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Tuesday, March 15, 2005
More Cincinnati Numbers
As promised, today's post will provide an overview of all the players likely to see action in this Thursday's game between Iowa and Cincinnati. I'll start by explaining some of the numbers you'll see.

offensive rating (Off Rt) - a player's points produced per 100 individual possessions
% of possessions (%poss) - measures the number of a team's possessions that an individual uses while he's in the game (20% is average)
true shot % (TS%) - a measure of shooting efficiency, based on FG and FT (it's the same thing as the PPWS you see at the Big Ten Wonk, just in percentage form)
rebound % (reb%) - the number of rebounds a player gets, based on rebounds available
pass rating (Pass Rt) - similar to John Hollingers pass rating, this attempts to measure the points a player contributes through assists, on a per possession basis
steal % (stl%) - similar to rebound % - it's a measure of how many steals a player gets, adjusted for playing time and a team's pace
blocks per 40 minutes (blk/40) - gives a better idea of a player's shot blocking ability than blocks per game
turnovers per possession (TO/poss) - how often a player turns the ball over

***UPDATE*** I added Pass Rating, Steal %, and TO/poss to the Big Ten Player Stats page.

Stats Glossary

Note - I used season stats for both teams.

Cincinnati Bearcats
PlayerPosHeightWeightMin/GOffRt%PossTSh%Reb%Oreb%Dreb%Pass RtSteal%B/40TO/p
Jason MaxiellF6' 7"25031.211822.9%0.59412.9%11.5%14.1%4.11.9%3.40.16
Eric HicksF6' 7"24031.311421.4%0.56314.8%12.5%16.7%3.50.9%2.90.15
Jihad MuhammadG5' 11"18025.210322.6%0.5156.2%4.1%7.9%14.41.7%0.10.22
James WhiteF6' 7"19028.011419.2%0.5838.8%4.5%12.6%18.81.9%0.50.22
Armein Kirkland G/F6' 8"19025.410822.7%0.5118.9%5.1%12.2%14.20.9%0.90.18
Nick Williams G6' 4"18521.511419.0%0.5685.5%2.2%8.4%14.11.5%0.80.19
Roy BrightG/F6' 6"22514.010018.6%0.43613.7%11.8%15.4%10.81.4%0.60.17
Jamaal LucasG6' 1"19512.7916.4%0.4685.4%2.8%7.6%11.12.0%0.00.39

- Sorry if these tables are a little tough to read, but I figured they'd be a little easier to make than lining everything up with periods like I usually do. I'll try to make them more presentable; no promises though.
***UPDATE*** I added some cell shading to make the tables a little easier on the eye.

- Like most good offenses, Cincy looks fairly balanced, with no one taking more than 23% of the team's possessions. Everyone besides Lucas takes 12-15 shots per 40 minutes.

- Cincinnati has rebounded nearly 40% of their missed shots this season, one of top 15-30 rates in the country. I was expecting to find that Maxiell and Hicks were the driving force behind the team success, but while good, they're not exactly outstanding. Their offensive rebound % is similar to Doug Thomas and Mike Wilkinson, and a full 2-3% behind Big Ten board crashers like James Augustine, Aaron Johnson, and Carl Landry. What Cincy does have is depth - Bright provides solid offensive rebounding off the bench, and none of the guards are slouches either. Even the 5'11" Muhammad grabs over 4% of offensive board chances, which is similar to what Pierre Pierce (properly recognized as a good rebounding guard) pulled in this season.

- Maxiell's 0.92 FTA/FGA figure suggests he's great at drawing contact and getting to the line. He'll probably be guarded by Greg Brunner, which presents a key element of this game - keeping Brunner on the floor. If Greg were to get into foul trouble, it would lead to a big double whammy - having no threat to score from the post on the court, which would allow Cincy's big guards to play tight on the perimeter, and losing his defensive rebounding ability to increased Erek Hansen playing time. Cincy has a few similarities to Michigan State, so I'll apply that comparison to this situation - in Iowa's first game against MSU, Brunner got into foul trouble and only played 23 minutes in a loss. Iowa later beat MSU in the BTT, with Brunner playing 34 minutes.

- I thought mlbUC made a good message board post describing Cincinnati's strength's and weaknesses. S/he mentions that Jihad Muhammad has been disappointing as Cincy's point guard, and his 14.4 pass rating tells the same story. Most good point guards rate at least a 20 here, with high-quality guys (Deron Williams, Raymond Felton, Chris Paul) hitting 30, and the rare breeds (Aaron Miles, Marcus Williams) even approaching 40.

Iowa Hawkeyes
PlayerPosHeightWeightMin/GOffRt%PossTSh%Reb%Oreb%Dreb%Pass RtSteal%B/40TO/p
Greg BrunnerF6' 7"24031.811123.7%0.58314.9%10.1%19.2%9.02.2%1.30.20
Adam HaluskaG6' 5"21030.212419.6%0.6337.4%3.0%11.5%8.92.0%0.40.14
Jeff HornerG6' 3"18536.611520.8%0.5747.0%2.3%11.3%24.42.3%0.20.19
Mike HendersonG6'2"19020.78516.5%0.4875.8%3.1%8.2%11.02.2%0.20.30
Erek HansenC6' 11"21020.09815.2%0.5117.4%7.5%7.2%5.21.3%5.40.23
Doug ThomasF6' 8"24015.911115.5%0.57216.6%12.1%20.8%3.81.8%1.00.19
Carlton ReedG6 3"17511.49614.1%0.5125.3%2.4%8.1%12.81.4%0.20.26
Alex ThompsonF6' 9"2009.99312.9%0.41911.3%9.3%13.2%11.11.0%2.00.22
Jack BrownleeG6' 0"1656.09512.7%0.5263.7%1.5%5.6%19.23.1%0.00.30
Seth GorneyC7' 0"2604.81119.5%0.69413.2%10.0%16.1%5.93.1%0.40.33

- Don't be misled by Haluska's low possession rate - he didn't get the ball much when Pierce was on the team, but he's been in the 22-23% range since Pierce left. Even better, his efficiency hasn't fallen at all with the bigger role. My one complaint is that Haluska seems to disappear for long stretches, like when he scored 0 points in the first half against Wisconsin last weekend. He and Horner will need to provide some outside shooting if Brunner struggles against the big guys inside.

- Did anyone catch all the love Billy Packer was giving Hansen during the Wisconsin game? He said something along the lines of, "If this kid puts on a few pounds, he's got a chance to not just be good, but outstanding!" Needless to say, I was stunned. Jay Bilas said some similar things about Hansen during the Maui tournament, and while I bought into some of it back then, we have enough data now to know that he simply can't rebound. Out of 87 Big Ten players playing 25% of their team's minutes, Hansen's rebound % ranked #66. Only four of the players below him stand taller than 6'3". Does any team change its fortune on the glass as much as Iowa does when it subs in Thomas for Hansen?

- I haven't seen anyone else using that steals number yet, so I should explain it a bit. I used to look at steals per 40 minutes, which is effective, but that doesn't take into effect a team's pace. A good defensive player would have more opportunities for steals on North Carolina's team (77 poss / game) than he would playing for Northwestern (61 poss / game). So I estimate how many defensive possessions a player was involved in (% of team min X team possessions), then see what percent of those possessions the player recorded a steal on. 3-4 % seems to be a good figure from what I've seen so far, and several good defenders are in the 5-6 % range. The Big Ten's leaders (conf games only) look like this -

Rico Tucker...........Minnesota............4.06%
T.J. Parker............Northwestern........4.06%
Dani Wohl.............Michigan...............4.02%
Brent Lawson.......Minnesota.............3.78%
Luther Head..........Illinois...................3.74%
Pierre Pierce.........Iowa.....................3.72%
Michael Jenkins....Northwestern.......3.69%
Vincent Grier.........Minnesota.............3.60%
Dee Brown...........Illinois...................3.51%

***UPDATE*** Updating my spreadsheet revealed expert thieves like Rajon Rondo of Kentucky, Mardy Collins of Temple, and Eddie Basden of Charlotte, among others, as high as 7-9%.

- Cincinnati plays some big guards. Based on their lineups from the past seven games or so, their starters Thursday will include Hicks and Maxiell in the post, and three of the following four -


Iowa's starting guards range from 6'2" to 6'5", so any lineup Cincy goes with will give them some size advantages.

- I really wish Henderson was a better passer. With Brunner, Horner, and Haluska usually on the court with him, you'd think he could average better than 2.3 assists per 40 minutes. At least he's starting to show that he can score. He's established that he can take his guy off the dribble; maybe with time he'll start to find other players open when he drives.


Just two more days until the tournament gets underway! It's starting to look like I won't be making the trip to Indianapolis, but my options were really win-win anyway. If I don't make the road trip, I'll still get to partake in all the St. Patrick's Day festivities that a good college town has to offer, with about 12 hours of basketball viewing thrown in for good measure.

What do you think of Iowa's chances on Thursday? Make sure to leave a comment or hit me with an email.
Did anyone catch all the love Billy Packer was giving Hansen during the Wisconsin game?

Yes! Very strange. Of course, he also kept mispronouncing Brunner, demonstrating how much preparation he did for the game.
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