Monday, February 14, 2011

How to Beat Duke: A Flow-Chart

Good Monday to you. It's back to the world of flow charts for this dude, so sit back, drink a cup of your favorite water, and learn the secrets of: HOW TO BEAT DUKE.

(Click to make it big, then click again on the new page to zoom.)

And now it's time for an overdue shout-out. My pal Jill has taken it on herself to write a blog. Those who remember her stylings from Pick Six probably just felt a shudder of excitement run through their souls; the lady's funny. Her blog is called Chicks Dig the Fastball. Today's post is particularly awesome; it's about how Duke invented the "airrr-balll" chant, and it includes a story of Gminski and Dean Smith going toe to toe. Give it a look, and remember: she's smart, witty, and female, so if you read the blog and impress her with your astute comments, she might date you.

Aight, it's Duke-Miami time, and I have some great news. I discovered this site called yesterday, and it is a number junkie's paradise. I'm sure this is old hat to a lot of you, so bear with me while I play the enthusiastic latecomer. Here's the link to the Duke-Miami game; it includes all the main stats kept on Ken Pomeroy's page, and it's so comprehensive that you'll want to cry with joy. I literally killed an hour on that one page yesterday.

Anyway, a great quick way to get a sense of the game is the "Four Factors" chart:

Here's the gist of the four factors:

1) Effective FG% - This is like normal field goal percentage, except three-pointers are weighted correctly at 1.5 times a two-pointer.

2) Turnover % - What percentage of possessions resulted in an offensive turnover.

3) Offensive Rebounding % - Same deal, what percent of missed shots produced an offensive board. Offensive Rebounds / (Offensive Rebounds + Opponent Defensive Rebounds).

4) FT Rate - How often did you get to the line, as a percent of shots taken. FT Rate = Free Throws Attempted / Field Goals Attempted.

According to StatsSheet, the four factors are weighted in terms of importance as follows: Shooting (40%), Taking Care of the Ball (25%), Offensive Rebounding (20%), and Getting to the Line (15%).

So. Last night, Duke's effective field goal percentage was 57.1%, a bit higher than their 54.7% average, which is already 14th-best in the country. They typically allow opponents a 45.0% rate, but Miami did well to shoot 51.6%. Turnovers and rebounding were almost identical, but Duke got to the line a lot more than the Canes. The first and last of the four factors made the difference, and it jives with the scouting report before the game- Miami isn't great on D.

But the Four Factors is really just scratching the surface of the site. I particularly love the player charts and the game flow tab, and I'll definitely be visiting the Pre-Game tab ahead of future Duke games.

If I had to pick a POTG, it would be Seth Curry. Along with his 16 points on 5-10 shooting (including 13 in a critical first half when Nolan was out with his eye injury and Miami got hot from 3), he had 4 board and 5 steals. I know he's not the quickest dude in Division 1, but man, his hands are like lightning. He leads Duke with 3.4 steals per game (147th in D-1, incidentally), which is remarkable considering he rarely guards the point. I think that's part of the magic of the Currys, and why I was so excited originally when the transfer announcement came out; they see things faster than normal basketball players, and can make plays that seem beyond their strength and athleticism.

After shouldering a heavy load in the first half, Curry was relieved by Nolan's return from the eye injury. Was anybody else thrown into a mini-panic when he went out? All I could think about was Jon Scheyer, and the freak injury that, to date, has derailed any chance at a pro career. Meanwhile, Tim Brando was pretty sure it was a concussion, even though the replay definitively showed Reggie Johnson poking him in the eye. It took Mike Gminski making fun of him for like 5 minutes before he conceded that no, there was zero chance Nolan Smith had a concussion.

Anyway, Nolan lit it up for 16 in the second half, and 18 overall. It was a good, workmanlike road win against a team that's much better than their 4-7 conference record. Coach K deserves credit for having them rested and ready to win away from home after the energy-sapping epic on Wednesday.

I do have a few worries, though.

1) Singler. He's just out of the offensive flow. He still gets his 12-18 shots per game, but a lot of them feel kind of forced. While Seth and Nolan seem to be interacting with each other and the offense-at-large in a more free-flowing way, Singler is like a roving free agent, a mercenary outsider who shows up for a few shots before disappearing back into the mist. And look, I know he's working his ass off, and he does a lot of good for us on the boards and on defense. And I kinda think the root of my complaint is that he's just not very quick, and thus can't create his own shot without picks, and thus can be contained by a good athlete. But I still wish there was a way out.

2) Dawkins. Totally lost, no confidence, no nothing. I still think he can help this team a lot if his shot comes back, but this offseason will be very, very important to his development. He needs to be able to score off the dribble. Without that, he'll always be one-dimensional. And the trend for his season is always downward; the more he depends on the three alone, the more pressure mounts. Coach K isn't about to run him off too many picks like he's JJ Redick, and Dawk seems to be the kind of player who gets down on himself. Combine that with the natural fatigue that saps a guy as the year goes on, and the diminishing returns seem all too predictable. He's got to work on his ballhandling, no two ways about it. Some added strength wouldn't hurt, either.

3) Mason Plumlee's defense. Last night on twitter, I asked my followers which of his three standard moves they liked best. A couple followers added more, and here's the list:

A - Stand still, hands in the air, while the player goes around for an easy lay-up.
B - "Go for the impossible steal and give up the lane."
C - "Wildly flail at a block attempt that he has no chance of getting."
D - Leave his man for an incredibly ill-advised double team.
E - Foul somebody else's man.

Notice a common thread? They're ALL mental errors! Every single fucking one of them. And it seems like they happen on at least one of every three possessions. This is the real frustration- if he could just his head right, he'd be fine. Isn't anybody drilling this stuff into his head at practice? Is he too dumb to absorb it? I mean, GOD. With a little consistency, he'd be senior-year Zoubek with more length (and maybe a little less muscle). It's maddening.

It's even more maddening because he's showing definite improvement in the past couple weeks. Which, to say the least, I didn't see coming. Last night he was very smart on offense, capitalizing on his chances to shoot 5-7 and score 12 points. When he wasn't having brain lapses on defense, he did a serviceable job on Reggie Johnson. And he even held his own on the boards, grabbing 5 to Johnson's 6.

All that being said, it was a good win. I'm unhappy to report that we're now in the doldrums of February. Virginia and Georgia Tech are on the docket this week, and nothing really excites me on the schedule until a road game at Virginia Tech two Saturdays from now. Still, we're ahead of Carolina by a game, and as long as we keep winning the worst we can do is a tie for first in the ACC. One slip-up by the Heels, and the conference is ours.

Have a great day.


  1. Did you see Mason's tweet this morning: "Don't tweet me with advice and coaching..I'm better than all of you, thanks"

    It would definitely be annoying to get tweets from a-holes who don't know what they are talking about, but I'm kind of scared how long it took me to convince myself that he is, in fact, better than his followers on twitter.

  2. Also, HILARIOUS flow chart!

  3. Regarding the Plumlees: Maybe they'd show improvement if the big man coach wasn't a short former point guard who only got by by playing scrappy...

    Just a thought.

  4. This is phenomenal.

    -Michael Corey

  5. Singler has trouble playing with a guard who can create his own shot. See 2 years ago with Gerald Henderson. Henderson and Singler just could not play together. I think possibly Singler doesn't know what to do when he doesn't have the ball and can't put himself in position for a kick-out, which leaves the only option left to dish off to one of the plumlees.

    I think this was not a detriment last year due to the fact that scheyer was there to hit the three if need be when nolan drove. AND, Zoubek rebounded 40% of our misses.

    I'm just rambling at this point, but the point is, as good as Singler is, he doesn't do well being 2nd fiddle

  6. Agree about Mason's defense. He gets by because of his size and athleticism. Not a smart defensive player- just doesn't seem to get it or naturally know how to play it. You could create a similar list for his offense: 1) absolutely no touch; 2) a turnover waiting to happen when he tries to make a move with his back to the basket etc.

  7. Hey so does anyone know what the "Nolan Smith Cam" that ESPN 3 has listed on Wednesday is about? I was looking through upcoming events and saw that but I haven't seen anything explaining it. Are they just going to point a camera at him the whole time? Are they splicing a camera into his brain so that everyone can see what it is like to kick ass at basketball?

  8. I think that tweet says a lot about Mason. Not that he should be taking coaching advice from strangers on twitter, but if he really thinks he needs a coach that is better than him then he needs his head examined. Tiger Woods and Roy Halladay are better at what they do than any coach they will ever have, but they still listen because it makes them better.

    Good find with, but you have it as, which is just an ad site.

  9. Have forwarded the flow chart, with link to your blog. Also sent them your last flow chart. All great songs have a killer lyric, the more ironic the better. Your flow chart's is, naturally, "Hey Roy"

  10. Anyone who understands basketball well enough to offer meaningful advice to a top D1 scholarship athlete is a part of the coaching/player fraternity. They don't tweet it, they offer it in conversation or better yet pass it through Mason's coaches.

    I loved Mason's reply, Nasty. Tiger and Roy H. execute better than their coaches, but those coaches are real life, knowledgeable experts, not tweeters.

  11. Fixed, Nasty, thanks. Eric, I have no idea what that is, but it sounds awesome. Will he be playing with a helmet camera on? I hope so.

    Anon, great stats and great point about Singler. It's getting strange.

    As for Mason's tweet, I just think it's unnecessary. I agree with Dan that anyone actually tweeting him advice is a moron, but at the same time, I think it shows something about him. Why even respond?


  12. You are truly very funny and witty. But your analysis of our bigs is totally unfair. They are playing really well, improving incrementally all the time. The major problem is that if you play for Duke, everyone expects you to play like an All-American. Anything less than that and you are not playing well. It's unfair.

  13. I clearly said he shouldn't be listening to tweeters. My point was that you can infer from his tweet that he wouldn't listen to any coaching from someone he doesn't think is as good as him. Does he think that Wojo shouldn't be teaching him how to be a better PF?

    How many times do you think the coaches have shown him film of him leaving his man to try and block a shot he has no chance of getting to? He does it every game. Does he not listen or is he just a really, really, slow learner?

  14. first and foremost, that flowchart is absolutely hilarious. *applauds*

    second, i exerted a lot of energy yelling at tim brando through my tv screen yesterday. what an obnoxious moron. why do so many play-by-play announcers these days find it so hard to, y'know, narrate the PLAYS??? even gminski was getting sick of him yesterday.

    third, mason's tweet was dumb, although many of the replies to it were even dumber. (and predictably, the tweet has now been deleted.) i wish none of the guys would ever respond to the idiots, because much like elementary school, it just fuels the fire when you give them attention. and that includes stuff like that twerp asshat that nolan called out last week.

    alas, if someone makes you angry enough, you're likely to reply. particularly if you happen to be 20 years old and coming down from the adrenaline rush of a basketball game. so let's cut mason a tiny bit of slack here. do i think it was a smart tweet? hell no. do i think we should read into it that he believes anyone who coaches him needs to be better than him and/or that wojo is a shitty coach? also hell no.

    fourth, nolan smith with a helmet cam would make my life.

  15. The flow chart is hilarious.

    I didn't think there was anything that could cause me to dislike the Plumlees more than I already do, but I am happy to report that there is: Mason's stupid f-ing tweet. I agree with Shane; the tweet was unnecessary and it makes him look like an ass. Yes, it is pointless to offer Mason advice in such a manner, but it isn't like he is the next Dwight Howard. He should shut his ogre pie-hole and be thankful that he even has followers on Twitter.

    Finally, a huge thank you to Shane for the shout-out and to anyone who visited my blog. I really appreciate it, guys.

  16. I wanted to pop back in here to say I totally agree with Lara. Tim Brando is just a horrible play-by-play guy. Every time I have to watch a game with him talking about it he makes me want to pull my hair out. He misses so much of what it going on that it seems like he's not even paying attention to the game sometimes. Next time I am watching a broadcast he is calling I am going to sit down and count the number of times he mistakenly says the wrong call because he isn't watching the game.

    (he also does some stuff that I find annoying in the tone of his broadcast but that's probably more of a personal taste thing, the accuracy though is a real issue)

  17. Hey Shane,

    Why are you looking past the Temple game? Yeah, it's in Cameron, but they're a solid team, and now ranked in both polls. I hope Duke comes out strong.

  18. Yeah, good point on Temple. I'm highly skeptical of an A-10 team coming in and beating us in Cameron, but it's definitely not something I should look beyond.

    Lara, fully agree about the tweets, well put. I can easily see being pissed off and replying in a fit of anger (which is why I don't take it literally, Nasty, I think he probably listens to Wojo and others), but if they're going to allow twitter, and I really believe they should, they need to school these guys about not responding to idiots.

    That last sentence had like 8 clauses. 8!


  19. Thanks for that blog link. I am single and very desperate.

  20. That'll warm the cockles of a girl's heart, Anon. Good call on not posting your name!

  21. You must be kind of funny, not completely ugly, and somewhat employed. Other than that, I am pretty easy. Pun intended?

    I agree with Lara, she summed it up well. I just think that Mason should know better than to reply so arrogantly to people that are clearly trying to get under his skin. I am sure that he listens to his coaches, etc., but no one expects him to take Twitter advice from a stranger; he should feel no need to publicly say so. Or to tell us how (arguably) awesome he is.

    In other news, Seth Davis of SI calls Kyrie a top-three pick, regardless if plays again or not (good god, I want him to come back), which did not totally surprise me:

  22. Just read that before you posted it, Jill. Those little bits were actually an aggregate of 5 scouts he spoke to, which is even more worrisome. Bottom line, Kyrie can leave if he wants to leave, and he'll be no worse for the wear. We just have to hope he wants to play at Duke for a bit.


  23. For anyone interested in a follow up the Chronicle sports blog seems to have gotten confirmation from ESPN that the Nolan Smith cam is a feed focused solely on filming Nolan. (not a helmet cam, sad I know)

    I can't decide which feed for the game tomorrow to watch! I think the nolan smith cam will at least be an interesting experiment.

  24. Oh and for anyone who wants it: