Sunday, August 31, 2008

2008-09 Returning Top 25 PPWS Players

Inspired by Ray Floriani's article over on the College Chalktalk Blog, I decided to take a look at those returning Big East players with the best PPWS numbers. PPWS, Points Per Weighted Shot abbreviated, divides the number of points scored by the number of field goal attempts (and a prorated number of free throw attempts). Factoring in free throw points and prorating free throw attempts suggests how efficiently the player posts points when he shoots the ball. While John Gasaway argued that PPWS may be more accurate for identifying inefficient rather than efficient scorers, given enough games I think it can be useful for finding those second and third option scorers in a team's offense. A first option scorer with a high PPWS is quite a player, and is most likely that team's most prolific scorer. I started to post the Top 20 returning players with the highest PPWS (limited to those who played 35% or more of the minutes at their position), but I found 6 tied at 19 last season. So the list includes 25 players...

John GarciaSHU1.2763.851.049.329.0
Jerry SmithLVL1.2661.572.625.218.5
Ryan AyersNDU1.2458.160.838.830.0
Hasheem ThabeetUConn1.2356.080.388.063.0
Kyle McAlarneyNDU1.2058.391.014.712.4
Wesley MatthewsMU1.1952.470.562.949.7
Dante CunninghamVU1.1956.674.862.840.7
Deonta VaughnCin1.1955.081.930.625.9
Arinze OnuakuCuse1.1861.878.150.022.4
Alex RuoffWVU1.1753.878.531.226.6
Paul HarrisCuse1.1651.193.572.053.8
Kristof OngenaetCuse1.1453.457.548.332.8
Will WalkerDPU1.1455.256.518.213.0
Austin FreemanGTU1.1454.
Jerome DysonUConn1.1350.038.845.137.8
Weyinmi EfejukuPC1.1352.356.339.329.9
Dominique JonesUSF1.1251.090.934.327.9
Craig AustrieUConn1.1247.058.847.042.6
Jeremy HazellSHU1.1252.276.029.923.0
Andre McGeeLVL1.1154.247.521.714.5
Sam YoungPitt1.1154.182.130.519.3
Luke HarangodyNDU1.1150.376.744.434.1
Gilbert BrownPitt1.1150.562.844.933.7
Dar TuckerDPU1.1154.659.228.416.5
Dwayne AndersonVU1.1153.758.031.620.0

2007-08 First and second team All-Big East players are highlighted in yellow, while 2007-08 All Big East Rookie Team members are highlighted in lime. [Note... FTR% and FTM% are stats used by Ken Pomeroy to indicate the relationship between free throws and field goals. FTR% is the percentage of free throws to field goal attempts (Pomeroy designates this as FTRate on his Team Scout Report pages) -- useful for determining the frequency by which players get to the free throw line. FTM% divides FTMs by FGAs -- useful for determining the frequency by which players convert their free throw opportunities.]
John Garcia and Jerry Smith provide a useful illustration on how two players can efficiently score through very different ways. Garcia, a center for Seton Hall, hits a high percentage of his (entirely 2 point) field goal attempts and gets to the free throw line pretty consistently (about once for every two FGAs.), even if he is not especially accurate when he gets there (note his FTM% is much lower than his FTA%). An area, which if he could improve, would be very helpful to the Pirates. Jerry Smith, a Lousiville wing guard, by contrast also scores FGAs at a fairly efficient rate (eFG% at 61.5 nearly matches Garcia's), but gets to the line far less frequently. That Luke Harangody (#1), Sam Young (#2), Dominique Jones (#3), Deonta Vaughn (#4), Paul Harris (#7) and Kyle McAlarney (#8) ranked in the Top 10 returning scorers (by points scored, rank shown in parenthesis), while simultaneously ranked in the Top 25 by PPWS, demonstrates that those six combined prolific and efficient scoring as part of their offensive contributions to their respective teams. Those six were clearly first/second scoring options for their teams; we can expect the same again this season.
Other notes & observations:
1. John Garcia would appear to be one of those "players to watch". The often injured front court player for the Seton Hall Pirates not only scored efficiently (see Ken Pomeroy's Seton Hall Scout Report page), but also ranked very highly for offensive and defensive rebounding. The problem it appears (aside from durability) is Garcia's propensity to foul. Garcia picked up 4 or more fouls in 4 of the Pirate's last 5 games last season. Overall he fouled out of 6 of Seton Hall's 32 games. The Pirates generate their offense out of the back court, no doubt giving Garcia the advantage of being often overlooked.
2. Like John Garcia, Ryan Ayers, Wes Matthews, Dante Cunningham, Arinze Onuaku and Alex Ruoff benefit from not being the first or second option on offense. Given the state of their respective teams, their roles (offensively) will most likely remain the same next season.
3. Connecticut HC John Calhoun and much of Husky fandom are looking for a break through season from Hashemm Thabeet. His defensive numbers have been very good (and getting better) over the past two seasons. These offensive numbers suggest he has something to contribute (beyond tap backs...) offensively as well. Thabeet was, as suggested by his Poss% and Shot% (16.1 and 13.1 respectively -- see Pomeroy's Scout Report Page for Connecticut) a role player (4th or 5th option on offense) last season. Look for that to change in 2008-09.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The 2008 Philly Classic -- Fleshing Out the Details

The A10 conference released many of their member schedules en mass yesterday, which, aside from confirming circulating rumors of a game with the Fordham Rams (scheduled for 11/17 in the Pav) and fixing the date for Villanova's Big 5 game against St. Joseph's (scheduled for 12/11), confirmed rumors circulating among Rhode Island Ram fans from last month. The Rams announced they will open their Philly Classic run against Monmouth on the road and then host Hartford before heading down to the Palestra to play rounds 3 and 4. Along with the Purple Eagles of Niagara (out of the MAAC), who also released their OOC schedule yesterday, much of the speculation about the brackets and preliminary round games have been confirmed. The eight team field has been divided into two brackets of four teams each...

Bracket A:Bracket B:
HartfordPenn State
MonmouthRhode Island

Preliminary round games (two of them) are scheduled to be hosted by some of the teams in the field and played at sites (largely campus) outside of Philadelphia. The third round will be played in the Palestra on Friday November 28. Round 4 games (round 3 winners vs winners, losers vs losers) will be played on Saturday November 29. The schedule for the preliminary rounds games...

Penn StateNJIT11/17/2008
MonmouthRhode Island11/20/2008
Penn StateHartford11/20/2008
Rhode IslandHartford11/25/2008

Between Hartford and Rhode Island we can tease out the November 28 games at the Palestra as well. Rhode Island announced the Rams will face the Nittany Lions of the Big Ten. The Hartford Hawks schedule shows their round 3 opponent will be the NJIT Highlanders. That means Monmouth and Niagara will face-off in the other "Bracket A" game, while Villanova and Towson will play the other "Bracket B" game.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Philly Classic Update: Three's the Charm

The University of Hartford website released the Hartford Hawk's 2008-09 Out of Conference (OOC) schedule. The Hawk's two preliminary games are, as suggested in my July 30 post, a road game with Rhode Island and a road game with Penn State. Since Hartford is the third member of the eight team field to release their match-ups, this pretty much confirms that Villanova will host preliminary round games against Niagara University and Monmouth University. Aside from a broad window of after November 14 and before November 28, days & times are only speculation.

Hartford also revealed their first opponent at the Palestra (11/28) will be NJIT, thus confirming that Niagara and Monmouth will play in the other game in the bracket. If this comes to pass, then the final in that bracket ought to have some local fan appeal as both Niagara and Hartford have ties to Philadelphia. The Hartford head coach, Dan Leibovitz, was an assistant coach at Temple University, under John Chaney. The Purple Eagle squad from Niagara will feature three players from the Philadelphia area. Senior guard Charron Fisher hails from Pennsauken, NJ and played ball at Roman Catholic in Philadelphia. Sophomore guard Tyrone Lewis lived in Levitown, PA and played ball at Truman HS. Bilal Benn, a junior guard played high school ball at Cardinal Dougherty HS in Philadelphia along side of Villanova great Kyle Lowry. Benn later rejoined Lowry and played 2 years at Villanova before transferring to Niagara.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A New Blog: Pass the Rock

Pass the Rock Blog started posting last month. The subtitle declares, "A blog devoted to the flavor and tradition of basketball at Catholic colleges and universities. And some news.", and the blogger has lived up to the billing, finding a number of interesting items, from news to videos about the basketball programs at Catholic colleges and universities on the east coast and mid-west. Worth a look.

Mbakwe Leaves Marquette

The Marquette front court got a little smaller yesterday as forward Trevor Mbakwe informed the staff he would not return for this second year. Mbakwe was injured in the fall of 2007 and missed most of the season. He did play in the last month, showing a good deal of promise. His playing time was sure to increase this season with the graduation of Osmane Barro. According to, his ORtg was 86.4, not good at all, but due to get better with playing time -- something he would have gotten more of this season. He showed very good potential as a rebounder, especially on the offensive boards (OR% was 14.4).

Zebras and Cats: Getting Down to Cases

A Gary Parrish column, "Myth Busters", from a few weeks ago put me on to a feature from Robbie Allen's website. I linked to Robbie's website during the season and have used it for a few of Villanova's stats over time, but I did not realize (until Parrish's column...) that also collected stats on referees. I have been tracking the fouls, free throws and technicals for villanova's games the past few seasons. I found I could compare referees (or more specifically teams of referees) to each other in how they handled Villanova games. I realized I could now step back to see how these referees handled other games and teams they worked. Was (for example) Tony Greene "harder" or "easier" on Villanova than he was on other teams? The table below provides a few answers and points of comparison.

All GamesNova Games
Hillary, Ted8933.87.1151.0NA
Rutecki, Wally5037.97.1150.0NA
Laubenstein, Bill2937.07.0150.0NA
Perone, Ray7037.46.7147.0NA
Hess, Karl8936.27.1347.04.6
Clougherty, Tim5434.56.2147.0NA
Donato, Bob6037.57.1445.05.3
Luckie, Jamie9338.37.1444.03.9
Higgins, Tim6936.37.2343.74.2
Kersey, Bryan10237.97.5343.38.1
Stuart, Mike7737.16.7242.54.9
Stephens, Michael6138.46.5442.35.6
Cahill, John9035.96.1742.05.4
Clinton, Bernard6040.27.5241.510.6
Walton, Earl6739.17.2241.05.7
Jones, Les7936.77.5141.0NA
Higgins, John9735.57.2141.0NA
Collins, J.D.10336.87.4240.52.1
Driscoll, Pat6236.86.8240.53.5
Haney, Jim6836.57.0240.50.7
Greene, Tony8235.85.7340.30.6
O'Connell, Brian8735.86.3540.27.3
Shaw, Curtis10239.37.3240.02.1
Hightower, Ed8037.18.0240.012.7
Prager, Gary5736.35.7140.0NA
Burr, Jim8535.57.7439.52.4
Janssen, Paul5637.47.7139.0NA
Greenwood, Reggie6536.86.2338.03.0
Shows, Doug7236.48.1238.04.2
Roberts, Mike6135.66.1138.0NA
Corbett, Ed8734.46.5738.02.6
Lindsay, Joe6535.15.9235.53.5
Kitts, Mike8735.07.0435.53.7
Clark, Jeff6236.86.9334.03.6

Those looking for stats on Tom O'Neill's Villanova game will be disappointed. The referees listed are those who worked Big East regular season contests -- O'Neill was on the zebra crew that worked the Cats - Golden Knights game in the 1st round of the Old Spice Classic; O'Neill did not work Big East regular season games. My Villanova game stats however, do include those games against OOC opponents, however, so I am comparing the Villanova games against all games the individual referee worked. In general, the zebra's FPG was higher for the Big East games his crews worked than for all games. I highlighted (in yellow) those referees whose average FPG for Villanova games was outside of the range of the standard deviation for all of their games. In most cases the referee worked a single game, certainly reasonable. Of the three others, two are most likely recognizable to many Wildcat fans, Tim Higgins (recognizable to many basketball fans throughout the country) and Bob Donato, the referee who called Corey Stokes for a blocking foul on Jon Wallace near the end of regulation play in the Villanova-Georgetown game. Yeah, that Bob Donato. The only referee to have a lower average FPG for his Villanova games than he does for all games, Jeff Clark, is highlighted in green. The only referee whose average for Villanova games was lower than his average for Big East games, Doug Shows, is highlighted in brown. Clark worked 3 Villanova games, posting a 3-0 record for those games. Shows worked 2 Villanova games, posting a 1-1 record for those games. Other observations...
1. Ed Corbett and John Cahill worked 7 Villanova games each. That's more than any of the other referees. Villanova games accounted for 7.8% of Cahill's workload, and a straight 8.0% of Corbett's. Villanova's record in Cahill-refereed games was 1-6 last season. For Corbett, the record was 5-2.
2. The FPG for all games and for Villanova games was very close when Mike Kitts worked as part of the crew. At 7.0, Kitt's standard deviation was fairly close to the average for all 34 referees listed (6.9), but at 3.7, his crews showed more consistency when working Villanova games. The Wildcats were 4-0 last season when Kitts was in the crew.
3. Brian O'Connell was the third most prolific Villanova referee, working 5 games (5.75% of his overall workload). Averaging 40.2 FPG, O'Connell seemed to have been, relative to the other 33 referees, more in the "let 'em play" faction. But with a standard deviation of 7.3, O'Connell was pretty inconsistent.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Possession-Based Olympics

Kevin Pelton over at Basketball Prospectus provides a brief game-by-game recap of the first round of pool play. He will apparently do a recap of each game in pool play, and maintain possession-based stats for the 12 teams assigned to the two different (A and B) pools. Stats include game pace, Offensive and Defensive Ratings, with finer detail provided by Dean Oliver's four factors -- eFG%, OR%, DR%, FTM/FGA and TO%. Pelton promises to update his ratings and rankings for each round. Well, this should get me through the next few weeks, while I try to track down box scores from Notre Dame's trip to Ireland.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Philly Classic Update: Another One Down

The NJIT Highlanders have released a tentative schedule which confirms their date with Penn State, but also projects a match-up with Towson University, another Philly Classic participant, to be played on November 24. The NJIT schedule suggests the Tigers will visit the Highlanders in Newark, which means Towson will take 2 road games before heading into Philadelphia. I suspect that will not happen, and that NJIT will travel twice. As for the first two rounds, the matchups so far are what I projected in my July 30 post.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ray Floriani in the Off Season

I was over at the College Chalk Talk Blog yesterday checking out an article Villanova by the Numbers guest poster Ray Floriani wrote about UMass' NIT run when I ran across another post about Ray's first book, recently completed, about the NIT. For those who remember when the National Invitational Tournament was the tournament, the book should bring a smile. Ray gave an interview to a local NJ paper that provides some background about the book and the author.

Monday, August 4, 2008

All Big East Teams, Returning Players, Lists on my Mind

A recent listing endeavor brought me back to the whole idea of lists & ranks. This seems to be The Summer of Lists and Ranks, whether Mike Miller's Greatest Programs List over at the Beyond the Arc Blog, ESPN's Elite Programs 1985-2008 List, Joel Welser's annual preview "144 Teams in 144 Days" over at College Hoops Net (CHN) or doctordunk's efforts over at Cards Hoops Blog. So how does one decide which (or who) is the "best" program/player/team of 2008/the 1990s/all time? One of the reasons I like the NCAA tournament (and D1 basketball for that matter) is the way the annual champion is decided -- on the court. You might complain about the circumstances of the decision (referees, the time keeper, the decals covering the court -- indeed even the surface of the court -- the view from your seat, the arena amenities...), but not the decision itself. The decision stands, you accept it and move on to the next game, the next season.

But what about players? How does one decide who ought to be the Player of the Year (POY) or Rookie of the Year (ROY)? For an individual it seems the Potter Stewart Test will suffice most times. Unless it is 2008, in the Big East, with the question pending "Who was the best Rookie?" -- then you make Dominique Jones and DeJuan Blair share it.

I have already looked at the Rookie Team from last season (and offered another Six or so rising Freshman To Watch), another group of players to look at is the All Big East Teams from last season. Of the 26 players (a POY plus 10 1st Team members, 10 2nd Team members and 5 Honorable Mentions) honored, fully 18, including the POY, Luke Harangody of Notre Dame, are returning to play next in the 2009-10 season. Data for the players, largely gleaned from Ken Pomeroy's information base, is presented in three tables, each ordered by %Poss (declining).

*HarangodyNDU So.1st#572.332.935.6
McNealMarq Jr.2nd#274.927.527.8
VaughnNati So.1st#282.927.327.6
MasonJohn’s Jr.HM#455.526.930.8
YoungPitt Jr.1st#479.726.729.0
ReynoldsNova So.2nd#1/#281.425.124.3
JamesMarq Jr.2nd#1/#275.224.925.5
BlairPitt Fr.HM#564.624.422.2
JonesUSF Fr.HM#
*PriceUConn Jr.1st#1/#279.723.924.4
HaywardMarq So.2nd#463.023.625.4
AdrienUConn Jr.1st#483.823.421.9
HarrisCuse So.2nd#390.022.118.4
FlynnCuse Fr.HM#188.521.722.7
WilliamsVille Jr.2nd#2/#389.521.119.7
McDermottPC Jr.HM#486.620.915.1
McAlarneyNDU Jr.1st#288.918.421.4
ThabeetUConn So.2nd#577.016.113.1

All stats explained on possession-based posts on the left of the page. Click on school to link to Ken Pomeroy's Scout Report for that team. Note that Harangody and AJ Price (asterisked) were 2 of the 4 unanimous selections to the 1st Team. If these players were crucial to their respective team's success last season it seems logical to consider the function they played with respect to their team's offense & possessions. Harangody's presence as the first player listed is consistent with his role on the Fighting Irish squad. While playing about 70% of the available time at the #5, he accounted for 35% of Notes Dame's possessions and 3.5 of every 10 FGAs the Irish took (when he was in the game). Those are definitely MVP-level numbers. Even in this group of Big East All Stars those are "head of the class" numbers. If %Min, %Poss and %Shot give us a sense of the individual's role with respect to the team, how to explain Hasheem Thabeet of Connecticut? He functioned as a role player (4th, maybe 5th option on offense) for the Husky offense -- compare his %Poss & %Shot percentages to teammates AJ Price and Jeff Adrien above (yellow highlight) -- note that Price and Adrien between them took just under half of the possessions (47%) and shots (46%) when they were on the floor together. Put a third player who consumes possessions & shots at about Price and Adrien's rate (Robinson? Dyson? Wiggins?) and Thabeet is pretty much reduced to setting screens and grabbing misses. %Poss and %Shot reflect a bit about the quantity of the individual's role on offense (and a little bit about transition of defense to offense...), but say little about efficiency on offense, and nothing at all about defense. Wondering about Thabeet? Patience. Along the same lines as Thabeet, Adrien and Price, consider also Kyle McAlarney and the aforementioned Luke Harangody (green highlight). Like the Husky players, McAlarney and Harangody split quite a few of the possessions and shots when they are on the court together, though the ratio of touches decidedly favored Harangody. I suspect McAlarney got a few more shots when Harangody rested on the bench.


The table above shows the offensive rating (ORtg), shooting efficiency (eFG%), scoring efficiency (PPWS), ability to get to the line (FTRate) and assists per 100 possessions (ARate -- tendency to involve teammates?). When offensive efficiency is factored in, the value added by Thabeet and McAlarney becomes more obvious. They may not have scored as prolifically as their respective teammates, but each took advantage of the opportunities presented. And each in his own way (McAlarney on the outside, Thabeet on the inside) made their opponent's defense work that much harder.

Now factor in the defensive elements...


And what of Harangody's honor? Clearly deserved as the guy was, in addition to the offense he generated, a monster around the basket. Those rebounding numbers are Top 100 caliber. I was also impressed with his assist rate (ARate, second table). Compare it not to the guards, but the front court players. Having pulled down the offensive board, Harangody was far more inclined than (about twice as likely...) Adrien, Blair or Young, and (about three time as likely...) Hayward, to pass the ball to a teammate for an open shot. Early off season enthusiasm over Connecticut's prospects next season are, Price's successful rehabilitation notwithstanding, well founded. Thabeet, assuming he can carve out a larger role in the offense while maintaining his Hibbert-like efficiency, will easily find himself in the lottery next June. With Wiggins transfer and Stanley Robinson engaged in a one year (academic) rehabilitation of his own, there are possessions and shots available. Thabeet will have to take them as they come.

Scottie Reynold's number show he belongs in this group. Scottie was honored as the ROY in 2007, and a few Nova Nation members wondered if his efficiency was more time and place rather than skill and ability. If there is any disappointment in his numbers, it is in the lack of progress on efficiency. Scottie's ORtg last season was, despite the slight decline in %Poss and %Shot, about the same as 2007. Consider the relatively high turnover rate (TO% -- 21.5) and relatively low (for a guard...) ARate (20.8) as areas for improvement next season.

Caveats, trivia, errata...
1. The other 2 players voted unanimously to the 1st team were Roy Hibbert of Georgetown and David Padgett of Louisville, the often injured, but very skilled Cardinal center.
2. Syracuse freshman Donte Greene, the preseason co-favorite (along with teammate Jonny Flynn) for ROY was voted to the All Big East 2nd Team, while co-winners of the ROY award, Dominique Jones of South Florida and DeJuan Blair of Pittsburgh were All Big East Honorable Mentions. Strange.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Gasaway and Pomeroy in the Off Season

Ken Pomeroy and John Gasaway of The Basketball Prospectus have gone underground for the past 5 months. Those who have wondered about what they are up to should wonder no more. I ran across a note yesterday in another blog, that they will publish a paperback prospectus (due out October 28) for the 2008-09 season, but after going over to their website I see it advertised on the front page. I wonder if they will follow the format Ken used for the Big 12 preseason back in 2006-07, or if they will follow the format they used last season when writing for the basketball prospectus.

On a side note, while placing my order over at Barnes & Noble online I noticed a second version available for presale. Priced at nearly $100 and offered in an "other" format, that version ships a month earlier, October 1, rather than the announced date for the paperback (October 28). For the curious, the assigned ISBN is 9780452293359.

2008-09 Returning Minutes: Experience Counts?

After I compiled and published the table Friday I paused, and decided I had a few more questions. True Villanova was returning the highest percentage of minutes in the conference (by a fairly wide margin too), but how did those minutes compare (to others for example) when experience was taken into consideration? How could I "calculate" the depth (or quality?) of the returning minutes? Ken Pomeroy developed a metric he called "experience", for his Scout Page feature (see his Villanova Scout Page for an example -- Nova had an experience of 1.0 years, ranked #324 in D1 last season. Extremely inexperienced), but never gave an explanation on how he developed it. I decided to go back and see if I could determine not only what percentage of the 2007-08 minutes were returning for each team, but how "experienced" (by pecentage) those minutes would be. After developing the table I sorted by experience level (3 years first...) and came up with this table...

Experience LevelRet.
Notre Dame0.5430.4290.0280.858
West Virginia0.2830.5690.1480.610
St. John's0.2150.0000.7850.753
Seton Hall0.1030.5360.3610.519
South Florida0.0230.5480.4290.551

Note the last column is the percentage of returning minutes (from the 2007-08 team). This yields an altogether different perspective on the teams than the one presented in my previous post. If the numbers are any indication, the last four teams in this list -- Seton Hall, Syracuse, South Florida and Cincinnati may be in for letdowns. The Pirates for example, will have to replace all-purpose handyman Brian Laing, a team player who may not have had a specialty skill, but managed to do quite a few things very well. The Bulls likewise will have to replace Big Kentrell Gransberry, a transfer #5 who formed a strong offensive tandem with outside shooter (and freshman) Dominique Jones. The transition from Coach Huggins to Coach Cronin (via Coach Andy Kennedy...) is reflected in the absence of any 3 year starters or significant contributors in Cincinnati's returning players. Virtually the entire rotation from 2005-06 has transferred or graduated. Coach Cronin stressed in 2997-08 previews how he intended to use JUCOs and transfers to bring the Bearcats back into the hunt quickly. Returning less than 40% of the minutes from the 2007-08 squad is one marker of this policy (Cronin's first group of JUCOs cycled out at the end of last season), but also note that there are virtually no 3 year players and less than half of the returning minutes will be provided by 2 year players (basically Deonta Vaughn). Anthony McClain, Cashmere Wright and Yancy Gates provide evidence Cronin has begun to refocus program recruitment for the longer term. But Mike Williams and Steven Toyloy suggest he has not abandoned transfer/JUCO recruitment entirely. The effect for Syracuse may be overstated. The calculation does not consider the return of Eric Devendorf (2L) nor of Andy Rautins (1L). Devendorf, sidelined with an ACL injury less than 3 weeks into the season nevertheless logged 24.3% of the minutes at the off guard spot. The season before (2006-07) he logged 77.2% of the minutes (second on the team behind Demetris Nichols). His numbers next season (assuming he has recovered and remains healthy) will more likely look like his 2008-07 minutes, rather than his 2007-08 minutes. Rautins tore his ACL in internatioal play well before the season began (even before school recturned) and was also lost for the season. Andy, a wing with a talent for hitting the 3, logged 52.9% of the minutes in the 2006-07 season (while hitting 35.6% of his 3s).

The shakeup at the top of the list however really out does the one at the bottom. Marquette leaps from #6 to #1. Marquette's 3 senior guards (who among the Marquette faithful thought Dominic James and Jerel McNeal would exhaust their eligibility?) return to again form the best guard tandem in the conference. Pittsburgh's donut is the result (in part) of reshirting Gilbert Brown. If Mike Cook's waiver is granted (I believe that has not yet been adjudicated...and it could happen, the NCAA appears to have become a good deal more generous with that particular wiaver the past year or so) that 2L void will be a little less obvious. Cook played 11 games before his injury, and when his minutes are balanced against the entire season he still logged 18.4% of the available minutes. At the time of his injury he accounted for about 63% of the minutes at the Panther #3 spot. Notre Dame, Providence and Rutgers all remain very close to the top of the list. I was a little surprised to see how upper classmen-heavy Notre Dame in particular proved to be. Certainly having over 97% of the minutes allocated to rising junior and rising sophomores reflects not only the quality of those two classes (Kyle McAlarney, Luke Harangody) but also the lack of an impact player in the next (rising freshman) class Brey recruited. Note that this season Coach Brey has no new players (freshmen nor transfers) at all. The two transfer players (Scott Martin and Ben Hansbrough) recruited this past spring will become eligible to play in 2009-10.

While Villanova and Georgetown both appear to have fairly balanced classes, note they come with very different levels of returning players. The Wildcats will bring in a single freshman (Maurice Sutton) this year who may redshirt depending on the state of the Wildcat low post. The Hoyas by contrast bring in a class of four (freshmen Henry Sims, Jason Clark and Greg Monroe and, the beneficiary of a granted waiver, transfer Julian Vaughn) and redshirt Nikita Mesheriakou. Sims, Monroe and Vaughn will be pressed into service immediately to replace the minutes departed with Roy Hibbert and Vernon Macklin. And then there is St. John's. More than a few observers have commented on the revolving door in Queens. Coach Roberts seems to have a tremendous difficulty keeping a balanced (upper and lower classmen) squad from year-to-year. The 2006-07 squad may have shown more balance between the experience-levels, but still favored the underclassmen (though not as heavily unbalanced as this season's squad).

Friday, August 1, 2008

2008-09 Returning Minutes

While off season media attention has been devoted to the AAU circuit and recruiting in the Classes of 2009 and 2010, the fields for the early season invitational tournaments and the few news items (coaching booster tours, players behaving badly, etc.) generated during the dog days of summer, colleges have been quietly releasing their schedules (bit by bit) and posting their rosters. Over the past week and half thirteen Big East teams have posted their 2008-09 rosters. While most (Marquette and Villanova -- incorrectly identified as the 2007-08 team -- for example) have posted the "traditioal" web page, others (Louisville and Pittsburgh) have buried their rosters in the "summer" or "preseason" prospectus. Given these teams are a work in progress, Clearing House issues have (in a few cases) yet to be resolved and walk-on candidates screened, but this "first pass" did force a shake out of several entering freshmen and a few questionables among the returning players. South Florida touted Teeng Akol back in June as an entering member of the class. Yet last week, after the Bulls posted their 2008-09 roster, put out a press release indicating Akol's scholarship was rescinded, for reasons not entirely clear. Working around Cincinnati, Rutgers and West Virginia these are the estimated (by percentage) returning minutes, listed highest to lowest, for the teams this season...

Pct Ret.
TeamPlay Tm
Notre Dame0.858
St. John's0.753
West Virginia0.610
South Florida0.551
Seton Hall0.519

With only the transfer of Malcolm Grant as the only PT loss, it is no surprise the Wildcats would show as the team that lost the least amount of playing time. The numbers for Georgetown, Cincinnati and DePaul does not surprise either. All three squads featured seniors at multiple positions.Attrition at Seton Hall, South Florida, West Virginia and St. John's included not only graduation/eligibility attrition, but also transfers (and for WVU...) early entry to the NBA draft. I was a little surprised about Connecticut. The Huskies have not lost a starter through graduation in the past two seasons, but have had a steady outflow of transferring players. This off season was more of the same as Curt Kelly and Doug Wiggins both left Storrs for other schools (Kelly to K State, Wiggins is rumored to be headed to UMass). The unexpected loss was starter Stanley Robinson who has enrolled in a community college to get back on track academically. I was also surprised at Louisville's return percentage. With the graduations of David Padgett and Juan Palacios, combined with Derrick Caracter's hiatus, I thought Coach Pitino's squad would return less than the 74.3% playing time the roster and last season's stats show.