Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wichita State at the Alabama Basketball Blog

BobbyJack at the Alabama Basketball Blog in Know your enemy - Wichita State Shockers writes:
"Wichita State is a defensive minded team like us. We give up 59.2 PPG, they allow 61.8. Don't expect this game to go into the 70s... unless it's double OT."

Great Tribute to Wichita State Basketball Fans at NCAAbbs.com

At An Inquiry and Comment About Wichita State...
Matrix All American writes about the NIT game of the Shockers against College of Charleston:
"Definitely one of the greatest atmospheres I've seen in college hoops this season"
As written by Karl Lyles at the Herald Online:
"The community has filled the 10,506-seat Charles Koch Arena for nearly every game this season."
I continue to think that the major sports services make a big mistake in virtually ignoring anything but the NCAA Tournament. Not everything of importance for the future of college basketball happens exclusively at "the Big Dance".

More reporting balance for the other tournaments would be desired from the likes of Yahoo Sports Rivals, ESPN, SI, etc.

Wichita State Shockers Favored Over the Alabama Crimson Tide by 1 1/2 Points in the NIT Basketball Tournament Final 2011

Even though the Alabama Crimson Tide basketball team has a signature win over Kentucky this season -- see College Basketball - odds - Rivals.com -- the team is a 1 1/2 point underdog against the sizzling Shockers of Wichita State in the NIT Final at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The game pits the powerful Shocker offense -- which is averaging 72.3 points per game for the season on 46.4% field goal shooting -- against a stalwart Alabama defense that has allowed only one team to score more than 64 points in their last 13 games. If Wichita State plays defense like it did against Nebraska and Washington State, allowing less than 50 points, then the Crimson Tide may find it tough going. For good reason, Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall is rumored as a hot candidate for numerous open head coach positions.

The battle lines are drawn and this should be an excellent game. Wichita State seems to be getting better every game so Alabama would appear to have its hands full, but only the game will tell. Anyone who knocked off Kentucky is not to be taken lightly. May the best team win!

Joe C at SBRForum.com has a nice analysis of the game and the players at NIT Finals - Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Wichita State Shockers and comes out in favor of Alabama, and we too would normally also favor the SEC West Conference champ, for sure, coming from a major conference. Both of these teams should have been in the NCAA tournament. In any case, Wichita State has devastated defensively-oriented teams recently (see e.g. the Huskers) and our own opinion is that in their current top form the Shockers could only be defeated by a competitively offensive team with a good defense. We shall see.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More on the Fiesta Bowl Scandal from Dan Wetzel at Yahoo! Sports Rivals.com

BCS conducts shallow probe as party rages on - College Football - Rivals.com

Dan Wetzel writes:
"The BCS cuts to the very core of what’s wrong with college athletics – the arrogance and entitlement of the people in charge."
Read the whole thing here.

Wichita State Playing Like the Nation's Number One Team in the NIT: Meets Alabama in the Final

The Wichita State Shockers routed Washington State 75-44 in the NIT semifinals and will play Alabama, who nipped Colorado 62-61, in the NIT finals.

In the NIT, Wichita State has shocked and embarrassed not only Washington State but also Big 12 Nebraska, who they ran off the court 76-49. In between they knocked off tournament favorite Virginia Tech 79-76 as well as Charleston 82-75.

In their 2nd game of the regular season, Wichita State lost 83-79 on the road to Connecticut and toward the end of the regular season in February they lost by 1 point 68-67 to VCU, both of which teams are now in the NCAA Final Four. Wichita State lost no regular season game by more than 5 points and of course should clearly have received an invite to the NCAA tournament.

The way the Shockers are playing now, they may at the moment be the best team in NCAA Division I college basketball.

Wichita State will be playing an excellent Alabama team that won its West Conference in the SEC by three games and still was mysteriously snubbed by the NCAA nominating committee. Also the Crimson Tide should easily have been considered one of the top 64 teams in the country, with a signature 68-66 win over Final Four bound Kentucky.

Someone should sponsor a season-closing "unofficial" game between this year's NCAA and NIT champions on a neutral court. Not only would you fill the stadium and have a gigantic TV audience, but I am not sure that the NCAA winner would be favored, especially if Wichita State were to knock off Alabama impressively.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Butler Bulldogs in Final Four For Second Straight Year Show that Practice Makes Perfect as Team Trains Pressure Situations Every Afternoon

Are there secrets to good coaching? The answer is yes.

Larry Kehres says that "The job of a coach is to prepare his team" and the most successful coaches do just that, as we can see now that basketball head coach Brad Stevens is now taking an underdog Butler Bulldogs basketball team to the March Madness Final Four for the second consecutive year.

He is obviously doing something right in winning all those close games. Part of the answer is PRACTICE.

As reported by Les Carpenter at Yahoo! Sports Rivals in Gritty Bulldogs back in Final Four:

"Each afternoon, the coaches stop practice, split the players into two teams and have them play the last few minutes of three games with the score tied or one team down a basket. They must fight to the buzzer. Losers have to run."

Can winning be learned? Yes.

Mentoring, Coaching, Leadership: March Madness and Winning: Teams that Make the Final Four Usually Have One Thing in Common: Head Coaches Who Understand the Secrets of Good Coaching


...Mentoring. Coaching. LEADERSHIP. 
...In ANY Organization.
...Learn from Sports.
 
This is an amended edition of a previous posting on the

Secrets of Good Coaching


Secret Number 1
: Recruit the Right Players and Hold Them to Higher Standards


Stephanie Storm
quotes perennial winner and head football coach Larry Kehres:
"You have to recruit good people, then assist them in their development."
Milan Simonich quotes Kehres at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette concerning his recruiting of players:
"I only ask them three questions, but they're important.... Are you a good man? Do you have a passion for football? Do you plan on getting the grades you're capable of?"
Stephanie Storm in the Akron Beacon Journal of November 28, 2003, writes:
"Football might be the focus of the coach's life, but he teaches his players that their values ought to extend beyond the field.

During football season, players' grades actually improve.

Coach says it's important that we hold ourselves to higher standards, especially when so much attention is focused on us during the season,'' wide receiver Randell Knapp said." [emphasis added by LawPundit]
Kehres expects his players to give their best, every day. As quoted by Nancy Armour at The-Review.com:
"I'm proud of the fact that our men do learn that you have to do, day in and day out, what you're supposed to do," Kehres said. "I don't expect (victories). However, do I expect a certain level of performance throughout the offseason in terms of what we do and then, in the season, in how we practice so that we would have a chance to go down that path? Yes, I expect that."
Secret Number 2: Prepare Your Team to Play with Passion and as much Perfection as they are Capable of Achieving

Larry Kehres says
:
"The job of a coach is to prepare his team."
This involves training in all of its aspects, including mental and physical preparedness.

As Milan Simonich writes at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"He [Kehres] took a solid program and turned it into a spectacular one by emphasizing precision, mental preparation and weight training."
Players on and off the field must know what responsibilities they have and what action they are to take in any particular game situation. A player who is undisciplined off the field is not likely to exercise discipline on the field. It is the whole player that counts.

The onus hereby is on the COACHES. Kehres is quoted by Al Eisele at the Huffington Post:
"I always try to get the assistant coaches who work with me to understand that if there's no learning by the kids, there's no teaching.... I've tried hard to get the coaches to accept that as the only measure of performance, and there are just no excuses accepted. If there's no learning, there's no teaching....."
That standard of teaching and learning demands extremely knowledgeable and effective education of players.

Stephanie Storm in the Akron Beacon Journal of November 28, 2003, writes:
"Kinnard and many other team leaders point to the precision with which the program is run, the attention to every detail all the way down to scheduling the number of minutes for each practice drill, as a main reason for their overwhelming success."
The result of that philosophy is awesome. It produces winners.

Milan Simonich writes at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"He works for perfection," said Matt Caponi, a senior defensive back and a Baldwin High School graduate. "That's how his offense has been for the last three years -- perfect." ...
On the field, Kehres lays down a singular challenge to everybody who pulls on a helmet. "I expect them to play better than they ever thought they could," he says."
Coaches, when is the last time one of your players called your offense - perfect?

Jack Ewing, president of Mount Union College, is quoted by Milan Simionich at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as saying about Larry Kehres and the football team program:
"This is a culture of excellence that I have never seen before."
Every coach creates a "culture" of some kind by his coaching. What is yours?
Secret Number 3 : A Coach Must be Absolutely Objective at All Times 

Effective coaching demands absolute objectivity about the skills, strengths and weaknesses of players and coaches, on both sides of the ball. Wishful thinking is at the heart of bad decision-making.

If you have a weaker team than the opponent - accept it. A weaker team can beat a stronger team if the coaches correctly recognize that they are weaker and take proper measures to try to offset that weakness. Here we can point to Stanford's incredible record upset of USC 24-23 in football, even though Stanford was the underdog by more than 40 points (a record). Prior to that game, as Ted Venegas, USCFootball.com Columnist for Rivals.com wrote at Yahoo sports:
"The Cardinal have completely revamped their approach defensively. Before this season, they ran a passive 3-4 defense which was of the read and react variety. This year, they do nothing but attack.... Defensive coordinator Scott Shafer came to the conclusion that Stanford did not have the talent to remain passive, so they have to force the action."
The Stanford upset of USC was enabled by good coaching under the leadership of football director and head coach Jim Harbaugh and the Stanford coaching staff, who objectively recognized their weaknesses and compensated for them. Look at the success Harbaugh subsequently had at Stanford with good players.

The principle also applies to basketball. Tubby Smith, former basketball coach at Kentucky, who in his first year at Minnesota had a 5-1 record as opposed to 2-6 the previous year with much the same players and a similar schedule, says about coaching:
"If you're not skilled enough offensively, defensively you can make up for it with hustle and sheer determination and effort," Smith said. "We feel like we have to overachieve."
Secret Number 4 : A Coach Must Work Optimally to Develop the Players He Has

Stephanie Storm in the Akron Beacon Journal of November 28, 2003, in "Team Concept Rules" writes about Larry Kehres' assessment of players as follows:
"When he [Kehres] thinks back to the start of the run that began Mount Union's dominance, Kehres remembers a meeting held among the team's staff in the early '80s when he was an assistant.
'We just decided to quit pouting about what we didn't have and concentrate on improving the players we had,' Kehres said.
'We went with the idea that if some of the players we recruited weren't as good as some others when they arrived, it was our job to help them catch up,' Kehres said. 'It was sort of, "Come on, let's quit whining and feeling sorry for ourselves and make the most of what we've got."
What happens when you do not develop players properly (required in college ball) but expect them to perform automatically (as is more likely in the NFL) can be seen at Notre Dame, where Charlie Weis, a former NFL offensive coordinator, went 3-9 as the head coach of the Irish. As Posted at FanBlogs.com (and cited at BlogIron) by Kevin Donahue:
"Charlie Weis is an outstanding offensive mind - without question - but he is failing as a head coach.

There is nothing in his resume to suggest that Weis is capable of developing talent. He certainly didn't have to develop players in the NFL, just show them the plays, tweak here & there, and collect the trophies. But now - with his team needing it the most - Weis is not developing talent at Notre Dame.
Good recruits are coming into the Notre Dame system and - but for their own inner passion to excel - languishing under Weis. There is no such thing as marked improvement, it is simply a transaction with Weis. It almost as if the recruits are NFL free agents, signing with the team and then expected to use their talents to improve the team. There's nothing to suggest that Weis is actually taking a player from one level and ELEVATING his game to the next level. And this is Weis's Achilles' heel - he isn't developing players."
Nebraska had the same problem with Bill Callahan, who had proven himself as an offensive coordinator, but not as a head coach, having inherited a Super Bowl team for one successful season and then going 4-12 the next year. It is one thing to develop offensive plays for professional football players at the top - both Callahan (Oakland) and Weis (New England) were offensive coordinators for Super Bowl teams - but it is an entirely different matter to head coach a college team, that may not have the talent at all to execute effectively many of the plays that a brilliant offensive mind can come up with. Plus, equal attention has to be paid to the defense. The job is simply a different one and a coach must adapt coaching to the personnel that he has. 

Secret Number 5 : A Coach Must Adapt the Style of Play to the Players Available 

Stephanie Storm in the Akron Beacon Journal of November 28, 2003, quotes Kehres about the style of play that a football team should have, dependent on the players available:
"Some years you don't have the kind of players you need to say, run the option,'' he said. 'As a coach, you can't just do what you want to do. You have to match it to the ebb and flow of the kind of players you have."
Especially coaches who rely on a "fixed system" and then try to force that fixed system upon their players, whether those players are suited to that system or not, are not likely to be successful. Larry Kehres adapts continuously - to the times and to his players.

Let us tune in to Division III football and the blog, the D3 Football Daily Dose, where commenter Mainjack writes as follows about Mount Union's head coach Larry Kehres ("LK" in the posting quoted below), :
"I’ve been a bit surprised that no one has mentioned how LK has adapted his teams over the past 15 years to stay ahead of the curve. In the early 90’s when the west coast offense was first starting to creep into the language, LK embra[c]ed it, and blew people away with his 5 wideouts and wide open passing. Back in those days as soon as MUC got anywhere near mid-field, they were going for the bomb. As the 90’s came to a close, and defenses were figuring out the west coast schemes, LK went to a very good running back, a blocking fullback and a tight end. Chuck Moore and Dan Pugh helped remake the Mount union offense, and allowed the passing game to be as successful as it needed to be. Now you have Kmic absolutely carrying the load behind a massive offensive line, with deep threat possibility in Garcon, and two or three other receivers doing damage on short routes……when necessary.
Football is cyclical, but LK has always stayed one step ahead of where the game is going, which is why they have not had many down years (if you can call one loss a down year)."
Secret Number 6 : A Coach Must Concentrate on the Basics 

One of the things that shocked this writer about the Callahan-coached Huskers was that they seemed to have forgotten how to block and tackle with passion, i.e. the most basic skills required of a top football team. Coaches who spend all their time designing plays and looking at films of opposing teams are not going to be successful if the basics are thereby neglected. The game must still be played - on the field - not just on the drawing board.

One coach who understood this was UCLA's fabled basketball coach, John Wooden, who made his highly touted players run basic basketball drills like shooting layups continuously, as he explained, so that layups would be made automatically during game situations and not be missed. The same applies to tackles in football.

Indeed, the attention to fundamentals by John Wooden was legendary. As written by Kyle Colvett for Inside Tennessee at Scout.com:
"The most basic of football skills and behaviors need to be emphasized. John Wooden, he of the ten NCAA basketball titles at UCLA, the Wizard of Westwood, used to begin the practice season with an entire session on how to put on socks and shoes. Players were troubled by blisters and foot problems and he discovered that the players didn't smooth out all the wrinkles around their heels and around their little toes, places where the blisters were prone to occur. He sometimes noted that they didn't lace their shoes properly or that they wore shoes that were a size too large. Such details mattered."
Secret Number 7 : Yelling and Screaming is NOT Good Coaching, but Ritual and Routine ARE : Sports Psychology, Mental Fitness and Mental Discipline

See in this regard, for example, Secret Ingredient at FootballPracticePlans.com, which is about sports psychology. We mention it here because sports psychology is immensely important, and as pointed out there, quite correctly:
"Studies show that yelling and screaming does NOT work with 94% of youth football players… and it can make it even harder for them to improve...
Varsity high school football coaches that use routines and rituals with their teams are three times as likely to have a winning record...."
That is absolutely correct. We have seen time and again on playing fields where coaches, parents, relatives and fans are screaming and yelling at their players, all to no avail.

SCREAMING AND YELLING are a sign of poor coaching, poor parenting, poor relations to other people, and poor spectating. It is a sign that you are unable to cope rationally with the situation that faces you. It is evidence of a lack of mental fitness and an absence of mental discipline. This does not mean that one can not be intense and enthusiastic, but it does mean that coaches yelling and screaming at players is simply a waste of time. John Wooden is quoted as saying:
"Intensity makes you stronger. Emotionalism makes you weaker."
The job of any coach is the same as that of any parent or educator, it is the job of rational instruction. Such instruction often best involves ritual and routine, to improve focus and reduce error.

Bill Cole, founder and CEO of Procoach Systems, Silicon Valley, California isolates four characteristics of mental strength that are important for winning: 

1) Very high personal standards (Larry Kehres agrees) 
and accountability

This applies to conduct off and on the field 

2) Unrelenting mental discipline

On a champion soccer team that we coached, for example, players were not allowed to yell at other players or to argue with referees - these were grounds for us, the coaches, to immediately remove a player from the field. Players were expected to concentrate on THEIR playing of the game and on nothing else.

3) Confidence-building by focused practice - achieving permanence of skills through practice
 

For example, we often see people at golf driving ranges, senselessly hitting one ball after the other as fast as they can, gaining nothing from the exercise. Practice must be focused on gaining permanence in a given skill. Practice must focus on "perfecting" something, which means that time must be taken to concentrate on what is being done. John Wooden is quoted for this:
"Do not mistake activity for achievement."
4) Focus on the process - not focus simply on winning or losing

Studies show that the difference between equally-talented champions and non-champions is the absence of fear in champions - they are not haunted by the fear of losing, but concentrate on the process of winning, doing what it takes to win, regardless of the specter of losing.

Selected sites touching upon good coaching are:

Wooden's Pyramid of Success
"Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming." - John Wooden
The Mental Game Coach (TM)

Training and Coaching Tips for Youth Basketball Practice by Bryan McCormick

No-How Coaching
by Coach John Gagliardi, some of whose No-Hows are:
  • No fear of being different
  • No throwing away money
  • No top-heavy staff
  • No reverence for titles.
  • No busy work
  • No substituting Mission Statements for doing the job
  • No withholding honor earned
  • No substituting reams of paper for action
  • No being a jerk
  • No focusing on mistakes.
  • No substituting putzing for achieving
  • No celebrating the heros only
  • No overloading by overanalysis
  • No fear of taking a risk
  • No giving power to setbacks
  • No settling for less than the best
  • No focus on winning everything
GiveMeFootball.com for soccer coaching
 
Football Training - soccer coaching links
 
Football Coaching Strategies - by the AFCA - detailed at Human Kinetics
  • Running game—Tom Osborne, John McKay, and Darrell Royal
  • Passing game—Bill Walsh, Steve Spurrier, and LaVell Edwards
  • Defense—Dick Tomey, Barry Alvarez, Dave Wannstedt, and Jerry Sandusky
  • Kicking game—Spike Dykes and John Cooper
  • Philosophy, motivation, and management—Eddie Robinson and Joe Paterno
The AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) has more books
- check your online bookshop
Football Tools - Training Systems, Playbooks, DVDs etc.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

NCAA Needs to Rethink March Madness Invitations: Big East Busts in NCAA Basketball Tournament 2011

Of 11 teams from the Big East invited to March Madness, only Connecticut and Marquette remain: both finished their conference play 9-9. The top 8 teams in regular season play in the Big East conference are already gone from the NCAA tournament, and we are just at the Sweet Sixteen stage.

Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times says it nicely at Big East turns out to be Big Bust in NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA needs to rethink the process by which it invites teams to tournament, putting much more emphasis on late-season performance and achieving a balance of invitations for all strong conferences.

The RPI that it uses is flawed because it inequitably rewards teams that play in allegedly strong conferences, where losses then mean virtually nothing, because they are compensated for by the alleged and surely inflated strength of schedule. Moreover, the RPI does not recognize that teams get variably better and/or worse in the course of the season, depending on development of players and coaching skills. Early season wins or losses are simply not as significant in basketball as they may be in football.

It can not be acceptable as in this season that 11 teams from the Big East are invited while teams such as Alabama, that won its West conference in the SEC, are not invited and that a team like Georgia, that the Crimson Tide beat twice in March, and that finished 4th in the East conference, is invited instead.

It can not be acceptable that the conference which produced the national champion last year, Duke of the ACC, gets only 3 (viz. 4) invitations and that a very strong team ACC team such as Virginia Tech is excluded.
No excuse at all.

It can not be acceptable that a very strong team like Wichita State which lost by no more than (!) 5 points in the regular season to any team (losing on the road by 4 points to both Connecticut and San Diego State) and by 7 points if you include the conference playoffs, is excluded from the NCAA tournament. The Shockers are currently in the semifinal game of the NIT.

A sixth-place Big 12 Colorado team that nearly everyone recognized was playing excellent basketball toward the end of the season should surely have been in the tourney.

Almost all of these deserving teams could have been accommodated if the invitations to the Big East had been kept to a sensible minimum. We suggest for coming years that 50% of the teams from any conference is an absolute maximum (that would have been 8 teams for the Big East) and that 6 teams from any conference would be an even more sensible limit. That leaves room for 4 teams playing well at season's end who can join the regular season and conference tournament champions, should there be different champions for each. In this manner, a better balance of conference representatives would be achieved. Such a policy should be announced in advance and then teams know where they stand and there is no arbitrary injustice.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

More 2011 Tournament Basketball Games and Assists: NIT, CBI, CIT

This is a continuation of our previous postings with an analysis of tournament basketball games and the impact of assists on the final outcome.

NIT Games
  • Alabama beat New Mexico 74-67 and led in assists 13-10
  • Miami of Florida beat Missouri State 81-72 and tied in assists 14-14 (Adam Leonard for the Bears had a season-high 26 points on 9 of 11 field goals and 7 of 8 from 3-point range and went 13 of 29 on  3's as a team (45%) but it was not enough as the game was decided -- as so often -- at the free throw line)
  • Washington State beat Oklahoma State 74-64 and led in assists 10-7
see the NIT bracket at CBS Sports

and the semifinal game schedule at Yahoo! sports (March 22, March 23)


CBI Games
  • Creighton beat Davidson 102-92 and led in assists 18-17 but won the game at the free throw line as freshman Doug McDermott scored a season-high 31points including 13 of 14 free throws
  • Boise State beat Evansville 75-69 and led in assists 14-10
  • UCF (see positive comments of coach Donnie Jones about the tournament) beat Rhode Island 66-54 and led in assists 15-12
  • Oregon  beat Duquesne 77-75 but trailed in assists 15-19 and won the game at the free throw line on 20 of 26 foul shooting to 4 of 8 for the Dukes
Semifinals on March 23
UCF is at Creighton and Boise State is at Oregon


CIT Games
(schedule and results from CollegeInsider.Com)
  • Buffalo beat Quinnipiac 75-68 but trailed in assists 21-12, winning the game at the free throw line
  • Ohio beat Marshall 65-64 and led in assists 15-13
  • East Tennessee State beat Furman 76-63 and tied in assists 9-9
  • Jacksonville beat East Carolina 71-66 in overtime and led in assists 15-14
  • Northern Iowa beat Rider 84-50 and led in assists 17-7
  • Air Force beat North Dakota 77-67 and led in assists 24-13
  • Santa Clara beat Northern Arizona 68-63 and led in assists 10-9
  • Hawaii beat Portland 76-64 but trailed in assists 15-9
  • Western Michigan beat Tennessee Tech 74-66 and led in assists 14-9
  • Iona 85 beat Valparaiso 85-77 but trailed in assists 17-16
  • SMU 64 beat Oral Roberts 64-57 in overtime but trailed in assists 11-10
  • San Francisco beat Idaho 81-73 and tied in assists 17-17
     
  • Santa Clara beat Air Force 88-75 and led in assists 17-16
  • SMU beat Jacksonville 63-62 and led in assists 15-10
  • San Francisco beat Hawaii 77-74 but trailed in assists 12-10
  • Buffalo beat Western Michigan 49-48 but AGAIN trailed in assists 13-5
  • Ohio, bye
  • East Tennessee State, bye
  • Iona, bye
  • Northern Iowa, bye
     
  • SMU beat Northern Iowa 57-50 and led in assists 12-7
  • Santa Clara plays San Francisco March 22
  • Ohio plays East Tennessee State on March 22
  • Buffalo plays Iona on March 22
    SEMIFINALS (March 25-26)
    • SMU vs. Santa Clara or San Francisco
    • Buffalo or Iona vs. Ohio or East Tennessee State
    2011 CIT CHAMPIONSHIP (March 30)

    The overall tournament stats for games we have included are: 69 games won and 20 games lost by the team that led in assists with 7 games tied in the number of assists per team. It is interesting to speculate -- as appears to be the case -- that as the quality of the teams decreases, the role of team play for winning or losing also decreases.

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    2nd Follow-Up Posting on the Correlation Between Basketball Team Assists and Game Results

    This 2nd follow-up posting follows the 1st Follow-Up Posting on the Correlation Between Basketball Team Assists and Game Results for NCAA and NIT championship tournament basketball games. Prior to this 2nd follow-up posting, the team that led in assists had won 42 games and lost only 8 games with three games where assists were tied. That stat can now as follows be summed to 55 won and 13 games lost by the team that led in assists with 4 games tied in assists.

    Further NCAA Division I championship tournament games (the team that led in assists won 11 games, lost 4, with 1 game tied in assists)
    • Richmond beat Morehead State 65-48 and the Spiders also led in assists 18-7 (recall that Eagles had only 11 assists in upsetting Louisville and we predicted they would lose this game)
    • Connecticut beat Cincinnati 69-58 but trailed in assists 12-10 as Kemba Walker scored 33 points with 5 assists for the Huskies and Uconn won the game at the foul line making 25-30 free throws to only 10-14 for the Bearcats (recall that Cincinnati trailed in assists in beating Missouri and we predicted they would lose this game)
    • San Diego State beat Temple 71-64 in 2 overtimes and the game was tied in assists 13-13 (recall that the Owls trailed in assists 12-10 in beating Penn State and we predicted they would lose this game)
    • Kentucky beat West Virginia 71-63 and led in assists 12-9
    • BYU beat Gonzaga 89-67 but trailed in assists 18-17 as Jimmer Fredette scored 34 points with 6 assists for the Cougars, who won the game on long distance shooting, canning an uncanny 14 of 28 3-point shots, i.e. 42 points on 3-pointers !
    • Florida beat UCLA 73-65 and led in assists 13-12 (recall that the Bruins trailed in assists 13-20 in beating Michigan State and we predicted they would lose this game)
    • Butler beat Pittsburgh 71-70 but trailed in assists 21-12 as the Bulldogs beat the Panthers via 12 of 27 3-point field goals, among other things
    • Wisconsin beat Kansas State 70-65 and led in assists 12-7 as Wildcat guard Jacob Pullen scored 38 points, but the Badgers won the game mostly at the free-throw line on 19 of 23 conversions to only 15 of 22 for K-State, which befits the Wisconsin record of being the best free-throw shooting team in the country this season, currently at 82.3%, which would break the Harvard NCAA record of 82.2% set in 1984
    • Kansas beat Illinois 73-59 and led in assists 17-16
    • Florida State beat Notre Dame 71-57 and led in assists 15-12 as the Fighting Irish converted only 7- of 30 3-point shots and 8 of 32 inside field goals
    • VCU beat Purdue 94-76 and led in assists 26-20 (!) as both teams played strong team basketball with VCU winning the accuracy match with a 57% to 45% FG percentage
    • Duke beat Michigan 73-71 but trailed in assists 13-12
    • Arizona beat Texas 70-69 and led in assists 17-13 as freshman Jordin Mayes was the difference in 19 minutes of play with a season-high of 16 points, 6 of 7 field goals, of which 4 of 4 were 3-pointers (his season average is 46% and if he plays more than 19 minutes in upcoming games, look out for Arizona)
    • North Carolina beat Washington 86-83 and led in assists 18-17 as Tar Heel freshman guard Kendall Marshall had 14 of those assists (!)
    • Ohio State beat George Mason 98-66, even after falling behind early 11-2, and led in assists 23-13, 15 of those by freshman guard Aaron Craft off the bench, as the Buckeyes made 61% of all field goals, including not only 16 of 26 from 3-point range but 7 of 7 3's by the game's leading scorer, 6'5" senior David Lighty
    • Marquette beat Syracuse 66-62 and led in assists 15-11
    Further NIT championship tournament games  (thus far 2 of 3)
    • Kent State beat Fairfield 72-68 but trailed in assists 16-12
    • Wichita State beat Virginia Tech 79-76 in overtime and led in assists 18-10 (who is going to beat the Shockers in the NIT tourney?)
    • College of Charleston beat Cleveland State 64-56 and led in assists 15-9  
    • Northwestern beat Boston College 85-67 and led in assists 27-13

    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Follow-Up Posting on the Correlation Between Basketball Team Assists and Game Results

    The team that led in assists won 14 games and lost 5 games with 1 game tied in assists in NCAA Division I competition. IN the NIT the data thus far was 12 games won by the team that led in assists, 2 tied, and only 2 lost.

    Here is an update, including the last 16 NCAA tournament games in the Round of 64 and 1 NIT game. The team that led in assists won 16 of 17 games so that in 53 games, the team that led in assists won 42 games and lost only 8 games with three games where assists were tied (Won-Tied-Loss 14-1-5, 12-2-2, 16-0-1)

    • George Mason beat Villanova 61-57 and led in assists 12-10
    • Ohio State beat UTSA 75-46 and led in assists 26-6 (amazing stat!)
    • North Carolina beat Long Island 102-87 and led in assists 21-19 (hats off to the Blackbirds for a game well played and won by the Tar Heels only on the boards and at the free throw line)
    • Marquette beat Xavier 66-55 and led in assists 13-11
    • Washington beat Georgia 68-65 and led in assists 10-9
    • Syracuse beat Indiana State 77-60 and led in assists 17-13
    • Notre Dame beat Akron 69-56 and led in assists 16-10 and that was a good thing because the Fighting Irish otherwise won the game only at the free throw stripe as Akron actually made more baskets
    • Florida State beat Texas A&M 57-50 and led in assists 14-12
    • Kansas beat Boston University 72-53 and led in assists 19-10 (recall that KU ranked 2nd nationally on this stat in the regular season)
    • Purdue beat St. Peter's 65-43 and led in assists 12-9
    • Illinois beat UNLV 73-62 and led in assists 21-10
    • VCU beat Georgetown 74-56 and led in assists 14-12
    • Texas beat Oakland 85-81 and led in assists 14-12
    • Michigan beat Tennessee 75-45 and led in assists 20-10
    • Arizona beat Memphis 77-75 but trailed in assists 16-11 (this indicates to us that Arizona probably will not go far in the tournament)
    • Duke beat Hampton 87-45 and led in assists 17-4 (the Pirates forgot about team play)
    In the NIT, Colorado beat Cal 89-72 and led in assists 13-12 (that stat is still a bit weak for the Buffaloes, but they are making great strides forward under first year head coach Tad Boyle)

    U.S. President Barack Obama Picks 29 of 32 Winners in March Madness First Round NCAA Division I College Basketball Championship Tournament

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo! Sports has the story at President proves to be hoops guru - College Basketball - Rivals.com

    Friday, March 18, 2011

    Kansas Led NCAA Basketball Division I Teams in Assists During the Regular Season: It's a Team Game and The Team with the Most Assists Usually Wins

    Which NCAA Division I basketball team led the nation in average assists per game during the regular season 2010-2011?

    The answer is currently 2nd-ranked Kansas: 17.9 assists per game.

    We noticed some years back that one of the most important statistics in college basketball besides the final score is the total assists stat.

    Basketball is at its core a team game and the team with the most assists usually wins. Of course, a stronger team is likely to have more assists just because of the strength of its players and because it scores more baskets, but a strong team without a good team game will likely lose to an equally strong team -- or even a somewhat weaker team in terms of personnel -- that has a better team game.

    Let's take a look at the box score stats of all the NCAA Division I tournament games thus far as an example:
    • Clemson beat UAB 70-52 and led in assists 17-10
    • N.C. Asheville beat AR Little Rock 81-77 in OT but trailed in assists 19-17 (we think AR Little Rock would/should have won this game had their star Solomon Bozeman not fouled out prior to overtime)
    • VCU beat USC 59-46 and led in assists 11-4 (very poor team play at USC)
    • UTSA beat Alabama State 70-61 and led in assists 14-13
    • West Virginia beat Clemson 84-76 and tied in assists 15-15
    • Kentucky beat Princeton 59-57 and led in assists 12-8
    • Butler beat Old Dominion 60-58 and led in assists 11-8
    • Pittsburgh beat N.C. Asheville 74-51 and led in assists 18-9 (sophomore Travon Woodall was in the game for only 23 minutes and had 6 assists (!) but was only 1 for 6 himself on field goals, so let him play but not shoot)
    • Florida beat UCSB 79-51 and led in assists 22-8 (6'10" forward (!) Chandler Parsons had 10 assists)
    • BYU beat Wofford 74-66 and led in assists 14-8 (Jimmer Fredette not only scored 32 points but led all players in assists with 7)
    • Wisconsin beat Belmont 72-58 and led in assists 13-12
    • UCLA, record national champion, beat Michigan State, also a perennial powerhouse when it comes to NCAA tournaments, 78-76, but was lucky to win, trailing in assists 13-20, and winning the rough game only at the free throw line with 30 of 47 foul shots to only 16 of 21 for Michigan State
    • Gonzaga beat St. John's 86-71 and led in assists 20-9
    • Kansas State beat Utah State 73-68 and led in assists 14-10
    • Morehead State beat Louisville 62-61 but trailed in assists 14-11
    • Richmond beat Vanderbilt 69-66 and led in assists 14-12
    • Temple beat Penn State 66-64 but trailed in assists 12-10
    • San Diego State beat Northern Colorado 68-50 and led in assists 11-8
    • Connecticut beat Bucknell 81-52 and led in assists 20-6 (Kemba Walker led all scorers with 18 points AND 12 assists -- that is player dominance)
    • Cincinnati beat Missouri 78-63 but trailed in assists 15-14
    In 20 games thus far, the team that led in assists won 14 of those games, tied in assists in 1, and lost 5, and even if a game was lost, the stats were close, except in one game only which was decided by free throws, i.e. where assists and field goals played a secondary role.

    So, how useful is this information?

    We expect ALL of the teams that won in the Round of 64 but had fewer assists than their opponents to LOSE in the Round of 32 (i.e. UCLA, Morehead State, Temple and Cincinnati).

    Similarly, we expect teams with a large dominance of assists to be especially strong in the coming round(s) (i.e. Pittsburgh, Florida, Connecticut), because the number of assists points to their strong TEAM game. Both Gonzaga and BYU also did well in terms of assists but they play each other in the Round of 32 and so one of them must fall. (The big difference for Gonzaga in their recent win streak is 6'4" guard junior Marquise Carter, moved by Coach Mark Few from point to off guard, who is strong defensively, and who scored 24 points against St. John's, and also had 6 assists AND 6 rebounds for the Bulldogs -- that's All-American play. Indeed, Carter was an NJCAA All-American. Ever since Carter was moved into the starting lineup 10 games ago, and has been playing 30 minutes or more per game, Gonzaga has been winning impressively. Early in the season, e.g. in the Bulldogs worst loss, 81-59 to Washington State, Carter was not even in the starting line-up and scored 0 points.)

    Logically, if a winning team has only a so-so performance on assists this may indicate that those teams may be over-rated. San Diego State, for example, which was not impressive at all in its game, may be one of those over-rated teams.

    Just as a check on the theory, a look at the NIT games thus far shows that the team that led in assists won 12 of 16 games thus far in the tournament, tied in assists in 2, and lost only 2:

    NIT Tournament First Round
    • Alabama beat Coastal Carolina 68-44 and led in assists 12-7
    • New Mexico beat UTEP 69-57 and led in assists 16-13 
    • Missouri State beat Murray State 89-76 and tied in assists 16-16
    • Miami of Florida beat Florida Atlantic 85-62 and led in assists 11-6
    • Colorado beat Texas Southern 88-74 and led in assists 19-14
    • California beat Mississippi 77-74 and led in assists 17-11
    • Fairfield beat Colorado State 62-60 and led in assists 14-11
    • Kent State beat St. Mary's 71-70 and trailed in assists 17-13
    • Boston College beat McNeese State 82-64 and led in assists 17-10
    • Northwestern beat Wisconsin-Milwaukee 70-61 and led in assists 17-16
    • Oklahoma State beat Harvard 71-54 but trailed in assists 13-9
    • Washington State beat Long Beach State 85-74 and led in assists 17-12
    • Virginia Tech beat Bethune-Cookman 79-54 and led in assists 21-13
    • Wichita State beat Nebraska 76-49 and led in assists 18-6 (as a Husker alum I can say that the coaching of the Cornhuskers basketball team is badly in need of improvement or change, given that disastrous statistic - the worst in all of the NCAA and NIT games thus far, showing virtually no team game at all. The NU coach blamed the loss on poor shooting, but that is just the tip of the iceberg for a coach who preaches defense but does not seem to understand how to generate team offense).
    • College of Charleston beat Dayton 94-84 and tied in assists 11-11
    • Cleveland State beat Vermont 63-60 and led in assists 16-10

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Kentucky Squeaks by Princeton 59-57: Did the Tiger Coach Make a Mistake in the Last 30 Seconds?

    With a bit more than 30 seconds on the game and shot clock and the game tied 57-57 with Kentucky in ball possession, Princeton let the Wildcats run down the clock -- with the Kentucky guards virtually standing at midcourt -- to less than 5 seconds, and a last-second Wildcat shot with 2 seconds left then beat Princeton 59-57.

    In my opinion, if you do not foul early in such a situation, you are putting all the cards in the hands of the opposing team, who may not necessarily win with a game-closing shot, but who do not run much risk of losing by standing at midcourt.

    If Princeton had fouled quickly, they stood a good chance of regaining ball possession, in which case you are in a potential winning situation even if you go 2 points down through foul-shooting, because you regain possession and can go for a 3. If two foul shots are not made, you can even win with a 2. If you follow the strategy that Princeton did, you are asking to lose, because you default possession to the waning seconds of the game, and lose they did.

    The motto of basketball is that you can not just stand there, you have to do something. This is a lesson for all coaches.

    Perfect Brackets? Not this Year as Morehead State Upsets Big East Lousville 62-61

    After Big East Louisville dropped a 62-61 cliffhanger to unheralded Morehead State of the Ohio Valley Conference, and the tournament is practically just starting, millions of brackets -- probably most, were irreparably broken.

    Nebraska Offense "Changes Everything"

    Nebraska Offense "Changes Everything"

    High time.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    2011 Basketball Tournaments Beyond the NCAA: the NIT (National Invitational Tournament), the CBI (College Basketball Invitational), the CIT (College Insider Tournament)

    Beyond the NCAA, there are more postseason basketball tournaments, which however get much less attention by the sports press, where nearly everyone is otherwise concentrating on the NCAA tournament.

    The smaller tournaments however, can sometimes feature younger teams that show promise for greater glory in the coming seasons. Consider that Ohio State won the NIT in 2008 and look where they are now. One should never underestimate the importance of playing in smaller tournaments, which can prepare teams for the big time. The best way to beat big opponents is to practice beating smaller ones. You have to develop a winning mentality to be a winner.

    The NIT (National Invitational Tournament)

    The NIT takes the next 32 teams after the NCAA Division I bracket is set.

    The 2011 CBS Sports National Invitational Tournament (NIT) Bracket bracket matches for Round One are as below, with the higher-seeded team earning the home court advantage, which can often be the difference between winning and losing the game.

    SBNation has the full tournament schedule together with the TV scheduling of ESPN broadcasts, locations, game times and the names of the game announcers. This is just a simple rundown of the matchups and seedings to start out:

    NIT LEFT BRACKET
    • 1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. 8 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
    • 4 New Mexico Lobos vs. 5 UTEP Miners
       
    • 3 Missouri State Bears vs. 6 Murray State Racers
    • 2 Miami of Florida Hurricanes vs. 7 Florida Atlantic Owls
       
    • 1 Colorado Buffaloes vs. 8 Texas Southern Tigers
    • 4 California Golden Bears vs. 5 Mississippi Rebels
       
    • 3 Colorado State Rams vs. 6 Fairfield Stags
    • 2 St. Mary's Gaels vs. 7 Kent State Golden Flashes

    NIT RIGHT BRACKET
    • 1 Boston College Eagles vs. 8 McNeese State Cowboys
    • 4 Northwestern Wildcats vs. 5 Milwaukee Panthers
       
    • 3 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. 6 Harvard Crimson
    • 2 Washington State Cougars vs. 7 Long Beach State 49ers
       
    • 1 Virginia Tech Hokies vs. 8 Bethune-Cookman Wildcats
    • 4 Wichita State Shockers vs. 5 Nebraska Cornhuskers
       
    • 3 Dayton Flyers vs. 6 Charleston Cougars
    • 2 Cleveland State Vikings vs. 7 Vermont Catamounts
    The CBI (College Basketball Invitational)

    The College Basketball Invitational (CBI) has invited 16 teams, and is sponsored by Zebra Pen in cooperation with the Gazelle Group, which writes:
    "The fourth annual CBI presented by Zebra Pen will again consist of 16 teams vying for a national championship. Two of the eight First Round games will commence on Tuesday, March 15 with the remaining First Round games being played on Wednesday, March 16. The Quarterfinal Round will take place on Monday, March 21 with Semifinal Round games being played on Wednesday, March 23.... A unique feature of the CBI presented by Zebra Pen is its best-of-three Championship Series, which begins on Monday, March 28 and continues on Wednesday, March 30. Should a third game be necessary, it will be played on Friday, April 1."
    Read more at: Zebra Pen to be Title Sponsor of College Basketball Invitational

    The CBI Bracket shows the following matchups in the first round (we give some signature wins of these teams to show that this is quality basketball):

    March 15, 2011
    • James Madison (in the regular season the Dukes beat NCAA-bound teams Princeton 65-64, Bucknell 85-75 and VCU 72-69)) at Davidson (in the regular season the Wildcats beat NCAA-bound Wofford 67-58)
    • San Jose State (in the regular season the Spartans lost to eventual champion Utah State 58-54 in the WAC conference championship tournament) at Creighton (in the regular season the Bluejays beat NCAA-bound Indiana State 83-69)
    • Austin Peay (in the regular season the Governors beat NCAA-bound Morehead State 86-85) at Boise State (in the regular season the Broncos beat NCAA-bound UCSB)
    • Hofstra (in the regular season the Pride beat NCAA-bound George Mason 87-74) at Evansville (in the regular season the Aces beat NCAA-bound Butler 71-68, and NCAA-bound Indiana State twice 64-59 and 66-63)
    March 16, 2011
    • Duquesne (in the regular season the Dukes beat then 19th ranked now NCAA-bound Temple 78-66) at Montana (in the regular season the Grizzlies beat NCAA-bound UCLA 66-57 and NCAA-bound Northern Colorado 55-42) 
    • Weber State (in the regular season the Wildcats beat NCAA-bound Northern Colorado 72-71) at Oregon (in the regular season the Ducks beat NCAA-bound UCSB 72-70, NCAA-bound USC 68-62 and 61-51, then 20th-ranked and NCAA-bound Washington 81-76, and NCAA-bound UCLA 76-59)
    • Miami of Ohio (in the regular season the RedHawks been NCAA-bound Xavier 75-64) at Rhode Island (in the regular season the Rams beat NCAA-bound Richmond 78-74 and Duquesne 77-76)
    • St. Bonaventure (in the regular season the Bonnies beat NCAA-bound AR Little Rock 77-64 and 68-55, NCAA-bound St. John's 67-66) at UCF (in the regular season the Knights beat NCAA-bound Alabama State 84-48, then 18th-ranked NCAA-bound Florida 57-54, and NCAA-bound Princeton 68-62)
    The CIT (College Insider Tournament)
    "Established in 2009 with 16 teams, the tournament expanded to 24 this season. The reasoning behind the expansion was based on the great number of deserving teams that were still left out of the postseason.... "
    We think it is great to expand postseason tournaments. Why should only the players at the top schools enjoy the postseason experience? Why not postseason for everyone? Expand the players' horizons. That is a part of education.

    Here is the CIT tournament schedule with one game already played:

    First Round - March 14 through 16, 2011

    (at collegeinsider.com read a report on each team)

    Buffalo 75 - Quinnipiac 68
    Ohio at Marshall
    Furman at East Tennessee State
    Jacksonville at East Carolina
    Rider at Northern Iowa
    North Dakota at Air Force
    Northern Arizona at Santa Clara
    Portland at Hawaii
    Tennessee Tech at Western Michigan
    Iona at Valparaiso
    Oral Roberts at SMU
    Idaho at San Francisco

    See the report at The Arizona Republic for all the brackets at Brackets? We got your college basketball brackets

    Brackets and March Madness: The Ultimate Social Network Machine Takes Over in Many Offices as Pundits and Prognosticators Seek a Perfection No One Has Ever Achieved

    Joseph Duarte at the Houston Chronicle has a great article on college basketball tournament "March Madness" titled Bracket madness takes over in many offices.

    Duarte writes that brackets covering all 68 teams can be filled out in 147.5 QUINTILLION ways (!). Of course, the actual odds are much less than that since some team victories are locks (e.g. a No. 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1 seed, etc.).

    Nevertheless, no one has ever produced a perfect bracket.

    Duarte gives some examples of how close people have come, e.g. 48 of 48 and then 5 of 15. Take a look.

    Sunday, March 13, 2011

    Sports Illustrated TV Viewer's Guide to March Madness

    Richard Deitsch
    at Sports Illustrated (SI at CNN)
    gives us a detailed report
    on the Viewer's guide to March Madness

    Open Source Sports Network BleacherReport.com Leveraging Social Media and Gaining Visitors on ESPN

    Mark Fidelman has an interesting analysis of the steady growth of BleacherReport.com at Why BleacherReport.com Is Killing ESPN.com By Leveraging Social Media.

    Picking Game Upsets in NCAA March Madness: ESPN has a Methodology

    March Madness is beginning and every pundit worth his dunks will be prognosticating winners and losers of the upcoming college basketball games.

    In this regard, Peter Keating of ESPN The Magazine has a landmark article in which he explains the methodology of picking upsets based on past NCAA tournaments, and they will be using this methodology this year in future reports.

    Take a look at The return of Giant Killers: The secret to selecting NCAA tournament upsets....

    One aspect about the play of underdogs beating much higher seeded teams is their willingness to take risks under the philosophy of high risks can equal high rewards. On the other hand, it can also lead to a team being blown out which ordinarily might be able to stay close, but not necessarily win with that conservative strategy.

    Also of great interest in terms of being able to upset a higher seeded team is the criteria of team stats, e.g. the ability of a team to achieve "high 3-point scoring as a proportion of all points scored" and similar factors, which you can read about at the original article.

    March Madness Begins: Bracket, Tournament and Pick Challenges for the Upcoming 2011 NCAA Division I Basketball Championship

    For fans of March Madness, here are what I have found to be the major online March Madness Bracket, Tournament and Pick Challenges for the Upcoming 2011 NCAA Division I Basketball Championship

    West Liberty, West Virginia, Top-Ranked Division II Basketball Team 2011 After the Regular Season Wins First Round NCAA Game under Super Coach Jim Crutchfield

    Some people are born coaches and Jim Crutchfield, head basketball coach for the West Liberty Hilltoppers, West Virginia, appears to be one of them.

    Crutchfield previously coached the men's and women's tennis teams at West Liberty to 11 league titles and won 8 WVIAC Tennis Coach of the Year Awards – 3 with the men and 5 with the women.

    Crutchfield, also a former record high school basketball coach, in 2004 took over a men's Hilltopper basketball team that was 4-23 the previous season and spectacularly turned the team around into a 21-10 winner the next season, also winning the WVIAC Coach of the Year award.

    West Liberty basketball fortunes have been on the rise ever since, culminating in a No. 1 ranking this year and accompanied by amazing scoring stats.

    The Hilltoppers are currently 30-0 for the season and ranked Number 1 in NCAA Division II Basketball. They just won their First Round Game in Division II Championship play 117-73 against Slippery Rock.

    That is nothing unusual for West Liberty, which is averaging 115.5 points per game this year, more than 26 points per game better than the the next best scoring team in Division II.

    In their first game of the season, which the Hilltoppers won 154-48 against Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, 9 players scored in double figures and even though the starters did not play in the second half, the team converted 21 of 34 3-point field goals.

    In their second game of the season, as written at by Diamond Leung at the College Basketball Nation Blog at ESPN:
    "West Liberty beat Point Park 157-89, scoring 98 points by halftime and hitting a school-record 27 3-pointers in the process. WVNS-TV has a video of the barrage of 3s."
    West Liberty was 18 for 27 3-pointers in the first half and the starters did not play in the second half against a team that was coming off an 11-point victory against the 25th-ranked team in Division II. For the season thus far, the Hilltoppers have made 455 of 1073 3's for a .424 percentage, and that for a team in part not playing the starters in the second half. That's coaching! That is even a bit better than the 3-point percentage of Ohio State, which ranks 2nd in that stat in Division I basketball and is currently ranked Nr. 1 in Division I polls. VMI led Division I with 11.3 3-pointers per game on average. West Liberty has averaged 16.0 3's per game, 5 more than the second-placed team.



    Curious about the West Liberty team, I took a look at the team photo.

    When I look at the slow motion agonies of e.g. Nebraska Cornhusker men's basketball, you wonder why a competent basketball coach like Crutchfield is in Division II. The Huskers closed out their typical defense-oriented NCAA Division I season with an ignominious 53-52 Big 12 conference playoff loss against Oklahoma State (6-10 in regular season conference play) and made just 4 of 19 3-point field goals in the process.

    Obviously WVIAC play is not comparable with the Big 12, but the kind of stats that West Liberty is putting up in Division II against its competition are comparable in part to the stats of the Division I No. 1 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes against their competition, but playing with a roster filled with high-school All-American basketball players.

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Are People Really Surprised About This? The ESPN Pac-10 Blog Reports on the List of "Easy" Classes at Stanford for Athletes

    I am writing here as a Stanford alum, so I do admit to a bit of bias....

    Report: 'Easy' class list at Stanford! - Pac-10 Blog - ESPN

    I think what amazes me about this story is that people get all worked up about something that has been going on at probably every university in the country for years in one way or another -- athletes are informed about or inform themselves one way or the other about classes to take just like all other students do.

    In making their choices athletes obviously take into account whether a certain course is going to eat up too much of their time, be so difficult that it drops their GPA, etc.

    Most students, athletes or not, try to optimize their class schedule, given umpteen personal criteria.

    As for "official" athletic department lists, it is of course a smart AD who recognizes that it would be a disaster to lose a star football lineman to academic ineligibility just because he was allowed to blunder naively into a theoretical physics class focusing on mathematical models of special and general relativity. Many a lineman might do academically well there, don't get me wrong, but the demands of college athletics must also be served.

    Generally, as far as college sports are concerned, there needs to be a general reality check made in many quarters about "normal" practices and then the alleged standards of good practice should be adjusted to the world as it actually is and not the way people might think it is or should be.


    Wednesday, March 02, 2011

    German Golfer Martin Kaymer Takes Over the Number One Spot in the Golf Sport World Rankings of Players

    The golfer Martin Kaymer became the first German to take over the top spot in the world golf rankings since Bernhard Langer achieved the honor in 1986. Kaymer bypassed Lee Westwood in obtaining the honor after finishing 2nd to now 3rd-ranked Luke Donald in the Accenture Matchplay Championship. European golfers now hold down the top four spots in the world rankings of golfers.

    For the story see, inter alia

    No.1 Kaymer was matter of time: Ogle | Fox Sports

    Kaymer to slam door on Westwood's No. 1 ambitions

    World Golf Rankings See Euros Take Over

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