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Yeah, we sucked last year.

 

But think about this: How much difference is there between a guy who's on the PGA tour, and the best golfer out there who isn't quite good enough to get paid to golf?

 

Probably less than you'd think.

 

The guy on tour might be a longer hitter, but might not be. Probably is. Probably hits slightly more fairways. Slightly. And, as a result, slightly more greens in regulation. And when he hits the green, he's probably just a tiny bit closer to the pin with a marginally shorter putt that he's just a little more likely to make. He'll be slightly better at sand saves. Slightly better at getting up and down from off the green.

 

And when you add up all those slightly betters and slightly closers, you're probably looking at maybe a stroke +/- per round difference between a guy who's just not quite good enough to get paid to play golf and a guy who gets paid millions on the PGA tour.

 

Admittedly, I'm grasping at straws looking for reasons to start chugging the Kool-Aid that @kldm64 and some others tell us they've been drinking. And this is kind of what I've hit on.

 

Always seemed like team shooting can be kind of a momentum thing.

 

I remember back when Kimani Ffriend was on the team, and he was a generally atrocious FT shooter. If he got to the line first and missed, it seemed like everyone else on the team would follow suit and even the guys who were solid FT shooters would catch Kimani's brick disease. But then there were those magical nights when Kimani would draw the first foul, go to the line and make them both, and the team seemed like they'd catch fire.

 

Someone could probably do a doctoral dissertation on this phenomenon and whether it exists and, if so, why. Maybe someone already has. But, anecdotally speaking, it looks to me like it does. And, last year, if Yvan was one of the first guys to get fouled, he was almost certain to miss his attempts, and it seemed like that set the tone.

 

We didn't shoot a lot of FTs last year. And we missed way too many of the FTs we shot. We had the 2nd worst percentage in the league and, not surprisingly, the second fewest made FTs.

 

The guys who are likely going to have the ball in their hands this year are going to be better FT shooters on balance. Gone is Yvan with his sub-40% FT shooting accuracy. Yeah, he didn't have a lot of attempts, but our 3 most prolific FT shooters were all under 70%, and two of them, Dalano and Teddy, are no longer with us. We've replaced them with a guy in Alonzo Verge who shot 81% last season and has a knack for getting to the line. Bryce, I'm betting, is also a good FT shooter. And those are guys who will likely have the ball in their hands a lot for us this coming season.

 

Listen, guys: If we move the needle on FT shooting from a bad 64% to just a mediocre 72% -- which I think is an extremely realistic possibility -- that's an additional roughly point-and-a-half per game over last year even if we don't attempt any more FTs than we did a year ago. And that's just the FT shooting. Fairways hit, you might say.

 

Another area -- and I've talked about this before -- is 3pt%. Last year was not good. We were 10th in the league in 3pt% at .333.

 

But, if you took our season player stats from last year and sorted them by 3pt% and drew a line at 33%, you'd notice that everyone below that line is gone except for Derrick Walker who missed his only attempt and doesn't really count. And everyone above that line is back except for Teddy Allen who had other issues (and I totally agree with @basketballjones' assessment a few months back that his game isn't good enough overall to be a hero-ball player on a good team -- addition by subtraction, I hate to say.)

 

That fact ALONE should raise our team 3pt% into the top half of the conference at least. But add to that the fact we've brought in some guys like Bryce and CJ and Keon and even Wilhelm who I expect will come in and give us even more perimeter firepower. I would not be shocked if we're top 6 in the league next year in 3pt% offense. Maybe even top 5. A 2% improvement would have moved us into the top half of the league. A 3% improvement and we'd have been 5th. We made 684 points on 228 made 3s last year. If we boost that by just 2% -- again, extremely doable -- we'd have scored 723 points on 241 made 3s. That's another roughly point-and-a-half per game.

 

Now, we're not only in the fairway, but we're hitting wedge in instead of a 7-iron. Still not quite on tour, though.

 

Turnovers. We were worst in the conference last year with 14.1 turnovers per game. Our turnover margin was 10th, meaning we were at least turning other teams over, too. But every turnover we commit is a shot attempt we don't get to take and, at 42%, which is a) bad, b) our FG% from last year, and c) likely to improve this year, every turnover costs us roughly a point on the scoreboard.

 

Now, you won't eliminate all turnovers. But, to continue the golf analogy, on the PGA tour, they calculate strokes lost or gained against the field for various aspects of play, sand saves, for instance. The median number of turnovers in the Big Ten last year was 11.4. That means we're losing 2.7 shots against the field just from turnovers. And at our very poor effective FG% from last year of 48.9%, that means that each turnover above 11.4 per game was .978 of a point lost against the field (as opposed to gained against the field for each turnover fewer than 11.4 per game.) In other words, at 14.1 turnovers, we lost 2.6 points PER GAME against the field.

 

I don't know what the magic is for cutting down turnovers, but one thing I know for sure is that Shamiel Stevenson won't be plowing into defenders on fast-break opportunities where the likelihood of a bucket scored would be way above average. And, when the ball isn't stopping in one particular person's hands, maybe the team will be more in synch. And clean up some things here and some things there and just get this team to AVERAGE, and all of a sudden, we've gained another couple of points per game against the field.

 

And, you know, now you start to add those things together, simple things, small things, doable things, and we've gained roughly 5 and-a-half ppg against the field. That's points per game. Against the field.

 

Now, does that matter? Because we lost a lot of games by way more than 5.5 points. Well, considering that we scored 70.0 ppg on average and gave up 74.2 ppg on average, for an average scoring margin of -4.2 ppg, finding 5.5 extra ppg would be kind of a big deal.

 

Here's something else to think about: Our opponent's FT% was nearly tops in the league. Some of that has to do with being the team behind in the closing minutes and having to be the team that tries to foul to stop the clock, when opposing teams make sure to get the ball in the hands of their best FT shooters. If you look at league statistics, the good teams tended to have lower opponent FT%. The only good team in the league whose opponents shot well from the line was Michigan. Give us some more games where we're in the lead, or at least close enough that we don't have to foul to stop the clock, and our opponent FT% will probably go down.

 

Just some things to think about. A little here and a little there and it could make for a fairly big W/L swing.

Edited by Norm Peterson
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And remember that we didn't have Derrick Walker for the 1st half of the season and we got rid of Teddy Allen who had a hard time running an offense as the ball stuck in his hand and he preferred to just one on one many times.  Besides losing Dalano Banton, we have the right players coming back and adding in some very good young talent.  It just seems to me there is a real hunger from the players this year to do something special and that can go a long ways as well.  This is the first year Fred is not having to do a rooster flip.  The Big 10 will be good this year but not the same level as last year.  Just don't see any reason this team shouldn't be competitive this year.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

Last year, first half of the season:

 

Didn't have Eduardo (Covid)

Didn't have Derrick (NCAA suspension)

Started the French guy with stone hands by default (apologies to Yvan who is a great kid ... and still a minor)

 

Top 6 players were basically all logging their first minutes in Husker unis.

Faced 5 consecutive ranked teams, plus Ga Tech, in a span of less than 4 weeks.

 

4-8 record.

 

Last year, second half of the season:

 

COVID shutdown for us and basically NO ONE ELSE IN THE CONFERENCE

Lost effectively a month of practice (no one else in conference did)

Condensed schedule in February to make up for games missed in January, playing 11 games in 3 weeks

 

3-12 record.

 

OK, enough with the excuses. I don't think anyone was satisfied with that record last year even considering the challenges the team faced. However, those things are all facts that, collectively, probably had some kind of significant effect on our final W/L record last year. And one very nice thing going into this season is that we probably won't have to contend with ANY of those things this year. Except maybe consecutive ranked teams. But not likely in the first half of the season.

 

How much will that improve/affect the outcome? Thoughts?

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7 minutes ago, Swan88 said:

Hopefully, everyone is vaccinated to avoid Covid-related problems.

Otherwise, those are pretty good excuses, Norm--even better than the old phrase, "A poor excuse is better than none."

 

They aren't excuses so much as they are reasons for thinking this season might have a more palatable outcome.

 

Yes, those things were facts. They did happen. The fact they happened was disadvantageous to our results. I don't think those problems are likely to recur.

 

Therefore, if one was looking for reasons to open a six-pack of bright red Kool-Aid ...

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So, the post a couple of posts earlier, restated in positive terms:

  • This year, we'll have Derrick and Eduardo from the jump.
  • We'll have returning players at basically each spot and if any newcomer joins the starting lineup, they'll have done it by being better than someone already here.
  • We won't have a combined conference/non-conference meat grinder in the opening few weeks of the season. This schedule offers us some chances to catch our breath here and there.
  • We almost certainly won't have a repeat COVID experience, lose a month of practices, and condense half a season into 4 weeks, by which no other team in the conference was nearly as hampered.
  • This is all aside from the fact six returning players will be older and more experienced/developed.

It'll be really interesting to see how much difference these things do or don't make. At the end of the day, was sheer talent (or lack thereof) more of a barrier than these other issues? It's probably either going to be celebration or soul searching.

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22 hours ago, Norm Peterson said:

 

this season might have a more palatable outcome.

 

That's, basically, all I want from both Husker Football and Husker Basketball this year. A more palatable outcome. 

However, I actually have higher expectations for Husker Basketball..... 😕 which is crazy to say. 

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1 hour ago, basketballjones said:

That's, basically, all I want from both Husker Football and Husker Basketball this year. A more palatable outcome. 

However, I actually have higher expectations for Husker Basketball..... 😕 which is crazy to say. 

 

My thought is we're going to exceed the combined win total from the last two years. 

 

We could match last year's win total before the end of November.

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1 hour ago, Norm Peterson said:

 

My thought is we're going to exceed the combined win total from the last two years. 

 

We could match last year's win total before the end of November.


If I had to guess today, I think we are in the 14-16 win range this year assuming decent chemistry blending in the new kids.  Probably go 8-3 non-con.

 

If this team really clicks chemistry-wise we could break out and be in the 18-20 (NCAA bubble) range.

 

It is absolutely killing me waiting for this season to start.  I need a hoops fix stat!

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17 hours ago, busticket said:

 

If this team really clicks chemistry-wise we could break out and be in the 18-20 (NCAA bubble) range.

 

I honestly think that's underselling the ceiling of this team. We return quite a bit. I don't think the B1G will be as good (am I wrong there?). And our additions are pretty unbelievable for NU standards. Our subtractions might even be more of a benefit? 

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