Wednesday notes



1) Pat Riley took a pathetic shot at LeBron the other day, in response to a question about the Miami Heat’s offseason plans: “No more smiling faces with hidden agendas,” Riley said. “We’ll be going in clean.”

Brian Windhorst did the appropriate dissection of Riley’s fatuous comment, observing that Riley is probably the last person who should be sermonizing about others who take advantage of opportunities even – heaven forfend – at the expense of their previous employer.

This is at least tangentially related to what I wrote yesterday – the sense of entitlement and prerogative among senior management and the inherent double standard in their view of how the “help” ought to view reality.

Anyway, good job by Windhorst calling Riley out.

2) this is an older item, but for all the talk this year of the disastrous decline in the quality of play in men’s college basketball, mgoblog’s Brian looked at the numbers and…there’s no there there.

In a nutshell, utilizing data compiled by Ken Pomeroy dating to 2002, Brian notes:

Offensive efficiency has in fact increased even without the rules changes that a panicked committee instituted two years ago, implemented after a season (2013) in which offensive efficiency was a half-point worse per hundred possessions than it was in 2002.

Only a few things have actually changed: there are fewer turnovers and steals as teams take care of the ball better; there are fewer offensive rebounds as more teams adopt the Wisconsin/Michigan model of preventing transition opportunities at all costs. And there are fewer possessions.

That’s it. Games are in fact getting shorter in terms of time spent doing the basketball. Free throw rates remain essentially constant as the denominator shrinks. There are fewer balls flung out of bounds, stopping the clock. Little that happens during the 40 minutes the clock is actually running has changed in 13 years. There are 7% fewer possessions. That is about it.

I’ve looked at similar numbers for the NBA over the past generation and found a similar pattern. There are fewer possessions, which accounts for the absolute decline in scoring. Teams take better care of the ball. Shooting efficiency itself is about the same. The obvious reason for all this – but the one that runs contrary to the kids-today/decline-of-civilization narrative favored by the sports cognoscenti – is that teams have to work harder on each possession because their opponents give more consistent effort game-to-game on defense than used to be the case (as Bill Simmons, to his credit, has noted about the NBA).

3) Greenie paid a lovely and moving tribute yesterday to Doug Buffone, a former Bears’ linebacker who died two days ago at the age 70. Buffone was Greenberg’s first radio partner, back in Chicago two decades ago and, in many ways, provided the template for Greenberg’s future success with Golic. One line that I am still chuckling over: Buffone played alongside the all-time great Dick Butkus. And Buffone’s favorite line was: “hold ’em, Dick. I’m coming.” For anyone who’s experienced loss, i.e. all of us, it’s worth listening to.




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