Friday, February 5, 2016

Shootyhoops Basketmakers: Bibliballers

The Prophet Moses
The 1981 NBA Finals.
Those among us who consider themselves good, God-fearing Christians are no doubt familiar with what is to come in this section.  As such, I would like to recommend that they skip this section and spend the time elsewhere.  Perhaps they can work on their God-fearing, a skill that doubtless needs constant training.
For those that remain, this section is of vital importance.  There have only been three men in history to appear in both the Bible and in the NBA, and each of them were prophets in their own way.  There was Yeshua, the man who would die for our sins before being resurrected as an able stretch four for the Detroit Pistons under the guise of “Luigi Datome.”  There was King David Wingate, who slay the mighty Goliath and then kind of coasted through his basketball years if we’re being honest.  And then there was Moses.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Shootyhoops Basketmakers: Rick Barry

Rick Barry Can’t Have Anything Easy
Basketball at the professional level is chock full of amazing athletes.  Every year, the championship is determined as much by luck and health as it is by talent.  The luck of the draw matters so much for a player’s success in the league simply because of the level of competition around them.  Some happen into perfect situations, playing for years with a clean bill of health and never making any mental mistakes, like murdering their driver or overdosing on cocaine.
Some don’t.  Sometimes, Lady Luck is really an asshole to people for no reason.  It’s almost as if she weren’t really and that luck is just a construct of the human psyche to try and justify that happening around us.  If anyone understands this, it’s Rick Barry, Hall of Famer and victim of circumstance.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Shootyhoops Basketmakers: Tlaloc the Rain God

Tlaloc the Rain God

Nate Archibald entered the NBA in 1970 when it was in flux, full of weird teams bouncing around and still competing with the ABA.  Much of the league still put stock in the Old Gods, staging sacrifices and services before games in the hopes of calling down help from on high.  Rarely did this help teams, who continued to lose to the Celtics and their collection of terrifying robots over and over.  Teams began to lose faith in the Old Gods.  Soon many were nothing but names on the wind, forgotten by men and forever abandoned.
The Cincinnati Royals were among the last holdouts of the old ways, and rightly so.  In 1970, they were so undermanned that they attempted to summon Tlaloc the Rain God in hopes that he would bring monsoons down within their arena and force every game to be rescheduled until such time that they could fill their roster with real good players instead of real bad players.  They believed like no other team had before: this summoning was their last gambit, their only chance at success.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Panthers 31 Seahawks 24, A Reaction

I usually dont write posts about a specific sports game unless it is high school or NCAA Division 2 or something like that. It is because I figure most fans will have seen the games themselves. They will have their own reactions and thoughts about what transpired. Sports radio, forums, and the newspaper comments section provide plenty of opportunities for analysis and venting. I figure readers don't want to read about my individual reaction to a game and its twists and turns. With this post I am going to ignore that and write about a specific NFL game.

In case you are new to the blog or somehow missed it in previous posts, I am a Seahawks fan. I watch every game. I talk about, read about, and write about the Seahawks. The NFC Divisional round playoffs game between the Panthers and Seahawks struck a chord with me. The loss to the Carolina Panthers was a frustrating affair and it reinforced two piece conventional football thought; spotting the other team 31 points before half time is a very bad idea and the success of a team starts with its offensive line.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Seahawks versus Panthers, An the NFL Rivalry?

Since Russell Wilson  came to town in 2012, the Seattle Seahawks have built a football team around a stifling defense, a run heavy offense. The Seahawks approach to roster construction and game planning philosophy is a fusion of new age and decidedly old school. The team's players have a certain swagger to them, that many commentators consider irreverent to the sport. They have backed up this confident attitude with results, making the playoffs four straight years, with two trips to the Super Bowl. It is not a stretch to say the Seahawks have been the best team in the NFC since Pete Carroll arrived.

During this stretch of Seahawks dominance the team that most resembles the Seahawks in the NFC is the Carolina Panthers. The resemblance is on both side of the ball. The Panthers have a strong defense and a run first offense with a young mobile quarterback.They have also been good, making the playoffs three out of four years.

Seattle's defense has three of the best secondary defenders in the NFL (Sherman, Thomas, Chancellor). Carolina features Josh Norman, who is an elite shutdown corner. The Seahawks pass defenders are aided by a strong pass rush, which is anchored by Michael Bennett, one of the best defensive linemen. The Panthers defensive line is formidable as well. Their best pass rusher is Kawann Short, who tallied 11 sacks in the 2015 regular season. Each team has one of the best linebacking corps in the entire NFL. It is a constant and never ending debate over which teams middle linebacker, Bobby Wagner (Seattle) or Luke Kuechly (Carolina), is the best in the NFL.

On the offensive side of the ball the teams both focus on the run. The Seahawks have Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch. I think, when healthy, he is one of the best backs in the NFL. The Panthers have Jonathan Stewart, who is no slouch. Their running games are bolstered by young talented quarterbacks capable of tucking the ball and running themselves. This relatively rare trait in the NFL forces opponents defenses to be on constant lookout, which opens up the previously mentioned runningbacks for more yards. Prior to the huge breakout by "Angry" Doug Baldwin, neither team feature a household name at receiver. The Panthers' wide receiver are probably worse, but neither group is world beating.

The Seahawks and the Panthers don't play in the same division, but through the quirks of NFL scheduling they have faced off five times in the last four season (including once in the playoffs) and are set to play again this Sunday in the NFC Divisional Playoff round. In fact Russell Wilson has played a game against the Panthers every year of his career. These matchups have been low scoring hard fought affairs. The Seahawks have won 4 out of five with a total score of 95 to 72. If you exclude the 2014 playoffs when the Panthers collapsed in the second half the scores are 64-55. Nine total points has separate them in four regular season games. Like I said these have been close games.

This scheduling has led to a mini rivalry between the two teams. Fans in Seattle are looking forward to the Sunday playoff game. They view it When the Panthers finally did best the Seahawks this year, with a dramatic fourth quarter come from behind win, it helped them believe that they truly belonged with the league's best. The familiarity between the teams and the similarity of play makes these games great. They have the drama, energy, and big plays that you want in a professional football game.

I hope the NFL sees what they have created and foster this rivalry. They should try and schedule the Panthers and Seahawks every year. If the teams focus on their defenses, which seems likely given the coaches, the games should be low scoring and close. And as long Wilson and Newton are still leading their teams the games should have drama.  The Seahawks vs Panthers has the potential to become a must watch game.

Sources: Pro Football Reference

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Thabo Safolosha's Battle Against Injustice

I recently read a story in ESPN The Magazine about Thabo Safolosha’s arrest and subsequent trial. In case you don’t know the story here is a quick recap. Safolosha was outside a club after a stabbing took place. A police officer told him to leave, Safolosha talked back, so several police officers arrested him, tackled him to the ground, and broke his leg. Safolosha was offered a plea deal, but decided to go to trial. There the NYPD and DA did everything they could to paint him in a bad picture and get him convicted of various charges. They failed and the jury found him not guilty on all counts.

Although the NYPD would never admit it Safolosha was targeted by the police for being black. The officers walked past lots of bystanders and focused their attention of Safolosha. There is no legal reason for this. The police let their prejudice and stereotypes control them and they unjustly harmed another human being.

The story reminded me that, as a white man, I will never know the fear of racial prejudice and targeting that Black Americans face from the police every day. I can never truly comprehend what the feelings and emotions are like. My friends, coworkers and neighbors of color are forced to live in a reality very different from mine. This is wrong. They shouldn’t have to fear for their safety and livelihood. 

I hope the continued press coverage of events like Thabo Safolosha’s does something to change our countries broken and dreadful police culture. Hopefully people reading posts like this and stories like the one in ESPN are willing to admit to themselves there is a problem. Just because white America doesn’t see it, doesn’t mean prejudice isn’t alive and well in our country.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Success or Lack There of, for NFL Teams Coming Off a Bye Week

One common thread of insight in NFL analysis is that teams coming off a bye week have an advantage against their opponent. The reasoning behind this theory is the extra week of rest allows the team to recover from injuries and scheme for the upcoming opponent. When given two weeks to watch film and prepare of an opponent's defense an NFL coaching staff should be able to develop the strategies needed to between them. However, I was never convinced that the bye week actually gave teams an advantage. So, I decided to look into the data from all 32 NFL teams over the five season between 2010-2014 (2015 was excluded because when I created the data set there were still teams that hadn't had a bye). I wanted to know if the conventional wisdom was right.