Monthly Archives: December 2013

Perception and Josh Pastner


Today at Insider I’ve written about Memphis and why I think the Tigers will be a force to be reckoned with in this year’s American race. And by “force to be reckoned with,” I mean “about as good as if not better than any other team that we think will still be in the league next season.”

Having zeroed in on this season’s team, I want to take a step back and consider Josh Pastner’s career and specifically what his example may be able to tell us about how college basketball is customarily narrated. (Something like a person facing backward on a train and describing the terrain as it goes by with feigned “I knew this was coming” omniscience. But I’m getting ahead of myself.)  Continue reading

Mark Emmert is exactly right

Official NCAA mascot J.J. Jumper is actually less efficient in his scoring than Trey Triples or Attila at the Rim.

Official NCAA mascot J.J. Jumper, a markedly less efficient scorer than Trey Triples or Relentless Rim-Attacks. (NCAA)

Speaking at the IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in New York yesterday, NCAA president Mark Emmert answered a question about the criticism that’s been directed his way by my ESPN colleague Jay Bilas. “I don’t like the ad hominem attacks,” Emmert said, to which Jay immediately responded: “They’re not attacks. The criticism is fair, and right on.”

As Jay himself is wont to say, reasonable people can differ on the precise point at which substantive criticism becomes an exercise in ad hominem polemic. For Emmert, that point was apparently reached earlier this year when Jay called the NCAA’s head man “an absentee president.” Personally I think that’s self-evidently an assessment of performance rather than a prejudicial slander — pallid grounds for a duel, if you ask me.  Continue reading

There are, for now, seven major conferences

James H. Smart helped start the Big Ten, possibly because he was tired of Purdue being called a mid-major.

James H. Smart helped start the Big Ten, possibly because he was tired of Purdue being called a mid-major.

Yesterday at Insider I ranked my top five mid-majors, and in response I heard back from some readers who felt that the hardiest of hoops perennials — what’s a mid-major? — perhaps merits rehashing in this era of wanton realignment. Fair enough. What’s a mid-major?

A mid-major is a team from any conference except the ACC, American, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, or SEC.  Continue reading

Saluting the nation’s most masochistic fans

Which program is the polar opposite of these guys?

Which program is the polar opposite of these guys?

One thing I’ve always respected highly is the ability to faithfully support a team that’s consistently terrible. Today I want to salute the fans of the worst major-conference program in the nation.

Not merely the worst team at this moment, mind you. I’m after something more enduring, the program that can make the best case that it is nothing less than ontologically hapless.  Continue reading

You say Marshall Henderson, I say Andy Kennedy

Turns out the SEC has seen a quick trigger finger before.

The SEC’s seen a quick trigger finger before.

Marshall Henderson attempted 23 threes in 36 minutes in Mississippi’s 115-105 overtime loss to Oregon yesterday. Henderson fared quite well against the Ducks, sinking 10 of those attempts and scoring 39 points, but it was not quite enough for the Rebels to win at home against a top-15 opponent.  Continue reading

Placebo effects and new coaches

Not every hire can work out this well. (He probably promised a faster pace.)

Not every hire can work out this well. He probably promised a faster pace.

All new-coach hires are alike; each coaching departure is unhappy in its own way.

For example at Missouri the past couple years, Frank Haith’s been turning things around:

Haith was an instant positive energy on the sidelines and on the practice court. Practices were higher intensity and more structured. Film sessions became analytic. The strength and conditioning program went from a team perspective under [Mike] Anderson to an individualized approach under Haith.

Haith replaced Mike Anderson, who was hired by Arkansas in 2011. When he arrived in Fayetteville, Anderson promptly started turning things aroundContinue reading

Presenting the Easy Intrusive Coach Detector

What would the EMCD have to say about Coach Dale? (That's a rhetorical question. There was no three-point line back then.)

Five passes before every shot? Sounds intrusive, Coach.

If Mike Krzyzewski gets his way and college basketball really does name a commissioner to oversee the sport, I already have a credo picked out to inscribe above the Commish’s cool new office: “The Game is Coached Too Much.”

Take the three-point shot. Left to their own devices, players would shoot threes on occasion, but some coaches decree that their teams not do that. Depending on the team, that decree can either be a no-brainer or highly intrusive.

So, in the tradition of Drew Cannon’s Easy Bubble Solver, I’m pleased to unveil the Easy Intrusive Coach Detector, a fool-proof way to determine whether your head coach is carrying this whole authority thing to an extreme and actively harming the performance of his offense. It’s fast, simple, and effective.  Continue reading