As always, Dan Hanner of RealGM.com did some terrific work this week as he broke down the Kenpom rating of teams that dealt with injuries to key players this season, looking at their numbers with and without that player.
Some of it is quite obvious: Duke, arguably the best team in the country when Ryan Kelly was injured back in January, will look like the best team in the country when he comes back healthy and scores 36 points in a win over Miami. It’s also interesting to see just how good Florida is — on both ends of the floor — when they are at full strength.
And while Hanner goes on to look at a good 20 teams, the most interesting, to me, are the numbers he came up with for Boise State. Here is the chart and the blurb he came up with for the Broncos:
Boise St. has been climbing into brackets this week, and you might look at their ranking of 51 on kenpom.com and think they are not all that deserving. But Jeff Elorriaga, Mikey Thompson, Igor Hadziomerovic, Derrick Marks, and Kenny Buckner have all missed games this year including some key losses for the Broncos. When fully healthy, Boise St. has been the 33rd best team in the nation.
When healthy, the Broncos are 16-3 with wins at Creighton and at home against UNLV and Colorado State. They lost to Michigan State in East Lansing by four points. They won at Wyoming when that was still something that was impressive, and they did so while leading scorer Derrick Marks and three other players were suspended.
This is a good basketball team, and if they can win at UNLV tonight or beat San Diego State in Boise on Saturday, they’ll have a bid to the tournament all but locked up.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.