Hi Ate Us

You may have noticed – things have been a bit slow around here. With ACC basketball and football both deep in their offseason, I just haven’t been able to work up the energy to put out too many posts. Been busy at work too. Sure, there have been a number of things that I’d like to write about – something comes up nearly every day – but I just haven’t found the time or motivation to do my thoughts justice.
So, I’m taking a little break. Some time to recharge the batteries.
I’ll still be around, checking and posting in the message board, but I don’t think I’ll be posting too many (or any) articles until football gets going.
If you have something you’d like to talk about, feel free to start a thread. I’ll notice and I’ll comment. Hey, I’ll even spot you a few topics! What do you think about the ACC’s recent release of the school payouts? Does that justify expansion? And compare and contrast that to the debate over adding two more games to the basketball schedule. And what’s up with Gus Gilchrist reneging on Virginia Tech supposedly because of the shootings there? Does anyone believe that excuse?

Big Charles

There’s just something about Charles Barkley. He’s not the smartest guy in the world, but he’s certainly smart. He’s not the funniest guy in the world, but he’s certainly funny. He’s not the best basketball analyst in the world, but he’s certainly a great one. He’s not any one thing, but as a whole, he’s incredibly unique and incredibly likable. You hear or read the things he says – and they aren’t the first time you’ve heard these things – and just say yes, Barkley is right!
I think what it boils down to is that he’s just incredibly comfortable with who he is. He never pretends to be something he’s not. Every single personality you see on TV, hear on the radio or read in the paper is trying to put forth an image that’s greater than the real thing. Not Barkley. He is who is and he’s perfectly happy with that. You wouldn’t think that sort of self-confidence would be rare, especially in a world filled with professional and former professional athletes, but within seconds of hearing Charles talk, you can see the facade. Not his facade, but everyone else’s.
In this interview in The New Republic, Barkley talks about politics and current social issues, including the Imus and Duke lacrosse cases. As always, he’s worth listening too.

The ACC’s Best

William Maloney, AKA Eagle In Atlanta, wrote a column last week for his AOL FanHouse site. In it, he ranks the ACC coaches using an objective measure – the coach’s winning percentage versus the school’s all-time winning percentage. It’s hard to find objective ways to compare coaches, but this is a pretty good one. (any moron can do it subjectively) It would have been even better if he had removed the coach’s own record from the school’s record. This is particularly relevant for Bobby Bowden and Frank Beamer because they have been at their schools for so long.
Another factor that diminishes this ranking a bit is that the inherent strengths and weaknesses of programs can change drastically over time. Duke was once a national power football, but those days are long gone. Likewise, before Florida became the unquestioned greatest source of college football talent, Florida State was a very mediocre program. Yes, Bobby Bowden deserves TONS of credit for building a national power, but let’s face it, it’s immeasurably easier to win in Tallahassee now than it was 30 years ago.
But back to the ratings in that article. Ralph Friedgen came out on top, with an improvement of .143 over Maryland’s historical standards. Jim Grobe came in second followed by the two aforementioned giants, Saint Bobby and Beamer. For some reason (and I can maybe guess why), Eagle did not rate Jim O’Brien, considering him a new coach at NC State. It would make sense to me to include O’Brien’s record at BC for his rating. Same with UNC’s Butch Davis. It would be interesting to see how his years at Miami would rate, although to be fair, he was only there for a few seasons and had to deal with probation.

The Good Side Of Coach K

Mike Krzyzewski takes a lot of grief from fans and media, much of it deserved, for being a bit of a pain in the ass. He can be arrogant, gruff and condescending – all common traits among the super-driven, but he can also be a hell of a good guy as well.
The Duke Basketball Report found an article from a small paper in Ohio about one of those times when K was an outstanding human being. He somehow heard about a family in Ohio who had recently lost their teenage son (a Duke fan) in a car accident. Krzyzewski tracked down the father’s cell phone number and, out of the blue, gave him a call. He followed that up with a box full of signed memorabilia that the family could use in an auction to raise funds for a scholarship in their son’s name.
It’s really a great story.

ACC Bible

I love ACC basketball. I love statistics. I probably spend an inordinate amount of time gathering, reading and thinking about ACC basketball stats, but I’ve got nothing on this guy. Michael O’Hara has collected and is publishing a book with box scores and game reports for every ACC men’s basketball game ever played.
Wow.
And it’s going to be a hell of a book. The whole thing will printed as three volumes, each 8.5 by 11 inches and 800 pages. That’s a lot of book.
When I first read the headline and saw what they were talking about, I was really hoping that they were talking about a database, preferably a freely accessible database, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. I can dream though.

Terps To Lose Scholarships?

When the NCAA released its 2007 APR report last week, it generated the usual slate of articles looking at how local schools fared. Those that did well were praised and excuses were generally provided for those who didn’t do well. Normally I would have written something about the report, but it just seemed repetitive this year and no ACC schools seemed to be in serious trouble.
Well, I was wrong. Maryland basketball is in a bit of hot water. According to The Baltimore Sun, as paraphrased at AOL’s NCAA FanHouse, two of Maryland’s seniors this year are not on track to graduate. If either of them fails to catch up and earn his sheepskin on time, the Terps will fall below NCAA standards and be punished by losing two scholarships. Ouch. Two scholarships is a pretty serious penalty, but on the plus side, think of all the extra excuses it could provide Gary Williams!

Three The Hard Way

The other night, I was playing in a local rec league basketball game. My team was getting drilled by the top team in the league. One of their players showed up for just the second half. He is a short, overweight, unathletic guy. If you saw him, you’d never think he was a good basketball player and you’d be right. Obviously, they didn’t play this guy much, but late in the game they had him out there, trying to get him a bucket. For the last 2-3 possessions it was almost a joke. They’d throw him the ball in the hopes that he’d get in the scoring column. Well, lo and behold, in the last few seconds, he caught a pass, took one dribble and launched a three-pointer. Swish.
When the old fat dude who couldn’t even play ball when he wasn’t old and fat is hitting threes, the shot is too easy.
Well, the NCAA Committee is doing something about it. In a rare correct move, they have voted (of course, it still has to be approved) to move the line back a foot, to 20 feet, 9 inches starting in the 2008-09 season. No, it’s not a huge change, but it will help. It will be slightly more difficult and it might help spread the college game out a bit more. It should also make the mid-range game a bit more significant. Everybody wins!
(Here is where I point out the one crappy part. The women’s committee did NOT approve the same change, so now there will be an extra line on the court. Two lines just one foot apart. Ugh.)

Black And White Zebras

The New York Times published an article yesterday about a recent study on the racial makeup of referees and their calls in NBA games. The study (you can read it here), done by two Ivy League economists, looked at data from 13 NBA seasons between 1991 and 2004. They broke down the racial makeup of the three-man referee crews in each game and using multivariable regression analysis, looked at how calls were made against white and black players.
My first thought about this was that it was a bunch of crap. How could they really account for all the reasons why players do or do not commit fouls? What about the superstars, most of whom are black, who tend to get the benefit of the calls? Well, then I read the article and found that they accounted for that:

The economists accounted for a wide range of factors: that centers, who tend to draw more fouls, were disproportionately white; that veteran players and All-Stars tended to draw foul calls at different rates than rookies and non-stars; whether the players were at home or on the road, as officials can be influenced by crowd noise; particular coaches on the sidelines; the players’ assertiveness on the court, as defined by their established rates of assists, steals, turnovers and other statistics; and more subtle factors like how some substitute players enter games specifically to commit fouls.

Continue reading “Black And White Zebras”

The Talent

USA Today put out a list the other day of the top 100 high school basketball players in the class of 2007. The first thing any ACC fan should notice with this list is the dearth of elite players headed to the ACC next year. Duke’s Kyle Singler is the only top ten guy and just four of the top twenty are headed our way. That’s not horrendous, but it’s not really up to ACC standards either.

The most obvious explanation for the drop in talent headed to the ACC is that UNC decided not to sign any 2007 players. Carolina routinely nabs a McDonald’s All-American or three and they just decided to pass this year. Carolina and Duke are really the only two ACC programs who get those kind of players year-in and year-out. The rest of the ACC usually lands a few more and that’s what happened here, with NC State signing #11 J.J. Hickson and Georgia Tech landing #19 Gani Lawal.

Another explanation is that there just weren’t very many seniors in the ACC this past year. Look around and you’ll see that a lot of the teams lost just a player or two. Of course, there are a lot of underclassmen who might be leaving, but it’s hard for coaches to anticipate that and recruit for those spots.

Back to the list, a breakdown by ACC school:
Boston College – 47. Rakim Sanders
Clemson – none
Duke – 6. Kyle Singler, 20. Nolan Smith, 29. Taylor King
Florida State – 39. Solomon Alabi, 68. Julian Vaughn
Georgia Tech – 19. Gani Lawal, 87. Maurice Miller
Maryland – 60. Braxton Dupree
Miami – 96. Julian Gamble
North Carolina – bupkis
NC State – 11. J.J. Hickson, 85. Tracy Smith
Virginia – 50. Jeff Jones, 80. Mustapha Farrakhan, 95. Mike Scott
Virginia Tech – 56. Augustus Gilchrist, 61. Jeff Allen, 70. Dorenzo Hudson, 88. Malcolm Delaney
Wake Forest – 52. James Johnson, 81. Jeff Teague

So actually, while there aren’t as many super-elite players as most years, the ACC is bringing in 21 of the top 100, or about one in five. Considering that there are six power leagues plus a few other programs like Memphis and Gonzaga, that’s not too bad.

It’s particularly interesting to see that the two Virginia schools are pulling in a total of seven top-100 players. That has to be a record for those two! Of course, all seven are in the bottom half (well, Jeff Jones – no not that Jeff Jones – is right at 50.).