You know how Steph Curry changed basketball? Or maybe I should say how Steve Kerr changed basketball? Or maybe credit should go to the Warriors analytics department. Whoever it was, you know what I'm talking about, right? The reason Kofi wasn't drafted sources to basketball transitioning to "threes plus shots at the rim."
Obviously there's a lot that goes into all of this. Those analytics don't tell you that every two point jumper is bad. There are good twos and bad twos. There's no coach telling his team "only take shots from behind the line or right around the rim." Defender falls down? Don't charge toward the rim and attract more defenders. Take the open 13-footer.
My point is that basketball changed a lot. The reason Coleman Hawkins might play in the NBA and Kofi will not is because Coleman Hawkins can shoot the three and Kofi cannot. Skinny big men with range are more valuable than Shaq-like big men in the paint. It's just the current state of basketball.
I'm guessing you've seen articles with heat maps like this, right?
That's what I'm talking about here. If you hit 45% of your long twos and 37% of your threes, stop taking long twos and just shoot threes because you're going to score a lot more points. Shoot only high percentage shots near the rim and three pointers beyond the arc.
Brad Underwood mostly follows this thinking. It's not as strict as what some NBA teams go for, but he believes in three pointers and shots at the rim. We've discussed this before.
Chris Holtmann, uh, does not. I started tracking this on Twitter during the game and once the game was over I had a fairly stunning stat prepared for this article. Let's talk about it.
The official stat feed in the State Farm Center lists all of the shots taken. Those shots are tracked based on what kind of shot. Anything beyond the arc, obviously, is a Three Pointer. Anything inside the arc but not right at the rim is listed as a Jumper. Shots right at the rim are listed two different ways: Layup and Dunk. So a little floater in the line is going to be listed as a Jumper. That chart only has four different labels:
Here's the full shot chart from tonight. An X is a miss, a check mark is a make.
Number of times the word "JUMPER" appears in the Ohio State column: 37 times.
Number of times the word "JUMPER" appears in the Illinois column: 9.
That's crazy to me. We had dunks, layups, threes, and nine jumpers. They had dunks, layups, threes, and 37 jumpers.
The two teams were tied at 59 shots apiece before Ohio State took that final three to make it 60 shots on the night. So let me just chart those shots real quick:
(The one shot that isn't labeled there on the chart was Ty Rodgers spinning shot in the lane. It was almost a hook shot? Wonder if the stat crew tried to find the Kareem SKYHOOK button. I put it down as a "jumper" since it wasn't a layup or a dunk.)
Now let's add makes and misses to that.
Threes: 4 for 10 - 12 points
Jumpers: 11 for 37 - 22 points
Layups: 7 for 13 - 14 points
Dunks: 0 for 0 - 0 points
Add 12 free throws (12 for 20) - 60 points
Threes: 5 for 28 - 15 points
Jumpers: 2 for 9 - 4 points
Layups: 13 for 18 - 26 points
Dunks: 4 for 4 - 8 points
Add 16 free throws (16 for 18) - 69 points
We were horrendous shooting the three tonight. 5 for 28 (17.9%). Yet we won going away. How? 17 for 22 around the rim with layups and dunks while Ohio State was only 7 for 13 around the rim (with no dunks). We scored 34 points around the rim (and got to the line for 16 more). They scored 14 points around the rim (and got to the line for 12 more). 50 for us, 26 for them.
What were they doing instead of getting to the rim? Shooting 37 jumpers (and making only 29.7% of them).
Again, this isn't "what was Holtmann thinking doesn't he know basketball has changed?" Ohio State expects Sensabaugh and Sueing to make a ton of those jumpers (certainly way more than 29.7%). With a normal shooting night (and us shooting that poorly from three), this game is very close.
But the difference was in how we overcame shooting 17.9% from three. We had 34 points at the rim plus 16 free throws. We got to the rack, they didn't, we got dunks and layups, they shot jumper after jumper, we win.
+ At the under-16 timeout (which didn't come until 14:42 in the second half) I looked through the minutes played and saw that Ty Rodgers only had 4 minutes played in the first 26. I was hoping this could be a game where he could build on what he did at Nebraska but at that point he had 4 total minutes, one (excruciating) missed layup, 2 rebounds, and 2 fouls.
And then he played 11 of the final 14 minutes and was maybe our best player? In those 11 minutes...
- 2-2 from the floor (the spinning hook shot and the dunk)
- 6 rebounds (8 total for the night)
- 1 assist (the no-look to Hawkins for the dunk)
- 1 steal (just before the missed alley-oop from Shannon to Hawkins)
I know that we're in the Transfer Portal era so no one wants to say "by his senior year..." anymore. But you can already see what he could be in the next few years. If we let him, he could redefine Glue Guy in Champaign.
And he could also win Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year once he learns to defend without fouling.
+ But seriously, 5-28 from three is extremely concerning. Let me go look up three point percentage in conference games only on KenPom real quick.
31.0%. 12th out of 14 team in the Big Ten.
Last year? 35.1% in Big Ten play. The year before that? 36.4% in Big Ten play. 31.0% is a big anchor hanging around our necks the rest of conference play. Ohio State is shooting 41.7% from three during Big Ten play and Indiana is at nearly 40%. We really need to bump that up if we want to make a run. There's a lot of rough road games coming up.
Save us, Luke.
+ Who knew we'd lead the Big Ten in block percentage? I guess it makes sense given that we tried to become the lengthiest long team in length history this offseason. Long arms = blocks. But still, I didn't expect to get this many blocks the year after Kofi left. Let me go back to KenPom and sort those stats as well.
16th nationally in block percentage (14.8). When sorting by conference games only it actually goes up to 14.9 which leads the Big Ten. Good stuff.
OK, I'm falling asleep so that's all I have. I will now go to bed and dream of layups and dunks.
Chris Holtmann will dream of two-point jumpers.