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Tom Herzog is a statistical monster

Bullet point preface:

  • No, I'm not writing about basketball just because the football team lost a second consecutive contest in soul-crushing manner.
  • But it's probably a factor.
  • This hurt.
  • I mean, REALLY hurt.
  • Yes, I've been sucked just a bit into the college football blogging vortex.
  • (I blame this, to a certain extent, on the void that's been left in my life by my momentous decision to quit fantasy football cold turkey this year.)
  • BUT:
  • is and will be THE blogosphere destination to talk about Michigan State University basketball.
  • So there.
  • Eight weeks from now, we're playing Gonzaga!

OK, back to the point of this post.  Tom Herzog is a statistical monster.  The numbers:

OffRtg 2pt% FT% FT Rate OReb% DReb% Blk%
2007-08 107.4 42.9 50.0 28.5 15.1 9.7 10.2
2008-09 140.0 60.0 57.1 140.0 10.8 29.1 18.2

The second row of data contains some phenomenal tempo-free indicators.  Sadly, they came in just 32 minutes of play spread across 16 game appearances.  For his career, Herzog has now played exactly 100 minutes of basketball in an MSU uniform.  He has played double-digit minutes in just one of his 29 career appearances (a 37-point win over Penn State in 2008).

The last two seasons, it's been easy to lump Herzog together with Idong Ibok in the category of "really tall guys who don't get off the bench unless (1) we're up by 25 or (2) we need someone to absorb a couple fouls."  But, really they're two different kinds of tall guys.  Ibok was a long, and fairly strong, shot blocker who never really looked comfortable actually, you know, playing basketball.  Herzog, meanwhile, is a guy who's shown some basketball skills in his limited appearances but just hasn't been able to put on enough weight to deal with Division 1 post players for more than a few minutes at a time.

It's now been three years since Herzog set foot on campus.  It's easy to forget what his résumé looked like at that point:

Averaged 17.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.3 blocks as a senior at Flint Powers Catholic High School, serving as team captain while playing for Coach Jack Pratt ... Finished second in the voting for the 2006 Hal Schram Mr. Basketball Award ... Detroit Free Press Dream Team honoree and The Detroit News All-State Class B member ... 2006 Associated Press Class B All-State selection ... Holds school records for career blocks (400) and blocks in a game (15) ... Averaged 17.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocks as a junior ... 2005 Associated Press Class B All-State selection ... Earned 2005 Class B All-State accolades from The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press ... 2005 first-team all-conference selection ... Led Powers Catholic to a 21-3 record and a district championship, losing in the regional semifinals ... Shot 69 percent from the floor

You don't get voted runner-up for Mr. Basketball without having some decent basketball-playing abilities.  And, while you certainly don't want to read too much into statistics from less than two hours of time on the court (mostly against opposing bench warmers), the tempo-free numbers above hint at the fact that Tom Herzog can do some things with a basketball.

The stars would seem to be aligning for Herzog to become a part of the playing rotation this year as a redshirt junior:

  • Goran Suton, Marquise Gray, and Idong Ibok have all graduated.
  • Neither of the team's two returning big men are of the super tall, shot-blocking variety.
  • Herzog appears to have finally put on some muscle.

In projecting where the post player minutes come from this season, it's easy to get more excited about the two incoming freshmen (Garrick Sherman and Derrick Nix) than it is to get inspired by someone we've seen for the past three seasons, mainly in pregame warm-ups.  But don't sleep on Tom Herzog ("The General"?).  After all, we all know you can't teach height.  But you can add weight.  And there may just be a real, live basketball player under that new-found weight.