Saturday, February 26, 2011

We're getting down to our last couple of college-basketball Saturdays before the postseason starts. Several streakiness-related developments have emerged today...


No. 25 St. John's opened up its game with No. 14 Villanova on an 18-4 run and closed on a 16-4 spurt, to upset the Wildcats 81-68. Former UCLA coach and ESPN commentator Steve Lavin really has things moving in a positive direction with the Red Storm.

The University of Michigan hit its first 6 three-point attempts at Minnesota, but then endured a nine-minute scoreless stretch (from  5:45 remaining in the first half to 3:14 elapsed in the second half, during which the Wolverines were stuck at 35 points), before holding off the Gophers 70-63 (play-by-play sheet).

The University of Texas, trying to secure one of four regional top seeds when the NCAA tournament field is announced in a few weeks, squandered a 22-point lead and fell to Colorado, 91-89. Quoting from the linked article, the Longhorns' collapse resulted in good part from a combination of "...the Buffs ...storming back behind [Alec] Burks, who scored 24 after halftime, including 11 during a 14-0 spurt, [and] the Longhorns  ...going 1 for 17 from the field during a brutal 25-possession stretch."

Also in the Big 12, in a match-up of two struggling teams, Texas Tech put together a 15-1 run (from trailing 50-41 to leading 56-51) against Oklahoma State. It wasn't enough, however, as the Cowboys prevailed 70-68.


St. Bonaventure made 7 of its first 10 three-point attempts, and finished above .500 from long distance for the day (16-29; .552), in beating UNC-Charlotte 80-65.


Last night in the NBA, Minnesota's Kevin Love recorded a double-double (in this case, 11 points and 14 rebounds) for the 45th straight game, the streak being "the second-longest since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976," behind Moses Malone's "51-game run from 1979-80," according to this article. I don't know who holds the all-time NBA record, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's Wilt Chamberlain. If Love surpasses 51, articles will probably start listing whoever remains ahead of him.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Here is what last night's 1-of-18 field-goal shooting by Miami's Chris Bosh, against Chicago, looks like, as per's shot charts:

(I count only 16 misses, denoted by "x," but perhaps two shots were taken from the same place and thus overlap completely.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On Tuesday night, the Caltech men's basketball team propelled enough shots at the hoop with proper release velocity and launch angle to end a conference losing streak of 310 games (that's not a typo) that stretched back to January 1985.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Louisville defeated Rutgers, 55-37, in men's Big East college basketball action tonight. When I see a low point total such as that recorded by Rutgers, I'm fairly confident that some kind of streakiness-relevant occurrence took place (e.g., consecutive missed shots, scoring run by one team over the other). Indeed, as described in this article, Louisville took a 17-2 lead to open the game.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Baylor, the nation's top-ranked women's college basketball team, had its 21-game winning streak snapped this afternoon at Texas Tech.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Florida International's Garrett Wittels, trying to extend the 56-game hitting streak with which he ended last season, went hitless tonight against Southeastern Louisiana, as the 2011 college baseball season got underway. Wittels thus falls two games short of Robin Ventura's college record for consecutive games with at least one hit.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The last time Florida International University baseball slugger Garrett Wittels was in the news for his on-the-field activities was last June, with FIU's season concluding in the NCAA tournament and Wittels, then a sophomore, maintaining a 56-game hitting streak at season's end. Wittels's streak is two games short of the Division I collegiate record of 58, held by former Oklahoma State (and major-league) star Robin Ventura.

The 2011 college baseball season opens tomorrow, with FIU hosting Southeastern Louisiana in games Friday, Saturday, and Sunday that could be the ones in which Wittels inches up to, ties, and surpasses Ventura. Under ordinary circumstances, the FIU-SELU series would be not only an exciting and festive time, but also a suspenseful one, as baseball fans tuned in to broadcasts on the ESPN networks to see if Wittels could keep his streak going.

Wittels, however, was charged with rape back in December, stemming from a series of events during a holiday vacation he and some friends took to the Bahamas (see news reports here and here). With the preliminary hearing not scheduled until April 18 (where the nature of the evidence will become clearer and the judge will decide whether or not Wittels must stand trial), FIU faced a choice of whether to suspend him for some length of time.

On the one hand, Wittels has certainly not been found guilty of any crime at this point. On the other hand, Bahamas authorities determined there was enough initial cause to bring the charges, which at many universities is sufficient to warrant suspension of an athlete. As this Miami Herald article notes, “While some universities have strict codes that result in the automatic suspension of any athlete charged with a felony, others – such as FIU – do not.”

Referring to Ithaca College professor Steve Mosher, who studies sports ethics, the article continues: “Mosher and others wonder why FIU doesn’t follow the course set at some other universities by suspending the player, but allowing him to keep his scholarship, while the legal system plays out.” The article also quotes Mosher to the effect that a (hypothetical) suspension wouldn’t “put the hit streak in jeopardy because he’s not playing in the game.”

Against this backdrop, FIU's athletic director announced yesterday that Wittels would be allowed to play in this weekend's series. The website College Baseball Daily offers a few different opinions regarding FIU's decision, whereas two writers in the Miami area (where FIU is located) criticize the university (here and here).
I would say Professor Mosher best captures my own views. Allowing Wittels to remain on scholarship reflects the fact that he has not been found guilty of anything at this time, but a suspension would have set a tough standard for player conduct. Further, a suspension would not endanger the hitting streak, which Wittels could resume if exonerated.
I will report the results from this weekend's FIU games pertaining to the streak, but without any fanfare.

UPDATE: The charges against Wittels were dropped in June 2011.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In a game attended by your trusty Hot Hand reporter, Texas Tech forward Kierra Mallard made her first nine field-goal attempts, then missed her last six, as the Lady Raiders knocked off Iowa State, 61-50, here in Lubbock (box score). 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bowling Green State University professor Jim Albert examines the streak of 70 straight made free throws by Lauren Prochaska, a women's basketball player at BGSU.


Tonight's Texas Tech at Missouri men's game featured a number of scoring spurts by each team (play-by-play sheet):

Mizzou outscoring Tech 12-2, to go from down 14-13 to up 25-16

Tech outscoring Mizzou 16-2, to go from down 30-22 to up 38-32

Mizzou answering with a 13-1 blitz to go back up, 45-39

Mizzou again outscoring Tech 12-2, to increase its lead from 65-62 to 77-64

Tech going on a 7-0 run, to cut an 87-77 deficit to 87-84

The Red Raiders got no closer, with the Tigers winning 92-84. Mizzou is now a perfect 16-0 at home.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Washington Wizards last night achieved their first NBA road win this season, after starting out 0-25 outside of the nation's capital. The team that failed to defend its home court and, in the process, yielded the Wizards' momentous win, was the Cleveland Cavaliers. As has been documented extensively on this site, the Cavs have been an unmitigated disaster this season and have now lost 37 out of their last 39 games. Still, I think, the Wizards will take it!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ohio State, which brought the nation's No. 1 men's basketball ranking and a 24-0 record into the University of Wisconsin's Kohl Center in Madison, suffered its first loss of the season, as the Badgers prevailed 71-67. Wisconsin used two big runs, outscoring the Buckeyes 15-0 and 10-0, to gain the victory.

Elsewhere in the Big 10, Michigan beat Indiana, 73-69, but the way in which the Wolverines played down the stretch cannot have been comforting to Wolverine fans. In the same fashion as in Wednesday night's win over Northwestern, Michigan again gave up a major run to nearly blow a huge lead, but still hung on. Today against IU, the Wolverines led 66-44, only to give up a 17-2 spurt.

Friday, February 11, 2011

By beating the L.A. Clippers in overtime tonight, 126-119, the Cleveland Cavaliers ended their NBA record 26-game losing streak.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Michigan and Northwestern played a spurt-laden game tonight in Ann Arbor, with the Wolverines prevailing, 75-66. Trailing 12-11, UM went on a 21-6 run to lead 32-18 near the end of the first half (play-by-play sheet).

Michigan maintained comfortable leads for most of the second half, including a 67-52 advantage with about five minutes remaining. It was a lead that almost evaporated entirely -- and quickly!

Northwestern made four straight three-points (with 4:53, 4:29, 3:25, and 2:36 on the clock) and then added a layup with 2:23 left. During this time, the Wolverines not only didn't score; they didn't even get off a shot attempt, amidst a series of turnovers and offensive fouls. Suddenly, the Wildcats were within 67-66.

At that point, Northwestern hit the proverbial wall, as Michigan revived and scored the final eight points of the game.

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Cleveland Cavaliers hope somehow to avoid setting a new NBA record for longest losing streak, when they take on the Mavericks tonight in Dallas. With 24 straight losses at the moment, this year's Cavs share the league record with... the Cavaliers at an earlier point in franchise history, as Cleveland also lost 24 in a row from late in the 1981-82 season carrying over into the 1982-83 campaign.

Even more embarrassing for this year's Cavs is how they've lost 34 of their last 35 games. Looking at Cleveland's game-by-game log, one can see that the team lost 10 straight from November 30-December 17, 2010. Then came a win over the New York Knicks on December 18 (in overtime, of course), followed by 24 straight in the loss column.

UPDATE:  The Cleveland Cavaliers made it closer tonight against a good Mavericks team in Dallas than most observers probably would have expected, but ultimately lost, 99-96. The 2010-11 Cavs now are the sole owners of the NBA record for longest losing streak, 25 games.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Sometimes hot-shooting spurts in basketball just fizzle out. Last night, the University of Portland men made their first five three-point attempts against Gonzaga (play-by-play sheet). With a layup added on, the Pilots had a 17-4 lead over the Bulldogs five minutes into the game.

Portland then made only one of its next nine attempts from behind the arc. By the end of this Pilot cold stretch, Gonzaga had pulled ahead 53-43 (a 23-point turnaround from down 13 to up 10) with 8:48 remaining. The Pilots then started hitting threes again (5-of-7), but it was not enough, as Gonzaga prevailed, 67-64.

In the end, Portland made more than half of its three-point attempts (11-of-21), but this overall rate obviously obscures the changes in how the game flowed.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The New York Times has an article on how the famed Manchester United soccer team of the English Premier League is undefeated through 24 matches with "15 victories, 0 defeats and 9 ties." Though the large number of ties might call into question the team's overall dominance, going unbeaten in the EPL -- even with tie games -- has been very rare historically. According to the article:

...the Red Devils are seeking to become only the third top-flight English team to finish undefeated since the Football League was established for the 1888-89 season. It is now widely considered the world’s most competitive soccer league. Preston North End built an 18-0-4 record that inaugural 19th-century season and Arsenal finished 26-0-12 in 2003-4 with a team known as the Invincibles.

Man-U's schedule and results page from its official website is available here, for those wishing to follow the team's progress.

UPDATE: Manchester United suffered its first loss of the season, 2-1, on Saturday, in a major upset to Wolverhampton.