Here are a couple NBA-related items:
In the midst of a made-for-TV finals match-up, the NBA gets hit with the ultimate allegation: league officials basically fixed playoff games to increase TV ratings. Now ex-referee Tim Donaghy certainly doesn’t qualify as a rock of credibility, but here’s the thing: it doesn’t really matter whether Donaghy’s accusations are true or not. The NBA has already made its bed in the court of public opinion. They schedule playoff games at odd intervals (witness the two off nights between games 1 and 2 of the finals this year–both games played in Boston) for no obvious reason but to maximize TV ratings. And there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that special treatment has been given to star players to ensure fans get to see as much of those stars on the court as possible.
So it’s not much of a stretch for sports fans to believe that officiating may have been tampered with for financial reasons. Regardless of whether Donaghy is telling the truth, this may be the final nail in the coffin of the NBA’s credibility as a legitimate sports league.
On a less depressing note, there was an interesting piece in the NY Times Magazine earlier this month on Mike Zarren, a 32-year old attorney who serves as a statistical consultant to the Bostons Celtics. The Celtics have picked up on a trend originating in Major League Baseball–the employment of statistical experts to advise management on personnel and strategic decisions. According to the article, GM Danny Ainge is a bit more open to Zarren’s suggestions than is head coach Doc rivers. A couple big-picture observations from Mr. Zarren:
What’s the most efficient shot to take besides a layup? Easy, says Zarren: a three-pointer from the corner. What’s one of the most misused, misinterpreted statistics? “Turnovers are way more expensive than people think,” Zarren says. That’s because most teams focus on the points a defense scores from the turnover but don’t correctly value the offense’s opportunity cost — that is, the points it might have scored had the turnover not occurred.
We know all about the costliness of turnovers, eh?
Now a couple Big Ten notes:
Tom Crean’s IU roster took one last blow yesterday: Detroit native Jordan Crawford will not return to the team next season. That means the Hoosiers have just one returning scholarship player: former preferred walk-on Kyle Taber. The Hoosier Report breaks down the roster for next season at this point, which will consist of Taber, six new scholarship players, and four walk-ons. The term “rebuilding” is certainly an accurate description of the task before Crean.
Beyond the Arc is running down the top 25 college basketball programs of all time. Ohio State is the first Big Ten team to appear, checking in at #18, on the strength of 10 Final Four appearances and 19 conference titles. Any guesses where MSU will rank? We’ve won two national championships (vs. just one for the Buckeyes) but we have fewer Final Four appearances (6) and conference titles (10), so we may not be too much further up the list.