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November 28, 2009

Fridays in conference play aren’t this busy

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 2:38 am

No shortage of hoops this evening. Some quick comments.

Did we mention these two coaches have won a lot of games?
Duke beat Connecticut 68-57 in the title game of the NIT Season Tip-Off in Madison Square Garden. This was a really ugly game, the kind it would probably be wrong to burden with too much meaning. Except for this: Jim Calhoun had Stanley Robinson guarding Andre Dawkins when the versatile UConn star wasn’t guarding Kyle Singler. That speaks volumes about Dawkins (though Jon Scheyer was probably offended), who scored 11 points in just 17 minutes.

This time of year you can’t swing a cat without hitting at least ten highly-touted freshman that are looking merely mortal now that we can actually see them play. Dawkins, conversely, is living up to the hype.

The All-D, No-O Florida Gators beat the All-TO Michigan State Spartans
No team in the history of college basketball has ever scored more than a point per possession while looking as ugly as Michigan State looked against Florida in their 77-74 loss to the Gators at the Legends Classic in Atlantic City. Tom Izzo‘s team committed 23 turnovers in a 71-possession game. Either MSU gave the ball away in notably ugly fashion (I counted no fewer than 17 over-and-back calls) or they scored. There was no in between.

Still, the remarkable aspect of this game was not that mighty Michigan State was held to 1.04 points per trip, but rather that a Florida offense that’s been largely impotent thus far this season could somehow notch 1.08 points per possession against this big scary team that’s such a sure thing for the Final Four. For the year Florida is making less than 25 percent of their threes, but they scored enough points to beat the Spartans because they took care of the ball, got to the line, and made their free throws. No fewer than five Gators (Chandler Parsons, Erving Walker, Alex Tyus, Vernon Macklin, and Ray Shipman) scored between ten and 14 points.

Thank you, AP! This is precisely why I don’t follow rankings!
I mean that literally: I do not follow rankings. They’re meaningless. We have a tournament in this here sport. I know Kansas is number one, of course, but past number 12 or so it’s just so much noise to me.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I went to my DVR’d version of the second half of Northwestern‘s 72-58 win over Notre Dame at UIC Pavilion in the Chicago Invitational Challenge. With my own two ears I heard the announcers say what a nice win this was for the Wildcats since the Fighting Irish…are…a…top-25 team?! What?

Let me see if I have this sequence correct. A team is terrible–I mean perfectly dreadful–on defense over the course of an entire season. (Actually multiple consecutive seasons, but we’ll leave that aside here.) As a result that team goes to the NIT. The following year said team loses three starters and brings in no John Wall-types to replace them.  The team starts the season by beating North Florida, St. Francis (PA), Long Beach State, Liberty, and Kennesaw State, all at home (duh). And this is somehow judged as worthy of a top-25 ranking?

Can we all just agree to ignore rankings? Every morning I thank the hoops gods that these things do not help determine the national champion in my sport. I honestly don’t see how college football fans stay sane.

Too bad, too, because the pollsters’ manifest malpractice detracted from what was indeed a nice win by Northwestern. Youngsters like John Shurna and Alex Marcotullio are looking feisty! Beware, NC State

Congratulations, Portland
The Pilots defeated Minnesota 61-56 in the semifinals of the 76 Classic in Anaheim and if you saw this game you know it did not look at all like an “upset.” Eric Reveno‘s team played like the favorites all game long. T.J. Campbell looks like he might be ready to make the leap from efficient supporting player to highly-efficient star. (Heck, he might even start someday!) And late in the game when the Gophers looked primed to take the lead, Robin Smeulders proved a dagger can come from inside the arc, scoring on a beautiful post move over Ralph Sampson and hitting Tubby Smith‘s team where they live. The Pilots will now face West Virginia in the title game on Sunday evening.     

November 26, 2009

A.I. Retired? Stay tuned

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bradford Doolittle @ 1:07 pm

As my family scurries around getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner, I sat down to make some tweaks to an Allen Iverson piece that I penned about two weeks ago. As the Iverson saga dragged, my piece lay dormant, waiting for an ending. Apparently, it’s still waiting.

We’ve been waiting for an outcome to the Iverson business for what seems like a couple of months. Yesterday, we thought we had it, though even that apparent bit of closure was accompanied by a measure of uncertainty.

After 14 years at the eye of the NBA storm, Iverson chose to declare his intention to walk away through a curiously-submitted statement that appeared on the personal Web site of Stephen A. Smith, whom Iverson presumably knows well from his days in Philadelphia. There was no audio or video to go with the announcement. There was no third-party verification that I was able to find. All we had is a Web site bearing Stephen A. Smith’s name which claimed to have an authentic statement obtained from Iverson and we were supposed to take that at face value.

I guess it’s the newspaperman in me, but those that reported this story as a done deal were jumping the gun. Every major media outlet reported Iverson’s “retirement”, some more emphatically than others. For me, the thing didn’t pass the sniff test. Unverified stories can unravel faster than the Tasmanian Devil on amphetamines. Sure enough, Smith himself undercut the story in his piece at FoxSports. This backtracking happened one day after Iverson sent out a statement to Smith, and only Smith? Whatever.

We do have this quote from Iverson’s personal manager in Marc Spears’ piece at Yahoo:

“”Wonderful career. Right thing to do for his family,” Iverson’s manager, Gary Moore told Yahoo! Sports. “It’s no secret that Allen has been unfairly treated through all this. The fact is his family needs him more.”

So I can buy the fact that Iverson sent out a statement saying he’s retired. I just don’t believe him. In effect, nothing has changed with Iverson’s situation and I’m not taking this story seriously until we get something on the record from Iverson himself. (A statement made to the general media and not just one pal). I think Iverson clearly still wants to play. He’s still a free agent. He will only play under a very narrow set of circumstances. Until he changes his mindset and accepts the fact that he can only continue his career in a reduced role, no sane team will sign him. This is what we call an impasse and Iverson’s “retirement” doesn’t clear up anything.

Has Iverson retired? I don’t know, but I suspect not. I think more likely is that he’s “retired” in the sense that he’s not playing in the NBA and seemingly no team wants him. That’s a kind of retirement, I guess. Is that closure? Is that the ending I’ve been waiting for?

Not really. There is more to come on this story. There has to be. Forces of nature like Allen Iverson just don’t go away this quietly.

November 25, 2009

The Improbability of Chris Duhon

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 7:58 pm

I must admit being fascinated by how poorly Chris Duhon is shooting the basketball this season, a topic discussed in last week’s discussion of the Knicks. While I feel terrible for Duhon and Knicks fans who have had to suffer through his constant misfiring … I can’t look away.

After last night’s 2-for-9 outing at Los Angeles, Duhon is shooting 28.3 percent on two-point attempts (15-of-53) and an even 20.0 percent from three-point range (11-of-55). While he is not Ray Allen, Duhon has not shot nearly so poorly over the course of his career.

I wanted to look at how unlikely Duhon’s innacuracy truly is. For now, let’s consider Duhon’s SCHOENE projection his “true” shooting ability on twos (44.4 percent) and threes (39.5 percent). Though the latter might have been a tad optimistic–Duhon made a career-high 39.1 percent of his threes last year–it’s a reasonable starting point.

Duhon’s observed two-point shooting is a whopping 2.4 standard deviations below his “true” rate. Using the normal distribution, there’s about a 0.9 percent chance a player as good as we believed Duhon to be entering the season would shoot so poorly (or worse) on twos. His three-point inaccuracy is even more improbable; Duhon is a full 3.0 standard deviations below his true three-point percentage. The chances of observing such poor shooting beyond the arc? 0.16 percent. (Not 16 percent. 0.16 percent.)

Another way to look at it is the performance of past players.  Shooting 20 percent on threes is not uncommon, but Duhon’s misfiring inside the arc has relatively little recent precedent. Since the advent of the three-point line, just 14 players have shot worse than 28.3 percent on twos with at least 50 two-point attempts over the course of the season. The group doesn’t get much larger (32) if we look at players shooting below 30 percent.

Naturally, a large part of the reason this doesn’t happen very often is that while players might shoot so poorly for short stretches, they come back to normal over the course of the season. That’s really my point. While Duhon has been so bad early in 2009-10 we might have to adjust our perception of his underlying talent, the reality is there’s no way he continues to shoot so poorly.

Looking at those past examples does reveal some NBA regulars who, for one reason or another, went through a terrible slump shooting two-pointers in limited playing time (mostly early in their career) that wasn’t indicative of their actual ability. Some of the players on the list: Rafer Alston (29.6 percent in 1999-00; career 40.9 percent), Steve Blake (26.9 percent in 2004-05; career 42.3 percent), DeSagana Diop (29.9 percent in 2004-05; career 43.3 percent) and Kyle Korver (28.3 percent in 2003-04; career 42.2 percent).

(Thanks to Basketball-Reference.com‘s Justin Kubatko for helping with the numbers.)

(A Few) Warriors Come Out to Play

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 2:37 pm

You’re liable to go many years before seeing another box score like the one from Golden State’s 111-103 victory at Dallas last night. The Warriors used just six players; according to Elias, it’s just the third time since the NBA-ABA merger to play so few in a game. Three players–Monta Ellis, Anthony Morrow and Vladimir Radmanovic–went the full 48 minutes. The last time that happened for the Warriors, per the San Jose Mercury News, was Nov. 25, 1964, when it was done by Wilt Chamberlain, Guy Rodgers and Nate Thurmond.

Here was Golden State’s injury report entering the game:
Corey Maggette (left hamstring) is a game-time decision
Kelenna Azubuike (left patellar tendon injury) is out
Raja Bell (left wrist) is out
Andris Biedrins (osteitis pubis) is out
Speedy Claxton (knee) is out
Devean George (sore left knee) is out
Ronny Turiaf (left knee sprain) is out
C.J. Watson (Flu) is out
Brandan Wright (shoulder surgery) is out
Don Nelson (pneumonia) is out

The Warriors have been short-handed for some time, and not without success. They beat Portland last Friday with eight players. Assistant coach Keith Smart, who replaced the ill Nelson on the sideline, took things to an extreme by not using Maggette (working through a sore hamstring) and Chris Hunter, the D-Leaguer signed by Golden State using a rare roster exemption to ensure the Warriors would meet the minimum requirement of eight active players.

Improbably, Golden State looked like the fresher team down the stretch against a Mavericks squad that is battling injuries of its own (three starters are out) but certainly had an advantage in depth. With rookie Stephen Curry playing a key role, the Warriors outscored Dallas 33-21 in the final quarter.

Still, you have to wonder what kind of toll this stretch is taking on players, particularly undersized guards Curry and Ellis. Ellis, who was cramping up late in the game and getting his calves massaged at every dead ball, has played 182 of a possible 192 minutes over the last four games. The worst thing about the situation? Golden State plays again tonight, completing a back-to-back in San Antonio.

The All-D, No-O Florida Gators

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 1:52 pm

Actually, “no-O” is probably overstating the facts of Florida’s case. I just wanted to piggy-back winningly on the headline from Kevin Pelton‘s story on the Toronto Raptors. Still, there’s no denying the fact that the turnaround in Gainesville has been striking over the young season’s first four games.

Keep in mind this is a team that for the past two years has had an exellent offense but has been locked out of the NCAA tournament due to shoddy D. And now all the sudden they’re beating Florida State in Gainesville 68-52 in a 71-possession game? The times they are a-changing. No Florida opponent, including and especially the Seminoles, has been able to make any shots against a reconfigured front line that features Alex Tyus at the 4 and Georgetown transfer Vernon Macklin in the paint.

Good thing Billy Donovan‘s defense has been so outstanding because this group hasn’t been able to make a three to save its life. Note for instance that highly anticipated freshman Kenny Boynton has been fairly efficient in his scoring even though the young man has made just four of the 23 threes he’s launched thus far. Effective exertions inside the arc and frequent trips to the line have enabled Boynton to help his team even amidst all the clangs from the perimeter. And, hey, if Boynton’s threes actually start dropping you’re looking at a Wesley Johnson-level phenomenon. Meanwhile Erving Walker, nominally a scoring point guard, has chosen to pay tribute to Boynton by duplicating virtually every miss from long-range: Walker is 4-of-22 on his threes, though he has been laudably proficient in the assist department. 

While it’s hard to envision this offense scoring enough points to hang with Michigan State this Friday night in Atlantic City at the Legends Classic, Donovan’s team does look like a tougher test for the Spartans than I would have thought a few days ago. Not to mention the December 10 game between Florida and Syracuse in Tampa now looks a little more intriguing. 

November 23, 2009

What in the world’s gotten into DePaul?

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 10:50 am

Even though the Blue Demons came up short against Tennessee 57-53 at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands yesterday, I think it’s still fair to ask what in the world is going on here. When last we saw Jerry Wainwright‘s team in 2008-09 they had a defense that was historically bad, as in allowing Big East opponents to score 1.17 points per trip.

Now look: DePaul has just wrapped up neutral-floor games against the Volunteers and Northern Iowa, two opponents that both had very good offenses last year and that both bring back the bulk of their minutes and possessions this season. And all Wainwright’s men did was hold the Vols and the Panthers to a combined 0.90 points per possession. Sure, part of that is merely the wackiness of November ball and the usual early-season process of offenses working the kinks out. Still, “DePaul” in the same sentence with “hold”ing opponents to anything? I did not see that coming.

The Blue Demons have my attention.

BONUS who-are-those-guys? note! Speaking of excellent performances against SEC teams that bring everyone back, what in the world’s gotten into Miami? Last night in the title game of the Charleston Classic, the Hurricanes beat home-state favorite South Carolina with ease, 85-70. The ‘Canes have long been defensively diffident and with the departure of featured scorer Jack McClinton they figured to take a step back this season. But this is an impressive win, even if Dominique Archie did go down with a knee injury seven minutes into the game for the Gamecocks. It looks like South Carolina’s woes on the glass may continue this season, as Miami was able to haul down 42 percent of their own misses. (Dwayne Collins posted a 17-15 double-double for the Hurricanes.) More to the point, if Darrin Horn‘s pressing style of ball can’t record a W even when the other team gives the ball away 24 times in an 81-possession game, as did the ‘Canes, there are some kinks to be worked out even for a veteran group of Gamecocks. Here’s hoping Archie’s injury is none too serious.   

November 20, 2009

BBP Stat Pages Updated

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 3:10 pm

Good news for Prospectus readers: We’ve been able to work out a few of the technical kinks and the NBA team and player stat pages now feature 2009-10 stats. These are your only place to get some of BBP’s exclusive stats, including WARP and the NBAPET defensive metrics. Right now, the player cards only have 2009-10 numbers, but we’re working on getting 2008-09 alongside for comparison and ultimately being able to add career stats. Stay tuned … .

November 19, 2009

The Brandon Jennings Experience

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 8:53 pm

Brandon Jennings‘ 55-point outing last Saturday left in its wake a lot of gushing columns, my own included, but also a handful of dissenting viewpoints. I suppose that’s to be expected in the modern media world, where opinions are commodities; someone has to take the contrasting position. There’s a semi-valid point that we’re getting caught up in what Jennings is doing and not taking a careful, nuanced look at his game and its flaws (most notably a turnover rate that is on the high side, though committing a lot of turnovers is not always a bad thing for a young player).

I take a little more exception to the argument that Jennings only did it against the Warriors. If it was that easy, opponents would be dropping 55 on Golden State every night, y’know? There’s only so much air that can be taken out of putting up 50-plus in your eighth career game. The critiques of Don Nelson‘s gameplan seem to miss the crucial point that there is no way to defend a quicksilver point guard hitting with deadeye accuracy from beyond the arc short of keeping the ball out of hands and leaving the remainder of your defense vulnerable.

In the bigger picture, Bethlehem Shoals nails the way I feel about Jennings in a brilliant piece on FreeDarko. Naturally, I lean much more toward the analyst end of the spectrum than Shoals, but like him I find that what Jennings has done early in his career leads me back to the reason I became a fan in the first place. I remember talking about this once with another writer, and surprising him with my answer that I fell in love with basketball because of its visceral nature, the emotions, and the connection between a crowd and the players that cannot be replicated in much larger baseball and football stadiums. I know that doesn’t always come across in my writing, but I hope the thoroughness of my work is a testament to my passion. (As discussed by Kelly Dwyer on the latest Disciples of Clyde podcast.)

I don’t think Shoals and I are alone, which was actually part of the fun of Saturday night. It was the first transcendent individual performance of the Twitter era, and a virtual community was created as NBA scribes and fans tried together to make sense of what they were seeing. There’s something pure and child-like in that sense of wonder and anticipation, and I’m certainly not going to apologize for it.

I do believe that it is important and fair to paint an accurate picture of a player’s abilities, in that there is often a tendency to hype players up only to personalize their inability to meet those expectations. We attribute the incongruity between expectation and reality not to our own shortcomings as analysts, but to some failing of the athlete. This is most common at the team level, where fans will make a youngster out to be their savior–despite evidence to the contrary–only to turn on them. However, Chuck Klosterman devoted an entire chapter of his latest book, Eating the Dinosaur, to Ralph Sampson, who was victimized by this exact conundrum on a larger scale.

I’d be worried if that’s what I thought was happening here. Maybe in the long run it will prove the case. With the exception of those who want to make Jennings the final word and not an anecdote on the debate over the one-and-done rule, I don’t see it. Since the expectations, especially in the short term, were relatively modest for Jennings entering his rookie season, there’s a sense of trying to figure out exactly what to make of his early dominance. I especially get that from Bucks fans, who have been hammered with years of disappointment and mediocrity (see Frank Madden‘s day-after post on BrewHoop in particular).

So let’s be careful not to let ourselves with carried away with expectations for Jennings, but let’s also enjoy what we’re seeing. Isn’t that the point of following basketball?

IN RELATED: I’d also respectfully ask we lay off poor Jordan Hill. If you want to criticize Donnie Walsh, that’s fine. While The Painted Area’s M. Haubs raises some excellent points about the hypocrisy of GMs’ concerns about Jennings, I do tend to think the fact that Jennings was passed over nine times (albeit for better talents than Hill) and might have slipped much further had the Bucks not selected him is a defense for Walsh. If we can’t compare GMs to each other, what is the standard? But while Walsh made his choice and will have to own up to it the remainder of Jennings’ career, Hill did nothing to put himself in this position. His career should be judged a success or a failure on its own merits, and not because of where he happened to go in the draft.

Looking ten hours forward and three years back

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 12:53 pm

North Carolina and Ohio State will collide tonight in Madison Square Garden (ESPN2, 9 ET) in what promises to be the proverbial best game of the year so far, one that pits two top-15 teams against each other on a neutral floor. The Tar Heels are one of the most athletic teams in the country, and yet even Roy Williams‘ roster can’t claim a freak of hoops nature like Evan Turner. Surprisingly scrappy performances from Memphis and Gonzaga this week notwithstanding, tonight for the first time in 2009-10 we’ll see two elite teams picking on someone their own size.

Both teams have of course effortlessly rolled over the overmatched opponents that have come to their respective arenas thus far, so the team stats here are useless. (Quick example. Right now the Buckeyes’ efficiency margin is clocking in at a rather robust 0.49, meaning Thad Matta‘s group has outscored their opponents by the moral equivalent of a full half-point for every possession they’ve played. That is quite good!) What I do find interesting this time of year, however, are the individual numbers, especially which players are taking the shots.

Which players are taking the shots 
%Shots: percentage of team’s shots taken during player’s minutes
Through games of November 18

                       %Shots
William Buford, OSU     33.5
Deon Thompson, UNC      32.0
Evan Turner, OSU        27.9
Jeremie Simmons, OSU    23.0
Tyler Zeller, UNC       22.6
David Lighty, OSU       22.6
John Henson, UNC        21.9

William Buford has spent much of OSU’s first two games applauding reserves from the bench during garbage time, but when he’s in the game he is going to shoot, period. The same can be said for Deon Thompson, who has also been an absolute monster on the offensive glass over the Heels’ first three games.

Each team might fairly be said to be in the midst of reconfiguring. The Buckeyes are trying to add defense to an offense that in 2008-09 was absurdly and indeed historically accurate in its shooting. This year’s return of David Lighty from the injured list should help that process along, as will continued beastly efforts from Turner on the defensive glass.  

Speaking of the return of defensive stalwarts, Marcus Ginyard is back in action this season for UNC. With a multi-positional stopper like Ginyard playing alongside a rebounding and shot-blocking hybrid like Ed Davis, the Heels give every indication of being excellent on D this year. (You really should buy this book for a fuller discussion of both teams.)

Last and not least, tonight’s game follows in some extraordinary footsteps. On November 29, 2006, these same two teams played an absolute jewel of a game in Chapel Hill, one that UNC won by the score of 98-89.

I realize three years is a millennium in college hoops time so here’s a quick refresher. Florida that year returned all five starters from a national championship team, but the Gators had just lost in OT to Kansas in Las Vegas, opening up the number one ranking for the Buckeyes. An injured Greg Oden was yet to make his college debut and Matta’s team had easily won its first six games at home, thanks to veterans like Ron Lewis and Jamar Butler and a “Thad Five” that included Mike Conley and Daequan Cook. As for Williams’ team, sophomore Tyler Hansbrough was welcoming freshmen like Brandan Wright, Ty Lawson, and Wayne Ellington.

The feeling nationally was that Ohio State wasn’t deserving of a number one ranking, and I agreed. But I’d also looked at the Buckeyes closely enough to know that this technically overrated team was actually being qualitatively underrated. I was sure they could give Carolina a game, even without Oden.

Well, I was right or else I wouldn’t be bringing it up now. In our book last year I nominated that game, albeit somewhat sheepishly, as one of the best regular-season games I’ve ever seen.

Both the Buckeyes and the Tar Heels showed me not only that they were as talented as advertised but also, more importantly, how seamlessly cohesive and even intelligent they could be at insanely high velocities on offense. I had to reach back to Illinois in 2005 to think of one offense that looked as good as both offenses looked that night….

There were some incredible numbers put up for offense in Chapel Hill that night, and even Roy Williams was quoted as saying, “You sit there and marvel at the level that kids are playing at offensively.” But when I lavished praise on both teams in a day-after piece, I got some dissenting responses from readers who said, in effect, it wasn’t good offense, it was bad defense from young players with no “fundamentals,” etc.

Later I shared that feedback with a former player who, coincidentally, had won the defensive player of the year award in his conference. He’d also seen that game, and when I told him of the readers’ objections I thought I could actually hear him rolling his eyes over the phone. “People have no idea,” he said, “what it takes to play that level of offense, how hard it is to make shots when you’re running full-speed for 40 minutes.”

Here’s hoping for a game even half as good tonight.

BONUS record-straightening! In the wake of Iowa‘s 52-50 loss at home to Duquesne on Tuesday night, the “We stink!” lamentations of Hawkeye fans have started to ricochet around the web and by Godfrey I won’t have it! Don’t get me wrong: I myself picked Iowa to finish last in the Big Ten this year and I am well aware that Todd Lickliter‘s team lost by 12 at home to Texas-San Antonio in their opener. I am not nominating the Hawkeyes as the second coming of UCLA ’73. But surely there’s no particular shame attached to losing by two to the Dukes, who return four starters from a 9-7 A-10 team that came within six points of an NCAA bid, losing to Temple in the conference tournament title game. (Note however that Melquan Bolding did miss the Iowa game with a broken wrist.) In fact last year Ron Everhart‘s team rather quietly featured one of the top offenses in the country, one that made an Ohio State-like 55 percent of its twos. This was no tomato can that rolled into Iowa City the other night.

I will not be the least bit surprised if Iowa loses games this year that make their fans cringe justifiably. This was not one of those.  

November 18, 2009

Now on Amazon! College Basketball Prospectus

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 9:59 am

At last, the book is right here on Amazon. This is the item that will guide you safely through the early-season hype and panics. This weekend when you’re watching, say, Georgia Tech play in Puerto Rico you can just flip to page 33:

“In spite of our record,” Paul Hewitt has said, “we weren’t far off.” I know that sounds like standard coach-speak after a tough season, but in this case the standard coach-speak is in fact correct.

Then again maybe your team is Kansas. Turn to page 56. It would have prepared you for Tyshawn Taylor‘s game against Memphis last night:

As a freshman Taylor was superb on offense in a supporting role, if–and it was a huge if–he didn’t cough up the ball. Taylor made an outstanding 56 percent of his twos, but more than any other Jayhawk who saw regular minutes he struggled with turnovers.

Or let’s say you’re taking in Syracuse against the winner of North Carolina vs. Ohio State in Coaches vs. Cancer. That would be page 96:

Syracuse has the tools and the talent to compete for a Big East title. But if they struggle, this could be an ugly offensive year with too many forced shots.

Michigan in the Old Spice Classic? Page 108:

The largest single difference between a team that was battling Blake Griffin in late March and one that went 10-22 the year before was accuracy from the field.

For all you Cal fans following the aforementioned Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, please turn to page 130:

Cal will have a short front line, so blocks won’t be their specialty, but if their defense is going to rise to a level that earns the team a top seed in March, it would help if they forced a few more turnovers.

And let’s not forget the fans of Tennessee‘s best team by a country mile, the basketball team. They should proceed directly to page 162:

It’s a tribute to how far Bruce Pearl has brought this program in just four seasons that a 10-6 conference record and a first-round NCAA exit comprise a down year….This particular rebuilding year achieved better results than the Vols used to see in their peak years.

Not to mention the book was way ahead of the curve on this whole Evan Turner mania: “The best all-around [NBA] prospect in the country.” (Page 15.) 

College Basketball Prospectus 2009-10, now available for just $16.95 on Amazon. I might be a trifle biased, so take it from Luke Winn‘s cover blurb: “The analysis from Prospectus isn’t just original. They’re working with information no one else has.”

Well, being the generous souls we are, we decided to share that information with all of you. Dig in! 

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