Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Did you hear? They're called "Lethal Weapon 3"!

Thanks so much, Miami fans. You just had to go and make up some stupid nickname like "Lethal Weapon 3" for Guillermo Diaz, Robert Hite, and Anthony Harris.

I especially liked being beaten over the head by that phrase throughout the Wake/Miami game. Because Bobby Cremins couldn't help himself.

If Cremins is calling NC State's forthcoming game in Coral Gables, I will cry.

Compounding matters are things like...

At that point, the ‘Canes’ touted "Lethal Weapon 3" guard trio of Hite, Anthony Harris and Guillermo Diaz looked like it was stuck in the safety position.

I think I speak for everyone when I say this pun is not up to the high standards we've come to expect from the Anderson Independent-Mail.

I am perfectly comfortable in my perimeter-orientation.

Shame on me for missing this last week. After NCSU and West Virginia lost head-scratchers last Wednesday, Ryan took the opportunity to discuss the two schools' reliance on the three-pointer. He mentions, among other things, the variance that inevitably comes with shooting a lot of threes:

The downside of the three, however, is its variability. Teams don't often go cold on shots inside of ten feet, but even good shooting teams occasionally fire blanks from downtown.

Here's a quick, simplistic example. Team A shoots only twos. A bad night might mean shooting 45%, while they'll hit 60% when the offense is clicking. Team B shoots only threes. Their performances generally range from 25% accuracy to 50%. If both teams get 50 shots, Team A will score between 45 and 60 points. Team B will score between 37.5 and 75 points. The three point shooting team will have higher highs, but lower lows.

I have little doubt that NC State's dependence on the three, which is criticized (fairly, I might add) by a lot of fans, fuels the complaints about scoring droughts.

Previewing Virginia

Scouting Report

Virginia Offense 05-06
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate21.8179
Off Reb Rate38.527

By far, the biggest difference in Virginia's offense between 2005 and 2006 is its ability to offensive rebound. Last season, UVA had an OR Rate that ranked last in the ACC and 270th in the nation. They've gone from grabbing 28.3% of available misses to 38.5%, which is incredible. The good news--not that this necessarily means anything for Wednesday--is the Wolfpack has already faced four conference foes that are better offensive rebounding teams than Virginia. So the Wolfpack has seen plenty of this before.

UVA's .482 effective field goal percentage is the worst in the ACC, and the Cavs are shooting only 45.3% in conference play. Of course, Clemson is hitting at a similarly poor rate (45.7%) in ACC play and the Tigers still managed to shoot 50% against the Wolfpack.

Probable Starters:

Sean Singletary (6-0, 174) -- Doing an admirable job carrying a huge load. I don't think NC State has anyone who can match his quickness, so what was a problem last year could be an issue again this season. At least State has Cedric Simmons in the middle this time. Singletary's shooting is down a bit in conference play (eFG% = .464), but he's still averaging better than 20 points/40 min.

JR Reynolds (6-2.5, 197) -- Reynolds's O Rtg in ACC games is 97, and his usage is up slightly. Both he and Singletary boast decent turnover rates considering how much they handle the ball.

Adrian Joseph (6-7, 195) -- Shoots threes at the same rate as Singletary and Reynolds and is just as effective. He has a nice O Rtg of 115 in conference play, but that's with a usage of just 15.2%.

Jason Cain (6-10, 212) -- Oddly enough, Cain has become one of my favorite ACC players. As you can tell from the scouting report, he's been a big factor in Virginia's improved offensive rebounding. Only a handful of guys are grabbing offensive boards at a higher rate.

Tunji Soroye (6-11, 212) -- Total non-factor at the offensive end (see %Poss and %Shots in scouting report). Solid shot blocker.


Mamadi Diane (6-5, 185), Laurynas Mikalauskas (6-8, 241) and TJ Bannister (5-10.5, 176) comprise the significant part of Virginia's bench (a couple of other guys could make cameos). Mikalauskas and Diane have been getting about 20 min/g in conference, while Bannister's down around 13 min/g.

Of the three, Diane is the most involved offensively, though he sports an awful eFG%.

In conference play, Mikalauskas has been rebounding as well as Cain has.

Virginia Defense 05-06
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate19.5278
Off Reb Rate31.5135

After the Clemson game, it's nice to be playing a team that won't force a lot of turnovers. They're doing a pretty good job of keeping teams off of the free throw line, though Mikalauskas and Soroye average over 5.5 fouls/40 min in ACC games.

Dave Leitao deserves some credit for improving Virginia's defense. The Cavs rank 48th in adjusted defensive efficiency, and while that's not great, it is a noticeable improvement from 2005 and it puts Virginia in the top half of the ACC.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Team Offensive & Defensive Efficiency In Conference Play

Now that we're nearing the halfway point of conference play, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the respective offenses and defenses of each ACC team. Expansion has seen to it that conference schedules will never be as balanced as they once were, but they'll still provide good bases for comparison, especially as more games are played. As the numbers in this post span conference games only, you might be interested in comparing these stats to each team's full-season stats (note: numbers below are unadjusted).

First up, a look at each team's offensive and defensive efficiency, sorted by efficiency margin. ExpW-L is expected win-loss record, which I computed using the pythagorean formula. ActW-L is each team's actual conference win-loss record; numbers in red indicate the team has more wins than expected and may be considered a bit lucky. Numbers in green indicate the opposite.

Keeping schedule-related caveats in mind...

Conference Games Only
Rank TeamGamesOFF EFFDEF EFFEFF MarginExpW-LActW-L
1 Duke7115.595.520.06.1-0.97-0
2 NC State7115.9108.87.14.6-2.45-2
3 Miami7106.4103.33.14-34-3
4 Virginia7100.8991.83.8-3.24-3
5Florida State7109.9109.50.43.6-3.43-4
6 UNC6104.3105.7-1.42.8-3.23-3
7 Boston College7108.2110-1.83.2-3.84-3
8 Maryland6100.6103-2.42.6-3.44-2
9Virginia Tech798.1104.5-6.42.4-4.61-6
10Wake Forest7106.2112.8-6.62.5-4.51-6
11 Georgia Tech797.9105-7.12.3-4.72-5

Conference Averages: 104.9 (OFF EFF), 104.9 (DEF EFF)

To the surprise of no one, Duke is the clear-cut #1, though their pythagorean says they should've lost a game by now. They say it's better to be lucky than good; Duke is both.

NC State has had the most efficient offense in the conference, but the Pack's defense ranks 9th in conference play. Two reasons: State doesn't force turnovers, and its eFG% defense has been lacking. Bear in mind, however, that NC State has played 4 of the ACC's 6 top offenses (based on the above table)--Duke, Wake, Miami, Boston College. Duke and BC both rank in the top ten nationally in OFF EFF.

Florida State: underachieving thanks to poor defense. I still think they're an NCAA tourney team.

I can smell Wake's defense all the way from Raleigh. Whew.

Miami's rank is surprising, though they look better than they are thanks largely to Clemson's ugly outlier of a performance against them (38 pts on 60.9 possessions, for an OFF EFF of 62.4), which really gave their defensive efficiency--and, thus, efficiency margin--a boost. Clemson's brickfest in Coral Gables put a similarly large dent in its OFF EFF, making the Tigers look worse than they are.

Maryland looks like the biggest overachiever so far this season because all the games the Terps have won have been close and they've been beaten badly in their two losses. In particular, their performance in Cameron (67.4 OFF EFF) was damaging.

Virginia's defense looks nice, but it's going to start inflating once they play the better offenses in the league.

I also like to look at how each school's offense fares at home and on the road. The following table lists each team's home/road OFF EFF, again sorted by margin.

Home/Road OFF EFF Differential
Rank TeamGamesHome OFF EFFRoad OFF EFFHome-Road Margin
1 Virginia711187.223.8
2 Maryland6109.491.817.6
3 Clemson7101.685.216.4
4 NC State7123.811013.8
6 Boston College7110.9106.14.8
7 Wake Forest7107.4104.72.7
8 FSU7110.1109.80.3
10Georgia Tech794.2102.9-8.7
11 Duke7110.1122.7-12.6
12Virginia Tech788.8105.1-16.3

Florida State is the most consistent team so far this season, as their home/road differential is just 0.3. That they are consistently good both home and away is a good omen for future prospects...if they play better defense.

Like they did in 2005, the Terps are struggling on the road. They've got plenty of time to reverse the trend, but I'll be surprised if they do.

Holy crap.

Box Score

Forgive me if my recollection proves to be a little fuzzy, because I went into cardiac arrest at some point in the first overtime.

I feel kind of bad for Clemson, but it is nice to play a team that's so terrible at the free throw line. Shawan Robinson hit 10-10, while the other guys were 11-27 (.407). They could have iced the game in regulation or made life a whole lot more difficult for the Pack at the end of the first overtime.

I'm still shocked we were able to execute in the final frantic seconds of regulation and the first OT. Usually, it seems, those situations end horribly. Although it almost did end horribly in regulation after Atsur was called for travelling with about :15 left and the Wolfpack down two.

Down one late in OT1, Evtimov scared the religion into everyone by throwing a lob to Cedric Simmons. Simmons had a mismatch and it was good recognition on Evtimov's part, but a lot can go wrong on a lob like that. Fortunately, Ced caught the ball cleanly and the Clemson defender had no choice but to foul him.

The Tigers failed another free throw shooting test in the second overtime. Cliff Hammonds stepped to the line with his team down four and 2:45 on the clock and missed both FTAs. On NC State's ensuing possession, Cameron Bennerman knocked down a huge three to extend State's lead to seven.

Save the turnover category, NC State's offense performed well. The Wolfpack bounced back from the craptaculence displayed against SHU to shoot 62.3% from the floor and out-rebound the Tigers. Clemson only rebounded 25% of its available offensive boards, which is well below their season average.

Clemson came in with a +5.6% advantage in the turnover rate category, and they were strong in this area again today(and it probably should have won them the game). Their quick hands are no joke.

Turnover Rate

Wolfpack: 25.4%
Clemson: 14.5%

I thought the Pack's defense was just okay. State held Clemson to an OFF EFF of 103, which is the second-lowest mark posted by an NC State opponent in conference play (and much lower than what we've been seeing lately...)--but that OFF EFF was made to look worse by Clemson's poor OT shooting. While, as mentioned, the rebounding aspect of NC State's defense was good, NCSU didn't force turnovers (again) and gave the Tigers too many free throw attempts. Clemson shot 53.7% (eFG%) in regulation and 30% in the overtimes.

I'm not sure what Cameron Bennerman said to Mike Wood in Chapel Hill, but it has apparently resulted in some dangerous consequences. This afternoon, Section Six sources obtained the following document from Wood's locker in Littlejohn Coliseum.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Previewing Clemson

Clemson Scouting Report

The offense...

Clemson Offense 05-06
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate20.6111
Off Reb Rate37.148

Clemson's offense is scoring about 1.01 pts/possession, which ranks last in the ACC and 150th in the country. Of note from the scouting report are Clemson's respective field goal percentages from inside and outside the arc. Despite making threes at a rate that puts them in the bottom ten of Division I-A, Clemson still attempts a lot of threes. Their 3FGA/FGA ratio is second only to NC State among ACC teams.

With the possible exception of Akin Akingbala, the Tigers haven't had a consistent threat in the frontcourt (this is one of the areas where the injury to James Mays has been detrimental), and as a result they've relied on their guards to generate most of the offense. Vernon Hamilton, Shawan Robinson and Cliff Hammonds are 1-2-3 on the team in field goal attempts, and they take a significant portion of Clemson's threes. This would not be a problem were they shooting like they did in 2005, but they aren't--Hammonds and Robinson have seen their 3FG% drop precipitously.

After making 40.4% (67-166) last season, Shawan Robinson is making just 29.2% (31-106) of his threes in 2006. Hammonds's three-point shooting has dipped from 35% (55-157) to 24% (25-104). Hamilton is the sharpshooter of the bunch (he's hitting 35.3% this year), but he has attempted half as many threes as the other two.

Fortunately, the Tigers are good offensive rebounders and do a decent job of protecting the ball. Turnover rate is one of their biggest areas of improvement from 2005 to 2006.

Probable Starters:

Vernon Hamilton (6-0, 195) -- Still can't hit a free throw to save his life, but after a pretty abysmal 2005, Hamilton has dramatically improved his efficiency. Among other things, his eFG% is up from 44.9% last year to 53.6% this year, and his TO% has dropped from 31.3% to 21.7%.

Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 197) -- Averaging 12.9 pts/40 and 4.3 asts/40. He's shooting 44.4% from the free throw line to go along with his ugly 3FG%. He (like Hamilton) is good at stealing the ball, though.

Sam Perry (6-5, 208) -- Has the highest O Rtg among Clemson regulars, and he's another player who has improved his efficiency a lot this season.

Akin Akingbala (6-9, 240) -- Akingbala's impressive eFG% stands out; his 1.18 PPWS is the best among Clemson regulars. His usage is about average and there are four other Tigers with more FGAs than him...maybe they should give it to the big man a little more often.

Julius Powell (6-7, 190) -- Seems like there is one uncertain slot in every team's starting lineup, and for Clemson, this is it. Powell is a threat to shoot from outside, but (I think you know where this is going...) he's made only 24.6% (14-57) of his threes.


Shawan Robinson (6-2, 180) and KC Rivers (6-5, 210) generally come off the bench but both play extensively. Robinson is a much better shooter than his 2006 struggles indicate, and he is actually a reliable free throw shooter (OMG).

Here's a fun fact for the kids: Shawan Robinson and I were in the same 5th grade class. For an anecdote of questionable entertainment value featuring Shawan, please send $50 to:

Steven @ Section Six
123 Fake Street
Raleigh, NC 27607

Steve Allen (6-10, 250) is the only other Tiger who has appeared in every game this season.

The defense...

Clemson Defense 05-06
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate26.212
Off Reb Rate30.6100

The Tigers allow 0.89 pts/possession, which ranks second in the ACC and 23rd nationally. NC State's defense, meanwhile, has been sliding into mediocreville lately.

With four guys ranking in the top 100 in %Stls, it's not surprising that the Tigers are forcing opponents to turn the ball over at a high rate. Last weekend, they helped Georgia Tech commit 27 turnovers (TO% = 36.7%), 16 of which were Clemson steals.

The keys for the Wolfpack:

1) Force Clemson to take outside shots and hope it doesn't backfire.

2) Limit Clemson's second chances. The Pack's performance against SHU was pathetic in a lot of ways, and rebounding was no exception. SHU is a good-but-not-great offensive rebounding team that shouldn't have had the success it did. Clemson isn't a good shooting team, so limiting them to one opportunity will go a long way toward hurting their effectiveness.

3) Be selectively aggressive. State is pushing tempo more than ever this season, but this will play into Clemson's hands if we're not careful. We will probably out-shoot them (percentage-wise) and we don't want them to make up possessions via a positive turnover margin.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Scoring Droughts

One of the reasons I'm grateful for having discovered Dean Oliver's work is that his concepts have allowed me to understand and appreciate what NC State does offensively. I've learned that PPG, by itself, isn't very revealing, and that what truly matters is how efficient you are on a per-possession basis.

Not everyone is familiar with possession-based statisics, though. Because of what is sometimes hidden by more standard statistics, the NC State offense is doomed to eternal underappreciation. Criticism flares up after every subpar performance, and I don't know that it's a stretch to say the majority of fans would rather dump Sendek's scheme for something a little more typical. Losses tend to be blamed on the scheme rather than the (lack of) execution, which I think is unfortunate.

But don't get me wrong--I think there are plenty of legitimate criticisms that you can lob at the Wolfpack's offense. For instance, NC State is likely never going to be a good rebounding team because of the types of players it must recruit to run its offense. Rebounding is partially related to a coach's strategy (Do we crash the boards or lay back to avoid giving up transition buckets?), but it is also related to the skill sets of the players.

On the other hand, a common criticism that is (in my opinion) of questionable legitimacy concerns scoring doughts. While I recognize that scoring droughts occur, I also recognize that the idea that they are an inherent weakness of the NC State offense in particular is pretty suspect. The problems with this assertion? For one thing, no one that I know of has taken the time to delve into play-by-play data and actually record how often scoring droughts occur. There are no official numbers on droughts, unless you count those slick graphics that JP or ESPN throw onto the screen as droughts happen. We have no idea how often they happen to the best and worst teams in college basketball. The issue is not just that we don't know how frequently droughts happen to NC State, but also that we have no basis of comparison against which to stack the NCSU offense. That leaves us to justify our feelings with our eyes, and if I've learned one thing since being turned on to sabermetrics and other areas of statistical analysis, it's that our eyes--and our perceptions--can deceive us.

We can all agree that droughts are simply a fact of life on the basketball court. Every team endures them. Regardless of how good your offense is, regardless of how well you move the ball and generate good looks, there are going to be stretches of possessions where you don't score. This is why it's important to have a basis of comparison. When NC State becomes ineffective and we collectively roll our eyes and say "here we go again," are we being fair? What if NC State suffers fewer scoring droughts than most college basketball teams (fn. 1)? Before we point the finger, we need to know.

With any luck, it won't be long before we do know, or at least have a clearer picture. I'm going to look at historical play-by-play data and finally put some numbers up against our feelings. It is going to be important to (among other things) examine not just how often droughts happen, but also how long they last. I probably will not have time to do this during the season (I've got an increasingly-burdensome ACC stats spreadsheet to maintain), but it's something I definitely want to look at in the near future--to satisfy my own curiousity, if nothing else.

There is one critical question that needs to be addressed: how do you define a scoring drought? At what point do a string of scoreless possessions become a drought? I'm leaning toward defining a drought as going scoreless for at least 4:00 of game time, but I'm open to arguments/suggestions.


1.) And since NC State has one of the most efficient offenses in the country, I think it's likely that NC State doesn't suffer a concern-worthy number of droughts. If droughts were a big detriment to the offense, you'd think our efficiency would be more adversely affected. (fn. 2)

2.) Wow, footnotes. I always wanted to do this.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Something That's Not A Win Over Seton Hall

Box Score

I got nothin'.

Four Factors

Seton Hall51.823.240.6.53
NC State44.621.922.2.36

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Something That's Not A Preview Of Seton Hall

I'm skipping the full-blown preview of Seton Hall. There's not a lot I can add to the scouting report, anyway.

A few observations:

-- There's nothing I like to see more than an inefficient opposing player who uses a lot of possessions. Kelly Whitney is shooting 46.5%, which is especially poor what with him being a forward and all. He's got some meh rebounding numbers, too.

-- Donald Copeland is one of the rare SHU players shooting above 50% and is the team's most prolific outside shooter. He's 34-90 (.378) from behind the arc.

-- Jamar Nutter is also hitting threes at a decent percentage (.371), but there's little to worry about beyond him. Only he and Copeland are making more than 30% of their three-pointers.

-- The Pirates would have a solid offense but for that whole inability-to-shoot thing. Their season box score is viewable here...it's not pretty.

-- Brian Liang played with Gavin Grant at St. Raymond's. Both were in the class of 2004.

-- David Palmer is averaging an unpresidential 7.7 fouls/40 minutes.

Some assorted links:

-- The pressure is on Louis Orr. Says high school coach Bob Hurley:

"I personally know the guys on the staff there and I feel sorry for them," he said. "I don't know that there's another person out there that's going to do a significantly better job than Louis Orr is under the circumstances they have right now."

He's right, though I'm sure Seton Hall fans disagree with the assertion. Expansion has not helped the SHU job become more appealing, and for that matter, neither have the fans. Continental Airlines arena is a morgue on game day, so I think the rest of us can be forgiven when we mistake the Hall for a program without a pulse.

-- I had forgotten about this:

* Seton Hall heads back to Raleigh, N.C., and the RBC Center, for the first time since the 2004 NCAA Tournament.
* The Pirates picked up the signature win of head coach Louis Orr’s tenure at the RBC Center, erasing a 14-point second-half deficit to defeat Arizona, 80-76. The Pirates lost in the second round to Duke, 90-62.
* Senior Kelly Whitney had 24 points and 14 rebounds vs. Arizona. Whitney, Donald Copeland and Grant Billmeier are the current Pirates with game experience at the RBC Center

Monday, January 23, 2006

McCray Ruled Ineligible, Plus Other Monday Notes

-- Maryland's Chris McCray is academically ineligible and will not play again this season. This is just the latest bump in the road for Maryland's senior class. McCray was arrested last summer for refusing to leave the scene of a fight; Travis Garrison was recently charged with assault and served a one-game suspension; and Nik Caner-Medoodily was arrested for disorderly conduct back in the summer of 2004.

Some initial reaction to McCray's situation is up at Turtle Soup and there's plenty of discussion on the TerpTown message boards.

It's a shame that McCray's career had to end this way...he was in the midst of a very good season. Maryland, which already had the lowest 3FGA/FGA ratio in the ACC, loses the guy with the most three-point attempts on the team. It'll be interesting to see if their attempts fall off or if someone steps in and takes more threes. Mike Jones will be getting a lot more playing time and he's already a prolific three-point shooter, so he'll definitely be trying to fill the void. Beyond him, though, who knows...

The O Rtgs of Maryland's other guards don't stack up well to McCray's stellar O Rtg. Those guys can't match McCray's shooting efficiency, and they're more turnover-prone as well.

-- Big Ten Wonk offers some numbers and perspective on Wisconsin's stunning loss to NDSU. Aside: every time I see "NDSU" on ESPN's bottom line (which, admittedly, ain't often), I mistake it for "NCSU." I'm like, "Wait--we played Montana State today?!" until I realize my error two seconds later. But that's a scary two seconds, let me tell you.

-- Gregg Doyel tossed his bait out to NC State fans last week and received plenty of responses.

Speakin' of Gregg, I've noticed that his name is constantly misspelled. It's right up there with rediculous and your/you're as the most common mistakes made on internet message boards. Anytime there is an angry "Look What Doyel Said!" thread, the misspellings come out in bunches. In the last week alone, I've seen Greg Doyel, Greg Doyell, Gregg Doyle, and on and on. I guess that extraneous g really throws people off.

-- Frank Burlison was impressed by NC State's performance in Derm:

Although Duke pulled away down the stretch and won by 13 points in Cameron Indoor Stadium Wednesday night, the game just served to reinforce the belief that North Carolina State is the second strongest team in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Herb Sendek's Wolfpack look fully capable of another run to the Sweet 16. And you might be able to tack on another round to that projection if sophomore post Cedric Simmons (28 points, nine rebounds, seven blocked shots and three steals against the Blue Devils) continues his rapid rate of improvement.

Second place is a likely result and a nice accomplishment, but it'll still be disappointing to watch another season go by without an ACC title. It has been too long.

-- Individual leaderboards are now available through Ken Pomeroy's scouting reports. Click on a column heading to see the leaders in each category.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


From the recap:

Gray's frustration was evident in the final minute, when he heaved his gum into the crowd and accidentally hit an N.C. State fan.

"I want to win, I'm not here to get taunted by the crowd the whole night and then walk out with a loss," Gray said. "I was just mad at that point. It happens."

At least he finally hit something on Saturday.

From Tiers To Tears

NCSU 92, Wake 82

After three straight games of excellent shooting, the bricks were bound to show up at some point. Fortunately, NC State was able to limit its poor shooting to a single half.

1st Half eFG%

Wake: 50%
NCSU: 43.3%

2nd Half eFG%

Wake: 38.2%
NCSU: 60.4%

There are few interesting things to note in the aftermath of today's game. NC State has scored 80+ points in all three of its home ACC contests; State went for 80+ in just one home conference game last season (Maryland). State has posted an OFF EFF over 120 in all three home conference games, which it only did once last season (versus Maryland, not surprisingly).

What raised my eyebrow about today's game specifically was the pace: 76 possessions. Further evidence that the Wolfpack is looking to push tempo more often than it has in the past. State didn't play a conference game at anywhere near this pace in 2005, and the two regular season games against Wake were particularly slow (the game in Raleigh featured 59 possessions).

The pace of the game today illustrates our inclination to run, but it also illustrates how the relative talent levels of State and Wake have shifted between 2005 and 2006. We wanted to limit the possessions in each game against the more talented Deacs last year. Today, State's coaching staff knew we had the edge and wanted to afford the Pack as many opportunities as it could to separate itself from Wake Forest. That's my theory, anyway.

Average Tempo of NCSU Conference Games

2005: 63.5 possessions
2006: 68.4 possessions

Getting back to this afternoon's events...

We continue to do a poor job of forcing turnovers, even against the more mistake-prone teams in the conference. An NC State opponent has note had a turnover rate above 20% since North Carolina. That's not good.

Cedric Simmons, who is the Wolfpack's best rebounder, was limited to 14 minutes, and Wake took advantage by crushing us on the boards. Wake Forest's OR% was 47.8%, and the Deacs limited State to an offensive rebounding percentage of 20.6%. Four NC State players logged 30+ minutes--three of them guards--and the best rebounder of the four is Evtimov, but his season Reb% is a very modest 7.6%. Simmons had three of the Pack's seven offensive boards.

Opponents continue to shoot well at the free throw line against NC State. For the season (including today), Wolfpack opponents have made 71.3% of their free throws. The Deacs came in with a 65.6% free throw percentage and hit 76% today.

NC State was better still, and free throws were a huge part of the second half. In fact, both teams made the same number of two- and three-point field goals in the second half. But State made 23 free throws, while Wake only made eight.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Previewing Wake Forest

Wake's scouting report really illustrates how dire their guard situation is. Of the five Wake players with offensive ratings above 100, four are forwards (unless you want to count Strickland as a guard).

After enjoying two years as one of the most efficient offenses in the country, the Deacs have seen a significant decline in 2006. They're still good enough to be scary.

Wake Offense 05-06
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate24.3273
Off Reb Rate40.912

Wake Forest scores 23.6% of its points from the line, the 34th-highest proportion in the country. Getting offensive rebounds and drawing contact off of those close-in second chances is probably one of the ways they generate so many FTAs.

We'd rather limit their freebies, even if it is Eric Williams taking a lot of them. We don't want to shorten their possessions with fouls; we want them to have as much time as possible to show us why their turnover rate is so high.

As usual, we're dealing with another good offensive rebounding team. Check out those OR%'s in the scouting report--anything over 10% is good. The Deacs are not lacking for skill in this area. Just makes Cedric Simmons's presence all the more important.

Probable Starters:

Shamaine Dukes (6-1, 175) -- Could easily be Hale in this spot. I'll guess Dukes since he has started over Hale in 5 of the last 6 games. Dukes's O Rtg is ugly, but there are sample size issues considering he's averaging less than 9 minutes/game. He's not shooting well and has a hilarious turnover rate (52.4%).

Justin Gray (6-2, 194) -- Gray has taken on so many extra possessions this season that Eric Williams is actually using fewer possessions than he did in 2005. I'm wondering if Wake's offense would be better off if Williams increased his usage at Gray's expense. But that's not to say Justin Gray is using his possessions poorly; not at all. Gray is shooting over 40% from behind the arc and his turnover rate has been dropping now that he's been relieved of most of the PG duties.

Trent Strickland (6-5, 216) -- While his playing time has jumped significantly, Strickland's role hasn't changed that much. The extra playing time makes it appear as though Strickland has improved his production a little more than he really has. Witness:

O Rtg%Poss%MinPPGPPWSeFG%FT%Reb%TO%%Shots
Strickland 200510718.
Strickland 200611918.078.712.51.2257.

(Note: numbers are from my spreadsheet and will differ slightly from KenPom's data)
His usage and the %Shots are pretty similar, ditto for his per-minute production (points, rebs, assists). His shooting has improved across the board (including 3FG%, which I omitted), and he's turning the ball over less.

Kyle Visser (6-11, 244) -- He's tall.

Eric Williams (6-9, 280) -- I love me some Big E. His O Rtg is down this season because of his struggles at the free throw line (he's gone from 56.9% in 2005 to 45.5% this year) and a slight increase in turnover rate. His eFG% is still very good (65.3%), and he's still an excellent rebounder at both ends of the court.


Harvey Hale (6-2, 186) has started about half of Wake's games and averages better than 22 minutes/game. He's coming off a strong performance against Georgia Tech, which could have him back in the starting lineup. His overall numbers are awful, though (see his O Rtg and terrible eFG% in the scouting report), and he can't use the sample size excuse. He's second on the team in three-point attempts (40), but has only made 25% of them. I imagine Skip Prosser typically flips a coin to decide between Dukes and Hale.

Chris Ellis (6-9, 267) and Michael Drum (6-6, 204) should also see a good 20 minutes or so. Both of these guys are handling their roles in an efficient manner. Ellis has been a big time offensive rebounder this year.

Kevin Swinton (6-7, 224) and Cameron Stanley (6-6, 214) round out the rotation.

The defense...

Wake Defense 05-06
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate19.0298
Off Reb Rate28.845

From a points-per-possession standpoint, Wake Forest's defense has not changed from last year to this one. Their 2005 DEF EFF was 94.0; it's 94.2 (11th in ACC) this year. What apparently has changed, however, is Wake's vulnerability from behind the arc.

Judging by that low turnover rate, we shouldn't have to worry about too many forced errors. The Pack should end the game with a positive turnover margin--possibly a large one.

I don't think Wake's FTA/FGA is a concern. This is conference play. We're at home. There are no guarantees, but I will be surprised if Wake ends up with a significant FTA advantage.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Duke 81, NC State 68

Box Score

So painfully close until the last five minutes. Again.

I can deal with it in this case, though. Duke had the ball bounce their way and made some big shots. I'm going to be thinking about that six point possession for a while.

I came away thinking we'd done a great job on the boards, but the box score indicates we weren't as good as I thought. I think Duke surged on the glass in addition to on the scoreboard over the last 5:00. Still, rebounding was essentially even, and it was by no means a poor effort:

NCSU OR%: 29%
Duke OR%: 30.6%

Shooting was also even thanks to a big advantage from behind the arc for Duke...

NCSU eFG%: .537
Duke eFG%: .543

It's hard to complain about shooting 53.7% in Durham, but our inability to generate good looks from behind the arc was extremely disappointing. Duke's perimeter defense was so suffocating that it nullified NC State's entire backcourt (save Cam). Atsur couldn't get any breathing room off of the dribble or away from the ball, while Tony Bethel was left taking terrible pull up jumpers.

Not surprisingly, Duke had a significant edge in the turnover department.

NCSU TO%: 24.5%
Duke TO%: 14.4%

That equated to seven extra possessions for the Devils, and they scored 28 points off of NC State turnovers.

JJ Redick's value to his team was painfully evident tonight, and I'm not even talking about the shots he made. We were so concerned about his shooting abilities that we constantly over-committed, over-ran and jumped at the slightest hint of a field goal attempt. Redick took advantage of our mad scrambling by finding open teammates all over the place. He ended up with six assists, and considering that he only averages 2.5 ast/40 minutes, that's noteworthy. On the occasions where we were lazy, he nailed the open looks. I hope we've seen him for the last time.

Getting back to Duke's defense... I'm still shocked that we only attempted 11 threes over the course of the game. To an extent, that was a function of the way Cedric Simmons was playing, but Duke's pressure deserves most of the credit. The Pack didn't even manage a few backdoor cuts against the Devils' aggressive perimeter defense. State did pass up some open looks in order to dribble penetrate, which drives me (no pun intended) absolutely nuts. Shoot. The. Ball. Dribble penetration just isn't our strength. Shoot when you're open, goddammit.

But enough of that. I am smiling right now because Cedric Simmons was brilliant. Transcendent. Better than the Renaissance.

Simmons: 11-18 (61.1%), 28 points, 9 rebs (6 offensive), 7 blocks, 3 steals

Most of the damage was done against the Landlord, which makes his night even more impressive. I bet Shelden knows who Cedric Simmons is now. It was good to see Ced bounce back from a bad day at the line against Georgia Tech (2-8) and hit six of eight tonight.

Kudos also to Cameron Bennerman and Gavin Grant for providing a boost. Cam accounted for both of State's made three-pointers and I thought Gavin played pretty intelligently (for once). Gavin remains a turnover machine, but his 13 points and 7 boards made up for the mistakes.

Bethel, Evtimov and Atsur combined for 6 points in 91 minutes.

To end on a brighter note, there's this from Tim Peeler's article:

"That's the best team we've played," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "They know what they are doing and they do it well."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

DeMarcus Nelson Doubtful, Plus Other Items Of Interest

-- Once you get past Roy Williams's boo-hooing about the injustices of conference scheduling, there is this blurb regarding DeMarcus Nelson:

Duke forward DeMarcus Nelson is doubtful for Wednesday's game with N.C. State because of a bruised right ankle. He missed nine games after fracturing the same ankle in a Nov. 23 victory against Drexel. He suffered the bruise last week against Maryland in his second game back, and did not play Saturday at Clemson.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Nelson is getting better but is still unlikely to play against the Wolfpack.

By now, Duke is used to a short bench (seems like they've had one for the last 3-4 years) and to being without Nelson, so this doesn't improve NC State's chances very much. I hope that Nelson is eventually able to put all of these injuries behind him.

-- If you have a subscription to Sports Illustrated, you can read this article on quality big men who are flying under the radar. The piece leads off with Cedric Simmons:

North Carolina State center Cedric Simmons had such a negligible impact on the ACC last year that when Duke forward Shelden Williams was recently asked about Simmons, he responded, "Who's that?" Here's a quick primer for the No. 1 Dukies, who were scheduled to play the 6'9", 233-pound Simmons and the No. 14 Wolfpack on Wednesday: Simmons, who averaged just 3.5 points and 1.8 rebounds last year as a freshman, was leading his team in scoring (12.2), rebounding (6.9) and blocked shots (2.94) at week's end.

-- Yoni Cohen writes about Wake Forest's early struggles in conference play, and offers some suggestions for improving their performance. Wake's defense is allowing about as many points/possession as it did last season, but its offense has dipped from an OFF EFF of 120.8 to 107.9.

Cohen also projects the NCAA tournament field and puts the Wolfpack into the tourney as a #5 seed against--eew!--Nebraska. Also, it's kinda funny to see UConn in NC State's region again. Is there some sort of contractual obligation we don't know about?

-- Head over to Ken Pomeroy's blog for some pointers about O Rtg and usage. In that post, Ken reveals the mystery guest who is leading the nation in %Poss--a guy I've been unsuccessfully hunting for since the individual stats were released.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Previewing Duke

Take a look at the Duke Scouting Report, which is courtesy of Ken Pomeroy and his increasingly-awesome work. As usual, the Blue Devils are well-rounded--they have the best offense in the country and one of the best defenses in the country.

The product of their excellence at both ends is a gaudy efficiency margin (OFF EFF - DEF EFF = EFF MARGIN): 0.415 points/possession. So Duke is gaining .415 points on its opponent for every possession in a game. For an average game that runs around 70 possessions, that efficiency margin translates into a 29 point edge for Duke. Of course, Duke's efficiency margin is going to shrink considerably in conference play (it's about .200 through four conference games), but you get the point. Success at both ends of the court is what separates the great teams from the rest.

Duke Offense 05-06
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate18.115
Off Reb Rate29.3257

Uh...at least there is one thing they don't do very well (and as we will see, they don't rebound well at the defensive end either). Rebounding is one of the areas in which the Duke offense has changed from last season to this one. In 2005, the Devils ranked in the top 40 in OR% and grabbed almost 37% of available offensive boards. The regression in this area hasn't been detrimental to the team's offensive efficiency, though, because Duke has improved in each of the other three factors.

They're not turning the ball over, and in addition to being the best shooting ACC team from the field, they also lead the conference in free throw percentage (76.8%).

The other change to Duke's offense is less significant but still worth noting. With Daniel Ewing gone, the Blue Devils are getting about 27.1% of their points from behind the arc--down 6.6% from 2005.

If State is going to win, Duke is going to have to have an off shooting night. That sounds obvious, but it's the bottom line. We're just not going to keep up with them otherwise. In lieu of poor shooting, turnovers are a great way to make your opponent inefficient...but you have to be able to actually force them. Remember when BC's excellent TO% matched up with our inability to force turnovers? The Eagles only committed six.

If the Devils limit their turnovers to some disgustingly low number like that, State has no chance.


Greg Paulus (6-1, 185) -- If we are going to force mistakes, this is the guy who is going to make them. His turnover percentage (34%) is among the worst in the ACC.

Sean Dockery (6-2, 185) -- Dockery fits his limited role well--evidenced by his excellent O Rtg. Not lauded for his jumper, but has done a good job from behind the arc over the last two seasons. He's one of the better guys in the conference at getting steals.

JJ Redick (6-4, 190) -- Great players play efficiently even at high usage levels. Redick maintains an O Rtg above 120 despite using nearly 29% of his team's possessions while he is on the court. That's damn impressive. But it's not surprising because JJ is the best player in the history of mankind. Like, he would never go, say, 3-18 from the field in a game. Never. He's just way too awesome. In fact, I bet he scores 50.

Josh McRoberts (6-10, 230) -- Like everyone not named Williams or Redick, McRoberts is filling a secondary role, and maybe that's why there seems to be some disappointment about his production. Needs to work on his rebounding, but he shoots the ball well and has a low turnover percentage.

Shelden Williams (6-9, 250) -- Williams has the best rebounding percentage in the ACC (18.3%), and as is evident in looking at the scouting report, he rebounds well offensively and defensively. He also leads the ACC with 4.7 blocks/40 minutes. He is averaging 23.2 pts/40 on 61.2% shooting and has a low turnover rate (despite high usage) to boot.

"Did you see how I
freakin' nailed that shot?"


I'm not sure if DeMarcus Nelson (6-3, 195) is going to be able to go. If he can't, Lee Melchionni (6-6, 205) is going to have to pick up the slack. I'm guessing it takes him about five minutes to regale the viewing public with one of his Annoying White Boy faces. Melchionni's shooting numbers are down a bit this season, and he has the lowest PPWS (1.10, which isn't bad in its own right) of any Duke player who gets playing time.

Martynas Pocius (Hocus Pocius!) and Jamal Boykin (6-7, 230) should also make appearances.

Movin' on...

Duke Defense 05-06
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate24.450
Off Reb Rate33.7205

Note Duke opponents' low FTA/FGA ratio. This shocks you, I am sure.

The Wolfpack offense has been really good over the last two games but it hasn't had to deal with a defense like this one. Playing in Cameron against a Duke team that forces plenty of turnovers isn't a very happy thought. I'm only askin' for two things: 1) decent shooting from the Pack, 2) consistent officiating.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

NC State 87, Georgia Tech 78

Box Score

Georgia Tech scored 1.13 points per possession today, which is their third-best mark of the season (behind 1.24 vs. Jacksonville, 1.17 vs. Michigan State).

Both teams shot well in the first twenty minutes; the difference was that Georgia Tech couldn't sustain their hot shooting, while NC State could. Tech declined from 69.6% (effective field goal percentage) shooting in the first to 44.1% in the second. State, on the other hand, improved from 55.4% to 79.2%.

Take a look at how efficient Tech's key players were:

PlayerSeason O RtgO Rtg vs. NCSU
D'Andre Bell91117
Anthony Morrow121120
Jeremis Smith108107
Zam Fredrick8793
Ra'Sean Dickey97109
Lewis Clinch92128

Clinch and Dickey were excellent off of the bench, and even Zam Fredrick played well relative to his season numbers. Dickey's O Rtg would have been much higher but for turnovers. Fredrick was surprisingly steady with the ball and had a turnover rate of just 12.7% for the game (season turnover rate = 31.7%).

Side note: I'm getting more and more concerned about NC State's ability to force turnovers. For whatever reason--and on first inspection, it appears to have little to do with Julius Hodge--this year's team hasn't been as successful at forcing turnovers as it was last season. We ranked 79th in opponents' TO% in 2005 but have slipped to 204th this season. This puts a little more pressure on our halfcourt defense, though fortunately it has been up to the challenge. I'm probably overreacting a bit, but this is something to keep an eye on.

On the plus side, we did a good job of keeping Georgia Tech from grabbing too many offensive rebounds. And despite the issues with causing turnovers, we still committed fewer of them than Georgia Tech.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday Notes

-- Today's most important item: Theodis Tarver has been reinstated. Now the Jackets have at least a little something to work with on the bench. Tarver, who is the team's best shot-blocker, could replace Ra'Sean Dickey in the starting lineup.

-- More truthiness! See this Language Log post for video and a transcript of Stephen Colbert's phone conversation with NCSU prof Michael Adams. The story made today's edition of The Technician, and one student took this whole thing way too seriously.

-- Ken Pomeroy has made individual stats available for each team in DI-A, which is totally freakin' awesome. Have a look at Georgia Tech's scouting report.

-- I have made an effort to consolidate the various statistical primers that are scattered around the internets. You can find these links in the sidebar ( <---- ) on a permanent basis, and I've also stuck them in this post. If ever you need clarification on a statistic used here (or some justification for why you should care about a particular statistic), the answers can be found in these resources. (If anyone finds a bad link, please let me know.)

APBRmetrics Central: Links and Glossary
B-R.com Stats Glossary
Big Ten Wonk: Intro to Tempo-Free Stats
Big Ten Wonk: What's PPWS?
CTN: What Can Stats Do For You? (pt. I)
CTN: What Can Stats Do For You? (pt. II)
CTN: What Can Stats Do For You? (pt. III)
CTN: What Can Stats Do For You? (pt. IV)
Hawkeye Hoops: Stats Primer
Journal of Basketball Studies
KenPom.com: Individual Stats Primer
KenPom.com: National Efficiency
KenPom.com: Possession Stats 101
SuperSonics.com: Oliver's Four Factors
SuperSonics.com: Oliver's Individual Ratings
SuperSonics.com: Stats Primer
WashingtonWizards.com: The Four Factors of Basketball

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Previewing Georgia Tech

A win against Georgia Tech ensures the Pack a winning record over this tough early stretch.

Georgia Tech offense...
(Four Factors)

Georgia Tech Offense 05-06
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate23.9255
Off Reb Rate41.212

This is the worst offense in the ACC (162nd in the country). It's a good thing they can rebound (Are there any poor offensive rebounding teams in this damn league? Aside from the Pack, of course.). Georgia Tech is not at all reliant on three-pointers, and among ACC teams, only Maryland has a lower 3FGA/FGA ratio. The reasons for that will become clear once I get into discussing the starters.

It's going to be beneficial to put some pressure on Tech's guards, because those guys are looking for any excuse to give the ball away (seems like it, anyway). Although none of NC State's guards are proficient at stealing the ball, they should still force a good number of mistakes out of Tech's backcourt.

Part of the turnover problem probably stems from the fact that Georgia Tech remains one of the faster-paced teams in the conference.

Probable Starters (stats reference):

Zam Fredrick (6-0, 209) -- Where possessions go to die. In addition to being a poor shooter, Fredrick turns the ball over like crazy. Not that the Jackets have a lot of options, but I'm thinking Fredrick probably shouldn't be second on the team in field goal attempts.

D'Andre Bell (6-5, 200) -- An injury to Mario West has forced Bell into the lineup, and this has been a terrible exchange from an efficiency standpoint. Bell's poor turnover rate joins Fredrick's to form Georgia Tech's All-"My Bad!" backcourt. Bell does not factor into the offense too much, and that's a good thing (his PPWS = yikes).

Anthony Morrow (6-5, 205) -- Averaging 21.0 pts/40 on 57.2% (that's eFG%, mind you) shooting. He's pretty much Georgia Tech's only weapon from the outside (42.9% from behind the arc), as the Jackets have only two other guys who have attempted 10+ three-pointers--and neither of those two guys are shooting above 30% from long distance.

Jeremis Smith (6-6, 232) -- Despite being just 6-6, Smith is the best rebounder on the team and one of the best rebounders in the ACC. His value hardly ends there, though. Smith averages 18.0 pts/40 on 54.7% (eFG% again) shooting and maintains a good turnover rate (17.6%). Smith is the only starter aside from Morrow with an O Rtg above 100 (Offensive Rating is akin to OFF EFF for teams; i.e., pts produced per 100 possessions. More here). He also does a great job of getting to the line (9.4 FTA/40 min), but only hits about 54% of his free throws.

Ra'Sean Dickey (6-9, 255) -- Shooting and rebounding well, but his turnover rate (29.4%) is obscene. I like Dickey's game a lot, and once he cuts down on his turnovers, he'll become a much bigger asset for the Jackets.


Injuries haven't helped matters for the Jackets this season. In addition to Mario West's ailment, Lewis Clinch (6-3, 190) suffered a stress fracture in his leg back in December. Neither of those guys were expected to be available at this point; however, Clinch was back in the lineup for Tech's win over Boston College. West is still sidelined (hurt widdle toe).

And let's not forget that Theodis Tarver (6-9, 245) was recently ruled academically ineligible.

So will anyone actually come off of the bench? Probably. But this assumes that no one gets hit by a piano or an errant Zam Fredrick pass between today and Saturday.

Paco Diaw (6-6, 190) and Alade Aminu (6-9, 210) will get some minutes along with Clinch. Note that Diaw, Aminu and Clinch are freshmen. Aminu's been a good rebounder in limited minutes; none of the three have good shooting percentages. I'd expect to see about 15-20 minutes from each of these three guys. Clinch could play more, but I think Hewitt would be uncomfortable extending the other two.


Georgia Tech Defense 05-06
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate21.3190
Off Reb Rate28.446

The Jackets do at least play solid defense (7th ACC, 47th nationally). Second chance opportunities are going to be sparse for us. Considering how foul-prone the Yellow Jackets appear to be, it would be nice to see the Pack play a little more aggressively than usual. We could earn a lot trips to the line, not to mention that we'd love to see as much of the Georgia Tech bench as possible.


Tech: 99.9 / 91.1 / 8.8
NCSU: 113.9 / 90.1 / 23.8

Jawja Tech preview will be posted Thursday

Sorry for the lack of content today.

I was too busy trying to figure out how we'll ever reach Wake Forest's tier.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

NC State 78, Boston College 60

Box Score

Wolfpack athletics will be the death of me. But not tonight.

The Pack started the second half with an 11-0 run that extended the lead to 15. After that point, Boston College would cut the lead to single digits just twice: at the 12:46 mark on a three-pointer by Sean Marshall and at the 11:45 mark on a layup by Craig Smith. On both occasions, the Wolfpack answered with a made shot to push the lead back above 10.

The last ten minutes of the game were academic, allowing all of us to relax. I would totally be cool with it if this sort of thing happened more often. Thanks in advance, Herb.


NCSU: 75.6%
BC: 37.7%

Yeah, so that makes everything else pretty much irrelevant. Take this point from the preview, for instance:

The main reason why they're so stingy with the ball is because the guys who carry the offense--Dudley, Smith, Marshall--all have impressively low turnover rates. Creating turnovers has not been a strength of the Wolfpack's defense, so this is definitely a problem.

And it did prove to be a problem for the Pack; Boston College only committed six turnovers, giving them a significant edge in that category (BC's TO% was 10.3%, compared to NC State's 25.6%). But most of those extra possessions resulted in missed shots, and NC State shot so well that it could endure a high turnover rate.

NC State also lost the rebounding battle, though the Pack rebounded well at the offensive end (which isn't too surprising considering how poor of a defensive rebounding team Boston College is).

Offensive rebound rates: 44.7% for Boston College, 41.2% for State. The discrepancy in shooting percentages between the two teams was so large that Boston College ended up with twice as many offensive boards (21) as defensive boards (10). Don't see that too often.

All those offensive rebounds made for several BC possessions like the following:

MISSED JUMPER by Dudley, Jared
MISSED JUMPER by Smith, Craig
REBOUND (OFF) by Oates, John
MISSED LAYUP by Oates, John
REBOUND (OFF) by Hinnant, Louis
TURNOVR by Smith, Craig

Hopefully the Eagles will be okay. They're in the RPI top 50 and we need 'em to stay there.

What can you say about Cedric Simmons? Six-of-six from the field, 5-6 from the line. His level of play continues to amaze me. Last year he looked like a major work in progress. This year he looks like a burgeoning All-ACC player.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

E Street Band, this is your lucky day.

I don't stray from sports too often around here, but this is well worth it.

I was perusing the Language Log this morning and ran into this post: Colbert Fights For Truthiness:

On Friday the American Dialect Society chose as its 2005 Word of the Year Stephen Colbert's sublimely silly neologism truthiness. In a post submitted that night from the ADS/LSA meetings in Albuquerque, I surmised that the initial Associated Press coverage of the voting, which didn't even mention Colbert, would "serve as more fodder for Colbert's put-upon persona of perpetual outrage."

It turns out that NC State professor Michael Adams was asked to provide a definition of truthiness for the AP story, and so he naturally became a target of Colbert's rant.

The full transcript of the segment is available in the Language Log post. Here's the pertinent chunk (though the whole thing is worth reading):

You see the Associated Press article announcing this prestigious award, written by one Heather Clark, had a glaring omission: me. I'm not mentioned, despite the fact that truthiness is a word I pulled right out of my keister. Instead of coming to me, here's where Ms. Clark got the definition.

Quote: Michael Adams, a professor at North Carolina State University who specializes in lexicology, said (subquote) "truthiness" means "truthy, not facty."

First of all, I looked him up. He's not a professor, he's a visiting associate professor. And second, it means a lot more than that, Michael. I don't know what you're getting taught over there in English 201 and 324 over at Tompkins Hall, Wolfpack. But it isn't truthiness.

You know what? Bring out the board, bring out the board. (Stagehand brings out the "On Notice" board, with entries including "Black hole at center of galaxy," "E Street Band," "grizzly bears," "Bob Woodruff," "the Toronto Raptors," "The British Empire," "business casual," and "Barbara Streisand.")

Visiting associate professor Michael Adams: you, sir, are on notice. OK, somebody's gotta go. E Street Band, this is your lucky day. (Colbert pulls out card for "E Street Band," replaces it with "Michael Adams.")

This episode reruns tonight at 8:30 on Comedy Central.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Previewing Boston College

Although there probably isn't anyone with a legitimate shot at edging Duke for the regular season title, this is a must win game for two teams that want to entertain the thought.

The Boston College offense:
(These are the Four Factors. Know them well.)

Boston College Offense 05-06
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate19.136
Off Reb Rate37.752

You couldn't tell based off of the GT game, but the Eagles have one of the ten best offenses in the country. And it's pretty clear why: they shoot well, don't turn the ball over, and do a pretty good job grabbing the rebounds when they do miss.

The main reason why they're so stingy with the ball is because the guys who carry the offense--Dudley, Smith, Marshall--all have impressively low turnover rates. Creating turnovers has not been a strength of the Wolfpack's defense, so this is definitely a problem.

The Starters:
(Some definitions/info on the numbers featured below. Also of interest: Why use these statistics?)

Louis Hinnant (6-4, 190) -- Hinnant wasn't much of a factor in BC's offense last season, and little has changed this year. His usage (the percentage of possessions he uses while on the court) is just 14.8%. Hinnant's job is to get the ball to Dudley, Smith and Marshall, though he has done a decent job shooting the ball when he gets the chance (.542 eFG%, 1.12 PPWS).

Sean Marshall (6-6, 212) -- To date, Marshall has the highest usage among BC regulars, and he's handling it well. He has been the team's best three-point shooter (23-51, .451) and has a low turnover rate (15.4%). The Eagles are a little more inclined to shoot the three this season, and Marshall is definitely a guy with whom we need to be careful.

Jared Dudley (6-7, 225) -- Dudley is averaging 18.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per 40 minutes and has a better Offensive Rating than Craig Smith. No Eagle starter is better than Dudley at drawing contact and getting to the line. He won't turn the ball over much. Dudley's problems have come from behind the arc, where he's 6-28 (21.4%).

Craig Smith (6-7, 250) -- Smith's workload has been reduced a bit this season and it has made him a more efficient player:


FGA/40 min: 16.0
Pts/40 min: 20.8
PPWS: 1.09


FGA/40 min: 13.3
Pts/40 min: 20.7
PPWS: 1.23

He's improved his eFG% by nearly 10 percent, which has made all the difference. His FT% is actually down this year.

John Oates (6-10, 255) -- Not much of a shooter, and the very definition of a nonfactor at the offensive end (%Poss = 10.9%). Oates has started all 14 games, but he is only playing a little over 20 min/g. Will shoot the three (not well).


Tyrese Rice (6-0, 183) is Boston College's most important reserve. Rice, a freshman, averages 19.5 pts/40, which is second only to Craig Smith. Rice leads the Eagles in both three-point attempts and makes (28-67, .418). He averages a rather high 4 turnovers/40 min, but this is somewhat misleading because of the high number of possessions Rice uses while on the court.

Akida McLain (6-8, 220) has been efficient in a limited role. He and Williams will steal Oates's minutes.

Sean Williams (6-10, 230) is back from suspension and it seems clear that his shot blocking skills haven't missed a beat. I'm very interested to see how much Williams plays. If he's effective at the defensive end, we could see a lot more of him than we'd like.

Marquez Haynes (6-3, 185) is the only reserve other than Rice who has played in all 14 Boston College games. Averaging about 14 min/g but only saw 3 minutes at Georgia Tech yesterday.

At the defensive end...

Boston College Defense 05-06
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate21.1203
Off Reb Rate37.7292

Case in point that good rebounding at one end (in this instance, the offensive end) does not necessarily correspond to good rebounding at the other. Defensive rebounding has been a big issue for Boston College's struggling defense, which ranks 11th in the ACC (90th in the nation) in defensive efficiency. They're dead last (in the conference) by a mile in opponent offensive rebound rate (4.9% difference between BC and the 11th place team), 9th in turnover rate, and 9th in eFG%.

So if you are concerned about how the Pack will fare against the Eagles defense, you prolly shouldn't be. For us, it's the other end of the court that's important--especially after Saturday's lackluster effort.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

UNC 82, NCSU 69

Box Score

I'm just now able to bring myself to write something, and I'm going to keep this short.

Nothing pours salt into a wound like missed opportunities. Missed layups. Moronic turnovers. Missed one-and-ones. Et cetera.

In a close game, those things are crushing; they do even more damage when they're compounded by bad luck. On the most important possession of the game, with the score tied at 69 and less than 3:00 left, State played good defense before a scramble for the ball eventually led to an easy bucket for the Heels. And of course there was Carolina's epic performance at the free throw line: 26-28 (92.9%; UNC's average coming in was 65.7%).

Our defensive effort was totally lame, and I think that was the most disappointing (and frustrating) aspect of our performance. The Heels had plenty of open looks, many of which were layups.

Worth noting is another good defensive rebounding effort by the Pack. It probably would have been even better had Cedric Simmons been allowed to play more than 21 minutes.

We were a better team in every respect when Ced was on the court, so it should hardly be surprising that he was saddled with foul trouble. His fourth foul--administered nice and early in the second half--was utter BS. I'm not bitter.

BlogPoll Ballot -- Final

So long, college football.

Look for the last BlogPoll at MGoBlog on Monday.

Rank TeamLast Week
1 Texas2
2 Southern Cal1
3 Penn State3
4 Ohio State5
5Virginia Tech10
6 LSU12
7 West Virginia11
8 Alabama15
10Notre Dame4
11 Miami (FL)6
12Boston College16
20Florida State21
22Cal NR
25Texas Tech19

Dropped Out: Georgia Tech, Iowa, Michigan

Friday, January 06, 2006

In Some States, It's A Delicacy

-- Some quotables from UNC/NCSU players and coaches:

"I teased him last year about him eating squirrel. He's eaten squirrel before. That's the only guy I know that's ever eaten squirrel." -- N.C. State guard Tony Bethel on teammate Cedric Simmons
Those only look
like beef tips.

I started laughing at the WTF Factor of this comment from Tony, but then it struck me that I'd eaten more than a few items of questionable origin at a certain campus dining hall.

And I have in the past wondered if Fountain served squirrel as one of its meats-du-jour. If we discovered that they'd been sneaking squirrel onto the menu, would anyone really be surprised?

-- You've probably already seen Andy Katz's piece:

But the Pack are even more communal without Hodge. The top seven players are all major contributors, with the bigs -- Cedric Simmons, Andrew Brackman and Gavin Grant -- all in tune with the guys on the perimeter (Ilian Evtimov, Engin Atsur, Cameron Bennerman and Tony Bethel).

Simmons, Brackman and Grant are in their second season understanding Sendek's system. Bethel finally is feeling better after battling health issues all of last season. Atsur is coming off another international summer playing ball, and Evtimov is yet another year removed from missing the season with an ACL injury.

-- By the way, I don't know if anyone has noticed that NC State sits at #5 in Ken Pomeroy's ratings. His ratings system, which is used for predictive purposes, suggests that the Pack has a 69% chance of beating the Tar Heels. I'll take those odds.

Because of poor schedule strength, the Wolfpack find themselves at #39 in the RPI, but that is not a bad place to be sitting as they head into conference play. Certainly beats last year.

-- Yesterday, the Wilmington Star's Andrew Jones offered his evaluation of the Wolfpack. Nothing you haven't seen before. Includes this entry into the great 3 pt.-FGA debate (the following is one of the team's weaknesses, of course):

Reliance On Threes – State still attempts too many 3-pointers. Even though Simmons isn’t all that polished yet, he should get more touches than he does (he has gotten more touches the last couple of games, and this must continue). Running the ball through the post more will increase State’s open looks away from the basket, and since Simmons and Brackman are solid passers, they can find cutter, especially along the baseline, notably Bennerman and Gavin Grant. More balance in shot selection will make the Wolfpack a more legitimate threat to reach the Final Four.

As long as we have one of the best effective field goal percentages in the country (and, in turn, an efficient offense), I don't think anyone should be complaining.

-- The Sporting News's Andrew Skwara says Herb Sendek's new recruiting approach is paying off:

So how did Sendek make N.C. State a place where the nation's top high school players wanted to be again? He completely changed his recruiting philosophy, evaluating and offering scholarships to kids at earlier ages.

Call it the fast forward approach. Sendek and his assistants, who focused on prospects outside the top 100 in the past, are starting to spend a lot of time scouting freshmen and sophomores, bringing 14- and 15-year-olds to their camps and making it clear they want them before some other schools have even contacted them.

N.C. State was the first school to show interest and offer Wright. They lured him to their summer camp last year along with another highly touted player, in-state 2007 prospect Eric Wallace, who they offered, as well.

Interesting post, though I'm not sure where he got the idea that Julius Hodge was "shunned by most elite programs." Even if that were true, it doesn't change the fact that Julius was considered by many to be among the ten best high school players in the class of 2001.

-- Lastly, Lenox Rawlings writes about the impending conference season...

Duke probably lacks the defensive steel to win the NCAA unless Nelson regains form and stays healthy, but J.J. Redick (25.3 points a game) and Shelden Williams (9.6 rebounds, 18.8 points) can carry a heavy load.

"Probably" belongs beside "almost" in contemporary basketball language, words with fluid definitions. Illinois, which lost three of the top four scorers, probably shouldn't return to the Final Four, but it could.

N.C. State probably shouldn't win the school's third national championship, but you can almost hear Jim Valvano's hoarse voice endorsing the possibility. In 2006, with the gates wide open, the Wolfpack stands its best chance since 1983.

Cardiac Pack II? This winter, two dozen teams - including some you haven't yet considered - will labor in the pulsating frontier between heartthrob and heartbreak.