ATB: Michigan Shuts Down MSU, Florida State Scores, and Anthony Davis’ Block Record…

Posted by rtmsf on January 18th, 2012

Tonight’s Lede. It wasn’t the best night of college basketball we’ve ever witnessed, but as always, the storylines were plentiful. We’d love to walk you through the Michigan-MSU rivalry game that went down to the wire, Florida State’s newfound affinity for offense, Western Carolina’s embarrassing 102-point victory, and some other things… but Anthony Davis just swatted away our train of thought.

Your Watercooler Moment. Michigan-Michigan State Rivalry Heats Up On and Off the Court.

College Basketball Is Better When Both Michigan Schools Are Elite (K. Dozier/DFP)

In anticipation of his rivalry game with Michigan tonight, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo made his feelings known about his in-state rival loud and clear — even though he claims to respect UM and it’s head coach, John Beilein, he also doesn’t care for the Maize and Blue — “not one bit.” He may start to venture into hatred territory if the Wolverines continue beating his Spartans as they did tonight. Michigan point guard Trey Burke led the way with another superb performance, going for 20/4/3 assts/2 stls as the Wolverines defeated MSU for the third straight time in the series. The key to the game, however, was the consistent defensive pressure Michigan put on the Spartans’ primary three scorers: Draymond Green, Keith Appling, and Brandon Wood. The trio came in averaging 38 points per game, but were held to only 21 points on 9-26 shooting tonight. None of the three were ever able to find any sort of offensive rhythm, and when on the final possession Green ended up with the ball in his hands for a leaning jumper from the foul line, the shot was badly long with virtually no chance to drop in. With the win, Michigan moves to 5-2 in the Big Ten race while Michigan State drops to 4-2, but we’re high on both of these teams for the long run of the season and playing into March.

Tonight’s Quick Hits

  • Florida State Has An Offense? Over the last two games, Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles have scored a grand total of 174 points in blowout wins over North Carolina and Maryland. That’s right — a team that averages less than a point per possession on the year has blown up for consecutive PPPs of 1.178 and 1.237 with seemingly no reasonable explanation. The two performances are easily FSU’s best two offensive games of the year, and it begs the question of whether whatever fountain of offense they’ve found in the Florida wilds will sustain itself for the rest of the season. Because if it does… watch out. Florida State already plays its typical world-class defense (#5 in defensive efficiency), and if they start putting it together on the other end of the court equally as well as they have in the last four days, the rest of the ACC will be in serious trouble.
  • And This is Why Tempo Free Stats Have Their Limitations. Coming into Kentucky’s game tonight against Arkansas, two of the top six players in America in block percentage were expected to see minutes. Guessing Anthony Davis as one of the two is easy, as he’s likely the best defensive big man in America; but how about the other player? If you guessed Arkansas freshman Hunter Mickelson, well, you’re more of a hoops geek than we are — in fact, Mickelson came into tonight leading the nation in block percentage at 16.14%, whereas Davis came in at 14.71%. The difference is that Davis plays twice as many minutes for UK than Mickelson does for Arkansas, and nobody in their right mind would place the two in the same sentence in terms of raw defensive ability or potential. Hey, we love tempo-free stats as much as the next guy because it often provides context between similar players where none may exist, but in a situation like this, that next step must be taken to recognize that an aggregate approach (Davis’ nation-leading and Kentucky single-season record 87 blocks vs. Mickelson’s 47) is preferred over the alternative.

… and Misses.

  •  Western Carolina’s Scheduling Choice. Everyone in the Twitter-verse was talking about Western Carolina’s absurd 141-39 victory over N(C)CAA member institution, Toccoa Falls, tonight. The extra C we offset stands for “Christian,” which means that the school’s basketball talent level is somewhere south of the NCAA D-II and D-III and likely on par with the lower-level NAIA schools. Forget the ridiculous stats for a moment — i.e.,all but three Catamounts scored in double figures; or that WCU became the fourth D-I school to ever beat another team by 100+ points — so that we can concentrate why WCU scheduled this game in the first place. Its assistant AD, Daniel Hooker, told The Dagger that the game was scheduled so that the school would avoid a “long layoff” during conference play. As in, seven full days from January 14 to 21. Since when does one week count as a long layoff? You’d think that the Catamount coaching staff would embrace the extra time to work on issues that have arisen at the halfway point rather than to just roll out the ball on a meaningless scrimmage that couldn’t possibly serve any long-term value to the team. Sorry, Mr. Hooker, but we’re not buying your answer.

Tuesday’s All-Americans.

  • Anthony Davis, Kentucky (NPOY). Davis set the single-season blocks record at UK with his scintillating 27/14/7 blks game against Arkansas tonight; he’s on pace to finish in the top five on Kentucky’s all-time block record this year. Utterly ridiculous.
  • Jason Clark, Georgetown. The Hoya guard blew up with a career-high 31 points, five boards and four steals in its road win over DePaul tonight, shooting 11-14 from the field while knocking down five threes.
  • Trey Burke, Michigan. The freshman Burke was the best player on the floor in UM’s huge home win over rival Michigan State, dropping 20/4/3 assts/2 stls/2 blks on 8-11 shooting from the field.
  • JP Primm, UNC Asheville.  The star guard went for 23/6/4 assts in a big win over Coastal Carolina to keep the Bulldogs unbeaten in Big South play this season (8-0).
  • Dorian Green, Colorado State. Green went off for 20/6/3 assts/2 stls in CSU’s win over Boise State tonight to give the school its eighth straight win for the first time in six seasons.

Tweet of the Night. Dave (@brow_down) with the clear recognition that Mike Anderson’s 40 Minutes of Hell is still a couple of years away.

rtmsf (3954 Posts)

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4 responses to “ATB: Michigan Shuts Down MSU, Florida State Scores, and Anthony Davis’ Block Record…”

  1. garik16 says:

    “And This is Why Tempo Free Stats Have Their Limitations.”

    This is wrong, by the way. Yes, there may be a sample size issue here (Pomeroy thinks not actually, given that Mickelson qualifies for the Pomeroy top blocks list), but that’s not the reason to argue against Mickelson being a better defender than Davis.

    Mickelson very well seems to be a better shot-blocker than Davis (note, Fab Melo is also above Davis, which is a more interesting choice). But he’s an inferior defender to Davis in OTHER WAYS – he doesn’t defensively rebound at a good rate at all (which is part of why Arkansas has a D rebounding rate). And then there’s offense, where Mickelson is a very poor shooter (compared to Davis’ strong shooting) and is not a great offensive rebounder (Davis is solid, though not great in this area).

    THIS is why Mickelson isn’t getting the minutes of Davis….he’s better than Davis defensively in one area – blocking shots – but he’s inferior at everything else. That doesn’t mean the shot blocking stat is bad, or that it has limits….it means you just have to use the stat appropriately.

  2. rtmsf says:

    A couple of responses here… first of all, to make the claim that someone is better based on what amounts to a couple of blocks through 18-20 games of a season seems rather absurd to me. Why not take the next step and normalize the block% to strength of schedule? Perhaps Arkansas’ 305th-ranked SOS (vs. Kentucky’s 144th) has something to do with his higher block pct? If Davis is blocking shots at a higher efficiency rate than Mickelson against better competition, doesn’t that in fact make him the better shot blocker? It would I were a GM somewhere evaluating both prospects, but on its face, it ultimately becomes stat massaging and devolves into an absurd splitting-hairs proposition.

    The second point here is that there’s a difference between efficiency and effectiveness. If Mickelson is not capable of staying on the floor for more than 15 minutes per game, whereas Davis can for 30+, then this where I argue you need that context. Looking at the block pct. leaders alone doesn’t tell the whole story about each player’s skill at blocking shots. It’s not useful for me to know that he’s really good at rejections without also knowing that he’s incapable of playing enough minutes to truly become effective for his team. You bring up the reasons why he can’t stay on the floor — all good ones — but effectiveness is far more important at the player level to winning and losing games than efficiency alone is.

  3. garik16 says:

    You’re missing my point. The point is that the stat, Block% , isn’t meant to measure which player is more valuable to his team at winning or losing. That’s NOT THE POINT. The point is to determine who is better at blocking shots when he is on the floor. The amount of time someone is on the floor is generally irrelevant to that question.

    (The point about SOS is indeed well taken – that’s not irrelevant to the question that Block % tries to answer.)

  4. rtmsf says:

    Garik – here’s what I wrote: “that next step must be taken to recognize that an aggregate approach (Davis’ nation-leading and Kentucky single-season record 87 blocks vs. Mickelson’s 47) is preferred over the alternative.”

    My point is that you have to have that additional context from the aggregate or you might actually draw from the blk% stat that Mickelson is a superior shot-blocker. Does anyone actually believe that? As a comparison case, is John Drew really the third-best scorer in NBA history b/c he has the third-highest per-minute scoring average of all-time (over 20 PPG in 29 MPG). Of course not — any number of players from Kobe to Wilt to Shaq were better scorers than that guy. It’s ridiculous.

    Time on the floor DOES matter. Not only in terms of pure functionality while they’re out there, but which parts of the game they’re playing in. The blk% stat does not tell us whether Mickelson’s 15 MPG are during crunch time or garbage time or some combination thereof. On the other hand, I can reasonably conclude from Davis’ 30+ MPG that he’s seeing all parts of the game — he both starts and finishes games.

    I’m not sure what’s so hard to understand about this conceptually. Stats do not exist in a vacuum; without appropriate context, they’re virtually meaningless (which is why the aggregates should not be taken alone EITHER).

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