Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oklahoma State's women went 0-for-18 on three-point attempts last night against Texas Tech. That wasn't quite as bad as the Dayton men's 0-for-24 night behind the arc earlier this season, but was still pretty weak.

The Cowgirls entered the game hitting only .321 on trey attempts, which converts to a .679 rate of missing. We then raise .679 to the 18th power (representing the 18 misses), yielding .0009. Rounding up to .001, Oklahoma State's futility behind the arc would have had a prior probability of 1-in-1,000.

This calculation assumes independence of observations, that the outcome of one shot has no bearing on the next, like coin-flipping. A great deal of past research suggests that an independence model generally fits athletic performances well.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday's men's college basketball action featured two players carrying their respective teams on their backs for large segments of their teams' games.

Maryland's Greivis Vasquez scored his team's first 16 points of the game against North Carolina (article, play-by-play sheet). One might expect Vasquez to have exhibited some amazingly hot shooting to accomplish this feat. However, before he made his seventh basket to reach 16 points (5 two-point hoops and 2 three-pointers), he had missed four shots. Vasquez then went through a 19-minute scoreless stretch (he scored his 16th point with 13:39 remaining in the first half and didn't score again until there was 14:39 left in the game), although he helped his team in other departments. He scored 11 points in the second half and eight in overtime, giving him 35 points. Combined with his 11 rebounds and 10 assists, Vasquez also recorded a triple-double in the Terps' win.

Halfway acress the country, as Texas handed Oklahoma its first Big 12 conference loss of the season, the Longhorns' A.J. Abrams became the go-to guy late. He scored 16 straight points, and 18 of his team's final 20, ending with 23 points in all (article, play-by-play).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Two college basketball games I saw on television today, the Texas Tech men's game at Oklahoma and the Texas Tech women's game at Nebraska, featured barrages of made three-point shots by individual players.

In the men's game, won by Oklahoma 95-74, the Sooners' Cade Davis made three treys in less than a minute late in the first half to get the OU blowout going (from 3:08 on the clock down to 2:18; play-by-play sheet). Tech's Nick Okorie made his first seven field-goal attempts of the game (six two-pointers and a three) to keep the Red Raiders in the game for a while.

On the women's side, Tech cut a 56-37 Cornhusker lead with 7:47 left in the game to just four points (60-56) with 50 seconds left, although Nebraska ultimately held on, 62-56. Giving the Lady Raiders hope was Jordan Murphree, who made three three-pointers in a little over a minute (2:05 to 0:50 left in the game; play-by-play).

Friday, February 13, 2009

This weekend we have two milestone anniversaries of amazing college basketball games. Today is the 10th anniversary of a hot-shooting Rayford Young leading Texas Tech to an upset comeback win over Kansas. Sunday is the 15th anniversary of Kentucky's comeback from a 31-point deficit against LSU with less than 16 minutes left in the game to defeat the stunned Tigers, 99-95.

Young's performance for Texas Tech, which I witnessed in person, was incredible in many ways...

*He scored 32 points in (roughly) the final nine minutes of the game (41 points in all).

*He went a perfect 18-of-18 from the free-throw line (including 12-of-12 in the closing minutes). The Red Raider squad as a whole went 30-of-32 from the stripe.

*For the game, Young hit on 5-of-7 three-point attempts.

In the Kentucky-LSU game, the Tigers at one point reeled off an 18-0 run, which the Wildcats answered with a 24-4 spurt.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The February 2, 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated (with LeBron James on the cover) includes a sometimes humorous, sometimes serious article by Richard Hoffer on the elusiveness of sports momentum as a documentable phenomenon (at this point, I've not been able to find an online version of the article). As the article's subtitle puts it: "Broadcasters and coaches love to cite it, but what exactly is the Big Mo?"

After citing some academic concepts and articles, Hoffer draws some conclusions:

If [momentum] were going to be that easy to explain, we'd have found a way to duplicate it, coach it and write best-selling books about it... these upper levels of performance, the talent is so evenly distributed... that random events -- pieces of luck, an unlikely and inspired effort here or there, a boneheaded decision, a blown call -- are often the difference in a game, a season or even a career.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

By handing the Cleveland Cavaliers their first home loss of the season this afternoon, the Los Angeles Lakers have earned the designation "streak-breaking Los Angeles Lakers" in this AP article. As the article notes:

The Cavaliers came in 23-0 at Quicken Loans Arena, but were stopped by the Lakers, who ended Boston's 19-game winning streak on Christmas Day and halted a 12-game run by the Celtics earlier this week.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Monday night's women's basketball game between Tennessee and Oklahoma had the potential to give Lady Vols' coach Pat Summitt her 1,000th win, but it didn't happen. Instead, though, the game had some notable streak-related aspects.

The Sooners' Courtney Paris saw her NCAA record streak of 112 "double-doubles" (double figures in both points and rebounds) come to an end. Paris scored 9 points and had 12 boards against Tennessee. To put the 112-game length in perspective, the second-longest double-double streak in NCAA women's history is 19 (by Old Dominion's Anne Donovan in the early 1980s).

Further, the game had a number of team scoring runs. As shown on this play-by-play sheet...

*Tennessee scored 16 straight to take a 33-18 lead.

*Oklahoma responded with a 23-1 spurt to take a 41-34 advantage.

*The Sooners later put together an 11-2 run to open up a 57-46 lead and 9-0 burst to turn the game into a blowout, 72-54 with around 6:00 to play.

In what might qualify as the understatement of the year, Summitt was quoted in the above-linked article as saying, "We are a long way from being a 40-minute team."