Saturday, November 27, 2010

BCS debate

There are many reasons why I cheer for the non BCS conference teams in college football. Not only did I go to a school that plays in a small conference, but I can understand the difficulty these teams have in competing with teams from the power conferences. They lose out more often than not when recruiting the top high school players. When given a chance the better coaches almost always *jump to more money and a better program. That is part of basic nature of college football and while it isn't equal it is fair. That is fine. What really upsets me is not the above points, but the unfair playing competition in college football.

*Miami University is known as the cradle of coaches, which everyone associated with the school is proud of despite the fact that it basically means that coaches come to Miami before going to another job. There is a reason why Ohio State isn't the cradle of coaches. If you are successful at Miami you go to Ohio State. If you are successful at Ohio State you stay at Ohio State.

A team from a non-BCS conference can go undefeated. They can be the best team in the country with plenty of NFL talent. They can keep their coach from going somewhere else and build a successful program. They can take 4 star recruits and make them 5 star players. A team like that can do all the right things and still not stand a chance. That is the frustrating thing. The 2008 Utah team and the 2009 Boise State team were playing blackjack with the aces removed.
Yesterday was a tough day watching college football. In a perfect world either Auburn or Oregon would lose and Boise State would win. I would have loved to see a Boise State - Auburn/Oregon title game because it would finally be a BCS title game with a team from a non-BCS conference. The reason I liked Boise State over TCU is I feel like they are a better team and would stand a better chance of beating either Auburn or Oregon. They beat TCU last year and returned almost every single player. They stood the best chance of a non-BCS conference breaking through the "cartel" as Michael Wilbon calls it on PTI.

Well Auburn won in a game that Alabama completely chocked on.

Oregon won in a typically impressive 2nd half performance over Arizona.

Then Boise State played another incredibly difficult road game (combined with the first game of the year against Virginia Tech) against Nevada. They had their chances and lost because of a Murphy's Law type of 2nd half. It might have been an instant classic, but it was depressing for someone who liked Boise State.

Now it is down to Oregon State and South Carolina to beat either Oregon or Auburn to give TCU a chance. Boise State is finished despite a team that I would still take over either Oregon (who they beat last year) or Auburn. TCU could be on the cliched outside looking in through no fault of their own. Consider me a fan of the Horned Frogs. More importantly consider me a fan of a playoff that would allow every team in the nation the chance to win the title.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When should we start worrying about Gordon Hayward?

My latest post on Salt City Hoops is up. It was edited and touched up by the Salt City Hoops team, but if you were curious about the unedited version below is the original draft. Hopefully the post gets picked up by espn, but regardless it was fun to write even if the subject matter is kind of depressing for Jazz fans.

Last as a Jazz fan I rooted for two things every night; a Jazz win and a Knicks loss. The reason being is that finally after all the years of the Knicks being terrible it was finally time for the Jazz to cash in on one of the more lopsided trades in history. In 2004 the Jazz gave up Keon Clark and Ben Handlogten for the Knicks protected 1st round pick. It was one of those *strange trades that still doesn't make much sense to me, but it worked out great for the Jazz. Clark and Handlogten never played a minute for any other NBA team besides the Jazz. Somehow the Jazz got Gugliotta, a 2004 1st round draft pick and this protected Knicks pick.

*Here are the trade details from Gordon Hayward's's page: "Traded by the Phoenix Suns (as a 2010 1st round draft pick) with Tom Gugliotta, a 2004 1st round draft pick (Kirk Snyder) and a 2005 2nd round draft pick (Alex Acker) to the Utah Jazz for Keon Clark and Ben Handlogten."

Well the protection finally ended last year and the Jazz had the Knicks 1st round pick regardless of it was the 1st pick in the draft. The Knicks ended up tied with the Clippers for the 8th worst record in the league, which resulted in the 9th pick in the 2010 Draft. Finally the time had come for the Jazz to cash in on the pick they had been waiting for since the *days when Isiah Thomas thought Stephon Marbury was the point guard of the future for the Knicks.

*Side note - On the day after the trade was announced the Jazz ironically enough played the Knicks in Madison Square Garden. The leader scores in order for the Knicks that day were; Stephon Marbury, Tim Thomas, Shandon Anderson (remember him Jazz fans) and Penny Hardaway. THAT might be the best way of showing you how long ago the trade was. Oh yeah the Jazz won 92-78 and the first line of the recap on espn was "Stephon Marbury had an unhappy 27th birthday, getting booed at Madison Square Garden in a Friday night fiasco."

With the 9th pick in the 2010 NBA draft the Jazz took Gordon Hayward from Butler University to help replace the impending departures of Kyle Korver and Wes Matthews. Hayward was a 20 year old wirey forward who had led Bulter to the title game. There were some concerns from the beginning as Jazz fans booed the pick. For a great recap feel free to check out the Gordon Hayward to the Jazz post on June 25th of this year.

Now we are only 12 games into the season and even though I know that isn't much time and that Hayward still is four months away from being able to order a beer at the bar. I know all of these things. I also know that Coach Sloan can be tough on rookies and that even an All Star like Deron Williams struggled and even was benched for Keith McLeod for 32 games. Still I can't help but worry about Hayward. Here are the top 5 things that worry me:
  1. Shooting ability - I know that because of the color of his skin, the fact that he is from Indiana and his reputation that most people think of Hayward as a great shooter. He is a good shooter as long as we are talking about free throws. As for three pointers he shot 29.4% last college...with most of his games being in the Horizon League. Now Andrei Kirilenko is a career 31.2% three point shooter and I would never classify Kirilenko as a good outsider shooter. The reason why is because the worst three point shooting team last year were the Pistons and they shot 31.4%. So to recap Hayward has a reputation as a shooter, but in his last year of college he wasn't even an average NBA shooter despite playing against worse competition and having the advantage of a shorter 3 point line. It is time to realize that Hayward just might not ever be a good shooter?

  2. Advanced numbers - What do you want to pick? Win Score/48 minutes = -.07. PER = 3.5. Simple rating on = -22.1. You don't even have to know what these stats mean to realize that negative numbers are not good. The Jazz are losing by an average of 25 points per game when Hayward is on the court.

  3. Draft Potential - Coming out of the draft Hayward was rated as the 17th best talent using John Hollinger's Draft Rater. Hayward's peak PER prediction was 11.87, which would have placed him in between Wes Matthews and CJ Miles production from last year. Again this is Hayward's peak PER that should happen in years 4-5.

  4. The Miss - I don't know if anyone has ever received more credit for a miss than Hayward did with his halfcourt heave that almost beat Duke. The only comparison I can think of is Charlie Weis getting an extension for almost beating USC in the "Bush Push" game. Maybe he wouldn't have needed a shot like that to win if Hayward had hit more than two of his previous ten shots? While the 8-8 from the line is great, it is a little concerning that against Duke he was only 2-11 from the field and 0-3 from three pointers.

  5. Jazz 1st round pick history - This is not fair for Hayward, but it is hard to judge him without thinking about former first round busts; Kosta Koufus, Morris Almond, Kris Humphries, Kirk Synder or Sasha Pavlovic. What kind of odds would you give Jazz fans right now that the Jazz 2nd round pick Jeremy Evans is better than Gordon Hayward? Does anybody else feel like this might shape up like the 2006 draft when the 2nd round pick (Millsap) was better than the 1st round pick (Brewer).

I don't want to start worrying so soon about Gordon Hayward, but it is hard not to when I think about all the factors. If only one or two of the above were true, then I might be able to shake off my concerns a little bit easier. I might be able to better hear my former Stats professors at Miami University screaming at me "small sample size." Instead if I just keep thinking that if it isn't now, then when should we start worrying about Gordon Hayward?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Miami vs. Duke

When I was a kid my father took me to a spot in Jackson where some of the Civil War fighting had taken place. There were mounds set up, so that soldiers could set up shop and take aim at their enemies. My Dad asked me a simple question at the time "who were you going for in the Civil War?" I was a kid and didn't really understand anything about the Civil War, so I answered innocently enough "Mississippi." My Dad then told me that Mississippi was part of a group that was fighting against the United States. This confused me as a kid since I didn't know if I should root for my home state or for my country. (Again I didn't understand anything about the Civil War and please don't hold this as any sort of negative referendum on the South.)

I bring up that short story because tonight was a weird experience. I watched a Duke game and hoped the other team won. I literally have never had that experience before. Thanks to ESPN I have been able to watch plenty of Duke games every year. I have been known to react in a bunch of different manners (some I am not proud of), but always with the explicit hope that Duke would win. Tonight was different because Duke played Miami University. If there is anything that trumps my love for Duke basketball it is my love for Miami University.

(Miami University with two of my friends in the picture)

I rooted for Miami. They fought a not particularly good fight and lost by 34 points. It wasn't even that close.

Tomorrow is a better day because I can go back to throwing my support around Duke. It should be a great year in Durham even though I think people are glossing over the fact that the post players are below average. This Duke team is going to miss Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas. (I never thought I would write that.) Also, I know they are loaded with wings, but a team doesn't just lose a senior like Jon Scheyer without some adjustment. There will probably posts later on about Duke, but those are my initial thoughts after watching the game tonight.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Writing Style

I know my writing isn't perfect. Sometimes I misspell words. Sometimes I am not grammatically correct. Often I can be wordy and a little bit too focused on sports. My writing style is my own and I can understand that not all people (or not many) like it. That being written here are there four writing styles that I absolutely can't stand.

1. Excessive exclamation points - To tell you the truth I don't normally like even one exclamation point, but I can understand that when you are trying to convey excitement a well placed exclamation point can be useful. However, the people who write in nothing but exclamation points confuse me. Why do some people on facebook have to write like that? "I'm going out to lunch! The chicken bacon ranch at Subway was so good! I think I am going to take a nap!!!!."

2. Guys who use smiley faces - For some reason I don't mind as much when girls do it, but when a guy uses a smiley face in an email it makes me think that they are hitting on me. I know that isn't fair. I know that when guys use smiley faces in emails it is just a way of adding some levity to the situation. It creeps me out though.

3. People who space out every sentence.

For example there are certain writers who try to start every article with a dramatic statement.

And then they follow up with something even more dramatic.

Before asking a question that makes it more dramatic.

Why is this writing style dramatic?

Maybe I just don't understand?

4. Capitalizing random words. For example: "The show Community is on right Now and I really enjoy watching such a great Show."

I know this blog post will probably come back to haunt me. There are probably 10 different faults you can find with my writing style. I know I do many things wrong, but my one hope is that I never do one of the four things I highlighted above.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The undervalued Paul Millsap

The Jazz won of the most incredible regular season basketball games you will ever see. They were down 8 with 33 seconds left to the Miami Heat and someone how tied it before winning it in overtime. Paul Millsap was incredible all game with 46 points, which included 11 points in the final 28 seconds. If you want to read about the game check it out. I had actually written the below post before the game tonight. It seems more relevant now.

Paul Millsap has consisently been underrated. In high school he was rated as the 130th best prospect. He went to Lousiana Tech and ended up leading the NCAA in rebouding for three consecutive years. After a long, extremly productive college career (he did more than rebound) was over he might have expected to be drafted in the 1st round especially considering how *weak the talent was in the 2006 NBA draft. He fell to the 46th pick and the Utah Jazz. However, before you give the Jazz too much credit keep in mind that they passed on him twice to take Ronnie Brewer (14th) and Dee Brown (46th). In fact there is quite a list of of players that were taken before Millsap that haven't come close to his levels of production.

*Check out the 2006 Nba draft just in case you want to see the list of players taken before Millsap.

For a simple exercise let's look at the top 5 picks in the 2006 draft. All five players were between 6-8 and 6-11 in height and all five players were forwards. In fact everyone, but Adam Morrison just happen to play the power forward position that Millsap plays. In terms of wins produced in the NBA so far here is the order of those top 5 players:
  • LaMarcus Aldridge: 28.8 wins
  • Tyrus Thomas: 12.3 wins
  • Andrea Bargnani: 11.8 wins
  • Shelden Williams: 6.3 wins
  • Adam Morrison: -1.4 wins

Paul Millsap has produced 26 wins, which means he falls right below LaMarcus Aldridge in total wins produced. Now given the choice I would still take Millsap over Aldridge (even removing the salary difference) because Millsap has produced only 10% less wins despite Aldridge playing in 29% more minutes. Millsap has been a better shooter (53% eFG% > 49%), rebounder (Total Rebound 16.3% > 13%) and has produced a higher WS/48 minutes every single year. And oh yeah just in case you were looking at salary Millsap has made half what Aldridge has made so far.

I would rather have Millsap than any of the top 5 picks and besides Aldridge it really isn't even that close. Still two of the top 5 players (Aldridge and Bargani) from that draft make more money than Millsap with a third (Thomas) being paid only $1M less.

Millsap has been extremely productive over his first four years of service to the Jazz and for that he has been paid $9.8M. That is obviously a lot of money in real world terms, but in the world of the NBA that has been a huge bargain. The Jazz paid less than $133K per win that Millsap produced in the first three years and with the huge bump in salary (an 864% raise) he was paid $900K per win (regular season and playoffs) last year. Over the first four years he was paid $395K per regular season win he produced for the Jazz. To give you some perspective Kobe Bryant was paid $1.8 for every win (regular season and playoffs) he produced for the Lakers.

In fact Millsap was the most cost efficient of all of the Jazz regulars last year with one glaring exception. Wesley Matthews produced 5 wins over the course of the year, which considering he made only $457K means that his COW (Cost of Win) = $92K. In fact I looked up a few NBA players off the top of my mind to see how their COW compared to the Jazz players from last year.

The Jazz have Millsap locked up for the next three years at a very reasonable rate considering his age and production. If anything the Jazz just have to play him more and they will start seeing one of the most productive players in the NBA. That is why it shouldn't be too suprising that now that his minutes per game has increased to 36.5 this year his wins produced ranking is now 12th in the league right after Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.

If he keeps this up then maybe some day he won't have to sit and watch other less talented players get the headlines. Maybe then he will also be able to see his jersey next to Wiliams, Boozer, Kirienko, Malone, Hornachek and Okur when a fan searches for jerseys on (You can get a great white Millsap jersey on the so they are out there). Maybe some day he will also have a statue outside Energy Solutions Arena (or whatever it is called then). I for one don't want to be the next in a long line of people who to underestimate Paul Millsap.

Monday, November 8, 2010 Restaurant Guide

A couple weeks ago M and I went to dinner at Thom Pham's Wondrous Azian Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis. We had enjoyed the Japanese place that used to be in the spot and since it was close to where we had trivia that night we decided to try it out. Anyway, we ordered our drinks and did our usual quick toast, when we heard a click of the camera. This guy was taking our picture with what looked like a very professional camera. He introduced himself (Tom Wallace of the Star Tribune) and asked if we minded if he took a few pictures. Then to clear things up he let us know that the lighting was great in our spot. He said it a couple of times just to make sure that we knew we shouldn't quit our jobs to pursue a modeling career.

Anyway, the restaurant guide came out this week and sure enough on page 20 there is one picture of us. Well mainly it is of M, but there is definitely an out of focus profile picture of someone wearing his go to dark blue shirt. If you life in the Twin Cities you can probably pick up one of the free issues in most places (bars, restaurants) where you can find City Pages. However, below is the picture if you are interested:

Friday, November 5, 2010

John Stockton on Salt City Hoops

I wrote another post on Salt City Hoops. It was picked up on's TrueHoop blog. I am still not very confident with my writing ability, but this positive reinforcement doesn't hurt. Read it if you care about the NBA or John Stockton.