Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2008-2009 Season: What Went Wrong?

With the mild disappointment that was the 2008-2009 Badger season, the question arises, what went wrong? Granted the team lost major contributors in Brian Butch, Michael Flowers, and Greg Stiemsma, but in years previous Bo Ryan's teams have reloaded rather than rebuilt. Their best NCAA tournament finish was in the season after Devin Harris left early for the NBA. They had a school record 31 victories last season after losing All-American, NBA-bound Alando Tucker and all-conference, Europe-bound Kam Taylor.

- Luck was one of the deciding factors in their sub-par record... Now hear me out on this one. It sounds like an excuse, but Wisconsin was on the wrong side of a last second shot the majority of the time this season (save Iowa, Virginia Tech, and Florida State). According to Ken Pomeroy's calculated statistic of luck (or variance from expected record), Wisconsin ranked 297th out of 344 teams. If you think about it, it makes sense. The home overtime loss to Minnesota would've ended in a Wisconsin victory in regulation if J-Bo's blocked lay-up is rightfully called a goaltend, Westbrook misses one out of the many contested 3s and twisting lay-ups in the final minutes of the game, or if Wisconsin shoots just 25% from 3 rather than 21%. Same thing for the Iowa game. If the foul on Jordan Taylor's lay-up is called, it's a 7 point swing in the game since Bo doesn't get a technical. You give them a small bit of luck like that in every single game in that 6-game losing streak, and you're looking at a team that might've entered the Big Ten tournament with a record of 23-7 instead of 19-11.

- Defense... I believe the main tangible thing missing from this team was a shot blocker in the middle of the paint. Throughout the whole season, the best post defender Wisconsin had was Marcus Landry. That isn't good when they play many teams that have small forwards bigger than Marcus. A telling tale of this was in the Xavier tournament game, 6'10" forward Jon Leuer was guarding a 6'6" guard, and Landry guarded the 7'0" center.

Nevertheless, this team's defense gave up a significantly higher percentage from inside the arc than they did last season (49% compared to 41.7%). They also forced less than turnovers (19.3% turnover ratio to 21.4%) and let their opponent go to the free throw line much more often (34.1 FT rate to 25.4). The only thing they improved on was grabbing more of the rebounds on the defensive (73.7% from 71.3%), however they were already elite at that last season (9th in the nation last season and 4th this season). Overall, they were ranked as the 50th best defense in the nation, giving up 0.959 PPP. While that is well below the cut-off of 1.000 for a good defense, it pales in comparison to the previous five seasons, where the defenses finished with an overall PPP above 0.882 (ranked 13th) only once (2006 when the team lost Landry and Stiemsma halfway through the season).

What is an easy target that I will not pick on as much is the offense. The offense is always the scapegoat in a loss. I've never heard anyone say, "I wish our defense held them to less points", it's always, "Our offense needs to score more". It's not that easy and I've always held the believe that it is easier to be a great defensive team than it is to be a great offensive team. This season's offense scored a very efficient 1.126 PPP, which was good for 36th best in the nation (previous seasons were 28th, 26th, 46th, 30th, and 13th respectively). What this offense lacked in shooting percentage from the floor (179th in 2-pt shooting and 89th in 3-pt) and ability to get to the free throw line (214th), they made up for it in extreme lack of turnovers. There were only 4 teams in the entire nation that turned the ball over less often than the Badgers. These lack of turnovers converted into extra shots, which made up for their only average shooting ability inside the arc. This is not to say that the offense was devoid of fault... I just think the majority of the blame should fall on the defense and the Milwaukee Brewers, hogging all of Wisconsin sports' allotted luck.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Rotation for Next Season

Next season's rotation should be interesting to see. I think we can assume that Trevon, J-Bo, and Leuer with start, but after that it's up to interpretation. I think it will go something like this...

6'0" PG/SG - Trevon Hughes = should have a great season with better play-making support around him and better decision-making
6'2" SG - Jason Bohannon = with the added depth to the perimeter, hopefully he can play less minutes to increase his effectiveness shooting deep, you could tell he didn't ave his legs under him at the end of games this season
6'8" SF/SG - Tim Jarmusz = Bo likes his upperclassmen and values consistency over potential, so I figure he gets the spot over Wilson or Evans, he's a decent defender, smart with the ball and a good threat from 3
6'10" PF/SF - Jon Leuer = if Jon can become just an above-average defender and a bit stronger in the post on offensive, he's the complete package and an All-Big 10 caliber player
6'8" PF - Keaton Nankivil = For the same reasoning as Jarmusz, Bo goes with Nankivil over Berggren or Bruesewitz, he's got all the tools, just has to be more aggressive, I think we saw a preview of next season in the 2 tournament games (he shot poorly against Xavier, but I liked the aggressiveness to take 8 shots in a big game like that)

6'1" PG/SG - Jordan Taylor = quintessential point guard who distributes the ball well and plays great defense, now if he can just knock down some shots next season...
6'4" SG/SF - Rob Wilson = I liked what I saw in his limited minutes this season, if he can cut down on the turnovers but keep his willingness to drive and post up, he'll be a great offensive shot in the arm off the bench
6'10" PF/C - Jared Berggren = I honestly don't know what to expect from Berggren at all, I hope he can be a good offensive post player and the shot-blocking/altering threat that we were surely missing
6'8" SF/SG - Ryan Evans = Evans is another question mark to me, Bo has said he has been dominant in practices at times, but he alluded to not read too much into it... at the very least, he brings some of that athleticism and length a good number of Badger faithful have pined for which should make for at least a good wing defender

Do the True Freshmen Make the Rotation?

6'8" PF/SF - Mike Bruesewitz = from all accounts, the kid is Joe Krabbenhoft with a jumpshot, athleticism, and red hair... he can handle the ball, defend multiple positions, and rebound well... he may crack the rotation if the other 3 front-liners aren't good enough to dominate the minutes available or, hopefully, because he's just that good
6'3" SG - Diamond Taylor = another long guard with great scoring ability and according to his high school coaches, a great defender too... but with the 6 back-court players ahead of him in this rotation, I don't know if he'll crack the line-up, even with three guards on the court most of the time

I really like the versatility of this rotation. They have the height to play a big team, depth at guard to match-up with a 3 guard team, and athleticism and length to play an athletic team...

Big = go with Hughes/Taylor, Wilson, Jarmusz/Evans, Leuer, and Berggren

Small = go with Hughes/Taylor, Bohannon, Wilson, Jarmusz/Evans, and Leuer/Nankivil

Athletic = go with Hughes/Taylor, Wilson, Evans, Leuer, and Berggren

Wisconsin's Next Star?

What can I say about Vander Blue that hasn't already been said? He's the total package and a perfect fit for the swing. He can shoot it from deep. He can get to the rim at will and finishes with authority. He gets to the free throw line. He has the ability to take over a game. He can defend and has great hands for steals. He's athletic and quick. He's got great length for a shooting guard and has decent size at 6'4".

Not to get ahead of myself, but he could be Wisconsin's next Burger Boy and a 5 star recruit. He could be our next Devin Harris or Alando Tucker type superstar... If you didn't notice, I'm drinking the kool aid and wearing the rose-tinted glasses when it comes to this kid.

I just hope we keep him. There were rumors swirling earlier in the season that he was going to decommit (debunked by Blue personally) and then again just a few weeks ago during the WIAA state tournament. He is very close friends with Marquette-bound Jeronne Maymon and had garnered interest from Kansas, Indiana, and Minnesota, among others. But at the same time he keeps in touch with future teammates '09 commits Mike Bruesewitz and Diamond Taylor, and plays on the same AAU team as '11 commit Devon Hodges. I'm not too concerned by rumors that are probably being created by Marquette fans wishing he was joining Jeronne, but I'll feel a lot better when he signs that letter of intent.

Vander's junior season statistics (25 of his 27 games)
16.4 PPG
5.4 RPG
2.4 SPG
2.2 APG
1.1 assist-to-turnover ratio
51.7% FG
42.3% 3PT
74.7% FT

Efficiency Stats
57.2 effective FG%
1.105 points per possession (estimated due to lack of offensive rebound statistics)
1.199 points per weighted shot

Scout Profile
Rivals Profile
ESPN Profile
Recruiting Planet Thread
Interview From Shortly After Verbal Commitment

State Championship Game Highlights
Verona Game
Minnetonka Game

Explanation of Statistics and Terms

For starters, I must give proper respect and sourcing for the statistical analysis I will use in this blog, because I didn't come up with any of them, rather just subscribe to their ability to explain things. The statistics were formulated by Ken Pomeroy, John Hollinger, and Dean Oliver, and brought to my attention by John Gasaway, the artist formerly known as Big Ten Wonk, and turomon and badgermaniac on the BadgerNation message boards.

The following statistics and terms will be used extensively in this blog...

Offensive Efficiency/Points Per Possession: offense's points / # of possessions... tempo or pace-free stat to show an offense's ability to score

Defensive Efficiency/Points Per Possession: points allowed / # of possessions... tempo or pace-free stat to show a defense's ability to stop the opponent from scoring

Offensive Rebounding Rate: offensive rebounds/ (offensive rebounds + defensive rebounds)... meant to show how well an offense is at creating second chance opportunities

Defensive Rebounding Rate: defensive rebounds/ (offensive rebounds + defensive rebounds)... meant to show how well a defense is at preventing second chance opportunities

Free Throw Rate: free throw attempts / field goal attempts... meant to show how often a team gives to the free throw line

Turnover Rate: turnovers / possessions... meant to show how turnover-prone a team is

Steal Rate: steals / possessions... meant to show how often a team forces a turnover via a steal or how often an offense gets their pockets picked

Block Rate: blocks / 2 point field goals attempted... meant to show how often a team blocks shots or gets their shots blocked

Effective Field Goal Percentage: (field goals made + 0.5 x 3-point field goals made) / field goals attempted... meant to give 3-pointers their proper weight in a shooting percentage

Points Per Weighted Shot: points / (field goals attempted + (0.475 x free throw attempts))... meant to show how efficient a player is at shooting

Offensive Rating: points / possessions ended by certain player... offensive efficiency for an individual player

Usage Rate: possessions ended by certain player / possessions during their time on the court... meant to show how much of a focal point a player is on the offense while they are on the court