Early Basketball Thoughts

With the beginning of basketball practices across this fine nation, we are flush with analysis, speculation and predictions for the upcoming season. Here are two interesting takes from recently debuting Basketball Prospectus and SI.com’s Seth Davis.

First off, Ken Pomeroy has taken his statistical genius over to the new Basketball Prospectus. The first preview on the agenda? The ACC. BP attempts to predict the standings for the upcoming season based on a lot of math I don’t really understand.

bp_acc.JPG

I think, at this point, 13-3 is probably on the mark. Duke, NC State, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Clemson are all candidates to knock off UNC, most likely on the road. In the ACC three losses is fairly close to average for a first place team. The one sticking point on this is historically speaking UNC has never won the national title with more than four losses. I am not sure what that really means but in almost seventy years of NCAA Championships the four UNC has won have been accomplished under that particular circumstance.

BP also takes an in-depth look at the ACC team-by-team and in alphabetical order no less. Part 1 is here. Part 2 includes a look at the Heels. BP raises two major concerns. The first is how will the Heels replace Brandan Wright. There is a major lack of confidence in what Deon Thompson will bring to the table. In address the media yesterday Thompson indicated he was 300 pounds in high school and to start the season he is a lean 235. That is an incredible level of effort on Thompson’s part and it showed during the U19 World Championships where he showed incredible versatility and prowess on the offensive end. And while I think there will be some adjustment playing in the ACC, Thompson also has the Arizona and Georgetown games under his belt to show he is perfectly capable. Alex Stepheson will be a nice compliment to the front line and while I share BP’s concern about the offense coming from Marcus Ginyard/Danny Green, it is not like Reyshawn Terry was doing much more that rebound and play defense which is what these two do so well. As for perimeter shooting I am far more optimistic about Wayne Ellignton, Bobby Frasor, Ginyard, Green and Ty Lawson shooting threes than they seem to be.

Another take is from Seth Davis at SI.com:

North Carolina: Has Psycho T improved his J?

If you ask Roy Williams, he’ll tell you the biggest question facing his team is defense. But Roy is always worried about his team’s defense, and his teams always end up defending well. (Maybe it’s because they’re well-coached.) A bigger question I have about this squad is whether 6-9 junior Tyler Hansbrough has improved the range on his jump shot. Hansbrough has earned the nickname “Psycho T” for his unabated intensity under the boards, and since he averaged 18.4 points and 7.9 rebounds a game last year, it’d be foolish for him to spend all his time outside the lane.

But if he is at least a threat to knock down the occasional 12- to 15-foot jumper, then that will make him more unstoppable and open up many more scoring opportunities for his teammates. If Hansbrough is able to give the Tar Heels that extra dimension, I don’t think anything besides injuries can keep them from hoisting the trophy April 7.

Let me go on record to say this is not that important of a question. In fact I agree with some comments made on Inside Carolina that I am far more concerned about the perimeter shooting in general along with the defense than I am Hansbrough hitting 12-15 foot jumpers. The reason being I think if UNC has shooters then Hansbrough can beat double teams by kicking out. Now I agree it will make him a more dangerous player and give the offense an added dimension but I also do not think it is as important as Davis thinks it is if the Heels can hit threes and Thompson shows the jumper he hit in the World Championships. I am a huge believer in the difficulty of winning a national title and based on prior UNC title teams I have a pretty good idea of what kind of makeup wins the NCAA Championship. Having the center be able to step out and hit 12-15 jumpers has never really been high on the list. In the cases of 1993 and 2005, good perimeter shooting, great PG play especially on defense and a center who actually dominates the paint by scoring and rebounding were much more pertinent factors in winning the national championship than this “extra dimension” UNC allegedly needs.

But we will see. If Hansbrough has added that weapon, all the better but I simply am not convinced it is standing in the way of UNC winning in San Antonio.

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10 Responses to Early Basketball Thoughts

  1. […] As they should. Undefeated morally. Perhaps they could annex Dook. Bull City boy steps up. THF has early basketball thoughts. BP’s ACC preview part II. Late night fun? […]

  2. Josh Bowling says:

    I agree. We do not need our center running the point or hitting outside jumpshots. We need our centers to dominate the paint and we definately have that weaponry. It is the outside game of Green/Ellington I am worried about, and Ellington in particular. Green at least has the ability to drive and draw contact. If Ellington steps up this year and plays good in close games (unlike last year), we will be hard to beat because all of the other elements are there to compete for a championship. I am confident of Lawson’s ability and willingness to demonstrate his ability through great performances. Ginyard hits the glass and is a defensive havoc for other team’s “stars”. All I have to say is step up Green/Ellington and continue on rest of team.

  3. Josh Bowling says:

    I forgot to mention that I love Green’s defense as well as Ginyards. Ellington is the only player in question right now as far as I am concerned!

  4. Chuckheel says:

    THF,
    I agree with you. You have to understand that Seth Davis is a Dookie and he is used to having big men that can’t rebound and play inside, but step out and shoot 3’s. All Psycho T needs to worry about is dominating on the inside. I think Ellington is going to step up his game this year.

  5. Whit Heintz says:

    THF,

    There is a great article on ESPN about Jason Ray. I thought you might want to link to it.

    Whit

  6. spirona says:

    Davis is an idiot and Duke shill. The idea that a championship of any kind relies on one person’s ability to do something outside of their primary role is as asinine as it gets. Davis wants to say something unique so he can point to it at the end of the season. “I said at the beginning of the season that UNC is doomed/destined for greatness if Hansbrough can’t/can hit the mid-range jumper.” Whatever, Seth. Shut up and go yell “F$ck Carolina” at another Duke function.

  7. Josh Bowling says:

    Yeah. We need Hansbrough to be able to run the point and we gotta get the ball inside to Lawson as often as possible in order to for us to go very far this year.

  8. Josh Bowling says:

    Let me say this THF. You have contradictory statements with regards to this, and may not even consider it contradictory. When the issue of Wright’s staying or leaving was still in decision mode, you-along with others, said that he should go because he would be doing the same thing this year. I said that works good for him because when Duncan was at Wake, he did the same things year in and year out and he graduated up to a lottery pick when he left. But you guys said that he would have to demonstrate more versatility. I said in response, do you think he has to run the point or make the game winning 3 in order to improve a draft spot next year? Most said yeah, he does. Now we are on My side of the philosophy of telling Hansbrough to do what you do best, do not worry about versatility or hitting outside jumpers, Dominate the Paint!!! Have you come around to my way of thinking?

    Thanks!

  9. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I would have to dig up previous comments and posts to see what I said and the context. I do recall arguing Wright should depart based on the way the NBA drafts and it was a risk/reward scenario. I agreed with Roy when he said Wright should return if for no other reason than to get stronger.

    In my above analysis I was dismissing Seth Davis’ argument that Hansbrough needed a 12-15 foot jumper and that extra dimension was a deal breaker for a UNC title run. I think it is fine if he does develop one but I think there are greater concerns for this team to address which are deal breakers such as perimeter shooting and defense. Whether Hansbrough can move off the basket or not is really not concerning me since UNC has been accustomed to their big men dominating the paint as Sean May and Eric Montross did in previous title runs.

    So in short it is an analysis that should be view in context. If you asked me whether Hansbrough needed to develop a jumper and be able to handle the ball away from the basket to be a high draft pick I would say absolutely that is the case but where UNC is concerned as a team, Hansbrough shooting jumpers is a nice to have not a have to have.

  10. Josh Bowling says:

    Good argument THF! Maybe if Bobby Frasor starting posting up more, he might even grow to be a draft consideration. Just for laughs here guys.

    Thanks!

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