Tuesday, March 18, 2008

CBI? ... News to me

More games, huh?

Looks like Cincy isn't done yet (yeah, I'm a little late with the news). Frankly, I didn't know about this tourney (the College Basketball Invitational) and figured the Bearcats were finished for the year. According to Koch, they'll now face Bradley in the first round of the CBI.

Personally, I'm excited that there are more games, and we'll see what happens here.

But I wanted to take a moment to address a couple of larger issues. I'm not a controversial person by nature (at least at this point) and since nobody reads this anyway, I doubt my thoughts on these issues will be deemed controversial. Anyway ...

The negative approach

The general negativity from a large portion of fans is quite hard to believe. I guess, maybe it's understandable, but it goes beyond simply be frustrated with the season. It is like some people will make a negative comment on any issue that comes up (in the few blogs/forums that I read). Sure, any fans who post their thoughts on the 'net are "super fans" and probably not that representative of Bearcat fans as a whole, but it seems like there are quite a lot of them with negarive views.

Anyway, is there any reason to be particularly upset with getting an invite to this little tournament? It's more games to watch (maybe; if they're on tv), it's another game for the seniors, another game for the younger guys, perhaps there's a chance for some recognition, etc. etc. Where's the bad stuff? Sure, it's no big deal, really. It's not the NCAA tournament, but who's making it out to be that? Better than nothin', I say. Either way, to each their own ...

What's that about wins and losses?

The other thing that I think is interesting is that many fans cannot seem to look past win-loss record. Sure, it's important; nobody would deny that. But a win and a loss is on such a cut and dry scale. Imagine this: Cincy loses to #1 ranked, oh let's say Duke, 65-61. Marquette loses to #255 ranked Longwood by 20. That's all the info you have on both teams. Are they equal because they're both 0-1? Not if I have anything to say about it. Now over the course of the season, things like that are supposes to balance out and W/L record will become pretty telling, right? Well, sure, to a degree. But record by itself serves little purpose. I mean, just take a mid-major variety ball club. They could easily go 25-5 and not be ranked all year (and righlty so). North Carolina does that and they're a top team. That brings us to the novel concept of ...

Strength of schedule. Pomeroy has UC's SOS at 21st in the nation. That's second best in the Big East and, well, 21st overall out of some 300+ teams. Now it's 13-18 against much better than average competition. Pomeroy then has UC ranked 100th overall. Nah, it isn't great, but it's a lot better than you'd expect from a 13-18 record, and a lot of that is due to that tough schedule.

So is there awkwardness with UC getting into this tourney? I don't see it. Bradley and their much more respectable 17-15 mark are ranked 85th by Pomeroy's measure, just 15 spots better than Cincy. Brown, another CBI team, is ranked a whopping 148th in the country, but of course their 19-9 record makes them look, well, pretty damn good. They played in the Ivy League, folks.

A bad 30 point game?

This is turning into a longer post than I planned and, quite frankly, I'm having fun with it. I was meaning to post this the other night but I didn't get around to it. Anyway, is it possible to score 30 points in a 40 minute game and have a bad night offensively (I'm only considering shooting here; not passing, ball control, defense, etc.)? The quick answer would probably be no, not really. But did you see Deonta Vaughn the other night vs. Pitt? Outside of being electrifying at times, he had a pretty rough night. He scored 30 in 39 minutes, but he shot an ugly 8-25 from the field.

Let's pretend Vaughn took every Bearcat shot that night (all 54) and got to the line as much as he did, relative to his field goal attempts. That gets us:

from the field: 17.28-54
from 2: 6.48-21.6
from 3: 10.8-32.4
from the line: 19.5-26

Total points = ~65

I'm all over the place here. If you can't follow what I did there, you're in good company, as I can't either. I think I did it right, though, and the point is: Vaughn barely increased UC's point total, relative to how his teammates performed (Cincy actually scored 64 points). Of course, this is an oversimplified "analysis," as players don't take all of their team's shots. if they did, they'd be blanketed more than Deonta was, and they'd shoot an even worse.

I'll go a step further and say that part of the reason Vaughn had to shoot so much was because he was the only player that could consistently get open. Yeah, the rest of the team shot 45% compared to Deonta's 32%, but if they only shot when they were open and they didn't get open often, what was he supposed to do? Now, I'm not saying that's what happened; I'm merely throwing it out there as something to chew on.

Men of Bradley

So we've got this game with Bradley coming up. Who are these guys? They're 5-11 vs teams in Pomeroy's top 115. That means they're like 12-4 vs. teams outside of the top 115. So they beat up on bad teams ... but who doesn't? Plus, the 115 number was just an arbitrary selection by me (it's close to Cincinnati's ranking).

They play to about 70 possesions a game compared to Cincy's 65, so the game might be a battle of conflicting interests, at least in terms of pace. They're also real dangerous from 3 with 5 guys who've made at least 20 on the year.

We'll see you around.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Well, that's that

I think the loss to Pittsburgh is a pretty good example of what happens when you have one, and only one, real scoring threat. Vaughn is awesome, but if he's the only guy that's going to score, the defense is going to play him tighter and tighter. And I think that's what happened, especially late. Sure, he got on fire there, and that was pretty special. But then the d tightened up even more and then you've got trouble ... and that led to an ugly overall shooting night for Deonta (8-25 from the floor), despite some late magic. If someone could have buried a couple of 3's there or they could have got something going inside, then Vaughn gets freed up a little bit and maybe shoots better down the stretch. As it was, Pitt was all over him and he struggled getting off solid shots. It's a lot of game theory, really, I think. They need more weapons next year and I hope they'll have them.

As for the season in general, it was a disappointing finish, but -- as I've said before -- I think they outperformed expectations by a good bit. I understand there are already two factions in the Cincy online world (and as I follow more teams via the net, I find that is more often than not the case). I am not really on either side of the hate/love Mick Cronin debate. Frankly, I don't follow things closely enough, or know enough about basketball, to be really entrenched on one side or the other. Hopefully I can fall somewhere in between and try to offer a somewhat "objective" take, although I try to be an optimistic person in general.

And that takes me to this final note: the future of this blog. It isn't going anywhere (well, I might change the domain name in the future, but we'll see), as there's no reason for that. I'd certainly like to update it more next season and even in this offseason. Currently, I'm writing for a couple of baseball blogs and I maintain another, smaller web site. I have made a 88 cents overall in close to a year of blogging on the net (although making money is certainly not a priority, or even a goal at this point), I go to college, and I try to do some non-internet related things every once in a while. You'd be surprised at how much time I have left over, but a lot of it goes to baseball, a sport I know a bit better. Either way, I'm going to update this blog occasionally over the next few weeks with my thoughts on the tournaments, college sports in general, and possibly a few UC offseason things. I'm not particularly impressed with my first go around with this blog, and I bet you're not either. Hopefully, if I keep things up for a while, I'll improve and we'll create a nice little community here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It's go time!

Well, I don't know about you (all one of you : ), but I am excited about the game tonight vs. Pitt at MSG. The way I look at, who cares about the last 5 games? Who cares about the loss to UCONN, or for that matter, every other game this season? It all comes down to one game ... and then, of course, one game tomorrow ... and one game until we win this Big East tourney. Of course, that's easy for me to say. I'm not on the team and I haven't played a competitive sport in years. Can you just wipe out a 45 point loss and a disappointing 5 game losing streak? I'm not sure, but why not? If the final goal of a National Championship -- and I'll assume that's the ultimate goal -- is still in reach, then why not give it all you've got and see what happens? Sure, a championship of National or Big East variety is a stretch to say the least, but there's really no reason to not go all out for it, despite the odds.

Anyway, it has been a nice run. Yeah, I've caught up on some of the online reaction on the finish -- as much as I can stomach, which is not much. What did everyone expect? I mean, while I say the "final goal" is an NCAA championship that is more of a dream than anything. For the most part, this team outperformed expectations, perhaps even destroyed them. It's human nature, I suppose, to allow the recent games to put the season into a negative light ... but there's time to right that ship and turn things around, if you if think this was somehow a disappointing season.

Pomeroy (for some reason, can't hyperlink: http://www.kenpom.com/conf.php?y=2008&c=BE&t=p) has Pittsburgh as the 30th best team in the country and UC at 100. But let's not forget we beat this club back in January and we only lost by six in Pitt. With no real home court advantage, the oddsmakers have Pitt as a 9 point favorite. Seems a bit high to me -- did I mention anything about weighting recent performance too much?

Anyway, there would be no better way to finish off the season than with an exciting run in New York. Let's get this thing started tonight. With nothing to lose myself, I'll make some "bold" predictions.

Cincy -- 83
Pitt -- 81

Vaughn buries two late threes and racks up, let's say ... 41 on the night.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Rough loss

Hey, I'm still here. As you can see, I haven't posted much of late. I'm not sure that will change, but we'll see.

Anyway, this loss to Depaul was a frustrating one. I listed to the last 10 minutes or so on the internet radio feed after tracking the score on espn. Seems like they simply didn't shoot well down the stretch and made too many big turnovers. Still, I thought they had a real chance down 2 with Depaul still being in the one and one. I just can't see how you foul Burns there and then foul him again after he missed the free throw. Make him give the ball up. The announcers were saying he was the only good free throw shooter on the court for Depaul. In his career, he's hit 78% of his free throws. I'm not sure who exactly was on the court, but Green and Walker are just slightly over 70% for their careers and the rest of the team is worse. Sure, it's only percentage points, but it may have made a difference.

Of course, if they rebounded Burns' first miss, it may not have mattered.