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1/10/2014: Iowa plus-minus data and observations (premium)

Posted on 10. Jan, 2014 by in Iowa Basketball


By Brendan Stiles


Prior to the start of Big Ten play, I assembled a post looking at plus-minus data not only for individual Iowa basketball players, but plus-minus data for each lineup used in games this season by Fran McCaffery and his coaching staff.

With No. 20 Iowa now three games into Big Ten play, I thought now would be a good time to update this and not only look at some of the newer data, but what type of impact it has had.

Coming into that Big Ten opener against Nebraska on Dec. 31, the Hawkeyes had used 91 different lineups through 13 games. This number is now 111 lineups through 16 games, so just in Big Ten play, 20 new lineups have been used. One thing to note here is that of these 20 new lineups, 12 of them took place during the timeframe in which Kirk Speraw filled in for McCaffery between his ejection at No. 4 Wisconsin on Jan. 5 and being suspended from Iowa’s 93-67 win over Northwestern on Jan. 9.

Now one had to figure with junior guard Josh Oglesby returning to the rotation that this number was going to increase. It has. Of the 20 new lineups used during Big Ten play, all but two of them feature the Cedar Rapids native.

Before getting into individual plus-minus, below are what proved to be the most effective and least effective lineups for Iowa in its previous three games against Nebraska, Wisconsin and Northwestern.

Nebraska (12/31/2013):

Best lineup: Clemmons-Marble-White-Basabe-McCabe (8-1) (+7)

Time on court together – 2:30 (3:11-0:41; first half)

Iowa outscored Nebraska during this stretch 8-1. This was also key because if you recall, the game was tied at 22-22 apiece and this is the particular group that allowed the Hawkeyes to establish a 7-point halftime lead that they were able to build on in the second half.

Worst lineup: Clemmons-Marble-Uthoff-White-Olaseni (1-7) (-6)

Time on court together: 1:38 (6:30-4:52; second half)

At this point, Iowa was ahead 58-41. During the 1:38 these five were on the court together, Nebraska was able to get back within 11 points at 59-48.

Wisconsin (1/5/2014):

Best lineup: Gesell-Oglesby-Marble-White-Olaseni (10-2) (+8)

Time on court together: 4:36 (4:30-0:00 first half; 0:22-0:16 second half)

This group was used briefly late in the gaem by Speraw, but these five guys closed out the first half when Iowa was playing well and helped provide the Hawkeyes an 11-point lead entering halftime.

Worst lineup (w/ McCaffery coaching): Marble-Gesell-Uthoff-McCabe-Olaseni (0-7) (-7)

Time on court together: 2:19 (14:10-11:51; second half)

This group’s plus-minus is heavily skewed because this is the lineup that was on the floor prior to McCaffery’s ejection and the five free throws made by Wisconsin immediately following are labeled with this lineup.

Worst lineup (w/ Speraw coaching): Marble-Gesell-Uthoff-White-Olaseni (0-6) (-6)

Time on court together: 1:36 (2:43-1:07; second half)

At this point, Marble had just hit a 3-pointer to get Iowa within a point. During this stretch of 1:36 in the final minutes, the Badgers’ lead escalated back up to seven points. What’s interesting to note here is the only difference between this and the lineup used just before McCaffery’s ejection is Aaron White in place of Zach McCabe.

Northwestern (1/9/2014):

Best lineup: Marble-Gesell-White-Basabe-Woodbury (26-13) (+13)

Time on court together: 10:16 (20:00-15:08 first half; 20:00-14:36 second half)

Against a team like Northwestern, one would figure the starting five should do really well and this proved evident here. Iowa jumped out to a 10-2 lead when these guys were on the court together in the first half and extended a 15-point halftime lead up to 20 points when they got back together to open the second half.

Worst lineups: Clemmons-Marble-Uthoff-Basabe-Olaseni (2-6) (-4); Clemmons-Marble-White-Basabe-Woodbury (0-4) (-4)

Time on court together: 1:52 (15:08-13:16; first half); 1:29 (6:47-5:18; first half)

A pair of lineups tied for -4 here because both lineups allowed Northwestern to get back within single digits in the first half. What should be noted here is that neither lineup was used again in the second half by Speraw.


I have the following listed with each player here — the number of different lineups they’ve been part of thus far in 2013-14, their plus-minus and minutes played for the entire season, their plus-minus and minutes played through Big Ten play, and plus-minus and minutes played in the last three games played (in this case, the three Big Ten games played thus far).

Couple of quick points: First, Marble has played the most minutes, but Uthoff has been involved in the most rotations. Jok didn’t play against Wisconsin and his minutes have really been cut since Big Ten play began. Lastly, the game against Nebraska was the only time the Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers will meet unless they match up next March at the Big Ten Tournament.

Devyn Marble: 51/111 rotations

Season: 917-693 (+224) (424:45)

Big Ten play: 182-143 (+39) (91:02)

– vs. Nebraska: 56-43 (+13) (31:26)

– at Wisconsin: 65-63 (+2) (36:04)

– vs. Northwestern: 61-37 (+24) (23:32)

Aaron White: 56/111 rotations

Season: 861-645 (+216) (399:46)

Big Ten play: 199-149 (+50) (97:15)

– vs. Nebraska: 64-52 (+12) (36:47)

– at Wisconsin: 57-54 (+3) (31:11)

– vs. Northwestern: 78-43 (+35) (29:17)

Mike Gesell: 55/111 rotations

Season: 710-530 (+180) (339:57)

Big Ten play: 139-119 (+20) (72:26)

– vs. Nebraska: 29-24 (+5) (18:23)

– at Wisconsin: 49-62 (-13) (28:58)

– vs. Northwestern: 61-33 (+28) (25:05)

Jarrod Uthoff: 63/111 rotations

Season: 719-558 (+161) (331:51)

Big Ten play: 96-102 (-6) (58:53)

– vs. Nebraska: 33-35 (-2) (22:15)

– at Wisconsin: 26-33 (-7) (15:52)

– vs. Northwestern: 37-34 (+3) (18:46)

Melsahn Basabe: 39/111 rotations

Season: 613-473 (+140) (296:13)

Big Ten play: 130-98 (+32) (63:32)

– vs. Nebraska: 41-31 (+10) (22:14)

– at Wisconsin: 29-32 (-3) (17:27)

– vs. Northwestern: 60-35 (+25) (23:51)

Anthony Clemmons: 52/111 rotations

Season: 596-436 (+160) (272:45)

Big Ten play: 56-64 (-8) (33:43)

– vs. Nebraska: 26-25 (+1) (15:28)

– at Wisconsin: 17-15 (+2) (9:11)

– vs. Northwestern: 13-24 (-11) (9:04)

Adam Woodbury: 36/111 rotations

Season: 550-406 (+144) (263:52)

Big Ten play: 92-72 (+20) (47:50)

– vs. Nebraska: 26-21 (+5) (15:15)

– at Wisconsin: 18-19 (-1) (12:44)

– vs. Northwestern: 48-32 (+16) (19:51)

Zach McCabe: 40/111 rotations

Season: 612-419 (+193) (258:06)

Big Ten play: 91-70 (+21) (42:32)

– vs. Nebraska: 21-12 (+9) (10:48)

– at Wisconsin: 36-34 (+2) (17:07)

– vs. Northwestern: 34-24 (+10) (14:37)

Gabe Olaseni: 41/111 rotations

Season: 527-387 (+140) (252:53)

Big Ten play: 64-84 (-20) (42:27)

– vs. Nebraska: 16-20 (-4) (12:41)

– at Wisconsin: 33-43 (-10) (19:47)

– vs. Northwestern: 15-21 (-6) (9:59)

Peter Jok: 48/111 rotations

Season: 414-301 (+113) (193:35)

Big Ten play: 16-16 (0) (9:52)

– vs. Nebraska: 9-4 (+5) (4:23)

– at Wisconsin: DNP

– vs. Northwestern: 7-12 (-5) (5:29)

Josh Oglesby: 25/111 rotations

Season: 126-104 (+22) (59:40)

Big Ten play: 83-69 (+14) (38:49)

– vs. Nebraska: 14-18 (-4) (10:20)

– at Wisconsin: 25-23 (+2) (11:39)

– vs. Northwestern: 44-28 (+16) (16:50)

Kyle Meyer: 17/111 rotations

Season: 73-89 (-16) (48:04)

Big Ten play: 2-4 (-2) (1:19)

– vs. Nebraska: DNP

– at Wisconsin: DNP

– vs. Northwestern: 2-4 (-2) (1:19)

Darius Stokes: 13/111 rotations

Season: 60-78 (-18) (37:31)

Big Ten play: 2-4 (-2) (1:19)

– vs. Nebraska: DNP

– at Wisconsin: DNP

– vs. Northwestern: 2-4 (-2) (1:19)

Kyle Denning: 13/111 rotations

Season: 70-76 (-6) (40:13)

Big Ten play: 0-0 (0) (0:00)

– vs. Nebraska: DNP

– at Wisconsin: DNP

– vs. Northwestern: DNP

Okey Ukah: 6/111 rotations

Season: 33-46 (-13) (24:52)

Big Ten play: 0-0 (0) (0:00)

– vs. Nebraska: DNP

– at Wisconsin: DNP

– vs. Northwestern: DNP

Looking ahead:

Iowa’s next three Big Ten games are as follows: First, the Hawkeyes travel to No. 3 Ohio State on Jan. 12. Iowa’s next home game is Jan. 19 against Minnesota, then the Hawkeyes go back on the road Jan. 22 to play at Michigan. Once again, I’ll update this data in 3-game increments, so the next plus-minus update will come following Iowa’s game in Ann Arbor later this month. Given what is known, here are some things to keep an eye on in each upcoming match-up.

Jan. 12 at No. 3 Ohio State – This is a match-up nightmare for Iowa and there’s really no other way to put it. Ohio State is the only Big Ten team McCaffery has yet to beat during his Iowa tenure and in the four match-ups between the two teams since McCaffery first took over, the Buckeyes have really stymied the Hawkeyes in the last three contests specifically, dating back to 2010-11. If Iowa’s going to have any chance of pulling the upset in Columbus, this game (perhaps more than any other on the schedule) is one where all hands will be needed on deck. All this talk about the Hawkeyes’ depth needs to be on display here because Ohio State has done a good job in recent games of shutting down Iowa’s primary weapon (in this case, it will be Marble).

One player who had an amazingly high plus-minus when these teams met last season was Olaseni, who was a +18. Considering how he has been in the minus during each of Iowa’s first three Big Ten games, this is a contest where getting any sort of positive contribution from him would be a huge boost not only Sunday, but going forward. Another guy who needs to perform well here is Clemmons, who really struggled against Northwestern recently. As far as starters go, the one X-factor for Iowa could be Basabe because he has done well against the Buckeyes in the past and last year’s game was one of the best examples of why McCaffery re-inserted back in the starting five shortly after.

Jan. 19 vs. Minnesota – Two names to watch here for Iowa are going to be Oglesby and McCabe. Oglesby was the only Hawkeye player to finish as a plus in both meetings with the Golden Gophers last season. As for McCabe, Minnesota is a team that, for whatever reason, he has always seemed to bode well against. How much differs with Richard Pitino now in charge of the Golden Gophers remains to be seen, but if depth plays a factor for Iowa here, these will be the two likely culprits.

Jan. 22 at Michigan – Iowa only played Michigan once last season and it was easily the Hawkeyes’ worst game. That said, the Wolverines no longer have Trey Burke or Tim Hardaway, Jr., and they won’t have Mitch McGary’s services when this game takes place. The two names to watch here for Iowa are going to be Gesell and Woodbury. Assuming Gesell remains at the point by the time this game takes place, he should have an easier go-around not having to deal with Burke.

As for Woodbury, this is a match-up that should play to his strength because the evidence shows Iowa is more effective the more minutes he sees. Without McGary, this is a game where Michigan might not have an answer for him, so if Iowa can get at least 20 minutes out of Woodbury here, I think its chances of leaving with a win go up significantly.


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