Gators nip at heels of Duke, IU in latest hoops power rankings
Week 3 of the Power Rankings features the long-awaited return of the Craft Turnometer, the grand opening of Los Lobos Hermanos, and other assorted nerdery:
Last Week: 1
Interior defense was not expected to be Duke's strength this season. It lost its sturdiest forward, Miles Plumlee, to graduation, and it was going to have to get by with a thin frontcourt rotation (Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Josh Hairston) that allowed opponents to shoot 47.0 percent on the interior last season, ranking 136th nationally in that category.
It's quite a surprise, then, that interior D has keyed the Blue Devils' defensive resurgence in 2012-13. Against the most hellacious schedule of any ranked team, they've allowed just 40.8 percent shooting inside the arc -- by far their best rate of the past five seasons (see graphic above).
One huge factor has been the improvement of Kelly, a 6-foot-11 senior who doesn't have much of a defensive rep. He's blocking a team-high 6.7 percent of opponents' shots and has been a great isolation defender, even when he switches onto guards in ball-screen situations. I found an amazing Kelly stat while digging through Synergy's logs: In the 17 "iso" possessions he's defended this season -- against players such as Deshaun Thomas, Aaron Craft, Rodney Williams, Darius Theus, etc. -- Kelly has allowed just two baskets and zero free-throw attempts.
Next three: 12/8 vs. Temple (East Rutherford, N.J.), 12/19 vs. Cornell, 12/20 vs. Elon
Last Week: 2
|hoop-math.com to create the chart below, which shows the distinct change in Oladipo's shot distribution from his sophomore to junior seasons. |
By becoming a better finisher at the rim and cutting out the unwise jumpers, Oladipo's scoring efficiency has improved from 1.065 PPP to 1.252 PPP, according to kenpom.com. He's no longer an offensive liability.
Next three: 12/8 vs. Central Connecticut, 12/15 vs. Butler (neutral court), 12/29 vs. Mount St. Mary's
Last Week: 4
Using the 5-8 Erving Walker at the top of a zone was problematic last season. After losing Walker and adding 6-4 Michael Frazier, 6-6 Casey Prather and 6-7 Will Yeguete to the rotation, the Gators have become longer and more athletic on D. If they shut down Florida State, Arizona and Kansas State (their three big December opponents) as well as they did Wisconsin and Marquette, then they need to be considered not just the overwhelming SEC favorite, but a real national-title contender.
Next three: 12/5 at Florida State, 12/15 at Arizona, 12/19 vs. Southeastern Louisiana
Last Week: 3
* 63.6 percent on threes (21-of-33)
* 88.9 percent on free throws (24-of-27)
* 48.0 percent on two-pointers (12-of-25)
OK, so the last one isn't incredible, but the bulk of his attempts are from beyond the arc, and his unbelievable accuracy has him posting an Offensive Rating of 153.6. According to StatSheet, that makes Stauskas the most efficient scorer on any major-conference team. This is, obviously, a small sample, but Stauskas seems on his way to becoming the Big Ten's next Jon Diebler -- only with more ability to create offense off the dribble and generate free-throw attempts.
Next three: 12/8 vs. Arkansas, 12/11 vs. Binghamton, 12/15 vs. West Virginia (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Last Week: 5
|wanted to stash at D-II Bellarmine for a year of seasoning, before changing his mind in June and bringing the junior big man back onto Louisville's roster. Smart move, because after Gorgui Dieng went down with a broken wrist last month, the Cards had to turn to Van Treese to play important minutes off the bench. He's responded with monster rebounding numbers, grabbing 20.2 percent of available offensive boards (a fantastic, team-high rate) and 15.4 percent of defensive boards. Against College of Charleston on Tuesday, Van Treese pulled down 10 rebounds (six of them offensive) in just 23 minutes. |
Next three: 12/8 vs. UMKC, 12/15 at Memphis, 12/19 vs. Florida International
Last Week: 6
For context: Last season Craft created turnovers on 7.56 percent on opponents' possessions; my charting had him down for 93 steals and 63.5 uncredited TOs forced (on charges, forced mistakes, fouls drawn on moving screens, etc.) Since his raw steals numbers are down this season, I feared that his TO production would also be down -- but then I watched the tape. The results:
Craft's credited steals are down (10, or just 1.7 per game), but in a new twist, the majority of his turnovers (14.5) are uncredited. Although his box-score stats don't look as good, the Turnometer rate (7.79%) is the same as last season.
Next three: 12/8 vs. Long Beach State, 12/12 vs. Savannah State, 12/15 vs. NC Asheville
Last Week: 7
Next three: 12/5 at Washington State, 12/8 vs. Illinois, 12/15 vs. Kansas State (in Seattle)
Last Week: 8
Next three: 12/6 vs. Long Beach State, 12/8 vs. Monmouth, 12/15 vs. Canisius
Last Week: 9
|TeamRankings.com, and Withey ranked sixth nationally last season, at 1.44 blocks per foul. This season, he's No. 1 by a huge margin. Here's the top five, with a minimum requirement of 20 minutes played per game: |
Next three: 12/8 vs. Colorado, 12/15 vs. Belmont, 12/18 vs. Richmond
Last Week: 10
It happened weeks ago, but this photo of Mike Brey doing his postgame presser in his old George Washington jersey (on Nov. 21) is too good not to run. (HT: The Dagger via @cbrinks5.)
In other Irish news, there's an update on the 20/20 club, consisting of guys who pull down 20 percent of rebounds on both ends of the floor. Last week it had two members: Notre Dame's Jack Cooley and Maryland's Charles Mitchell. Mitchell has since fallen out, and no one has jumped in, which means that I might as well start calling it the Jack Cooley 20/20 Club. His splits of 22.3% OR/22.% DR make him, by far, the best rebounder in the country.
Next three: 12/8 vs. Brown, 12/15 vs. Purdue (in Indianapolis), 12/17 vs. IPFW
Last Week: 14
|told cincinnati.com, "Once the other team scores you've got one second to take the ball out and get it going. There's no more take the ball out and walk it down the floor. You?ve got one second to get that ball out of the net into the point guard or whatever guard is right there and get down the floor." |
Wright also said that if Cincy reverted to slow-ness, it would mean "something ain't right." Seven games, seven wins, decent speed: so far, things have gone right.
Next three: 12/6 vs. Arkansas-Little Rock, 12/8 vs. Maryland Eastern Shore, 12/15 at Marshall
Last Week: 13
|"indie star" (Mr. Norlander prefers "cult hero"), I am certain Wolters would have delighted The Barn with a 35-point, 15-assist, 12-rebound, zero-turnover tour de force -- after which he would've been asked to get on the PA and calm a mob of angry Minnesotans, who were rioting over the fact that Tubby Smith never recruited him out of St. Cloud. |
Alas, Wolters sat out, the Jackrabbits lost by 22, and the Gophers remain in the Power Rankings.
Next three: 12/8 at USC, 12/11 vs. North Dakota State, 12/22 vs. Lafayette
Last Week: 17
Next three: 12/8 at Clemson, 12/15 vs. Florida, 12/18 vs. Oral Roberts
Last Week: 11
Coming into Tuesday's win over Texas in the Jimmy V Classic, it was disconcerting that sophomore Otto Porter, their most efficient player (with a 109.3 ORating) and legitimate All-America candidate, was only using 20.9 percent of the team's offensive possessions ... while fellow sophomore Mikael Hopkins, their least efficient player by a wide margin (with an 83.9 ORating), was using possessions like a ball-dominating, go-to-guy, at a rate of 29.5 percent. Things were getting so bad that Casual Hoya nicknamed him Comrade Hopkins, suggesting he was a double agent. For the sake of Georgetown's offensive quality, those two were in dire need of a role reversal.
Which is, pretty much, what happened against the Longhorns: Porter took 16 shots (scoring 14 points) in 35 minutes, and Hopkins took just two shots (scoring 1 point) in nine minutes. The Hoyas' offense wasn't exactly awe-inspiring, but it was good enough to beat Texas by 23.
Next three: 12/8 vs. Towson, 12/10 vs. Longwood, 12/15 vs. Western Carolina
Last Week: 15
|giving the Hughsenberg sign some appreciation, I could make the Los Lobos Hermanos suggestion, and have a prototype in my Twitter feed within a few days ... but there was nothing. Really disappointing. |
If you're not a New Mexico fan, and bewildered by this: it's the Lobos' excellent guard duo. Kendall Williams is on the left and Tony Snell is on the right. If you don't know what Los Pollos Hermanos is, well, that's even more disappointing.
Next three: 12/5 vs. USC, 12/8 vs. Valparaiso, 12/15 vs. New Mexico State
Last Week: 16
|checked in on Carl Hall & Co. for their win at Air Force on Sunday, and made an astute point about the strength of the Missouri Valley: It's hardly a Creighton-only league, as the Bluejays (19th), Shockers (32nd), Illinois State (55) and Northern Iowa (74th) are all in kenpom.com's top 100. Creighton and Wichita should be able to make strong cases for at-large bids to the NCAAs, and Northern Iowa still has multiple opportunities left to get non-conference wins over potential NCAA-tournament teams, with games against UNLV, St. Mary's, Iowa and George Mason (as well as a BracketBusters date in February). There's at least an outside shot of the Valley earning a third bid for the first time since 2006, when it sent four teams to the dance and saw Wichita and Bradley reach the Sweet 16.|
Next three: 12/8 vs. Northern Colorado, 12/13 at Tennessee, 12/20 vs. Charleston Southern
The Next 16: 17. Creighton,18. Missouri,19. San Diego State,20. UNLV,21. Illinois,22. Pittsburgh,23. Alabama,24. Virginia Tech,25. Oklahoma State,26. Kansas State,27. Michigan State,28. Wyoming,29. Boise State,30. North Carolina,31. Kentucky,32. NC State