Unverified Voracity Tried Unplugging It

Submitted by Brian on May 16th, 2012 at 3:44 PM


Hey, kids! Death to Comcast! No internet until just now today and my backup plan wasn't working. Apologies. Anyway:

Maybe you can do it after all? Luke Winn is my favorite college basketball writer for pieces like the one he just published on three-point defense. Inspired by Ken Pomeroy's repeated assertions that three-point defense is random* and that you should therefore try to reduce the number of threes opponents get off, Winn looks at the problem in more detail, finding a couple of notable exceptions:

After writing a story on the Pack-Line Defense -- a packed-in, help-oriented man-to-man that Dick Bennett first used at Wisconsin-Green Bay in the mid-1990s -- I couldn't help but notice that three teams running pure Pack-Line this season were among the leaders in three-point field-goal D: Arizona, which ranked third nationally at 28.5 percent; Virginia, which was sixth at 28.9 percent; and Xavier, which was 22nd at 30.5 percent. Meanwhile, two teams that seemed to encourage opponents to take threes, Florida State and Syracuse, also managed to rank in the top 50 in defensive three-point percentage and were top-20 overall defenses in efficiency.

Syracuse in particular demonstrates that three-point defense probably exists in a meaningful way. In the ten years Kenpom has data for Syracuse has finished 8th (out of about 350), 6th, 63rd, 129th, 63rd, 185th, 8th, 22nd, 29th, and 47th in defending three pointers. That's one or two mediocre years, three good years, and five outstanding years. Clearly there's a lot more variance in three pointers**, but you can defend them. There may be a price (Syracuse, unbelievably, was 341 of 345 in defensive rebounding while being 33rd in offensive rebounding), but you can do it.

Also, this is why you are right to pull out your hair at Tim Hardaway long twos:

If you don't think the long twos-vs.-threes argument is important, consider this: While Wisconsin held its opponents to just 0.807 points per possession on three-point attempts -- an amazingly efficient rate -- it allowed just 0.628 PPP on long twos. There's a reason Ryan charts and cherishes the two-point jumpers UW forces outside the paint. The odds on getting beat from that area are miniscule.

Long twos are the worst shot in basketball, and you can get them with 25 seconds on the shot clock because teams don't care if you take them. If there's ten seconds left, sure, go for it. Eschewing the offense in favor of The Worst Shot In Basketball makes Brian crazy.

*[If you look at shooting percentages from the first half to the second half of a season, there is almost no correlation. I think this might be a sample size issue.]

**[Variance for the statistically disinclined: imagine the difference in variability in 50-point 30-foot Rock 'n' Jock baskets versus dunks.]

Feel the love for the system. The Insight Bowl is no longer going to be named after some sort of computer company I think or an abstract concept. They made the mistake of asking the twitter what the twitter thought they might rename it to. If this feels like a softball covered in butter, yeah:

The Tempe Municipal Government Cheddar's Casual Cafe' Quality Food & Service Bowl, at Sun Devil Stadium #NameTheGame

i want a bowl game called the Horrybowl. someone ask Robert Horry if he's interested in starting a liability-only car insurance company.

Jason Kirk's list of suggestions has some excellent candidates:

Molybdenum Ore Bowl
Insane Maricopa County Sheriff Bowl
P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon & 1/2 Marathon Bowl

Erosion of public support due to shameless profit-seeking, etc etc etc. This is definitely a meaningful indicator of bowls' public face and not just the internet snarking on stuff.

Basically. Via Ira at WTKA, former Alaska-Anchorage player Justin Bourne responds to a piece on the superiority of the major junior route:

As someone quickly approaching their 30th birthday thinking about what I’d do if I were a young player now deciding between the two, I can’t help but think: I’d have to be awfully damn good to choose major junior hockey over college. It’s not taking anything away from those who choose to go the CHL route, it’s just that one way seems a little more all-or-nothing than the other. Both seem like flying down the highway on a motorcycle, but one affords you a helmet. …

Nobody can say for certain what’s the best route – each player has a different set of developmental needs, and each league fulfills those differently.

But for those who could use a little more time to develop and miiiigghht just want to hedge their bets on the future with an education, college hockey is the way to go.

That's about right. If you're not going to be in the top two rounds, junior is a gamble on a longshot when there's a less risky route that doesn't require you to give up the gamble, or even seem to hurt your chances much. Given the NHL hit rate of secound-rounders, you could argue that even those folks would be making a better decision to go to college.

Unless you just don't want even the tenuous amount of schooling you have to go through to be in college these days, the best argument in favor of the CHL is usually "they offered me money." If so, fair enough.

I would like to see the man behind the curtain, because there is only one. Michigan is investing a cool half-million into a giant curtain they can put in Crisler when it hosts women's basketball and gymnastics events so that the place feels less abandoned. Michigan averaged about 1700 fans per game at basketball last year.

It's probably the right thing to do, but putting up a curtain so attendance at certain sports is less embarrassing is… well, it kind of sums up the whole NCAA thing. The football players make a bunch of money, which is then spent on the strangest things.

Demar lands somewhere nice. Demar Dorsey will play his college ball at Hawaii, so at least he got an adventure out of everything. No, he's not coming here. I just told you he's going to play at Hawaii. No, still not coming. I am beginning to think you have the brain damage.

Etc.: Big Ten hockey hires Steve Piotrowski as its head of officials, which is a good move. Better move would be to clone him and put him on the ice for all games. Piotrowski #1 would be a super Piotrowksi. Dennis Norfleet gets really excited when he blocks a shot, understandably. SBN is making the case for relegation.




May 16th, 2012 at 4:03 PM ^

Man, I can not wait for Demar Dorsey and Antonio Bass to kick ass for the Maize and Blue this fall

1,000 cocktails to all of us, ladies and gents


May 16th, 2012 at 4:05 PM ^

...Curtain, I noted here that Crisler will look something like this for WBB games and gymnastics meets.

That's the University of Arizona's McKale Center. Reportedly they spent $650K on their curtain, so U-M gets a bargain? A mostly full lower bowl will look much better than a practically empty lower bowl on the BTN. Probably worth it over time.

I'm down with the Insight Bowl being renamed the Insane Maricopa County Sheriff Bowl. Both teams would have to play in pink unis.


May 16th, 2012 at 5:01 PM ^

That the curtain will make Crisler look better for women's games is less important to me than the fact that it has the potential to create a louder, more intimidating atmosphere. The theory would be that this would lead to more wins, which will lead to more fans paying for tickets and buying $5 boxes of popped maize. Perhaps eventually the curtain pays for itself--and maybe makes itself obsolete in the process.


May 16th, 2012 at 4:11 PM ^

It takes a vice grip on Brandon's nether regions to get the band to Dallas, but we have the money to make the women's basketball team look better for the 8 people watching it on BTN? I'm all for fairness, but I don't get that.


May 16th, 2012 at 6:06 PM ^

Because people want to see the MMB at the game in Dallas.

No one really cares about Women's BB and gymnastics.  

(Now inevitably, some nitpicker is going to reply to my post and say "It's not true that no one cares!  I care!"  But my point is that the number of people who care about the former is far, far greater than those who care about the latter, which is relatively miniscule.)

Other Chris

May 16th, 2012 at 7:56 PM ^

Lots more people care about the @#$%! Kardashians than care about the Michigan Marching Band, but that doesn't mean that they have any sort of value in the world.

Part of the reason fewer people care is because women's sports, by and large, regardless of success, have been treated like stepchildren by the AD. Women's gymnastics has won more Big Ten championships than all the other universities combined. They are ranked in the top ten in the nation most years. Whether or not a sufficient number of people to impress you "care" does not mean that they are not an asset to the university and shouldn't be presented to the world in a manner befitting their quality. To quote a noted sage: This is Michigan, fer gawdsakes.

I seem to recall a curtain or a screen of some sort in the Breslin Center for a volleyball match held there. Does that make it more palatable?


May 17th, 2012 at 1:31 PM ^

How does a curtain provide "opportunities for student athletes"?

I don't mind the curtain.  It's not going to break the bank. I mind one hand saying they're broke when the other hand is spending the same amount of money that does nothing more for the opportunities of student athletes.

We have the money. Do them both. And quit crying poor.


May 17th, 2012 at 2:50 PM ^

He would not/could not fund the band. In a boat. With a Goat. In a box. With a fox.  But would/could fund the curtain.

And I'm not sure how a curtain improves the game day experience for the athletes. Maybe the fans, who I keep hearing don't matter. But a player is paying attention to the game, not what's going on in the upper deck. Frankly, I'd be more embarrassed that the school though we needed curtains to cover up how few people were there. So no, I don't think it does hardly anything for the athletes game day experience. It just makes it prettier for fans and humiliated administrators and marketing guys stealing checks.  Just like I don't think big new scoreboards at Michigan Stadium improves the game-day experience for players...and it's all about the fan experience. 

Which is ok; there's nothing wrong with making things better for fans. Just don't do everything under the guise of it being "what the players like" when it's nothing about what the players like.


May 17th, 2012 at 3:21 PM ^

They absorb sound. They don't make things louder. Now, it's certainly possible they create an overall better environment that encourages more noise, but I doubt there's been any studies on that other than anecdotal. But hard, angular surfaces have been shown to reflect noise.

And yes, players look up for replays. They weren't put in for that purpose, and they certainly weren't trained to check the board for them rather than playing attention to what's going on the field, sideline, or with their coach. 


May 17th, 2012 at 3:35 PM ^

And just what I've said. If you have a surplus of all that money, save yourself the bad PR and pay for both. Or at least work behind the scenes to get someone else to pay for it if you don't want to. But don't show you can pay for a half million dollar curtain after you had to go public with your hands out to pay for the band after you promised everyone a bowl game in September experience when you were selling your super expensive tickets. Stop making everyone look bad by claiming expenses are too high when you can spend more on luxury expenses a month later.


May 17th, 2012 at 3:55 PM ^

I don't think the curtains they hang in arenas are made of the same material as the ones hung in houses. Someone on another board said they're made of Kevlar or some other heavy-type material. Everything I've read about them says they make the atmosphere louder. See this article for some reaction from athletes at Arizona to the curtain at their arena.


May 17th, 2012 at 9:35 PM ^

...you know? Someone provides some objective evidence of the benefits of outfitting an arena with a curtain. And all it took was a quick Google search to find an article discussing the issue instead of spouting off about shit you don't know about but want to bitch about.


May 17th, 2012 at 3:14 PM ^

He made the decision to fund the curtain after he agreed to fund the band.

So your entire premise is wrong. It was not an either/or proposition.

Also, I don't find it "embarassing" that a mediocre women's basketball team or a gymnastics team fails to fill a 15,000 seat arena. 

Your characterization of it being "humiliating" and "embarassing" strikes me as odd - this is de rigeur across NCAA athletics.


May 17th, 2012 at 3:27 PM ^

I keep getting all these contradictions...first they're not fiscally related...now they're paying for the band..which is it again?  

And now I'm hearing from you that all over NCAA athletics can't fill an arena...but Other Chris who you're agreeing with says that Michigan's support for the sports is horrible and they DO fill up at other schools? Can't be both.

And no, I don't think there's anything wrong with not being able to sell out whatever sport you're playing or involved with. The humiliating aspect comes in where your own AD thinks he needs to camouflage that fact because it looks bad. 


May 17th, 2012 at 3:32 PM ^

I know you aren't this dense.

The two options are not "none of them fill up" or "all of them fill up" - you understand, this correct? Tennessee and UConn sellout Women's Basketball. I'm sure Iowa sells out wrestling. That doesn't mean it's the rule - it means successful programs with a solid amount of AD investment can put asses in the seats.

As per the band - you know exactly what happened, so drop the insincerity. Brandon announced he would not pay for the band to travel (which was consistent with everything that had ever occurred between the band and the AD). People freaked, he caved.

I said the AD is not fiscally responsible for the band - they aren't. That's why the expenditure is termed, by me, as a gift.

Get it?

Other Chris

May 17th, 2012 at 2:16 PM ^

 Are Michigan fans really less inclined to care about winning non-rev teams than Utah or Alabama fans? Or is it just not as attractive or well-publicized a proposition in Ann Arbor?

We know the bandwagon is big, having sat through the Amaker years in Crisler, so I don't exactly expect hordes to turn out for a marginal women's basketball team, considering how even the most successful women's teams are viewed. But if it's well-publicized, cheap, and Crisler is a "cool" place to be and the event is lively and enjoyable, more people should turn up.

Back when we started going to gymnastics -- almost ten years ago! God I'm old -- there was a student named Rishi who was really enthusiastic and got lots of other students turning out. There was a local weekly TV show with highlights from the previous week's meet on whichever station used to carry those things pre-BTN. My son would pretend to be Ben Hummel, the student doing the announcing. The crowds have declined since then. This is just anecdotal, but I'm guessing we could look at attendance figures and see whether there is a correlation between attendance and Rishi and Ben's time in Ann Arbor.... The AD has to know of ways other than a few random tweets and a video on MGoBlue to get people out for non-revenue sports.


May 17th, 2012 at 3:00 PM ^

Successful Stanford (which doesn't do so well in football or basketball generally)?  Does Bama attend all of their sports? And if so, are there lots of examples, or is that just an outlier?

I'd say there are pocket sports at various schools that do well because of interest or tradition, or some combo of both.  I don't think there are too many big football or basketball schools that pack the arenas of all their minor sports. Or even just the successful ones.  At Michigan, it's probably softball, that plays to good sized crowds regularly. At someplace like Tennessee, it's basketball. I'm sure there are sports at Utah that are full.  But I find it hard to believe that ALL of them are full at ALL of those schools.

As you said....they're not really getting treated all that differently than basketball. But even when good, basketball can't sell out all their games. Heck, Fab Five's last game all together on campus...tickets still available. Now the University is changing somewhat, at least trying to put money in the programs. Basketball first, and now another $250 mil into the minor sports. But I don't think money creates interest.  It's fine to give them the best competitive facilities they can have so they have the best shot to win. But success and something compelling to the majority creates interest, not great facilities, are marketing schemes. 


May 17th, 2012 at 9:31 AM ^

...Women's sports at U-M have been treated more equitably (notwithstanding the understandable emphasis on football and MBB)? That's certainly my impression.

To your point about the success of the Women's Gymnastics team, I'm reminded that it's time to update my "Top Performing Michigan Teams" in the NACDA Director's Cup era study. As of last year, Women's Gymnasitcs was clearly the top performing team since 1993 per my analysis. Thanks for the reminder.

Other Chris

May 17th, 2012 at 9:32 AM ^

The hiring of Barnes Arico denotes a certain seriousness of purpose. I'd like to see something more -- what, I don't know -- done to bring in students for non-revs (not just women's sports). The fact that other schools can fill arenas for women's gymnastics -- even in the SEC, which is surely as football-mad and probably more -- means it could be done here.

Director's Cup doesn't wrap up til May 31st, so you have a little more time.


May 17th, 2012 at 9:51 AM ^

...Barnes Arico, this A2.com piece indicating her tremendous success retaining her current and recruited student-athletes is highly encouraging.

One of my PMs (lives/works in central NJ) has a rising junior daughter who plays on the AAU circuit. He says that Barnes Arico has a stellar reputation in the region and that what she did to bring the St. John's program into contention in an incredibly competitive Big East was incredible. If St. John's had not hired her Assoc Head Coach Joe Tartamella to replace her, he would have likely ended up in A2. As it is, that decision will make the task of filling out her assistants more difficult than it would have otherwise been. That said, I'm sure she'll find an able cast of assistants.

Yes, spring isn't quite done, but I have to start crunching the other seasons into my spreadsheets. I have high hopes for Softball, Women's Rowing and Women's Tennis achieving outstanding results this postseason.


May 17th, 2012 at 10:12 AM ^

Barnes Arico's staff hasn't been officially announced yet, but multiple people have reported that the hirings have already been made. These reports say that the staff will include Joy McCorvey, one of her assistants at St. John's; Chester Nichols, who had been an assistant at Kansas; and Melanie Moore, who had been a Princeton assistant.

McCorvey has already been added to the U-M directory and Nichols is no longer listed on the staff page at Kansas, which provides some backing for these reports.


May 17th, 2012 at 2:12 PM ^

There are still other staffers to be hired (e.g., director of basketball operations, video coordinator), but the people named above will be the three assistant coaches. Nichols sounds fine, and McCorvey and Barnes Arico together should be able to entice some players from the East Coast to Ann Arbor, but I have some misgivings about Moore being the lone one with Midwest ties.


May 16th, 2012 at 10:36 PM ^

O my.

How charming.

Fortunately, the university, including the athletic dept., exists to serve the students and not as a source of entertainment for you and me. With that understanding, this comparison frames the issue nicely. With the money saved from not sending the marching band on a weekend boondoggle the university was able to upgrade infrastructure for the benefit of multiple sports teams for years.

Seems an easy choice to me but that might be because I don't have as little regard as you do for women and womens' athletics.


May 16th, 2012 at 9:35 PM ^

Well, from a purely numbers standpoint, I'd be that more people will watch the game in Dallas (on TV and in person) than will watch a game using the curtain in the three or four decades. I'd also bet that more people would notice the absense of MMB than will notice the emptiness of the arena. 

On the more philosophical side, what makes one sport more important than another? In my mind, sports are important beause people care about them. How else could you differentiate them? Championships won? Perhaps. Women's basketball championships don't pay the women's basketball coach's salary though, football does. We could distribute all the revenues equally between all the sports, but neglecting football would likely lower revenues and have an adverse effect on all of the other sports. In effect, paying more attention to women's basketball might actually make them worse off in the long term. 

So I would pose the question back to you. Why is going to an extra game for MMB not more important than women's basketball and gymnastics? Why does engineering, law, and business get more funding than philosophy? Why do the athelets have state of the art practice facilities and I'm stuck in the CCRB?  Why is my roommate going to Google and I'm still unemployed? Why did the girl at Rick's go home with the baseball player and not me?

Other Chris

May 16th, 2012 at 9:53 PM ^

And faulty logic exasperates them.

The only ones who would have noticed the MBB missing are the fans in the stadium. The marching band is largely invisible on TV, even on the BTN which works hard to highlight the pomp. And anyway, I cannot see how you can honestly be comparing an expense (and not even one generally borne by the Athletic Department) for one game to a capital improvement for Crisler, upon which they have lavished millions, that will benefit multiple sports and possibly even the Marching Band performance that takes place each December at Crisler, for many years to come.