Logistics Doesn’t Always Tell You Who Is #1

Posted by nvr1983 on January 21st, 2013

As college basketball fans we like to poke fun at college football for its use of computers to determine its champion (or at least its championship match-up), but we have to be fair and note that we use computers fairly often particularly when looking at Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, which are probably the most trusted computer ranking system in all of sports. At other times computers can be less reliable as the public was made aware after the BCS Championship Game when The Colley Matrix still ranked Notre Dame #1 even after it got destroyed by Alabama. It appears that we have our own flawed computer system in college basketball and frankly it might even be more embarrassing than Colley telling us that Notre Dame was still the best football team in the country. Earlier today we received an e-mail announcement from STATS LLC promoting its new ranking system. The e-mail began like this:

UPS (NYSE:UPS), a global logistics leader, today announced it has joined with STATS LLC, the world’s largest sports technology, data and content company, in expanding its proprietary UPS Team Performance Index (TPI) efficiency measurement platform to men’s and women’s college basketball.

Sometimes The UPS Truck Gets Lost

Sometimes The UPS Truck Gets Lost

It then went into detail about how the UPS TPI was calculated using a database that “will comprehensively measure offensive and defensive efficiency” and “will include six key statistical components with a proven correlation to a team’s overall success.” Here are those six key statistical components:

  • Offensive Measure – Effective Field Goal Percentage
  • Defensive Measure – Effective Field Goal Percentage Against
  • Rebounding – Rebounding percentage amongst all rebounds in a game (If there are 100 rebounds in a game, and your team grabs 60, your rebounding percentage is 60 %.)
  • Ball Handling – Assists/game, steals/game, opponent assists/game, opponent steals/game
  • Overall Miscues Measure – “Non-steal” turnovers/game, fouls/game, opponent non-steal turnovers/game, opponent fouls per game
  • Success Measure – Winning Percentage

On the surface it seems a little too rudimentary and appears to stress some unnecessary statistics, but being mathematically inclined and analytic individuals we were intrigued by this new rating system. That is until we saw the results. On the women’s side they had what appeared to be a reasonable top four: Connecticut, Baylor, Duke, and Notre Dame. [Ed. Note: In the interest of full disclosure, the extent of our women’s basketball knowledge is being “tricked” by women’s scores on ESPN’s scroll every night.] The men’s rankings, on the other hand, are a little more questionable.

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McDermott Steals the Show, But Creighton’s Defense Is the Story

Posted by dnspewak on January 12th, 2013

Danny Spewak is an RTC correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter @dspewak.

That white towel. That’s the universal basketball signal for “My Night is Over.” When he plopped himself on the Creighton bench with three minutes remaining in regulation on Friday night, Doug McDermott draped this white towel over his shoulders and stared blankly at his teammates on the floor of JQH Arena. His night was indeed over, and judging by the sweat stains on both sides of his jersey, it looked like he’d played pretty hard.

For all of the sweat, McDermott didn’t even set any records in his team’s 74-52 victory over Missouri State. He didn’t score a career high in points, nor did he set record marks for field goals or three-pointers made. Such a bum, that All-American. He only managed 39 points, 28 of which came in the second half. He only scored the Bluejays’ first 18 points of the second half, only made 14 consecutive field goals at one point and only outscored the entire Missouri State team by three points in the second half. Rough night, huh? “He’s making fade-away threes off one foot,” Missouri State guard Anthony Downing said. “You can’t do anything about that. God-given talent.” Sometimes, McDermott would abuse his defender off the dribble for an easy layup. Other times, he’d roll off a screen and fire a three-pointer, and other times he’d convert easy layups. “That was pretty incredible tonight,” said Greg McDermott, brimming with pride as both his head coach and father. Even when it finally looked like McDermott had missed a shot from beyond the arc, one of the Bears’ defenders collided with him and sent him to the free throw line. Missouri State coach Paul Lusk constantly switched defenders on him, and he threw everything from junk zone defenses to double teams at McDermott. Nothing worked. “We could have ran the whole arena out at him,” Lusk said. “It doesn’t matter.” Had his father not pulled him out of the game after the final television timeout, McDermott surely could have broken the career high of 44 points he set against Bradley last season. Instead, he’ll have to settle for the second-most points in career history. “I blame it on him,” he said, pointing to his dad. “That’s one of the better games I’ve ever played in my life.”

Doug McDermott's Own Dad Ruined His Chance for a Career High (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Doug McDermott’s Own Dad Ruined His Chance for a Career High (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

It’s hard to argue with that. McDermott finished 15-19 from the floor and even grabbed 10 boards to complete a double-double. Just another modest night for the guy who entered the game averaging 22.6 points per game, the fourth-best mark in college basketball. Sarcasm aside, McDermott has done this so many times it’s become almost commonplace. He hung 30 on Wisconsin and 29 on Arizona State out in Las Vegas this November, and his 33 points in the Missouri Valley title game against Illinois State last March set a tournament record. Similar to the likes of, say, Adam Morrison, McDermott moved from obscurity to fame a long time ago. It’s still appropriate to gawk at this sort of performance, but it’s not appropriate to dwell on it.

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Temple Beats Syracuse and Shows Signs Of A-10 Dominance

Posted by Chris Johnson on December 22nd, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Correspondent. He was at Madison Square Garden for Temple’s 83-79 victory over Syracuse. You can follow him @ChrisDJohnsonn

If Jim Boeheim’s 900th career victory was a nervous frenzy, the next game was a stroke of unfamiliarity. Over 50 times Syracuse played a non-conference game, and over 50 times Syracuse won. On Saturday, the Orange met their match in soon-to-be Big East member Temple. It was an upset insofar as Syracuse’s No. 3 ranking denotes national standing, and Temple’s unranked status confers inferiority. More shocking was the fact that Temple was itself upended by Canisius at home just three days prior.


The Owls rebounded from a humbling home loss to upset the undefeated Orange, thanks in large part to Khalif Wyatt’s 33 points. (Photo credit: Getty Images).

The odds were stacked high against Fran Dunphy’s Owls – not just in the broader historical context of Syracuse’s non-conference success (not to mention its overwhelming home court advantage in the building ‘Cuse fans deem “The Other Carrier Dome”), but also in relation to the event that directly preceded Saturday’s upset. As unsettling and eyebrow-raising as Wednesday’s home loss was, Temple needed that wake-up call to knock off the then-No. 3 Orange. “I don’t know if we would have won today if we didn’t lose Wednesday,” Dunphy said. “Wednesday catapulted us into today. We needed to learn a lesson.”

Lesson learned. Temple picked apart Boeheim’s patented 2-3 zone with precise high-post flares, efficient floor spacing, and timely shooting. It was a textbook takedown of one of the best zone defenses in college basketball. And none of it would have been possible without the steady efforts of senior Khalif Wyatt. In the Canisius loss, Wyatt finished 6-of-16 from the field for 17 points, including 0-of-6 from three. Three days later, the senior had the game of his life, literally and figuratively. The box score paints a flattering statistical portrait: 33 points, 8-of-17 from the field, 15-of-15 from the free throw line. But to fully appreciate Wyatt’s performance, one must indulge in visual description.

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Ewing, Reed, Ford, Hall, Monroe, Others Recognized By College Hall Of Fame

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 19th, 2012

Brian Goodman is an editor and contributing writer to RTC.

The National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame enshrined its seventh class of inductees Sunday night in Kansas City, paying tribute to 10 players, coaches and contributors who helped shape the game we all love into what it is today. Georgetown legend Patrick Ewing led the star-studded group, which also included Kansas great Clyde Lovellette, North Carolina‘s Phil FordKenny Sailors of WyomingEarl “The Pearl” Monroe of Winston-Salem State and another Knicks great, Willis Reed. In addition, former coaches Joe. B Hall of Kentucky and Dave Robbins of Virginia Union were honored as well as contributors Joe Dean and Jim Host.

Patrick Ewing

Patrick Ewing led the Hoyas to three straight NCAA Tournament final appearances and captured the 1984 title. (SI Photo/A. Hayt)

You Might Know Him As… A lockdown defender who brought Hoya Paranoia to Washington and one of the best centers the game has ever known. Despite not picking up a ball until he was 12 years old, Ewing flourished under John Thompson. To this day, Ewing remains the school’s all-time leader in blocks, rebounds and games played. The dominant center was a mainstay of the Hoyas for four memorable seasons, including Georgetown’s 1984 title run. He went on to win two gold medals for Team USA and was an 11-time all-star with the New York Knicks.

Quotable: “I chose Georgetown because of Coach Thompson. (He) was a great man and afforded me the opportunity to come in as a boy and leave as a man.”

Phil Ford

You Might Know Him As… One of the most beloved players in North Carolina basketball history. Ford was the first freshman to start the first game of his career in Chapel Hill, and by the time his collegiate career ended, Ford would rack up three All-America selections and capture the 1977 Wooden Award along with consensus Player of the Year honors. Until he was overtaken by Tyler Hansbrough in 2009, Ford was UNC’s all-time leading scorer and a master of Smith’s “Four Corners” offense.

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John Calipari Gives “You” A Tour Of Kentucky’s Basketball Dorms

Posted by nvr1983 on September 8th, 2012

Yesterday, John Calipari posted a video on his personal site giving the first public tour of Kentucky‘s Wildcat Coal Lodge, a new dormitory for the men’s basketball team and “other UK students”. Outside of it being a very nice dormitory (let’s just say it is several steps above what either of RTC’s editors lived in as freshmen) it is pretty clear that this just a recruiting tool that is aimed at the top recruits in the nation (or world).

After watching it we only have two questions:

  1. How does this compare to the basketball/football dorms for other top programs?
  2. Who are these “other UK students”?

While there were some issues with athletic dorms in the past–to the point that the NCAA ruled in 1991 that they had to be phased out by 1996–we have seen photos of several well-appointed facilities. If Kentucky can put together the money for this for their basketball team we are sure that at places like LSU and Alabama they put their football players in more than your typical freshman dorm.

This is more like what our freshman dorm looked like (Credit: Dormdelicious.com)

There are probably more than a few of you who are like a couple of the people leaving comments on Calipari’s site who are questioning the appropriateness of spending that much money on housing for basketball players given the state of the economy including at Kentucky where 140 employees were recently laid off and tuition is being raised to help correct a $43 million budget deficit. We won’t get into the argument over whether athletes should get special treatment in comparison to the revenue they get, but this $8 million dorm was funded through money given by private donors. Still we are certain that displays like this will only serve to enrage certain individuals.

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The Sponsored Tournament Sticker Scourge Is On Its Last Legs…

Posted by rtmsf on May 15th, 2012

There are few things in college basketball where you will find consensus among coaches, players, fans and the media, but if you ever want to see unified outrage in action, check in with Twitter in the immediate moments after a player slips and falls awkwardly on one of those sponsored decals that populate floors around the country during the preseason November tournaments. From Maui to Kansas City to Madison Square Garden, these plastic logos that adhere to the hardwood have long been decried by just about everyone as dangerously slippery, needlessly intrusive, and a horrific accident waiting to happen. Fervor against the corporate sponsorships reached a fever pitch last season during the Carrier Classic when Michigan State’s Branden Dawson twisted his right knee awkwardly on one of the Quicken Loans decals and writhed around in pain for a couple of minutes while everyone in attendance watched in horror.

Luckily Dawson Was OK, But His Near-Miss Clearly Exhibited the Problem

Luckily for everyone involved, most notably Dawson (who ironically tore his ACL in March against Ohio State when he knocked knees with another player), he walked away uninjured from that slip, but his scare along with another one a few days later when Memphis’ Chris Crawford slipped on an EA Sports Maui Invitational logo at FedEx Forum crystallized the need for the NCAA to get involved. On Monday, the governing organization did the right thing and made a clear recommendation to the Playing Rules Oversight Panel (which meets in June) that “the court be ‘of a consistent surface’ so student-athlete safety is not compromised.” If approved, and there’s little doubt that it will be, this means that corporations sponsoring tournaments like the Coaches vs. Cancer, the Preseason NIT, and others, had better look into hiring some contract painters next winter.

The NCAA is nothing if not reactionary, but luckily in this case, the near-injuries of several players last season were enough to inspire the reaction. Now… back to our lair to figure out a way to tie player injuries to the 1-and-done rule, inconsistent block/charge calls, and the lack of a true opening night.

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RTC Has Truly Arrived: Spotted in the Cameron Crazies Section on Saturday Night…

Posted by rtmsf on March 5th, 2012

Consider this an open letter to the Cameron Crazie who painted “RUSH THE COURT” on his chest and stomach during Saturday night’s game against UNC. We don’t know who you are, or why you made this plea for our attention, but we saw you (h/t @matt_poindexter) and we’re ready to offer you permanent status on our Board of Directors for your free advertising (or a t-shirt, if you prefer).

Great Product Placement in the Cameron Crazies Section (credit: News-Observer)

And who says that the Cameron Crazies are lame and unoriginal? Contact us at rushthecourt@yahoo.com for your prize.

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Be My Valentine – 14 Iconic Moments We’ve Loved This Season

Posted by EJacoby on February 14th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

Are you riding solo this Valentine’s Day? If you can’t have a significant other, you can always love sports. What is more beautiful to watch than a buzzer-beating shot, an unlikely upset win, or a swarm of students rushing the court? Here to cheer you up, we present a reminder of 14 lovely moments in college basketball this season, in honor of the 14th:

Be Our Hoops Valentine...

1. Racers’ Pursuit of Perfection (December 11) – Murray State beat then-ranked Memphis on the road to improve their record to 10-0, and fans and analysts immediately began to take notice of this OVC school. This win set off the idea that the Racers could perhaps run the table this season, and while it did not happen, it would be two full months before they lost a game.

2. Teach Us How to Dougie (January 7) – Creighton has now lost three straight games to drop out of the Top 25 rankings for the first time in weeks, but they’d been providing a great story all season in the form of Doug McDermott. The sophomore forward, son of Creighton head coach Greg McDermott, and former teammate of Harrison Barnes in high school, went for 44 points and eight rebounds in a road win over Bradley that kickstarted his campaign for National Player of the Year. His candidacy for the award has since died down, but he’s still third in the nation in points per game (22.9).

3. Watford’s Buzzer-Beater (December 10) – Indiana got off to a fast start this season, but the Hoosiers took it to another level when they knocked off #1 Kentucky at home to improve to 9-0 back in December. Down by two, it took this shot by Christian Watford to beat the buzzer and provide us with one of the most memorable highlights of the year. The shot signified that IU basketball is officially back. See it below.

4. Rivers’ Buzzer-Beater (February 8) – Perhaps the only more recognizable moment of this season than Watford’s shot was a similar one from Duke’s Austin Rivers. Down by two at Chapel Hill on the final possession, the freshman provided this season’s iconic moment thus far by nailing a game-winner at the buzzer to beat North Carolina. The main difference between the two shots? Rivers’ came on the road, silencing the UNC crowd and sending them into shock.

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So What If Towson’s Losing Streak Ended? One 90-Year Old Alumnus Shows It Matters…

Posted by rtmsf on February 3rd, 2012

Last weekend the longest losing streak in NCAA Division I history finally — mercifully — came to an end. The Towson Tigers defeated conference foe UNC Wilmington by a score of 66-61, ending a 13-month winless streak of 41 games for the school. Often we as media get caught up in the esoteric and mundane, focusing on the statistic and accompanying storyline rather than the fact that there are actually people involved in a story such as this one.

Towson Lining Up to Shake Hands After Its First Win (credit: Baltimore Sun)

Certainly a major burden/albatross has been relieved from the backs of head coach Pat Skerry (responsible for 22 of those losses) and his players — they are now free to move on with their season with the goal of building for the future (the Tigers lost to Hofstra, 74-49 on Wednesday night). But there’s also an element of relief for students, alumni, and fans no doubt fatigued with seeing the (negative) publicity rained on the school as a result of this losing streak. If you ask the question, why does this matter, take a look at the prose of one of Towson’s oldest living alumni, QD Thompson, in a Letter to the Editor posted on Sunday in the school’s newspaper.

Speaking as a 90-year-old Towson Tiger, and with tears in my eyes after reading a long summary of the Towson Tiger men’s basketball team’s recent victory (66-61) over UNC-Wilmington that broke the Tigers’ 41-game losing streak, I just wanted to say hallelujah and congratulations to Coach Pat Skerry, his staff and players, whose warm victory blood I am sure is still bubbling in their vessels. It reminds me of my days at the Towson State Teachers College in the late ‘30s, when I was a sophomore. One day, I was speaking with the Director of Athletics Dr. Donald I. Minnegan, who was also my coach and mentor, and he heard me say, “But, Doc, I can’t do that.” And with that, he clamped his hand over my mouth and screamed out, “Thompson, don’t ever let me hear you say, ‘I can’t’ again, because there is always a way to accomplish anything.”  I soon learned that Doc was absolutely right. Attention Coach Skerry, I pass this little story along to you and suggest you place it in your pipe and smoke it.

Thompson Still Clearly Loves His Tigers (credit: D. Gross)

According to the Towson sports information staff, Thompson played basketball for the school in the late 1930s/early 1940s (Class of 1942) and clearly still has a very strong emotional connection to the university located just north of Baltimore, Maryland. This once again shows that the bond between alumni and their schools (and by proxy, their school’s teams) is exceptionally strong. Professional teams are represented by an amalgam of logo, colors and personnel both past and present, but with few exceptions does physical location actually mean anything — Lambeau, Fenway, Yankee, and a few others — but mostly not. Universities, on the other hand, have all of those things too, but more importantly, the essence underlying the connection is one of place. Location matters, and that’s the primary advantage that college sports has over the pros.

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Xavier Doles Out Punishment For The Crosstown Shootout Brawl To… Its Student Section?

Posted by nvr1983 on January 5th, 2012

Like most college basketball fans we recoiled at the scenes from this year’s Crosstown Shootout where what should have been an easy Xavier win over Cincinnati quickly turned into one of the uglier on-court incidents in college basketball history. As we noted in a post the following day, while the incident was unfortunate it was blown out of proportion to a degree by a media and fan base that wants rivalries to be all-consuming, but acts shocked when that passion boils over and we get an ugly incident like what happened four weeks ago. In the aftermath, there was quite a bit of criticism by various observers directed at both sides with the attention focused primarily on Cincinnati for its on-court actions and Xavier for its off-court actions. Suspensions for the involved players ranged from one to six games with Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin saying that his players would not return even after their suspensions were complete unless he felt that they had proven to him that they understood what they had done was wrong. While some media members and fans questioned the relatively short suspensions, eventually most commended both programs for taking some responsibility for what happened.

The People Being Held Accountable Include Those Not On The Court

One group that was largely left out of the conversation were the fans at the game in particular the student sections that have been known to get a little rowdy at times (a quality that is not unique to these schools). As a society, we tend to laugh off the majority of the comments and actions of members of the student section as humorous or merely immature. The only times where we take aim at student sections are when they pose a physical threat to the opposition or cross some line defined by societal mores such as racist or homophobic taunts. Typically these actions are met with either a verbal reprimand or a glare of disapproval from authority figures. The administration at Xavier apparently feels differently as they sent out a letter today stating that due to the actions of the student section during the Cincinnati game that included “unacceptable chanting, verbal expletives, and objects being thrown onto the arena floor” those who were seated in that area would not be allowed to receive any more tickets to men’s basketball games this season unless they attended one of three one-hour long “reflection sessions” being offered on-campus between 7 and 8 PM on January 8, 9, and 10.

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