Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

March 8, 2010

Welcome to Championship Week!

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 10:55 am

Man, how we do love this time of year at Basketball Prospectus. Ken Pomeroy and I are so enthused that we snuck into the Prospectus break room and threw sacks over NBA guys Kevin Pelton and Bradford Doolittle, just like Borat to their Pamela Anderson. Then we gave them a quick primer on this so-called “traveling” rule that we have in the college game, and put them to work previewing this week’s conference tournaments.

Here’s what we have lined up….

Today: Pomeroy drew the short straw so he had to write up the 16-team Big East tournament.

Tomorrow: Left Coast denizen Pelton breaks down the odd spectacle of a nine-team Pac-10 tournament, while longtime Kansas City resident Doolittle tackles Gates vs. Arthur Bryant and other thorny issues in his Big 12 tourney preview.

Wednesday: Championship Week reaches a fever pitch with three, count ’em three, previews. I’ll jump in at long last with some deep thoughts on the 57th annual ACC tournament. Mr. Doolittle will return for a considered and judicious take on the Big Ten get-together in Indy. And I’ll wrap things up with my take on the SEC tournament in Nashville.

The analysis will be lucid, lilting, and log5-fueled, guaranteed. This isn’t your usual weak-tea drive-by “previewing” we’re talking about. You know, “Team X has the fewest losses so they’re the favorite and blah-blah so-on so-forth.” March is too sublime for that stuff! If you appreciate reality-based hype-free team assessments and want to know the actual impact of arcane conference seeding rules, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ll be here all week. Enjoy!   

March 7, 2010

Belated MAC tournament probabilities

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ken Pomeroy @ 7:38 pm

My apologies to MAC fans everywhere. The MAC tournament started today at campus sites and will continue on Thursday in Cleveland where the remaining eight teams will be whittled to one by Saturday. The MAC is notable for having an SEC-like divisional imbalance. The East went 26-10 against the West. This allows Western Michigan and Ohio to have impressive chances considering they are a seven- and nine-seed, respectively.

All of the favorites won their first-round games today, although that included Ohio winning at eight-seed Ball State. The following chances are based on Sunday morning’s ratings.

Mid-American Conference (March 7, 11-13, first round at campus sites, remainder in Cleveland.)

                 Qtrs    Semis    Final    Champ
1  Kent St.       100     73.9     55.3     40.0
3  Akron          100     72.8     47.2     21.2
7  W. Michigan   81.2     50.2     23.8      8.7
4  Miami OH       100     54.9     17.3      8.6
9  Ohio          68.8     22.8     13.6      7.8
5  Buffalo       96.4     44.8     12.9      5.9
2  C. Michigan    100     42.0     15.2      4.1
6  E. Michigan   81.4     24.3     10.8      2.9
10 Bowling Green 18.8      7.9      2.3      0.5
8  Ball St.      31.2      3.3      0.9      0.2
11 N. Illinois   18.6      2.9      0.7      0.1
12 Toledo         3.6      0.2      0.01     0.0004

March 5, 2010

Let’s chat

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bradford Doolittle @ 1:24 am

I’ll be stepping into the breech tomorrow for a little Prospectus chat at 1 p.m. EST. Starting next week, the NBA will be pushed aside just a bit, as the college game ramps up its annual March spectacle. So this will be a chance to talk a little pro hoops before our attention gets too divided. If you want to talk colleges, I’ll do my best, but it’d probably be best if you focused your queries on the Big 10 and the Big 12. There’s only so much time, you know? I’ll start answering questions at 1, but you can go ahead and ask right now to get the ball rolling. Talk to you soon.

March 3, 2010

I applaud finding things out

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 11:43 am

At the risk of sending traffic to a different (gasp!) college basketball site, Seth Davis and Stewart Mandel have outstanding work posted at SI.com right now. And I know you’ll come running back here when you’re done there, so I approve straying. This once.

Davis just posted the second half of a two-part series (part one is here) where head coaches and assistants are quoted anonymously as they give their actual thoughts (what a concept!) on rival teams and players. I’ve already praised this series in particular, and I’ve long wondered why in the world we don’t see more blind quotes in sportswriting. All of the concerns that rightly attach to anonymous sourcing when you’re writing about something that’s actually important fall away in an instant when the blind quote is merely about a game. You can’t read Davis’ series and not wince at the thought of the thousands of wasted hours that have been lost to coaches uttering empty on-the-record coachspeak muzak and, worse, writers having to faithfully transcribe it all.

Not that coaches don’t say interesting and accurate things on the record from time to time, of course. It’s just that their on-the-record accuracy is going to be limited to a narrow safe zone of topics. No random sample of people is going to be anywhere near as boring as coaches seem to be when they’re on the record.

When you’ve had your fill of opponent scouting, move on to Mandel’s piece on tournament expansion. It’s been exactly a month now since “done deal” first hit the interwebs, and since then this topic, albeit rightly, has been chewed to within an inch of its discursive life. But Mandel apparently has spent at least part of that month doing his legwork, and the result is (what a concept!) things about this topic we didn’t know before, such as:

Yes, there’s the possibility that nothing will happen.

But [Greg Shaheen, NCAA senior VP], the tournament’s unofficial czar, has spent much of his time recently jetting around the country to brief university presidents, conference commissioners and athletic directors on the latest developments. At one point, he visited 13 cities in five days. The timing is such that the NCAA will have to make some definitive decision about the tournament’s future within the next five months–and there are numerous reasons some form of expansion seems increasingly likely.

And this:

To walk away from the existing CBS contract would require quite the sweetheart deal, since more than a third of its total value ($2.13 billion) is due over the next three years. The NCAA seems to be seeking both added revenue streams and long-term stability (according to the Sports Business Journal, the NCAA is seeking a 14-year deal). One reason it may choose to exercise the opt-out rather than wait another three years to renegotiate is that it currently has the market to itself. ESPN’s Monday Night Football contract and FOX and TBS’ major Major League Baseball deals also expire in 2013, and networks will soon begin bidding on rights for the 2014 and 2016 Olympics.

By the way, if you’re not convinced that Mandel has broken new ground here, contrast that last blockquote with this tired belch of “NCAA LOL” cut-and-paste:

Someone at the NCAA needs to take a business course or call Warren Buffett. Since when do you offer one-of-a-kind basketball oceanfront property on the cheap? Always sell high, not low. That’s what the NFL does. It understands the value of its product, waits until the economic timing is right and then opens the bidding. Meanwhile, the NCAA is considering an opt-out during the middle of a recession. How shrewd.

Ground-breaker in a topic that everyone was already talking about 24/7 Stewart Mandel, I salute you!     

For my part I’m on the record as being an anti-expansion purist who finds to his dismay that far and away the silliest arguments in this discussion are being made by people who nominally agree with me. For instance: Do you honestly believe that if the tournament were going to include 96 teams this season that 36,000 people in Syracuse, New York, would have stayed home last Saturday night and said mournfully to one another, “Too bad this regular season has been ruined by that darn watered-down tournament”? Me neither.

Well, I can’t help the silliness, I have my own reasons. Though a flaming liberal in all manner of hoops-related issues (the three-point shot was just about the most fundamental change that has been made to any sport since the forward pass in football, and it was a smashing success–change can be sublime), I find myself an adamant Burkean in this instance. If it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.

Which is all well and good, but after reading Mandel’s piece I’m more certain than ever (and I already thought I was pretty certain) that change is indeed on the way.     

Seattle U Finishes Out Home Schedule in Style

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 5:07 am

Give this to the Seattle University Redhawks in their first full Division I season since 1980: They’ve certainly shown impeccable timing. A 13-game KeyArena home schedule that wrapped up Tuesday night generally alternated thrillers and lopsided victories. Opening night was the best example of the former, with Seattle U holding on for an 82-81 win over Fresno State that delighted the home fans. Senior Day was just the opposite, as the Redhawks took advantage of Dominic Waters leaving the game with a bruised heel to comfortably knock off Portland State 93-80.

Really, Seattle U has had three very different seasons. The first 11 games saw the Redhawks get off to a solid 6-5 start behind dominant play from Charles Garcia, who put up eye-popping numbers and emerged as a possible first-round pick. Then, for whatever reason–a nagging back injury, increased defensive attention, foul trouble–Garcia slowed down and Seattle U struggled badly, losing six of its next seven games. (Oddly enough, the one win in that span was the 51-point blowout at Oregon State that remains impossible to comprehend.)

Somewhere along the way, the rest of the Redhawks developed (especially sophomore point guard Cervante Burrell and junior forward Alex Jones) and Garcia began to fit in as a piece as opposed to the sole focal point. With a very winnable game at Utah Valley (No. 323 in the Pomeroy Rankings) left on the schedule, Seattle U has gone 9-3 since mid-January, the losses coming at Washington and twice to Idaho (including a two-point home loss). The Redhawks have moved up to No. 182 by Pomeroy’s metrics pending the addition of Tuesday night’s result, which is simply incredible for an independent team. Including the Great West pseudo-conference of independent teams, the next best team is No. 255 South Dakota. By the numbers, Seattle U would be competitive in the Big Sky conference and a middle-of-the-road team in the West Coast Conference, where the school obviously is hoping to land when it becomes eligible to join a conference.

While there is no conference tournament on the schedule, the Redhawks are eligible for selection by either the NIT or the CBI. The former would be a pretty considerable stretch, but Seattle U would be the kind of team that would look at the CBI as a reward and not an obligation.

As for Garcia, it’s pretty evident he’s not yet ready for the NBA and would benefit from another year in the structured environment of college basketball. While scouts remain intrigued–22 of them apparently attended the Redhawks’ win at San Jose State last week–Garcia’s draft stock has cooled considerably from its first-round peak, and a team drafting him in the second round would probably prefer to have him develop overseas before bringing him to training camp. Better for Garcia to continue playing the brand of team basketball he’s demonstrated in the last month and solidify his position for the 2011 NBA Draft.

Lastly, a note on the wonderful tradition that is Senior Day. Is there anything better than a lightly-used player having a big game after being honored? SU’s Taylor Olson isn’t exactly Mark Titus–he averages 11 minutes per game and even hit the game-winning three against the Spartans–but the pride of Bishop Blanchet High School (alma mater of friend of BBP Derek Long) reached double-figures for just the second time all season with 10 points, including a pair of three-pointers in the early minutes after getting the honorary start. The Redhawks’ senior class, which also includes key players Mike Boxley and Chris Gweth, entered college as D-II competitors and finished it having brought Seattle U back to D-I and beaten a Pac-10 team (by 51 points!) on its home court. Not bad for a college career.

March 2, 2010

SoCon and AE (updated!) tournament projections

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ken Pomeroy @ 11:22 pm

The brackets for the Southern Conference were set late Monday night. It’s a 12-team tourney played entirely at a neutral site in Charlotte. Wofford is the favorite, having gone 15-3 out of the tougher South division (the Southern South?), and 2-0 in the tougher East division of the SEC. You may also remember them from competitive road games at Pitt and at Michigan State.

Southern Conference (March 5-8, all games played in Charlotte, N.C.)

                    Qtrs    Semis    Final    Champ
1S Wofford           100     87.5     65.2     46.2
1N Appalachian St.   100     70.1     41.6     17.8
2S Charleston        100     80.0     41.6     16.4
2N Western Carolina  100     62.2     20.9     10.3
3S Davidson         75.7     33.0      9.5      4.1
4S The Citadel      66.3     22.8     10.1      3.0
5S Furman           56.3      7.7      2.5      0.7
3N Chattanooga      59.9     13.5      3.3      0.6
4N UNC Greensboro   43.7      4.8      1.3      0.3
5N Samford          33.7      7.1      2.1      0.4
6S Georgia Southern 40.1      6.5      1.2      0.1
6N Elon             24.3      4.8      0.6      0.1

If you were really paying attention to the college hoops wire, you noticed that America East shamed Binghamton into pulling out of its tournament. I’m not sure whether I agree with this decision, although I can see where the conference might have been embarrassed had BU won the title. (On a related note, were I conference commissioner of the Horizon, in addition to going with a traditional bracket, I would politely excuse Butler from the conference tourney. Instant two-bid league! Seriously, is there any rule against that?)

The beneficiary here is Vermont, who gets to take on the weakest team in the conference, UMBC, in the first round. The one-seed Stony Brook is now forced to play Albany in a losable first-round game. The updated brackets allowed me to catch an error in my earlier computations – the championship game is played at the higher seed.

America East (March 6, 7, 13, first two rounds at Hartford, championship at higher seed.)

                  Semis    Final    Champ
2 Vermont         93.4     66.8     40.1
4 Boston U.       83.2     57.8     26.3
1 Stony Brook     81.9     33.8     20.2
3 Maine           71.3     26.2     11.5
6 New Hampshire   28.7      6.0      0.9
5 Hartford        16.8      5.7      0.6
8 Albany          18.1      2.7      0.3
7 UMBC             6.6      1.0      0.1

Crawford Gets His Shot at the Postseason

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 9:19 pm

Last week, Neil Paine had a post on the Basketball-Reference blog looking at the greatest winners and losers among individual players in NBA history. It reminded me of Jamal Crawford. The Hawks’ guard had missed the playoffs every season of his nine-year NBA campaign entering 2009-10. Crawford’s postseason drought is not only the longest active one in the NBA but has climbed to fourth in league history to start a career at 655 games and counting. Crawford trails three-time All-Star Tom Van Arsdale, who never reached the playoffs (929 games), Shareef Abdur-Rahim (744) and Otto Moore (688).

Fortunately, Crawford’s story will have a happy ending. Barring an unprecedented collapse, he’ll reach the playoffs with the Hawks this season. Still, he’s seen a lot of losses. Earlier this season, I looked up the worst career records (minimum five seasons) for players who were active in 2008-09. Note that this is the record of the team with which the player ended the season, so Crawford is credited entirely for the Golden State Warriors last year and not at all for his time with the New York Knicks (in this case, it wouldn’t have changed things much if at all).

Player                TW     TL   Win%

Sebastian Telfair    118    292   .288
Jamal Crawford       230    508   .312
Royal Ivey           136    274   .332
Darius Miles         200    374   .348
Emeka Okafor         144    266   .351
Eddy Curry           232    424   .354
Marko Jaric          203    371   .354
Al Jefferson         148    262   .361
Chris Wilcox         210    364   .366
Josh Smith           153    257   .373

Crawford and Telfair have both seen their luck change this season, but Okafor’s playoff drought continues on and Jefferson has enjoyed little more success. On the other end of the spectrum:

Player                TW     TL   Win%

DJ Mbenga            307    103   .749
Manu Ginobili        407    167   .709
Tony Parker          465    191   .709
Tim Duncan           669    283   .703
Josh Howard          338    154   .687
Bruce Bowen          683    351   .661
Shaquille O'Neal     899    463   .660
Kobe Bryant          678    356   .656
Derek Fisher         676    358   .654
Dirk Nowitzki        567    303   .652

I mentioned Mbenga’s amazing team success in Pro Basketball Prospectus 2009-10; he’s been to three NBA Finals in his career and has a chance at another this season. This list is pretty much entirely Spurs, Mavericks and Lakers. Consider this: O’Neal has been a part of fewer losses in his 18-year NBA career than Crawford has experienced in 10 years.

March 1, 2010

Mark Fox can coach

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 4:37 pm

Now that it’s March you’ll see a flurry of awards being bestowed and disputed. I decided to get in on the ground floor. First-year Georgia head coach Mark Fox is my choice as 2010 national coach of the year.

Over the past four years no unit, offense or defense, has improved year-to-year as much in major-conference play as the Georgia offense has this year. Keep in mind that takes in 584 team-seasons of offense and defense. Out of that cast of hundreds, the Dawgs stand out as number 1:

Crazy like a Mark! Making his Fox!  
Largest per-possession year-to-year improvements, 2007-10
Conference games only: ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-10 & SEC, 2009 & 10

                             Yr before   New improved   Change
Georgia offense, 2010          0.88          1.06        0.18
Connecticut offense, 2008      0.94          1.11        0.17
Auburn defense, 2009           1.14          0.98        0.16
Washington St. offense, 2007   0.90          1.05        0.15

The Bulldogs have gone from being arguably the worst major-conference offense that it’s been my grim duty to track to being a solid, well-above-average honest to goodness SEC offense. Moreover they’ve done so without any influx of gaudy new talent. Just like last year the bulk of the possessions are absorbed by Trey Thompkins. But this year UGA has cut way down on attempted threes, which has led to big increases in offensive rebounding and in trips to the line. Most importantly, the Dawgs’ shots are going in this season, from both sides of the arc.

Georgia still turns the ball over too often–more often, in fact, than any other offense in the league. But give Fox credit. He took over a struggling program and turned things around more or less on a dime. If the SEC East were to add a newly competitive and sustainable Georgia, they’d have the makings of one seriously robust hoops division in the heart of football country.

In that case they’ll have Fox, among others, to thank. Congratulations, Coach.  

Weekend in Hoops: What can orange do for you?

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 10:39 am

If you were the home team, this was a good weekend to be playing in front of a rabid crowd that was wearing some form of orange. (Unless of course you were Illinois.) Will all D-I teams promptly change their school colors to some form of the citrus hue later today? They would have good reason!

Let those two NBA types handle the ball for Kentucky, not those other two NBA types
Tennessee got things rolling early on Saturday with a 74-65 win over Kentucky in Knoxville. In two games against the Cats this year Bruce Pearl got John Calipari‘s team to shoot 41 threes. They made just nine of those attempts, including a 2-for-22 effort on Saturday. The scout on Kentucky appears to be to keep the ball away from DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson, give it to John Wall and Eric Bledsoe, and say, “Here. Shoot a three. You know you want to.”

In conference play the Wildcats rank first in the SEC in 2FG percentage and 11th in 3FG accuracy. Over the past six games Wall and Bledsoe are shooting a combined 19 percent on their threes (8-of-43), with 38 assists and 40 turnovers. If you’re an opponent, you want the ball in their hands and not down low with the automatic two-point twins. 

Not that you’re home free at that point, of course. Actually Kentucky’s defense is way better than its offense. But getting UK to shoot threes might at least get your foot in the door.

Kansas is still the best team in the Big 12. However….
Trivia question. Between Oklahoma State and Syracuse (see below), two orange-themed home teams who scored points seemingly at will on Saturday, who shot better from the field? Answer: The Cowboys, and it’s not even close. In their 85-77 win in Stillwater, Travis Ford ‘s team riddled Kansas with made shots like no Big 12 regular season opponent has done for at least five years. OSU scored 85 points in 71 possessions by making 65 percent of their twos and 53 percent of their threes. They couldn’t miss. (Literally! Matt Pilgrim scored 18 on 8-of-8 shooting from the field and 2-of-2 marksmanship at the line.) So, yeah, that part was a bit of an outlier. Burn the tape and move on, right?

What’s worrisome to me if I’m a KU fan is that this defense is good, sure, but it’s not even in the same area code as those great Jayhawk defenses from 2006 to 2008. (In the wake of the Stillwater debacle, Kansas State actually has the best defense in the conference.) When your D is allowing Big 12 opponents to make 40 percent of their threes, commit an average number of turnovers, and get an average number of offensive boards, I’m looking at a defense that is seriously dependent on Cole Aldrich. And look what happened on a day when he played just 24 minutes, blocked one shot, and got two defensive boards. 

It’s strange to be saying this about the latest in a long line of elite Bill Self teams, but I could picture this team not being able to control its defensive glass against a quality opponent in the NCAA tournament.    

Syracuse honors historically large crowd by doing a group portrayal of DeJuan Blair
Speaking of not controlling your defensive glass, diminutive Villanova was beaten senseless on theirs by Syracuse in Saturday night’s 95-77 blowout at the Carrier Dome. The Orangemen got to fully 48 percent of their misses, with Arinze Onuaku recording eight offensive boards in just 21 minutes. That and garden-variety fouling by Jay Wright‘s team enabled the ‘Cuse to score those 95 points in 77 possessions despite, incredibly, suffering a night of slightly below-average shooting from the field.

Regular readers know that I’ve been vociferous in my praise of the Syracuse D while taking more of a wait-and-see attitude toward the Big East’s fifth-best offense. Well, what I’m seeing is that Jim Boeheim‘s team has won its last two games, against Providence and ‘Nova, by scoring a ton of points. I hasten to add that those aren’t particularly great defenses the Orange were facing. (The Friars are allowing Big East opponents to make a no-after-you 56 percent of their twos.) Still, teams that have the ability to win games in more than one way are tough outs come March.

In today’s less orange venues….
Now for the really impressive Big East offense!
If you want to ooh and ahh about a high-octane offense in this here conference, I ask that you direct your attention to Notre Dame, where the Fighting Irish are achieving strange new heights of efficiency in the absence of the injured Luke Harangody. The big fellah has missed the last four games, during which time Mike Brey‘s team has veered well north of 1.20 points per trip. Are we seeing an equivalent of the Ewing Effect here? Doubtful. Turnovers are actually up, the Irish are simply shooting out of their minds. If a team makes 46 percent of its threes and shoots a lot of them, they are going to be really tough to beat. Ask Georgetown, which lost by 14 at home to ND on Saturday by allowing the visitors to score 78 points in 57 possessions….Purdue without Robbie Hummel looked every bit as bad on offense as I feared in losing by nine to Michigan State at home yesterday. The Boilers, Spartans, and Ohio State are now all tied in the loss column in the conference race. An outright champion is unlikely….Duke is now outscoring the ACC by a wider margin than any other major-conference team can boast of with relation to its league. Is it ontologically possible for a Blue Devil team to be under-publicized? (Suggested headline: “Introducing a Team Besides Syracuse.”) More tomorrow in Tuesday Truths….Congrats to Cal! And in other Pac-10 news: I know you haven’t run into Oregon this season in anything but a death-watch context, but the Ducks just completed a regular-season sweep of USC and UCLA. What would a late-season push mean in Eugene?…Xavier was very fortunate to beat Richmond in double-OT in Cincinnati yesterday, after running really ugly possessions at the end of regulation and at the end of the first OT. Still, it’s a W. The Musketeers and Temple now share the top of the A-10….New Mexico laid claim to “best team in the Mountain West” status by winning at BYU on Saturday, 83-81. The Lobos may not stomp on the rest of the MWC like the lads in Provo, but they are 2-0 against the Cougars this season. If you had just one conference tournament to watch, you could do worse than choose the Mountain West, March 9-13 in Vegas. Four very good teams (above two plus UNLV and San Diego State), one of which (Aztecs) will be fighting for its NCAA life….Bold statistical outlier Hassan Whiteside, I salute you! You don’t often see a triple-double, and within that rare species you don’t often see one where the second-largest number comes from blocks. Be that as it may, Marshall freshman Hassan Whiteside recorded a 14-13-11 points-blocks-rebounds line against UCF on Saturday night. Now the bad news. The Herd needed triple-overtime to win a home game against the Knights….The West Coast Conference season is in the books. And Gonzaga reigns supreme. Saint Mary’s is appearing as a projected 12-seed….The Missouri Valley season’s in the books too. Barring Arch Madness surprises, it will be another one-bid year for the Valley and that bid will again go to Northern Iowa.

Unfiltered-back!
Don’t just mutter ineffectually; email me!

I talked about announcers on Friday
And even though I broke the taboo 1500-word barrier with ease, I still left out some crucial details. Never fear, alert reader Austin is here to back me up. 

Great article today. I watch a ton of college basketball, and I’ve formed plenty of opinions about play-by-play guys and analysts and their abilities to either define or destroy the viewing experience.

I agree with your description of Vitale as a “celebrant.” I’ve also described him as the ambassador of college basketball. If there’s one thing I’d change about him, though, it’s the phrase “I really do.” He repeats it all the time, as if we’d have reason to doubt the words coming out of his mouth. My mother does the same thing, and it bugs me.

It’s not just the marquee guys at ESPN who do a very good job. Jon Sciambi and Bob Wischusen are often relegated to the undercard games, but they do terrific work. I hope they continue to climb the ranks.

I also love Doug Gottlieb. Yes, he can come across as smug and I didn’t like him as a player. But he knows what he’s talking about. With so much of sports and culture basking in anti-intellectualism, I appreciate someone who’s actually gone to great lengths to stay informed about as many obscure players and teams as he possibly can. When he says something it’s not unfounded, and he has a good radio presence as well. 

Austin G.

Thanks, Austin! Meanwhile alert reader Jerry has taken my headline to heart more than anyone I know, including yours truly.

Annually for the past few years I have sent letters to ESPN, CBS, Fox, and Raycom, suggesting that their stereo capabilities be used to put the announcers on one channel and crowd noise on the other. That way I could still keep the sound on. I actually like crowd noise.

Raycom actually replied one year and noted that I might not be able to keep up with the foul totals without announcers. I offered a two-pronged reply:

1. A lot of times your own announcers can’t keep up with the foul totals, although it is easier to distinguish between a foul and traveling now that traveling is no longer called.

2. You might want to look into some of those nifty machines that put graphics on the screen.

I have received no additional replies to any of these observations.

Jerry H. 

Novel, yet simple. Hey, if Admiral Ackbar as the new mascot for Ole Miss can catch on, this could too! Good luck with it, Jerry.  

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