Unverified Voracity Finds Yee Baby Yee

Unverified Voracity Finds Yee Baby Yee

Submitted by Brian on March 3rd, 2015 at 1:02 PM

Yee baby yee. Jordan Morgan is playing overseas, and has found out that Hardaway and father are chicken spokespersons in Turkey.

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So things are going to go okay for THJ if he ever has to seek asylum in Turkey. People will recognize him and give him succor in the form of chicken for reasons they no longer remember. And then he doesn't have to be on the Knicks anymore!

Speaking of Euro basketball. Hello post incoming?

Depending on who you talk to and when, Wagner's either 6'9" or 6'10" and displays the advanced ball skills typical of euro bigs. He could be a 4 or 5, maybe even a 3 if Michigan rolls a natural 20. Meanwhile check this court out:

That court hosts seventy different sports. Several of them haven't even been invented yet. Also, they emphatically do not call technicals for hanging on the rim in whatever league he's playing.

Beilein visited Wagner in November and Michigan could use a flexible player who could fill in at either of the frontcourt spots. 

And let's check in with the German perspective:

In the first days of pre-season, the heads of coaches full of question marks. Which fragrance brands are the new ones such as the elderly respond? How fit all?

Google translate is getting really good these days.

Flippin. Dang son.

Countess for alumni cheerleader?

It lives. We've addressed Texas's Brandon problem occasionally in this space, usually when referring to the Longhorns' spectacularly tone-deaf, loathsome women's AD Christine Plonsky or branding-means-you-brand true believer Steve Patterson, the AD proper. Patterson has pissed off a lot of people in a manner similar to Michigan's dear departed, though I don't think he's firing off the emails just yet. Chip Brown has talked with the big ballers in Austin and comes back with quotes ominous for Patterson's future:

“It’s clear Steve Patterson is a numbers guy. Well, you can reach all your numbers and have it be a complete failure if you alienate important people along the way,” said one key UT donor who has been left cold by Patterson.

“It’s also how it’s done. This place is too important to too many people for athletics to be run like some cold, bottom-line pro franchise front office. I see a lot of John Mackovic in Patterson. Mackovic tried to tell us how to think and how it was going to be, alienated people, and at the first sight of trouble, he was gone.”

If Charlie Strong doesn't make it, Patterson will be quickly disposed of. Patterson's made the mistake of pissing off the men with money instead of the hoi polloi, who are less easily roused to rebellion.

I wonder why you're failing. I haven't talked much about the local media landscape in a while because we're clearly in the "…and then you win" segment of the process. Teams have their in-house organs, it's difficult to tell some of them from purportedly neutral guys at papers—Vincent Goodwill went from embarrassingly carrying water for Joe Dumars to literally working for the Bulls—and the bleeding has gone from layoffs everywhere to weird infosec campaigns to get guys to resign.

As a result of Goodwill's departure, barely-literate Terry Foster has been thrown back on the Pistons beat. He's taking the idea he should actually work for the paper that's been inexplicably paying him for decades hard:

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He is complaining about an NBA beat that several thousand people in this state would get a tattoo on their forehead for. Jeff Moss has broken a lot of media stories over the past few years and reports that Foster's getting six digits from the News. That's incredible: Foster's contribution there has been the occasional slapdash column his editors have to turn into English. For years.

And they can't just get rid of the guy for some reason. Even if Mitch Albom's contributions to the Free Press consist of Borscht belt jokes so lame his colleagues are calling him out on his terrible columns, at least you can argue that Captain Fun Death Times has a certain cachet with the demographic that still subscribes to a newspaper. Terry Foster? Who does Terry Foster appeal to? Maybe his family, if they haven't read his output in a decade.

A sane organization would have fired Terry Foster years ago.

Gibbons compare and contrast. Rasheed Sulaimon's dismissal from Duke stems from rape allegations that were never followed up on by the alleged victims or the university itself. A  basic timeline:

  • October 2013: student says in a "large group setting" at a diversity retreat that Sulaimon sexually assaulted her.
  • February 2014: at subsequent diversity retreat, a second student asserted the same thing.
  • March 2014: unnamed person affiliated with basketball program (manager? teammate?) brings this information to the team psychologist; from there it goes to the rest of the program.
  • January 2015: intern quits based on finding this out, gets lectured by the designated fireman Duke has, six days later Sulaimon is dismissed for vague failure to live up to program standards.

A couple people have emailed wondering about parallels here. There aren't many. Gibbons was the subject of a complaint that the university evaluated, deciding to expel him. Nobody even went so far as to pursue that remedy at Duke despite the anonymity offered by that process; Duke either put restrictions on Sulaimon that he failed to live up to or panicked and booted him after intern incident made them afraid they were about to have this hit the media. One doesn't reflect on the other.

I can't say much more without running afoul of no polo, but I don't know what the hell a coach is supposed to do in that situation. The only group of people less qualified to adjudicate a sexual assault accusation than university bureaucrats is the coaching fraternity, and with no one pursuing any kind of sanction it seems impossible to boot a guy because some people said some things that no one evaluated.

Michigan's case was much more clear cut, with significant physical evidence addressed by a neutral (or at least an attempt at a neutral) evaluation, and then the subsequent PR incompetence.

It was always such. Analytics has won and is in its hot moment, which means a lot of people who don't know their ass from a properly-deployed regression are prominent. This is more prominent now but nothing new: witness David Berri, PRINCETON(!) economist and crazy person.

Except PRINCETON economist David Berri is not actually that, and apparently never was?

Berri graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a B.A. in economics in 1991, and earned both his M.A. and Ph.D. from Colorado State University. He taught economics at Coe College and California State University-Bakersfield before accepting a position at Southern Utah University in 2008.

No offense to any of those fine institutions, but if this was clear from the start maybe we don't have to deal with the scourge of this guy in the first place. All have the salutary property that anyone hailing from one of their institutions has to actually explain themselves instead of just saying "I'm from PRINCETON."

Etc.: Lawyers talk freshmen ineligibility. Lawyers talk NCAA cartel. FSU fans are not fans of people talkin' 'bout the Noles.

Turkey React: Withering Back And Forth

Turkey React: Withering Back And Forth

Submitted by Brian on June 3rd, 2014 at 12:39 PM

6/1/2014 – USA 2, Turkey 1

Got damn. The best soccer goals come with a kind of low OHAAAAWWWWWW from the crowd. That particular noise comes when half the crowd is cheering normally while the other half goes "OHHHHHH" because they've just seen something about as difficult as the moon landing in person. Bradley to Fabian Johnson was a moon landing of a goal.

Clint Dempsey's was not, but they all count.

Full highlights.

Paging World Cup horrors past. That ref had better not approach a USA game that counts. Whether he was ignoring a zillion clear fouls on Altidore or elbowing a Turk in the face when he should have been 90 feet closer to the Turkish net in case Dempsey had earned a penalty, this game was an exercise in frustration similar to Slovenia 2010 or Ghana 2006.

Jozy is fine. I generally like Taylor Twellman but his incessant harping on Jozy Altidore not putting a ball in the net (despite putting a ball in the net that was disallowed by a shaky and definitely irrelevant foul) drove me nuts in this game.

Twellman waxed to his worst on second-half "opportunity" he didn't hear whistled down but everyone watching ESPN did, and it seemed like Altidore and the Turks also mostly did. Altidore put a shot off the keeper and Twellman went into his usual refrain about confidence and mystical fairies and all that stuff that people who haven't thought about how brains work always do. Sometimes things happen, random things. Especially when you're Jozy Altidore and you've seen about six quality scoring opportunities since your goal drought started.

It got worse. A few minutes later, Twellman praised Altidore for blasting a shot off a charging keeper that would have been a simple tap-in for Bradley if Altidore had laid it off. Altidore did well to create the chance, but if there was a problem with Altidore's game in this one it was not his lack of ruthlessness but that pressing for goal that caused him to make a wrong decision.

Not that he was the only US player with that issue. After the Davis handball play saw Graham Zusi run on to a ball at the back post, this was a shot:

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A tap-in for Jozy if Zusi gets it right. Does that make him a better player in this game?

This was not a problem for the Dutch in the first five minutes against future US foe Ghana. Faced with a similar opportunity, Arjen Robben laid it off for Robin Van Persie, who passed it into the back of the open net. Robben proceeded to blow an absolute sitter and a couple other grade-A chances, but because he's not part of a culture that yells at LeBron James for kicking it to a wide-open Donyell Marshall for a game-winning three* that he happens to miss, no one's going "blah blah blah confidence strikers blah."

Take the shot when it's the move; pass when it's the move. Heroball is garbage. San Antonio Spurs, you know?

*[Dated reference but the perfect one.]

RIGHT: JOZY IS FINE. I know I said he wasn't a hold up guy and never will be but he's really trying. He does lack that flick-on and isn't technical enough to be great in that role, but he's the only one with anything resembling that skillset. It's clear now that the US is going to need it from time to time, and he's trying.

As much as they would like to be a possession side there are going to be times where the US does have to blerg it upfield. Jozy's going to be the guy who turns that into anything. Unless you think Johannsson can do that there's no substitute.

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Davis + Chandler on D in one image

Chandler is not fine. For some reason the USMNT internet has been desperately trying to replace DaMarcus Beasley since he became the USA's starting left back by default. I acknowledge he is not world-class but for Christ's sake he's gone three years without anything near as bad as two different things Tim Chandler pulled in the Turkey match. There was the pathetic turnover that led to the Turkey goal and the alarming 50-yard ball that led to a quality Guzan save on which Chandler and Davis were both vastly out of position. The same thing led to a corner in the first half.

Meanwhile, Chandler is right footed, so it is awkward pairing him with an in-cutting left midfielder like Bedoya. Chandler should be at the back of the bus now. Beasley and Johnson are your starting outside backs and if one of them is unavailable I'd rather see Brooks (with Cameron sliding outside) or Yedlin than Chandler.

Also not fine: Brad Davis. If you're going to play a diamond your outside midfielders need to be defensive presences. They end up narrow, usually, and need to track back because the second central midfielder ends up way up the pitch as a third dedicated attacker. In this game the US had to pull Bradley back in the second half because neither outside midfielder had any interest, really, in tracking back. Zusi was at least positioned in a place where he could do something most of the time; Davis was not. Turkey spent the day destroying the USA's left flank.

The first truly dangerous Turkey chance came off a corner kick that got reset; Chandler was asked to defend two guys.

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left side of your screenshot—two Turks, one USA guy

I know it looks like Jermaine Jones was available to deal with this but he is not; he ends up having to apply emergency pressure on a Turkish player who ends up cutting it back to the shooter. Davis is at the top of the 18; he heads a ball forward, sees it turned over, and walks the rest of the play instead of tracking back to the position he's vacated. His guy puts one off the post. (Fabian Johnson is out of position as well, but overall his flank was way less threatened.)

Another Turkish scoring chance came because Davis vacated the entire left side of the field.

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While the diamond midfielders do tend to pack in tight, Davis was generally a lot narrower than Zusi, leading to attack after attack down the left flank on which Chandler was asked to shut down acres of space; a primary reason that the US was conceding huge chunks of space was Davis's failure to exist without the ball. He had neither the pace nor the interest to show up.

17th-3[1]

Zusi is at the bottom; look how wide he is compared to Davis despite the ball being to Davis's wing.

You'd think the guy obviously on the roster because Landon is not would show on defense. I found myself missing Herculez Gomez in this game.

In the second half, Bradley was withdrawn when the US was without the ball and the chances stopped coming so fast and furious, and maybe that's how it has to be. Someone's going to have to cover a pile of space in the World Cup. Brad Davis clearly isn't. Bradley is going to have to be that guy, with Dempsey dropping to provide a link from defense to attack.

So don't judge Jones too badly. The post I just linked prefers Beckerman to Jones but I don't think they make a particularly convincing case. Jones was given too much to do in the first half since neither US winger made any defensive impact; Beckerman came on at the same time the US started dropping Bradley to provide more cover. Notably, the turnover they approvingly note Beckerman caused came as Bradley pressured a guy in a similar position to the guy with acres of space above.

It would have been just as bad in the first half with Beckerman, because Chandler cannot replicate himself.

I don't want to toot the ol' horn too much, but the second half setup is something I suggested would be the USA's best look:

I would prefer something like the 4-4-2 diamond they tried out in a recent friendly, with Bradley dropping back when faced with opponent possession and  Dempsey moving under Altidore to provide an outlet and link to Altidore up top.

This game showed both that the US does need Bradley's defensive abilities and cannot spare him from attack. It's going to be a long, tiring WC for Bradley, but that's how it has to be.

The Shin Guardian does have an instance where the midfield's general cluelessness is an issue, and Jones is one of the problems:

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This gets played square away from all four midfielders; Jones ends up going upfield at the guy, and Turkey is on a break off what initially looked like an innocuous play. Bad decisions all around here; TSG is right that Jones's instincts to attack rather than hold were dangerous to the US at times here.

Green: nope. He won't play at the World Cup.

Brooks: maybe. But Brooks overcame some nervous moments early to put in an impressive performance that demonstrated he has a pretty rare combination of agility and aerial ability. He has been playing well for his club of late, in contrast with Green, and at the position he's being asked to play here, in contrast with Chandler. With Gonzalez in something of a funk he might be your third option at center back.

Conclusions.

  • Davis and Zusi cannot play together. They're very similar players; the US needs more defense from the wing. IMO, Davis just disqualified himself from the first two games of the group stage. He is a disaster waiting to happen against Ayew or Nani, and his service is only marginally better than Zusi's.
  • Viva Beasley. He's a little malformed but he's ours, and if he gets run over that's life. At least he'll be in the right spot, not making an utter hash of things.
  • The diamond cannot be on defense unless Bedoya works like a donkey. While the idea—get Bradley upfield—is the right idea, leaving him upfield is only tenable if you're able to apply smart, high pressure consistently. The US doesn't have the wingers or forwards to do this, so against teams who aren't bunkered in Bradley will have to shuttle back or it's going to be a lot of what we saw against Turkey. Bedoya's presumed start against Nigeria will be the most interesting thing about that game.
  • I'm agnostic on Jones or Beckerman. Seems obvious that it will be Jones, but that seems like a 50/50 battle as to whether that's the right decision.
  • Leaving Donovan off this roster looks pretty bad right now. Whatever his flaws, Donovan has been a committed defender throughout his USA career and provides something other than "Graham Zusi but left-footed."

Preview: Nats Versus Turkey

Preview: Nats Versus Turkey

Submitted by Brian on May 31st, 2014 at 4:29 PM

200px-Turkish_Football_Federation_logo[1] THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT USA vs Tukey
Send Off Series Friendly
WHERE RB Arena
New York, NY
WHEN 2:30 PM Eastern, Sunday
LINE I don't know man
TV ESPN2

Man, my Armenian friend is just all about these friendlies.

THE THEM: LAND RATHER NEAR LAND OF FIRE THAT ALSO HAS FREQUENT TIFFS WITH ARMENIA

Flares-Copy[1]

Turkish soccer fans are nuts, in the best way

Things step up in class for the US after a CONCACAF redux warmup against Azerbaijan. While The Turks aren't in the World Cup they have been in the recent past; they were +7 in goal differential in group D but finished fourth.

Both FIFA and ESPN's BPI metric have them 38th in the world, still some distance behind the US. CONCACAF comparables include Honduras (36th) and Panama (46th), though that former looks a little shaky after Honduras opened its own Send Off Series with a 2-0 loss to Turkey. That may have been a little deceiving, though, as Honduras had plenty of chances on which they just did not convert:

Hull City defender Maynor Figueroa, former Sporting KC standout Roger Espinoza and current New England Revolution striker Jerry Bengtson all had chances during the game's opening stanza but failed to convert.

Turkey played with hesitancy and managed only a handful of opportunities throughout the opening 45, seemingly content to fall back and weather the storm.

Honduras faded in the final 45, probably for the same reasons the US game against the Azeris slowed to a crawl in the second half: teams headed to Brazil are pounding themselves to get in shape for what promises to be a sultry world cup.

Turkey was pretty leaky in the back in World Cup qualifying, conceding in every game against the four real contenders (Estonia and Andorra are just around to get kicked) save one against Romania.

The vast majority of the Turkish team plays in their domestic league, with a few guys scattered around in Germany. Atletico Madrid's Arda Turan is the star… but he's nursing and injury and out, robbing the US of an opportunity to see how they matchup against a world-class threat. Galatasary striker Burak Yilmaz would be the guy they build around now… if he hadn't gone home a couple days ago.

Your detailed and educated Turkey bits can be found at The Yanks Are Coming and The Shing Guardian but take it lightly. This is a young, experimental Turkey team that could do just about anything. They are supposed to be the Portugal stand-in, as they've traditionally run out the same 4-3-3 Portugal uses.

THE US(A)

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left: 4-4-2 diamond; right the 4-2-3-1

The same debate about the 4-4-2 versus the 4-2-3-1 persists. The diamond looked sluggish against the packed-in Azeris; teams that actually try to attack may also force the US into a more conservative formation with an extra defensive midfielder. Personnel-wise these things are near interchangeable as long as Jones is keeping station in front of the central defenders, so we may see both.

GOALIE: Whoever.

DEFENSE: Chandler, Besler, Cameron, Johnson.

Cameron and Besler are seemingly the USA's top options at center back. They have not played together much—the Azerbaijan game was just their second start together—so Klinsmann will probably spend his precious competitive time before the World Cup on strengthening that partnership.

Johnson should reprise at right back as Klinsmann tries to get him comfortable with the right side of the US formation. In one game he's gone from "maybe the right back?" to obviously the right back.

And it's 50/50 whether Chandler or Beasley gets the start here. I'm guessing Klinsmann takes an extended look at Chandler, possibly flipping him to the right in the second half to give Johnson a breather. Can Chandler put in a strong 90 against a dangerous opponent? This is an opportunity to find out.

I would guess Klinsmann takes a look at Brooks in this one, and Yedlin will probably get a late run out.

MIDFIELD: Beckerman, Bradley, Bedoya, Davis.

Kyle-Beckerman[1]

nothing says Utah more than Beckerman

Guessing here; Beckerman and Bradley paired well in the Mexico friendly and he is a natural holding midfielder who has a ton of familiarity with the diamond. Bradley is MB 90.

Davis had a couple of bright moments in his substitute appearance and here's a guess he'll get a look at the starting left mid. His service is wildly overrated in the context of the US team because Zusi has been dropping balls on his teammates' heads for years now, but it becomes vastly more important if Zusi is dropped for some reason.

In that event, the need for crossing from the right goes down and the US can look at Bedoya on his more natural right side. And as to why you might drop Zusi: with Cristiano Ronaldo looming, Bedoya's workrate and tracking back look attractive as a right mid. If he can help shut down the Turkish left flank in this game he may displace Zusi for at least one game.

Diskerud and Green should also get looks. Green may offer that je ne sais quoi the US lacks, and while it's hard to envision Diskerud displacing either Dempsey or Bradley for one solitary World Cup second, that left flank is open for someone to do something with.

FORWARD: Altidore, Dempsey

Dempsey is reputedly hale and ready to go, so the US will probably try to try the thing they were set to try before Dempsey's groin acted up.

Altidore had a couple of instances of quality hold up play against the Azeris, but that was still clearly an awkward thing for him. When paired with Wondolowski, though, that is his role. With Dempsey the two forwards can interchange, and Dempsey is technical enough that once the ball gets to his feet he can hold it up and lay it off for a charging Bradley effectively.

He changes the entire dynamic of that front triangle, and that's why I'm not getting too bent out of shape about the lack of chances from the run of play against Azerbaijan.

Wondo and Johannsson are likely to come on. Johannsson might get a run out on the wing.

WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR, OTHER THAN EVERYTHING

Diamond versus 4-2-3-1. I think we'll see both, with Klinsmann trying to see what he's got with the diamond when he's got his most dynamic attacking player available and an opponent that might venture one or two guys onto the US side of the field. If it's not working, a mid-game shift is in the cards, whether it's with a substitute or not.

How does that defensive midfield hold up against an offensive threat? If it is still Jones in a diamond, is he disciplined enough? If it's Beckerman, is he quick enough?

Seriously, what is the US going to do on the left wing? Bedoya probably had his best game in a US shirt against the Azeris, but even so his contributions did not help the team as much as Brad Davis's single deep cross did. If the US does go back to their 4-2-3-1 it would be nice to get a look at Johannsson in the Eddie Johnson role on the left wing. Portugal's right flank is supposed to be weak defensively.

How does Dempsey work with Jozy up top? The two have rarely been paired as out-and-out forwards together. Jozy scored a bunch of goals in Holland by running about the pitch instead of being a single hold-up guy trying to lay balls off or turn on defenders. Their partnership is of a different character than the Jozy-Wondo pairing and has to be one in which the guy with the ball has a good idea of what the guy without it is going to do.

SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES

DIVBYZERO