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2/16/2014: Iowa plus-minus data and observations (premium)

Posted on 16. Feb, 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.

Three follow-ups — after three, six and nine Big Ten games — have since been published and with the 16th-ranked Hawkeyes now two-thirds of the way through their conference schedule, now is a good time to publish the fourth part in our six-part series between now and next month’s Big Ten Tournament.

Prior to the Hawkeyes’ home game against Ohio State, they had used a total of 143 different lineups through 22 contests. That number has still continued to increase and is now at 150 different lineups through 25 games, so seven new lineups have been introduced just in the last week. There have also been quite a few lineups re-introduced for the first time in conference play.

Of the seven new lineups, one was used in the final minute of an 18-point win over Michigan and the Hawkeyes’ most recent contest at Penn State only featured one new lineup out of 11 used. The one observation worth making on new lineups is the three used against the Buckeyes featured Marble, Oglesby and Jok on the floor together for the first time — and to this point only time — all season.

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 Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State.

Ohio State (2/4/2014):

Best lineup: Marble-Gesell-White-McCabe-Olaseni (11-5) (+6)

Time on court together — 4:19 (4:21-0:02; first half)

For all intents and purposes, this lineup closed out the first half and was easily the best lineup Iowa had on the floor in this game (Clemmons came in for Gesell to play defense the final two second of the half). At this particular point, Olaseni checked in for Woodbury with the Hawkeyes trailing 26-22. This group gave Iowa the halftime lead it would go on to squander away with a poor defensive effort in the second half.

Worst lineup: Marble-Gesell-White-Basabe-Woodbury (10-20) (-10)

Time on court together — 10:18 (20:00-15:18, 6:23-5:54 first half; 20:00-14:53 second half)

It’s never a good sign when a team’s starting five proves to be the worst lineup on the floor, but this helps tell the story of how bad Iowa looked in this game. It wasn’t just that this group ended up in the minus all three times it was on the floor together, either. In terms of individual plus-minus, only Gesell was a plus. Marble had his second-worst plus-minus of the season and the other three starters — Woodbury, White and Basabe — all had their worst plus-minuses of the season to date.

Michigan (2/8/2014):

Best lineup: Marble-Gesell-White-Basabe-Woodbury (28-13) (+15)

Time on court together — 11:47 (20:00-15:20, 3:40-0:00 first half; 20:00-16:33 second half)

As awful as the starting five was against Ohio State, it was just as tremendous against Michigan four days later. If you combine the two halves, it was really two stints on the floor, not three since these guys closed out the first half. This group played nearly half the game in Ann Arbor out of necessity because there was very little scoring from the bench. In this rematch with the Wolverines, the starters set the tone, extended the lead back to double digits after Michigan got within eight points and then essentially put the game out of reach for good in the second half.

Worst lineup: Marble-Gesell-Uthoff-White-Olaseni (0-5) (-5)

Time on court together — 1:06 (4:46-3:40; first half)

This is the group that allowed Michigan to cut what was a 13-point deficit down to eight points at 33-25 before McCaffery went back to his starting five. One thing worth keeping in mind however was that Olaseni played 11:40 straight without a breather and this was the final 1:06 of that stretch.

Penn State (2/15/2014):

Best lineup: Marble-Gesell-White-Basabe-Woodbury (21-14) (+7)

Time on court together — 8:57 (20:00-15:29 first half; 20:00-16:03, 1:19-0:50 second half)

For the second game in a row, the starting five was the most effective lineup over the course of three stints. These guys set the tone early on as Iowa was hitting shots and then put the Hawkeyes back ahead in the second half after they trailed 33-31 at halftime.

Worst lineup: Marble-Oglesby-White-Basabe-Olaseni (0-4) (-4)

Time on court together — 1:43 (1:43-0:00; first half)

Penn State was in the middle of a big run to end the first half and this group allowed the Nittany Lions to move ahead with that 33-31 halftime lead. Basabe entered the game for McCabe, who had just picked up his second foul.


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.

A few quick observations: First, the Ohio State game was pretty bad for Iowa in this regard. There were four Hawkeyes that were pluses, but the minuses from their 76-69 loss were what really stood out. Marble posted his second-worst plus-minus of the season while White, Basabe and Woodbury all had their worst plus-minuses of the season in this one game. When 80 percent of the starters are inefficient like that, it leads credence to the issues Iowa had defensively in this game.

On the plus side of things for the Hawkeyes (no pun intended there), there’s one starter who has really shined lately and the plus-minus data reflects that. Gesell not only was among the four Iowa players who were pluses against the Buckeyes, but his last two games have been stellar. He was a +25 in Iowa’s win over Michigan, a game where his stat line was as good as anyone could ask out of a point guard. He then followed that up with a +15 at Penn State.

In terms of minute distribution, McCabe and Olaseni have currently played more minutes than Woodbury (although the difference between Woodbury and Olaseni is a mere 11 seconds) and as expected, Oglesby has now surpassed Jok in minutes played, even though Jok actually was seeing sparse minutes on the floor before an injury sidelined him against Penn State. Clemmons also missed Iowa’s game with Penn State due to injury.

Devyn Marble: 75/150 rotations

Season: 1,515-1,198 (+317) (720:03)

Big Ten play: 780-648 (+132) (386:20)

Last 3 games: 203-179 (+24) (101:09)

– vs. Ohio State: 63-71 (-8) (35:43)

– vs. Michigan: 65-48 (+17) (30:56)

– at Penn State: 75-60 (+15) (34:30)

Aaron White: 73/150 rotations

Season: 1,406-1,113 (+293) (670:45)

Big Ten play: 744-617 (+127) (368:14)

Last 3 games: 197-178 (+19) (96:45)

– vs. Ohio State: 55-67 (-12) (31:34)

– vs. Michigan: 67-51 (+16) (31:53)

– at Penn State: 75-60 (+15) (33:18)

Mike Gesell: 74/150 rotations

Season: 1,186-965 (+221) (579:25)

Big Ten play: 615-554 (+61) (311:54)

Last 3 games: 191-150 (+41) (84:44)

– vs. Ohio State: 50-49 (+1) (25:09)

– vs. Michigan: 69-44 (+25) (29:09)

– at Penn State: 72-57 (+15) (30:26)

Melsahn Basabe: 62/150 rotations

Season: 959-818 (+141) (488:26)

Big Ten play: 476-443 (+33) (255:45)

Last 3 games: 111-104 (+7) (55:42)

– vs. Ohio State: 12-30 (-18) (14:03)

– vs. Michigan: 40-23 (+17) (16:03)

– at Penn State: 59-51 (+8) (25:36)

Jarrod Uthoff: 78/150 rotations

Season: 986-798 (+188) (472:07)

Big Ten play: 363-342 (+21) (199:09)

Last 3 games: 77-63 (+14) (41:44)

– vs. Ohio State: 14-9 (+5) (8:26)

– vs. Michigan: 22-22 (0) (11:16)

– at Penn State: 41-32 (+9) (22:02)

Zach McCabe: 57/150 rotations

Season: 921-654 (+267) (407:31)

Big Ten play: 400-305 (+95) (191:57)

Last 3 games: 103-81 (+22) (49:46)

– vs. Ohio State: 50-38 (+12) (21:45)

– vs. Michigan: 41-27 (+14) (18:39)

– at Penn State: 12-16 (-4) (9:22)

Gabe Olaseni: 51/150 rotations

Season: 824-639 (+185) (403:58)

Big Ten play: 361-336 (+25) (193:32)

Last 3 games: 99-83 (+16) (55:38)

– vs. Ohio State: 35-28 (+7) (19:33)

– vs. Michigan: 41-32 (+9) (19:58)

– at Penn State: 23-23 (0) (16:07)

Adam Woodbury: 49/150 rotations

Season: 794-632 (+162) (403:47)

Big Ten play: 336-298 (+38) (187:45)

Last 3 games: 76-69 (+7) (42:42)

– vs. Ohio State: 22-32 (-10) (16:37)

– vs. Michigan: 32-21 (+11) (14:49)

– at Penn State: 22-16 (+6) (11:16)

Anthony Clemmons: 64/150 rotations

Season: 685-533 (+152) (325:45)

Big Ten play: 145-161 (-16) (86:43)

Last 3 games: 16-24 (-8) (9:17)

– vs. Ohio State: 9-12 (-3) (5:17)

– vs. Michigan: 7-12 (-5) (4:00)

– at Penn State: DNP

Josh Oglesby: 57/150 rotations

Season: 464-405 (+59) (229:20)

Big Ten play: 421-370 (+51) (208:29)

Last 3 games: 100-106 (-6) (52:49)

– vs. Ohio State: 29-33 (-4) (16:34)

– vs. Michigan: 40-38 (+2) (18:52)

– at Penn State: 31-35 (-4) (17:23)

Peter Jok: 57/150 rotations

Season: 433-333 (+100) (209:33)

Big Ten play: 35-48 (-13) (25:50)

Last 3 games: 7-16 (-9) (6:53)

– vs. Ohio State: 6-11 (-5) (5:19)

– vs. Michigan: 1-5 (-4) (1:34)

– at Penn State: DNP

Kyle Meyer: 18/150 rotations

Season: 73-93 (-20) (49:52)

Big Ten play: 2-8 (-6) (3:07)

Last 3 games: 0-4 (-4) (0:57)

– vs. Ohio State: DNP

– vs. Michigan: 0-4 (-4) (0:57)

– at Penn State: DNP

Darius Stokes: 15/150 rotations

Season: 62-82 (-20) (40:35)

Big Ten play: 4-8 (-4) (4:23)

Last 3 games: 0-4 (-4) (0:57)

– vs. Ohio State: DNP

– vs. Michigan: 0-4 (-4) (0:57)

– at Penn State: DNP

Kyle Denning: 14/150 rotations

Season: 70-80 (-10) (42:01)

Big Ten play: 0-4 (-4) (1:48)

Last 3 games: 0-4 (-4) (0:57)

– vs. Ohio State: DNP

– vs. Michigan: 0-4 (-4) (0:57)

– at Penn State: DNP

Okey Ukah: 6/150 rotations

Season: 33-46 (-13) (25:43)

Big Ten play: 0-0 (0) (0:51)

Last 3 games: 0-0 (0) (0:00)

– vs. Ohio State: DNP

– vs. Michigan: DNP

– at Penn State: DNP

Looking ahead:

Iowa’s next three Big Ten games are as follows: The Hawkeyes go back on the road Feb. 18 to play at Indiana, their lone regular season meeting this season with the Hoosiers. Then they return home for a highly-anticipated rematch with No. 21 Wisconsin on Feb. 22. After that, Iowa travels to Minnesota on Feb. 25 for a rematch with the Golden Gophers. Once again, I’ll update this data in 3-game increments, so the next plus-minus update will come following Iowa’s game in Minneapolis next week. Given what is known, here are some things to keep an eye on in each upcoming match-up.

Feb. 18 at Indiana — This is the only time Iowa plays Indiana during the regular season. Last season, the Hoosiers won twice and the Hawkeyes struggled mightily on offense in both contests. I’m going to pinpoint a pair of reserves that Iowa fans might want to keep an eye on in this game on Tuesday.

The first is McCabe, who was the only Hawkeye player to post pluses against Indiana in both meetings last season. The other is Oglesby for somewhat similar reasons. The Hoosiers will likely play plenty of zone, meaning 3-point shooting will be critical for Iowa in this contest. While Gesell has shot the ball well of late — it should also be noted Gesell missed the second meeting with Indiana last year due to his foot injury — the Hawkeyes are going to need at least one of these two guys (if not both of them) to shoot the ball well from behind the arc in order to leave Assembly Hall with a victory.

Feb. 22 vs. No. 21 Wisconsin — This one is pretty simple. Iowa will be out for blood next Saturday when the Badgers visit Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

When the Hawkeyes lost in Madison last month, there were four players who were pluses. Two of them were White and Marble. White said after this game how he was sick of losing to teams he thought Iowa was better than and Marble echoed his sentiments. Both have the clout to have this feeling, but this also means both of them need to bring their A-games here if the Hawkeyes are going to win what is a very significant game in terms of whether Iowa ends up getting a first-round bye in next month’s Big Ten Tournament.

Feb. 25 at Minnesota — When these teams met in Iowa City last month, I mentioned McCabe and Oglesby again as the two players to watch because both have fared quite well against the Golden Gophers. In that 94-73 Hawkeye victory over Minnesota, McCabe and Oglesby were both +24, which was the highest plus-minus among Iowa players that day. Minnesota plays a lot of zone defense like Iowa will probably see against Indiana, so for similar reasons, these two will be critical again in this contest.


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