Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

November 10, 2010

Live-chat today at 1ET

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 1:21 pm

Stop by, ask me questions, trip me up with fake names (“John, how are the Trappers of East South Dakota looking to you this year?”), go on and on about that delightful new book–really it’s up to you. Join me!

Jazz Wins OT Thriller

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 1:16 am

Not long after the Indiana Pacers had finished scorching the nets at Conseco Fieldhouse, the Miami Heat and Utah Jazz played one of the young season’s most entertaining games. Up 19 at the half, Miami figured to cruise. Paul Millsap changed that, leading a Utah comeback with an enormous second half. Millsap, who entered the game having made two three-pointers in his entire NBA career, dropped three shots beyond the arc in the final minute as the Jazz erased an eight-point deficit with 37 seconds to play. He then scored a putback at the buzzer to force overtime.

Utah would play the extra session without Deron Williams, who fouled out late in regulation, and Al Jefferson, by coach’s decision. Ronnie Price and Kyrylo Fesenko stepped into the breach. Francisco Elson ended up replacing Fesenko for the final possession and drew a shooting foul with 0.4 seconds remaining, hitting two free throws to provide the final margin in a 116-114 Utah victory that was as improbable as any you’ll ever see.

The big takeaway is that Millsap is becoming increasingly indispensable to the Jazz. A certain conventional wisdom had it that Millsap was headed back to the bench when Mehmet Okur returns from his torn Achilles, but the two have now played virtually the same number of minutes (Jefferson is +1) despite Utah’s weaker alternatives at the five spot. I still think Okur will end up backing up both spots, but it’s not inconceivable that Millsap and Okur could start with Jefferson off the bench.

Overtime also showed the work the Heat has to do to figure out how to use LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in tandem. Miami’s fourth-quarter issues were almost entirely defensive (the Jazz scored 42 points in the period), and it’s not worth worrying much about what had been the league’s best defense to date. But Miami got just seven points on the first eight possessions of the extra session, prior to Wade’s tying three-pointer. James and Wade seemed to take turns leading the offense–James late in regulation and Wade early in OT–but the player off the ball was not a major factor. Erik Spoelstra has to make defenses account for both superstars at the same time.

November 9, 2010

Indiana’s Amazing Quarter

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bradford Doolittle @ 10:57 pm

The Pacers routed the Nuggets tonight on the strength of one of the most incredible offensive quarters an NBA team has ever had. There were so many amazing numbers to come out of Indiana’s third quarter that we could go on forever, but let’s start at the beginning: Indiana scored 54 points in the period. FIFTY-FOUR. FIVE-FOUR. LIV, for you NBA fans reading from ancient Rome. Here are the instances in which an NBA team has scored that many points in a single quarter, according to the league’s official media guide:

58—Buffalo at Boston, Oct. 20, 1972 (4th)
57—Phoenix vs. Denver, Nov. 10, 1990 (2nd)
57—Golden State vs. Sacramento, March 4, 1989 (3rd)
54—Indiana vs. Denver, Nov. 9, 2010 (3rd)
54—Atlanta at San Diego, Feb. 11, 1970 (3rd)
54—Boston vs. San Diego, Feb. 25, 1970 (4th)

Creepy! Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of Denver giving up 57 points to the Suns in a quarter, a symptom of the failed Paul Westhead experiment of the early ’90s. The Nuggets allowed 130.8 points per game in 1990-91 and while they played an astoundingly fast pace (114 possessions per game), the points allowed number is not misleading. Denver was comfortably last in the league in Defensive Rating and finished 20-62. What makes tonight’s aberration all the more incredible is that the Nuggets are good, and their defense this season has been excellent.

Some other factoids from the quarter:

* Mike Dunleavy Jr., who has been in danger of being yanked from the Indiana lineup, scored 24 of his 31 points in the quarter–on seven shots. He was 7-of-7 from the field and hit all five of his three-point shots.
* It wasn’t just Dunleavy. The Pacers missed just one shot from the floor in the quarter. ONE! Indy went 20-of-21 in the period. The miss? Josh McRoberts’ three-pointer as the period expired. If McRoberts had simply held onto the ball, the Pacers would have had a perfect period.
* You know eFG%, the popular metric used to better measure shooting accuracy by giving a half-point extra credit for each made three-point shot? Since the Pacers missed only one shot and went 8-of-9 on threes, Indiana posted an eFG% of more than 100 percent. They were better than perfect.
* On the downside, the Pacers didn’t have any offensive rebounds in the quarter. (Just kidding!)
* The team were even (14-14) on points in the paint in the quarter. That means the Pacers scored 40 points in the period outside of the painted area.

Wow is all I can say. Wow.

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Update your College Basketball Prospectus PDF

Filed under: cbp2010,Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 12:55 pm

Earlier versions of the CBP 2010-11 previewed 344 D-I teams–we somehow failed to include a writeup for the Citadel. To get that 345th preview update your PDF today. If you’ve already purchased the PDF the update is of course free: simply visit “manage my profile” at Baseball Prospectus (or click here).

Kudos and an autographed copy of the 359-page glossy-cover College Basketball Prospectus 2010-11 (due out in a few days) to alert reader Andrew M

November 8, 2010

The most interesting team in college hoops is…Detroit?

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 10:48 am

The 2010-11 season will commence this evening a little after 7 Eastern, when Rhode Island tips off at Pitt. But I know that, like me, what you’re really waiting for is the game this Saturday when New Mexico hosts Detroit. Analytically speaking Ray McCallum Sr.’s group is pretty much the It Team of 2011. 

Indeed, for a group that went 9-9 in the Horizon League last year, the Titans sure got a lot of attention in the must-have book of the century, the College Basketball Prospectus 2010-11. (Buy it today! Covering all 345-D-I teams, CBP ’10-11 is 359 pages of tempo-free delicious!)

Just to touch a few bases here….

  • Ken Pomeroy, page 5, explaining why his new team projection system (which the marketing-savvy Ken has christened “the system”) predicts that Detroit will finish eighth (!) in the Horizon this year even though humans think UDM will finish second to Butler: “The Titans bring in the best recruiting class in the Horizon coming off of a seventh-place finish in the league last season. Despite a fair amount of roster attrition, most observers expect them to significantly improve. The discrepancy here owes to the system having trouble distinguishing between the 20th best recruit in the country (which Detroit has in Ray McCallum Jr.) and your average Horizon freshman.”
  • Drew Cannon, page 32: “I really want to predict that McCallum’s arrival in the Horizon League will be like dropping the Beatles into the rock world of 1962–especially since, with his dad coaching, the cautionary tale of Adrion Graves‘ 113 freshman minutes will likely be moot.”
  • Yours truly, pp. 210-11: “The conventional wisdom looks at a defense that is already excellent and talent like Eli Holman, McCallum, and 6-6 wing Chase Simon and says that this team will finish second to Butler. I might agree with the conventional wisdom if Detroit had a conventional offense, one that included threes. But assuming UDM is again all-paint and no-perimeter this year, they will again be one of the easiest scouts in D-I. I’m predicting 1.05 points per trip or fewer on offense and a fourth-place finish.”

Of course the problem with me saying that the Detroit offense is doomed to mediocrity because they never shoot threes is that Coach McCallum could well read those words, slap his forehead, and say “This Gasaway’s a genius! [I get that a lot.] Let’s acknowledge it’s not 1983 anymore and start attempting some of these ‘three-point shots’ that the youngsters talk about nowadays.” The mere act of stating the prediction can mess up its accuracy. (How Hegelian!)

So, yeah, whether they’re good or merely average, the Titans should be noteworthy in 2011. I for one will be keeping a close eye on Dick Vitale‘s old program

BONUS programming note! I’ll be doing the live-chat thing to plug the book and talk hoops Wednesday at 1 Eastern. Post your question(s) in advance right here.   

November 7, 2010

Holiday Impresses in Huskies’ Exhibiton

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 2:23 am

SEATTLE – While they enter the 2010-11 season as the favorites in the Pac-10 conference, the Washington Huskies also face a challenging question: how to replace the production lost with the departure of Quincy Pondexter, a first-round pick last June. In College Basketball Prospectus 2010-11, we suggest that Matthew Bryan-Amaning is likely to step up.

Bryan-Amaning did not disappoint Saturday, scoring a game-high 20 points as the Huskies handled an overmatched team from St. Martin’s in nearby Lacey in an exhibition game at Hec Edmunson Pavilion, but another senior also made his presence felt. Justin Holiday, heretofore known solely for his defensive work, nearly matched Bryan-Amaning with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including a perfect 4-of-4 mark beyond the arc. For a player who made 11 three-pointers total in his first three years, the improved shooting was stunning. The work Holiday has put in over the summer and the confidence gained from entering the season as a starter seem to have made a big difference.

Holiday literally replaced Pondexter in the Washington lineup, sliding down to power forward to make room for wing Scott Suggs in the lineup. At 6’6″, 185, Holiday is tiny for a four-man, but the Huskies might stick with the smaller, quicker unit even after Darnell Gant returns from a groin injury. In particular, Holiday at power forward makes room for Washington’s glut of talented young wings. Suggs and freshmen Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox all scored double-figures, making a combined six three-pointers in 11 attempts. Lorenzo Romar will have a tough time finding minutes for all three players with Isaiah Thomas penciled in for 30 minutes a night at shooting guard. Thomas served primarily as playmaker Saturday, handing out a career-high 11 assists and taking just two shot attempts in 26 minutes.

The biggest curiosity on Saturday was sophomore JC transfer Aziz N’Diaye, a 7-footer from the Senegal who offers the Huskies much-needed size behind Bryan-Amaning. N’Diaye looked very raw in his Washington debut, fumbling a pair of passes and fouling out in 11 minutes. In fact, both UW centers fouled out, a scenario that could prove disastrous when the games start counting.

November 5, 2010

College Basketball Prospectus PDF update

Filed under: cbp2010,Uncategorized — dpease @ 1:05 pm

We’ve just pushed the first update of the College Basketball Prospectus 2010-11 PDF, with a few very small updates. If you’ve purchased the PDF, as always, you’ll get all future updates for free. To download the updated PDF, visit your “manage my profile” page at Baseball Prospectus (or click here).

November 4, 2010

It’s out! College Basketball Prospectus 2010-11

Filed under: cbp2010,Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 2:26 pm

The essential 359-page guide to the college hoops season is now available as a PDF for just $9.94. Why, that’s just pennies per tempo-free preview! The paperback version will be available from CreateSpace.com very soon and of course from Amazon soon after that.

We covered all 345 D-I teams. The PDF will look super nifty on your iPad. The guy who did the Foreword’s kind of well known.

Want to know what I think? You should buy this book.

November 1, 2010

Butler ’10, Mason ’06 combined: Kyle Whelliston joins Prospectus

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 12:03 am

I am delighted to announce that Kyle Whelliston is now a regular contributor to Basketball Prospectus.

For six years Kyle has produced the best writing to be found anywhere on the planet on the subject of mid-major college basketball. He’s done so and will continune to do so at his home site, The Mid-Majority. He’s also done so at ESPN.com, at Basketball Times, and in his books, among other places. Now he’ll be doing it here.

I’ve read Kyle right from the start because he tells me things I didn’t know before. If Prospectus has a mission statement, that’s it: find out stuff you didn’t know before–other people will be interested too.

Soon our College Basketball Prospectus 2010-11 book will be out. This year we’ve covered all 345 teams in Division I. (Yes, 345, down from 347 last year. New Orleans and Winston Salem State, we hardly knew ye.)  Speaking knowledgeably about that many teams required the hard work of no fewer than 11 contributors, and when you get the book you’ll learn from Kyle just as I have. Which conference’s coaches talk the most smack at each other (unofficially)? Why does the nation’s leading returning scorer have a story that “not even the most inept college basketball feature writer could mess up”? Which mid-major has no problem at all getting power-conference opponents to come play at its arena? Grab the book, read Kyle, learn, and enjoy.

Everyone here at Prospectus is thrilled to have Kyle joining us. (My minutes from the meeting at Prospectus HQ where we discussed “Whether to bring Kyle on board” start and end with “Well, duh.”) You’ll forgive me if I talk a little smack. As I said when I first learned that Kyle would become a Prospectus contributor, I’ll put our starting five against any site of any size.

Welcome, Kyle. 

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