College hardcourt action is in its make-or-break stretch, so check in with Baskeball Prospectus' John Gasaway to discuss who's looking good, and who's looking desperate.
John Gasaway (Basketball): Yo, hoops nation! Welcome to the first chat of calendar 2011! John G. here with my pointy hat, listening to "I'm Not Satisfied" by those chipper youngsters from The Go! Team. Today we will name our award for the dullest team in the (Tuesday Truths) nation. With that, let's tip this thing off!
Ben Allaire (Raleigh, NC): More devastating injury to their team: Kyrie Irving or Mike Scott?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Scott. He was way more prominent in the offense and has way less help. As for Irving, I thought the undergrads in that "Get Well, Kyrie" video put it pretty well: With him Duke could go 37-0 and win the national championship. Without him they could go 35-2 and win the national championship.
Hank The Tank (Georgia): Who is your pick for Freshman of the year? Jarred Sullinger and Terrence Jones are both looking really good. Which one will go highest in the draft if they decide to depart early?
John Gasaway (Basketball): On Monday I had Sullinger-Jones 1-2, but said the former was the clear winnah. Link should still be on front page. Make haste and scroll down.
Dan (Salt Lake City): Where would you put Jimmer in your POY ballot as of now, and how far can BYU go in the NCAA tourney?
John Gasaway (Basketball): OK, let's look at Jimmer, Sullinger and Kemba. Not saying those are the only candidates, just three names I hear often. In terms of help from teammates, Sullinger gets by far the most, Walker by far the least, and Jimmer's smack dab in the middle. In terms of awesomeness on both sides of the ball....? Just saying, these are the kind of a priori hoops I set for myself.
I will of course announce my winner in early March. Past winners: Kevin Love (Tyler Hansbrough fans forced me to enter the witness protection program), DeJuan Blair, Evan Turner.
iamse7en (Minnesota): Do you think BYU is the favorite to win the MWC? What seed in the Tourney could they possibly get?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Yes. SDSU is ranked higher and has been all year but the Cougars have that win @ UNLV in their pocket and are beautiful when you put on your tempo-free goggles.
iamse7en (Minnesota): It's clear that the POY award is largely driven by the media. After his 47-point performance (after they ignored last year's 49-pointer and this year's 39er AT UNLV), it seems the media now considers Jimmer Fredette to be in the running for POY. Do you think Fredette has a chance to win or co-win that award? Who's YOUR POY favorite?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Actually the media was polled by Mike Rothstein of AnnArbor.com and the current favorite is Kemba Walker. FWIW. Not ready to make my announcement yet but I've already lavished love on Sullinger, Jimmer & Kemba at both Prospectus and the WWL this season, perhaps most ardently toward Jared. Eh, it's January.
Brian K (Boston, MA): Is there a young team that you think can make noise this March like Kentucky did last year (e.g. UConn, Kentucky remix, UCLA, North Carolina, Harvard)?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Interesting. Kentucky last year had Patterson. UConn has Kemba, but the Huskies are way, way more reliant on Walker than any Elite Eight participant since Curry-led Davidson. Bruins aren's scoring much early in the Pac-10 season. UNC has similar issue. And my tres, tres ardent amour for fellow Montrealite Laurent Rivard of the Crimson is a matter of record.
Matthew (Newark): Outside of the ESPN network announcers, any other broadcasting arm regularly using advanced stats? Bilas uses "efficiency"--and seems to do so correctly most of the time--all the time. And I know that Knight--Knight!--has used PPP in the past during a game.
John Gasaway (Basketball): Yes, Knight did utter the words "point per possession" during the 2009 ACC/Big Ten Challenge. What "An Affair to Remember" is to women, that clip is for me. I pull it up on the DVR, sit down on the couch with a big box of tissues, etc.
Outside of ESPN? Not that I know of, at least not on CBS. (Len Elmore used a rebound percentage once.) And as for the talent on BTN or on any of our nation's fine regional providers I'd have to open this question up to the group. Anyone heard any promulgations of tempo-freedom from an announcer lately?
Drew Cannon (Durham, NC): Is San Diego State good? Seriously, this is beyond me.
John Gasaway (Basketball): Wow, our very own Drew Cannon's become so famous (quoted by Luke Winn, etc.) that readers now impersonate him -- just like a D-I head coach! Can a Fake Drew Cannon account on Twitter be far behind?
Excellent question. Aztecs have suddenly morphed into an all-D outfit. Not that there's anything wrong with that -- the D's been incredible. Fisher's group is outscoring the MWC by 0.14 points per trip. BYU: 0.21. But I emphasize the "it's January" part.
Josh (Chicago): It's hard to argue with your top-25 list, but let attempt to do so anyway and submit that Victor Oladipo of Indiana deserves a spot. He's a true hybrid player that rebounds like a forward, handles like a guard, makes his twos, is an excellent defender, and even gets to the line. If he spent the summer eating cheeseburgers, he would remind everyone of Draymond Green.
John Gasaway (Basketball): Excellent point. I mean about it being hard to argue with my perfect list. No, I was surprised I didn't get any grief -- literally, zero -- from Hoosier fans over that decision. Are they that dispirited in Bloomington? (They shouldn't be!) I am definitely keeping close tabs on the young lad from Rob Gasaway's stomping ground (Hyattsville, MD).
Stormy (Charlottesville, VA): Dullest team? Could very well be here in my town. The offense is okay overall, but the ppp are buttressed by a couple of outlier games.
John Gasaway (Basketball): Well, let's see here. Virginia: 0.95 points per trip in conference play, 59 possessions per 40 minutes in a conference that averages 67...Yes, I'd say there's definite potential for the award. But what do we call this award? Help me out!
jahearn (D.C.): The Jalopy? I'm thinking about how KW used to (maybe still does, haven't checked) use "NASCAR" to describe *really* fast pace in BBState rankings. Not sure if it really suggests the no-scoring element, though, cheesy puns aside.
John Gasaway (Basketball): Has my vocabulary really become so impoverished that I have to resort to bowdlerized Whelliston? My Constellation of values won't allow that! Not this or any other Beautiful Season! I draw the Red Line there!
Jquinton82 (NY): Whats the latest on Melo and my Knicks?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Quite right. I've been very surprised at how Club Trillion-y Fab Melo's been.
Oh, you mean that other guy. Guess we should start putting "John Gasaway (College Basketball)" at the top of that page.
binx (work): How legitimate are Hofstra's chances of winning the CAA regular season? Also, will you Jam on the James with me this year?
John Gasaway (Basketball): You know, darned if the Colonial's big scary monsters -- ODU, VCU -- don't suddenly look a little more small, benign, and pet-like. Of course the Pride host the Monarchs tomorrow. Also not to forget: Mason.
Noah (NC): Perhaps the award could be named the TruthI Dullard of the Year? At least the acronym is TIDY.
John Gasaway (Basketball): Per Audacity of Hoops blog, I'm thinking the award for the nation's dullest team could be called 35 Seconds and a Cloud of Dust. For one thing the acronym would be 35SAACOD, which totally looks like a bad early George Lucas title. What do we think?
S. Malkmus (Mitch Easter Island): In answer to your charming question, the award for the dullest team should be the Order of the Boring Environment (OBE for short, natch) in 'honor' of the obvious leading candidate, namely the Old Dominion Monarchs.
John Gasaway (Basketball): Indeed, I tweeted on ODU's aesthetically unpleasing offense this very morning. They do attack the offensive glass, however, or at least they're doing so in CAA play.
AJ (Raleigh): Besides Duke, what teams do you like out of the ACC? Lots of teams show flashes but the resumes are filled with ugly losses and there are almost no signature wins to be found.
John Gasaway (Basketball): My spidey sense says Maryland but at the moment I don't like any team besides Duke out of the ACC. And after seeing the Blue Devils shoot 30% on their 2s the other night I'm not even terribly giddy for them, but I trust they'll bring me around.
JT (Delaware): Dullest team in the nation: Auburn, they're bad and slow.
John Gasaway (Basketball): Badder (0.82 points per trip in SEC) than slow (right at conference average) right now.
S. Malkmus (Mitch Easter Island): Oh yeah, there was a question to go with the random CAA abuse... After Belmont BEASTED Lipscomb last night to take command of the A-Sun, how high a seed could they receive ?
John Gasaway (Basketball): What can I say, I tweeted out Belmont's splendor this week and in my warped narcissistic view that was supposed to trigger an avalanche of coverage from the usual suspects. Instead, crickets. Well, I for one am impressed by the Bruins. My hunch however is that the selection committee will be less impressed.
Matthew (Newark): Arizona St.? Slow and low (PPP)
John Gasaway (Basketball): 0.88 points per trip in Pac-10 and 63 possessions per 40 in league that's averaging 67. Yes, definite 35SAACOD potential.
Escoot (Las Vegas): Is it still taboo to discuss how much Vegas and bettors embrace and utilize tempo-free, yet the Mothership and mainstream media are slaves to RPI?
John Gasaway (Basketball): I didn't get the taboo memo. Yes, a couple times a season I do receive an email from someone Vegas-y asking me for the special sauce, which is hilarious because there is no special sauce. My wares are hawked twice a week at the Mothership for any and all subscribers to see.
Securitizer (Milwaukee): Buzz Williams cites a ton of advanced statistics (or at least they sound advanced to me). What coach in your mind is most fluent with advanced statistics?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Buzz is definitely on the short list. I know Bo Ryan's use of points per possession predates what impartial scholars call the Age of Gasaway. Coach K and staff, of course. Eric Reveno blurbed our book this year. Brad Stevens wrote the Foreword. I guess I would draw a distinction between coaches who use this stuff at the microphone (Buzz) and those who use this stuff period (Buzz plus a much larger group).
Robert J (KY): Will Kansas, Duke or Kentucky lose at home this season?
John Gasaway (Basketball): "Or"? Yes. "And"? No.
David Hess (Audacity Of Hoops blog): If you do use 35SAACOD, you could shorten the acronym to 35COD (35 & Cloud Of Dust), then use a school of fish for the trophy/logo/iron-on-patch/etc.
John Gasaway (Basketball): Or how about that disturbing mounted talking fish that used to be on that McDonald's ad? Good call. Yes, we have our award's name and you, sir, will receive full and deserving credit!
Tom Crean (Bloomington, IN): How long before I'm coaching in the Mountain West?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Beats being an NBA assistant with a show-cause from the NCAA. (Har!)
achaik (#AEMadness): It is outside of the Tuesday Truths ambit, but America East needs an honorable mention for conference-wide excellence in the field of slow play and poor offensive performance. Seven teams 250th or worse in pace, six 250th or worse in AdjO. The fastest team in the conference is its most bricktastic- UMBC. Yeeesh.
John Gasaway (Basketball): Duly noted. Which by the way was the phrase on the Wii "Wheel of Fortune" the other night. I hate it when they're that short.
gowabash (indiana): Is there a duller team than Wisconsin. Same thing every year and incredibly slow pace (even for the Big Ten).
John Gasaway (Basketball): You're scooping a potential topic! OK, the Badgers are threatening to set a new standard in the field of deliberate pace -- even for the Badgers. Just 56.5 possessions per 40, a whopping 1.9 standard deviations slower than the go-go Big Ten. But, no, there's no way they can win 35COD. When you turn the ball over just 10 percent of the time you score a ton of points.
Alan (Andover, MA): Riddle me this: When a rabbit meets a tortoise, which team is impacted more? Does where the game is being played matter at all?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Definitely rabbit, which can often be slowed down by a tortoise. But just try to speed up something with a shell and really stubby little legs. It is difficult.
Escoot (SoCal): Can St. Mary's be considered dull? They don't turn the ball over, don't really miss, and play at a very pedestrian pace?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Subjectively? Sure! But, to restate our criteria, true 35COD teams have to be not only slow but also have a really bad offense. And SMC is at the opposite pole from "really bad offense."
Paul (Lawrence, MA): How much can one game skew a teams PPP #s? Ex: any team playing Wake Forest in the ACC, Auburn in SEC or at least offensively Providence in the Big East?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Right now, tremendously. Season-long in the WCC (14 games), not much. In the ACC (16), less than not much. In the Big Ten or Big East (18), hardly at all.
Providence merits a discussion. Someone please ask me about the Friars. I need a shill.
John (Detroit): How would you use margin-of-victory, tempo-free efficiency, etc., if you were on the selection committee and had to look at who gets in, seeding, etc.
I'm always torn because on one hand I recognize that taking a look at teams through the efficiency lens is more helpful in determining which teams are more talented and playing better, but at the same time "you play to win the game" and need to be rewarded for wins against quality competition.
John Gasaway (Basketball): I did a piece on this last season ("Marginal Improvement"? Something like that) and basically when I'm king we will keep selection exactly as it is but use tempo-free reality to bump seeds down (see New Mexico 2010) but never up.
Paul (DC): Cuse. What of their run to date is actually worthy of note as the season progresses. What is there to worry about come tournament time?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Yes, Cuse. What a defense. Check with me in a couple weeks, but I'm not excluding the possibility that it could be even better than last year's. Scoring enough points should be the only worry come March. Surprisingly small number for offensive rebounding in BE play. I'm tempted to say they miss Onuaku but, of course, they didn't have him for the tournament last year. (And look what happened.)
Mike (Chelmsford, MA): Ok, I'll bite. What do you think of the Friars of Providence College?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Finally! Thank you Mike from Chelmsford. I don't often grovel like that.
If ever a one-sentence-paragraph-type's most vaporous phrases about a team "losing heart" and "doubting themselves" are going to be true, it could be with PC 2011. They played Cuse tough at the Carrier Dome, lost by 2 at home to St. John's, and lost to Pitt by 4 at home. So far, so good. Since then they've been shield-your-eyes. It's too early to be tired. Maybe they just think they're worse than they are.
Shill (Shillville): I love the Big East. Do you have any insight on those plucky Friars?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Sorry, shilled too late.
Jamie (Lowell, MA): Do you think the NCAA should continue using pods or do geographic accurate regions pre-2005? It always seems a 3-seed has to play a semi-road game 25 miles from a 6-seeds campus.
John Gasaway (Basketball): It's a question of how you order your priorities, and I've even advocated adding a new one to the list. Pace Joe Sheehan I do not want to see UTEP playing Butler in the first round. I don't like it. So you balance mid-majordom, with geography, with the conference prohibition. I admit the committee's job is tough.
jahearn (D.C.): So, Villanova - I happen to have seen them in person once, and I think that's skewing my perception of them. I wasn't overly impressed. Final Four-type team?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Cats have been insane at the start of BE play. Scoring out of their minds (1.18) and no longer engaging in what I've called "weird, needless, suicidal fouling." I'm impressed.
10-MINUTE WARNING. Get those questions in.
Sean (Lowell, Ma): Could you send out an e-mail prior to Monday niteto college basketball announcers that Pitt does not wear you down with their great defense? Do they ignore stats or are they blissfully ignorant of their existence?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Seriously? Who said that? I thought I'd corrected that stereotype with my season-long man-crush on Blair two years ago. Is this still being bruted about?
paulbellows (calgary): Thoughts on Minnesota taking down Purdue? How far can they get this year?
John Gasaway (Basketball): I was surprised not because the Gophers won but because they did it by scoring so well. In fact it's a backhanded compliment to Tubby & Co that I came away impressed that the Boilers came as close as they did on a night when Moore was 2-14.
Tom (Boston, MA): This question might be better for Kyle Whelliston but... are there any non-conference power teams who have the stuff do make it through the first weekend (Missouri St. maybe?)
John Gasaway (Basketball): Define "non-power." Obviously San Diego State and BYU are quite fearsome. Temple can shut anyone down.My Belmont love is well-documented, as are my warm fuzzies toward Utah State and Saint Mary's. And yes, Cuonzo Martin's getting it done with da Bears. If this continues get ready for the Inevitable Speculation about The Latest Successful Valley Coach.
paulbellows (Calgary): Any chance the Cavs avoid the worst record this year?
John Gasaway (Basketball): Wake Forest's record will be worse than Virginia's. Oh, you mean that other team.
Kevin Pelton? Bradford Doolittle? Sebastian Pruiti? Over to you guys!
John Gasaway (Basketball): Well chatted, everyone! Our award is named and the hoops have been celebrated. Enjoy the weekend build-up to Syracuse @ Pitt! Let's do this again soon. A bientot.