Brumby's Daily Column: October 21, 2005

Brumby looks at some of the news articles that are revolving around college athletics for the day and provides some thoughts on them and the world of Illini sports.

Yep, the Daily Column took two day's off this week because really, there was nothing else to add on the situation that was on the tip of the tongues of all Illini fans, Mark Tupper's blog and the article that followed on the Sherron Collins recruitment, and Anthony Longstreet's influence over it. If you want a completely new perspective on these two articles, just think of Mark Tupper doing his best Kanye West impersonation while writing the blog … "I ain't saying Self's a cold-cheater …" (What are the odds Tupper knows who Kanye West is?)

There, that ends my only comments on the last two days of news.

Yesterday, IlliniBoard.com's Kedric Prince interviewed Chicago Simeon Head Coach Robert Smith to get his reaction on Sherron Collins' decision to attend Kansas over Illinois. Smith had some interesting things to say in the discussion, but the one thing I would like to focus on is his comment that he believed it was the Big Ten style of play that had recruits looking to play elsewhere.
It's the Big Ten. No question about it. It's their style of play kids just don't want to be in. I mean, look at a Wisconsin game where their scores are something like 42-40. Who wants to play that kind of basketball? Our kids don't.
Every one has heard all of the stereotypes of the Big Ten. The Big Ten is the slow, prodding league that plays grind it out basketball and does not allow you to showcase your skills for the next level. The league normally brought up in comparison to the Big Ten in this regard is the ACC, and its wide-open, athletic brand of basketball that is more exciting for high school recruits to watch. The question that continues to run through my mind is this … is the perception a reality?

To figure that out, I did a detailed analysis before last season on all conferences across college basketball that showed in the 2003-2004 college basketball season, the Big Ten was a very poor league in comparison to many other leagues thanks to what was a very weak bottom. In the 2003-2004 season, there were only two Big Ten teams that actually had an offensive and defensive efficiency differential of over ten points: Illinois (+13.69) and Wisconsin (+19.16) while there were five teams with negative differentials. But that was two years ago.

Last season, the Big Ten had two teams in the Final Four with Illinois and Michigan State leading the way for the league, but the perception has still stuck that the Big Ten is a slow, grind it out league that does not play exciting basketball. Is that the case? Let's go to college basketball statistical guru, Ken Pomeroy for the answer. Using Pomeroy's stats for the 2004-2005 season, we can look at three things at a high level across the teams in the Big Ten: their pace, their offensive efficiency, and their defensive efficiency.

There are a few things these numbers show at a high level. First, in general, the Big Ten as a conference does play at a slower pace. Iowa was the only team in the conference that averaged more than 70 offensive possessions per game, while in the ACC eight teams had paces over 70 possessions per game.

So, based on these pace numbers it is easy to understand why many people consider the Big Ten the slow and plodding conference. Sure, there are teams that can move up and down the court with any one in the nation (like Illinois, Michigan State, and Iowa last season), but once they get into the conference play, the opposing teams slow down the game by stalling with their offense. This slowing down of the game limits the number of possessions a team has, and thus makes it easier for worse teams to win the game, and the Big Ten coaches know this, so they attempt to slow down the game as much as possible against the better teams in the conference, especially Illinois and Michigan State.

Unfortunately, this is a perception that the entire conference will have to work against in recruiting, but showing game tapes from the past few seasons for Illinois and Michigan State as they ran up and down the court and won, and then changed their style to win a defensive contest as well should be able to do it. If that does not convince a player, just remind them about the Spurs and the Pistons, and how they won games at both paces en route to their NBA Championships in the past two seasons.

Another week of Big Ten football, and another week of officiating miscues. On Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette detailed many of the officiating blunders in last Saturday's Michigan - Penn State match-up.
Paterno has been in this particular position before; his team, as it did several times in 2002, lost by a narrow margin after several debatable officiating decisions. After Michigan scored a touchdown on the final play of the game, Penn State fans roared about a Wolverines' catch on the final drive that occurred precariously close to the sideline; about a possible fumble that was never called; about two seconds returned to Michigan after Lloyd Carr argued his team had called a timeout earlier than originally ruled.
As he is known to do IlliniHimey once again let David Parry know that he is not happy with the officiating across the Big Ten, and not just in games the Fighting Illini play. Here is the letter that Himey sent to the Big Ten Office this week:
Dear David:

First, it is bad enough that you would not speak with me regarding my letter dated October 11, 2005, as it pertained to the Illinois vs. Indiana game. Yet another game in a long history of Big 10 Officials vs. the University of Illinois. I look forward to other eventful officiating gaffes in Illinois' remaining games.

My guess is that you have run out of excuses to say to Illini fans like me.

Enclosed please find an amusing article that I found regarding the officiating gaffes in this past Saturday's Penn State vs. Michigan game. Having watched the game live, it brought back memories of the 2000 Michigan vs. Illinois game.

Can you explain to me how a program like Michigan continues to receive just about every break known to man, as it pertains to the officials you continue to employ? Seriously, what is it with Michigan that has you and just about every Big 10 official so completely mesmerized?

Sadly, Coach Joe Paterno can not say what we all know he wants to say. Otherwise, he faces the wrath of the Big 10 league office, and his checkbook would end up about $10,000.00 short.

Continued proof that there is zero accountability involving your subordinates.

Shameful!

Sincerely,
IlliniHimey



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