The D-League as petri dish for weird basketball concepts.
Ouch. My Retinae.
You probably heard that Jason Collins came out of the closet on Monday, making him the first active athlete in one of the four major sports to do so. And as you would expect, the announcement sparked a mix of debate, encouragement, and less-than-flattering comments from all corners of the sports world.
Fortunately, after several hours of often heated discussion, the sporting world was brought back together in unison. Gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, black, white, hispanic, Asian, Native American, and any Panera you-pick-two of the above, we all spoke loudly in one voice that NO NO NO DO NOT WANT:
I’m not a smart man, and my knowledge of genetics, sociology, and biology are woefully inadequate. Debates about the origins of sexual orientation are best left to people wiser than I. But I know this: the words “Tim Brando Sex Tape” are not going to do anything for Team Heterosexuality. Every time someone tries to play the “the gays are ruining everything” card, someone will throw in a copy of Brando Does the SEC, and the conversation ends with everyone rubbing guacamole in his or her eyes to dull the pain.
Oh, but it gets worse. Dick Vitale, probably inspired by Brando’s positive body self-image, jumped in with HIS two cents about interpersonal relations vis a vis Martha Stewart. And I ain’t sayin’ he’s a gold-digger… but he ain’t messin’ with no broke domestic solutions specialists.
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) May 1, 2013
“Oh yeah. That’s awesome baby…”
It could be worse, though. I know of at least one announcer who has lots of time on his hands these days, and may be looking for a new project:
And then Marv Albert gets involved, and then the very fabric of society tears asunder as the masses try desperately to flee. Do you see what you’ve done, Jason Collins?
BONUS: Early Jose Canseco Update
Just when you thought this whole cluster had reached its merciful conclusion, things jumped the crazy shark, which in this case might be a euphemism for some sort of random and terrifying sex act:
I don’t know if he’s serious. And neither do you. But let’s agree to NO ONE CALL HIS BLUFF.
The NCAA announced yesterday that colleges are no longer allowed to paint hashtags on the field. This is obviously a watershed moment in college sports, and one that will lead inexorably to the resolution of all the other minor problems facing college athletics like amateurism and concussions and whatnot. Asked to explain the hashtag ban, national coordinator for college football officials Rogers Redding explained that it was all about integrity:
"If they have stuff on the sidelines, or on the walls that go around the stadium, it's OK," Redding said. "The idea is just to preserve the integrity of the field and not open it up to other kinds of advertising."
Yep. You read that.
The integrity of the field.
This was said with a straight face.
Hashtags would ruin these pristine natural playing surfaces, man. As a Michigan fan, I’m totally cool with never seeing a hashtag on a field again. But why the NCAA thinks this needs to be a rule is beyond me. I mean, have you SEEN some of the football and basketball uniforms Adidas and Nike have trotted out in the last couple of years? And you think a pound sign is going to make a difference?
Also, because of some confusion, the NCAA felt the need to clarify that they are not banning the existence of hashtags as a metaphysical matter:
So good news, Twitter users. You can continue to use hashtags without the NCAA busting in, urinating on your laptop and/or smartphone, and issuing you a Notice of Allegations. But you get the feeling that they considered banning hashtags (along with gifs, blogs, and NCAA related water cooler conversation), but decided against it. They are, after all, benevolent overlords.
Not Sure if Serious, or if Terrible Evaluator of Talent
Every year when the draft winds down, fans hold onto hope that their favorite college player will be plucked in the last few picks. Some go so far as to tweet NFL teams asking them to take their favorite players, as if real teams actually use the “show of hands” method of drafting.* I suppose it’s a harmless thing to do; it’s like the audience at the Price is Right shouting that they think the Cream of Wheat is more expensive than the Ziploc bags. They’re probably wrong, but damnit that’s half the fun of being in the audience.
But when some random guy suggested that the Colts draft Robert Marve as Mr. Irrelevant last week, the Colts shouted back that, Cream of Wheat? Are you stupid or something?
It’s rare, and somewhat refreshing, to see a team react this honestly to a fan. The easiest thing in the world would have been to either ignore it, or to respond with a non-committal “we’ll see what happens, so stay tuned.” But instead, we got “Robert Marve? Seriously? The guy who has torn his ACL like twelve times? Seriously? I mean, his numbers aren’t terrible… but have you watched him play football? You want us to intentionally choose him for our professional football franchise? Hell, no one wanted Tyler Bray or Collin Klein or Matt Scott, and those guys are 50 times less terrible than Robert Marve.”
Or at least they would have said that. Damn 140 character limit.
*Some have suggested the Raiders draft by show of hands, but they technically use a Modified Show-of-Hands/Blindfolded-Lemur-Throwing-Darts-at-a-Draft-Board system. So it’s not quite the same thing.
Who is Canada’s Version of Barbara Streisand?
If you’ve ever been on the Internet (and if you’re reading this, that’s you), you’ve been accused of something horrific by an anonymous commenter on some random message board. The same goes if you have ever done anything that was discussed on the internet. In fact, if you have ever done anything that involved things and/or stuff, you have been accused of being somewhere on the spectrum of pickpocket to Serbian war criminal. I’ve personally been accused of a string of penguin molestations for which I TOTALLY HAVE AN ALIBI. But we all know two things about these rumors when we see them: that these rumors are almost certainly false (especially those that are penguin-related), and that the targets have absolutely no recourse.
Recently fired Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, however, cares not for your rules. He is suing eighteen anonymous internet message board users for defamation. Among the named defendants are “poonerman,” “sir psycho sexy,” “KaBoomin8,” “Loob,” and “mowerman.” Burke is alleging that these guys and gals (but guys, because we’re talking Canadian hockey message board users here) spread rumors that he was fired by the Leafs because he fathered a child out of wedlock. His motivation here is pretty straight-forward:
“That’s kind of the point,” [Burke’s attorney Peter] Gall told the Star. “A lot of people think that they can with impunity say whatever outrageous things on the Internet and nobody’s ever going to be able to find them or hold them accountable. Brian is going to hold them accountable.”
Brian Burke is going to police the internet for us. Pack it up, mods, there’s a 57-year-old former hockey exec on the job.
I’m not well-versed in Canadian libel law, but this seems to me to be a ridiculous suit. For one thing, he’s gotta demonstrate damages, which he probably can’t do because he was fired BEFORE this stuff went public. In other words, he has to prove that some people out there would be like, “well, I didn’t think this guy was fired for fathering an illegitimate child, but now that LOOB has said so, I totally believe it.” He also wants an injunction prohibiting the defendants from making further defamatory statements, which… good luck with that.
The bigger problem, though, is that Brian Burke has obviously never heard of the Streisand Effect, whereby the act of trying to squash things that happen on the internet typically make them a much bigger deal than they otherwise would have been. Before the suit, this was confined to a series of 18 posts on a Wordpress blog. And now?
I’ll give you three guesses at the rumored name of the alleged mother of Burke’s love-child. Way to put the kibosh on those rumors, champ.
Additional Sloopy Sighting
A friend of mine texted me this picture from West Michigan yesterday:
Someone must know this confused soul. Find him. I wish to interview him. I know there is much we can learn from each other, if we can negotiate a truce. Can there be a peace between us?
Regularly Scheduled Canseco Update
Maybe he can parlay the Brando fame into an invite to the White House. We’ve got our fingers crossed for you, man.
What is Hoke pointing at?
Option 1: Dick Vitale with stitches on his nose. Deadspin rumors are often just that, but I have it from the guy who was walking ahead of Dickie V when this occurred that the account of announcer meeting glass before the Ohio State game is mostly true. Variations: it happened more like an hour and half (as opposed to just-) before the game, and it was the glass next to the door (not the glass door itself) that transferred Dickie's forward momentum into Dickie's face in much the same way that air wouldn't have. Tirico behind him stood stunned for a moment before he registered Vitale was possibly really hurt. Staff sat him down in a side room at Crisler and then released him to do the broadcast, which given the circumstances I admit is pretty boss. Usefulness of this knowledge to you is minimal unless you were among those particularly annoyed by the inanity of Vitale's color commentary, but it is important if you are to fully appreciate this epic comment by suspected MGoReader "snoop-a-loop":
University of Michigan Emergency Department
Patient: Vitale, Dick 73M
Chief Complaint: "I WALKED INTO A PANE OF LAMINATED SAFETY GLASS! THAT THING WAS SOME OF THE HARDEST GLASS EVER! THERE MUST HAVE BEEN A MALFUNCTIONING SENSOR! COMPLETE REJECTION BABY!"
Option 2: I think he just recognized something and is like "hey that totally reminds me of…
I'm giving Max an epic basketball Hoke point for this photo essay that matches the iconic Fab Five pics to the 2012-'13 team doing the similar things. Judging by how long it took me to match the four above I figure this took quite a while longer than it looks. 100 more points to whoever can find a Game…Blouses from 20 years ago. Closest I can find so far:
Companion piece is GOLBOGM's well-written look at each of the main players (by position) on this year's team up through the Indiana game. He also put together a rundown of the remaining schedules among Big Ten contenders, though it needs an update after last night. Profile says this guy's only had an account for 11 weeks but I've seen him popping up with great comments in various threads, so keep an eye out for the guy with the Hoke RAWR '97 avatar:
LSAClassOf2000 wrapped up Basketball History Week with a comparison of the current team vs. all those since the last national championship squad. Before going on a charting binge he posted a direct statistical comparison of averages which I must front-page:
|Rebounds / Game||35.6||36.4|
|Points Per Game||71.9||77.8|
|Off. Rebound %||31.80%||31.40%|
|Def. Rebound %||68.80%||74.60%|
The mean of 1989+Fisher+Ellerbe+Amaker+Beilein-to-2012 is not a stat (I'm building a new hoops database which I intend to break that up a bit better), but this is how we feel about the basketball team in a nutshell. Free throws and offensive rebounding are sore spots but on par with our typical teams. Where these guys differentiate themselves is they make their shots and win the board battles on defense. Defensive efficiency is down less than offensive efficiency has run off the charts, and the result is 1 more point for every four (total) possessions than we're used to.
I am highly unlikely to devour something unpleasant. These SEC schools with sudden and inexplicable five-star windfalls need to be stopped says AC1997; getting Ole Miss to pee in a cup is harder than it sounds, replies Zone Left. I co-sign the thing about how it's hard for anyone but a journalist with an agenda to uncover evidence—players don't rat, fellow students have no interest in Bartman'ing their own teams, and everybody at the program level has dirt on everybody else. I'll add it's even harder to get a laughably incompetent and profit-motivated NCAA to investigate without tripping over itself, or to sanction to a degree that it's any kind of deterrent.
In this regulatory environment Urban Meyer is technically right in calling out the rest of the conference for its miserly ways. "…I mean we're giving out cars and cash all over the country and you can't match a few grand to a five-star receiver in your backyard?"
Mathlete pointed out yesterday that it's just the top of Mississippi's class that's noticeably different from their historical hauls. I take it as more circumstantial evidence that something was fishy about the top guys, since a "Freeze is just a better recruiter" or "players think Ole Miss is on the up" explanation should have seen a more even distribution of success. There was no across-the-board greater interest in Ole Miss this year among 4-stars, which is the greatest indicator that a program is recruiting at a higher level. Rather they got the same 3-stars they always get, and to that added a ridiculous success rate among the elite of the elite. If this happened naturally I'll eat something unpleasant—let's make it
the sleeve of an MGoShirt if no evidence emerges in the next four years because I'm not sure I want to bet the entire digestive tract on how poorly Ole Miss can cover their tracks a lemon because there's already a tag for that. I'm guessing what happened is like in Blue Chips, where Ole Miss decided to leap into a game they figured everybody else was playing, and got burned by Superman III- slash Office Space-level over-success.
Etc. Primer on Lacrosse opponents. Mock Rock videos—chatster points out that the native dance Sione Houma and the football team are doing is the Haka from New Zealand's Maori, but nobody knows where they got if form—perhaps Russell Crowe is hovering around the program again?
[Hit THE JUMP for the board stuff, and why I am suddenly a huge fan of Michigan's rowing team.]
2/2/2013 – Michigan 73, Indiana 81 – 20-2, 7-2 Big Ten
Midway through the second half, Michigan popped into a 1-3-1 zone for a possession. I did not like this. I immediately thought "you can't run this defense with Jordan Hulls on the floor," and Indiana duly tossed the ball around the perimeter until Hulls was presented with an open three-pointer. He knocked it down. The 1-3-1 did not reappear.
Hulls didn't do much other than that. Unfortunately for Michigan, two of the other things he did were bury two more open threes; he missed only once. This is what you expect from Jordan Hulls, and it's why he's out there trying to check dudes a half-foot taller than him on defense.
To beat a team with a guy who shoots like that playing next to a sticky-fingered nightmare of a defender, the man Hulls is checking has to at least keep pace with the guy. Nik Stauskas didn't. He, too, is the sort of player that sends you to your toes when he's left wide open in transition, the sort of shooter that can create a buzz in an arena before the ball has even left his hand. He, too, had four good looks from three before the game had been decided. He missed all of them. (Hulls fouled him on a fifth.) The fourth miss was incredible, deflating, infuriating. This is not what is expected.
In a game where just about everything else did go as expected, that seems like the difference between a rock-'em-sock-'em affair ending at the buzzer and the marginally exciting contest that instead unfolded: Michigan's best shooter did not hit when presented with excellent looks.
And they were excellent. I'm not sure if Michigan came out with a concerted plan to emphasize the Hulls-Stauskas matchup or if Stauskas improvising based on his belief that Hulls couldn't check him; either way Michigan came out of the gate attacking that guy, and for naught. Stauskas drove for marginally-contested layups, and missed. He was found for marginally- or un-contested threes and missed. Michigan launched itself into desperation mode with two minutes left down nine, down exactly the same number of points Hulls had tossed in from behind the arc and Stauskas hadn't.
This is not to pile on Stauskas, who played about as well as he could up until the moment he let a shot go. This was not the Ohio State game, when he could not move towards the basket and found himself hacked out of the offense, reduced to jacking up deep, contested threes out of frustration.
When Stauskas made contact with Hulls he was largely quieted—along with the zone three two of his other looks came in transition. Stauskas didn't turn the ball over and had a couple assists. I can't recall any frustration shots launched. Afterwards, Beilein revealed Stauskas had missed practice the day before with the flu. Independent random trials can be a bitch even when you're healthy.
But there it is. While Glenn Robinson sputtered to two points and contributed little else in 40 minutes, his presence in the game always feels light. He largely cleans up other people's misses or throws down their assists. His absence or presence is something felt less viscerally than thinking TAKE THAT at maximum brain volume and seeing something betray Nik Stauskas's swag.
So it goes. Sometimes the damn thing won't go in the basket. The only thing to do is keep shooting.
Protip: stop falling behind by lots in tough road games. Against OSU, Michigan's offense came out discombobulated and staked the opponent to a 21-point lead. In this one, Michigan's defense couldn't make a rotation or stop the ball in the first ten minutes and staked the opponent to a 15-point lead.
Protip: once you have fallen behind by lots in a tough road game and come storming back, DO NOT TIE THE GAME. When this happened in Columbus Michigan started jacking up bad shots and was on the wrong end of a decisive 6-0 run. In Bloomington they managed to tie the game just a few minutes into the second half, and then suffered an 11-0 run.
Clearly a mandate must go out indicating that it's threes only if you have fallen behind by lots only to claw back and find yourself down two in a tough road game. No more ties. No more.
Protip: just predict what Kenpom predicts. Twice this year arrogant predictor guys at this very website have arrogantly deviated from the Great Book Of Kenpom and predicted road victories, first myself for the OSU game and then Ace for Saturday. Kenpom was off by a total of three points in these games. Yea, and it was wroth.
Halftime adjustments check: no. Michigan clawed back to even after five minutes, but then suffered the aforementioned run.
The Morgan question. Was his absence a major problem? The two minutes on a gimpy ankle he got seems to indicate the answer is yes, as does Indiana shooting 59% from 2. McGary's box score says no: 5/7 from the floor, 3 OREB, 4 DREB, an assist, 0 TO, two blocks, two steals, and a Wes Unseld hockey assist not recorded. Horford added a couple buckets, blocks and turnovers in ten minutes.
In the aftermath I've seen various folk complain about McGary overhelping and thus setting up Cody Zeller's three tip dunks, but if Oladipo is screaming at the basket that seems McGary has a bad choice either way. By helping McGary forced tougher shots and misses on those, at least. If he's not there and Oladipo throws down a rim-rattling dunk, um… well, that's not good either. It seems like the problem there is on the initial drive and McGary is picking the lesser of two evils.
Because this is an attempt to quantify the defensive prowess of an individual player, we of course have wildly differing metrics here. Some low-sample-size Synergy data from UMHoops suggests that Morgan is by far the better defender. That is in direct conflict with some low-sample-size data Ace assembled that suggests Michigan is a crap-ton better with McGary on the floor.
I don't know, man. Keep "road game at Indiana" in perspective here: despite giving up 1.17 PPP, Michigan's defensive ranking on Kenpom actually moved up slightly after the game. If Indiana shot too well from two they also got up far fewer shots than Michigan thanks in large part to McGary, and without the intentional fouls at the end of the game that PPP rate drops to 1.10. It's complicated.
One spot at which Morgan may have helped: the four. Michigan hasn't taken Glenn Robinson off the floor since Morgan got hurt, and in this game he wasn't doing anything to justify 40 minutes. Morgan would have brought extra rebounding and been better able to hold up against Christian Watford on the block; Robinson would probably have been more effective if he knew he was going to get some rest here and there.
Speaking of the overhelping bit. I think we can put the Tim Hardaway Jr lockdown defender meme to rest. Oladipo roared into the paint with frequency against him, hitting 5/9 from two and IIRC having two of those misses thundered back into the basket by Zeller since he'd drawn two guys.
Hardaway's better than last year; in no way, shape, or form does he approach the level of an impact perimeter defender like, say, that Oladipo guy.
Hardaway was an effective shooter in this one, largely when Oladipo switched off onto Burke.
Oblig. Burke check. Hoo boy he put up a lot of shots: 24 in total. We should remove the rushed heaves at the end of the game to get a better picture of what he did when quality was more important than quantity. This slices out four 3PA, one of which went down, and two generous assists on similarly rushed heaves by Hardaway and Stauskas.
Those excised, Burke:
- 5/12 from 2
- 3/8 from 3
- 3/4 from the line
- 6 A, 3 TO, 2 steals, 2 OREB(!)
- 22 points on 20 shots
Burke was tasked with a good number of Oh God Oh Jesus Oh God late-clock possessions as Indiana's defense came to play; he had difficulty with Oladipo, as you might expect. His numbers would have been less extreme and likely less inefficient if Stauskas had been healthy and accurate. As it was more and more of the offense devolved onto him.
He carried Michigan when they had to be carried. To exceed a point per shot against a top-tier defense while sucking up 40% of Michigan's possessions is remarkable.
Oblig. ref check. Fouls were even before Michigan went into game extension mode. There was a 15 to 7 FTA disparity for Indiana that seems mostly attributable to random chance. Two goofy calls stood out: the Oladipo continuation bucket and a blocking foul assigned to Hardaway that was a textbook charge—one, in fact, that Hardaway repeated moments later, getting the call.
Rebounding check. Michigan lost the battle on the boards thanks in no small part to those Zeller slams. It was close—29% to 34%—though, far less of a factor than IU doubling up Michigan when it came to turnovers.
The bright side! This may put a damper on GRIII to NBA worries?
"Cumong man" of the game. Indiana hit 88% of their free throws and didn't miss once in their last 14 tries. This is not conducive to exciting finish, Indiana. I am dissapoint.
The oddity of having a really good basketball team. You get punished by having Dick Vitale assigned to your games. I've always experienced him as an annoying presence on Duke broadcasts I'm not going to watch more than a few minutes of; this year I've finally been exposed to 40 minutes of the guy repeatedly.
I am not enjoying this experience. Take it away, Wikipedia:
He is known for catchphrases such as "baby"
The worst part is that when Vitale finally retires—he's 73—the ESPN executives who have not ordered him to do middle school games at 3 AM on ESPN3 will slide a howler monkey into his place and hope no one notices.
I wonder how Duke fans must feel about the guy. Sure, he's basically an extension of your university but even when he's yelling inanities in favor of your team, they are still inanities detracting from the important thing you are trying to pay attention to. And he is omnipresent. I don't think I could deal, man. We should have asked Jamiemac—who admitted no rooting interest in Saturday's game!—about that when we were quizzing him about the Yankees' chances this year in the podcast.
Anyway, in most other sports ascending to the big time level is a reward. Gary Thorne does the NCAA hockey tournament, and Sean McDonough will do your college football games. People bag on Musberger but I like him, and there's no comparison between Vitale and Herbstreit. Big NBA games get you Marv Albert.
I guess Tim McCarver and Jim Nantz do loom, but what this is all about is WHERE'S GUS JOHNSON, STRING?
HUH? WHERE IS GUS? STRING!
It's strange to me that I love Raftery and Gus Johnson so much and find Vitale so detestable. All three bring buckets of enthusiasm and get criticized for it by haters. I am only in that group for the last guy. Maybe it's because "baby" is not a catch phrase, it is a useless appendage, where as "onions" is delightful and Gus Johnson makes lip-curling noises.
Does anyone like Vitale? Stand and be heard. I want to know if he appeals to anyone. We should do announcer approval ratings.