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Tuesday, July 19, 2005
 
All-Iowa State School Team
It's about time I reveal the team I chose in response to the question I posted on Friday - which five players from UNI, ISU, and Iowa would form a team with the best chance of winning?

My initial thought was that Greg Brunner, Adam Haluska, and Curtis Stinson would be locks for my team. Naturally, though, I couldn't answer a question like this without some extensive statistical research. Here are some numbers for each of the nine players I considered for my squad.

Note - I couldn't track down stats for the 2002-03 UNI team or the 2003-04 ISU team in the time that I had to work on this.

New Readers - Read This (otherwise skip ahead)
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I often use stats that are confusing the first time they're encountered. Here's a brief explanation of the one's used today.

%Min - how much a guy played (e.g., 30 minutes would be 75% of a regulation game).

O Rtg - Offensive Rating. The points a player produces per 100 possessions, as estimated by some complicated formulas in this book. Points are produced through points scored, assists, and offensive rebounds.

%Poss - the fraction of a team's offense a player uses while he's in the game. 20% is average (by definition....1 out of 5 players). Above 25% is pretty significant, guys near 30% are practically one-man shows (think Pierre Pierce, Bracey Wright), and guys much below 20% are usually considered role players. A player's offensive rating tends to suffer when he's using more of the team's possessions.

Reb% - the best stat for measuring a player's rebounding ability, though some estimation is involved. It's the percentage of missed shots a player rebounds while he's in the game.

TO/poss - turnovers per possession (I used "TO%" to narrow down the table).

TS% - John Hollinger's "true shot percentage." It measure efficiency in scoring points from the field and the free throw line.

FT/FG - a measure of how often a player gets to the free throw line.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Ben Jacobson, UNI

Year

%Min

O Rtg

%Poss

Reb%

TO%

TS%

3pt%

FT%

FT/FG

PPG

RPG

APG

2003-04

0.84

103

22.6%

6.8%

0.16

53.6%

39.2%

76.8%

0.28

14.0

4.0

2.4

2004-05

0.85

114

25.3%

6.8%

0.15

60.2%

45.2%

80.6%

0.23

17.9

3.8

2.7



These numbers are from Jacobson's sophomore and junior seasons. Things that stand out to me - Jacobson takes care of the ball (low turnover rate), he doesn't get to the free throw line a lot (low FT/FG numbers), and he's a deadly three point shooter. He also had a solid offensive rating while using a fourth of UNI's possessions, which is not easy to do. From observing him in the PTL, I'd say he's a decent ballhandler and capable of bringing the ball up the court.



Grant Stout, UNI

Year

%Min

O Rtg

%Poss

Reb%

TO%

TS%

3pt%

FT%

FT/FG

PPG

RPG

APG

2003-04

0.29

109

15.0%

16.9%

0.21

58.2%

20.0%

60.9%

0.34

2.9

3.3

0.3

2004-05

0.78

123

17.7%

14.8%

0.15

62.3%

32.3%

78.0%

0.50

11.3

7.7

1.2



Stout isn't a major part of the Panther offense, but he takes advantage of his opportunities by shooting a high percentage and not committing many turnovers. He also draws plenty of fouls, allowing him to take advantage of a good FT% for a big man. He's very tough on the defensive end - he actually has a higher defensive rebounding rate than Brunner, and he blocked 3 shots per 40 minutes last year. I recently read that he's already added 20 pounds of muscle since the end of last season, and it's shown in the PTL, where he's been a force in the paint. I'm excited about his potential for a big junior campaign.



Erik Crawford, UNI

Year

%Min

O Rtg

%Poss

Reb%

TO%

TS%

3pt%

FT%

FT/FG

PPG

RPG

APG

2003-04

0.74

108

20.3%

10.0%

0.19

55.6%

35.4%

83.7%

0.43

10.4

5.2

2.7

2004-05

0.82

114

20.7%

9.1%

0.15

58.0%

39.0%

70.0%

0.24

13.3

4.9

2.6




Crawford improved his efficiency in his junior season by cutting his turnvovers and shooting more threes. 44% of his shots last year were threes, up from 33% the previous year, which contributed to the big drop in free throw attempts. Crawford, like Haluska, is a big, athletic guard, which helps him excel at rebounding, especially defensively. He's been one of the PTL's most consistently solid three point shooters this summer.


Eric Coleman, UNI

Year

%Min

O Rtg

%Poss

Reb%

TO%

TS%

3pt%

FT%

FT/FG

PPG

RPG

APG

2004-05

0.61

111

25.0%

16.1%

0.17

56.8%

0.0%

47.7%

0.43

10.7

6.4

2.0



To continue the pattern, Coleman has a nice turnover rate. He's also a fairly efficient scorer, despite shooting a lot of free throws at a terrible rate, because he made 57% of his field goal attempts. His explosiveness in the paint and control of the backboard make me think of Doug Thomas with offensive polish. Scary. It's too bad he had to suffer the elbow injury this summer, but he should be back for the start of the season.


Will Blalock, Iowa State

Year

%Min

O Rtg

%Poss

Reb%

TO%

TS%

3pt%

FT%

FT/FG

PPG

RPG

APG

2004-05

0.88

102

20.6%

5.0%

0.20

49.9%

26.4%

78.0%

0.34

12.3

3.2

4.9



Will would make a solid point guard for just about any team, with quick penetration, heads-up passing and durability. His long arms help disrupt passes and put him near the top of the Big XII in steals. What hurts his chances of making my team is the lack of an outside shot.


Curtis Stinson, Iowa State

Year

%Min

O Rtg

%Poss

Reb%

TO%

TS%

3pt%

FT%

FT/FG

PPG

RPG

APG

2004-05

0.88

101

28.7%

8.7%

0.19

50.4%

25.6%

69.4%

0.34

17.2

5.5

4.5



Stinson's %Poss number last year was very high, reaching into Pierre Pierce territory. He may have scored a lot of points, but he also took (and missed) a lot of shots. That said, Stinson has undeniable talent. He can shut down leading scorers, consistently find open teammates, and might be one of the best inch-for-inch rebounders in the country. I usually ignore claims that performing "in the clutch" is a skill, but Stinson is one guy who keeps the debate alive. He's already had a career's worth of huge, late-game scores and steals, and he still has two years to go.



Adam Haluska, Iowa State & Iowa

Year

%Min

O Rtg

%Poss

Reb%

TO%

TS%

3pt%

FT%

FT/FG

PPG

RPG

APG

2002-03

0.72

102

17.2%

7.2%

0.15

50.5%

33.6%

76.0%

0.19

9.2

3.6

1.0

2004-05

0.75

122

19.7%

7.4%

0.14

62.2%

38.9%

80.8%

0.41

14.2

4.0

1.6



Haluska's numbers for last season as a whole are already very good - high shooting percentage, low turnover rate, and frequent trips to the line. His performance was even better in the 12 games played after the dismissal of Pierce (Cincinnati not included). His turnover rate dropped below 14%, which hiked his O Rtg to 126, and he led the team in scoring at 17.4 ppg. His three point shooting received a lot more praise than it deserved, but it was still respectable, and he shot fewer threes with Pierce gone and the lane open for the taking. He did seem to disappear at times, but I think he's the best of the guards at scoring close to the basket.


Jeff Horner, Iowa

Year

%Min

O Rtg

%Poss

Reb%

TO%

TS%

3pt%

FT%

FT/FG

PPG

RPG

APG

2002-03

0.88

96

17.0%

N/A

0.25

47.2%

27.7%

76.7%

0.31

8.2

4.4

4.5

2003-04

0.92

117

17.5%

8.0%

0.23

64.3%

42.5%

86.0%

0.47

13.0

5.3

4.2

2004-05

0.91

114

20.9%

7.0%

0.20

56.9%

40.8%

78.7%

0.30

14.0

4.5

5.5



Jeff is well on his way to becoming one of Iowa's best ever all-around point guards. He consistently puts up good scoring, rebounding, and passing numbers. It's nice to see that his turnover rate has dropped significantly each season; let's hope the trend continues for one more year. Horner had a great TS% as a sophopmore, but was forced into many more bad shots last year as he became one of the offense's main options. He also got to the free throw line a lot less often, which means a lot fewer easy points. My biggest complaint with Jeff is shot selection - I think he takes too many threes from 25 feet for no other reason than he thinks he's going to make it.


Greg Brunner, Iowa

Year

%Min

O Rtg

%Poss

Reb%

TO%

TS%

3pt%

FT%

FT/FG

PPG

RPG

APG

2002-03

0.60

105

18.0%

N/A

0.23

56.6%

21.9%

58.4%

0.45

7.5

5.2

1.5

2003-04

0.71

110

20.1%

16.1%

0.19

57.5%

35.3%

55.7%

0.51

10.9

8.2

1.5

2004-05

0.79

112

23.8%

14.9%

0.19

58.1%

35.4%

69.0%

0.50

14.7

8.3

1.9



Brunner is definitely the talk of Hawkeye basketball fans these days, thanks to a slimmer frame and an increasingly diverse offensive repertoire. In the PTL, he's looked as comfortable raining threes and guarding wings as he does banging with the big men. The weight loss should improve Greg's stamina - I bet Alford probably wants his star on the court more than the 32 mpg he got out of him last year.

Brunner was already a decent three point shooter (for a big man) at 35% the past two years. Further improvement there this season would make it likely that Greg will improve his offensive rating for a third straight season. He's still susceptible to quick-handed defenders when he puts the ball on the floor (even in the PTL).

DECISION TIME
At the outset, I felt that Stinson, Brunner, and Haluska were locks. After reviewing the stats, I still want these guys on my team. Haluska is a versatile scorer who can defend, Brunner is the most polished post player of the group, and looks improved, and Stinson can provide excellent defense and unstoppable bursts of offense. That gives us the following -

G - Stinson
G/F - Haluska
F - Brunner

One of my previous posters (Ben) went with a four guard lineup, with Brunner as the only post player. That's an interesting strategy, but one I can't agree with. First, that team would have a hell of a time rebounding against taller lineups. Haluska might be athletic, but at 6'5", I think he'd be overmatched down low. Also, Brunner didn't do a great job defending the post last year - Iowa gave up a lot of big games to even marginally talented power forwards and centers. Making him the team's only big guy would leave them wide open to exploitation by a team with some tall players.

I want a big guy who can help Brunner on defense and clean up on the glass. Stout looks like the perfect fit - he's a tough defender who also excels at rebounding. On top of that, he's a very efficient offensive player who won't expect a lot of shots, which might be important on a team full of stars. Coleman would be a decent pick too, but Stout looks a lot more rounded at this point in time. Now we have this team -

G - Stinson
G/F - Haluska
F - Brunner
F - Stout

That leaves me with one spot to fill. I don't have a great shooter yet, and I think most good teams have at least one guy who can light it up from the outside and spread the defense. There are still plenty of good guards to choose from - Jacobson, Horner, Blalock, and Crawford. Blalock is the first to go, since I already have a quick penetrator in Stinson, and more importantly, he's the worst shooter of the bunch. Most people would say Crawford should be the next to go, but I wouldn't be so quick to make that judgment. He and Horner have the same 3pt% and identical offensive ratings. Crawford is the best rebounder of the three remaining guards, and (I'm assuming) his athleticism/quickness make him a better defender than Horner and Jacobson. All that is moot, though, because my top priority for this spot is pure shooting ability, and Jacobson wins out there. You could argue that Horner would be as good of a shooter if he were moved to SG, which could happen in this lineup, but I'm still not fond of his shot selection. On top of all that, Ben doesn't turn the ball over. Jacobson is my man.

Finally, here's my All-Iowa State School lineup -

PG - Curtis Stinson, Iowa State
SG - Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa
SF - Adam Haluska, Iowa
PF - Greg Brunner, Iowa
PF - Grant Stout, Northern Iowa

How did I do? I welcome your comments and additional submissions (I've only heard from three of you so far!).
Comments:
Your list looks pretty well-researched to me. I would probably move Jacobsen to the 1, though he has poorer assist numbers, because I'm more comfortable with Jacobsen coordinating my offense in the half-court (I don't expect this sort of team to run like ISU does, a style of play which I assume accounts for many of Stinson's assists). Jacobsen has shown he can play the one at times at UNI, and Stinson is perhaps more comfortable both scoring and creating opportunities for teammates from the off-guard position. Stinson is also interchangable with Haluska at the 3.

I also think that Grant Stout's place is in question the moment Davis or Taggert (sp) go beyond demonstrating a flash or two of talent here or there. This could happen immediately at the beginning of their freshman seasons or it could fail to occur at all next year. It would be really nice to have something closer to a real center out there to block shots against high-major quality competition and guard taller post men. Other than those small addendums, good list.
 
I think both of those points are valid. It would be nice to know a little more about Davis and Taggart, but I figured Stout is good enough that I can risk missing out on the ISU guys. As far as PG goes, I'm pretty comfortable with either guy bringing the ball up. What matters to me is that Stinson and Jacobson are both on the team.
 
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