Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Afternoon Linkage: The Big Ten? Slow? Never!
By Eamonn Brennan
Afternoon Linkage is our daily tour through the college basketball mediasphere. Think your work deserves a link? Want to shoot the breeze? Interested in my musical leanings? OK, probably not, but you should still hit me on Twitter to send me stuff you think deserves an afternoon link. Now, on with the hyptertext:
Earlier this season, it tentatively appeared as though the Big Ten was going to, wonder of wonders, not play insufferably slow basketball. How wrong we were: As soon as conference play began, the Big Ten started slowing down again, which the Big Ten Geeks pointed out at their Big Ten Network blog space Tuesday. (Fun fact: Did you know Gus Johnson had a blog? And an awesomely named blog at that? Nor did I. Disappointingly, it's not entirely written in caps. It actually appears to not be written at all. Sigh. Oh well.) Anyway, every Big Ten team currently resides below the national pace average (which is about 68 possessions per game, give or take); even the Big Ten's fastest team, Minnesota, only takes about 67 possessions per game. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. Slow basketball can still be entertaining basketball, I guess. But those who like to harp on the inferiority of the Big Ten every year have yet more ammunition, and if you want up-and-down hoops, the upper Midwest is not for you.
Some Indiana fans take issue (and some agree) with my complaint about the Hoosiers' and Wolverines' court-storming after home wins over Minnesota and UConn, respectively, this weekend. Look, guys, I get it. Things are bad right now. Fans are frustrated, especially the old-timers who have lived their entire lives with a successful basketball program. But you can't completely forget your program's history just because you've had a rough decade. And the decade wasn't even that rough; IU went to the title game in 2002! Normally, sure, let the kids run on the court as much as possible. Who cares, right? Certainly not me. But the dissonance between beating a decent Big Ten opponent at home and storming one of the most storied courts in college basketball continues to confuse me. I'm not the only one.
Oregon State fans and media types are starting to freak out about Craig Robinson's potentially imminent departure to DePaul, while Robinson continues to avoid commenting on the possibility. Can Oregon State build a practice facility to Robinson's liking? Or are the Beavers destined to lose their coach to a school that, let's be honest, doesn't exactly have the best facilities situation in the world itself?
This is a few days old by now (I tweeted it back on Friday when I was away from the blog for a few days), but it probably deserves a whimsical mention here: Roy Williams' Amazing Technicolor Dreamties are literally dooming the Tar Heels. I'm not one to hate on a man's tie selection, but -- oh, who am I kidding? I'm like Tim Gunn when it comes ties, and not in a smart, knowing way, but in a catty-even-though-I-have-no-clue-what-I'm-talking-about way. Actually, wear what you want, Roy. I have no idea what looks good. I give up.
Seth Davis and John Gasaway disagree on the importance of rebounding margin. Layman's explanation: Because pace changes from game to game, rebounding margin doesn't really give you a good idea of how a team rebounds, because that margin can be affected by how slowly or quickly teams play. If you look at rebounding percentages instead -- which takes pace out of the equation -- this mess is cleaned up rather quickly. So when you see a writer cite rebounding margin (or, more likely, a coach), be skeptical. There are far better ways of figuring out well teams rebound.
Political non-jokes aside, South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy has close ties with Haiti -- his daughter was born there -- and is working to raise awareness and money by coaching barefoot Saturday. In the meantime, things got even worse in Haiti last night when a strong aftershock rattled the country as hard as anything since the initial quake. The key passage here: "The most powerful to hit Haiti since the initial earthquake eight days ago, it caused little evident physical damage to the ravaged capital. Everything that might have fallen appeared to have already done so." We should probably keep donating, huh?