Analyzing Syracuse's game-winning play, appreciating Wilbekin, more
The #Ennions Edition of the Power Rankings:
Last Week: 1
|Tyler Ennis' buzzer-beating three-pointer at Pittsburgh, which is the shot of the year: |
1. The Orange were out of timeouts, but Panthers coach Jamie Dixon gave them time to set up a two-option play by burning his final 30-second TO. Pitt opted not to guard the inbounder, initially using freshman Michael Young (circled in yellow) as a floating defender. Syracuse's No. 1 option was a baseball pass to C.J. Fair, who had cut hard toward the ball, then reversed course, hoping (but failing) to shake his man.
2. Pitt prevented the bomb to Fair ... but everything else it did was questionable. Ennis was allowed to catch the ball with forward momentum and a decent cushion between him and defender Josh Newkirk, also a freshman. The Panthers gave Trevor Cooney, the Orange's best shooter, a similar cushion; Ennis could have advanced the ball to him easily. The "extra defender," Young, just sagged back past halfcourt, while the double-team on Ennis came from the other side of the court.
3. That double-team on Ennis by Cameron Wright was too late: By the time Ennis hit halfcourt, he already had both shoulders past Wright. And the initial "extra" defender, Young, is sagging back to, I guess, prevent the minuscule chance of Rakeem Christmas taking the final shot.
4. By the time Ennis rises to shoot, Wright isn't even in his field of vision, and Newkirk's forward momentum keeps him from contesting the shot:
(Screengrabs source: ESPN.)
Last Week: 2
|T.J. McConnell and Nick Johnson combine to score 0.674 points per possession on off-the-dribble Js, according to Synergy Sports Technology, while Wichita State's Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker combine for 1.124 PPP -- a 0.450 PPP difference. There are plenty of other ways to score, but this weak spot limits Arizona's offense in late shot-clock isolations. |
(Chart data is through Tuesday's games.)
Last Week: 3
|Baker's prowess at jump-shooting off the bounce, here's an edit of them in action, using staggered ballscreens, single ballscreens, step-back moves and midrange pull-ups: |
Last Week: 4
|Scottie Wilbekin has stepped up his offense in February by getting to the foul line at an increased rate. Against Missouri on Feb. 4, he was 13-of-16 from the stripe (while somehow not attempting a single two-pointer); and against Tennessee on Tuesday, he was 10-of-12 from the line. The chart below tracks Wilbekin's five-game running free throw rate (FTA/FGA) for his junior and senior seasons, and shows him at a much different whistle-drawing level in SEC play than he was in '12-13: |
Last Week: 11
|Daniel Ochefu warranted positional reclassification to "point center." In the Wildcats' Feb. 7 win over Seton Hall, Ochefu equalled the assist total (six) of point guard Ryan Arcidiacono, dropping perfect bounce passes and showing patience passing out of double-teams in the post. Ochefu reverted to normal center mode against DePaul this week, with just one assist, but you can re-experience his passing exhibition against the Pirates with this edit: |
Last Week: 5
|Wyoming manage to score 1.15 PPP -- the second-highest efficiency of any SDSU opponent this season, after Creighton -- in Tuesday's upset in Laramie? The Cowboys did next-to-no offensive rebounding, getting just four in 21 chances, but they created great looks around the rim with their sharp ball movement and cutting. David Harten (@David_Harten) alerted me to this possession, in which Wyoming used a seven-pass, three-reversal combination -- with just two dribbles! -- to lift the Aztecs' rim-protectors to the elbows and get a layup: |
Last Week: 10
|kenpom.com's rankings almost entirely on the power of its offense, which has a chance to rank as not just the No. 1 scoring attack of this season, but also the No. 1 offense of the whole efficiency era (2003-present). I went through kenpom's archives to try to identify similarly structured teams, and found eight that ranked in the top two in adjusted offensive efficiency while sitting outside the top 75 in adjusted defensive efficiency. The Blue Devils' closest comps are Chris Paul-led, 2003-04 Wake Forest, and T.J. Ford-led 2002-03 Texas: |
Last Week: 7
|Michigan and five others make the cut: |
The closest comparison to '13-14 Michigan is '04-05 Oklahoma State, which was Eddie Sutton's last great team, featuring John Lucas III and the Graham brothers. Those Cowboys went to the Final Four the previous season but were bounced from the '05 tourney in the Sweet 16.
Last Week: 6
|GroupStats crew sent over another batch of Kansas lineup efficiencies that shed light on how the Jayhawks might be affected while/if freshman center Joel Embiid sits out with knee and back injuries. (They've played 915 offensive possessions with him and 753 without him, so there's a decent amount of data.) |
• On offense, the biggest change is on the glass: With Embiid on the floor, KU's offensive rebounding percentage is an elite 40.6; without him, it drops to a pedestrian 31.7.
• On defense, KU's free-throw rate changes dramatically. With Embiid, they send opponents to the line infrequently, allowing 35.4 free-throw attempts per 100 field-goal attempts. Without him, they allow 59.9 FTA/100FGA. Their backup big men are more foul-prone, and their guards don't have shot-blocking protection on the back line, so are more likely to foul drivers.
Last Week: 8
Last Week: 15
|Charlottesville. If the conference plays out as kenpom projects, Virginia will actually tie Syracuse for first place at 16-2. Which seems wild ... unless you read SI's preseason Crystal Ball, in which my "bold prediction" was that the Cavs "will be a surprise contender (and top-three finisher) in Year 1 of the expanded ACC."|
Last Week: 16
|T.J. Warren, Missouri's Jordan Clarkson and Oregon's Joseph Young, is pretty silly. My Naismith 30 ballot had 25 of the eventual selections, with the differences highlighted in red/blue: |
I thought it was important to include the defensive anchors for two teams that are likely to win conference titles with their defense: St. Louis' Jordair Jett and Cincinnati's Justin Jackson. They make more winning contributions than most 20-point scorers ... or at least most 20-point scorers not named Douglas McDermott. He's up next:
Last Week: 9
Before McDermott went McDormant, though, the Bluejays ran a great spread-floor, screen/fake-cut/step-back/catch-and-shoot play for him, with Austin Chatman doing a commendable job of sealing off a guy double his size:
Last Week: 12
|Sean Kilpatrick is a strong offensive leader, 6-8 center Justin Jackson, the Bearcats' defensive specialist, might be the most valuable player in the entire AAC. He's a solid rebounder, and he ranks in the top 100 in block percentage (10th) and steal percentage (53rd) on kenpom.com. Plus, according to Kelli Anderson's feature on Jackson from Jan. 31, Cincy's in-house charting had him credited for 7.3 deflections per game, which is remarkable. Now that Jackson has bulked up so he can bang with opposing big men, he's the most versatile defender in the league. "You can't exploit him on defense, and that makes us so hard to play against," coach Mick Cronin told Anderson. "Most shot blockers struggle out on the floor in pick-and-roll defense. Justin can defend big guys, he can defend guards, he can defend power, he can defend the pick and roll."|
Last Week: 14
|Russ Smith was dealing with an unexplained crisis: |
He's still being Russ, and even though he's not getting the same level of hype than Ennis is, Smith is having another excellent season. He's No. 3 in the kPOY behind McDermott and Jabari Parker, and posting career bests in three-point percentage (39.7) and two-point percentage (49.2) while taking on a large share of point-guard duties. Smith's closest statistical comparison last year, according to kenpom's formula, was 2009-10 Jimmer Fredette, but this season it's 2010-11 Nolan Smith -- another combo guard who had to play plenty of point in his final season.
Last Week: 13
|Monte Morris, who recently moved into the Cylcones' starting lineup as part of a dual-playmaker setup alongside DeAndre Kane, has been handling the ball with Jordan Taylor-level care. Examine Morris' absurd assist/turnover lines in Big 12 play: |
Morris' turnover percentage is just 10.0 on the season and 6.9 in conference games, with a 7.8-to-1 assist/TO ratio. I'm already calling dibs on him for breakout sophomore lists.
Next three: 2/15 vs. Texas Tech, 2/18 vs. Texas, 2/22 at TCU