Monthly Archives: December 2016

Grayson Allen seems sincere, and maybe that’s the problem


Adrenaline is not Grayson Allen’s friend. It’s not Fran McCaffery’s friend either, of course, but at least the Iowa head coach didn’t give North Dakota’s Brian Jones a leg-sweep in the handshake line on Tuesday night.

Instead, McCaffery petulantly walked off the floor rather than shake hands. Dumb move from a guy old enough to know better, certainly (McCaffery apologized almost immediately), but one that can be classed as the standard-issue wreckage caused by male adrenaline.

What’s strange about Allen (who also apologized almost immediately) is that his adrenaline swells so unerringly and with such velocity in his right foot, of all places. I’ve played and watched basketball for a really long time, and I’ve seen every kind of scuffle and altercation imaginable. Scuffles and altercations are endemic to hoops, truly.

But I can honestly say I’ve never seen a player trip an opponent intentionally twice, much less three times. The particular form that Allen’s on-floor stupidity takes is sui generis. I have no idea where it comes from. This will be for a biographer to figure out, and if Allen indeed turns out to be a seven-time NBA all-star and/or wins a presidential election someday (don’t laugh), we may get answers. Continue reading

Shot volume index


Masters of the SVI genre. (AP)

For the time being I’m taking what I’ll call a shot volume index out for a test drive to see if it can be of any use. The SVI can be thought of as the number of shot attempts a team would record in 100 offensive possessions with average shooting accuracy (determined collectively by 75 teams in major-conference play in 2016), and, most improbably, zero free throws.

I need hardly add that I’m far from the first observer to look at and measure this aspect of the game. Consider this merely one more dish at the buffet.

Last February when I was juggling Tuesday Truths and other stuff, I whipped up a little shot volume casserole in the microwave, and it was, I trust, passable. But with a bit more time to prepare, I’ve come to prefer the slow-cooked SVI and its fair degree of accuracy in predicting how many points your team will score. Also, allow me to extend a big thank you to Svi Mykhailiuk at Kansas for cheerfully loaning his name to this undertaking.

Great offensive rebounding teams that commit a turnover before they attempt a shot don’t get a chance to display their greatness. Conversely teams that excel at taking care of the ball but place a transition-D-focused ban on offensive boards see their shot volumes suffer relative to competitors with identical or even significantly higher turnover rates. The SVI proudly carries this brand of sequential flow-charting horse sense in its DNA. Continue reading

Your category 5 update for 2016-17


Not counting the 10 suits, a group like this only happens in Division I once every 1.8 years.

Now that Duke is rounding into form health-wise, this may be an appropriate moment to revisit the idea of the category 5 roster. With Mike Krzyzewski giving serious minutes to Jayson Tatum and the coach also saying that Harry Giles may play before Christmas, this epochal-roster-strength stuff is no longer a conceptual exercise where the Blue Devils are concerned. The speculative “when Duke gets healthy” dream pieces have been retired, and unalloyed present-tense adulation (heresy just two weeks ago) has begun in earnest.

A category 5 roster is one that returns at least 40 percent of its possession-minutes from the previous season, and adds a freshman class that rates out at 25 recruiting points or better based on Drew Cannon’s canonical front-loaded evaluative curve.

Duke has the nation’s only category 5 roster for 2016-17. Here’s how the Blue Devils and Kentucky fare on the metrics in question this season:

                %RPMs        points
Duke              56          36.6
Kentucky          26          35.4    

Continue reading