders Ashley (l) and Jennifer (r) with yours truly.
Juniors in Brooklyn was a popular stop for the WSU cheer contingent.

Cougars had only one player shot 50% or better. Faisal Aden (8 points) was 4 of 8 from the floor. Wichita State also enjoyed a 48-18 gain on points in the paint. For Washington State, it was one of those nights where things went dreadfully wrong on both ends of the floor.

The Second Game
Game two was contested at almost the same pace as the opener. There the similarity ended. The game itself and efficiencies, were quite a bit closer than what we saw in the first get together.


The Four Factors:


Colorado coach Tad Boyle

Alabama only had an 11-10 lead in points off turnovers. Regardless, the damage was done as Colorado wasted a quarter of their possessions on those annoying miscues. And in a one possession game decided on the last shot, that is a killer.

Levi Knutson's three point shooting helped Colorado trim a ten point second half deficit. Knutson scored 14 points on the evening. The senior guard shot better from three (4 of 10 40%) than two point (1 of 3 33%) range.

Alabama was able to get to the charity stripe. The FT rate was computed by dividing field goal attempts by made three throws. So that category is extremely low as the Crimson Tide shot 4 of 11 from the line. That's 36% and considerably lower than their eFG mark. If Anthony Grant's club was packing to head home, the poor free throw shooting would have been a viable 'exhibit A'.

JaMychal Green of Alabama led all scorers with 22 points before fouling out late. The 6-8 junior was all inside taking very shot from two point range and connecting on 11 of 16.

The Manley Efficiencies:

Garrett Stutz, Wichita State35
Alec Burks, Colorado27
JaMychal Green, Alabama21
Gabe Blair, Wichita State20
Chris Hines, Alabama15
Tourne Murray, Wichita State15
Trevor Releford, Alabama12

The leader for Manley efficiency from Washington state was DeAngelo Castro with an 11. Thompson limped in with a -2. That 1 of ten shooting, one assist and three turnovers, had a lot to do with that. Stutz per minute efficiency was a beyond outstanding 1.40. Pro scouts assembled liked what they saw. A number plan on making a trip to Wichita next season as part of their agenda. And as one noted, "you know he (Stutz) will be back a fourth year."

Attendance was 6,082. Both coaches, Anthony Grant of Alabama and Colorado's Tad Boyle would agree, the game was decided came down to who made the play at the end. And who didn't. Trevor Releford, a freshman point guard, scored the deciding basket on a baseline drive. Colorado's Alec Burks' last second shot at the buzzer missed and Alabama advanced to their first Nit final since 2001. The Tide was defeated by Tulsa in that meeting a decade ago and has never won the tournament. As has Wichita State.

Releford's numbers epitomize his freshman 'experience' . He shot 3 of 7 from the line, had six assists and four steals but did commit four turnovers. All is fine in Grant's estimation because Releford came up big when necessary.

Alec Burks paced Colorado with 20 points. The sophomore guard was only 1 of 5 from three but a perfect 7 for 7 from the line.

Only 7 of Washington State's 15 field goals were assisted. Cougars had nine turnovers. Those numbers show Wichita State defended well enough to keep the ball from moving and the Shockers forced the opposition to beat them off the dribble. Which they had great difficulty doing.

Washington State finished at 22-13 while Colorado's season ended with a 24-14 record. Final is Thursday night at 7 pm.

Colorado dance team. Did a great job performing
to the tune 'American Woman'.

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