College Basketball Splinters | January 13, 2009

large_large_su-cornellBy Paul Gotham

Tough week for the Jayhawks

Seven days ago Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks looked like an unstoppable force. One week later, the Jayhawks’ staff might want to spend some time reading the tea leaves.

Without a doubt, the Jayhawks will have some say in who wins this year’s national title. The degree to which they have that say will depend upon how Self’s crew reacts to their games against Cornell and Tennessee.

The Jayhawks can not ignore how their shot frequency and shot selection were dictated to them by the Big Red and the Vols.

Kansas beat Cornell 71-66 – a game where the Jayhawks trailed at home with 4:00 remaining. Cornell’s strategy was simple: limit the number of shots by Kansas. The Jayhawks took 49 shots against Cornell. In comparison, Kansas took 63 shots versus UCLA, 60 against Cal, and 61 vs. LaSalle. It sounds simple because it is. Limit your opponents shots and you will limit their chances to score.

Cornell played patiently on the offensive end. Kansas was unaccustomed to the change in speed and they struggled to get any rhythm in their offense.

Tennessee dictated WHERE Kansas would take their shots. The undermanned Vols put on a defensive transition clinic.  The Vols demonstrated an understanding of priority in defensive transition – ball, block, and first pass. That is, Tennessee got back in the paint and organized themselves quickly.  From there,  Tennessee played zone and made the Jayhawks shoot over them. The Kansas starting front court of Cole Aldrich and Marcus Morris attempted a combined 10 shots all night. That was shot attempts. Kansas took 61 shots. Tennessee dictated where they would take those shots.

The Jayhawks can expect to see these strategies in the future.

Ivy League thinking at large

Cornell’s performance at the Phog Allen Fieldhouse was no fluke. The Big Red has already beaten Alabama and St. John’s.

Cornell had another close call with Seton Hall. They have earned an RPI ranking of 34. For the last two years the Big Red have represented the Ivy League in the NCAA tournament. The Big Red packs plenty of experience.

Cornell is not the only Ivy team making noise. Harvard has an RPI of 49.

The Crimson have wins over Boston College and George Washington to go with a close loss to Georgetown.

Xavier playing truth or consequences

The Atlantic 10 has worked their way into the top five of conference RPI. With the likes of Temple, Dayton, Richmond, Charlotte, and Rhode Island either earning spots or votes in the Top 25, the A10 has vaulted ahead of the SEC and Pac 10.

What’s missing is the Xavier Musketeers who have made two Elite Eight appearances and one Sweet Sixteen appearance in the last decade. The next four games could go a long way in proving whether the X-Men will earn an NCAA bid this year. Xavier hosts Charlotte tonight and Dayton Saturday before visiting Temple next Wednesday and hosting Rhode Island a week from Saturday.

Keep Michigan State on the radar

The Spartans returned three starters from last year’s national final team which created high expectations. With three losses it is easy to overlook the Spartans.

But don’t forget Tom Izzo still roams the sidelines for the Spartans. So while everyone talks about the undefeated teams, John Wall, and the daily hype, Izzo coaches. The three losses can be deceiving. Izzo has used nine different starting lineups. One can only imagine how many finishing lineups he has used – and the lineup at the end of the game is the one that matters.

Part of that shuffling included taking Kalin Lucas out of the starting five. Many coaches give in to their stars. Not Izzo. Actually, Izzo does not coach stars. Examine that lineup closely; you won’t find any McDonald’s All-Americans.  Izzo teaches team play, and that takes time. The results speak for themselves: 12 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, 5 Final Fours, and one National Title.

First team All-Casey

PG Sherron Collins – Kansas

SG Jeremy Hazell – Seton Hall

SF Wesley Johnson – Syracuse

PF Al-Farouq Aminu – Wake Forest

C Dexter Pittman – Texas

2nd Team All Casey

PG – Jon Scheyer – Duke

SG  Matt Bouldin – Gonzaga

SF  Robbie Hummel – Purdue

PF  Patrick Patterson – Kentucky

C Jason Love – Xavier

Got any college basketball splinters? Share them here.

12 Responses to "College Basketball Splinters | January 13, 2009"

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  3. Dan   January 13, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Wow, no John Wall in your top 10. Possibly best player on possibly the best team??

    Is this out of dislike?? Is there some bias involved??

    I’ve seen him play a couple of times and in my humble opinion, he is one of the top 10 players in the nation. I do know that you have watched more than I have, so I will defer to your expertise. However, where do you see Wall??

    Who will give Duke a run in the ACC?? Is Georgia Tech the cream of the crop? How’s Wake this year? I know Carolina. I foresee a split with Duke this year. Do they play twice??

    With the hoops season well under way, who do you see as the conference winners? #1 seeds in the tournament? Final Four? National Champ? Any early thoughts out there??

  4. Casey   January 13, 2010 at 11:39 am

    On the topic of Wall – you will notice that I have distinguished by position – point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center. That might be a shortcoming, but it is how I chose to do it. Keep in mind, that I have been doing these for a few weeks, and the players on my teams have changed. My selections could and probably will change next week.

    I have a few things I am looking at, but let’s START with this. I am going to give you two blind resumes. You can look up these stats, but that would defeat the purpose.

    Player A: 20.1 points per game. His field goal percentage is 45.8%. Three point percentage is 40.7% He has taken 192 of his team’s 932 Field goal attempts. He grabs 3.5 rebounds and gets 1.2 steals. His assist to turnover ratio is 4.8 : 1. His team averages 84.7 points per game. His team’s strength of schedule is 8th in the country.

    Player B: 17.2 points per game. 50.6% field goal percentage. 38.9% three point percentage. He has taken 175 of his team’s 1,018 shots. He grabs 3.8 rebounds. He gets 2.3 steals. His assist to turnover is 1.8 : 1. His team averages 82.8 points against a strength of schedule that is rated 96th in the country.

    What is your choice? Remember, this is your point guard.

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  6. Wally   January 13, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I choose Player A … Assist to TO ratio is king for a PG. However, I’d like to see some stats on steals.

    Hey … where’s ‘Gody of ND???? And your failure to mention ND’s upset of WVU last weekend is very disappointing …. only cuz that’s probably the only big win they’ll get all year 😉

  7. Casey   January 13, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Steals are there – Player A 1.2 (18 total) Player B 2.3 (34 total)

    Another stat: Free Throws
    Player A: 91% (81/89)

    Player B: 78.4% (38/64)

  8. Casey   January 13, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    As for ND – they didn’t make it on to my radar. I did not get a chance to see the game. Have faith. They will get another big win.

  9. Casey   January 13, 2010 at 5:27 pm


    You’re right – my leaving off Gody is conspicuous. has him ranked as their #1 power forward. I guess I’m still reeling from late last year.

  10. Smitty   January 13, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Agree with everyone on here. Give me Player A in a heartbeat. My point guard better be able to protect the ball and get everyone in the offense. A 5 to1 assit to turnover ratio says it all right there. Plus he has been doing it against one of the toughest schedules in country. Player A is on my team any day of the week.

  11. Casey   January 13, 2010 at 8:36 pm


    Yes, Duke and Carolina play twice. I long for the days when the entire conference played each other twice. Sure, I like BC, VT and the U but ACC playing twice and then a third time in the conference tourney was great. No one wanted to lose.

    As for predictions? Geez…not like anything can happen say injuries or anything. Besides predictions? They are akin to Russian Roulette, and I ‘d rather NOT be Christopher Walken needing Robert DeNiro to bring his carcass back from Saigon.

  12. Casey   January 14, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    Player A – Jon Scheyer

    Player B – John Wall

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