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Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Horner Out 2 to 5 Weeks
Read about it in the DM Register. Sounds like he tore a knee ligament. A two week absence would put Horner back before Christmas and in time for the last two non-conference games against Robert Morris and St. Louis. Being gone five weeks would get him back a couple weeks into January, after missing two conference games against Wisconsin and Illinois.

Upcoming Schedule
12/09 @ Iowa State
12/17 vs Arizone State
12/20 vs Drake
12/21 two weeks from now
12/30 @ St. Louis
01/05 @ Wisconsin
01/07 vs Illinois
01/11 five weeks from now
01/14 @ Penn State

There's never a good time for a knee injury, but it's better now than later in the season. Maybe now Freeman and Reed can gain beneficial experience? We'll see.
So what's your take on the effect of Horner's loss? The conventional wisdom would say that offense will drop, but defense will be somewhat better, what with Freeman, Henderson (and to a lesser extent, Reed) playing more.

Is that accurate? First, I think that Horner was an underrated defender. Sure, he doesn't have the speed or quickness to be a lockdown on-ball defender. However, I think he's done very well guarding good players who aren't primary ballhandlers (Francisco Garcia for Louisville 2yrs ago, and Patrick Sparks this year, for example). Second, if you do a straight Horner for Freeman swap, you lose a lot of rebounding. (In reality, though, Thompson will see a lot of time at the 3, which would add rebounding but probably hurt overall defense a great deal). Finally, losing 30 plus minutes a game means that our remaining guards (Henderson, Freeman, Reed, Haluska, and... sigh... Thompson) will have less opportunity to rest. Tired legs lead to weaker defense.

The numbers will probably show how this plays out over the next 2-5 weeks. I guess the only thing I really know is that we're one more backcourt injury from total decimation.
I'm still trying to get caught up with my possession-by-possession tracking project (I'm finished with 6 of the 9 games), but the data suggest that the offense is less efficient when Jeff leaves the court. That's not necessarily what you might expect, considering how poorly he's been shooting. What's been a little more surprising, though, is that there's no defensive letdown when he plays. The team's defensive efficiency, in those six games, has been the same whether Jeff was playing or not.

With Tony and Carlton getting more minutes, I would expect our defense to continue to be rather good. The offense has been poor so far, but there's also plenty of room for improvement left with Brunner and Haluska. If they play a little more like we're used to, they can offset some of Jeff's loss. The end result, though, will probably still not be much better than average.
How about facing a press, like say, I don't know, ISU's? Are the backups turnover prone?

This certainly changes the complextion of the game but I'm not totally sold that it will to Iowa's disadvantage, in the short-term at least.
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