Syracuse fends off OSU, Kentucky for Power Rankings top spot
Happy Holidays, hoopheads! Enjoy your super-festive, DIY gift: graphs of Syracuse's backcourt substitution patterns. They are not returnable.
Last Week: 1
|aggregate substitution patterns from last season, proving that full-strength lineups (five starters) tend to only appear together for the first five minutes of the first half, and the first four minutes of the second half. |
Reaction: Dion Waiters, Syracuse's super-sub, hardly ever appears during those stretches. Some Orange fans have clamored for him to start, but it seems that coach Jim Boeheim's "deployment" of Waiters is rather shrewd. When opponents' lineups are at their weakest, Waiters -- who's arguably Syracuse's best player -- tends to be on the floor, ready to pounce. And the Orange tend to capitalize on those talent imbalances.
Proof: I charted the substitution patterns of Syracuse's primary three guards (Waiters in red, Scoop Jardine in blue and Brandon Triche in green) in three different games, and plotted them against the number of opposing starters on the floor during each 30-second interval.
The Orange's win over Virginia Tech in the NIT Season Tip-Off semis was keyed by a nearly five-minute stretch of the second half in which Waiters appeared against only three Hokies starters. Syracuse was +11 during that span:
A huge first half against Marshall on Dec. 6 helped the Orange avoid an upset, with the most important stretch being a 10-minute, +14 run with Waiters on the floor. More than half of his playing time came against three or fewer starters:
Syracuse was in danger on two occasions at N.C. State on Dec. 17, and then answered with huge Waiters-vs.-lesser-lineups runs. The Orange's +24 stretch in the first half came with Waiters against either three or four starters, as did their late, +12 run that sealed the victory:
It's possible that Waiters' stats are inflated in comparison to those of his backcourt partners, because he plays against more subs. But for Syracuse's W-L record, which is all that really matters, he is being deployed to maximum advantage.
Next three: 12/22 vs. Tulane, 12/28 vs. Seton Hall, 1/1 at DePaul
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|that Evan Ravenel start in his place. |
Sullinger shook off a bruised foot to go for 18 and 11 against Lamar on Tuesday, and while he's missed two of the Buckeyes' 12 games, he still has to be considered the frontrunner for National Player of the Year honors by a narrow margin over Creighton's Doug McDermott. My preseason, hype-free top five for POY, heading into the holidays:
3. Herb Pope, Seton Hall
4. Marcus Denmon, Missouri
5. Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Next three: 12/22 vs. Miami (Oh.), 12/28 vs. Northwestern, 12/31 at Indiana
Last Week: 3
The Davis on/off floor chart now includes UK's wins over Chattanooga (in which the Wildcats were nearly a half-point better per possession with Davis) and Samford (in which they were better without him):
On the season, UK is only 0.04 PPP better on defense with Davis than without. If I were coaching, I would want Davis on the floor as much as possible. And obviously, his plus-minus splits are great in two of the 'Cats three big games (Kansas and Indiana). But instead of getting upset about the overall numbers not matching your preconceived notions, try to consider them in a positive way: Sometimes when Davis is on the bench, UK still manages to play effective D. Which means it has multiple guys capable of being impact defenders (see: Kidd-Gilchrist, Michael; and Vargas, Eloy). And that's a good thing.
Next three: 12/22 vs. Loyola (Md.), 12/28 vs. Lamar, 12/31 vs. Louisville
Last Week: 4
|A Harrison Barnes jersey autographed by ... Spike Lee?!? It sold for $250 in an online auction on UNC's Web site this week. Apparently Spike signed it during a visit to Chapel Hill earlier this month; I guess the name of his production company (40 Acres & A Mule) makes scrawling his name on a No. 40 UNC jersey slightly less weird, but still: having him sign Mars Blackmon on a Jordan throwback probably would've been a more valuable auction idea. |
Elsewhere in the Barnes Economy, an eBay seller is trying to get $399 for Barnes' own autograph on his jersey, and multiple bootleggers are trying to sell Black Falcon tees inspired by his nickname. My fave is the women's shirt at right, in which the tagline "Mr. Clutch" seems to be inadvertently serving as a double entendre.
Next three: 12/29 vs. Elon, 1/1 vs. Monmouth, 1/7 vs. Boston College
Last Week: 5
|DraftExpress recently called him "one of the most pleasant surprises in the European game.") Singler, Purdue's E'Twaun Moore and Wisconsin's Jon Leuer were the only American rookies who went to Europe -- but whereas Moore and Leuer opted out of contracts to return to NBA training camps, Singler opted out of his Alicante deal ... and signed a new one with Real Madrid, one of Europe's elite clubs, for a hefty raise. He did this despite the fact that the Pistons were interested in signing for this season. It's a unique move that's worth monitoring over the next year. Will Singler end up increasing his value, or put himself in a tougher position to break into the NBA when (or if) he wants to return stateside? For the time being, I'm just happy he grew his hair back out:|
Next three: 12/30 vs. Western Michigan, 1/1 vs. Penn, 1/4 at Temple
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|effective field goal percentage higher than 70, play at least 50 percent of available minutes, and take at least 20 percent of their team's shots while they're on the floor. They are: |
Player, Pos., Team EFG% Min% Shot%
The Tigers' Kim English barely missed the cut:
Player, Pos., Team EFG% Min% Shot%
Next three: 12/22 vs. Illinois (in St. Louis), 12/30 at Old Dominion, 1/3 vs. Oklahoma
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|Pitino told CBSSports.com -- but ideally, Smith would share more shots with Kyle Kuric (1.158 PPP), Gorgui Dieng (1.188 PPP) or the unrelated Chris Smith (1.296 PPP). |
Next three: 12/23 vs. Western Kentucky, 12/28 vs. Georgetown, 12/31 at Kentucky
Last Week: 11
Rk. Player, Team PostPPP #Poss % of
Next three: 12/22 vs. UMBC, 12/28 at Michigan State, 12/31 vs. Ohio State
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|Drummond told The (New London) Day. "That's not fair to [Bradley]. He worked hard to get that scholarship. I'm not going to take something from somebody that's not mine. It was my decision to come late." |
Meanwhile, a recent study of the top eight BCS-conference assist leaders (done by John Templon of NY Buckets) revealed that Shabazz Napier puts a higher percentage of his passes on a dunkable platter than any other top point guard. As of Dec. 16, an amazing 32.1 percent of Napier's assists had gone for dunks; the next-highest player in Templon's study was UNC's Kendall Marshall, at 16.7.
Next three: 12/22 vs. Fairfield, 12/28 at South Florida, 12/31 vs. St. John's
Last Week: 13
With Franklin looking like a permanent member of Baylor's rotation, and Perry Jones III back from his early-season suspension, coach Scott Drew now has the ability to go 10 or 11 deep in any given game. That's a significant change from the past three seasons, when the Bears were so thin they ranked 324th, 316th and 330th in bench minutes. If Drew can take full advantage of this newfound depth -- perhaps by applying even more defensive pressure, and upping game tempo -- Baylor has a legitimate shot at the Final Four.
Next three: 12/22 vs. St. Mary's (Las Vegas Classic), 12/23 vs. West Virginia (Las Vegas Classic), 12/28 vs. Mississippi State (in Dallas)
Last Week: 7
|suffered at LSU on Monday, but this YouTube clip of Williams reflexively chucking a dead ball in the general vicinity of rim -- then immediately apologizing to the ref -- is gold:|
Next three: 12/22 vs. Milwaukee, 12/29 vs. Vanderbilt, 1/1 vs. Villanova
Last Week: 14
|off of their list of finalists for the award that's supposed to honor college hoops' best point guard. This week, the Cousys unveiled their 65-player "watch list," which included Taylor and fellow '10-11 snubee Tu Holloway ... but was a comic failure in many other ways. Unlike the nit-picky "NBA All-Star snubs" columns that are done out of habit, the critiques of the Cousy list addressed such issues as:|
• At least four of the players nominated weren't even point guards: Memphis' Will Barton, Florida's Kenny Boynton, Pitt's Ashton Gibbs and Oregon State's Jared Cunningham.
• Florida State, which has the nation's 164th-ranked offense, had both of its point guards (Luke Loucks and Jeff Peterson) nominated despite their sub-1 assist-turnover ratios. Many other marginal point guards made the list, almost as if they were selected out of a hat, and yet ...
• The guy who might just be the nation's best point guard, South Dakota State's Nate Wolters, and the guy who's been running the nation's best-shooting, lowest-turnover offense, Missouri's Phil Pressey, were both excluded. Guys, Jordan Taylor feels your pain.
Next three: 12/23 vs. Mississippi Valley State, 12/27 at Nebraska, 12/31 vs. Iowa
Last Week: 15
Next three: 12/22 vs. Florida State, 12/29 at Rutgers, 12/31 vs. Yale
Last Week: 16
|who didn't play AAU. He was barely on anyone's radar until his senior season at a small Missouri high school, and even though recruiting analysts made room for him on the later iterations of their Class of 2011 rankings, Porter was probably still underrated at No. 34 in the RSCI. He has already emerged as one of the Hoyas' best all-around players, making 62.2 percent of his twos, posting a 2.2-to-1 assist-turnover ratio, and pulling down a higher percentage of defensive rebounds than any other starter. Taking his block and steal percentages (3.9, 2.9) into consideration, Porter is outperforming all but a handful of the recruits ranked ahead of him in the RSCI. He and Texas' Shelden McLellan (No. 48) seem to be the two most undervalued players in the top 50, while UConn's Ryan Boatright (No. 64) might be the biggest sleeper in the second 50. Gonzaga's Kevin Pangos is the biggest sleeper of all, though; he didn't crack the top 100, but has been among the country's top three rookie point guards.|
Next three: 12/22 vs. Memphis, 12/28 at Louisville, 12/31 vs. Providence
|averaged 10.3 minutes off the bench, there were games in which I thought he was equally adept at running the U.S. offense than was Memphis' Joe Jackson, who averaged 23.7 minutes per game as a starter.|
It turns out that, after being handed the reins back in East Lansing, Appling's sophomore-year numbers have been quite similar to Jackson's:
PG ORtg Poss% A/T FTRate Stl%
Next three: 12/22 at USC, 12/29 vs. Howard, 12/31 vs. North Dakota
• This is the main difference: 20 percent of the Rebels' offense is happening in transition this season, according to Synergy, compared to 13.5 percent under Lon Kruger in 2010-11.*
• They've let 1.7 percent of their offensive possessions go down to the final four seconds of the shot clock, compared to 2.1 percent last year.*
• UNLV's adjusted tempo on kenpom.com is 69.7 possessions per 40 minutes, compared to 67.8 last year. So, on the whole, they've only added two more possessions per game.
(*For context, one of the two teams the Rebels have lost to Wisconsin, only gets 6.7 percent of its offense in transition, and lets 5.8 percent of its possessions go down to the final four seconds of the shot clock, according to Synergy.)
Next three: 12/22 at USC, 12/29 vs. Howard, 12/31 vs. North Dakota
The Next 16: 17. Xavier (on one-week, post-fight probation from the top 16), 18. Pittsburgh, 19. Kansas, 20. St. Louis, 21. Murray State, 22. Virginia, 23. Purdue, 24. Mississippi State, 25. Creighton, 26. Harvard, 27. Wichita State, 28. Illinois, 29. Michigan, 30. Texas A&M, 31. Stanford, 32. Iona
The Power Rankings will return on Jan. 5.