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cptnflash
02-09-2013, 11:50 PM
When the Wisconsin/Michigan game, which was a great game with an unbelievable finish, isn't even the best game of the day? I love this game!

matt1
02-09-2013, 11:52 PM
I have been saying for weeks now that, as a fan of the game, I think that this is the most exciting season I have ever seen. I even think that the bubble teams are abnormally strong this year.

sporthenry
02-10-2013, 12:02 AM
I have been saying for weeks now that, as a fan of the game, I think that this is the most exciting season I have ever seen. I even think that the bubble teams are abnormally strong this year.

Exciting? Yes, with lots of upsets and close games. But I agree with Bilas and Dickie V that the quality of the game has actually deteriorated. Sure this could be a selective memory thing but the offenses are pretty bad this year. And most of these great games have come from poor execution at the end of games. Up 7 points with a minute left is a pretty hefty lead to give up. Louisville gave up 12 points in the final minute and missed 3 FT's.

And I think these top teams not being great makes it seem like the bubble teams are stronger when the gap is just shrunk.

johnb
02-10-2013, 09:16 AM
Since I tend to remember highlights and lowlights and forget the middle, it's really hard for me to compare teams from different eras.

The obvious shift is the lack of superstars, but I don't know which other variables contribute.

Possibly eroding the differential between the top teams and the top 50 teams--or at least complicating it--is the academic achievements of African Americans. We're now seeing sons of black stars playing NCAA ball, and, while less reported, we're seeing sons of black college graduates playing ball in college, many of whom would be attending college even without basketball. These have only been commonly true in the last decade. Tightening of NCAA academic rules may also have ended up contributing to greater numbers of qualified players, despite the fact that many come from subpar high schools.

niveklaen
02-10-2013, 09:57 AM
Exciting? Yes, with lots of upsets and close games. But I agree with Bilas and Dickie V that the quality of the game has actually deteriorated. Sure this could be a selective memory thing but the offenses are pretty bad this year. And most of these great games have come from poor execution at the end of games. Up 7 points with a minute left is a pretty hefty lead to give up. Louisville gave up 12 points in the final minute and missed 3 FT's.

And I think these top teams not being great makes it seem like the bubble teams are stronger when the gap is just shrunk.

Offenses aren't any worse this year than normal - the top 10 offenses on Kenpom have ratings between 124 and 117, if you compare that to the last 3-4 years they all have top 10 offenses that range from 125 to 116 (if you go back to 2006 the best offense had a 119 rating - that was a year of bad offense) - the good old days were never actually as good as we remember them being, this year is normal, not bad

vick
02-10-2013, 10:18 AM
Offenses aren't any worse this year than normal - the top 10 offenses on Kenpom have ratings between 124 and 117, if you compare that to the last 3-4 years they all have top 10 offenses that range from 125 to 116 (if you go back to 2006 the best offense had a 119 rating - that was a year of bad offense) - the good old days were never actually as good as we remember them being, this year is normal, not bad

Tempo is down, though, while efficiency isn't. The median tempo team in 2003 (the first year of Kenpom stats) played at 69.2 possessions per game, whereas this year it's 66.3. If you only look at his top-25 teams by overall ranking, because most people watch more top-teams than middling teams, the average tempo fell from 69.6 to 65.6.

Four possessions doesn't sound like a lot, but the difference between Duke (68.7) and UVa (60.2) is only 8.5, so it's definitely noticeable.

sporthenry
02-10-2013, 12:07 PM
Tempo is down, though, while efficiency isn't. The median tempo team in 2003 (the first year of Kenpom stats) played at 69.2 possessions per game, whereas this year it's 66.3. If you only look at his top-25 teams by overall ranking, because most people watch more top-teams than middling teams, the average tempo fell from 69.6 to 65.6.

Four possessions doesn't sound like a lot, but the difference between Duke (68.7) and UVa (60.2) is only 8.5, so it's definitely noticeable.

Yes. And I think someone already did graphs with the Kenpom data an confirmed this but the point is, when tempo goes down, you expect efficiency to go up. Not to mention, kenpom has practically admitted that his efficiency numbers make slower paced teams look better (the Wisconsin problem) so shouldn't efficiency go up as pace goes down? I'm not sure how to control for this without going really in depth but just watching the end of the games, these teams look confused. The talent level is probably higher with players more developed by AAU but the basketball IQ and experience in these end game situations seem terrible. That is expected when guys leave early though.

I would imagine something like effective FG% would be the best way to show this but as I said, I'd expect eFG% to go up b/c with AAU but come back down with the lack of quality play. But I watch games like IU/Illinois and can you imagine Battier or Shelden giving up a layup when that was pretty much the only thing that could beat you? Russ Smith walking the ball up the court with 5 seconds left?

sporthenry
02-10-2013, 12:11 PM
Just read Brennan's recap of the ND/Louisville game.


College basketball has problems.

Scoring has been trending downward for decades, and is now at its lowest point since the early 1950s. The game is slower than it used to be: Offenses are more efficient but possessions per game are down across the board.

Desperate to exert as much control over their young charges as possible, coaches overcoach, bleeding the game dry in predictable 35-second increments. There are too many timeouts. Referees call too many fouls or too few; physical play bogs everything down.

The most talented players leave the sport after just eight months...

It is OK to admit that these are problems. There is a segment of college basketball die-hards, this author included, that don't want to, that see such laments as trolling, that feel the need to preempt criticism by pointing at the thrilling finishes the sport so often produces. And some of that is true. But at the heart of it all are real problems -- a mix of disparate rules and decentralized authorities and decades of competitive evolution that have brought us to where we are now.

It's OK to talk about this. We should.

For 39 minutes and 10 seconds, Louisville-Notre Dame was everything that needs fixing about college hoops. It was a slow, ugly slog, plagued by fouls and bad shooting and missed calls and turnovers...

How do we reconcile what happened during the first 39 minutes Saturday night with the final 25? How do we get our heads around a game that can give us two hours of flawed tedium and then, faster than the light in a Joyce Center floodlight hits that midcourt four-leaf clover, give us one of the most thrilling games in the sport's history?

I think you'll see this growing sentiment and I'm sure Bilas can explain it more eloquently than myself. But I don't believe it is just harkening for the good ol' days.

NSDukeFan
02-10-2013, 12:12 PM
Yes. And I think someone already did graphs with the Kenpom data an confirmed this but the point is, when tempo goes down, you expect efficiency to go up. Not to mention, kenpom has practically admitted that his efficiency numbers make slower paced teams look better (the Wisconsin problem) so shouldn't efficiency go up as pace goes down? I'm not sure how to control for this without going really in depth but just watching the end of the games, these teams look confused. The talent level is probably higher with players more developed by AAU but the basketball IQ and experience in these end game situations seem terrible. That is expected when guys leave early though.

I would imagine something like effective FG% would be the best way to show this but as I said, I'd expect eFG% to go up b/c with AAU but come back down with the lack of quality play. But I watch games like IU/Illinois and can you imagine Battier or Shelden giving up a layup when that was pretty much the only thing that could beat you? Russ Smith walking the ball up the court with 5 seconds left?

I think part of the issue is that if you are a Duke fan, you have consistently seen solid end of game execution, even in early season games, whereas many other teams don't seem to value possessions until tourney time.

vick
02-10-2013, 12:37 PM
Yes. And I think someone already did graphs with the Kenpom data an confirmed this but the point is, when tempo goes down, you expect efficiency to go up. Not to mention, kenpom has practically admitted that his efficiency numbers make slower paced teams look better (the Wisconsin problem) so shouldn't efficiency go up as pace goes down? I'm not sure how to control for this without going really in depth but just watching the end of the games, these teams look confused. The talent level is probably higher with players more developed by AAU but the basketball IQ and experience in these end game situations seem terrible. That is expected when guys leave early though.

I would imagine something like effective FG% would be the best way to show this but as I said, I'd expect eFG% to go up b/c with AAU but come back down with the lack of quality play. But I watch games like IU/Illinois and can you imagine Battier or Shelden giving up a layup when that was pretty much the only thing that could beat you? Russ Smith walking the ball up the court with 5 seconds left?

Well, as I understand it, pace and efficiency are generally pretty much uncorrelated--I'm almost certain this is true at the NBA level, where talent is more evenly distributed. I think the Wisconsin effect is a little different than what you've described. It isn't that slow paced teams necessarily look more efficient in general, it's that they look preposterously good in beating bad teams.

That said, I agree with most of the issues in the Brennan article you posted, except for the part about turnovers plaguing college basketball--that's just false, turnovers have substantially declined across college basketball in the past couple of decades, from 15.8 per game in 1993 (the first year the NCAA statbook has available) to 13.5 last year. I'm mostly with Bilas on this, that too much of what passes for "defense" today is just fouling, and that the NCAA would be well served to tighten refereeing, as players would adjust. I'd also be fine with a shorter shot clock, but then again I'm a supporter of generally unifying rules across the NBA/FIBA/NCAA as much as possible. Early entry, well, I've said it before, but while I'd love to have seen Kyrie in a Duke uniform for three or four years, there just aren't enough players who leave early to have a large impact across all of college basketball, in my opinion--the number of players who leave after "eight months" is generally single digits each year, or one for every ~50 teams in college basketball.

sporthenry
02-10-2013, 01:11 PM
Well, as I understand it, pace and efficiency are generally pretty much uncorrelated--I'm almost certain this is true at the NBA level, where talent is more evenly distributed. I think the Wisconsin effect is a little different than what you've described. It isn't that slow paced teams necessarily look more efficient in general, it's that they look preposterously good in beating bad teams.

That said, I agree with most of the issues in the Brennan article you posted, except for the part about turnovers plaguing college basketball--that's just false, turnovers have substantially declined across college basketball in the past couple of decades, from 15.8 per game in 1993 (the first year the NCAA statbook has available) to 13.5 last year. I'm mostly with Bilas on this, that too much of what passes for "defense" today is just fouling, and that the NCAA would be well served to tighten refereeing, as players would adjust. I'd also be fine with a shorter shot clock, but then again I'm a supporter of generally unifying rules across the NBA/FIBA/NCAA as much as possible. Early entry, well, I've said it before, but while I'd love to have seen Kyrie in a Duke uniform for three or four years, there just aren't enough players who leave early to have a large impact across all of college basketball, in my opinion--the number of players who leave after "eight months" is generally single digits each year, or one for every ~50 teams in college basketball.

I'll have to look more into the pace/efficiency stuff. I would assume the NBA has less effects of pace/efficiency with the smaller talent gap and 24 second shot clock.

But the biggest thing with the 1 and done is that most people are only concerned with the top 50/100ish teams at most. I'm not an expert in the Mountain West and I can't really tell if the quality there has gotten better or worse. But I'll watch most of what ESPN will throw at me and usually the worst is like an A10 match up. But it isn't just 1 and done but also 2 and done's are more prevalent. And you have a guy like Kyrie or Austin who are expected/assumed to be 3/4 year players than guys like Cook and Sheed go to Texas or Villanova. Then you have guys like Arcidiacono who wouldn't go to Nova and instead would go to Temple. I would assume the trickle down effect is pretty big. And I'm realizing we really just had this discussion but I was somewhat appalled at some of the games yesterday.

vick
02-10-2013, 01:20 PM
I'll have to look more into the pace/efficiency stuff. I would assume the NBA has less effects of pace/efficiency with the smaller talent gap and 24 second shot clock.

But the biggest thing with the 1 and done is that most people are only concerned with the top 50/100ish teams at most. I'm not an expert in the Mountain West and I can't really tell if the quality there has gotten better or worse. But I'll watch most of what ESPN will throw at me and usually the worst is like an A10 match up. But it isn't just 1 and done but also 2 and done's are more prevalent. And you have a guy like Kyrie or Austin who are expected/assumed to be 3/4 year players than guys like Cook and Sheed go to Texas or Villanova. Then you have guys like Arcidiacono who wouldn't go to Nova and instead would go to Temple. I would assume the trickle down effect is pretty big. And I'm realizing we really just had this discussion but I was somewhat appalled at some of the games yesterday.

I don't really disagree--the reason I looked at the NBA is that it's tough to say in college basketball because of the problem that schedules vary wildly in difficulty. Probably the best way to look at it would be in-conference games only--maybe I'll do that after the season's over, seems like an interesting way to kill a basketball-less weekend afternoon in April.

I think you're right to think there's a problem, by the way, it's just an allocation of what you think the issues are. My almost completely arbitrary distribution would be like 75% rules/physical play, 15% early entry, 10% other.

uh_no
02-10-2013, 04:10 PM
how awesome is college basketball?

well....if i were to assign a byte value (0-255)....i might give it a....

0x9F

:P

ChicagoCrazy84
02-10-2013, 07:28 PM
I don't really disagree--the reason I looked at the NBA is that it's tough to say in college basketball because of the problem that schedules vary wildly in difficulty. Probably the best way to look at it would be in-conference games only--maybe I'll do that after the season's over, seems like an interesting way to kill a basketball-less weekend afternoon in April.

I think you're right to think there's a problem, by the way, it's just an allocation of what you think the issues are. My almost completely arbitrary distribution would be like 75% rules/physical play, 15% early entry, 10% other.

What would you consider the "other" category? Simply a lack of talent? I agree these all play a role, but I can't help but notice the thing that bothers me the most has nothing to do with rules or physical play, its a simple lack of shooting. For every game where Miami hits 60% from 3's or Duke puts 58 first half points on NC State, shooting percentages are just abysmal. Kansas a top 5 team was 3-22 from the field in the first half vs TCU. Louisville was ugly, the Big Ten with the exception of Indiana is continuously ugly. Maybe I am naive and it is the physical play, but that simply means guys cant hit FT's? Can't hit a wide open 16 footer? If this is a trend maybe I'll try my hand at watching more MVC or Mountain West conference games. I can't take anymore 58-52 games where there just seems to be more athleticism and potential than actual basketball IQ. And the end of game executions are laughable. Put 10 seconds on the clock of all these games and 95% of the time they end with a fall away 3 pointer from 25ft with 4 hands in the shooter's face

NSDukeFan
02-10-2013, 07:31 PM
To answer the original poster's question, I would say really, really awesome when Duke is the only top 5 team to have made it through the week without a loss.

cptnflash
02-10-2013, 07:54 PM
To answer the original poster's question, I would say really, really awesome when Duke is the only top 5 team to have made it through the week without a loss.

To be fair, we're the only member of the top 5 that didn't play a road game against a KenPom top 100 team this week (BC was #128 before tonight). And also, NC State isn't remotely the same team without Lorenzo Brown. So the schedule certainly worked in our favor this week, relative to the rest of the top teams.

vick
02-10-2013, 08:09 PM
What would you consider the "other" category? Simply a lack of talent? I agree these all play a role, but I can't help but notice the thing that bothers me the most has nothing to do with rules or physical play, its a simple lack of shooting. For every game where Miami hits 60% from 3's or Duke puts 58 first half points on NC State, shooting percentages are just abysmal. Kansas a top 5 team was 3-22 from the field in the first half vs TCU. Louisville was ugly, the Big Ten with the exception of Indiana is continuously ugly. Maybe I am naive and it is the physical play, but that simply means guys cant hit FT's? Can't hit a wide open 16 footer? If this is a trend maybe I'll try my hand at watching more MVC or Mountain West conference games. I can't take anymore 58-52 games where there just seems to be more athleticism and potential than actual basketball IQ. And the end of game executions are laughable. Put 10 seconds on the clock of all these games and 95% of the time they end with a fall away 3 pointer from 25ft with 4 hands in the shooter's face

Well, if by "lack of talent" you mean people who have left for early entry, I talked about that separately. If you mean just that the players who are there are still worse than their counterparts from the past, I disagree. As Jay Bilas tweeted a few days ago, "Players today are far more skilled than the past. What, everything improves in America but basketball players? No way." That may be a bit stronger than I would put it, but it is absolutely the case that athletes "progress" in essentially everything we can measure (e.g. track, weightlifting), so it stands to reason the same is largely true in things that are more difficult to measure. Why wouldn't they? You learn what works and what doesn't, and stand on the shoulders of those who came before you and progress a little farther, same as in science or anything else.

As for the notion that shooting percentages have declined, this is true. However, to blame it on a decline in skill is extremely misleading. If you look at shooting percentages from 1987-2012 (i.e. after the introduction of the three point shot), this is the result:

3174

So you see the percentage decline in the '80s and early '00s. Here's the thing though--the overwhelming majority of the change is caused by a shift from two pointers to three pointers as coaches figured out what a weapon the three is and used it more frequently, hence you also see a decline in three point shooting percentage. For the last couple of decades, practically no move at all (you can see where the line moved out in 2008-09), but again, that dip can hardly be blamed on a decline in skill. Final argument that shooting skill hasn't much moved: The free throw is the most constant element in all of basketball, essentially unchanged for decades. Last year was 69.1% across college basketball. The all-time record? 69.7%. If shooters had really gotten so much worse, why aren't they any worse at the free throw line?

NSDukeFan
02-10-2013, 08:51 PM
To be fair, we're the only member of the top 5 that didn't play a road game against a KenPom top 100 team this week (BC was #128 before tonight). And also, NC State isn't remotely the same team without Lorenzo Brown. So the schedule certainly worked in our favor this week, relative to the rest of the top teams.

To also be fair, Duke has played a tougher schedule this year than those top 5 teams who don't have as good a record as Duke does.

throatybeard
02-10-2013, 11:38 PM
I appreciate the SABR-esque posts here.

I too, hate how physical the game has gotten in the last two decades. But I wonder also how much of this has to do with pace. There was an illuminating article in SI recently looking at the 1990 season (LMU-LSU being the celebrated example) that argued that a lot of the offensive "problem" lately was pace. Despite the shot clock getting shorter in the 1994 season.

This is completely uniformed, but I'm gonna throw it out there. As the 3 has become more and more important, it has become more and more important to get the best look from 3. So offenses spend more and more of the 35-second clock playing catch and looking for the best look from 3. Which has slowed pace.