- AP: #7 (steady from last week)
- Coaches: #7 (up from #10)
- Sagarin: #8 (up from #10)
- Kenpom: #18 (up from #23)
- RPI: #3 (up from#4)
- Bracketology: #2 seed (up from #3 seed)
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
- Spartans not at prime – yet
Morgan had the flu on Saturday.
- MSU retires Peterson’s #42
Video including MoPete’s comments to the crowd.
- Honor Roll: Big Ten Players
Kudos for Goran Suton from Hoopraker.
- Balcony seats $5 for IU’s seven remaining home
File under “Signs of the Apocalypse.”
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):
- 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.