Thursday, March 22, 2012

Izzo still the master of post-timeout buckets?



In the late 1990s and early 2000s, MSU's Tom Izzo was praised for being the best "after timeout" coach in the country, specifically when inbounding under MSU's basket. It seemed that the Spartans scored roughly at an 80-percent clip after Izzo drew up a play in the huddle.

The last five-plus years or so, it doesn't seem as if Izzo's dry eraser marker is creating any magic.

How many times have you seen MSU inbound the ball to the backcourt? I can't remember a time when MSU did that during the Mateen Cleaves or even Marcus Taylor days. Now, it seems that happens more than 50 percent of the time.

The stats might show that is a mirage. Thanks to Synergy Sports Technology's record books, Luke Winn's Power Rankings included a table showing where teams left in the Sweet 16 stand in raw after-timeout efficiency (ATO PPP).

Surprisingly, Izzo's Spartans fare pretty well in ATO situations, ranking 24th nationally. MSU sits fifth out of the remaining Sweet 16 teams.

MSU's Sweet 16 opponent Louisville, however, is dead last. Rick Pitino's team scores a putrid 0.704 PPP after timeouts, which also puts it 277th in the country.

Needless to say, Thursday's battle out west could be won on the coaching clipboard. That would give Izzo and the Spartans a huge edge. With Louisville playing a lot of zone, MSU might want to take advantage of opportunities for quick scores on inbound plays, especially after timeouts.

3000: I'm obviously not calling plays, but if I was, I might suggest a play I called "3000?" Izzo has used this under-the-basket inbound play hundreds of times during his tenure. I even stole it when I coached ninth grade girls basketball at Algonac. (NOTE: I was given a set of out-of-bounds plays to run, but we stunk at them all. The only under-the-hoop play we scored on all year? 3000.)

I'm not sure the actual name, but 3000 is basically a serious of cuts through the lane, meant to confuse the zone defense on the inbound. Counting one-one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, the third player to slice through the lane is usually open for a split second and a quick pass can result in an easy layup.

0.216: That is the difference between MSU's ATO PPP (0.920) and Louisville's (0.704). It's the largest disparity in all Sweet 16 matchups. In fact, only Ohio State's 0.213 margin against Cincinnati comes close.

9-0: That is Rick Pitino's record in Sweet 16 games throughout his career. That's pretty remarkable. It's on par with Izzo's 17-3 record in the second of back-to-back NCAA Tournament games.

1-7: That is Louisville's record against No. 1 seeds in its last eight games.

64-52: That was the score when MSU and Louisville last met. The stage was the 2009 Elite Eight with Louisville as the tournament No. 1 overall seed. The Spartans controlled the game en route to a title-game loss to North Carolina.

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