Thursday, April 18, 2013

Popovich is a Genius, But the Spurs Aren't the Same

Everyone knows the Spurs are well coached and well managed. Coach Popovich is universally regarded as a coaching and player development genius, having shepherded his squad to four NBA titles and made dozens of bit players into productive guys with big contracts. Over the past two years, he has read the league's tea leaves and transformed the team from a grind-it-out defensive team into a high-octane, high-possession, offensive force. Check out their pace stats: from 92.3 (14th in the league) in 2010/2011 to 92.9 (7th) in 2011/2012 and 94.1 (6th) in 2012/2013.

The other way that Pop has changed the offense is through a creative offense that either places the ball at the rim (in Tony Parker's case, a floater within 10 feet is basically at the rim) or in the hands of a three point shooter. Players make hard cuts and quick, decisive moves with the ball to ensure A) players are never out of position for a pass, B) the ball never stops, and C) the defense doesn't have time to re-balance following a ball swing. The coach of the year section of this piece by Grantland's Zach Lowe highlights some of these things that Popovich has done. This new offensive strategy has produced via a huge boost in the Spurs' assist stats. This year, the Spurs have assisted on 63.65% of baskets, third in the league, while their offensive efficiency of 107.0 (points per 100 possessions) is seventh. Their assist % compares favorable to other offensive juggernauts, as seen in the following chart:

Monday, April 8, 2013

2013 March Madness National Title Pick

My winner for the 2013 NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament? Michigan. They have the best remaining player, and if he can do his thing, there is nothing Louisville can do. See you at the game (I wish)!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

2012 Baseball Review, Part 3: A Comparison of Leagues

Google ate my earlier post, but it was saved in Word. Saved by Microsoft? Scroogled?

In my previous two posts on the 2012 MLB season, I looked at the best teams in each league, what made them successful, and how their strengths/weaknesses compared to the other teams in the playoff picture. All assessments were made on July 11, the day after the All-Star game when I started paying attention to baseball again. In this post, I will examine some broader trends regarding both leagues and reflect on the playoff matchups. Click here for the earlier posts on the specific leagues: AL and NL.


As explained in earlier posts, I used playoff % and point differential to sort out what I believed to be the contending teams in either league, as looking at all the teams would have been exhausting. The notable absence? The 2012 Baltimore Orioles, who are covered in the AL Post.

2013 March Madness: Elite Eight Review and Final Four Picks

Louisville over Duke: First: let’s all hope that Kevin Ware’s recovery from one of the worst injuries I’ve seen is quick and effective, and hopefully he becomes a better player from this experience. Now to the game: I wrote in my preview that Seth Curry may struggle in this game after only getting one day to rest his sore shin, and that the Duke secondary stars and role players would have to play the game of their lives for the Blue Devils to have a chance. Turns out, Seth may have been hampered by the shin, but even at full strength, I don’t know that it would have mattered against this great Louisville defense.

A lot of people will tell you how strong Louisville’s press is, how it has helped them throughout the tournament, and how it will be key against the smaller Wichita State guards in the Final Four (more on this in a bit). Rubbish. Sure, the press has helped them, especially in the early rounds, but theirs is a disciplined press, much more so that the Havoc system that VCU uses. They cover guards full-court, but only send a trap in the backcourt when the opposing big isn’t in a position to help. Against Duke, they bothered Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton in the backcourt, but Duke didn’t have inordinate difficulty getting the ball into the frontcourt.

Monday, April 1, 2013

2013 MLB Opening Day!

I'll finish my review of 2012 soon, I promise! As well as get my Elite Eight review up. But to celebrate opening day and give you a teaser, my 2013 MLB WS picks are: Rays over Reds.

Nobody is ever right about these, and I don't care! Happy opening day!