Paladin Pride

I don’t think I’ve posted too many (OK, any) Furman stories, but I can’t skip this one. For some reason, the mighty Paladins scheduled a game against a school named “Virginia Intermont.” I grew up in Virginia and I’ve never heard of this school.
As you might imagine, Furman won. By a lot. By 93 points, in fact. They were up 69-8 at halftime.
Nothing says you have a proud program like scheduling a NAIA Division II (who knew there even was such a thing?) team. In fairness, while scheduling the game was gutless, it was probably pretty fun for the Furman scrubs.
Thanks to Ken Pomeroy for the find.

First Semester Prouty Ratings

I’m a bit of a stats geek. I like playing around with numbers and seeing what I can learn. Maybe it’s the engineer side of me. When it comes to evaluating basketball performance, the standard measures like points, rebounds or assists per game just don’t do a good enough job. They isolate only one aspect of the game.

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DFT? No!

DFTA small paper in Washingon published a letter to the editor advocating that the NBA institute a new postion – the designated free throw shooter. Ack!
The argument is that it would make fouling more punitive and therefore clean up the game.
A noble premise, but an awful idea.
Can you imagine teams trotting out one of those middle-aged guys with a pooch who can nail free throws all day long? You’ve seen these guys – they do clinics and whatnot on free throw shooting. That’s really what we need in pro basketball – more old, fat guys who can’t run to mid-court, but can shoot free throws all day long.
And what about the humor of watching Shaq’s face as he stares down a free throw like he’s trying to figure out one of those Mensa questions in an airline magazine? I need that.
Thanks to Yoni’s College Basketball Blog for the find.

A Measure Of Efficiency

Ken Pomeroy is always coming up with some interesting number crunching on college basketball. His latest project is a ranking of temp and offensive and defensive efficiency. I won’t try to explain his numbers. Ken had a .hard enough time himself.
Actually, the concepts are that difficult. Tempo refers to the pace a team likes to play (duh) and is measured in possessions per 40 minutes.
Offensive and defensive efficiency are a bit more complicated, but basically measure how many points a team would score or allow in 100 possessions. According to Ken, a typical game has about 70 possessions, so these numbers are gonna be higher than standard points-per-game calculations.
The results are here.
Tempo is only partially related to actual performance, as teams win with many different styles. Three ACC teams – Maryland, UNC and Georgia Tech – rank in the top 20 of pace. I was surprised at how low Wake ranked, number 73. I considered them an uptempo team, but I’m either wrong or they haven’t been as effective as they’d like.
Offensive and defensive efficiency are much more closely related to actual success. Not surprisingly, when you rank by those measures, you see mostly Top 25 teams near the top. Carolina is the most efficient offensive team in the ACC, followed by Duke and Wake. Georgia Tech is the best defensive team in the country, with Duke #2. Carolina comes in at #6, showing that Ol’ Roy has had some success with his preaching this year.
A quick look at the numbers shows that Duke has the best Offensive-Defensive efficiency in the country, just ahead of Oklahoma State. That says good things about the Blue Devils, methinks.

Can Jason Williams Return?

Jason Williams (I just can’t call him Jay) is still working hard on what would be an incredible comeback. In his latest blog entry he mentions that he recently had his last scheduled surgery. It sounds like he is really getting all his pieces put back together.
Does that mean he’ll make it back? No, but at least he has a chance, and that’s pretty incredible. In a previous post, he mentioned that he dunked for the first time since his accident. Anyone who’s his height (about 6’2″) and can dunk has damn good springs, so that’s promising. But then, every 6’2″ player in the NBA can dunk, so we’ll see. Frankly, in his rookie year before his injury, he didn’t prove that he could be a good NBA player, so I’m doubtful that at even 95% of what he used to be he can play in the league. It’s a tough business.
BTW, if you really want, you can get to Urkel’s thoughts on the NBA from this link. You know you want to.

The ACC In Boston: Wicked Anonymous

The N&O did some digging around in Beantown looking for people interested in Boston College’s upcoming bowl game against Carolina. No one knew or cared about it. So, they expanded their search to see if there was excitement about BC’s impending acceptance into the ACC. The response? Yawn. Read it fo’ yo’self.
One telling quote came from a guy who claimed to know everything about Boston sports. After being corrected when he said it was too bad that BC couldn’t get in the ACC (clue #1), he said “They’re going to be playing with some real schools now… Miami, Maryland, Syracuse? I don’t really know. Isn’t there some school in New York?”
Yeah, that’s about what I figured.
They don’t care up there. It’s a pro town and always will be. I complained about this during the painful expansion talks. Sure, it’s a huge media market, but all those fans want to watch the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots and Bruins (well, the Bruins in theory). I understand that 3% of the Boston market is probably still better than all of Blackburg, but is that really what the ACC aspires to? To being the fifth or sixth (don’t forget the New England Revolution!) local sports interest? It’s disgusting.
If they try to put the ACC Tournament up there, I’m going to go on a three state shooting spree.

Ripping Randolph

I was out of town for Christmas, but got back yesterday to see a slew of letters to the editor of the N&O lambasting Caulton Tudor for an article he wrote about Duke’s Shavlik Randolph. Naturally, I looked it up.
Tudor wrote that Randolph was a bust, his decision to go to Duke was a bad one and that Coach K recruited him not to use him, but to keep him away from Carolina and NC State. Pretty tough statements. And pretty poor.
Is Randolph a bust? Probably, at least in comparison to his hype out of high school. Folks forget, but he was widely considered a lottery pick if he had skipped college. On the flip side, he’s rarely been healthy at Duke and he’s not a guy with so much natural talent that he can afford to be hobbled.
As to whether he or Duke made a bad decision, I can’t really agree. Randolph isn’t failing because he’s at Duke. That’s preposterous. In fact, I think he probably rather enjoys being on a winning team and getting a great education on and off the court.
Lastly, there’s the whole issue of ripping college kids as busts. I don’t like it, certainly not for a guy like Randolph, who’s been a class act all the way. If he had run his mouth, gotten in trouble, fought with his coach and then flopped, then fine – call him out as a failure. That’s not the case here. Tudor picked the wrong guy and those letters show that I’m not alone in that opinion.
Edit: You can read those letters here.

Duke Gets Top Football Recruit: Cats And Dogs Living Together

This is one of the most surprising sentences you’ll ever read, “Vince Oghobaase, a 6-foot-6, 310-pound defensive tackle, committed to play football for the Blue Devils, choosing Duke over national powers Miami and Oklahoma.”
In addition, “Scout.com ranks Oghobaase as the third-best player in the football-rich state of Texas.” I’m aghast. What happened? Maybe he hopes to walk on to the basketball team or something.