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Statistics Key To Success In Run-and-Gun Basketball

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the math-always-wins dept.

Math 97

theodp writes "Two decades before Moneyball hit the Big Screen, Coach David Arseneault of tiny Grinnell College came up with a unique style of run-and-gun basketball that he called The System, the principles of which were subjected to statistical analysis in Keys to Success in a Run-and-Gun Basketball System, a paper for the 2011 Joint Statistical Meetings. Well, as they say, sometimes The System works. On Tuesday, biochem major Jack Taylor, just three games into his career as a Grinnell College basketball player, made national news when he poured in 138 points — yes, 138 points — in a 179-104 victory over Faith Baptist Bible College. Even LeBron and Kobe were impressed. The old NCAA Division III record of 89 was set last year by Taylor's Grinnell teammate, Griffin Lentsch. Taylor's feat also bested what was deemed to be the unbeatable overall NCAA scoring record of 113 points, set by NCAA Division II performer Clarence 'Bevo' Francis of Rio Grande in 1954."

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Lets not (-1, Flamebait)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#42061393)

have a story about statistical analysis being used on actually important things lets show it about this stupid game.

Re:Lets not (5, Insightful)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about 2 years ago | (#42061449)

Respectfully disagree. By descending from their ivory towers and showing how math can be useful in everyday life scientists can greatly inflate the common man's understanding of these techniques and advance science.

Re:Lets not (-1, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#42061611)

There is no ivory tower; stop perpetuating the myth.

I wouldn't have said a word if this was on ESPN.
I would like to have a site that talks about actual impacts and useful tools

Of course, everyone love statistics until you show something they don't like.

It doesn't look like an ivory tower from the top (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42061731)

Sports are a billion dollar business, with statistics most 8 year old men understand. Showing the power of statistics in basketball is much more valuable to society than in a refereed journal.

Re:It doesn't look like an ivory tower from the to (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42063237)

...8 year old men...do you have a walker and a white dog whose hind legs don't work, by chance?

Re:It doesn't look like an ivory tower from the to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42067041)

As opposed to the "adult children" of Obamacare, most 8 year olds are actually quite capable of taking care of themselves, just not in the U.S, where you train them to be sniveling infants. However, even your whining little brats can understand baskets, shots, points, rebounds and the like.

Re:Lets not (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42062863)

There is an ivory tower and you're clearly trying to be in it.

"I view this as below me, thus it is of no use to anyone. Rather than move on I must complain so everyone sees how much better I am."

Re:Lets not (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 2 years ago | (#42071785)

you just claimed 100% (everyone) loves statistics... well i dont so...yeah, fucked your shit up didnt i

Re:Lets not (1)

Garble Snarky (715674) | about 2 years ago | (#42061621)

I don't know if working as an NCAA basketball coach quite counts as "everyday life", but I agree with you nonetheless.

Re:Lets not (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#42061649)

Personally, I'm just amazed that a sports story is interesting for once. I think that's a first.

Re: First interesting sports story? (1, Funny)

EagleHasLanded (1438971) | about 2 years ago | (#42061761)

No, not the first. And not the most interesting by any stretch. In 2011 CalTech's Div. III men's basketball team won its first conference game in 26 years(!) That was a great geek/sports story. And I think Slashdot missed the boat on it.

Re: First interesting sports story? (0)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#42062081)

Don't you mean CalSci?

Re: First interesting sports story? (1)

WhatAreYouDoingHere (2458602) | about 2 years ago | (#42063583)

I think I saw this on a Numb3rs episode...

Re: First interesting sports story? (1)

rlk (1089) | about 2 years ago | (#42067099)

I was amazed when I heard about that (I knew it before this). I'm a bit of an old timer, but the start of that streak predated my college years.

Caltech's basketball program has been improving some in recent years. Their head coach, Oliver Eslinger, was previously associate head coach at MIT under Larry Anderson. Last year they were 5-20, which isn't very good, but was still their best record in years. They beat two D3 teams, Macalester (which was a very weak team) and Babson (which wasn't). Babson finished with a 14-13 record, 6-6 conference (NEWMAC, which has some strong teams, MIT, WPI, and Springfield in particular, but nobody in NEWMAC is really weak).

But if we're going to talk nerd/basketball stories, MIT being in the D3 Final Four last year and currently ranked #1 is the big one.

Re:Lets not (1)

fotoguzzi (230256) | about 2 years ago | (#42061987)

Lets [sic] not wonder about the statistical probability of one guy getting Score:5 on every single thing he writes, no matter how vapid.

common, did anyone on /. see this on espn ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42061421)

be honest now ...

John 11:35 (2, Funny)

greg1104 (461138) | about 2 years ago | (#42061423)

a 179-104 victory over Faith Baptist Bible College.

Jesus cries when he loses to statistics.

Re:John 11:35 (4, Funny)

oldhack (1037484) | about 2 years ago | (#42061603)

God sticks it to heretics.

How about an article on make-up, for the ladies? (0, Flamebait)

TwineLogic (1679802) | about 2 years ago | (#42061457)

What has slashdot become? Terrible. This is supposed to be "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters."

What is the epitome of stuff that does not matter? Sports.

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (5, Insightful)

maeka (518272) | about 2 years ago | (#42061563)

What has slashdot become? Terrible. This is supposed to be "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters."

What part of the quants invading sports and demonstrating that brains can win over brawn in the physical arena isn't news for nerds?

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (-1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#42061629)

The part where it's about a boring an irrelevant sport.

And brains aren't winning over brawn. If they tried this with you, you would fail.
Brawn(endurance, really) is still needed.

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (4, Insightful)

hondo77 (324058) | about 2 years ago | (#42061723)

The part where it's about a boring an irrelevant sport.

Some of us nerds aren't jealous of athletes because we also get off our asses and do stuff in the real world like play sports and exercise (something other than our typing fingers). Get over yourself.

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#42063407)

Some of us nerds aren't jealous of athletes because we also get off our asses and do stuff in the real world like play sports and exercise (something other than our typing fingers). Get over yourself.

Complaining that a professional sport (yes, given all the money involved, collegiate sports are essentialy professional) is boring and irrelevant doesn't necessarily indicate jealousy. Lots of people who actually play for personal pleasure think the same thing. Bread and circuses don't become more meaningful just because you like to eat bread yourself.

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42063577)

Some of us nerds aren't jealous of athletes because we also get off our asses and do stuff in the real world like play sports and exercise (something other than our typing fingers). Get over yourself.

Complaining that a professional sport (yes, given all the money involved, collegiate sports are essentialy professional) is boring and irrelevant doesn't necessarily indicate jealousy. Lots of people who actually play for personal pleasure think the same thing. Bread and circuses don't become more meaningful just because you like to eat bread yourself.

This article is about division iii basketball. There is not a lot of money involved, the kids don't even get athletic scholarships.

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42063875)

This article is about division iii basketball. There is not a lot of money involved, the kids didn't used to get athletic scholarships.

ftfy. this kid will be swarmed by div1 peeps in no time.

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42063437)

So, if you think that soap operas are boring and irrelevant does that mean you are just jealous because you aren't banging a crazy-ass bitch?

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42063729)

Quite true. And let's not forget that some "nerds" actually are pretty good athletes. For example, Gordon Hayward, a NBA player who was drafted a couple of years ago by the Utah Jazz and was a part of team USA, was a computer engineering major at Butler.

So, yeah. Enough with "sports are boring and irrelevant" bullshit.

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (1)

tragedy (27079) | about 2 years ago | (#42064003)

I'm going to stick with the sports news is boring and irrelevant position thanks. At the very least, it's irrelevant here on Slashdot. This doesn't mean that I don't personally find many sports fun, I've just never been particularly enthusiastic about watching them. There are some that I find boring to play as well as watch. Cricket and baseball, for example. I mean, it's bad enough watching them being played and realizing that all of the actual action could be compressed down to a few minutes, but to actually play and not even have the opportunity to even participate in 90+% of the action that actually does happen? Bleh.

Also, don't get me wrong. I'm all for improving things through analysis, but I've never enjoyed that very much in sports. Maybe it's because I've always really enjoyed volleyball. I've also always been good at it and I have very distinct memories of seething hatred of people in charge turning what could have been fun games of volleyball between kids into pointless, soul-sucking workshops on bump-set-spike.

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (1)

_Ludwig (86077) | about 2 years ago | (#42064341)

I'm going to stick with the sports news is boring and irrelevant position thanks.

Good thing you read the article and posted a two-paragraph comment on it then.

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (1)

tragedy (27079) | about 2 years ago | (#42066291)

Good thing you read the article and posted a two-paragraph comment on it then.

Would it be fair to translate that as: "If you don't like it, sit down and shut up!" Seems like it to me and, no thanks. You can go on about how some people are interested and how Slashdot should appeal to a more general audience, blah blah blah. Frankly, I don't want Slashdot to got the way of all those cable TV channels that had a speciality and now are cesspools of "reality" wedding and cake shows.

If this were under an actual sports section, I wouldn't mind so much (not that I even want Slashdot to have a sports section, but it would be easier to opt out of it). It wasn't though, it was under Math. This is not math news. We're all already aware that really basic statistical analysis is used in sports. Woohoo. This is one of those articles intended to get the stereotypical common man who not only doesn't care about math, but actively despises it to pop up his head and say "oh, I guess math can be used for at least some useful stuff". That's not really the Slashdot audience. If you read this site, it's generally expected that, even if you're not a math whiz, you're at least not an anti-intellectual who thinks that it's useless.

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (1)

_Ludwig (86077) | about 2 years ago | (#42067409)

No, it would be fair to translate that as "if you don't like it, don't click on it, and move on to something that interests you." I'm pretty sure Slashdot tracks which articles get read/commented on, and that those metrics are far more readily digestible than wading through the content of half a dozen "SPORTSBALL IS STUPID WHY IS THIS HERE" comments.

I agree with you about the decline of formerly-focused cable channels (Discovery, TLC, Sci-Fi) by the way. Turning a nominally educational channel into Screeching Ethnic Housewives or a science fiction channel into Extreme Wrestling Most Of The Time is dismaying, but a website, unlike a TV channel, gives you the freedom to skip content you're not interested in. Should Slashdot be a "general interest" site? Of course not. But dismissing anything you don't personally care about as "not worthy" is shortsighted. What if instead of nutshelling it as "huh, mebbe math ain't so useless," you read it as "sports is not the exclusive domain of muscular dimwits?"

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (1)

tragedy (27079) | about 2 years ago | (#42067769)

Mostly agree with you, but, as I said, if the editors want this content here, they should at least categorize it correctly. As a sports article, I suppose it's fine, but as a math article, it's just not up to the weight class of the kinds of math articles we expect here. I mean, seriously, the typical math article here is generally pretty dumbed down as it is. This is a general purpose nerd site, not a math nerd site, so the math articles are already lightweight ones for general consumption. As a math article, this one was truly pathetic.

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42066845)

Professional sports is not about athletics. It is about advertising dollars, and keeping the population fat and sedated. I am a physically active person, but professional sports can go to hell. Those who watch it are brainwash victims.

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (1)

harley78 (746436) | about 2 years ago | (#42063025)

I tend to agree in the sense that these aren't schools that have students specifically to play bball. I'll just assume none of the players are on Scholarships. This probably wouldn't work at the Div. 1 level. It works in baseball because it doesn't matter how athletic someone is if they have great hand/eye and can play a position that only requires twitch muscles for fielding that 15ft around 1st or 3rd base, or DH. (P. Fielder, Kruk, McGwire etc...)

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (2)

_Ludwig (86077) | about 2 years ago | (#42061655)

* looks for TwineLogic posts complaining about video games being unimportant * ... nope, not finding anything.

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (1)

TwineLogic (1679802) | about 2 years ago | (#42061725)

Hello! Video games are for nerds.

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (1)

hondo77 (324058) | about 2 years ago | (#42061745)

The 1990s called to warn you that jocks might start playing video games someday. You'll have to leave your parents' basement to find them, though.

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (1)

leppi (207894) | about 2 years ago | (#42061697)

They don't want us either [google.com]

More seriously. I've always thought sports were fun. Big games with lots of rules that let you get exercise at the same time. I've never understood it why "nerds" profess to hate it so much. Most nerds like video games - those "don't matter" either.

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (2)

_Ludwig (86077) | about 2 years ago | (#42061869)

Probably a holdover from high school social structures in which jocks are lionized and get laid and pick on the weaker nerd types. I don’t know how common this is today outside of TV/movie clichés; I never saw it in school in the 80s, but I didn’t go to a normal school (Strat-O-Matic baseball was more popular than varsity baseball,) so who knows?

News for Netflix fans (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#42061837)

What is the epitome of stuff that does not matter? Sports.

Relatives who are fans of televised sports are often the major obstacle in a nerd's effort to get a household to switch from cable or satellite TV to Netflix.

Re:News for Netflix fans (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 2 years ago | (#42062385)

So true here. Sports is the one reason I know that most people haven't turned off the cable. And it's not just houses with nerds, it's everyone. This is especially true up here in Canada where you get very little sports coverage unless you have cable. Not like down in the states where you can get a lot of the games over the air.

Re:News for Netflix fans (1)

Pope (17780) | about 2 years ago | (#42066361)

Relatives who are fans of televised sports are often the major obstacle in a nerd's effort to get a household to switch from cable or satellite TV to Netflix.

Then that nerd should butt the fuck out of their relatives' business. If they want to pay for cable or satellite in order to get the programming they want, why the fuck is the nerd even getting involved?

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42062431)

What has slashdot become? Terrible. This is supposed to be "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters." What is the epitome of stuff that does not matter? Sports.

Fuck you. You are perpetuating the stereotype of the nerd as an awkward sissy. Me and my nerd friends play hockey, drink beer, have sex with real women, and talk about football. Not always in that order.

Now that I think about it, you're out of the club. Turn in your card.

Re:How about an article on make-up, for the ladies (1)

Jstlook (1193309) | about 2 years ago | (#42064411)

Ever since slashdot's parent company got bought, I've noticed a notable change in the articles. Namely, the "ask slashdot" questions have gotten absolutely remedial, the science articles are wholly off kilter (see this one), and the paranoid anti-TSA articles have all but disappeared. I don't so much mind the last one, but only because it'd gotten pretty over the top.

ugh. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42061507)

This is one of the worst posts I've ever seen on slashdot, which is saying a lot these days. There have been repeated debunkings of any statistical work at play here. All this coach does is pick the easiest matchups on his calendar and then look to break records. His 'method' is just effectively 'dominate in all statistical categories', which a middle schooler would laugh at.

Rhode Island Firehouse Gang (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42061513)

This system of play is real old, it goes back to Frank Keaney's "Firehouse Gang" [nba.com] system at Rhode Island State College (now URI) in the '30s and '40s. Basically it was the ultimate fast break, five guard-size players sprinting up court after each change of possession to wear out and demoralize larger opponents. They generally got open shots and a surprising number of rebounds, even at the defensive end, because the other team was back on their heels.

I read about it in a layman's guide to hoops (now out of print) written by Celtics' Hall of Fame coach Red Auerbach about 40 years ago. Auerbach said that the system was often wildly successful in Division II, but could be defended relatively easily by the more talented teams in Division I ball.

Re:Rhode Island Firehouse Gang (1)

mister2au (1707664) | about 2 years ago | (#42063651)

This seems more like 3 guards / 2 large forwards ...

Defense appears to typically be a 3-2 full press with no half court defense if a steal or turnover doesn't occur. So not quite the endurance game of 5 guards but similar concept.

Disenchanted and Disillusioned (1)

scarboni888 (1122993) | about 2 years ago | (#42061631)

Who would be surprised to find out in 10-20 years' time it's discovered that steroid use is what they mean by 'statistics key'?

Basketball? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42061633)

Not relatable to me. I'm white and own a computer.

Basketball? (2)

HtR (240250) | about 2 years ago | (#42061827)

This "basketball" game - what console is it on?

Re:Basketball? (2)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 2 years ago | (#42061923)

Commodore 64, among others. The best example would be Dr.J. Vs. Larry Bird

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_on_One:_Dr._J_vs._Larry_Bird [wikipedia.org]

Jordan vs. Bird (1)

theodp (442580) | about 2 years ago | (#42063631)

Jordan vs. Bird [nesguide.com] was pretty sweet, too!

Re:Basketball? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42065743)

A bunch of us played NBA Hangtime on the Nintendo 64 last weekend. It still holds up.

So what's 138 in Hockey Goals? (1)

CrashNBrn (1143981) | about 2 years ago | (#42061847)

Maybe, 1 goal / 21 pts... so 6+ ... not bad.
Although in Soccer thats only about 1.5 not so great.

Re:So what's 138 in Hockey Goals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42061945)

Probably more like a hat trick of hat tricks with another goal scored by someone else on the team.

Re:So what's 138 in Hockey Goals? (1)

CrashNBrn (1143981) | about 2 years ago | (#42062341)

Seems like it might be more like 4 Hockey goals.

NBA: Average pts per team per game = 99.5 (so 200)
NHL: Average goals per game = ~6

200/6 = 33.33 ... 138/33.33 = 4.14

Although a non-linear relationship would likely be more accurate/relevant.

Not statistics, just poor sportsmanship (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42061899)

Sorry to burst the bubble, but watching game tape from Grinnell shows Arsenault to be an opportunist more interested in promoting his "system" (and of course the handy video and text guides he sells so that you too can be an "innovative" baskeball coach) than in winning games or even satisfying the majority his players. But as long as it's "fun" for (some of) the players and makes him tons of money, who cares, eh?

Here's how to be like Coach A:

-Press, but leave one Special shooter to stay in the offensive zone all game, leaving his teammates out to dry on defense
-Let the other team score once they move it past you
-Get the ball to your shooter and let him jack threes all game.
-Other players who collect rebounds and attempt to lay them in are pulled. Only the Special One may shoot.
-Platoon all the other players, because who cares about them?
-Hope that your opponent is either
---a) brain-dead, unathletic and unwilling to play on their own terms
---b) a team from the second division of the fifth tier of college basketball (seriously), from a school with 330 students (seriously) who believe Satan made dinosaur fossils (well, maybe)
-Collect a few wins, some notoriety if you're the Special One, and gobs of money (if you're the coach)

He picked this opponent for a regular season game, mind you, despite the fact that for them it was an exhibition game. Nothing special about this. You want to be innovative? Try competing against someone on your level first.

Re:Not statistics, just poor sportsmanship (1)

harley78 (746436) | about 2 years ago | (#42063077)

Totally agree with you; but exactly what "level" is Grinnel on? hehe I'd like to see Duke use this against UNC (or the other way around...) it ain't gonna work. Real teams are usually balanced and have players that are in College because they're good at BBall and a coach that can play his 11 players wisely against the team he is playing that night.

Re:Not statistics, just poor sportsmanship (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42066397)

ftfy

Totally agree with you; but exactly what "level" is Grinnel on? hehe
Real teams are usually balanced and have players that are ONLY in College because they're good at BBall

Re:Not statistics, just poor sportsmanship (1)

rlk (1089) | about 2 years ago | (#42066865)

Grinnell is NCAA Division III. But don't worry -- most D3 teams take their basketball a lot more seriously than this, and there's a lot of excellent (if less athletic than D1) basketball. D3 schools don't give scholarships.

Re:Not statistics, just poor sportsmanship (1)

rlk (1089) | about 2 years ago | (#42066849)

Apparently, it's not normally the case that they give one player the chance to do this. Usually no one goes more than 20 minutes, and everyone's in on the platoon system, so everyone gets minutes and shooting opportunities. They make an exception when they want to set an individual scoring record. I suspect some of the players like the notoriety, but otherwise he gives them all an opportunity at some time or other to have a big game.

From the comments on d3boards, it sounded like it was a mutual decision to give this particular player the shot at the record. I wouldn't be entirely surprised if the other team knew in advance what was going on (one of their players had 70 points himself, so I wonder if there was an agreement, formal or otherwise, to allow this).

Regardless, an idiotic game. I might just be willing to pay admission, though, to watch UW-Whitewater (say) demolish them.

There's nothing wrong per se with a run-and-press game, within reason -- but remember how in the 1980's and 1990's nobody wanted to draw Princeton in the first round of the D1 tourney (Princeton played exactly the opposite kind of game, and they almost upset Georgetown among others).

Re:Not statistics, just poor sportsmanship (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42067257)

(Princeton played exactly the opposite kind of game, and they almost upset Georgetown among others).

Don't forget that Princeton did upset UCLA in the first round-- when UCLA was the defending national champions...

Re:Not statistics, just poor sportsmanship (1)

ooshna (1654125) | about 2 years ago | (#42071749)

Don't worry that wasn't a really basketball game. I mean hell the other teams didn't have one black player.

"Success", my ass (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42061999)

"Success", my ass - this only counts as "success" if you're not watching the utterly shit game that's produced by the technique:

http://deadspin.com/5962514/d+iii-players-138-point+game-is-a-sham-record-and-shouldnt-be-celebrated-by-anyone

TL;DR - it's basically turning the entire game into "give D00d X the ball no matter what". In Slashdot-friendly terms, the basketball equivalent of spawn-camping.

There is a way... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42062037)

the main problem with this is it'll be possible for a team playing similar to Providence to overcome Grinnell's offense. When Providence won the NCAA men's basketball tournament, they won by playing a slow, plodding, methodical, well-executed half-court offense that was able to get the ball up court as well as a stifling and physical defense that screwed up their opponent's run-and-gun offense. The team Providence played was a high-octane, run-and-gun offense that was flummoxed and ground down by Providence's style, if memory serves me correctly. Absolutely boring, frustrating basketball game to watch unless you were a Providence fan. Providence would have iced it had they had a couple of guys who shot free throws basket-style.

Maybe in Div III basketball it's hard to find the right players to play this style.

On the other had, when I was at the Univ. of Washington, watching the pickup games at the IMA was interesting. The little short Asian teams were able to play with the much taller African-American teams. Their speed and quickness was able to meet and overcome the much taller team's inherent height advantage, and they scored many of their points "cherry-picking" by basically playing 4-on-5 defense most of the time, getting the rebounds, and then making the outlet pass out time after time for easy layups. It was fun to watch. But that was a good 20 years ago...

Re:There is a way... (1)

harley78 (746436) | about 2 years ago | (#42063097)

GO DAWGS!

Re:There is a way... (3, Interesting)

KillDaBOB.2 (1322725) | about 2 years ago | (#42063395)

Maybe in Div III basketball it's hard to find the right players to play this style.

I would think it is hard to find the players to fit this type of slow-down system, but it has been used with success in Div. III. Look at University of Wisconsin-Platteville (Div. III school). They won four national championships at that level (1991, 1995, 1998, 1999) using a "slow-down" system called the Swing Offense. The coach who brought in those national championships was Bo Ryan, now the head couch at University of Wisconsin (Go Badgers!), where he uses the exact same system. It works. He hasn't missed an NCAA Tournament since going to Madison, and hasn't finished lower than 4th in the Big 10 in that time. It's a slow and somewhat boring game to watch, but it's effective all the same- and it works at the lowest to highest levels of play.

I would bet that any of the Bo Ryan coached UW-Platteville teams would have beat Grinnell had they played (I did a little research and couldn't find any box scores or even if these two teams had played each other during that time frame- it's possible, Platteville is in the southwest corner of WI and Grinnell is in Iowa, so they're close enough geographically). My research also shows that the run-and-gun system of Grinnell doesn't always come with the results they want. They rarely make the Div. III NCAA Tournament. They rarely have less than 8 losses a season. I went to a school in the same conference as Grinnell for a while. No one ever thought that they were in the upper tier of the conference, that's for sure.

I call for Unskewed NCAA (1, Troll)

Swampash (1131503) | about 2 years ago | (#42062355)

Anyone who believes in this so-called "System" is just a shill for the liberal elite news media. I laugh at their so-called "arithmetic" and "science".

Also, Nate Silver is GAY.

Basketball is a gateway drug for nerds to sports. (2, Informative)

conspirator23 (207097) | about 2 years ago | (#42062467)

All of the "Why the hell are we talking about sports on Slashdot?" commentary above is to be expected... but let's get this established for the record: You people are talking about of your ass.

To the uninitiated, watching basketball can feel tedious and repetetive, with guys running back and forth, making similar looking movements, play being stopped for unfathomable reasons, and so forth. If you experience this sensation, it is because you are a noob. N00B. You are not trained to understand the numerous split-second decisions that are being executed within the span of a 24-second shot clock. Of all professional sports, watching basketball has the steepest learning curve. That is reason #1 why it is the perfect spectator sport for geeks.

This leads to the next point, which is that basketball is the most cognitively demanding of all professional sports for the player as well. Because the game is has a relatively small number of players on each side, and each player faces an ongoing series of 1-on-1 interactions with those players over the course of a quarter, a game, or a season. Good players study detailed scouting reports of their opponents in each game which details their strenghts, weaknesses, and habits. If you are going to defend Steve Novak knowing he is a phenominal 3-point shooter but not good on the dribble drive, then you are going to close in on him so that you can bother his jump shooting. But a guy who has a strong ability to drive will get right past you if you get too close to him on defense. If you're defending a guy like Kobe Bryant who can both shoot and drive, you've got a much harder job. Another player on your team may have to offer "help defense" which means rotating off of his own man to help you defend. That means the NEXT player over on the court has to notice that the help defender has left his own man, and the next guy "rotates" over so that the one guy on the floor being left open is as far away from the ball as possible. If the player on offense then chooses to throw a pass to the open man, the entire defensive lineup needs to rotate back into proper position. Good team defense requires the coordination of a dance team while improvising like jazz musicians. So that's reason #2 for nerds to like basketball. The stereotypical "dumb jock" will not excel in this game.

Actually, I have to cite another example for reason #2 because I know I'm going to get pushback on the notion that people who devote their lives to physical activity might possibly be really smart: Guys who have phenomenal bodies and weak minds can be successful in pro ball assuming they don't get injured... but eventually their limited mental agility makes them predictable, which makes them less effective. "The book" is out on them and they become easy to counter. Once they start getting near 30 years old, they lose their elite athleticism as well and become largely useless. Guys like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Ray Allen who continue to be highly effective, star-level players into their mid-30s do so because they have tremendous minds for the game they are playing.

"Moneyball" was largely about using statistical analysis to acquire players who were undervalued by other teams because the old-school methods of player evaluation were unscientific and based on folklore and assumptions regarding pro baseball. Baseball is, in video game parlance, a "turn based" game. It is slow. Everyone has a clearly defined role. The mathematics involved in baseball analytics isn't trivial, but it's roughly akin to "value investing" in financial terms. It's harder than balancing your checkbook but it ain't rocket science. OTOH, basketball analytics really *IS* rocket science. Basketball is chaotic and non-deterministic by nature. Outcomes result from a rapidly cascading series of interrelated events. Quantifying this is possible, but it is really, really hard. The Moneyball revolution has led to many NBA teams hiring and retaining full-time analytics teams where statisticians and data miners vie to determine who should be drafted or traded for. Or which players on the roster should be on the floor together, or kept the hell away from each other. So reason #3 then is that basketball provides endless opportunities for you to argue with people about whose statistical models are good, and whose are total crap.

But hey, don't take my word for it. Or Paul Allen's. Or Malcom Gladwell's. Or MIT [sloansport...erence.com] . Here's some resources for those who aren't married to their own stereotypes:

Basketball on Paper [amazon.com] by Dr. Dean Oliver [wikipedia.org] .
Mathletics [amazon.com] by Wayne Winston [go.com] .
This NY Times [nytimes.com] article describes how an otherwise anonymous Small Forward named Shane Battier uses careful study of player tendencies to be an indespensible member of his team.

Admittedly, I don't expect to change a lot of minds here. But knee-jerk haters need to STFU.

Re:Basketball is a gateway drug for nerds to sport (3)

styrotech (136124) | about 2 years ago | (#42062779)

All of the "Why the hell are we talking about sports on Slashdot?" commentary above is to be expected... but let's get this established for the record: You people are talking about of your ass.

Actually, I have to cite another example for reason #2 because I know I'm going to get pushback on the notion that people who devote their lives to physical activity might possibly be really smart:

Here's some resources for those who aren't married to their own stereotypes:

Admittedly, I don't expect to change a lot of minds here. But knee-jerk haters need to STFU.

All that presumption and defensiveness really detracts from your otherwise insightful post. Basing on your own broad brush stereotypes is also a bit hypocritical too. Get over it.

Re:Basketball is a gateway drug for nerds to sport (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42063499)

Of all professional sports, watching basketball has the steepest learning curve

I can only conclude that you've never watched anything BUT basketball by that statement.

Quite frankly, the rest of your post contradicts all the assertions in your first paragraph. Both soccer and ice hockey eclipse basketball in terms of athletic ability and forethought required.

Re:Basketball is a gateway drug for nerds to sport (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42067485)

Hm, no, I haven't played hockey, but based on my experience, basketball required FAR more athleticism than soccer and just as much brains, if not more. Soccer is a little tricky to get into due to the coordination required in your feet (and easy to get into if you've already done sports involving foot coordination!), but I felt the skills required in soccer were substantially easier to pick up than basketball (shooting especially). Basketball requires both intense footwork (eg. playing defense) like soccer, but also requires highly refined upper body coordination. I feel like basketball also involves more general athleticism, such as jumping ability, that is not as present in soccer. Maybe the easiest evidence is too compare the visible physical conditioning of basketball players against soccer players--basketball players are bigger and stronger than soccer players.

Re:Basketball is a gateway drug for nerds to sport (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068445)

Comparison between sports is difficult because first, they are different and thus have different objectives and styles, and second, we are conflating amateur and professional levels of sports which are two totally different things.

First, we need to do away with this myth about brain vs. brawn because the two are not mutually exclusive. My first realization of this is a game of pickup basketball against a team of engineering professors. They were phenominally in-shape, skilled, creative, and athletic despite being old and, well, engineering professors. I'm a college athlete myself (albeit D3), and while they didn't win they were certainly impressive. I'd love to be that professionally accomplished and athletic at that age (40s-50s).

In amateur sports, anyone can just "try" it takes no physical or mentally ability to try, and you probably wouldn't know by trying if you were doing it well, as you haven't had the chance to pickup what constitutes playing well, and furthermore self assessment is unreliable.

At the highest level of sports (e.g. professional) all players are more less equally athletic and well conditioned physically. Height differences tend to matter less as the athletes have either been selected for roles where their height is appropriate, or they've been able to compensate for lack of height through other abilities. So what really sets athletes at the highest level apart is their cognitive ability. The most successful athletes are those that have the cognitive ability to recognize habits, patterns, and weaknesses in their opponents, as well as the ability to induce opponents' weaknesses. It takes a lot of cognitive ability to understand a dynamically shifting configuration at any given moment and perform corresponding actions that lead to subsequent events many configurations in advance of the ultimate goal (of scoring, for example). Such thinking is necessary because defenses are also highly skilled and motivated adversaries.

So echoing the sentiments of the original grandparent: Top athletes are indeed smart as well. While the "dumb jock" ruled the schoolyard, they don't have what it takes to make it to pro sports, or even college sports for that matter. This is what makes pro sports interesting, to me at least. Let's not overlook those athlete that maintain a "ghetto" persona. Often times this is mostly an act, as they know their audience and what makes them money. Perhaps they are the smartest of all :P

tl;dr: It takes smarts to be the best at anything at all, sports included.

Re:Basketball is a gateway drug for nerds to sport (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#42072071)

Hm, no, I haven't played hockey, but based on my experience, basketball required FAR more athleticism than soccer and just as much brains, if not more. Soccer is a little tricky to get into due to the coordination required in your feet (and easy to get into if you've already done sports involving foot coordination!), but I felt the skills required in soccer were substantially easier to pick up than basketball (shooting especially). Basketball requires both intense footwork (eg. playing defense) like soccer, but also requires highly refined upper body coordination. I feel like basketball also involves more general athleticism, such as jumping ability, that is not as present in soccer. Maybe the easiest evidence is too compare the visible physical conditioning of basketball players against soccer players--basketball players are bigger and stronger than soccer players.

both require coordination of limbs.

basketball is shorter sprints and you get to sit on the bench, the game is interrupted more and so forth. in soccer you pretty much run 45 minutes non-stop, take a break and run for another 45. in basketball you get great benefits from being tall, in soccer not so much and that explains the "big" argument entirely. being 2 meters in height doesn't really mean you're more athletic than the other guy though, being nearly 180cm on 7th grade really did help a lot in basketball - didn't help squat at soccer.

"Thog: But they make fun women's basketball.
Femputer: What? Did you explain how the women's good fundamentals make up for their inability to dunk?
Ornik: Yes. They still laugh.
Femputer: The men must die."

Re:Basketball is a gateway drug for nerds to sport (2)

Megane (129182) | about 2 years ago | (#42063611)

tl;dr: Because it's "hacking" the sport by trying unusual things.

Re:Basketball is a gateway drug for nerds to sport (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42063791)

OTOH, basketball analytics really *IS* rocket science.

Only in Houston ;)

Re:Basketball is a gateway drug for nerds to sport (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42065403)

I play a lot of basketball, and I'm going to have to disagree with some of your statements. Basketball is a complicated sport, but (American) football is a lot more demanding of an intellectual sport. Compared to some of the other sports, basketball is relatively easy to project talent from one level to the next. Part of this is the fact that there are fewer players and positions.

Plus, at the higher levels, the players are so good that sometimes you can't do a whole lot to defend them. I remember when somebody (on the Lakers, I believe - I hate the Lakers and don't care who it was) was criticized for his poor defense on Dirk Nowitzki. How do you possibly defend a 7-footer who posts up mid-range and shoots fadeaway jumpers? You .. just can't. You can only bump him off and force him to shoot longer jumpers. There's a reason why Calipari wins a lot of games, and frankly, it's not because of his coaching ability. With that kind of talent, he should be winning every single game. Yes, the X's and O's are important, but so is raw talent.

And the condescension is a little unnecessary.

Re:Basketball is a gateway drug for nerds to sport (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#42072025)

that it has a deep learning curve for watching doesn't mean that it's perfect for geeks. and that's not really just it. it's just that a single play isn't that relevant for the outcome of the game. a single scoring event is maybe 1-3% of the overall game scoring - easy enough to argue that it makes using statistics easier for determining the outcome than in football where a single lucky shot can turn the entire game.

great fun to play though. but never found it too exciting to watch.

You can't score if you don't shoot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42062473)

This is not news - The more you shoot the more apt you are to score, in any game (or not game) since you certainly won't at all if you never try. It's a numbers game.

This game was a farce (5, Informative)

rlk (1089) | about 2 years ago | (#42062649)

Faith Baptist Bible isn't even a Division III team. Everything I've read, from people in the know (http://www.d3boards.com/index.php?topic=4558.12195 -- starting around page 814) indicates that Grinnell specifically intended to have Jack Taylor set this record. He literally wasn't playing defense -- he was standing around at halfcourt to receive an outlet pass so he could jack up yet another 3.

Somebody watching the video noticed that Faith was cheering this on, and the Grinnell crowd was cheering scoring by both teams (http://www.d3boards.com/index.php?topic=4558.msg1469592). I have a suspicion that they were in on this joke. Given that their opponent was not an NCAA team, I don't think this record should count.

It's interesting that for all this, they've never won an NCAA tourney game (Division III, that is). I don't think they've even won their conference (see http://d3hoops.com/teams/Grinnell/Men/2011-12/index [d3hoops.com] and look at the other years -- usually their last game is against a conference team, and they've always lost). That kind of run and gun and press may be fun to play and watch, but it doesn't work against good teams.

And there's plenty of very good basketball being played in Division III. Yes, it's very rare for Division III teams to beat Division I, but a couple of weeks ago MIT lost to Harvard 69-54, and the game was not a blowout -- Harvard had to work hard for its W (Harvard shortly thereafter beat Manhattan College, which is also Division I, 79-45). If you watch the real power teams in Division III -- schools like MIT (yes, MIT is ranked #1 in Division III right now, and they have some damn good players, including a point guard, Mitchell Kates, who was abusing the Harvard back court all game), Amherst, Williams, Franklin and Marshall, Cabrini, UW-Whitewater (which beat MIT last year in the semifinal, and went on to win the title), it's very high quality basketball, just not the kind of athleticism you'll find in Division I. Teams like these, that play real defense and are in control on offense, would make short work of Grinnell.

And one of our (MIT) alumni, Jimmy Bartolotta '09, was Division III national Player of the Year, and is now playing professional basketball in Iceland.

(Yes, I'm an Ancient and Honorable Nerd of the Infinite Corridor -- VI-3 '87. I'm unofficially one of the team photographers. See http://rlk.smugmug.com/Sports/Basketball [smugmug.com] )

Re:This game was a farce (2)

mister2au (1707664) | about 2 years ago | (#42063593)

You bothered to research it but then didn't really present a fair summary ??

Over the 6 years of data that is available, they are one 1st place finish and another four 2nd place finished ... so top 2 in 5 out of 6 years ... They also have 69-31 record which is only bettered by St Norbet's 70-30 record.

Might be an average D-III division but that style of basket ball DOES work against that level of competition. It is incredibly sad that it works - but it does.

Re:This game was a farce (2)

rlk (1089) | about 2 years ago | (#42066083)

Looking at their record on d3hoops.com, they won a lot of games, but most years (at least since the mid-2000's) their final game was a loss to a conference team -- which I assumed was a conference playoff. However, at least from what I've read, they've never won a game in the NCAA (Division III) tournament.

Looking at past standings (http://www.midwestconference.org/sports/2011/4/15/MBB_0415112348.aspx), it looks like the last time they actually won their conference (defined as winning the conference tournament, not the regular season record) was 2000-2001. Last year, the 10 teams of the Midwest Conference had an overall 32-26 record against non-conference opponents (not necessarily all NCAA D3). By way of comparison, MIT's conference (NEWMAC) had a 69-31 record out of conference (7 teams), and every team had a better record overall than in conference (and a lot of teams play a lot of their non-conference games against NESCAC and other very strong programs).

Based on that, I stand by my statement: Grinnell has won a lot of games, but not against strong opponents (either the best teams in their conference when it most matters, or good D3 teams in the NCAA tournament). It would be interesting to see how they stack up against really good teams from the region, like Illinois Wesleyan or Wisconsin-Whitewater (which are good year after year). Whitewater was able to shut down our best outside shooter (6'4" Jamie Karraker), despite all but one of our starting lineup averaging in double figures (the one who didn't averaged 9.9 ppg), and I don't think Grinnell would pose any challenge to them.

Re:This game was a farce (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42065525)

What you're describing sounds awfully similar to the WNBA.

reply (-1)

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All wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42063399)

You know how we hate it when non-nerds write about something like copyright or software patents without a good idea of what they're talking about?

Yeah, turns out nerds should stay away from basketball by the same token. http://deadspin.com/5962514/d+iii-players-138-point+game-is-a-sham-record-and-shouldnt-be-celebrated-by-anyone :)

Malcolm Gladdwell & David Sirlin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42063467)

Other writers touching on this subject before:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/05/11/090511fa_fact_gladwell

http://www.sirlin.net/blog/2009/5/4/malcolm-gladwell-and-playing-to-win.html

Not so much about the statistics as playing to win but as interesting and relevant.

in other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42063547)

In other news... it was determined that there exists yet another "ball hog" similar to Michael Jordan for the media to elaborate upon.

"How did he get so good?", media pundits exclaimed as they extrapolated the numbers.

"Well, if there isn't any defense, anyone can outscore against your opponent, even your 3 year old nephew!"

Hint: you can guard against a 3 point shot.

People "get so good" because they are by nature "ball hogs". It starts at an early age. It's nothing to be proud of. It only shows the weakness of the team.

Hint: if you give the ball to the same person every time, he magically gets better, albeit to the detriment of the entire team.

ni6ga (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42064061)

prospects are FFREBSD'S empire in decline, the political mess

Rail-gun Basketball? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42064189)

When I first read the article, I thought it said Rail-gun basketball

You can imagine my disappointment when I discovered my mistake.

Nice game kid but.... (4, Informative)

erp_consultant (2614861) | about 2 years ago | (#42064195)

Your opponent was Faith Baptist Bible, not even an NCAA team. Translation - tomato can. To me the greatest feat in basketball still belongs to Wilt Chamberlain and the 100 point game. Done without the benefit of the 3 point shot by the way. That same year he averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds per game. Astounding. Those records will never, ever, be broken at the professional level.

Re:Nice game kid but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42064483)

...and 10.3 women per night.

Re:Nice game kid but.... (1)

alexo (9335) | about 2 years ago | (#42066563)

To me the greatest feat in basketball still belongs to Wilt Chamberlain and the 100 point game. Done without the benefit of the 3 point shot by the way. That same year he averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds per game. Astounding. Those records will never, ever, be broken at the professional level.

If it was possible for these records to be set, it is possible for them to be broken.

Re:Nice game kid but.... (1)

_Ludwig (86077) | about 2 years ago | (#42067681)

Parent didn't say it was literally impossible, just that it won't happen given the changes in how the game is managed since that era. Baseball equivalents would be Cy Young's starts & wins, and Cal Ripken Jr.'s consecutive games played. Starting pitchers are not allowed (by their managers, not the rules) to start more than one out of every four or five games; back then it wasn't uncommon for them to pitch two or three consecutive games, and complete ones at that. Likewise, any manager who played the same guy in every game for over sixteen seasons would today be considered criminally irresponsible, even assuming he could find a player who could stay healthy and never shirk or malinger in all that time.

Re:Nice game kid but.... (1)

erp_consultant (2614861) | about 2 years ago | (#42070721)

Of the three I mentioned above the only one that has any chance is the 100 point game. Kobe got 81 points back in 2006 so that's at least within striking distance. But who is going to average 50 points a game over an entire season? Not gonna happen. If a player gets 30 points in a single game it's considered a huge achievement. Michael Jordan, who many people consider the greatest player ever, averaged 30.1 points per game for his career. His best season was 35 points per game. Remember, the season that Wilt set those records he also played every minute of every game. Nobody does that now.

Let's talk rebounds. Last year Dwight Howard led the league - with 14.5 rebounds per game. That's a little over half of Wilt's total. Nobody has averaged over 20 since Chamberlain did it in 1968. Wilt also holds the single game record for most rebounds - a mind boggling 55. And he played against Bill Russell that game, not some chump on an expansion team.

Sure, records are made to be broken but some of them will stand the test of time. I also think that Wayne Gretzky's career goals and assists records in the NHL are untouchable as well, but that's another debate for another day :-)

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42064353)

The win was overturned due to " too many white guys on the court".

Systems that Work at certain levels (3, Interesting)

tubs (143128) | about 2 years ago | (#42064819)

I know nothing about basket ball, other than it has a ball and bounces and you have to throw it through a hula hoop or something, and have to be over 7 foot to play.

But, in all sports there are certain systems that work at certain levels of play - in soccer it's the "long ball". The theory being that most goals are scored within the penalty box, therefore the quicker you get the ball into the penalty box the more likely you are to score. One dimensional teams fair well in lower divisions where the talent pool is lower, and the system can compensate for that. An ideal candidate for this would have been John Becks teams in the early/mid 1990s, and he was so rigid that the overriding aim was to get the ball into the box that would substitute a player who passed backwards ...

Eventually, once the successful coach moves up a division (either with promotion, or moving on to another team due to their brilliance) the "strategy" becomes less effective - with better players/coaches in opposition being better able to cope with nullifying it.

Question to the Answer 42 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42094211)

Thought you might it find the question to Douglas Adam's famous solution 42 entertaining.

http://lifesmostimportantandobscurequestions.blogspot.com/2012/01/answer-to-ultimate-question-of-life.html

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