2009-10 Season Wrap-up (Part Ten): The Big 12 North in 2010-11

Part One: The Team Stats
Part Two: The Player Stats and Style Doppelgangers
Part Three: More Doppelgangers - The Scorers
Part Four: More Doppelgangers - The Distributors
Part Five: Final Doppelgangers - The Backup Bigs (and Sutton)
Part Six: What Mattered Most?
Part Seven: Mike Anderson vs Nolan Richardson
Part Eight: Homework
Part Nine: The Big 12 South in 2010-11

Yesterday, we looked at the Big 12 South and how most teams seem to be ready to regress by a step or two (or in Oklahoma State's case, potentially three or four).  Today's let's move North, to a division that appears ready to continue moving forward.

Colorado

I've got to say, I have no idea what to expect from Colorado's two stars, Cory Higgins and Alec Burks, in 2010-11.  Their per-minute production was off the charts in 2009-10, particularly that of Burks, a freshman from Grandview passed over in recruitment (at least until it was too late) by Kansas and Missouri.  As a 3-star freshman, Burks could have been expected to produce at about a 0.23 AdjGS/minute rate ... and he almost tripled that.  Unexpected star freshmen often suffer sophomore slumps, and I would at least somewhat expect that from Burks, but how much of one?  The projections say he'll fall back to around the 0.50-0.52 level ... but the projections also missed wildly on him this season.

Regardless of what Burks and Higgins (now seemingly the forgotten man) produce, one thing is certain: CU's bigs are still ... shall we say, less than adequate.  The Buffs just got destroyed on the interior this season, and since they return almost exactly the same roster next year, there's really not a lot of opportunity for improvement.  After Higgins and Burks, no Buff is projected to produce at higher than a 0.33/min level, which ... is pretty bad.  The backcourt could get even better, as Nate Tomlinson will now be a junior, and they'll bring Shannon Sharper (no, not that one) into the mix after he redshirted in 2009-10 due to injury.  But if they're still relying on the Austin Dufaults and Shane Harris Tunkses of the world to eat up major minutes, they will still be quite limited.

Player 09-10
AdjGS/Min.
Proj.
AdjGS/Min.
Proj.
AdjGS/Gm.
Cory Higgins (6'5, 190, Sr.) 0.58 0.50 16.7
Alec Burks (6'6, 185, So.) 0.60 0.52 16.2
Marcus Relphorde (6'7, 220, Sr.) 0.33 0.33 9.7
Austin Dufault (6'9, 230, Jr.) 0.25 0.33 7.7
Nate Tomlinson (6'3, 185, Jr.) 0.26 0.33 6.7
Keegan Hornbuckle (6'7, 205, So.) 0.23 0.27 3.4
Levi Knutson (6'4, 200, Sr.) 0.30 0.31 3.4
Shannon Sharpe (6'0, 190, RFr.) N/A 0.23 2.9
Shane Harris-Tunks (6'11, 225, So.) 0.07 0.15 2.3
Casey Crawford (6'9, 245, Sr.) 0.28 0.30 1.0
TOTAL 69.7
LAST YEAR
74.6
DIFFERENCE -4.9


This really will be a pretty experienced team in 2010-11, but I just don't know if the talent is there. Based on projections, they lose less than anybody in the South, and maybe they can throw a challenge in for the #7 spot in conference (or if all goes perfectly, #6), but I worry that this team was already pretty close to their ceiling this year, and I'm not sure that the ceiling gets much higher next year.

Iowa State

Let's be honest: things aren't looking too good in Ames right now.  Greg McDermott is a good, tough game coach, but he is struggling to keep together a full roster of talent long enough to succeed.  Heading into this offseason, he knew he was probably going to lose Craig Brackins as an early defection to the NBA draft, and he knew that Marquis Gilstrap was likely not going to get an extra year of eligibility as once hoped.  Sure enough, Brackins and Gilstrap are gone.  Unfortunately for the 'Clones, so are sophomores Justin Hamilton and Dominique Buckley, who elected to transfer.  Now, ISU returns just two players who averaged over 20 minutes per game last year (Diante Garrett and Scotty Christopherson) ... and neither were very good.

Barring some last-second recruiting coup, stats suggest ISU will head into 2010-11 with hopes pinned on two players -- LaRon Dendy, who was a per-minute master in his first year in Ames (he was a 4-star JUCO recruit who sat behind Brackins and Gilstrap), and incoming JUCO guard DeMarcus Phillips.  Guys like Garrett and Christopherson are what they are -- guys who might look good a few times in a season, but who aren't going to be stars on a top-of-the-conference team.  ISU has hopes that 4-star sophomore-to-be Chris Colvin can maybe start to help this coming season, but ... as a fan of stats, I just can't see it.  Colvin is a good-looking, athletic combo guard who seems to know what he's doing out there, but ... 3.0 PPG (in 15.5 minutes), 1.9 APG, 2.0 TOPG, 27.6% FG, 19.2% 3PT, 52.1% FT, 0.01 AdjGS/min.  Yuck.  He was a point guard who couldn't really pass, a shooting guard who was a terrible shooter.  Really, he has all the weaknesses that held Jimmy McKinney back -- McKinney never played quite as well as it seemed he should play, and while he was decent at everything, he wasn't truly good at anything -- only, multiplied by about 25.

Player 09-10
AdjGS/Min.
Proj.
AdjGS/Min.
Proj.
AdjGS/Gm.
LaRon Dendy (6'9, 230, Sr.) 0.53 0.48 16.6
DeMarcus Phillips (6'3, 195, Jr.) N/A 0.38 11.0
Diante Garrett (6'4, 190, Sr.) 0.31 0.32 9.8
Jamie Vanderbeken (6'11, 250, Sr.) 0.38 0.37 8.2
Scotty Christopherson (6'3, 200, Jr.) 0.24 0.27 6.8
Alex Dorr (6'7, 210, So.) 0.32 0.34 3.2
Charles Boozer (6'3, 205, Sr.) 0.36 0.33 2.9
Jordan Railey (6'10, 215, Fr.) N/A 0.18 2.7
Chris Colvin (6'3, 195, So.) 0.01 0.14 2.4
Melvin Ejim (6'6, 205, Fr.) N/A 0.23 1.2
TOTAL 66.0
LAST YEAR
72.6
DIFFERENCE -6.6


ISU is a tough team to project, simply because quite a few players who will be receiving major minutes next season either a) didn't play many minutes in 09-10 and are therefore hard to project, or b) were playing high school or JUCO ball last year ... and are therefore hard to project.   Bottom line: if Dendy can produce at the level the stats suggest, ISU might not be much worse than they were last season, if at all.  Unfortunately, they were not a good team for most of conference play, so "not getting much worse" is not really a fun option.

Kansas

It's easy to assume Kansas will be taking a pretty large step backwards next year.  No Sherron Collins, no Cole Aldrich, likely no Xavier Henry.  But even if you don't take into account the fact that they are likely to land at least one more stud recruit in this recruiting class, the stats suggest they should still be by far the conference title favorite, no matter how disappointing it is to say that.  On a per-minute basis, Collins was good but replaceable, while Henry was the same.  Aldrich will be tough to replace thanks to the good shooting %, the blocks and the rebounds, but the Morris twins will come close, and KU's depth will still be just silly-good.

We are assuming below that a) Henry will indeed go pro, b) Marcus Morris doesn't declare for the draft, and c) Tyshawn Taylor doesn't transfer (we've heard rumors of both, but I don't see it).  KU had the luxury of redshirting two former 4-star recruits -- SF Mario Little (last seen bawling on the bench after the Northern Iowa game) and SG Travis Releford, and their depth of talent in 2010-11 will be almost equally as good as it was this season.  Plus, as with Texas, the chemistry for the current team never quite seemed right (crazy to say, considering they lost just three games all year), and if things are better this coming season, yikes.

Player 09-10
AdjGS/Min.
Proj.
AdjGS/Min.
Proj.
AdjGS/Gm.
Marcus Morris (6'8, 225, Jr.) 0.49 0.51 13.9
Markieff Morris (6'9, 232, Jr.) 0.40 0.45 11.0
Tyshawn Taylor (6'3, 180, Jr.) 0.30 0.38 9.2
Mario Little (6'5, 210, Sr.) N/A 0.39 9.2
Elijah Johnson (6'2, 183, So.) 0.37 0.42 7.9
Tyrel Reed (6'3, 185, Sr.) 0.35 0.34 7.4
Thomas Robinson (6'9, 230, So.) 0.30 0.36 6.5
Brady Morningstar (6'3, 185, Sr.) 0.25 0.28 5.9
Jeff Withey (7'0, 225, So.) 0.48 0.50 4.0
Travis Releford (6'5, 205, So.) N/A 0.34 1.4
TOTAL 79.5
LAST YEAR
81.6
DIFFERENCE -2.1


So KU loses their all-time winningest guard and two likely Lottery picks ... and they lose less overall statistical production than anybody else in the conference so far?  That hardly seems fair.  But it's pretty easy to see how it will come about.  Collins is replaced, in part, by former 5-star recruit Elijah Johnson, and the lawfirm of Morris, Robinson and Morris man the frontcourt.  Add a potential breakout season from Taylor (if he's got one in him) and nice production from Little, who was a solid chemistry guy in 2008-09, and that's a pretty disgustingly good team.  Maybe their overall team defense struggles without Aldrich, and maybe that's worth another couple of points to the overall "loss" total, but ... that's still a smaller loss than most other teams are suffering.  Ridiculous.

Kansas State

The three biggest obstacles to K-State's 2010-11 season: 1) KU is still going to be really, really good, 2) they have to deal with a level of expectations they haven't faced before (I fully expect them to be a preseason Top 10 team, even if something weird happens, like Curtis Kelly declaring for the draft), and 3) Jacob Pullen will make the shift from SG to PG to replace Denis Clemente.  I virtually guarantee that that will hurt his overall production level, even if it doesn't really hurt the team as a whole.

So those are the obstacles.  Now here are the pluses: Pullen, who made himself a nationally-recognizable star this season (especially in the sweet Sixteen), returns for an All-America run in his senior season.  Kelly, Jamar Samuels, and the other hosses that made KSU so tough and physical to handle, all return (barring unexpected defection).  KSU had a boatload of freshmen playing decent minutes this season (Wally Judge, Martavious Irving, Rodney McGruder, etc.), and they will all have a year of both experience and weight training under their belts.

In other words, most of KSU's strengths in 2009-10 will be even stronger in 2010-11.  The one questions I have are if Pullen can make an easy transition to point (not a huge concern, since he was basically playing half-point this year), and if another consistent scoring option can emerge.  Guys like Samuels and Kelly were solid in terms of nabbing putbacks and making occasional jumpers, but they'll be counted on for a bit more this coming season.

Player 09-10
AdjGS/Min.
Proj.
AdjGS/Min.
Proj.
AdjGS/Gm.
Jacob Pullen (6'0, 200, Sr.) 0.57 0.49 16.0
Curtis Kelly (6'8, 250, Sr.) 0.51 0.51 13.2
Jamar Samuels (6'7, 215, Jr.) 0.46 0.47 11.3
Dominique Sutton (6'5, 210, Sr.) 0.36 0.37 10.2
Martavious Irving (6'1, 209, So.) 0.15 0.22 6.0
Wally Judge (6'9, 248, So.) 0.20 0.30 4.8
Rodney McGruder (6'4, 205, So.) 0.39 0.40 4.7
Jordan Henriquez (7'0, 245, So.) 0.24 0.28 3.5
Freddy Asprilla (6'10, 280, Jr.) N/A 0.38 2.7
Shane Southwell (6'6, 220, Fr.) N/A 0.23 0.7
TOTAL 76.0
LAST YEAR
79.7
DIFFERENCE -3.7


The per-minute production of Clemente (0.41) is a loss, and unlike other top teams, KSU might not be adding a top-notch recruit to the mix (though they are adding a HUGE one in Asprilla, the 280-pound Florida International transfer), but whereas KU's defense might suffer without Aldrich, KSU's might be even better.  They will either be the consensus #2 pick in the conference next year, or if people are over-estimating KU's loss of Sherron Collins, they might even be the conference favorite.  It's a whole new world for Frank Martin's crew, and I'm curious to see how they handle it.  You never know who will handle it well and who won't.

Missouri

How big of a missing piece is team defense to the AdjGS equation?  We'll find out soon enough -- if the loss of Zaire Taylor and J.T. Tiller, and the likely corresponding increase in Mizzou's FG% allowed, aren't worth more than the loss of a couple of points in 2010-11, then Mizzou will absolutely, positively be a darkhorse conference title contender.  As you'll see below, the stats love them even though they don't project much of an improvement (if any) from Mizzou's three major juniors-to-be, even though minimal production is projected for either of Mizzou's incoming star freshmen (Tony Mitchell, Phil Pressey), and even though rebounds (or lack thereof) play a role in the AdjGS formula.  Unlike K-State, they will be lucky to even be ranked in the preseason Top 25, but the stats really like this team.

Player 09-10
AdjGS/Min.
Proj.
AdjGS/Min.
Proj.
AdjGS/Gm.
Laurence Bowers (6'8, 205, Jr.) 0.54 0.52 13.3
Marcus Denmon (6'3, 185, Jr.) 0.45 0.46 11.9
Kim English (6'6, 200, Jr.) 0.41 0.43 11.6
Mike Dixon (6'1, 175, So.) 0.40 0.38 9.0
Justin Safford (6'8, 230, Sr.) 0.37 0.36 7.2
Tony Mitchell (6'8, 220, Fr.) N/A 0.35 6.9
Phil Pressey (5'10, 160, Fr.) N/A 0.28 4.2
Steve Moore (6'9, 264, Jr.) 0.13 0.25 3.4
Miguel Paul (6'1, 172, Jr.) 0.28 0.35 3.1
John Underwood (6'9, 208, So.) 0.22 0.27 2.1
TOTAL 76.6
LAST YEAR
77.3
DIFFERENCE -0.7


The loss of 0.7 points is easily the smallest of any team in conference, though like I said above, I expect a defensive drop-off in terms of the number of open 3's Mizzou allows -- I just see no way Mike Dixon and Phil Pressey can step in and do the same job as Tiller or Taylor in that regard (though I'm extremely confident in Denmon).  Whether that's worth two points or ten will determine this team's ceiling.

(Well, that, and the other 100 things we've mentioned in the last couple weeks of wrap-up posts.)

Nebraska

Like Texas Tech, Nebraska was set to return a vast majority of its main contributors.  Ryan Anderson and Sek Henry depart, but just about everybody else was set to return.  Since the end of the season, it has been announced that Ray Gallegos, Quincy Hankins-Cole and Myles Holley are all transferring -- none were major contributors (they all averaged between 9 and 14 minutes per game), but that hits their depth pretty hard.  Still, they look to be a much more experienced all-around team this season.  It cannot be ignored that eight of the 11 players in NU's main rotation were newcomers in 2009-10, and even without the departing players listed above, they will still have an experienced, relatively gritty backcourt (Brandon Richardson, Lance Jeter, Toney McCray, Eshaunte Jones), and a frontcourt capable of playing the defense NU will need to play to improve.

The key player, as you'll see, could be Christian Standhardinger.  The German who, um, doesn't exactly look German, had to sit out the first half of this season, but he improved significantly through the portion of his freshman year that he was actually allowed to play, and his per-minute stats were damn impressive.  If he can maintain a decent level of production over the course of a full season, then NU has enough pieces to at least make a run to becoming an NIT-level* team.  If not -- if NU has to rely on players like Richardson and Jeter to score a ton of points -- then they're as likely as anybody to finish last in conference.  I love Doc Sadler as a game coach, but he just hasn't hit the mark in terms of bringing a large level of talent to Lincoln, and if Standhardinger can't become The Man, then one doesn't exist on this team.

* This assumes that there IS an NIT next year.  If the NCAA tourney expands as it seems likely to do, then "NIT-level team" becomes ... "NCAA Tourney-level team" somehow.

Player 09-10
AdjGS/Min.
Proj.
AdjGS/Min.
Proj.
AdjGS/Gm.
Christian Standhardinger (6'8, 210, So.) 0.51 0.46 12.6
Brandon Richardson (6'0, 190, Jr.) 0.39 0.41 11.7
Toney McCray (6'6, 205, Jr.) 0.34 0.39 9.3
Jorge Brian Diaz (6'11, 235, So.) 0.37 0.35 9.0
Lance Jeter (6'3, 225, Sr.) 0.25 0.28 8.9
Eshaunte Jones (6'4, 190, So.) 0.34 0.35 7.3
Andre Almeida (6'10, 320, Jr.) N/A 0.38 5.7
Caleb Walker (6'4, 205, Jr.) N/A 0.33 4.2
Brandon Ubel (6'10, 220, So.) 0.16 0.21 2.8
Mike Fox (6'4, 195, So.) 0.34 0.36 1.1
TOTAL 72.5
LAST YEAR
77.3
DIFFERENCE -4.8


Standhardinger isn't projected to become a LaRon Dendy by any means, but if he is able to thrive, then the fact that Nebraska has to replace a total of eight players who suited up this season won't hurt them much.  They still stand to lose more production than KU, KSU, and MU (sure enough, it appears that the gap between the top half of the North and the bottom half will grow larger in 2010-11), but they might still work out a net gain.

 

Adjustments

As I said in yesterday's South preview, thanks to ultra-conservative projections, every team is projected to regress next season, which from an intra-conference perspective, is impossible.  Half the teams will get better, half worse.  So here's what we're going to do: we're going to simply adjust the regression levels to where the overall gain/loss for the conference as a whole is 0.  As you'll see below, that means adding roughly 5.7 points to each team's gain/loss figure.  While every team appears ready to regress, the ones who regress the least will, in theory, actually improve by not regressing as much as others.  Hope that made sense.

Team Raw Diff. Adj. Diff.
Missouri -0.7 +5.0
Kansas -2.1 +3.6
Kansas State -3.7 +1.9
Nebraska -4.7 +0.9
Colorado -4.9 +0.8
Texas Tech -5.1 +0.6
Iowa State -6.6 -0.9
Texas A&M -7.0 -1.4
Baylor -7.2 -1.6
Oklahoma -7.4 -1.7
Texas -8.7 -3.0
Oklahoma State -9.7 -4.0
TOTAL -67.9 +0.0


The North's top three teams are projected to improve the most, while North teams take six of the top seven overall slots.  The conference may still skew to the South in football, but thanks to Bill Self, Frank Martin and Mike Anderson, the Big 12 is starting to potentially look like a North-heavy conference.  (Of course, that said, Texas and Baylor are still recruiting like gangbusters, and ATM is putting things together, so this advantage may be short-lived.)

So what happens if we take these gain/loss figures above and apply it to each team's point differential from this past conference season?  Below are four figures: 1) the adjusted difference in production as calculated above, 2) each team's 2009-10 scoring margin in conference play, 3) a "new" point margin calculated by combining the first two figures, and 4) a rough projected conference record based on the "new" point margin.

2010-11 Projected Standings
Team Adj. Diff. 2009-10
Conf. Pt.
Margin
"New" Pt.
Margin
Proj.
Record
Kansas +3.6 +12.4 +16.0 15-1
Missouri +5.0 +3.8 +8.8 12-4
Kansas State +1.9 +6.0 +7.9 12-4
Baylor -1.6 +6.6 +5.0 10-6
Texas A&M -1.4 +3.2 +1.8 9-7
Texas -3.0 +3.1 +0.1 8-8
Oklahoma State -4.0 +2.2 -1.8 7-9
Colorado +0.8 -4.6 -3.8 6-10
Iowa State -0.9 -5.8 -6.7 5-11
Texas Tech +0.6 -8.6 -8.0 4-12
Nebraska +0.9 -10.1 -9.2 4-12
Oklahoma -1.7 -8.1 -9.8 4-12


It is highly doubtful that KU will reach a point margin of +16.0 in conference play because a) the team defense will indeed likely suffer an unspecified amount, and b) +16.0 is reeeeeeeeeeeally hard to do.  Pull that off, especially in a really good conference, and you're probably going 16-0, but as with everything else in these projections, I stayed on the conservative side and made it 15-1.  I expect more in the neighborhood of 13-3 for KU in 2010-11, but we'll see.

I also expect Mizzou's team defense to suffer a bit, meaning they should drop another point or two, which would still keep them in third.  I figure the more realistic top of the standings would probably be 1) KU 13-3, 2) KSU 12-4, 3) MU 11-5. Regardless, it figures to be a really fun ride for basketball fans within about three hours of Kansas City.  (Actually, I'll come back to that point in a moment.)

There is still quite a bit of this projection that is up in the air.  As I mentioned in the South preview, we still have no idea what Baylor's, Texas', and Oklahoma's rosters will look like, as each team has players that may go pro (Ekpe Udoh and LaceDarius Dunn at Baylor, Avery Bradley at Texas, Willie Warren at OU), plus we don't know what the Tiny Gallon investigation will turn up.  Depending on those decisions, the projections may change.  (And don't forget my "better chemistry" argument for UT in 2010-11.)  Plus, some Big 12 teams are still in the running for some big-time recruits -- 5-stars Brandon Knight, Josh Selby and Doron Lamb for Kansas, 4-star JUCO Ricardo Ratliffe for Mizzou, etc. -- that could change their outlooks at least a bit.  For now, though, this is how the projections shake down.  As personnel changes come about, we'll adjust accordingly.

---

Now, to end with a bit of history.  There have been 14 seasons in college basketball history where Kansas, Kansas State and Mizzou all finished with a win percentage of at least 0.600.  Three of them have taken place in the last three seasons.

Top 14 Combined Seasons for Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri

  1. 2009-10: 0.794 win% (KU 33-3, KSU 29-8, MU 23-11)
  2. 2008-09: 0.748 (MU 31-7, KU 27-8, KSU 22-12)
  3. 1993-94: 0.742 (MU 25-3, KU 27-8, KSU 20-14)
  4. 1912-13: 0.741 (KSU 14-4, KU 16-6, MU 13-5)
  5. 2007-08: 0.738 (KU 37-3, KSU 21-12, MU 18-12)
  6. 1916-17: 0.736 (KSU 15-2, MU 12-4, KU 12-8)
  7. 1980-81: 0.722 (KU 24-8, KSU 24-9, MU 22-10)
  8. 1976-77: 0.716 (KSU 24-7, MU 21-8, KU 18-10)
  9. 1987-88: 0.696 (KU 27-11, KSU 25-9, MU 19-11)
  10. 1974-75: 0.687 (KSU 20-9, KU 19-8, MU 18-9)
  11. 1988-89: 0.684 (MU 29-8, KSU 19-11, KU 19-12)
  12. 1986-87: 0.683 (MU 24-10, KU 25-11, KSU 20-11)
  13. 1998-99: 0.663 (MU 20-9, KU 23-10, KSU 20-13)
  14. 1955-56: 0.657 (KSU 17-8, MU 15-7, KU 14-9)

We are beginning to reach a golden age in terms of the quality of all three programs.  The only other eras that compare are the mid-1970s and the mid- to late-1980s.  But in terms of win percentage, the last three years have both of those eras topped.  All three programs have made at least the Elite Eight in the last three years (KU won the title in 2008, MU went to the Elite Eight in 2009, KSU in 2010), and their overall win totals have gotten pretty gaudy.

And all three programs could be at least as good in 2010-11 as they were in 2009-10.  This is getting fun.  Now if only somebody could actually knock KU off the Big 12 pedestal ... then we're really be in business here.

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