Did my best to avoid the NCAA Tournament the last four days. Avoided the blog entirely, too. Felt like I needed three full days to clear my head. I organized the home office, took the dog for several walks, went to a dinner party – pretty much avoided all things sports. With my now clear-ish head, I think I’m ready to evaluate this basketball season. [Read more…]
I’m SO avoiding the tournament today. And this weekend. Can’t remember it hurting like this. For the first time since 1985, I’m not even filling out a bracket. And if I see one single happy Iowa fan I might puke. So here’s Tyler and I rehashing the un-rehashable: that awful, awful loss to Bama. [Read more…]
I told anyone who would listen today that we were going to play our best game in months. It just felt like we’d turn it on at just the wrong time and we’d all be left with “where has THAT team been?” emotions. I was completely and totally wrong. The question wasn’t where this team has been – it’s where they went. And where we’re headed. [Read more…]
An NIT three seed playing Alabama in post season basketball. That is a thing that is currently happening…
By the numbers
Alabama had a rough season. After getting off to a blistering 12-3 start the Crimson Tide finished 6-11, missed the tournament, and fired their coach. Long time Grant assistant John Brannen will take over the bench in the interim.
On the year, Alabama posted solid numbers on offense and defense, finishing 60th and 90th respectively in kenpom’s adjusted efficiency numbers. The Crimson Tide struggled from outside, shooting 32.1% from deep on the year, but they made up for it and more with dominance inside the paint. A 51.9% 2FG% ranks 41st nationally. Go-go guards Levi Randolph and Rodney Cooper along with big man Jimmie Taylor are the key contributors to this statistic, each shoots over 70% at the rim. All those forays to the hoop also draw the expected number of fouls. Alabama finished regular season play 31st in FTA/FGA, with both Cooper and Randolph piling up nearly 5 fouls per 40.
On defense, Alabama continues to employ Anthony Grant’s trademark full court pressure and aggressive zone defense. They do a decent job of limiting teams from the field, giving up 32.4% from three and 47.2% from two. What held them back was an inability to generate enough turnovers with pressure off makes and a proclivity to foul.
Overall this feels like a bad matchup for us. A couple high octane guards that punish weak perimeter defense, and a zone defense built to shut down wing threes while giving up some penetration.
Who are they on offense?
The Alabama offense thrives by getting buckets in or around the hoop. They know this and everyone else knows it, but good offense trumps good defense every day of the week.
Lean a little bit and lead dog Levi Randolph is going to get you every single time.
I don’t really have any words that I can use right now. Nothing really comes to mind. Staring at darkness only brings more darkness. My hands are cold and I actually think it had something to do with this game. So instead of a postgame post, I’ll get back to work and just leave you with this: the texts Tyler and I shared during the game. [Read more…]
Let’s just call this the requiem back-and-forth. You ever have one of those conversations where you have to talk about something but you don’t really want to talk about it so you just kind of mumble your way through (also known as “conference calls”)? That’s this post. Tyler and I on a conference call and neither of us wanting to be there. [Read more…]
I spend a lot of my words here comparing the football program and the basketball program. The last two seasons have been quite similar in my mind, both in roster construction and how the seasons played out. One question that arises: where does each team stand talent-wise? [Read more…]
Purdue brings me sadness. This March 7th feels exactly like October 4th. We lose to Purdue in a game we just absolutely positively had to win and I’m left not angry, not indignant, but sad. Really, really sad. And in total disbelief. [Read more…]
This game today – man, this game today. It’s kind of everything. If there was a NERDstat for this (and there probably is a NERDstat for this), win and there’s a 84% chance we make the NCAA Tournament. Lose, and there’s a 14% chance we make the tournament because it will require a Wisconsin win. Here’s the discussion Tyler and I have had since the Nebraska win.
A win over Nebraska on senior night kept our tournament hopes alive. While there are scenarios in which we lose to Purdue and still make the dance (they involve beating Wisconsin in the BTT), this is effectively our season. Win here and we’re almost certainly in. Lose here and we’re almost certainly out. Let’s get to it.
By the numbers
Purdue’s been something of a revelation this season. After losing home games to Gardner Webb and North Florida, the Boilermakers have only dropped one conference game at home (Maryland). They’ve beaten the teams they should beat and fought hard in the games they’ve lost. After dropping back to back games for the first time since early January, Purdue will come home for senior night ready leave it all on the floor.
The Boilermakers’ offense has been exactly what you would expect with two true 7 footers and minimal floor spacing. They rank at the top of the conference in offensive rebounding, collecting 35.5% of their misses, and they get to the line a ton (league best 23 FTA per game). (Un)fortunately Purdue only converts 67% of their free throw attempts, with Hammons (64%) and Haas (55%) taking a good chunk of them.
On the flip side, the Boilers rank near the bottom of the league in turnover rate, coughing it up on over 20% of possessions. This also comes as a direct result of playing two old school big men. Forcing the ball inside can lead to steals via intercepted entry passes or quick double teams on Hammons and Haas. Both players like to take their time sizing up offensive opportunities, and neither is particularly adept at feeling double teams coming.
You could also likely pick Purdue’s defensive numbers out of a lineup, given the presence of Hammons and Haas. The Boilers do a great job of protecting the paint, allowing a league best 44.5% eFG%, and they also sit near the top of the table in block rates. The comfort that comes with always having a plus rim protector behind the play allows their perimeter defenders to be aggressive denying the three. This will be a difficult defense to crack, but we have the formula from our last game against them. While Purdue leads the league in free throws attempted they conversely give opponents over 21 FTA per game, near worst in the league. In our win against them early in the season we poured in 21 points from the line on just 24 attempts. A repeat performance would give us a great shot of pulling out a win.
Who are they on offense?
Purdue runs more post up iso than any college team I’ve watched in a long time and for good reason. Haas and Hammons can be unstoppable if allowed time and space to go to work one on one. They both want to catch on the left block and ideally take a dribble or two to get to a hook shot over their left shoulder.