Syracuse fights its way to the top of this week's Power Rankings
Wearing "We Are #1" shirts to commemorate ascending to the top of an Associated Press poll in December is not a recommended activity. There's the whole jinx factor, and the possibility that the Power Rankings' voting academy will disqualify you from being No. 1 simply for being so gauche about it. That was close to happening. There was serious debate.
Last Week: 3
The grid below is a photo representation of every valid Waiters steal from this season, labeled by opponent and color-coded by situation. Some of the images are regrettably low-grade -- not all the film was high quality -- but this should give you an idea of where and how the Orange's most menacing top-of-the-zone defender in years creates his turnovers. The "HC Dribble" label, for example, means Waiters divested a dribbling player of the ball in a half-court setting; "HC Intercept" means he intercepted a pass in the half court, and the rest should be self-explanatory. Slightly more than 50 percent (13/23) of Waiters' steals are of the "HC Dribble" variety.
Next three: 12/17 at NC State, 12/20 vs. Bucknell, 12/22 vs. Tulane
Last Week: 2
* Unofficially. We can't chart tape of every team.
Next three: 12/17 at South Carolina, 12/20 vs. Lamar, 12/22 vs. Miami (Oh.)
Last Week: 1
|over at A Sea Of Blue -- using the same methodology as SI's preview issue study -- shared his latest figures with us, and he has Davis with the best DRating (79.5) and engagement rate (25.7 percent of possessions) of any UK starter: |
Yet, for how effective Davis is, his backup at the five-spot, Eloy Vargas, has been even better defensively in his limited playing time (8.4 mpg). This may help to explain a strange phenomenon that I encountered when doing a possession-by-possession, efficiency plus-minus study of the Wildcats' defense when Davis is on or off the floor. I figured UK would be better at D with Davis; that was the case in the loss to Indiana, when the Wildcats were 0.431 PPP stingier while he was playing.
But over the course of the season, the Wildcats have been slightly better with Davis on the bench (allowing 0.822 PPP in 202 possessions) than they have with him on the floor (allowing 0.825 PPP in 440 possessions). Who expected that to be the case? This chart has the Davis +/- breakdown:
It is worth noting, as @FreeportKid pointed on out Twitter, that in Kentucky's three games against top-25 competition, it has allowed 0.874 PPP with Davis on the floor, and 1.267 PPP with him off of it, for a margin of +0.394. In the biggest games, Davis has made the biggest impact.
Next three: 12/17 vs. Chattanooga, 12/20 vs. Samford, 12/22 vs. Loyola (Md.)
Last Week: 4
|over at Tobacco Road Blues, and as someone who watched hours upon hours of UNC tape over the offseason, I was eager to get a defensive status report. According to Atkinson, John Henson is even more dominant than he was as a sophomore, limiting opponents to just 24.3 percent shooting (down from 28.7 percent last year) and creating just 1.05 free-throw attempts for every 10 field goals he defends. The two biggest revelations had to do with ... |
1. Sophomore shooting guard Reggie Bullock, whose injury-limited '10-11 numbers we left out of the magazine study due to small-sample concerns, has emerged as a fabulous perimeter defender. He has a team-high stop percentage of 71.8; for context, the highest stop percentage in SI's preview study belonged to Florida State's Bernard James, at 64.6. Bullock is allowing opponents to shoot just 16.1 percent on three-point attempts, and Atkinson also calls him the best ball-denial defender on the team.
2. Sophomore small forward Harrison Barnes, who was a middle-of-the-pack defender last season, has regressed to the point that he has the worst stop percentage of any rotation player (50.6). He's allowing opponents to shoot 49.0 percent on three-point attempts, and his defensive rebounding percentage has dropped from 12.6 as a freshman to a non-factor-level 7.4. Barnes needs to be a more engaged defender if he plans on leading UNC to a national championship.
Next three: 12/17 vs. Appalachian State, 12/19 vs. Nicholls State, 12/21 vs. Texas
Last Week: 5
Team Nat'l SchedRk.
Next three: 12/19 vs. UNC-Greensboro, 12/30 vs. Western Michigan, 1/1 vs Penn
Last Week: 6
|claimed Chris Paul was his cousin and called himself "MP3," a derivative of Chris' "CP3." When it was later revealed that Chris had never heard of Miguel, MP3 had to do some awkward backtracking. He never caught on at Mizzou, and transferred after the '09-10 season to East Carolina, where he's now redeeming himself by posting surprisingly CP3-like averages of 16.1 points and 5.6 assists per game. |
Further tangent-ing made me curious which (if any) current guards had stat lines that truly stack up with CP3's final year at Wake Forest, in '04-05. After some searching, these were the five closest comps (all data from Statsheet.com):
Player ORtg Poss% A/T FTR Stl%
Next three: 12/15 vs. Kennesaw State, 12/18 vs. William & Mary, 12/22 vs. Illinois (in St. Louis)
Last Week: 7
This week, my friends (and frequent blog collaborators) at Gorilla vs. Bear dropped their top 100 song list for 2011, which is a must-visit for any readers who aspire to have indie cred. My (superior) top five is as follows:
1. The Besnard Lakes: We're Here For A Good Time, which is a cover of a (much different-sounding) 1977 song by the Vancouver rock band Trooper. Canadians covering Canadians.
2. Kurt Vile: Baby's Arms. No Philly teams in the Power Rankings, but at least Kurt is representing. This is his best song yet.
3. Real Estate: Green Aisles. Days is the year's best album.
4. Girls: Honey Bunny. "I've been messing with so many girls who could give a damn about who I am." I can totally sympathize.
5. Sandro Perri: Changes. A 7.5-minute, slow-builder with an excellent ambient section, from a guy who hails from the same city (Toronto) as Marquette point guard Junior Cadougan. There's your basketball context!
Next three: 12/17 vs. Northern Colorado, 12/19 at LSU, 12/22 vs. Milwaukee
Last Week: 8
|story on the embarrassing events in this week's magazine, and makes the point that while Tu Holloway's early-season heroics validated him as a Player-of-the-Year candidate, "there's no doubt [his] immature instigation of the brawl -- and the comments he made later, including, "We've got a whole bunch of gangsters in the locker room, not thugs but tough guys on the court" -- will tarnish what has otherwise been a great college basketball success story." In a year where there isn't one clearly dominant player, the incident may hurt Holloway's case for the Wooden or Naismith Awards. |
When Anderson referred to a "success story," she was reminding us that Holloway has persevered after attending five high schools in four states, and then decommitting from Indiana after Kelvin Sampson's resignation. Holloway seemed to fit perfectly at Xavier, and up until Saturday -- when the Hoosiers had a storybook court-storming after beating Kentucky, and the Musketeers had an inexcusable ending to their rout of the Bearcats -- Cincy had been a far superior basketball setting than Bloomington.
Next three: 12/18 vs. Oral Roberts, 12/22 vs. Long Beach State (Diamond Head Classic), 12/23 TBD (Diamond Head Classic)
Last Week: 9
Team Player Poss% ORtg
Next three: 12/17 vs. Memphis, 12/20 vs. Charleston, 12/23 vs. Western Kentucky
Last Week: 11
|told CBS' Jeff Goodman last week), but there is no concrete explanation other than that he no longer "fits" in the Huskies' offense now that Andre Drummond is on the floor. In UConn's impressive 67-53 win over Harvard last week, Drummond played 25 minutes with a plus-minus of 8, Tyler Olander played 27 minutes with a plus-minus of 21, and Oriakhi played 22 minutes with a plus-minus of 3 -- the lowest of any rotation player. The positive thing for Huskies fans is that they're 8-1 and a top-10 team despite coming nowhere near reaching their potential in the frontcourt (even Drummond has a ways to go), and only beginning to integrate the talented Ryan Boatright into their guard rotation. |
Next three: 12/18 vs. Holy Cross, 12/22 vs. Fairfield, 12/28 at South Florida
Last Week: 24
The Tom Crean Face that followed Watford's shot is far superior to Norman Dale's reaction in the original scene. All Dale does is sort of laugh, like he knew Chitwood had it all along, whereas Crean's expression gave you have genuine concern that he might go into shock:
Next three: 12/17 vs. Notre Dame (in Indianapolis), 12/19 vs. Howard, 12/22 vs. UMBC
Last Week: 13
|Player Efficiency Rating leader board has such a low playing-time filter that Jayhawks reserve forward Kevin Young, who averages just 9.1 minutes per game, makes the cut ? and manages to rank No. 6 nationally, right behind Wooden/Naismith frontrunner Jared Sullinger, and well ahead of KU's All-America-candidate power forward, Thomas Robinson. Which begs the question: Why doesn't Young play more often? The transfer from Loyola Marymount didn't even get on the floor in KU's loss to Duke on Nov. 23, but he looked great against the Buckeyes, playing a season-high 24 minutes -- more than he received in the previous four games combined -- and going 6-of-8 from the field for 14 points. Young is a frail 6-foot-8 (at 185 pounds), and still learning Bill Self's system, but he has potential to be an immensely valuable bench asset. |
Next three: 12/19 vs. Davidson (in Kansas City), 12/22 at USC, 12/29 vs. Howard
Last Week: 10
Next three: 12/17 at BYU, 12/19 vs. Paul Quinn, 12/22 vs. St. Mary's (Las Vegas Classic)
Last Week: 18
|some would have you believe, because opposing offenses are frustrated by the overall game pace (which hasn't changed since last year), or because the Badgers recruit physical players (all of their big men since Greg Stiemsma have arrived skinny). |
UW's defensive dominance is due to a Duke-like focus on locking down the perimeter, as the Badgers are barely even letting opponents attempt 3s this year, much less make them; and key personnel changes at the 3-4-5 spots in the starting lineup. What they lost in offensive production from Jon Leuer, Keaton Nankivil and Tim Jarmusz, they've more than made up for on D by swapping in Ryan Evans, Mike Bruesewitz and Jared Berggren. Examine the two trios' defensive profiles, and the difference is clear:
2010-11 DReb% Blk% Stl%
Syracuse's Dion Waiters is receiving plenty of attention for his steals, but Evans and Berggren have quietly been the country's biggest defensive-breakout players.
Next three: 12/15 vs. Savannah State, 12/23 vs. Mississippi Valley State, 12/27 at Nebraska
Last Week: 16
Next three: 12/17 vs. Texas A&M, 12/19 vs. Mississippi Valley State, 12/22 vs. Florida State
Last Week: 17
|my Senior Breakout squad this week for his very unexpected gains in efficiency and assist rate; out of nowhere, he's become one of the better playmaking big men in the country. Before this, his major achievement had been a failed run for campus vice president that featured an excellent Social Network-spoofing campaign video: |
(As Ballin' is a Habit noted last season, teammate Nate Lubick curiously chose to support a different ticket by starring in a Dos Equis-esque ad.)
Next three: 12/17 vs. American, 12/22 vs. Memphis, 12/28 at Louisville
The Next 16: 17. Michigan State,18. Pittsburgh,19. Illinois,20. St. Louis,21. UNLV,22. Murray State,23. Purdue,24. Harvard,25. Virginia,26. Mississippi State,27. Wichita State,28. Michigan,29. Creighton,30. Texas A&M,31. Stanford,32. Iona